Summary: The greatest danger in prosperity theology is its hidden message of self-deification.
PROSPERITY GOSPEL –
DEALING WITH FALSE DOCTRINE
OPPOSE THE THEOLOGY AND NOT THE TEACHER
The evangelist pranced around the opulent stage urging TV listeners to send a donation and receive a prayer cloth, or send a bigger donation and receive miracle water from the Red Sea. He told them that if they were to give him a $1,000 God would see to it they got back 100 times as much … assuming they had the right faith. The antics of TV evangelists, like this one, can almost cause one to envision grabbing them by the collar of their $2,000 suit and chucking them right off the stage. Not in anger, but in righteous indignation.
Preachers, who are constantly fleecing their flock through deception and/or ignorance, do considerable harm to the validity of Christianity. But, this does not give us the right to thump a few cartoon knots on their head. It is far better for us to remind one another about the time when John came to Jesus and said: “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” Jesus listened to what John had to say, but He did not condone the actions of the apostles. In fact, Jesus said: “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. For the one who is not against us is for us.” (Mark 9:39-40) It would appear that Jesus is telling the apostles that it is not their duty to function as a “Jesus” police force. In fact, scripture makes it clear that the only authority given to a Christian leader is over his flock. There is no place in scripture where a minister is given authority over another shepherd’s flock or another shepherd, even a false shepherd. Prosperity theology, with its shallow and hypocritical followers, has damaged the credibility of true Christianity but we must leave it to Christ to deal with the false preachers.
The ministry of Christians is to live a life that reflects the love of God toward all of His creation, and to share with all men the message of reconciliation. We should not be discouraged by the flourishing of false doctrine; we need to remember that Jesus said: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23) Dealing with false teachers is Jesus’ business. Jesus will pass judgment on all the lazy, shiftless and false leaders. Yes, we most certainly have the earthly duty to expose and oppose false theology, but we have no right to make a personal attack on the false teacher. Every single human being will one day stand before Jesus, and Jesus will judge the heart of every human. Our mission is not to condemn the lost or to police the kingdom of God! Our mission is to lovingly build upon the foundation of Jesus Christ with gold, silver and precious stone, and to teach others to do likewise.
WHAT IS PROSPERITY THEOLOGY
Prosperity theology refers to a doctrine, which teaches that health, wealth and happiness can be obtained from God by our wanting it and our asking for it. Preachers of this doctrine teach that prosperity in health, wealth and happiness: comes through faith; it is the result of positive speaking; and prosperity is guaranteed by donations to the preacher’s ministries.
Prosperity theology teaches that sickness and poverty are the result of man’s fallen condition, which people are locked into because of a lack of faith. The prosperity preachers go beyond simple bible truth by insisting that we are in a contractual relationship with God. According to this contract, suffering exists because of Adam’s sin; we continue to suffer because we lack faith; and God must end our suffering if we display acts of faith.
It is almost as if prosperity teachers are putting control of our life and our future into our own hands. In the words of a prosperity preacher: we are entitled to health, wealth and happiness, God is obligated to bless us with prosperity; but it is up to us whether we have them or not. They teach that Jesus not only paid the price for our sins: He also removed sickness, poverty, and spiritual corruption from the lives of those who are willing to accept it. According to the prosperity preachers, Christians who make positive confessions about God’s blessings, and believe these blessings have already been granted, will get their blessings because God must grant all faithful requests. According to prosperity theology, this is God’s own ‘law’. Prosperity preachers claim this ‘law’ is an inviolable contract between God and humanity. It is almost as if they want people to believe that we can manipulate the blessings of God by speaking what we want.