Prosperity gospel

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Prosperity gospel is a doctrine taught by some Christian churches which claims that commitment to the church will lead to financial gains and good health. Believers are encouraged to have faith, tithe and give generous donations. Churches that preach this message are often also non-denominational, name it and claim it preachers and faith healers. Some preachers say that your life with go well and have less pain if you follow their teaching; the more radical teachers of the prosperity gospel claim that God's plan is for you to be financially wealthy. [1] Many other denominations consider this doctrine as heretical.

Preachers associated with prosperity gospel include: Joel Osteen [2] together with his wife Victoria and late father John, Pat Robertson [3], Joyce Meyer [2], Reinhard Bonnke [4], Kenneth Copeland [4], Benny Hinn [4], Creflo Dollar [5], Eddie Long [6], Paula White [7] However, many of them reject the label or accept it with qualification.

"God does want each of us to be rich in every possible way- health, love and peace of mind, as well as material possessions."

— Paul Zane Pilzer, God Wants You to Be Rich

"I believe it is God's will for His people to be prosperous in every area of their lives, including finances and material goods. Psalm 35:27 Bible-icon.png says that God takes pleasure in the prosperity of His people. I find no scripture saying He is pleased when His people do not have their needs met."

— Joyce Meyer, 100 Ways to Simplify Your Life

"I just want to encourage every one of us to realize when we obey God, we're not doing it for God — I mean, that's one way to look at it. We're doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we're happy. So I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you're not doing it for God really. You're doing it for yourself, because that's what makes God happy. Amen?"

— Victoria Osteen [8]
"the appeal of the prosperity gospel in the US is that it explains and “baptises” what people already have. The churches “sanctify ambition”, Bowler says, which is clearly a recipe for success in an ambitious society [9]"

Churches preaching a prosperity gospel have become somewhat popular in the US and Africa, while making in-roads into Europe. The doctrine has some echo of the sale of indulgences, which were formerly used to raise money for churches. While most religions have cargo cult-like qualities, the prosperity gospel is strikingly similar to that practice.

Contents

Biblical basis

While many Christians are quick to criticise prosperity gospel, arguably a biblical case can be made:

"Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful."

Joshua 1:8 Bible-icon.png

Criticism

Scam

Prosperity gospel is a scam were the leaders of the church grow wealthy by preying on the hopes and naivety of their congregation. The outcome that is promise is never realized. It perpetuates poverty because many of their donors are not wealthy and they are diverted from more constructive activities.

The donations made by rank and file church members are often used to construct mega-churches or give the church leaders fabulous salaries. [10] Some prosperity preachers are allegedly involved in ponzi schemes. [11] It is questionable that such activities should be granted tax exemption, as occurs many countries.

Unworthy goal

Financial gain is not a worthy goal to seek according to the gospels and even some secular thinkers.

Not unlike mainstream Christianity

Mainstream Christianity promises "treasure in heaven" Matthew 19:21 Bible-icon.png. Pascal's wager and avoidance of hell is based on self interest. In a similar manner, the prosperity gospel has similar rewards and punishments which implicitly assume people follow their self interest. The only (insignificant) difference is that the prosperity gospel promise earthly rather than heavenly rewards. Friedrich Nietzsche argues that this logic is fundamental to all religions:

"The most general formula on which every religion and morality is founded is: 'Do this and that, refrain from this and that — and then you will be happy! And if you don't...' Every morality, every religion, is based on this imperative; I call it the original sin of reason, the immortal unreason."

Contrary to the New Testament

Jesus preached a message of living without material possessions. The reward he promised was spiritual in nature. Prosperity gospel is a clear example of the selective use of the New Testament.

The desire to be rich is also condemned by Paul the Apostle:

"Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil: which some reaching after have been led astray from the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows."

1 Timothy 6:9-10 Bible-icon.png (emphasis added)

References

  1. John Piper - Why I abominate the prosperity gospel
  2. 2.0 2.1 [1]
  3. [2]
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 [3]
  5. [4]
  6. [5]
  7. [6]
  8. [7]
  9. [8]
  10. [9]
  11. [10]

See also

External links

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