The prosperity gospel is a sham for the very simple reason that the emphasis is not on the gospel but on Prosperity. In fact, any movement that’s not focused on the GOSPEL is a false teaching as far as I’m concerned.
So, while I can acknowledge why some folks would be captivated by this movement, I’m more curious about how those who oppose prosperity theology should respond.
The NY Times published an article yesterday entitled, Believers Invest in the Gospel of Getting Rich, and it’s worth your read.
But back to my question:
How do we respond? Do we simply say that “We’re against it” or should go further to teach against the movement; to specifically cite preachers behind the movement? How strongly do we voice our opposition?
Or maybe you disagree with me entirely and believe the Prosperity Gospel is legit…
FORT WORTH — Onstage before thousands of believers weighed down by debt and economic insecurity, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland and their all-star lineup of “prosperity gospel” preachers delighted the crowd with anecdotes about the luxurious lives they had attained by following the Word of God.
“God knows where the money is, and he knows how to get the money to you,” preached Mrs. Copeland, dressed in a crisp pants ensemble like those worn by C.E.O.’s.
Even in an economic downturn, preachers in the “prosperity gospel” movement are drawing sizable, adoring audiences. Their message — that if you have sufficient faith in God and the Bible and donate generously, God will multiply your offerings a hundredfold — is reassuring to many in hard times.
The preachers barely acknowledged the recession, though they did say it was no excuse to curtail giving. “Fear will make you stingy,” Mr. Copeland said.
But the offering buckets came up emptier than in some previous years, said those who have attended before.
Many in this flock do not trust banks, the news media or Washington, where the Senate Finance Committee is investigating whether the Copelands and other prosperity evangelists used donations to enrich themselves and abused their tax-exempt status. But they trust the Copelands, the movement’s current patriarch and matriarch, who seem to embody prosperity with their robust health and abundance of children and grandchildren who have followed them into the ministry.
“If God did it for them, he will do it for us,” said Edwige Ndoudi, who traveled with her husband and three children from Canada for the Southwest Believers’ Convention this month, where the Copelands and three of their friends took turns preaching for five days, 10 hours a day at the Fort Worth Convention Center.
The crowd of more than 9,000 was multiracial, from 48 states and 27 countries. There was no fee to attend. There were bikers in leather vests, pastors, blue-collar workers, professionals and plenty of families with children.
A large contingent came in wheelchairs, hoping for miraculous healings. The audience sat with Bibles open, flipping to passages cited by the preachers, taking notes on pads and laptop computers.
“The folks who are coming aren’t poor,” said Jonathan L. Walton, a professor of religion at the University of California, Riverside, who has written about the movement and was there doing research. “They reside in that nebulous category between the working and the middle class.”
Sitting in Section 316, eight rows up, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on a Bible at lunch time, was a family who could explain the enduring loyalty the prosperity preachers inspire.
Stephen Biellier, a long-distance trucker from Mount Vernon, Mo., said he and his wife, Millie, came to the convention praying that this would be “the overcoming year.” They are $102,000 in debt, and the bank has cut off their credit line, Mrs. Biellier said.
They say the Copelands rescued them from financial failure 23 years ago, when they bought their first truck at 22 percent interest and had to rebuild the engine twice in a year.
Around that time, Mrs. Biellier first saw Mr. Copeland on television and began sending him 50 cents a week.
Others who bought trucks from the same dealer in Joplin that year went under, the Bielliers said, but they did not.
“We would have failed if Copeland hadn’t been praying for us every day,” Mrs. Biellier said.
The Bielliers are now among 386,000 people worldwide whom the Copelands call their “partners,” most of whom send regular contributions and merit special prayers from the Copelands.
A call center at the ministry’s 481-employee headquarters in Newark, Tex., takes in 60,000 prayer requests a month, a publicist said.
The Copelands’ broadcast reaches 134 countries, and the ministry’s income is about $100 million annually.
The Bielliers were at the convention a few years ago when a supporter made a pitch for people to join an “Elite CX Team” to raise money to buy the ministry a Citation X airplane. (Mr. Copeland is an airplane aficionado who got his start in ministry as a pilot for Oral Roberts.) At that moment, Mrs. Biellier said she heard the voice of the Holy Spirit telling her, “You were born to support this man.”
