Wow, super good post on the prosperity gospel by the “Mysterious M” at Alisha’s blog.
This is how the Lausanne Theology Working Group, Africa chapter, defined the prosperity gospel at its consultations in Akropong, Ghana:
“We define prosperity gospel as the teaching that believers have a right to the blessings of health and wealth and that they can obtain these blessings through positive confessions of faith and the “sowing of seeds” through the faithful payments of tithes and offerings.” (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/decemberweb-only/gc-prosperitystatement.html)
So where does the prosperity gospel come from? And, more importantly, is it true?
For starters, there’s a good bit of wishful thinking behind it. After all, who doesn’t want to be healthy and wealthy? It’s easy to see why this theology is popular. And if you’re poor or in a state of chronic ill health it must appear particularly appealing. But wishful thinking is no basis for truth.
And a great excerpt:
The prosperity gospel undermines the witness of the Church in a world which is already cynical with regard to Christianity. Non-christians see the hypocrisy of teachers who teach it and the gullibility of those who follow them. This further confirms their bias against the true gospel and makes them dismissive of the real thing before they’ve heard it.
Moreover, a fixation on material prosperity as the measure of their faith makes Christians weak when hardship strikes because their unrealistic, unbiblical expectations are not met and they feel let down. Worse still, their appreciation of the core blessings of Christianity (eternity in the presence of God, salvation from sin and judgment, complete renewal, etc.) is dulled by finding their primary joy in peripheral blessing. Most seriously, the teaching of blessing in exchange for sowing a “seed” or some other work undermines the fundamental teaching of grace: the unmerited favour of God towards sinful man.
Is about two pages long printed out, and it’s all muscle, the whole way through! I really like this person’s writing. I actually learned things, but without having to dig through anything that I didn’t like. I love it when women write in a polemical tone – it’s mean like I want to be, but it’s not too mean so that the person she is trying to persuade won’t read the whole thing.
OK, so here’s my take on the piece. Towards the end, she started to talk about how the message of getting prosperity in this life really undermined the point of the gospel, which is about the message of a free gift of forgiveness, reconciliation and relationship to rebels against God, a relationship that goes on after we die. And I started to think about how lately I have been leaving e-mails unopened, and losing my temper, and not helping other Christians with their software projects, and so on – all because I just can’t break away from the need for some selfish time. That’s a sin. It’s failing to do everything I could do.
So I am so glad that when my selfishness stops me from doing everything I could do, that I still have the forgiveness of Jesus to take away those failures to be perfect, and I can start every day brand new, ready to ride into battle to serve the Lord. I want to serve. I’m not always perfect. But because of Jesus, it is OK to fail, and to pick yourself up and try again. I think that earning money is good – and I love saving money, too – but beyond prosperity, I think that every man wants to be a noble knight most of all. And because of Jesus, I can be, even if I fail to be noble all the time, like I should be. No weakness or moral failure in me today takes away God’s willingness to let me ride out in his colors tomorrow. And that has value.
Hmmmn. I wonder if Mysterious M would write anything for us here at the Wintery Knight? But there doesn’t seem to be any way of contacting her. Boo! She’s so… mysterious! But any woman who defends the gospel must be a knight. It’s the law!