Weekly Reflections: The Prosperity Gospel

By REV. LUNA DINGAYAN
www.nordis.net

“You need only one thing. Go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow me.” — Mark 10:21

Non-Christian religion

Dr. Benjamin L. Corey wrote recently an article stating categorically that the so-called “Prosperity Gospel” is a non-Christian religion. The Prosperity Gospel is a modern brand of Christianity claiming that a good and faithful Christian results in good health, a long life, having an abundance of possessions, and material wealth. This is sometimes called “Success Gospel.”

Dr. Corey mentioned at least five reasons why the “Prosperity Gospel” or “Success Gospel” preached by today’s “new religious movements” is not Christian at all.

Money-oriented

First of all, the prosperity gospel encourages us to be money-oriented instead of people-oriented. The ultimate goal of the prosperity movement is how to get rich, how to have an abundance of material wealth. It is a materialistic religion.

But that is not what Christianity is all about. Christianity is a religion that is people-oriented – how to love other people, how to disciple other people in the ways of Jesus, and how to be the tangible agent of God in the lives of others. True Christianity is not about self. In fact, Jesus said, “Your true life is not made up of the things you own, no matter how rich you may be” (Lk. 12:15).

Performance based religion

Moreover, the prosperity gospel promotes a performance-based religion. But Christianity is not a performance religion.

The prosperity gospel teaches that if we do this and that we will get more in return. This paradigm sees God’s favour as something we would earn by doing, instead of something we receive freely by God’s grace alone.

Jesus blew this concept out of the water when he said, “For he (God) makes his sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil” (Mt. 5:45).

Instead of seeing God’s love and blessing as something freely given through his grace, the prosperity gospel associates God’s favour with right behaviour, and interprets hard times as God holding back his favour.

Promotes greed

Furthermore, the prosperity gospel promotes one of the most frequently condemned sins in the Bible: the sin of greed. The prosperity gospel is a gospel of having more, and that completely stands against what Christianity is all about. Jesus said, “Watch out and guard yourselves from every kind of greed’’ (Lk. 12:15).

The Christian message is learning to be content with what we have. In the 10 Commandments we are taught not to “covet” which is the same as saying, “You shall be content with what you have.” The bottom line is that if we have what we need, but still want more– especially while others go without– we are greedy, and this sin is biblically considered wickedness, even if modern society excuses it.

Promotes elitism

Moreover, the prosperity gospel promotes elitism among the body of Christ. One of the central beliefs of Christianity is that we are all equal in God’s eyes. We are all created in the image of God and have unsurpassable worth, so much so that Jesus died for us. For those of us who are Christians, the Bible says we are all part of “one body” and that we are equal. However, the prosperity gospel has a way of creating an elite status of Christians– because if we are really rich, it must be because we are doing it better than everyone else.

For instance, a few years ago prosperity preachers Kenneth Copeland and Jesse Duplantis argued that they needed to fly in private jets because flying commercial on an airline was like getting in a “long tube with a bunch of demons.” They also lamented how annoying it would be for people to come up to them and ask for prayer. Thus, they “need” to fly in private jets.

This kind of disgusting elitism is not just outside of Christianity, it is opposed to Christianity. It does not reflect the homeless Jesus who hung out with the worst of sinners.

Perversion of God’s purpose

Finally, the prosperity gospel perverts God’s purpose in material blessing. The Bible says that every good and perfect gift we receive comes from God (cf. James 1:17). But the prosperity gospel forgets that, in occasions where God blesses someone with financial or material excess, that blessing comes with a specific purpose: to bless others.

When God gives us more than what we need, he does so in the hope that we will honour him by sharing it with others who don’t have enough. The early church in the book of Acts actually founded the earliest Christian community on this premise– when they had more than needed they shared their wealth so that there were “no poor among them” (cf. Acts 4:34-35).

The idea that God gives some people more than what they need so that they can enjoy the high-life of luxury while people around them die of hunger and illness, is a disgusting perversion of the actual Gospel.

There are plenty of things that are killing the church today, but one of the biggest things killing the church is the rise of a false, anti-Christ religion that so many people mistakenly believe is part of Christianity. To put it bluntly, the prosperity gospel and those who preach it are not part of the Christian religion. They just made up their own religion of materialism and are falsely calling it “Christian.” #nordis.net

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