She gave $2,000 for the plane, and recently sent $1,800 for the team’s latest project: buying high-definition television equipment to upgrade the ministry’s international broadcasts.
Mrs. Biellier said some friends and relatives would say the preacher just wanted their money. She explained that the Copelands did not need the money for themselves; it is for their ministry. And besides, even “trashy people like Hugh Hefner” have private airplanes.
“I remember Copeland had to once fly halfway around the world to talk to one person,” she said. “Because we’re partners with Kenneth Copeland, for every soul that gets saved, we get credit for that in heaven.”
But while a band primed the crowd, Professor Walton called the prosperity preachers “spiritual pickpockets.”
“To dismiss and ignore the harsh realities of this economic crisis,” he said. “is beyond irresponsible, to the point of reprehensible.”
The Copelands refused an interview request, but one of their daughters, Kellie Copeland Swisher, and her husband, Steve Swisher, who both work in the ministry, spoke for them.
Mrs. Swisher said the ministry gave away “a minimum of 10 percent of what comes in” to other charities. Her father’s current favorite, she said, is a Roman Catholic orphanage in Mexico.
The ministry has resisted providing the Senate investigation with all the documents requested, she said, because the Copelands did not want to publicly reveal the names of the “partners.” The investigation, which could result in new laws, is continuing, a committee spokeswoman said. Among those being investigated is Creflo Dollar, one of the ministers at the Copelands’ convention.
Mr. Swisher said that even in the economic downturn, the ministry’s income going into the convention was up 3 percent over last year. Asked if they had adjusted the message for the economy, Mrs. Swisher patted the worn Bible in her lap and said: “The message they preach is the Word of God. The Word doesn’t change.”
At the convention, the preachers — who also included Jesse Duplantis and Jerry Savelle — sprinkled their sermons with put-downs of the government, an overhaul of health care, public schools, the news media and other churches, many of which condemn prosperity preaching.
But mostly the preachers were working mightily to remind the crowd that they are God’s elect. “While everybody else is having a famine,” said Mr. Savelle, a Texas televangelist, “his covenant people will be having the best of times.”
“Any time a worried thought about money pops up in your mind,” Mr. Savelle continued, “the next thing you do is sow”: drop money, like seeds, in “good ground” like the preachers’ ministries. “Stop worrying, start sowing,” he added, his voice rising. “That’s God’s stimulus package for you.”
At that, hundreds streamed down the aisles to the stage, laying envelopes, cash and coins on the carpeted steps.
42 Replies to “how do we respond to the prosperity gospel?”
Sowing financial seeds is not biblical. At least I couldn’t find any support for it. The Gospel is about Jesus Christ, how through Him, we are reunited with our Father GOD. Some preachers’ emphasis is on money; hmmm. Shouldn’t we all be pointing the way to Christ?
Step two of that carpet call should have been to open the doors and let the homeless in that city come collect the cash. Not gonna happen, methinks.
I would prefer the lottery and gambling to prosperity teachers. They have a better rate of return.
Logic alone shows the prosperity gospel people for the frauds that they are, because if God really was a money exchange machine. (Put in a dollar and get a hundred back), then there wouldn’t only be those few TV preachers, there would be prosperity gospel millionaires everywhere. But there isn’t, so their message of prosperity contradicts reality.
How to respond is a more difficult question. On one hand I believe that Christians should openly and strongly oppose them because they take advantage of the poor and desperate when they need help the most.
But on the other hand, I don’t want Christians to become defined by only what they are against. So we have to be more creative in not only exposing frauds, but teaching and showing people the sacrificing love of Jesus.
For us to ignore the prosperity gospel proof texts leads to the same (but opposite) imbalance as the prosperity teachers. What is needed is a balanced, biblical view on the topic, something I think is done well in the first article here: http://www.tikkunministries.org/newsletters/ai-aug07.asp (ignoring the rest of the newsletter!)
While I was in highschool, my parents used to watch the Copelands and their crew almost daily on TV. To this day, the mention of Kenneth and Gloria Copeland makes my stomach twist.
