Who’s to Blame for the Prosperity Gospel?

The LORD makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts. He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor.
—1 Samuel 2:7-8a

Yesterday, a reader left this comment:

It’s even worse, it seems, on the black gospel music stations where most of the teaching and much of the music is infected with the widely popular health/wealth/prosperity “gospel.”

I’d like to comment on this by asking why it might be that so many black Christians find prosperity teachings attractive. Money, money, money , money...moneySadly, that’s not a question too many opponents of the “prosperity gospel” dare ask because the ultimate answer strikes a little too close to home.

Consider a similar scenario. Evangelicals who went ballistic over the Emerging Church lacked the nerve to ask why the Emerging Church existed. Many times here, I discussed why: It was a reaction against Evangelicalism’s many blinders, especially on issues of nonexistent community, a lack of social justice for the oppressed, and rampant consumerism.

Yet rather than consider the possible truth of even one scrap of the Emerging Church protest, the loudest voices in Evangelicalism let loose with a tirade about the bad theology in the Emerging Church (and hey, let’s be honest, it was atrocious theology in many cases). Rarely, though, was there any Evangelical self-examination.

I find it both dispiriting and amusing that the very same Christians who idolize the Reformation revert to Catholic theology when it comes to these types of battles.  It’s always their own sins that are venial, while their opponents’ are the most vile, wicked, mortal sins imaginable.

And the same is true of this battle over the so-called prosperity gospel.

It’s not for no reason that the prosperity gospel exists. This may only be my experience, but it seems to me that the loudest voices crying out against the prosperity gospel come from those people who never wanted a day in their lives for anything. They never went to bed hungry. Never saw all the other kids get nice toys for their birthday while they got busted up junk those others threw away. The people who complain loudest against prosperity teachings are most likely to be the same people whose money could buy them out of every problem, and whose lifestyles define prosperity, God or not.

You see, it’s darned easy to come down against someone’s misplaced hope of escaping poverty when you’re already prosperous. In many ways, that viewpoint is the same one that seeks to keep “those people” down, lest “those people” rise up and end the party. And that’s reprehensible self-righteousness and pride.

However, it’s equally reprehensible that many of the proponents of prosperity teaching get rich off the backs of their poor followers. Those false teachers and leaders deserve a special place in hell and may actually find that their hoped for heavenly mansion of gold ends up looking more like a lake of fire.

Yet for all the anti-prosperity-gospel talk out there, the Bible contains more words about prospering this side of heaven than the opponents care to address. The patriarchs were not a poverty-stricken lot. The Lord promises hundreds of times that He will pour out plenty on those who are obedient to Him. He rewards those who seek Him, and not just with spiritual gain, but also material. God leads His people into a land of milk and honey. The reaper overtakes the plowman.

I’m not going to try to proof text this point. If you must, just look up the word prosper in a concordance. God prospers his people both spiritually and materially. It’s there, really; I’m not making it up.

On the other hand, people who put all their trust in the material, who build huge barns to store all their accumulated worldly wealth, often run into an impoverishment of the soul. And that’s a state of being God is none too happy about.

Whether you’re a prosperity gospel fan or foe, whether you can trot out battling Bible verses to bolster your position, the solution to this theological war is found in an achingly simple response. You see God already shows us how to live in a way that satisfies both sides of this issue:

So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.
—Acts 2:41-45

Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
—Acts 4:32-35

Folks, the point is moot. When the Church is living this way, no matter which side you are on in the prosperity gospel battle, you will find your answer here.

But you see, we don’t want to deal with those two passages in Acts because they stand as an indictment against how we live, whether we’re rich or poor. The greed and hard-heartedness that keeps us from fulfilling these passages in Acts today afflicts both those with and those without.

When I mention these verses and ask why we’re not living this way, a million excuses come out. I know; I’ve heard them all. It gets a little depressing.

