Already from the title, I am expecting people to not take what I am about to write easily. I have been scared to post something on the prosperity gospel for sometime because most of my friends and closest family have bought into it. I, myself, spent years of my life believing it. I was devastated when a high school life orientation teacher was loving enough to tell me the truth. I still believed it because I chose to ignore him. In varsity, I acquired new skills of reading the Bible and was exposed to numerous resources on scholars and commentaries, I began to see I was believing a lie. This truth I didn't accept freely. I bothered me for about months. As a Christian, however, Paul tells us to continually check if we are in the faith(2 Corinthians 13:5). We need to examine whether or not the things we believe about scripture are scriptural continuously(to see whether it is within the faith). On that note let's first define the prosperity gospel.
What is the Prosperity Gospel?
There are scriptures that mention God's provision. I am not ignoring them. In fact, there are many places where it expresses that the Lord will look after us and provide for us. I will refer to these scriptures, in their proper context, later in this post. The problem becomes when this is emphasized over the message of the TRUE gospel. Where money is exalted over God. Where all God wants is you to be rich and healthy and everything to be okay.
As a younger me, there were a couple of alarm bells about this doctrine that I didn't think about too much. The one question I had was if God is promising us that we are going to be rich, healthy and this is the ultimate sign and evidence of God's stamp of approval on a Christian, then why are people who aren't non-Christians becoming Christians? Think about it. As non-Christian the ultimate pursuit in life is being rich, popular and healthy. If God can do that and He's also throwing in eternal life in the package, why wouldn't you become a Christian?
If God is so big and so powerful, creative, intelligent, why would we offer something satan offers humans, so that we are obedient to Him? The Bible says man can serve one of two masters. It's either you will love God or Money. Note that Satan offers material things to tempt. In Matthew 4 Satan tempted Jesus with the comfort that material things offer. Sin offers material things (money) or the fulfillment material things give. God offers you Himself. Because He is the greatest, most incredible being. He doesn't need to bring you in with your natural desires.
Secondly, when I read scripture, I see more warnings about riches than I read promotions of it. Scriptures like:
Why is the Prosperity Gospel bad?
This is the part, you've probable been waiting for. I've explained what The prosperity gospel is and a couple of reasons and scriptures that made me doubt that this doctrine is true. So what are the actual Biblical reasons why it is so bad?
The prosperity gospel conflicts with some fundamental truths of scripture. As Christians we may disagree on interpretations of certain scriptures. And that's okay, as long as it does not conflict with a fundamental principle of Christianity. For example, we can debate whether we should baptize children or not, or homosexuality (although this is a no brainer) but we cannot debate whether Jesus died on the cross. This is because it is fundamental to Christianity.
With that being said this is how to conflicts with the fundamentals.
It misses the entire reason why Jesus came
Jesus DID NOT come to earth so you can be rich! NO NO NO! Jesus did not come so that you are healthy! "But doesn't the Bible say we are healed by Jesus stripes?" Yes, absolutely! But that is not why Jesus came. Jesus came to reconcile us to The Father. We have all sinned. God has to punish sinners because He is just. So He comes up with a plan to send His Only Son, to live a life we all can't, to teach us more about God and most importantly, to be punished for our sins so that the wrath of God can be satisfied. Based on this, we are reconciled to God if we believe in Jesus and repent of our sins. Jesus came to save us from the consequences of our sin. The prosperity gospel over emphasizes certain scriptures and even goes as far as misinterpreting scriptures (Trust me on this one. I've heard really creative interpretations) to put receiving blessings the center of Christianity.
Health and Wealth promises seem to oppose the stories of the people in the Bible.
As I mentioned above the Prosperity Gospel paints this picture that all God wants for your life is health and wealth. And somehow if a Christian is living "the good life", God must really like or be pleased with the person. However, as we look closely to the way the disciples and Jesus lived, we come to a somewhat opposite realization. We have no evidence that any of the disciples or apostles were "wealthy" (Click here for an in depth article on this -this article addresses the whole "Jesus had a treasurer" argument). Paul worked two jobs of which some of the money went to building the church in Thessalonica. And for the health part, well, theres no easy way to put this, all the disciples live in the worst conditions and they all die BADLY. All of them. It is to no surprise though because Jesus said the servant isn't greater than the master. Because He was treated badly, then His servants will be treated worse. Jesus made it clear that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who endure to the end. In case you didn't know this is what happened it each disciple and apostle:
To read more about the above click here
Instead of a good and smooth life that the prosperity gospel suggests, it seems like the examples set by Jesus and the Apostles who died badly suggests something else. I realized how when I wrote "crucified" on some of the names how it didn't disturb me as much 'stoned to death' while crucifixion was way worse. I will write an article on the process of crucifixion in the future. It seems to me that what Jesus said about the world hating Christians is true. That there is no happy ending for us in this life. You would think after Paul getting stoned to literally almost death (they stopped only because they thought he was dead), that he would give up Christianity. Instead, he goes and writes two third of the New Testaments. The life of a Christian is not a call to an easy life. It's a tough life. There are those the Lord allows to be wealthy, but this is not what christianity is.