My parents genuinely sought to live faithful lives. I believe that the Copelands capitalized on this desire, coupled with the longing not to struggle financially, and sold a toxic brand of theology that, while it emphasized Bible study, ignored calls to service that didn’t involve sending money to them. Even worse, it encourages followers to look down on Christians who don’t subscribe to the same theology, weakening bonds of Christian unity and brotherhood. Defense of this theology certainly damaged relationships my parents had with other Christians.
So how should we respond to the prosperity doctrine? First, we should maintain the respect and love and commitment to brotherhood that may so easily be neglected. Secondly, we should encourage our brothers to continue being cheerful in their giving, but to instead give to ministries that they can actively participate in and know better how the money is being used. Third, we should remind them that service and storing up treasures in heaven is what Jesus exhorts us to, not acquiring wealth for ourselves.
I have just been appointed by the United Methodist denomination to plant a new church 1 1/2 miles north of Newark, TX – the home of Kenneth Copeland’s organization. It will be interesting to see how a ministry that so sharply contrasts with the prosperity gospel goes over there.
By the way Jay Sellers, I have seen that happen in Nigeria. It was amazing.
Care to name names locally?
The journeys of the giants of the faith, profiled throughout the Bible, were difficult, messy, painful, unsanitary, anguished, dangerous, and unfair.
So if this is how God deals with his favored ones, why do we equate his blessing with safety, self-fulfillment, and air conditioning?
I got saved in a “prosperity” church and was a part of that movement for the better part of my early Xian up bringing so I get the draw to it. No longer being a part of that movement, I have a different take on the whole thing. I’ve heard some flat out ANTI-BIBLICAL stuff come from these preachers. But my question for them now is this: “How does this message translate in Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Uganda and other parts of the world where generous, Bible believing Christians are suffering economically?”
I used to listen to Copeland, Dollar, Sevelle and the like. They get rich off of the poor. They actually teach that the poor are not “good ground” to sow seed to so you shouldn’t give to them. They say the Bible says “if you give to the poor God will give back to you” and that’s not multiplication and God is about mulitplying your seed 30, 60 and 100 fold. Meanwhile, the Bible tells us over and over again to care for the poor.
I do believe that God supplies our every need and I do believe that God rewards those who dillegently seek Him. I don’t believe that God’s desire is for every Christian to be rich. One of the Pslamist asks God to not give him too little that he would have to steal and dishonor God and not too much so that he never denies God by asking “who is the Lord?” Not to mention all of the stuff in scripture that mentions our suffering. And have you ever noticed that Paul’s writing about being able to do “all things through Christ that gives me strength” was written to show how he be content when he has a lot AND A LITTLE?
That’s how I respond to many of them now. I just ask questions about Scripture.
i’ve always been taught that you don’t “put your mouth” on a man of God. i don’t see the need in bashing pastors for what they preach because the Word of God is living and it works based on your faith and your relationship.
before i relocated i was a member of a church that would probably be considered a “prosperity message” church but rather than preach you put this in you get this out, i was taught the truth about the curse of poverty. extreme poverty is generational in the black community for so many reasons and by showing through the Word of God that living in poverty is not God’s best for you has changed many lives at that church and in the community. people can argue with it all they want but i saw single moms go back to school and graduate and move from debt to financial stability.
that’s just one example but the point is at my church it wasn’t about sowing seeds to get more money. it was believing and living the Word of God to understand that God knows what you have need of and promised to provide it, He came that we would have abundant life and that He wants us blessed. that might look different for each of us but there is no denying that living in extreme poverty robs you of abundant life. there is nothing awesome about always having lack and to show people through the Word that our blessings are to bless the people of God is only a good thing in my book.
abuse of anything is bad news and i don’t deny that some people labeled prosperity preachers are nothing more than crooks. but my prayer is that the holy spirit is allowed to minister to the hearts of the people and they are able to rightly divide the Word of Truth.
My research focus specifically on Prosperity Gospel and Latino immigrants. Though Prosperity Gospel is indeed a sham, we have to recognize that is the most “American” form of Christianity and it is the fastest growing form of Christianity around the world. Look carefully at the doctrines of Christians in Africa and Latin America, especially Pentecostals, and you will find that no matter what tradition or denomination they belong to, at the core there is Prosperity Gospel.
