I was thinking of some hymn makeovers for prosperity teaching, which seems fitting since it makes Christianity over into something unrecognizable.
Then there’s Blessed Assurance
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
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
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.
The 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
Genesis 8:22 has served as a foundational verse for prosperity teaching with the philosophy of seedtime and harvest.
As long as earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night,
will never cease
The idea is that our Christian life is about sowing seed to reap a harvest. So financial giving then becomes the indicator of our faith to make this happen. An entire theology and numerous ministries have been built on this one verse. If you don’t believe me, do a Google search. Now the promoters of seedtime harvest ministries will say that it’s biblical. But it is an egregious distortion of the Biblical text and the Christian faith.
1) The context: Putting this verse in it’s context shows that this prosperity philosophy has nothing to do with sowing or reaping. In fact, it has nothing to do with our activity at all. The entire chapter is about God remembering Noah and his family. Then he gives a promise to Noah after the flood that he would no longer destroy all living creatures as he had done in the flood (vs 21). Seedtime and harvest is another way of saying seasons and the verse as well as the entire chapter is telling of God’s control over them. In other words, the passage is saying that the earth will always experience seasons. It has nothing to do with Noah’s activity but God’s promise.
2) The canon: It is also significant to note that Genesis is a narrative. It’s telling of what happened as God progressively revealed himself to humanity. We have to examine any verse or passage according to the whole: the whole of what is going on in the OT and how that relates to the NT. To say that seedtime and harvest is central to what is being played out imposes something on the biblical narrative that isn’t there. But in context of God’s covenant promises to Abraham, his selection of a gathered people as a light to the nations, his provision for how these people would worship him through priestly activity, his rulership over them through selected kings and words spoken to them by the prophets, being ‘biblical’ points to this activity.
3) The Christ: All of this OT foreshadowed Christ. As God made promises and provisions, it was telling of the Messiah who would come and fulfill God’s promises made to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3; Galatians 3:16). He is the one who perfectly fulfilled God’s requirements for perfection (Matthew 5:17; Romans 8:1-4) by fulfilling the offices of prophet, priest and king foreshadowed in the OT. The book of Hebrews sums this up nicely. During his earthly ministry, his mentioning of seed and harvest were related to those who would put saving faith in him because it was an agrarian society and that’s what they could relate to. He is the central theme of scripture. Our sowing and reaping for blessings is not the central theme of Scripture. Seedtime and harvest puts a corrupt twist on Christian teaching and robs it of its central theme, which is what God does through his Son for fulfillment of promises.
The sad reality is that the seedtime and harvest promoters have pretty much ignored the biblical context, the passages placement in the canon and the centrality of Christ. But this is the underpinnings of prosperity teaching that has spread like wildfire. It does go to what I said in my last post of the kinds of teachers that Paul was addressing in his letter to Timothy. It was those who would distort the meaning of OT activity and infuse speculations and novelty into the Christian faith.
Why does it matter? It matters because how we read the text is how we think about God. And how we think about him will motivate how we approach him. Seedtime and harvest is guaranteed to approach him in a way not befitting of his holiness.