So maybe in the eyes of God it doesn’t matter if we’ve gone off into “Lord, I name and claim a Lexus—a gold-colored one with goatskin leather seats,” or into the rich, young ruler’s perfect theology framing a heart of cold selfishness. The answer to the problem of the prosperity gospel is staring us in the face.

We simply don’t want to obey God and live it.

 

 

 

by Dan Edelen

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33 Comments

  1. Posted July 30, 2008 at 1:21 am | Permalink

    The main problem with the prosperity gospel is not so much that our Lord will (or would) provide us with our needs and even with many of our wants. For in Jesus Christ, we own all things. If our Lord wanted to give me a new car, then He could give me a new car, free, from any source. The same goes for a house, food, clothing, knickknacks, or whatever. What is yours is mine, what is mine is yours, in Christ.

    The main problem with the prosperity gospel is the belief that I must have as many of my wants and needs in my name right now, praise God, amen and amen, and often without working, too. It is not enough that our Lord could give me a hilltop mansion and fifteen cars. It must be titled and deeded to me now! My best life now!

    • Posted July 30, 2008 at 1:42 am | Permalink

      Michael,

      Where the prosperity gospel is truly catching fire is among the desperately poor around the world. And in most cases, those people are not looking to receive 15 cars and a hilltop mansion. They’re just looking for some reassurance that they can escape grinding poverty.

      Even then, even among those people who do want 15 cars, somehow, in some way, the unadulterated Gospel has not gotten through to them. The wise person must still ask why and be prepared to answer that question with a difficult answer that may ask something of the asker.

    • ANN
      Posted October 14, 2011 at 2:47 am | Permalink

      Jesus actually talked more about the sufferings and persecution that his redeemed would experience than making us rich with material goods and at ease. Jesus said in the Gospel of Luke chapter 9 verse 25 “If anyone wants to come after me they must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me”. A cross in Jesus day was a humiliating instrument of death not a chariot or silver coin! But I guess teaching this message want pack out stadiums and grow mega churches! Jesus said people would be persecuted for following Him.
      It is truly pathetic that the Christian churches who buy into this Prosperity junk are not being prepared for what Jesus really said about the latter days in Matthew 24 he described it as birth pangs and the beginning of sorrows, with wars and rumors of wars, famines, pestilences and earthquakes in diverse places.
      I dare anyone to ask these name it and claim it people why the Apostle Paul who established the early Gentile Churches did not name and claim and blab and grab for money and a way out of those beatings and shipwrecks and the beheading he got from Nero that ended his life? In second Corinthians chapter 11 verse verse 24-29 the great Apostle Paul gives a list of his sufferings why didn’t he just think on positive things and make positive confessions like Word of fake opps faith Preachers like Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar and the rest of them teach? As of yet no one has explained this! I guess too much talk of suffering won’t make them rich or pack our their Churches or stadiums, now will it?

  2. L
    Posted July 30, 2008 at 1:43 am | Permalink

    Greetings Dan

    I’ve been perusing your blog for a few days now, and I’m glad to finally have something to say. I’m afraid I’ve been rather busy and could only hastily read your last few posts without much commentary.

    I will say this, you have a rapt and observant eye for much of the troubles plaguing the church today, and I’m glad that there is a voice crying out about them. You’ve done great work so far, keep it up!

    Now, as for this prosperity gospel business, I’m afraid I’m not too familiar with its teachings or its doctrines (at least, not by name)…

    Wait, scratch that, a quick overview of the matter in wikipedia and I recognized it now, mhmm, I’ve experiencedd a more diluted (but still recognizable) version of this in my own AG church.

    Well, in that case, I’d like to point out that the basic premise for the prosperity gospel sounds rather similar to old Puritanism and the so-called puritan work-ethic, i.e that material wealth here on earth is a prime example of spiritual wealth in one’s heart (and God’s implied pleasure in it). This is dangerous line of thinking, for of course it is understood that to do things with an expectation of earthly reward is blatantly contradictory to the teachings of Jesus: “Store not treasures on earth, but rather in heaven…” Furthermore it borders on testing God, and possibly inviting his wrath as opposed to his abundance.