But Prosperity Gospel is not just about money, as the article suggest. The majority of the people, even the couple described in that article, never got rich and will never get rich. They believe because of the therapeutic aspects of the faith. They believe because it is the only hope they have. Even if it is a false hope, it is their only hope. And that, I believe, is what should slap Christians in the face. Instead of just standing aside and criticizing (I believe we HAVE TO call out heresy) we need to look in the mirror. This false doctrine gives them a hope and comfort they can get no where else. It makes them feel good in the midst of their poverty. What’s the church’s answer to that?
Tony, my response would be to point out the fact that the point of the Gospel isn’t about making people feel good about their bad situations. The real truth is that God is WITH them in their bad situation regardless if you have to go through it or not. Jesus didn’t send John the Baptist a false hope, the prisoner WASN’T going free – and Jesus’ response was “blessed is he who is not offended in me.” Jesus could have told him the blind see, the deaf here, the brokenhearted are comforted anthe captives go free knowing that John’s captivity would not be ended and give a false sense of hope. But he didn’t Jesus opted for the TRUTH, we should go and do likewise.
richard mouw has a great reflection on this topic (http://www.netbloghost.com/mouw/?p=43)
“It’s tempting to trash that kind of theology, but the Century writer rightly holds back from doing so. He is obviously concerned about the sort of preaching that he has witnessed there. But for all of that, he reminds us, there is something to be said for telling desperately needy people “that you matter, that you belong on top, that you will have what you desire.” Marginalized groups of people do need to hear encouraging words that “provide incentives in circumstances in which it is all too easy to give up.”
Prosperity gospel makes my heart ache. First of all, there is hardly any honest exegesis of scripture on behalf of the Copelands – here is where the Copelands explain their theology: http://www.kcm.org/real-help/article/understanding-prosperity
Secondly, I have a problem with the following statement from the above article:
“I remember Copeland had to once fly halfway around the world to talk to one person,” she said. “Because we’re partners with Kenneth Copeland, for every soul that gets saved, we get credit for that in heaven.”
I see several things wrong here…
1. Someone else’s salvation is about “me” and my points with God.
2. It sounds like the Copelands are preaching this to the ‘partners’ as a way to receive more funds.
3. Not only is money an idol, but the Copelands are as well.
I think our response does not necessarily need to be a protest against the “prosperity gospel” but action in the opposite of self-prosperity…as I wrote in my response to the blog about overpopulation, the wealth needs to be spread; this is what we believe when we believe in the Gospel. We should live to love and take care of others spiritually, physically, financially, etc., not ourselves.
They get a hope they get no where else and I hope the NEVER get it at a Christian church. At the core of the problem with Prosperity Gospel is the same problem with all non-Gospel based Christianity: Finding God useful rather than beautiful (I think that’s a Tim Keller term). Worshiping God because He is God and not because of what He can do for me. Religion vs Christianity. That’s at the core of the problem here and it goes way beyond Prosperity Gospel.
But still, like our blog-host asked. How do we respond to this?
I read this article the other day and was overwhelmed with sadness about how often churches twist the value of money and deny that “blessed are the poor”. And it hurts to see how much this message of “prosperity” takes hold in the poorest areas, where people feel that they are worthless unless they are rich, and where they try desperately to believe in the hope they find by sending in their dollars to these charismatic scam artists.
It makes me hate the church.
Until I remember that there are indeed churches and Christians out there who tell the poor that they are blessed, they are valuable independent of their giving or ability to give. And that there are communities where resources like money are genuinely held lightly and used for the real needs of real people. This story makes me cry every time:
What would it mean if Christians stopped trusting in big organizations like these prosperity preachers’ – and instead were able to trust their communities, were able to help and receive help from one another? Maybe that would help combat the “prosperity gospel” just a bit.
Tony, that beautiful vs useful line was very well stated. As far as how do we respond, I respond by asking some pointed questions. I mentioned some of them in my first post in this thread.
I got saved in that movement and I came out of that movement so the questions I ask are the ones I had to go to the Bible and get answers for because they couldn’t answer them.
