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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « The Fall & Its Consequences by Pastor John Samson | Main | Thanksgiving ... »

    The Gospel of Prosperity Part 2: The Promise of Health & Wealth by Marco Gonzalez

    tbn.bmp Since the birth of 1st Century Christianity, the church, collectively, has been beleaguered with false preachers. Many of the written epistles to churches were written with the intention of warning believers of the impending crisis surrounding the gospel. Paul, who possessed an abundance of fellow ministers that preached along with him, was ultimately left alone in his endeavor as some of his closet companions fell away for the “pleasures of the world.” It comes as no surprise then, that in the 21st century, false preachers and teachers are widespread; TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) has proven to us the prevalence of this.

    It is a difficult thing to look at the prosperity gospel’s theology and create a systematic overview of it. This is mainly because there is no doctrinal statement or systematic theology. For example, Benny Hinn and T.D Jake’s theology is plagued with prosperity. However, Hinn is clearly more extreme on particular issues then Jakes. That being said, the main premises of prosperity theology are identical (That is, how they view the gospel in terms of prosperity.)

    Typically, Prosperity theology is set up in a formula. If you correctly follow these steps, then the reward is God’s provision. You don’t have to watch for very long to understand that prosperity preachers always have a disclaimer: If you didn’t receive your blessing then you had a lack of faith or you didn’t tap into God’s spiritual realm correctly. The premise, I believe, of comprehending prosperity theology is their theology of faith. It is faith that connects us to this “spiritual realm of God’s riches.” Prosperity preachers view faith as a force. They believe faith is the force which has the ability to restore and change your life. This Faith is the substance of things hoped- which for the prosperity gospel becomes physical and financial. Faith connects us to God, and therefore, God as the giver of all things requires his people to have faith in the substance of his provision.

    The “prosperity gospel” sees Jesus interaction with individuals in the gospels as passages requiring “faith” for healing. The woman who touched Christ’s garment is a perfect example of prosperity preacher’s claim to name-it-and-claim-it. Let’s Remember this woman had been terminally-ill and had exhausted all her resources on every type of medical treatment available. The woman’s first reaction to seeing Christ was to immediately grab hold of his garment for healing. The woman, built up with faith, touched Christ’s garment and was at once healed. This woman, who is an example of this so called force of faith, exemplifies for us that the amount of faith she had gave her the power to receive healing.

    Notice that her healing and restoration were not caused merely by faith, but the amount of faith she had. I have witnessed too many cases of unhealed people who fallen victim to this ideology of faith. These people have been told they lacked the right amount of faith in God; consequently, this is why God refused to heal their bodies and restore them. As a result, faith is no longer about connecting us to the merit of Christ. God’s commitment to uphold his glory is emphasized throughout prosperity theology. God has made the promise through the atonement healing to those who believe. A word of caution must be inserted here. I do believe God requires faith in certain circumstances, however, those conditions are based upon his promises.

    God has not - in any part of the NT- guaranteed divine healing on the basis of faith. There is only one promise guaranteed in the NT and that promise is “Emmanuel” God will be with us throughout all of our economical and biological deficits. Therefore, prosperity preachers begin with faith. This faith is based upon a promise and the victory to overcome financial or physical problems is guaranteed through the atonement of Christ; this is all done on the basis of God’s promise of divine healing and restoration.

    In general, many in charismatic circles believe the atonement of Christ also purchased physical healing. The scripture reference used is

    Isaiah 53:5-6 (KJV) 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

    This is part of Isaiah’s climatic hope of restoration to Israel. The reference used is “For he bruised for our iniquities and crushed for our sorrows.” While this is a clear case of isogesis, it still remains as precedence for prosperity theology’s claim to the promise of healing. You can immediately see the consequences of such hermeneutics; every passage will be read with the assumption that it’s referring to the present conditions of our lives. When scripture say “according to the riches of God’s mercy” you can instantly see how the meaning will be truncated.
    The Christian life immediately becomes the measure of our faith and ignores the main purpose of faith: to connect us to the merit of Christ. A few months ago I was watching TBN and Juanita Bynum was preaching. If you don’t know who she is just make a trip over to Wal-mart and you will see her popularity. At this time TBN was doing their fundraising campaign. Bynum was on the air and promised the first 7,000 callers who gave 1,000 dollars each would receive a blessing. You don’t have to understanding much arithmetic know how much of a net gain that is; it’s $7,000,000. Immediately Bynum met her goal in only forty-five minutes.

    Bynum, who believers herself to be a modern day prophet and one who discerns the will of God, wholeheartedly believes her message. Her message was no different then T.D Jakes, Benny Hinn, Keneith Hagin, Joel Osteen (who I wouldn’t label a prosperity preacher, but his message is plagued with it from his father), Jesse Duplantis and every single prosperity preacher that affirms the same message.

    According to them: God sent Christ, born of a virgin, incarnated into the form of man to provide reconciliation and restoration for our physical and financial problems. To tap into this power, the amount of faith that we have connects us to all the physical blessings of God. My brothers and sisters, we need to pray fervently that God would awaken these false teachers’ eyes.

    We need more faithful pastors and teachers who will alert the church of these subduing doctrines of hell. As John Macarthur has said “TBN has done more harm then Jerry Springer.” That may sound humorous at first glance, but it’s a true statement. The Trojan horse of Christianity is a just a click, channel, and remote away for billions of Christians. Let us stand and defend the faith that was handed down to us from the generations before.

    Posted by Marco Gonzalez on November 23, 2005 01:34 AM

    Comments

    Brilliant! I have been troubled by the TV preachers for years; I wanted to beleive they were genuine, but it seemed too wrong that the donations they recieved were exchanged for "blessings". I guess the selling of indulgences hasn't gone away after all.

    The prosperity gospel resonates with those who are really desperate for material blessings. The challenge is for the church to address that issue. However, some people are not stricken with poverty but all their eyes can see is the material. Their affections are not set on spiritual things- righteousness, peace, God himself. We must pray that the Holy Spirit will give those who are blinded by the prosperity teachers a taste for God himself.

    Well written! Scholarly! Bible-based! Much needed!

    Well written! Bible-based! Good theology! Long overdue! Much needed! Be blessed, Martin.


    Thank you for your insightful article.
    I am researching the Prosperity Gospel and I ran across a reference to an article by Gordon D. Fee called "The Gospel of Prosperity-- An Alien Gospel." It was printed in Reformation Today 82 (Novemer/December 1984):39.
    Can you help me locate it?

    Thank you for having the courage to raise this issue. As an assistant in my local Foursquare Church I am facing this menace currently. It is only when we stand on the correctly divided Word of God that we can hope to see this eradicated from the church.

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