You’re Kidding Right? The Ridiculous Truth About the Prosperity Gospel

I saw a link to the “Victory Church” in Oklahoma, and I was checking out their statement of faith. I have found myself stuck between laughing so hard that I am crying, and shaking my head in disbelief. Is this for real? or is this a joke? If I wanted to mock the prosperity gospel I don’t think I could come up with a better parody myself. On the other hand, I feel that my faith is so weak…. that I never thought to pray for “Rebates and Returns.” It says:

“OFFERING OF THANKS
As we bring our tithes and offerings unto the Lord, we are believing for:

Jobs & Better Jobs
Raises & Bonuses
Benefits
Sales & Commissions
Growth in Business
Settlements
Estates & Inheritances
Interest & Income
Rebates & Returns
Checks in the Mail
Gifts & Surprises
Finding Money
Bills Paid Off
Bills Decreased
Blessings & Increase

Thank you Lord for meeting all of my financial needs, that I may have more than enough to give into the Kingdom of God and promote the gospel of Jesus Christ. Hallelujah!”

This seems a far cry from Paul’s words I Tim 6:6-11:

“Godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. 11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.

 

5 thoughts on “You’re Kidding Right? The Ridiculous Truth About the Prosperity Gospel

  1. You know Matt, It sounds crazy, and it is in a lot of ways. But I was speaking to a close, dear friend who is more inclined to this “theology” than I am and they mentioned something that made me think…They said there are some that believe for these things so they can turn around and give it away. I won’t presume to say if that is the majority or not but I know a few that do walk it out in an attitude of humility…Still kind of nutty though…

  2. Hey Jason, I hope you are doing well. Thanks for the comment and that angle.I can’t (and don’t want to) judge the motives of people’s hearts. I know there are a lot of sincere people that get caught up in this that don’t take it to its logical conclusion. But I believe that if taken consistently the prosperity gospel is a “false gospel” because it makes Jesus a means to another master: health, money and success. When I was a young christian I used to pray that God would let me win the lottery, and of course I intended to give a large portion of it away to the church. As sincere as I was, I think my notions were built on a lot of false notions, and had a lot to do with my own love of money.Ron Sider has a book “the scandal of the evangelical conscience” where he documents that as Americans have gotten richer over the past 4 decades, they have given less, not more. However, I do know some rich Christians who do give away a lot of their money, and I am glad for that… and I pray for them to be more successful. I know that not everyone sees godliness as a means to gain. But money is dangerous and I don’t think I have ever heard any of these folks accurately reflect Jesus’ teaching on the dangers of money. However, in the end I am skeptical of anyone who builds a ministry that suggests that it is God’s plan for you to be healthy and wealthy, especially when in so many cases God’s “wonderful plan for your life” includes that we be more than conquerors through hardship and persecution.

  3. Well, this post is actually generating some good discussion… and I appreciate the comments No, I don’t think it is wrong to pray for a bonus….if you are praying for the right reasons. I have done this in the past. I do not think it is right to give to God or the poor because you want to be rich. This can result in us treating God sort of like a vending machine. And also I don’t think it is good to teach or believe that the gospel will bring us health, wealth, or prosperity in the world’s eyes. The glory of the gospel is that it brings us into fellowship with God through Jesus. The other problem with the prosperity gospel is that it only “works” in America. It is easy to forget, is that we are the richest nation/society in the history of the world. 26,000 children will die of starvation today. And much of the world is in similar straits, and many of these people are Christians. When believers (in America or elsewhere) go through trials it is not because God doesn’t love them, or because they don’t have enough faith. Often trials (including financial difficulties) are a gift from God that helps us to grow in faith and perseverance. This testing of our faith is worth more than gold.Paul said, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”… and then concluded “I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (Romans 8:35 and 39) When he said this he was speaking about the real situations that believers face, and that none of those things (including not having food, and not having clothes) can separate us from Jesus. Treasures on earth can perish, but the treasures we have in heaven can never be taken away (Matt 6:19-21)

  4. Hi Matt,Thanks for the thoughts. I have been thinking about this all weekend. I agree with everything you say by the way. I think there are some good people that would be found in “health and wealth” churches that have their head on straight and pray for finances so they can give back. We have a couple in our church that always give us “prosperity” type books at Christmas that I cringe to receive, but also have run a feeding ministry for the 17 years. Awesome, faithful, generous people. I don’t want to judge, but they are probably more the exception than the rule. Prosperity is a tricky thing. You can kind of build a case for it biblically without being too big a whacko. When Israel honored God, he would often bless them in many ways through crop production, child bearing, etc. God honoring Kings usually reigned in God’s favor with protection from enemies and good relationship with other kings. When Jesus sent out his disciples, it was to preach the gospel of the kingdom and to heal people. There is a concept that can be distorted where people who encounter Jesus can get healed. It’s not like some theologies that are so far out in left field, built on really bad exegesis and fairy tales. It’s a teaching that in essence can be truthful but is easily transformed into something dangerous by our flesh. I think most people have good intentions with the idea of what we would do if we had great wealth, but to borrow a really bad Lord of the Rings analogy, we probably couldn’t be trusted with the ring.At least I can’t most the time.P.S my new blog is over at http://www.mylifeinbeta.net

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