Multi-platinum recording artist Carman Licciardello recently took to social media to defend Joel Osteen, calling him "a God ordained bridge between the mainstream world and the church," and urging Christians to stop "terrorizing" the successful megachurch pastor.
Osteen, who is the pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, is often criticized by Christians for failing to properly address sin and repentance and instead focusing on positive thinking and prosperity. Recently, critics also slammed Osteen's wife, Victoria, for making "insanely idiotic" and "heretical" comments concerning worship.
"Only western Christians could be so soft, so silly as to eagerly buy into the empty platitudes of false teachers such as [Joel and Victoria Osteen]," wrote blogger Matt Walsh.
Licciardello, who goes professionally by just his first name, recently responded to the overwhelming criticism in a Sept. 13 Facebook post that titled "About Joel Osteen."
"For some reason many credible church leaders are finding the need to dissect Joel Osteen as a speaker and even his credibility as a Christian. Even going after his wife and dissecting her words by the phrase as if they're prosecutors and she's on a murder trial. Folks this has got to stop. Joel is one of us."
The multi-platinum recording artist argued that Osteen, who has written several national bestsellers including "Your Best Life Now" and "I Declare," is a "bridge" between the secular world and the Church.
"He is a God ordained bridge between the mainstream world and the church and we really need to protect our bridge. He's a pastor. He's not an evangelist. Though he does offer prayers for salvation, he doesn't have to in order to fulfill his call. We have to see him for everything he is instead of terrorizing him for everything he's not. He can not say everything we want him to say. But if we keep him in place he creates a hunger in people to go to their local churches and hear "the rest of the story".
Licciardello concluded by encouraging Christians to support Osteen in his ministry, as he is one of Christianity's "key representatives."
The Bible says Some are called to reap, some to water and some to sow seeds. Joel is a world class seed sower. Who, by the way, is not afraid to water and reap. So let's back off this key representative in the mainstream world. Satan loves it when we partner with him and destroy our own leaders. God has a seed sower for every generation. Whether it's Norman Vincent Peale or Robert Shuller or Joel Osteen. We support our troops in the military, now lets support our troops in the church. Joel Osteen is one of our finest soldiers and he needs our support. Can I hear an Amen?
Although Licciardello's post certainly recieved many "amens," with nearly 12,000 people sharing his remarks and another 69,000 "liking" the Facebook post, critics were also quick to provide input, with several commenting specifically on Victoria Osteen's controversial statements.
"He stood and smiled and nodded as his wife said that worship is not about God but about us and our happiness. That is not scriptural at all. Man was created to glorify God not self," wrote Teresa Rogers Gunter, whose comment was agreed with by more than 3,471 people.
However, other commenters took a different perspective:
"Let God be the judge, if peoples lives are being changed and they are seeking God, then just maybe he is doing what God told him to do. If we are Christians then we need to support each other. He has a job for each of us to do," wrote June Stephens.
Osteens will debut their Siruis XM exlusive channel, named "Joel Osteen Radio," later this month. In addition to the thousands that stream into Lakewood Church over the weekends for worship and the millions who watch his television broadcasts, Osteen's ministry will now impact millions more.