Thursday, 31 July 2008

10 reasons I hate prosperity teaching...

Yes "Hate" is a strong word.

to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward; detest:

Yep - that covers it!

It focuses on earthly treasure - not treasure in heaven. (We have been warned about that)

It makes the goal of generosity the return we get - not selfless compassion and love.

It focuses on "outward things" like possessions, not fruits of the spirit, like grace, love, humility.

It makes our "stewardship" about our "accumulation", not our "distribution". Thus it replaces generosity with greed. It makes "ownership" and "receiving" the prize - not sharing, that does not sound like Acts 2.

It implies those with more "faith" get more "wealth". It therefore ignores:
- economic factors (such as industry declines etc)
- educational background & the opportunities provided
- family background & the expectations / opportunities given
- choice of career (Teacher vs Investment Banker)

AND it implies or accuses those with LESS that they somehow LACK faith that would have redeemed a blessing from the great cosmic bank account.

It makes us dissatisfied. God's provision does bring some level of contentment and joy for the believer and leads us to worship Him. But the idea that more stuff = more blessing leaves us never satisfied. It is the spirit of consumerism marketed in a christian sweet wrapper. I need to give more, to receive more, to have more, to give more, to receive more, to have more, to give more is a symbian circle of greed that chokes faith. Suddenly "more" is better, and once "more" is master you are never satisfied.

Mark Driscoll said... "How can any teaching say "If only you have more faith then you won't be like Jesus""

Add in any of the disciples to that quote. Do we suggest that the apostle Paul lacked faith. Read 2 Corinthians 11:23-33 and then tell me faith = blessing = provision.

If YOU give and if YOU have more faith then God will bless YOU. Nope - our Father in heaven gives good gifts to his children and provides for our needs. Our needs are internal and external, spiritual, emotional and practical, and the answer is in God not us.

It is from Him, it is for His purposes, it belongs to Him, and with Him we can use it to honour and bring glory to Him.

It ignores the following (a small example):

- international markets and trading (where we are told to seek justice for the poor)
- seasonal changes like drought (where we have an example to help the poor)
- wars, conflicts, the displacement of people (where we have an example to help those fleeing hardship, war or slavery)

This makes it an easy option for wealthy, educated "first world" Christians wanting success in their consumer culture. But it is a gospel of death to other believers around the world, who just happen to be our brothers and sisters in Christ, who we have a responsibility to help - both in terms of their humanity, and their place in God's kingdom.

In short, if you believe "faith = financial blessing" then go to a starving village in Ethiopia and tell the local pastor that.

It means we talk about generosity and helping the poor, even though we already have more than we need, and give less than we can, and are dissatisfied! We are dissatisfied even though we have more than we need, as we want even more than we need, even though with more we will still give even less than we are able to, in order to sustain a lifestyle beyond what we need, which we remain dissatisfied with, while the poor we wanted to help stay poor.

We then wonder why those outside the Church think we are hypocrites...

For balance, I do believe that,

a) God blesses people as he chooses and some times with overwhelming wealth and power - Abraham, Job, Solomon etc. It is not wrong to be rich, to do a well paid job.

b) We do need to work hard to seek a return, especially if we have responsibility to provide for people and we should invest wisely to seek a return

c) God does bless us with nice things and let's us have nice things. It is from Him, it is for His purposes, it belongs to Him, and with Him we can use it to honour and bring glory to Him.

There is no shame in being very very rich, and there is no shame in being very very poor, and we get both cases within the body of Christ and both have enough when we share.

So while I love the provision of God and believe that wealth is a wonderful blessing from God I believe that the idea that guaranteed financial prosperity is part of our inheritance in the gospel is a lie and I hate it.

What we need is a balanced view.


Jongudmund said...

I agree with everything you said on this. Thought you were very polite in the way you said it too.

Not sure about the new look blog lay out though...

DaveW said...

Well put, I agree 100%

Anonymous said...

I also hate this false teaching. Its nearly as bad as 'become a christian and everying in your life will become perfect and all your problems will be solved' no its 'Become a christian and Father will make you more Christ like by giving you more things to face but he will be with you in them'

Peter Kirk said...

