Why is Prosperity Doctrine so wrong & how?

Christians can be misled into a form of it.

Prayers for personal blessing aren’t inherently wrong, of course, but the prosperity gospel’s overemphasis on man turning prayer into a tool for blessings, desiring God to grant their desires, can easily turn into idolatry because one’s desire is no more pleasing and loving God, but rather obeying for the sake of getting blessings. Worse still, if some pastors actually teach that to the congregation, as we do see them around, especially in the pentecostal circles. This is what Augustine calls as “disordered love”. Within prosperity theology, man—not God—becomes the focal point of prayer.

Curiously, prosperity preachers often ignore the second half of James’s teaching on prayer: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James. 4:3). God does not answer selfish requests that do not honor his name.

Certainly all our requests should be made known to God (e.g., Phil. 4:6), but the prosperity gospel focuses so much on man’s desires that it may lead people to pray selfish, shallow, superficial prayers that don’t bring God glory. Further, when coupled with the prosperity doctrine of faith, this teaching may lead people to attempt to manipulate God to get what they want—a futile task. This is far removed from praying “Your will be done.”

False Gospel 

Joe Carter writes, “In light of Scripture, the prosperity gospel is fundamentally flawed. At bottom, it is a false gospel because of its faulty view of the relationship between God and man. Simply put, if the prosperity gospel is true, grace is obsolete, God is irrelevant, and man is the measure of all things. Whether they’re talking about the Abrahamic covenant, the atonement, giving, faith, or prayer, prosperity teachers turn the relationship between God and man into a quid pro quo transaction. As James Goff noted in a 1990 Christianity Today article, God is “reduced to a kind of ‘cosmic bellhop’ attending to the needs and desires of his creation.” “ [1]

This is a wholly inadequate and unbiblical view of the relationship between God and man.

How can we identify a prosperity gospel preacher? [2]

In a 2014 sermon, John Piper outlined six keys to detecting the prosperity gospel:

  1. The absence of a serious doctrine of the biblical necessity and normalcy of suffering, the absence of a doctrine of suffering.
  2. The absence of a clear and prominent doctrine of self-denial is a tip off that something is amiss.
  3. The absence of serious exposition of Scripture.
  4. The absence of dealing with tensions in Scripture.
  5. Church leaders who have exorbitant lifestyles.
  6. A prominence of self and a marginalization of the greatness of God.

Real Connection between the Charismatics & Pentecostal Churches with Prosperity Doctrines

This problem is aggravated in the poorer third world countries, as you can see why they can be appealing. Because of the economic hardship, many in the 3rd world, flock to church pulpits, where there is a strong sense of preaching on how God can bless your business, your jobs, your careers, if you come to worship him and follow him. There is a grain of truth in it because they quote Abraham was wealthy because God blessed him. David was wealthy because God was with him. Job, though tested severely by God, eventually became the wealthiest guy in town. I studied and the OT and the NT on the blessings of being prosperous in the OT, which is obviously there, like:

Jeremiah 29″1 (NIV)

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NASB95)
11 ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
The word “prosper” is better translated as “welfare “ or “peace”.

3 John 2 (NASB95)
2 Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.
εὐοδώθην—Prosper
–have things turn out well, prosper, succeed
So the original Greek word is “Enodothen”—which means turns out well, prosper, succeed.
I would lean on more succeed, and turn out well, prosper in the sense of being successful, there might be some monetary sense, but the main gist is success.

Conclusion: Jesus focuses on the Kingdom and the eschatological blessings instead of the earthly material possessions

Jesus focuses on the Kingdom of God and the new creation. The prosperity is never mentioned or taught by him at all! He in fact extolled the value of fixing our eyes on the eternal values and not the temporal worldly success. For him, the eventual consummation of his Kingdom will usher in the absolute new creation that will enjoy God’s presence for all eternity. There will be a big feast of the wedding of the Lamb which is he himself. He said blessed are the poor, he means those who recognize they are poor spiritually and they can’t make it to heaven and will therefore humble themselves to come to Christ. Blessed are those who mourn, those who weep, etc all those counter cultural values. Don’t even begin with Jesus. He being the richest man in the entire cosmos, universes, had no where to lay his head. He was born in a manger. He borrowed everything including the last supper space. He sacrificed all his riches and glory to come humbled into this world for the sake of saving the world. Enough said a d don’t even look for prosperity doctrine in the gospels. Jesus looks to the eternal eschatological blessings. Look at below:

John 6 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

Jesus told us not to labor for the things of the world, they don’t last! But labor for the food that will last!

Mark 8 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 

References:

Prosperity Gospel Born in the USA

What You Should Know About the Prosperity Gospel


[1] Joe Carter, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/what-you-should-know-about-the-prosperity-gospel/

[2] John Piper, https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/six-keys-to-detecting-the-prosperity-gospel

[3] Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 410). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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