Megachurch pastors Joel and Victoria Osteen will release their very own Bible next month ahead of their church's 50th anniversary.
The Hope for Today Bible, scheduled to hit the shelves on Mar. 10, is presented in the New Living Translation and features insights, notes, and encouragements from the ministers of the 38,000-large Lakewood Church in Houston – the largest church in the nation.
Also included are specific verses to guide people in prayers for their relationships, their children, their finances, and their health, as well as "HopePoints" – key words and supporting scriptures related to topics such as favor, forgiveness, anger, depression, loneliness, and self-control, among others.
"The Bible will come alive and become clear like never before," the description for the 1,536-page Bible reads.
Though Lakewood senior pastor Joel Osteen has been praised by many for his uplifting messages and popular bestsellers, the charismatic minister has also received much criticism for his lack of formal theological training and for preaching what critics call the "prosperity gospel," a belief that prosperity and success – particularly financial – is a sign of God's favor.
Osteen, however, insists that his theology is not "dangerous," as some say it is, and that God has used him to turn people's lives around and to give them hope.
"I don't know what can be so dangerous about giving people hope [or] causing people to have better relationships. I'm not leading them to some false God or something like that," Osteen said last year to Byron Pitts of CBS.
"You know, you get people that wanna criticize, 'You're not doing enough of this, enough of that.' Well, we're not perfect," he continued.
"But to have ... hundreds of people tellin' ya 'You changed my life,' 'I haven't been in church in 30 years,' or 'You saved my marriage' ... you just feel very rewarded. You feel very humbled ... that you could help impact somebody's life," Osteen said after getting emotional.
Aside from the 38,000 churchgoers that Osteen draws each week to his 16,000-seat church – previously the arena for the Houston Rockets – up to seven million Americans each week and more than 20 million each month reportedly view Osteen's weekly sermon, which is broadcast into television markets across the United States. His weekly broadcast is also seen in almost 100 nations around the world.
Osteen has also written two bestselling books. The first book, Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential, remained on the New York Times list for more than two years and has sold more than 4 million copies. His second book, Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day, was released in October of 2007 and was an instant New York Times bestseller, remaining on the list for more than seven months and selling more than 1.6 million copies.
On May 10, Lakewood Church will mark 50 years since it was founded by Osteen's father, John Osteen, a former Southern Baptist pastor who later became charismatic. Osteen succeeded his father in 1999, more than eight months after the elder Osteen died of a heart attack. Before he took the helm, the younger Osteen had only preached once in his life – the week before his father's death.
On the Web:
The Hope for Today Bible at books.simonandschuster.com