I didn’t have time to read all the comments, but wanted to just add my two cents on this issue. I grew up in a home where my mother believed in this crap. Calling it crap is being nice. She gave her last dime to Kenneth Copeland and the like and we ended up losing our home. I was 11. My dad died, we lost our house and were evicted – forced to live my brother (how humiliating for my mother and us) and ended up renting because my mom’s credit went to crap. I listened to their sermons, grew up being force fed this garbage and by the time I was 11, I realized it was a joke. I realized that based on my own senses, not anyone else telling me how to think. My mom thought my dad died because we didn’t “pray hard enough”. What a crock. Copeland, Savelle, Hagin…all those guys should go to jail in my opinion. They take money from the poor and make themselves rich and then make them feel bad if they can’t afford to pay them money to hear them utter more diarrhea in their TV programs and books. It’s ridiculous. As for me, I’ve been really messed up growing up under this kind of shame and guilted Christianity. I have had to go back and relearn everything about the Bible because the Bible they teach is anything but biblical. I get sick when I see their mooching faces on TV or people talk about how great they are. They are theives. And from one family who suffered under their false teachings, I have no sympathy for the punishment they will face when they meet their Creator.
MB-I am so sorry for your pain.
I hate the prosperity gospel. Yes, it’s blessed to give, but people need to take care of their own basic needs before giving, especially giving for “glory.” The Bielliers are very sadly mistaken people.
Like so many others who have commented already, this is an issue that pains my heart as well. Without going into too much detail, I spent the past five years or so immersed in that culture after being raised as a fairly conservative Presbyterian. I had my doubts going when I was going in that direction and I still have my doubts after I left, but I went in wanting to investigate for myself what the deal was with the prosperity gospel before I made any kind of jugdments.
I’m a little hesitant to point out the things I disagreed with because I fear that my emotions would factor in heavily and ruin any objectivity I am trying to bring to my comment, but to answer Eugene’s question, I don’t believe that simply teaching against the prosperity gospel or targeting certain teachers is effective. Because of the highly sensitive nature of the issues involved (e.g. God, Money, Faith) coming out for or against an issue like this can potentially cause a lot of division, pain, and confusion within the church.
A part of me really doesn’t want to swallow my own medicine. In my youth, I was one of those overzealous college kids that wanted to become a pastor and change the world one Bible thump at a time, and to be honest, there’s a lot of that still in me. Sometimes, I want nothing more than to grab some of these people that are following these doctrines and ask them to reconsider what they believe. But time and experience has shown me that there is no more effective a solution that simply going back to the basics and emphasizing the amazing grace of the capital “G” Gospel message and the freedom that it brings. If people can grasp the basics of the Gospel, the prosperity gospel loses its grasp upon the heart of the believer.
It’s pretty funny how the Gospel is supposed to set us free and yet because of our nature, we naturally try to return to a state of bondage. Maranatha Lord!
Did that seem like a typo:
The Copelands bring in 100 million dollars/year?!?!
Where do I sign up?
My experiences with organized churches, of many kinds, throughout my life has shown me that sadly, very few have anything to do with following the teachings or person of Jesus; no matter what they say. As soon as you get a group together, and there is hierarchy, corruption seems to filter in, and the pulpit is often used to serve those who are paid to be there. The prosperity gospel is just another one.
In my attempt to listen to many who lead churches this past year, tonight I heard the most beautiful and inspired words from Erwin McManus of Mosaic, where he addresses the beatitude, Blessed are the Pure in Heart. Here:
Go to the videos, and then scroll down and mouse over til the beatitude appears.
I think, if people could see value as he portrays it, they would not need to run to corruption, like the prosperity gospel, or any of the other many many churches that distort Christianity into something ugly, rather than clarify it.
Why when we choose leaders, do they turn away from God?
Quest seems good. I have never been. But I listen to the sermons and read. Thanks Eugene for your thoughts.
I have absolutely no problem with the prosperity message.
God has done more mysterious things throughout human history and the fact that God could work in this way doesn’t seem to be against the Gospel. In fact asking people to combine their faith with the action of giving seems completely legit. It is an activation/ participation of the believer with their God. I think we are debating a false choice here- The good news of Jesus Christ vs. the good news of being able to place financial faith in God. I believe in both.