Therefore go and make wealthy Christians of all nati... wait
This is my sentiment when hearing a prosperity preacher. Christianity is not primarily a way to make your life better as mentioned above. It is more geared at reaching those who are lost. Don't get me wrong, The Bible does provide ways to improve our lives in a Christian way. However, this isn't the ultimate goal. We are to go out and preach the true gospel to all nations not the prosperity gospel.
So is Christ really enough?
Is he? If Christ was not going to give you anything. If he did not promise to provide for you, if he did nothing for you besides on the cross. Would him giving you his life be enough? Would just being in his presence be all that you ever wanted? If the prosperity gospel is true, then is Christ really enough? Or is Christ together with the things he gives enough?
I believe that Christ is all I need. His promises of provision are just an added bonus. I don't give because I will get back (Luke 6:38). I give because I love God and I know that even if I don't have anything, He is all that I need. He just happens to be so awesome that he provides for me when I give. If He doesn't, it's not a train smash. That wasn't the reason why I gave.
"No one does good! NO! NOT ONE!"
The Prosperity gospel makes to seem that giving is a good way to earn the Lord's blessing. As in the definition above, it is seen as a transaction. You have faith and give, and this earns you the right to riches because of Gods happiness.
Sadly, Paul says our righteous acts are like a bloody tampon (Isaiah 64:6) before God. Giving tithes is a righteous act. Therefore, to God to is not good enough to earn his approval. The Bible also says no one knows how to do good not even one person (Romans 3:10). For we have all fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). This is the whole point of the Gospel. That we are evil people that God saved. We are only good because Jesus has given us his goodness. So you tithing is not earning any special favours.
I just find it a strange coincidence that only the good act of tithing earns God's favour. Not giving water to a stranger, adopting children, being an instrument of peace in your family, none of that. Somehow only giving earns Gods favour (according to the prosperity gospel). Friends, nothing we ever do will ever be good enough to earn Gods favour. That's why Jesus came.
The lie money promises
Material things promise fulfillment. Material things seem to us as if they will be able to satisfy our needs. This, however, is a lie. You will always want more. You will never be satisfied. Bill Gates, the richest man in the world, has investments and strives to make more money. Why? Shouldn't he be content because he has more money than anyone alive? You will never be content with money. Listen to what J cole says.
J cole is spot on! Material things will never truly fulfill you because there's always something else you want. We see this trend happening all the time.
I don't remember who said this but he said "There's a God-sized hole in everyone of us". Unfortunately, we try fill it up with money/ material things and it never gets filled. Only God can fill you up and truly satisfy. To my Christian friends (because my atheist friends will probably think this is non-sense) have you ever wondered why when you became saved, you stopped wanting the sin you desired before you were saved? It was like something changed and all of a sudden, drinking, smoking and sex didn't matter as much as it did. And if you still struggle with it, you are continually working to get rid of it. Not because God says you should but because you genuinely want to get rid of it. It's because you recognize that fulfillment will not come in your sin. God is the source of your fulfillment. And he fulfills way more the sin ever can.
In a similar way, material things will never be able to fill you up. Its promise is a lie.
What about the scriptures that talk about God's provision?
These are some scriptures that talk about God's provision:
Luke 12:24 “Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!”
Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus
Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Matthew 7:7 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
Romans 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
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Note how in any of these, it is not dependent on anything you do. Also, it's clear that God loves providing for us! He says ask and you will receive. The Bible is filled with countless promises of provision. David said he has never seen the righteous begging for bread! He is a real Father who loves giving us gifts!
So I'm not saying God wants you poor and miserable. I'm saying the message of the Gospel is not one that promises wealth and health as the norm or central theme of the Bible. We need to be careful not to over emphasize the parts of the Bible we like.
The prosperity Gospel is heretical. Preaching it in the early church would have got you stoned. It promotes self more than the truth of scripture which promotes God. I heard a preacher even go as far as saying "God is a push-over" and when we worship God we are doing it for ourselves not God. These are concepts that can only stream from the prosperity gospel. It corrupts the very message of the gospel. The very power that leads all men to salvation (Romans 1:16), they twist and make it a means of getting money. I will leave links of people who were scammed literally out of their money because of it below. It is sickening how it has become so popular. Provision is referred to in the Bible, but it must be read in context and how it is supposed to be read,
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