Would James (the writer of the book in the bible of the same name/Jesus’ brother) and Joel Osteen be, like, best friends, even BFF? I mean after all, neither really use the name of Jesus much if any (the name Jesus isn’t even found in the book of James at all). Joel uses it some.
They are are both extremely practical. Joel tries to get people to be better fathers, husbands, etc..(which is a good thing) and James tells people to act like fathers and husbands to those who have neither (1:27).
For both, faith is to be practically displayed in life. If you have faith, then you need to display it. If you have wisdom, show it by your good deeds (3:13).
But I do find several major distinctions. James reminds us that we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow (4:13). Those rich who oppress the poor will be judged (5:1-ff), and the material possessions do not last, in fact they are already fading (5:3). So James seems to not be in favor of the prosperity/ health and wealth gospel.
Next, while James never mentions Jesus by name, he certainly mentions Jesus’ words and person throughout his letter (borrowing from the Sermon on the Mount, as well as mentioning The Lord’s Return). So Jesus is still the basis and motivation for the practical expression of faith.
Christianity is distinct from other religions. The practical ‘doing’ and expression of one’s faith is based upon what Christ has already done for you. The motivation to be better fathers and husbands is based upon the work Christ has done on your behalf. And when Christ starts that work, he continues to perfect it in you (our practical expression and deeds) until He’s done.
But, if you leave this part out, you just have someone telling you to do the right thing, and then you can get favor with God and good stuff. Really cool stuff. But that is not Christianity.
One might wonder how acquainted Joel is with James. I think they should hang out some time, and get to know each other.