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pout out for you a blessing until it overflows.” Malachi 3:10
God dares us to “Test Him” in this area, so encouraging others to do so doesn’t seem criminal, and neglecting to do so may be neglecting an important area of Christianity’s depth.
At Quest we are given many opportunities to financially support worthy organizations committed to ending poverty, fighting for social justice etc. and doing this as a tithe has seriously opened the floodgates in our household. Are the blessings always (or even mostly) financial? No, is there peace, thankfulness and beauty in being able to give? Yes. Do we only rely on giving to meet our spiritual needs, Absolutely not but it is an integral part of what we see as being in a Christian community, both in the larger sense and locally. As Christians we are called to spread the good news and it is Jesus’ grace love and mercy that saved us that in turn allows us to embody compassion and the desire to give.
HAVING SAID THAT:
What is being done with collections, offerings, tithes etc. by ministers whose prime focus is the prospertiy aspect of scripture is completely wrong in my opinion. The purpose is not to give so ministers can have a lavish lifestyle but so that God’s house can feed those in need.
Those who realize the word of God is being used in vain to promote this sort of perverted interpretation might consider writing letters to these ministers and try to win them back. Any minister who has read more than Malachai 3:10 should feel the cutting truth of verses like:
“And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, that for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:24
Great points Maia.
However, I don’t think the problem that everyone seems to have with the prosperity gospel is about giving in faith per se. You’re right. Giving to God is indeed a Biblical principle and something that I think needs to be emphasized more in the church as well.
Instead, what I think the point of contention here is the idea and expectation that if you give, God will give back your money, ten, one hundred, one thousand fold of what you put in in the first place like he’s some kind of genie. While I’m not saying that God could not do this and has not done this in the past for some people, its also not a Biblical law or else I’m due to have a lot of money and other blessings come my way after all the offerings I’ve put in the basket myself all these years! 😛
Moreover, what I have observed that is equally if not more disturbing is the preferential treatment that the “big spenders” are given. I was at a conference once where they asked anybody who gave $10,000 more more that night to come up so that they could receive a special prayer of blessing in front of the whole crowd.
In a way, this is the opposite problem of what Israel was facing in Malachi 3. The reason why God was challenging His people to give in the first place was not simply to encourage them to test His goodness, it was also because they weren’t giving at all and as a result putting the land under a curse! God accuses them of “robbing” him (Malachi 3:8) because they weren’t bringing in their offering as they were supposed to. Instead, the prosperity gospel is filled with a lot of giving people or else the Copeland’s 100 million dollar/year operation would not be possible.
The point in giving is to give in thanks and worship, not in expectation of God’s blessing. It’s just too bad that there are people who just don’t understand what kind of true freedom the Gospel can bring.
Agreed Matthew. I have no problem with giving my money. The church I go to uses that money to further missions and spread the gospel. Not so sure what Kenneth Copeland does with his money. I think he might use it for plastic surgery. I don’t know. But seems to me, it is to make himself more rich. And the problem I have is the guilt they lay on people who don’t even have money to feed their own children. It is the teaching as a whole that I get upset about. Giving money just to get more things or more money is not what Christ preaches. He does preach that you will be blessed, but not necessarily with material possessions. It does say God will provide for His children, not give them millions of dollars and a private jet. And as far as that “showy” giving, that isn’t even biblical. It says in the Bible to let your giving be done in secret. IT says the woman who gave her last penny gave more than all the pharisees because she gave with a pure heart.
As far as speaking against this prosperity gospel, I think we should. John Piper does and I think He does so with good reason. It’s pure deceit on the part of Copeland and others and it’s a false teaching. False teachers should be exposed. This is one of my favorite videos from Piper: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTc_FoELt8s
I think you should watch it. And Maia, God can use anything, even evil to bring about His purposes. It doesn’t mean it is right.
@Matthew- well said and agreed. Thanks for your comment!
@MB- thanks for the link… I also think you bring up an interesting point that “false teachers should be exposed” I’m not sure who should do the exposing here. I wouldn’t consider myself in a position to make those kind of judgement calls- to go as far as calling a pastor who professes to believe in Jesus Christ as his/ her lord and savior a “false teacher”, “evil” or a “heretic”.