    It seems to me that, sometimes, we Christians tend to forget that because of free will, this world has chosen (as a majority) to reject God, thus, he will not manifest himself in any way that would seem to provide undisputed proof of his existence (as absolute proof would do away with the need for faith, and might even hang free will from the tallest paradoxical branch). Frankly, if all people who happened to seek Jesus were to mysteriously experience a mass positive change in their financial fortunes, it could (and probably would) be easily construed as coercive evidence for His existence and universal supremacy (thus once again chucking faith and free will out the window).

    On the other hand, it is equally true that prosperity theology has generally arisen due to real financial crises in the church or the societies their practitioners lived in (the current energy crisis seems to come to mind, as does the unequal and sometimes unfair distribution of wealth [and power]). And the biblical quotes they generally use, though usually lifted out of context, are still true in the sense that God did breath his divine inspiration to him, and he generally (i.e always) tends to keep his end of the bargain when he makes promises to us.

    What to do then, to reconcile these two seeming contradictions. The verses you used at the end, from Acts, would seem to do the trick, except for one detail. You see, I’m assuming that the aspect you meant to say we generally ignore is the fact that the early church exhibited rather socialist behaviors. They shared everything communally, under the watchful eye of the elders. That’s all very appealing (seriously, it is, I would love to be able to live like that again) but unfortunately it’s neither practical nor feasible to do so in our society.

    The problem is that the early church truly, and unequivocally, believed in a literal meaning of Jesus’ words about his return “soon” and rushed to sell their material belongings in order to help sustain the early church until he was to return. Eventually though, when the apostle Peter realized the LORD had other plans than their own, he understood the need for a more permanent arrangement for his flock. Thus he stopped the pre-requisite of selling all one’s belongings so that the money-bagging converted roman nobility would be able to use their land and property to provide more adequate aid and need for the church (quite a number of them converted their lavish homes into sanctuaries and places of worship).

    In other words, even the early church realized the impracticality of living a social, communal life. Such an ideology is riddled with far too many inefficiencies, not the least of which were the number of individuals who would eventually attempt to take advantage of it (seedy televangelists anyone?).

    My point is, a frugal, socialist lifestyle is a beautiful concept, but an impractical one in our capitalist society (and in general practice as well, as the ex-pure communist states would attest). That’s one of the issues, I think, that prosperity theology wishes to address. The watered down version preached in my church is not so much that when you come to God the heavens open up and a golden rain showers down upon us and magically adds extra zeroes to our checking account balances. Instead, my church teaches, and I hold this true, that any financial reward or punishment that comes from God would probably appear to be the result of seemingly natural causes. Or, if you like, God’s promise to give us abundance comes with 2 catches: 1) abundance will only come with a blessing from God if we OURSELVES are striving for it in a matter that pleases him (acting altruistically in a corporate setting against all temptation to be a backstabbing jerk, for example). 2) our financial fortunes, like our fortunes in general, are not set in stone and are not tit-for-tat; if God so wills it, our fortunes can rise or plummet at whatever rate, at his discretion. We can’t be so arrogant and presumptuous as to assume that we can interpret his will in the results of this. We just have to have faith that he has our best will at heart, and that We must strive to give him as much material with which to work (i.e. pursuing a job opportunity with an eye on serving Him as one’s ultimate career goal). And THAT’s the mistake I think many of these adherents of the prosperity gospel are making, to have the gall to assume that God will do something the way THEY dictate it! To quote C.S. Lewis, he’s NOT a TAME LION!!

    Anyway, I’ve said my piece. Have a good night! Hope I’ve provided you with some food for thought.
    God Bless!

    • Posted July 30, 2008 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      L,

      Thanks for writing.

      Let me say that I am not advocating socialism. Socialism makes people lazy and strips them of freedom. As practiced, socialism eventually conflicts with the free practice of religion. Witness the increasing assaults on Christian practice and belief in Canada as that country turns into a socialistic nanny state.

