The Gospel of Prosperity Part 1 By Marco Gonzalez
When I first became a Christian, I was influenced heavily. Much of my doctrinal and theological stances were formed and shaped by the gospel of prosperity (or as many have labeled it â€œThe prosperity Gospel.â€) The prominent speakers: T.D Jakes, Jesse Duplantis, Kenneth Copeland, and Kenneth Hagin all participated in creating my understanding of the gospel. The success of these individuals is well-known Even without the major influence of their broadcasts on TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network), many of the dominant speakers have gross revenues reaching a billion dollars a year. TBN is primarily the telecommunication used to project these individuals toward Christians. Iâ€™ve personally listened to well-over a thousand hours of broadcasting.
This is including when I was cultivated by the network and after I broke free from it. Whether we wish to admit it or not, TBN has influenced billions of Christians. From my own personal experience and close friends, I have witnessed the devastating effects of the prosperity gospel.Living in Southern California, I am aware of two individuals who have fought seriously against the prosperity gospel: John MacArthur, Hank Hannagraph. Whenever TBN or individuals from TBN have been criticized, the founder of TBN, Paul Crouch, has replied back to the criticism. When Hanagraph and MacArthur were exposing much of the deception of TBN, Crouch responded. Paul Crouch said both Hanagraph and MacArthur were â€œheresy huntersâ€ and looking to pick fights. Crouch went as far as to say (and this is a direct quote), â€œIf God doesnâ€™t shoot them, I will.â€ I mention this because TBN is built upon billions and billions of dollars. Crouch realizes whenever his speakers are criticized, it results in a net-loss and is a liability to his corporation.
In fact, both Hannagraph and Macarthur immediately received death threats following their sermons and discussions about TBN. This does not mean that TBN sent them death threats directly, but what it does mean is that TBN posses many loyal followers who are willing to defend their leaders. It is note-worthy to mention that I have personally never heard Macarthur or Hannagraph say their death threats were directly from TBN.
Before we can address the prosperity gospel, we need to understand the enormous impact it has and continues to have on Christians. While to many Christians what TBN and their speakers say may appear to be rank heresy, Christians need to understand the innumerable amounts of people who believe in the prosperity gospel. With over six-teen satellites world-wide, TBN reaches trillions of people groups from every, tongue, tribe, and nation. Just walk inside your favorite Christian bookstore and look at the new releases and you will find the top-selling authors of Christian publishing to be prosperity preachers. Or start talking with normal everyday Christians and you will find their theology embedded with the prosperity gospel.
I will not deny that I once was held in bondage to this. Breaking out of this mentality can only come from the spirit awaking and humbling our souls to the word of God. The belief that financial restoration is the primacy of the gospel makes it so it is not hard to attract numerous followers. Followers who are so deeply entrenched in this ideology will fight every logical and coherent biblical argument that those who proclaim the gospelâ€™s preeminence is faith and repentance can give.
I have seen the heartbreak and witnessed the unanswered prayers and uncertain hope in God because of a lack of healing or prosperity. There are countless people who are poor or are currently afflicted by a medical condition; the prosperity gospel provides false hope for these people as a mandated guarantee God will provide provision. Take a moment and understand a mother whose child is terminally-ill and all her options have been exhausted. Or a couple who is bankrupt and lives on the street and has no other choice. It changes our perspective when we realize these are not just ignorant people, but people who are in extreme hardship and the prosperity gospel gives false hope to them.
I need to make this clear because many are under the assumption that the followers of TBN are obtuse. I am not making excuses for the lack of discernment these individuals have, but we need to understand the roots of their fellowship with the prosperity gospel. The first part of this essay was never intended to examine the prosperity gospelâ€™s theology, rather it was planned to give a perspective of TBN as a network and their followers as a whole.
Obviously, prosperity is attractive; there is no human being who objects to God as a giver of healing and financial restoration. These people provide a false fabrication of God and then subject millions to it. The prosperity gospel is by far the worst manufactured gospel of our generation. It differs from Roman Catholism, because Catholism twists the essence of the gospel in a way which looks, from a distance, like truth. On the other hand, the prosperity gospel is blatantly false with the ideology that Godâ€™s provision toward your wealth and health is available if you tap into the spiritual realm correctly.
The prosperity gospel will continue to do damage to Christians and evangelicalism. It is imperative we equip ourselves with the understanding of its doctrinal and biblical stances toward interpreting scripture. Most of all though, we need to pray; we need to pray that our motives are gentle and pure. Letâ€™s keep our eyes fixed on the eternality of Godâ€™s judgment and remember this is not merely an aim to correct doctrine. Before I address the theological issues, we need to look at our hearts and make sure they are pure. Donâ€™t let correcting someoneâ€™s doctrine become the primacy of this endeavor but become distressed that Godâ€™s grace will be concluded with the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and that now is the time of salvation.
Let the word of God dwell deeply in you to create an overwhelming passion for people to be set free; people who are in bondage to the roaring doctrines of false teachers and preachers. Do not let your heart grow cold toward those who refuse to walk in the truth, but fervently pray to God to awaken their soul. If we want to be truly effective in our apologetics and defense of the gospel, we need examine our hearts. Most of all we need to depend on the Holy Spirit to break down the anarchy of peopleâ€™s hearts and minds.