The problem I see with this post is that you have not properly defined what it is you hate. I suspect that what you are attacking is to a large extent a straw man, a caricature of real teaching.

Now maybe there are some people out there who do say all the things you hate. But there are also many teachers who say things like "Give generously to this offering and God will bless you and meet your needs" whose views are in fact quite different from your caricature. Now I don't think it is helpful to say things like this, but I do believe it is true although it should not be the motivation for giving. Indeed Paul said much the same, but after the offering, in Philippians 4:19.

So to me it is wrong to describe this kind of thing as "teaching which sounds depressingly like the prosperity gospel" and thereby condemn those who do say it as false teachers.

Blue, with a hint of amber said...

Thanks Peter - a useful comment.

I recognise that I did not define terms clearly enough, and that is something I will do in the future.

I think some of what Todd Bentley says in this area is certainly open to misinterpretation on this point, hence the expression "depressingly like" rather than a more concrete criticism.

"Please give to this because God has blessed you through it" or "please give to this to allow me to lift the name of Jesus higher around the world" would be the sorts of messages which would help make it all a bit clearer.

Blue, with a hint of amber said...

But if you do click the final link it gives and indication where my post was aimed at.

Pat said...


well i couldn't disagree more with all the points made neg. to "prosperity gospel". Although I feel the term "prosperity gospel" is erroneous in itself, because there is only one gospel, and within it is contained the things I have heard taught by one teacher who is called by others to be within the above "insulting type name group".

While I don't want to argue, I do want to speak my support for everything I have heard this one teacher teach. I have researched it in the bible, and have found it to be absolutely true!

What if you have been blinded by yours and others comments, and have missed something great and grand and "of God",?

What if you are wrong, simply missing it?

What if everything that is taught by ie. I can only go by the one teacher I have listened to and resarched in the bible regarding their comments and teaching.

I have to say that although I was of the same opinion as yourself, re neg. toward them and had heard horror stories and neg. comments widespread from everywhere,

When I listened, I found the teaching to be right on with the bible on all points.

No holds barred.

Pat said...

P.S. I love Prosperity Teaching, and I believe it is entirely supported by what the word of God says.

Jongudmund said...

A previosu poster said
"P.S. I love Prosperity Teaching, and I believe it is entirely supported by what the word of God says."

It's tempting to say 'that's because you're an idiot'. But maybe you just need to grow up a bit. Hopefully one day you'll see 'prosperity teaching' as the immature and shallow thing it is.

Oh and there are many gospels, but one Gospel. There are four gospels in the Bible alone... Feel free to count them. It's legitimate to refer to the "Prosperity Gospel" because the good news it teaches is that you can be 'prosperous', which it defines as wealthy in a Western material way.

So if 'good news' = prosperity, then this sort of teaching is a prosperity gospel.

I might have lost you with that. In my experience people who love 'God will make you rich theology' switch off when you start talking about complicated things.

The Broken Man said...

oh go on...let me belive God wants to pay of my overdraft, and give me a new car...go on go on go on go on go on... no? Oh okay then. I think a great example of the way God gives to people and sustains them is Elijah, i love talking about his story with propserty belivers. So God provides for his servent Elijah through increadble miracles! And i think in the same way he wants to do that with us. So 3 1/2 years on bread and water. Yup thats God providing..not five course meals, the basics to sustain his servent so that he could do the task appointed for him. Its pick up your Cross not get in your new Jag and follow me.

Great blog.

Blue, with a hint of amber said...

to sustain his servant so that he could do the task appointed for him

Spot on

Phil said...

You might find this article interesting

Lorikate said...

Nicely put! I can't stand this stuff, how off base can we possibly get??? I've just found out that a good friend is into this stuff....makes me sad. While I'll take any blessing GOd wants to throw my way...that's just it, it's a BLESSING not an entitlement. And to try and wrap scripture around the lie to make it more palatable to Christians? Sickening. Where did humility, giving, generosity and giving up everything to follow Christ go??