      I’ve written elsewhere that one doesn’t have to abandon capitalism (which has its own faults, especially when practiced by a selfish, ethically-bereft people) to live like the early Church did, to ensure that no one within the Body winds up going without when others live in abundance. Since this is a main speaking point here at Cerulean Sanctum, the archives hold numerous comments by me on this issue. You can read them for yourself.

      Which leads me to your comment about the impracticality of the Acts passages.

      Just because something is difficult or has a number of obstacles in its way doesn’t mean Christians should just give up on it. How big is our God? Too many times we act as if He’s utterly incapable of helping His people achieve His desires for us.

      What we see in Acts is not just wishful thinking. It’s not pie-in-the-sky. Many societies exist that live in the way we see in those Acts passages, despite human failings. The Amish have done so for centuries. Many other cultures like theirs exist around the world. They can do it, so why can’t we?

      What it comes down to is that we simply lack the guts and selflessness to go for it. We love our toys. We like the freedom of not caring about what happens to others in our communities. We’re in love with our spawn-of-industrialism jobs and work ethic. We don’t want to be bothered. We’ll be on a beach in Hilton Head. Just leave us alone.

      The Good Samaritan parable reflects this thinking. The Priest and Levite sum up our attitude. They had things to do and simply could not be bothered. That guy lying by the side of the road? Someone else will care for him. Or he’s probably a robber himself, beaten up by his cohorts. Or he deserved what he got because his bad choices put him in that ditch. Or we’re doing God’s work elsewhere—as Keith Green once eloquently said, “Hey man, that’s not my ministry.”

      American Christians, confronted with those two passages out of Acts, will find a million ways to discredit them, will dish out a truck full of excuses. But is God impressed with our ability to rationally explain away His words, or is He impressed with faithfulness?

      Many people get caught in prosperity teachings because they are poor and hope not to be. Who can blame the poor for not wanting to be poor? Yet that is what we do when we lambaste prosperity teachings without asking what we (that is, we of the “perfect” theology) are doing wrong that destitute people around the world go running to that teaching.

      I wish we Christians were better at asking what our deficiencies are than in pointing out other people’s deficiencies. I wish we were more tuned to our blind spots than theirs. It’s so much easier to fix someone else than it is to fix ourselves, isn’t it? We’re too busy with our 60-hour-a-week jobs and our weedless lawns, two late model cars, homes that 99 percent of the rest of the world would kill for, and all those distractions of the world that deafen us to the voice of God speaking into our lives, that blind us to His outstretched arms longing for us to stop stiffening our necks and hardening our hearts.

      We can live like Acts if we wished to. We just don’t wish to.

    • ANN
      Posted October 14, 2011 at 2:50 am | Permalink

      God will supply our needs but as for our greed’s not so much!

  3. Posted July 30, 2008 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Seems to me that there is an element of truth to the prosperity Gospel, as there is for most false Gospels.

    The simple fact of the matter is that we live in the most prosperous nation in the world, and even the poorest of our poor are richer that 90 percent of the rest of the world. The stuff you could find in the dumpster here would be great riches elsewhere.

    So I think the Lord has blessed us. The problem with Blessing is that once we have it, we rarely appreciate it, and always long for more. This happens because it is all about us, not about Him.

    Most poor theology is not wrong per se, just blown out of proportion and out of balance. Most of the cults build their doctrine on 10 or 12 scriptures, taken out of context. Preachers preach prosperity because it is easy, and it is profitable.. Unless they explore the rest of scripture, and give equal importance to it, they are building themselves a cult. Unfortunately this is also true of lots of preachers in all corners of Christianity. Too much emphasis on the love of God and none on the wrath of God. Too much emphasis on the wrath of God, and none on the love of God. Too much emphasis on the power of the Holy Spirit and none on the need for a contrite heart.

