Should we call the prosperity gospel something else?: a subtle deception

money on the altarThe Gospel Coalition posted the first article in a series on the prosperity gospel. As I read through, 5 Errors of the Prosperity Gospel, and I’ll get to these points in a minute, I couldn’t help but think that calling it prosperity might be a bit misleading. Why do I say that? Because in reality, proponents of prosperity teaching don’t refer to it as such. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that many proponents of prosperity teaching would reject the notion that the aim of our Christian existence is to get rich and would be quick to label the Creflo Dollars of TV fame as charlatans. So I think by labeling it “prosperity gospel” might have the impact of turning a deaf ear to it’s troubling foundation.

Herein lies the subtle deception of prosperity teaching. The premise of what is called a prosperity gospel is simply put: material blessings are a sign of God’s acceptance and favor. One does not necessarily have to believe that riches are the goal to buy into prosperity teaching. This is evident in looking at the five points outlined in the article. More than anything, I think that many people who buy into prosperity teaching are well intentioned about the Christian faith and strive earnestly to live that faith out. But I believe the main contributor to prosperity promotion is a lack comprehension of what material blessings meant in the Old Testament. It is evident in the teaching (which I myself embraced for many years, that prosperity teaching fail to consider that the whole theme of Scripture is rooted in God’s redemption of his creation in an elaborate scheme that involved calling out a people called Israel as his own. This only serves as the basis of how he will unite Jew and Gentile as equal heirs to his promises fulfilled in Christ.

For the sake of brevity, I’ll highlight a couple of the five points in relation to point I’m making that prosperity teaching is more about the material blessings as the basis of genuine faith. But I encourage you to read all 5 points; Continue reading

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Blessed Assurance?

I was thinking of some hymn makeovers for prosperity teaching, which seems fitting since it makes Christianity over into something unrecognizable.

money on the altar

Then there’s Blessed Assurance

Verse 1

Blessed assurance, all wealth is mine

Oh what a foretaste of dreams so divine

Heir of such riches, brought on my God

Sowing my seed and receiving in love

Verse 2

Perfect submission, is God to my tests

Cuz he just wants me happy and blessed

Watching and waiting, speaking it now

His obligation to my word vow

Chorus

This is my story, this is my song

Praising my purpose, all the day long

This is my story, this is my song

Destiny awaits me, all the day long

Ok, so maybe that is a bit extreme but not the underlying philosophy that subjects God’s actions to words we speak and encourages misplaced trust in our actions, instead of in God’s all sufficient work in Jesus Christ.

Why I Think L.A. Preachers Need a Reality Show

l.a. preachersI know that sounds strange coming from me, but let me explain. I came across this article from Thabiti Anyabwile over at The Front Porch, a new site to foster discussion around biblical faithfulness in the black church. Thabiti gives a break down of the scenes from the trailer. He then concluded with a section asking what are we to make of all this?

In a comment to The Christian Post, Noel Jones responds to criticism by saying the show is “no evangelical tool”. He explains:

“My original intention was (for) it to be a tool to help bring the minds of Christian people to the place where they give some balance to who their pastors are and how they deal with their pastors,” said Jones. ”The only reason I signed up was to help to reduce the iconoclastic proclivities that church members have about their pastors to the point where if they break any of the rules that the church members are breaking, they completely throw them away.”

Thabiti responds by saying this;

To be clear, an ‘iconoclast’ is someone who destroys icons. A ‘proclivity’ is a strong tendency, a bent, a habit, usually toward something negative. What Jones intended to say is he wants to reduce the tendency to idolizing—making idols of—pastors and church leaders. That’s a good aim. There’s not much “iconoclastic proclivity” on display in these churches—just the opposite. Continue reading

Seed of the Apostles

grain in bagThe past several Sunday sermons have been going through the book of Acts. Last Sunday was Acts 4:32-37. As the sermon so convinctingly emphasized the idea of dedication of our gifts and resources to the body of Christ, I couldn’t help but note the stark contrast to how this passage would be written according to philosophy of seed and harvest that is so prevalent today. I imagine it would go something like this;

Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul and every one said that the things that belonged to them were a result of the seed they had planted. So they shared this in common. And with great power the apostles gave their testimony to the blessings of the Lord Jesus and the great favor that was granted them because of the seed they sowed. There was not a needy person among them because they all had planted a seed by laying it at the apostles feet so the apostles could proclaim the favor that fell upon them and proclaim the anointing of those who fell at their feet.  Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and took the money as his seed and laid it at the apostles’ feet so he could reap a harvest.

Um, no…and note the difference of what it actually says Continue reading

Why Do They Stay?: Slavery to Doctrinal Abuse

convicts, work gangs, hard labor, punishment, prison, serving timeI drafted this post shortly after the brouhaha over shai linne’s Fal$e Teacher$ had come out a processed in a number of posts, including mine. But then, I never got around to posting it. Though the dust over his song has settled, I was reminded yesterday that the teaching he was addressing has not. I’m thankful that the song generated a resurgence of talk about teachers that promote these philosophies. I myself have written a number of articles on related to the perverse nature of this teaching. As a former endorser of such teaching, I would hope that if I can just articulate why this teaching puts a corrupt twist on scripture then people will wise up.

I’m especially concerned because of the enslaving nature of such teaching. One of my FB friends had this to say about the burdening nature;

Prosperity Gospel teachers bind up sheep as slaves imprisoned to fear, guilt, disappointment and disillusionment when God does not respond as the teachers promise he will.  The TRUTH is supposed to set people FREE–NOT imprison them in guilt, shame, fear, etc…

You can argue it’s God all you want, but this runs so contradictory to the freedom that Christ came to provide. His truth is based on grace that we undeservedly obtain because of the Father’s love that he lavished on us through the Son. Anyone reading Ephesians 1 and with no agenda, can see that we do not have to earn favor through faith or giving. Favor comes through Christ. Anyone willing to humbly invest in the study of scripture that seeks to understand the whole message of 66 books will come to the conclusion that the reaping, sowing, word proclamation so rampant in these circles is NOT the focus of scripture. Christ is the focus as I wrote about here. Continue reading