(Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
Joel Osteen told Oprah Winfrey in an interview Sunday that his message was one of hope for all people, not just those in the Christian community.
In the interview, which appeared Sunday on “Oprah’s Next Chapter,” Oprah questioned Osteen about the frequent criticism he receives for talking so much about prosperity and so little about Christ.
“There’s a belief that you’re supposed to be poor, and suffering, and show your humility. I just don’t see the Bible that way,” the megachurch Pastor said. “I see that God came and Jesus died so that we might live an abundant life and be a blessing to others.”
Osteen told Oprah that he and his family do not take any money from the church congregation, and that their income is derived mostly from the books he has written. He said that any fortune he has is a blessing from God and that it enables him to be a blessing to others.
When Oprah asked if some were less fortunate than others because they did not pray enough, Osteen disagreed. He explained that many people pray every day but don’t ever consider themselves capable of changing their lives.
“There are forces trying to hold us all down and a lot of people haven’t been trained or been inspired to say ‘Hey, you know what, you’re in the projects but you don’t have to stay there,’” Osteen explained.
Osteen said God has a plan for everyone’s life and all were capable of achieving great things. “There are some great people that just haven’t broken through,” he said.
Osteen also said, “Prospering is not just material things. It’s peace in your mind and health in your body and things like that.”
Oprah said that many people have said that there is not enough doctrine is Osteen’s sermons, and asked him to respond to that criticism. Osteen said, “I always want to listen to people and receive good criticism, but I just don’t have to answer to them I have to answer to God.”
He said, “I try to get up every morning and search my own heart. I say ‘God, am I doing what you want me to do?’”
When asked whether he believed homosexual people could go to heaven, Osteen confirmed that he did. He said that God welcomes all who repent of their sins.
“I believe a gay person will be accepted into heaven,” Osteen said. “I believe you have to have forgiveness for your sins and sometimes we (the Christian community) look at gay as being a bigger sin than being proud or not telling the truth," Osteen said. "I don't think God categorizes sins."
Instead, Osteen believes that people are constantly changing and growing, and that no one would have a chance in heaven if sins could not be forgiven.
However Osteen clarified, “I believe that homosexuality is shown as a sin in the Scripture.”
However, he added, “It’s a hard thing in a sense, because I’m for everybody. I’m not against anybody. I don’t think that anybody is second-class. But when I read the Scripture in good faith I can’t see that it doesn’t show that as being a sin.”
Osteen also spoke about the future of his ministry. “Our vision is to throw a wide net of hope over the world to get people to realize that God is good, that he’s for them, and that he’s got a great plan for their life,” he said.
The pastor’s wife, Victoria Osteen, supported her husband’s positive message, “I think that the people are hungry for a message of hope. I think that they’ve been down long enough. I mean you can beat your own self up; you don’t need somebody else to do it for you.”
Joel Osteen described that his vision extended to people outside of the church.
“I want get across to not just the church world. I want to get outside those walls to every day people,” the Pastor remarked.