    All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching… If we don’t get that right, we are certain to get a lot else wrong.

    • pastor Justian, Triple Cross
      Posted August 3, 2008 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      Amen. The whole counsel of God is in there if we will apply ourselves. It is easy for preditors to feed on the milk drinking Christians. They have’nt matured enough to see the error of such lop-sided teaching.

      We live by faith and not by sight.

  4. Posted July 30, 2008 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Bull’s eye, Dan!

  5. Posted July 30, 2008 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    There is a middle ground here which I believe is the Biblical one. It’s best expressed in II Cor. 9:8-11:

    8 “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written: “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” 10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. (NIV)

    I believe firmly in the prosperity gospel, but not the one that is commonly taught. I believe in the one in the Scriptural passage above. That is, believing for your needs and above that for gifts to give for every good need of others and for Christian ministries and churches.

    To be fair, the Faith teachers (that is, the originals–Copeland, Savelle, etc.–not necessarily some today) taught us how to stand in faith to believe first, for our needs; second to get out of debt; and then third to believe on purpose to believe for extra money to give to our churches, missions and the poor. In my 45 years of being a Christian, I frankly have never heard any other teaching that specifically teaches you Scripturally and in great detail HOW to do this other than the Word of Faith teaching. The problem has occurred with these same original teachers going to the extreme and saying that ALL Christians SHOULD be rich and it’s a sin not to be. They do bring up an interesting point though, when they ask, “Is it sin to not believe for extra money for your church and to help the poor?” I think that is an excellent question and it always gets lost in discussions of the “prosperity gospel.”

    By the way, to be fair, I cannot find any evidence that the late Kenneth Hagin preached this stuff. In fact, he wrote a gret book shortly before his death entitled “The Midas Touch” in which he refuted much of his disciples’ teaching. According to Lee Grady, editor of Charisma magazine, Hagin’s friends told Grady that Hagin was terribly greived at how his followers had taken his faith teaching and turned it into this “prosperity gospel.”

    And then we could go on and discuss what is happening in Africa. Perhaps, Dan, you will write about this as I think it’s very important.

    On a personal level, I went thorugh 11 years of destitution due to my age and not being able to find a job out here in Calfiornia due to the terrible recession we had in the 1990′s. If it wasn’t for the Word of Faith teaching I don’t know how I would have gotten through. I do have a remarkable story of what happened next. In summary, I’m fine now. Did “my faith” get me here? Well, that is a whole other post for you to tackle Dan…LOL.

    Thanks for listening to my point of view.

    • ANN
      Posted October 14, 2011 at 2:54 am | Permalink

      The truth is most of the Lord’s original Apostle suffered a Martyr’s death and Paul who established all of the Gentile Churches was beheaded by Nero. Jesus warned that anyone following after him would suffer like he did and be persecuted. How does this sound like a bed of roses?

  6. Caron
    Posted July 30, 2008 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    Check out this website: http://www.justinpeters.org and watch “demo.” Justin Peters exposes those who preach the health and wealth message with their own preaching… On his website he has an overview of his seminar called, “A Call for Discernment.”

    He presented this at my church under my pastor, Dr. John MacArthur.

    • Posted July 30, 2008 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

      Caron,

      I have a simple question: Are Peters and MacArthur actively living out the two Acts passages I mentioned in my post?

      If yes, then I will gladly hear what they have to say.

      If no, then what’s the point?

      We have to get serious about this in the Church if we are to love as God intends.

      (I just realized I typoed the word “live” in the sentence above. I think I will keep it “love” because it makes an even more powerful statement.)

      • Posted July 31, 2008 at 12:18 am | Permalink

        Yeah, w/o love, it’s health, shmealth, and Prospero’s books.

  7. Loneman
    Posted July 31, 2008 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    I think, the question isn t about ‘socialistic ‘ kind of living..?

    Well yes, Job was rich – but first, he lost everything. Only, when he learned that wealth is not an asset, he recieved very much.
    So, with Abraham – after he almost sacrificed the dearest he knew, I don t think he clung to his wealth no more.

