For the few years that I was a pastor (and some before that), I had heard of the prosperity gospel. But I’ve seen (and heard) it up close so much more since we’ve lived in Allendale.
Remember the kind grandmother who gave me a dollar at church, so that “God could bless me”? That wasn’t the first or last time that I’ve experienced the idea that we can do things that cause God to act a certain way, and that God’s gifts of health and wealth are second only to salvation.
And here are some other resources that explain (and teach against) the prosperity gospel:
Money: An Instrument for Blessing, Not an Indicator of It (John Onwuchekwa). “The forgiveness of sins, as it’s declared and discovered in the context of a church community, is the true indicator of God’s blessing. . . . Money and resources, then, are instruments for propagating this message. Churches and Christians shouldn’t be cul-de-sacs for cash. They should be thoroughfares for finance.”
What I Appreciate (and Don’t) About Prosperity Preachers (Mark Driscoll). “I appreciate that those who adhere to prosperity theology are willing to deal with finances. I appreciate that they’re even trying to teach from Malachi 3. What I disagree with is the insinuation that we give in order to get, which can feed greed. Teaching this passage in such a way turns God into a great big piñata who lives in the sky and is full of material wealth.”
Biblically Understanding the Prosperity Gospel (Lyndon Unger). The prosperity gospel is not a descendent of ancient pagan worship. It’s worse. It’s a distortion of the true gospel, and makes it appear that God “is condoning something that he actually condemns.”
Errors of the Prosperity Gospel (David Jones). The five main points are:
- The Abrahamic covenant is a means to material entitlement.
- Jesus’ atonement extends to the “sin” of material poverty.
- Christians give in order to gain material compensation from God.
- Faith is a self-generated spiritual force that leads to prosperity.
- Prayer is a tool to force God to grant prosperity.
Evangelizing Prosperity Gospel Adherents (Allen Duty). “Sharing the gospel with people who have bought into the unbiblical message that Jesus died to make us healthy, wealthy, and successful is challenging for many reasons, but I believe two are primary. . . .”
- The message of prosperity appeals to the flesh.
- They use the same words we do, but with different meaning.
A Softer Prosperity Gospel: More Common Than You Think (David Schrock). The author gives 5 trademarks of the prosperity gospel, including this warning: “Unless a passage is rightly related to redemptive framework of the Bible, verses like Psalm 1:3 become treadmills on which earnest Christians tire themselves out.”
Contentment, the Stealth Prosperity Gospel, and Spiritual Greed (Jared Wilson). “Prosperity gospel, then, which promises an abundantly fulfilling life, ironically breeds discontentment. We are never abiding with God where we are, because we always consider what we have less than what’s available (or at least less than what our neighbor has). We always think of today as less than tomorrow.”
Do you have any thoughts on this topic? Let me know in the comments.
**image courtesy of stevendepolo via flickr