mē genoito

May it never be! Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.” (Ro 3:4)

The Gospel of Health and Wealth

I don’t understand why Christians can’t have it all, Heaven + health and wealth on earth. With great expositors like Henry Wright who will tell you how to live without diseases, at least the types that he claims. And with pastor Osteen who will teach you how to be wealthy and prosperous. Become a Christian and you are granted eternal salvation when you die and a charmed fairy tale life on earth. It is not surprising that so many people are flocking to these prosperity churches. Time magazine recently have an article on just this subject. Does God Want You To Be Rich?

But for a growing number of Christians like George Adams, the question is better restated, “Why not gain the whole world plus my soul?” For several decades, a philosophy has been percolating in the 10 million–strong Pentecostal wing of Christianity that seems to turn the Gospels’ passage on its head: certainly, it allows, Christians should keep one eye on heaven. But the new good news is that God doesn’t want us to wait. Known (or vilified) under a variety of names–Word of Faith, Health and Wealth, Name It and Claim It, Prosperity Theology–its emphasis is on God’s promised generosity in this life and the ability of believers to claim it for themselves. In a nutshell, it suggests that a God who loves you does not want you to be broke. Its signature verse could be : “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” In a TIME poll, 17% of Christians surveyed said they considered themselves part of such a movement, while a full 61% believed that God wants people to be prosperous. And 31%–a far higher percentage than there are Pentecostals in America–agreed that if you give your money to God, God will bless you with more money.

Of the four biggest megachurches in the country, three–Osteen’s Lakewood in Houston; T.D. Jakes’ Potter’s House in south Dallas; and Creflo Dollar’s World Changers near Atlanta–are Prosperity or Prosperity Lite pulpits (although Jakes’ ministry has many more facets). While they don’t exclusively teach that God’s riches want to be in believers’ wallets, it is a key part of their doctrine. And propelled by Osteen’s 4 million–selling book, Your Best Life Now, the belief has swept beyond its Pentecostal base into more buttoned-down evangelical churches, and even into congregations in the more liberal Mainline. It is taught in hundreds of non-Pentecostal Bible studies. One Pennsylvania Lutheran pastor even made it the basis for a sermon series for Lent, when Christians usually meditate on why Jesus was having His Worst Life Then. Says the Rev. Chappell Temple, a Methodist minister with the dubious distinction of pastoring Houston’s other Lakewood Church (Lakewood United Methodist), an hour north of Osteen’s: “Prosperity Lite is everywhere in Christian culture. Go into any Christian bookstore, and see what they’re offering.”

The movement’s renaissance has infuriated a number of prominent pastors, theologians and commentators. Fellow megapastor Rick Warren, whose book The Purpose Driven Life has outsold Osteen’s by a ratio of 7 to 1, finds the very basis of Prosperity laughable. “This idea that God wants everybody to be wealthy?”, he snorts. “There is a word for that: baloney. It’s creating a false idol. You don’t measure your self-worth by your net worth. I can show you millions of faithful followers of Christ who live in poverty. Why isn’t everyone in the church a millionaire?”
The brickbats–both theological and practical (who really gets rich from this?)–come especially thick from Evangelicals like Warren. Evangelicalism is more prominent and influential than ever before. Yet the movement, which has never had a robust theology of money, finds an aggressive philosophy advancing within its ranks that many of its leaders regard as simplistic, possibly heretical and certainly embarrassing.

Advocates note Prosperity’s racial diversity–a welcome exception to the American norm–and point out that some Prosperity churches engage in significant charity.

“Who would want to get in on something where you’re miserable, poor, broke and ugly and you just have to muddle through until you get to heaven?” asks Joyce Meyer, a popular television preacher and author often lumped in the Prosperity Lite camp. “I believe God wants to give us nice things.” If nothing else, Meyer and other new-breed preachers broach a neglected topic that should really be a staple of Sunday messages: Does God want you to be rich?

There are a lot more I can quote from the article, but I think you get the idea. Do these people really think that by doing some charity work is going to justify their abuse of Scripture? This is an embarrassment to Christians but more importantly we now have to waste our time correcting these abuses? Instead we could have been equipping the saints for good works to glorify God.

(Luke 12:15 NIV84) Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

Need I say more? Jesus made that warning in context of the desire for wealth and what should a Christian’s life be focused on.

How far will this secularization of Christianity go? Will it go as far as this Chinese flash tune that I have below, the worship of the money god?

Click on the Chinese characters to play flash movie.

7 Responses to “The Gospel of Health and Wealth”

  • inunison says:

    This is plain and simple prostitution of Christianity. No wonder there are so many agnostics and atheists.

    Matthew 6:24
    No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

    No matter what they say it boils down to this!

  • inunison says:

    …and I just want to leave this thought with you:

    In the end, everything through which this life of ours is expressed – thoughts, efforts, glances, smiles, words, sighs – is all reaching out to another shore, as towards its aim, and only there will it be granted its true meaning. Everywhere there is something to overcome or to bridge: disorder, death, meaninglessness. Everything is a transition, a bridge whose ends are lost in infinity, beside which all the bridges of this earth are only children’s toys, pale symbols.

    And all our hope lies on the other side.

  • teleologist says:

    Hi inunison,

    Thanks for sharing. That’s pretty poetic.

    You are right so much of our priorities are messed up. It reminds me of the hymn.
    This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through
    My treasures and my hopes are all beyond the blue;
    Where many Christian children have gone on before,
    And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

    11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul,

    14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

  • inunison says:

    something to think about, but not related to this post:

    NBC anti-Christian bigotry continues. This time NBC censored Bible verses and expressions of Christian love from the children’s cartoon Veggie Tales being shown Saturday mornings on NBC.

    NBC says comments such as “God made you special and He loves you very much” were offensive and censored them from the show.

    read more here

  • inunison says:

    and this is related and will make you sick

  • teleologist says:

    Thanks for the link to the picture show. I am grieved at the pseudo Christianity and spirituality in America today. I am convinced that the true Church of Christ is very small. Those who choose to honor God and be faithful to His Word, once and for all delivered unto the saints. It is a call for us Christians to contend ever harder for the truth.

    I have not been active blogging because I have been busy researching the Emergent Church movement. I hope to blog on this somber distortion of Christianity soon.

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