    These days, the dear Patriarchs are been terribly misused as excuse – to jusify themselves to be rich; and the purpose of that ‘God given richness ‘ should than be: to ‘help the poor ‘ , and so on .
    Nonsense.
    wealth is the tool for the Self to be in own Control – or not.

    ..those, who HAVE money, are in control of Self; those who haven t , only desire control of Self. One coin, two sides.

    but the hard part is to find out, if He REALLY takes care of you, when you are not able to ( out whatever reason ).
    ..and there is a huge difference between saying ‘oh yes, I BELIEVE He will ‘ – or have learned it

    Loneman

    good post Dan, thanks

  8. John Clayton
    Posted July 31, 2008 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    A funny thing happened about a year ago. I was channel surfing and saw a preacher guy promising that if I “seeded” $1000, I’d gain it back 10 times. I laughed and said to myself “sure, I’ll do that.” So I sent a check to a local mission (which I was planning on doing anyhow, just hadn’t done it yet). About two weeks later I got a $10,000 bonus. I’ve never gotten a bonus anywhere near that much in all life. I was floored! Coincidence?

    • Posted August 1, 2008 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      I don’t know if it’s coincidence, John.

      But what if you had received a bill for $10,000 from the IRS two weeks later. Would you still count it a blessing that resulted from seeding $1,000 to a local mission because the donation caused an agent to re-examine your tax record and found a mistake?

      Some early Christians would have … James taught them to. Echoing Jesus’ words, he taught them what true riches are; that they have nothing to do with cash.

      Jesus taught people to sell their possessions and give to the poor; to lay up treasures in heaven. His followers in the first century took Him seriously and did what he asked (Acts 2), and God blessed them by adding to their number daily.

    • Posted August 1, 2008 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      John,

      My experience follows:

      We receive a $500 windfall we did not expect. One week later, we’re hit with a $750 expense we did not expect.

      Now repeat indefinitely.

      I don’t get that. While it’s nice to get the windfall and we’d be poorer without it, it never balances. The unexpected expense is almost always 50 percent more than the windfall.

      It would be nice if the windfall and expense matched up, but it almost never does. That leads to a sort of downward spiral that is hard to explain. I know; I’ve tried explaining it to myself and seem to get nowhere.

      Worse, I’ve gotten into this mode of wondering what expense will hit after we receive a windfall. “Oh, we just got an unexpected $200. Now what $300 expense will hit us?”

      I know that’s wrong of me, but I sure would like to see the chain broken at some point. :-(

  9. Posted July 31, 2008 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    Amen. Amen. Amen.

    God forgive us.

    But – amen.

  10. Posted August 6, 2008 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    I think you’d appreciate Spence’s recent post over at Internet Monk:

    http://www.internetmonk.com/ar.....#more-2223

    Really…it’s a hardhitting post from a guy who’s trying to live like Jesus wants him to live, unlike some other critics who bash the prosperity gospel, as you say.

  11. Posted August 7, 2008 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Just a couple of short notes:

    The “prosperity gospel,” as some call it, scripturally stems from Gal. 3.13 – “we are redeemed from the curse of the law, Jesus being made a curse for us.” Some say that being redeemed from the curse just means the curse of following the law, but Jesus “being made” a curse foils that line of thinking. In Deuteronomy, the curse no doubt involved poverty.

    The modern “prosperity preachers” have tied gospel prosperity to tithing. That teaching is not only inconsistent with Gal. 3.13, it is anathema to the whole idea of a free redemption. Giving is a fruit of the spirit, not a work of the law.

    With regard to the Acts references, there’s no doubt that “prosperity” involves giving and receiving in and through the “assembly” or the Body of Christ. In my mind, those who preach against the “prosperity gospel” should have to answer to the widows, down-and-outers, etc. who have received material supply from the local church.