They may have the prosperity message wrong but the reason I currently know Jesus as my lord and savior was through a church similar to the ones we are describing. What they taught me wasn’t all good, but a lot of it was. Not every pastor will have it all right and the ones with evil intentions will ultimately be responsible to God.
In the meantime I think we should be concerned about reaching people who want to hear the truth and providing another Christian experience- one not motivated by money.
The problem I have with churches like this…I was “saved” in one too..is that they are teaching false doctrines. I can’t even tell you all the things I have had to go back and re-learn. It has caused me tons of heartache. For instance, when I was a kid my mom as well as the church we went to would say things like “you are sick because you don’t have enough faith”. Ok, that might not seem so bad, but then get in a situation where you really feel like you have little faith and all sorts of lies start coming to your head. For me, it leads me to feeling depressed because in myself I can not muster up enough faith or be the person I think God wants me to be. I feel imprisoned by my own thoughts. And if I really knew how God saw me, I certainly would not feel that way. But this is the kind of stuff that churches like these have done to people like me who have gone to them. If you sit under this type of preaching for very long, you are being brainwashed, in my opinion. And yes, we all aren’t in positions where we would just go and start pounding down doors. I think you are right. People need to hear the real gospel — the gospel that says Christ died for me and there is nothing I can do to earn that. The gospel that says I deserve death, but Christ loved me so much that He took my place – not because of any merits of my own, but because He finds me beautiful even with all my imperfections. He knows them, yet He loves me anyway. And its because I love Him so much that I honor Him with my life. Not because I will get something or because God will make me rich, healthy, or successful. Although I’m not in a position to do much, I am in a position to shine a light on truth to people I know and come in contact with. And if I had a friend who believed in this stuff, I know I would say something about it. My sister is no longer a Christian because of this hypocricy that is in this movement. So people respond differently. I understand your point of view too. I do think we need to focus on saving the lost, but not turning a blind eye when it is in our power to say something when we do see evil at work.
My mom has also bought into the deception of the prosperity gospel. She firmly believes that anyone who is not rich and wealthy are only “limiting themselves because they are not fully living in the kingdom of God”. It’s really sick. As a Christian myself, I find it ironic how, at a time when many people in our country and perhaps all over the world are struggling financially, they push people to give their money.
In actuality, Christians should trust God for their needs and finances. God is not obligated to make us rich and wealthy just because we give money to their ministry. Rather, we have been given a promise that God would take care of our needs simply because that’s who God is – our Provider.
Secondly, Christians should give their money to REPTABLE ministries, such as Focus on the Family, The Bible League, or even Compassion International. Just because an organization claims to be a “ministry” doesn’t mean that they will be responsible with money they are given. If such ministries such as The Copelands already have billions in net worth and assets, they don’t need anyone else’s money. What they need to do is use the money they ALREADY HAVE to minister to others, and trust God for the rest.
Lastly, God warned in His word to be careful of desiring money and getting rich. In Proverbs, He warned that those who are rich and wealthy have more troubles than those who are poor. In Ecclesiastes, He warned that those who desire wealth and riches are never satisfied. And in the New Testament, God warned that those who desire wealth and riches will be consumed and fall away. Conversely, God also mentioned that those who truly delight in knowing God and following Him are truly rich, for we are heirs with Christ (Ephesians).
Therefore, any gospel who claims that God wants you to be rich and will only bless you when you give your money is ultimately a false gospel.
Firstly, for the record I don’t believe in the prosparity movement, but somewhere along the lines.
In Malachi 3:8-10, Jesus directly speaks to mostly jewish people who are required to tithe. the hebrew text directly translates to english in this way:
“All of the tithe to the house of the treasurer and he shall become prey in the house of me and test me! Please! In this he says yahweh-of-hosts, if not i shall open up to you. crevices of the heavens and I empty to you. blessing till sufficiency.”
What do westerners use as currency? Money. Cash. Blah blah.
The real question is, what did people in ancient times use for currency? They used what was most valuable to them… their crops, animals, and small currency.
If the scripture is living, then that means this verse applies to us too! Except he will bless us through different means could include things that are important to us.
How do we respond?
Well, WWJD? 🙂
We could turn the tables.
