While there were a lot of things to critique, I couldn't help but ask the historian's analysis questions: why does this message appeal to so many...what are the verbal and facial cues that draw people in? why does it seem that Lakewood is amazingly interracial (a fact that is much more common in Pentecostal-oriented churches than Reformed); how do you account for that? I think the driving reason that Osteen is hugely popular is that he sells hope.
Osteen sells hope. Isn't that what every faithful minister of God's word is called to do? By faithfully preaching the Law and the Gospel along with frequent observance of the sacraments, (particularly Communion) he is proclaiming the most hopeful message we could possible want to hear: that we truly are loved, forgiven, absolved, and adopted by God because of the finished work of Christ. All we must do is accept that with a believing heart and look to Christ alone for the forgiveness of our sins (John 3:14-15). Moreover, the faithful minister helps his congregation see the big picture of redemptive history from God's eternal decrees (prior to Genesis 1) to the new heavens and earth (Revelation 21 &22). He anchors his people in the here and now with the assurance that they are God's beloved and are part of the great work of reconciliation that He has been performing and will bring to pass (II Corinthians 5:17-20). The Apostle Paul understood this so well that he exclaimed, "For the love of Christ controls us" (II Cor. 5:14) (NOTE: the word 'control' has been interpreted as compel, constrain, urge or impel).
If you've ever watched Osteen you know that this isn't his message. His book titles alone reveal his theology: Your Best Life Now and Become a Better You have nothing to do with my previous paragraph. He speaks of the here and now as if there is no tomorrow, no grand hope of the age to come. He seems ignorant of Paul's theology that "the present form of this world is passing away" (I Cor. 7:31) and that this present age is evil (Gal. 1:4).
What compels Osteen and his followers? It is the hope of a life in this world where problems are minimized, blessings abound, and people get along. Those are good things -- things that I'd like to have. But as I get older the fleeting nature of life in this world only whets my appetite for what lies ahead. A faithful pastor is one who shares this unabashedly with his congregation.
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him." I Corinthians 2:9.
"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." Romans 8:18.
"For this slight and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison." II Corinthians 4:17
Our best life lies ahead, when we enter The Eternal Promised Land and begin our eternal Sabbath rest (Hebrews 4:9-10).