    • Posted August 7, 2008 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      Altho I agree with you that, according to Deuteronomy, poverty is a curse in the law, I disagree with you about widows and down-and-outers who receive help from prosperity-preaching churches. I do not think most prosperity-preaching churches provide much help to most widows and down-and-outers. I attended one. What their program to widows was, I have no idea, but I know the preacher would cite Elijah and the widow, Elisha and the widow, the widow’s mite, and the widow with the unjust judge.

    • Posted August 8, 2008 at 12:50 am | Permalink

      Peter,

      Agreed.

  12. Posted August 19, 2008 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Dan,

    That was a very insightful post. I’m reminded of a quote from the late Walter Martin, that “cults are the church’s unpaid bills”. If the Church were teaching, discipling and living as we should, there’d be less room for the prosperity gospel or emergent church to flourish.

    Like another poster commented, the prosperity gospel is often marketed to the poor who just want to come out of financial dire straits. I’ve seen more well to do adherents too which makes me think of 2 TImothy 4:3.

    • Posted August 19, 2008 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

      Daughter,

      Every denomination started out as a protest movement. Same with every cult.

      That reality should keep us sober.

  13. Carlos Pacheco
    Posted September 2, 2008 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Im glad I found this blog. I will put my 2 cents worth. I currently attend a church where prosperity is taught but not as in monetary value. Prosperity is a gift from God to those capable of receiving it. When I say prosperity, it is not focused on Money. It is prosperity in life, family and Christianity itself. We are also encouraged to seek God and his spirit at all times. I feel like I am in a prosperity based church but not like many of you have mentioned in the postings above. I spent countless years in churches were the pastor was too afraid to believe in God to grow the church. Yes prosperity can be seen as a false doctrine but so should being a faithless christian who does not believe in the miracles that God can make in peoples lives. And if prosperity is a sin why has it worked for me? Example, not to boast or anything, I gifted $1500 to the church and within 2 weeks time I was blessed with a $15000 bonus from work. So, what can I deduct from this????

    • Posted September 2, 2008 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      So, what can I deduct from this????

      Taxes! Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk! :-)

    • Posted September 2, 2008 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

      Carlos,

      I don’t know if there is a 1:1 correspondence. I’ve given tons of money to others over the years and I suspect I’ve received a tenth of that amount back. I mean, what does it says when you claim, “Hey, I gave $100,000 away over the last ten years and saw $10,000 of it come back!” That’s not going to win me any high-fives from Parsley and Copeland fanboys. ;-)

      Have I been in situations when I’ve given hilariously and received a surprise in return? Yes. But sometimes the surprise is that nothing came back—well at least not in the form of a big compensatory payout.

      I’ve been trying to help our church buy an upright digital keyboard for use in worship. I’ve been given what little I can to the point that we’re at about 3/4 of the way there, but it’s not been easy. Is there a return? Well, maybe the giving is its own reward.

  14. Carlos Pacheco
    Posted September 3, 2008 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    You got a good point. Im just trying to make a point of my own. I will be honest with you all, I am currently going through a tough financial time, I lost my job of 4 years and could not get hired by anyone, so I started my own business but it is a slow process to success. I have not been able to even tide at times. Will the church pay my bills? no!!!!!!!!!. So where is prosperity? well, I ask myself that question almost every sunday when I go to church, however, I have a firm belief that God is faithful to his word and his promises. That is prosperity to me. Having a living hope in God.

    My point to all of this is, that prosperity is not just about money or how much I got in return for giving, prosperity is a blessing from God.

    • Posted September 3, 2008 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      Carlos,

      Your story breaks my heart. I’ve been where you are, so I can feel your pain.

      If you read this blog long enough, you will see that I have written about this issue dozens of times (look under the categories of Work and Benevolence).

      People have been gracious to me. I can count many people who have helped me when I was in a bad spot. I can count just as many who should have been able to help and who didn’t. Those are the toughest.

      The Church SHOULD be able to help you pay your bills. And even if the collective church you attend doesn’t, individuals within or without that church should be able to pick up the slack.

