Monday, November 2, 2020by Reverend Dan on November 2, 2020
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth ... But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven"
I’ve started to get a number of questions lately about a comment I made in a recent devotional where I mentioned the “Prosperity Gospel”. The main question is, “What is it?”, but there have also been some follow-up questions such as, “Where did it come from?”, and “Why is it so much in the news lately?”
What I’m going to do for the next few days is give you a little history about it. In the Bible Jesus tells us to “beware of false prophets”, and there are many scriptures warning us to beware of false doctrine. Here are just a couple:
2 Timothy 4:3-4 - For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
2 Corinthians 11:13 - For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.
So, let’s get going with what it is.
The Prosperity Gospel can be defined or explained in a number of ways.
- It is preaching that says faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase your material wealth.
- It views the Bible as a contract between God and humans: if humans have faith in God, he will deliver prosperity and security.
- Prosperity theology teaches that Christians are entitled to good physical health and economic prosperity.
- This interpretation of the gospel sees the atonement (reconciliation with God through the blood of Christ shed on Calvary) as not only an act which forgives sin, but also alleviates sickness and poverty.
- It teaches that poverty and illness are curses which can be broken by having enough faith and donating enough money to the church.
- It is also known as the “Word of Faith” movement, or “Seed” theology.
- It says that Christianity has historically placed an unnecessary focus on suffering.
- It says that the scripture is being interpreted incorrectly – that the biblical promises of blessings are to be understood literally as material wealth, not spiritual wealth. For example:
Malachi 3:10: "'Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.'"
Matthew 25:14–30: the Parable of the talents
John 10:10: "'I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.'"
3 John 1:2: "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth."
At its core, the Prosperity Gospel teaches that God rewards increasing levels of faith with greater amounts of wealth.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at the criticisms of the Prosperity Gospel by mainline evangelical Christianity.
“Father, Open our eyes to the true meaning of scripture. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.”