We could say they are only rendering onto Caesar, but remind them to render onto God what is God’s.
We could sigh, and sit down, take a breath and ask that the little children come forth.
I’m a non-practicing Christian born’n’raised kind of guy that doesn’t really know much about this Prosperity Movement. But, if ‘we’ are going to enter into any kind of dialogue with them types over there, I would suggest we keep our questions obvious.
How much money was in Jesus’ wallet when he was up on the cross?
How much prosperity did Jesus collect in this world?
Why then did Jesus feel he had to suffer?
What is the goal of Prosperity?
Does p(P)rosperity end suffering? (little ‘p’ or capital ‘P’, either one)
I sadly admit, the last question, although I do feel is important, isn’t obvious.
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It strikes me that we should avoid giving any oxygen to this movement in the rest of Christendom. There are too many Christians who ought to know better but still give Benny Hinn or the Copelands the kid gloves treatment. These people are wolves and need to be denounced as such. I cannot believe that Copeland has people believing that conversations “count” for you in heaven. Trying to make it in with your good works, Kenny?
Was blog hopping when I stumbled into your blog. Great post!
Hi!! Thank you so much for the kindness and support!! I look forward to sharing our thoughts, feelings and areas of interest through your blog!! Blessings,
I ws in a prosperity church for 10 years. No one increased as did the first family and tha tis because their preacher friends came 5 or 6 times a year and raised $20,000 or more in each service that went to the pastor who was getting a salarey, seeds sown at the altar, random giving, first fruits and special offerings for him on his birthday, Christmas, fathers day and church anniversary. The rest of us had to live on our salaries alone. I attende another church where the message was not as overt but this pastor said God supplied the needs of the church every month and God tol dhim to quit his job. He took no slary only an offering on first Sunday so I wonderd how he was making it. He recently pleased guilty to embezzling close to $100,00 from two elderly sisters. Enough said.
If you don’t hear this trumpet, then its NOT for you! It’s as simple as that really. Obviously, the message has been distorted (a little), because this is Satan’s job, and I feel this sarcastic approach is just adding to it. The so-called ‘prosperity’ message has been honed in on, by a few irresponsible people, who haven’t been told to preach it by God, and have perceived this important prophetic message, as a formula or means of gain for themselves and those they preach it to. I agree some people see it as ‘fashionable’ and have made a whole new law of it. But the remnant (who this message is for), who have a real mandate on their lives to get the end time wealth transfer, will know who they are, because God himself has raised them for this. There are billions of souls that need saving & ministering to, and I have to enlighten you- that’s gonna take a lot of MONEY! That is what the prosperity is for. Not only for a witness to the world of Jehovah Jireh and his goodness, but for a tangible service that the four corners of the world have to hear, see and experience. We know we don’t have to PAY for salvation, but part of the work of God involves a lot of money. Maybe that’s why some have jumped on the band wagon thinking they can cash in on it. It will not last very long if they are cheating the ‘house of God’, as God can only put this stewardship into the hands of those he can trust and has raised for this assignment. YES! Money has an assignment! Sometimes we can get frustrated and over exhausted with all the different sermons that are available to us today. That is why it is vitally important to hear from God for yourself and have an intimate relationship with him. I wouldn’t worry about what other people are doing, because God tells us in his word, that there would be many false Prophets ( amongst many other plots of the enemy), spiritual perversion/false doctrine/error etc..& wolves in the last days. Our job is to pray and have discernment about these things, so that we can AVOID heresy and put every thought and imagination against Christ- DOWN (or under subjection). Preachers are HUMAN and so are we. So lets look to the author and finisher of our faith in these perilous times, and offer up prayer when he tells us to. We tend to think that if ‘we’ are not doing what ‘they’ are doing, that we are innocent. But the harsh reality is that the sons of disobedience are those who do not obey God- Period! So have a think about what our real motives are as to why this prosperity gospel is upsetting. Could it be there are members waring in our own flesh? Could it be that we don’t seem to be getting ahead in our own finances? The truth is, people who have gotten rich/wealthy God’s way (with no sorrow), are pure- hearted, because they have gone through the processes for that. Like I said in the beginning… only the remnant will understand. PEACE x
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