      I know how difficult it is to start up a business, especially one that requires a decent portfolio to generate future work. Most small businesses take five years to get going. It is no surprise that studies show that most new businesses fail after just four years. My work has increased exponentially year after year, but it is still tough going, especially after we got hit by some debilitating sickness in the family. Still, things are on a steep upward climb and I think 2009 will be even better.

      I prayed for you just now.

  15. Carlos Pacheco
    Posted September 3, 2008 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    my brother, that is the absolute best thing we all can do for eachother(prayer). Im really glad for sites like yours, I can ask questions and comment on stuff that bothers me and that compelled me. Great Idea………..

    I dont even remember how I got here to be honest with you. God bless.

  16. praveen
    Posted November 19, 2012 at 12:53 am | Permalink

    The “prosperity gospel” was invented in the latter half of the 20th century by Mammon-loving preachers who had to find some “Scriptural” explanation to justify their extravagant lifestyles and the immense amount of wealth that they had accumulated from the tithes and offerings of their “devotees”. So they hunted up Old Testament promises that God had given to Israel and began to proclaim those promises as the unfailing mark of God’s blessing today. And money-loving believers gladly lapped up this new gospel!

    A secular journalist in the U.S.A., who heard of such a church where the “prosperity gospel” was being preached, wanted to find out if this teaching really worked. So he went to the church’s parking lot and checked out the makes of the cars parked there. He found that the cars parked in the spots reserved for the “Pastor” and “Assistant Pastors” were expensive cars!! But most of the other cars were cheap ones! He concluded that the “prosperity gospel” did work – but only for those who lived off the tithes and offerings of the congregation!! The rest of the congregation remained in the same condition that they had always been in!

    Even in poor countries like India, preachers are becoming rich, off the tithes and offerings of poor people, through this counterfeit gospel.

  17. praveen
    Posted November 19, 2012 at 12:53 am | Permalink

    It is interesting to see that even though Jesus referred to Satan as “the ruler of this world” (John 14:30). He never referred to Satan as the alternative master to God, whom people have the choice of serving. When Jesus spoke of two masters whom men could serve, He said that the two were God and Mammon (Luke 16:13). In Christendom, generally speaking, preachers have always urged people to choose between God and Satan. Jesus however urged people to choose between God and Mammon.

    Satan is a master schemer. He knows that if people are told to choose between God and Satan, no one will choose Satan. But when the choice is between God and Mammon, Satan knows that even believers will find it difficult to make a decisive choice.

    Satan knows that most Christians choose their jobs and their place of residence, etc., based on their passion for Mammon (property and money) rather than on any desire for the promotion of God’s kingdom. Satan knows that all such believers are useless for God’s purposes, irrespective of the amount of religious activity they engage in.

    Satan also knows that most of the Christian work in the world is more dependent on Mammon (money and property) than on the power of the Holy Spirit. Satan knows that all such Christian work will not have any eternal value – even if the reports of such work appear impressive when presented attractively by “public relations experts” in colourful Christian magazines!!

4 Trackbacks

  1. [...] properity gospel and remembering who is first among sinners (that would be one’s [...]

  2. [...] and Religion “emerging church”, prosperity gospel pointnine 9:59 pm Click here for an interesting, thought-provoking post focusing on prosperity gospel but drawing parallels to [...]

  3. By The Limitless on August 1, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Prosperity and Christianity…

    I’ve attempted posts on this topic occasionally, generally trying to point out that while many criticisms of the prosperity movement are valid, the teachings are sound.
    Cerulean Sanctum has an excellent post up on just that topic.
    To sum it up fr…

  4. By Random Acts of Linkage #73 : Subversive Influence on August 16, 2008 at 7:36 am

    [...] post-charismatic questions: Who’s to Blame for the Prosperity Gospel? (Dan Edelen; note it’s “blame” and not “credit”) Stripping Down To [...]

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