Up @ Night #4 – Prosperity Theology

by MW Cook

One of my earlier posts has generated a lot of feedback. Maybe you should check it out before you continue.

Prosperity Theology keeps me up at night. I’d like to tell you why. And I don’t think I’m going to be civil about it.

The Prosperity Evangelist would tell you that if you are living in poverty you are living in sin. Poverty is sin. Having fewer material possessions than most people you know is sin. Ministries that struggle financially are not receiving God’s grace. Jesus wants you to drive a big car, have gold fillings and the biggest iPod on the market. Jesus is your sugar daddy.

I have been sitting here, typing nothing, for a while now. I’m trying to think of a nice, civil way to continue this post. I can’t think of one. So I won’t be civil.

Prosperity Theology may be just about the most dangerous belief system on the planet. It’s near enough to the Bible that it sounds good but it is nothing more than a religious drug, stupefying our western church while dulling us to the cries of the poor all over the world and filling the bank accounts of scam artists posing as preachers. Prosperity Theology is anti-biblical and anti-Christ. It teaches you to ignore the fact that Paul warns about the dangers of riches and warns us to avoid the desire of money (1 Tim 6:7-10). It ignores Jesus’ advice when he tells us not to store treasures on earth (Matthew 6:19-21). It denies that Jesus is all-sufficient even during times of severe economic struggle (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

I’m not going to be nice about this because this theology is ruining lives. It ruins the lives of the people who hear it because they think their economic struggles are a judgment from God because of their sin. This means that pretty much every believer in the third world is significantly less righteous than the average believer in the west. It ruins the people who subscribe to it because you need to put a bullet through your intellect to swallow it (told you I wouldn’t be civil). No one can come away from an honest reading of the Bible and decide that Jesus purchased a BMW while on the cross. This theology was cooked up deliberately by people who want full churches (=full offering plates) of people who can have their guilt taken care of without actually living the radical, self-denying, Jesus-loving lifestyle that God talks about.

Oh, but aren’t we healed by his stripes? Didn’t he become poor so that we could be rich?

He became sin, not poverty. He because sin so that we might become the righteousness of God. He became sin so that you could realize life is more than $$$. Isaiah 53 is talking about Christ’s sacrifice. Again and again God points to our sin. How can we suddenly think that he is referring to physical and economic ailments in verse 5? Only if we are living to believe a lie (a lie that comes with an expense account).

So go ahead. Store up your treasures. Hang out with Mammon. If you’re content with that, more power to you. Turn the Calvary road into a Law Vegas Strip. Me, I’m holding out for something better. I’m not satisfied with a BMW. I want Jesus. And Jesus carried a cross and told me that if I want him I’m going to have to pick up my own and follow him.

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