dear ephesus
8/12/13 at 09:26 AM 0 Comments

5 Reasons Why Prosperity Theology is Bankrupt

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1. The Bible Never Promises a “Financial Blessing” After Tithing in the Way Prosperity Theology Teaches

When we think of financial blessing in terms of prosperity theology, a divine pyramid scheme comes to mind. If we place $1,000 in the “storehouse” of so-and-so’s ministry, God will bless us in abundance for our faith.

In fact, many so-called preachers tout verse after verse in order to bolster their message that God wants you to test Him in this. One popular passage is Malachi 3:10…ish. (By …ish, I mean they conveniently leave some parts out.)

“Bring the full tithe into the storehouse…and thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing…”

Sounds good, right? Bring your tithe to the storehouse (ministry) and put God to the test to see whether or not He will bless us (give us a bunch of money). The problem with this, as with many passages prosperity theology teachers use, is that the passage is far removed from its context.

Malachi 3:6-8 is a chastisement against Israel for disobeying God in His command to care for the needy. He then challenges them to bring their tithes and contributions of food (not only money) to the storehouse in order to witness His blessing of seeing the poor’s needs (not wants) completely met. Here again is Malachi 3:10 in full and proper context.

“Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”

The Bible teaches us that we are given to so that we can give. We aren’t given to so we can hoard and become rich for our own gain. Whenever we come across passages throughout scripture that speak on God’s blessing us, it’s meant for us to return that blessing.

2. Jesus Never Taught Prosperity Theology

Jesus never once taught anything that remotely resembles prosperity theology. In fact, the prosperity “gospel” teaches that if you have enough faith in Jesus you don’t have to live like Him.

To the contrary, Jesus was a homeless itinerant rabbi who didn’t have enough money to pay his taxes. But, He was blessed enough by God to feed thousands of people!

This is a clear example of a biblical blessing from God. Our Father gives so that we may, in turn, reflect His charitable character. He gives so that we may give; He blesses us so that we may bless others.

Furthermore, the Bible warns us against the possibility of money becoming our object of affection and worship. Jesus teaches us in Luke 16:13 not to let money replace God in our lives because,

“No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

This is not to say having money is wrong, neither is the accumulation of wealth evil, but the selfish withholding of what God has given us to bless others is infuriating to Him.

Bottom line: If you are the leader of a multimillion dollar “prosperity ministry”, have your own personal jet, and stay in hotels that cost $10,800 a night, then you’re far from following Jesus.

Remember, if you come to Jesus for money then He’s not your god, money is.

3. Prosperity Theology Gives False Hope

If the Bible never promises a “financial blessing” in the way prosperity theology claims and Jesus never taught it, then prosperity theology gives people false hope. In fact, it’s helpful to view such a system of theology (along with its teachers) as predatory towards the poor, elderly, and needy, since it is generally these three groups that contribute the most.

Essentially, there is no difference between a prosperity theology “ministry” and title lending or payday loan businesses. The fact that Benny Hinn’s ministry website does not end in .biz should be a crime.

4. Prosperity Theology is Wholly Unknown to the Early Christians

In fact, they seemed to have objected to the acquisition of personal wealth for greedy purposes. In the early days of the church, we see Christians selling their belongings and property in order to ensure the needs of the down-and-out were met.

Acts 2:42–45 gives a clear picture of the church as an institution which proclaimed the gospel and helped out the poor. Nowhere do we see them giving a tithe and expecting ten-fold in return for their own gain.

Likewise, we never see an early church leader rolling up to a village on a Merdeces-Benz donkey wearing a Louis Vuitton tunic. They were more concerned with the needs of others than with the needs for themselves. The second-ever church position created (after pastor) was the office of deacon, whose responsibilities included the daily distribution of food for widows. One early church not only gave above their means during extreme poverty, but begged to be part in the relief of the saints.

The early church gave, not expecting in return. They gave and saw God’s blessing, just not the way prosperity theology teaches. They saw the blessing that God promised in Malachi 3.

Imagine the world if we postured ourselves like the early church! Did you know it would cost $30 billion for everyone in the world to have clean drinking water?[1] That’s less than how much Americans spend on gambling per year.[2]

If we stopped going to Vegas for one year, the entire world could have clean drinking water. Now that would be a blessing.

5. You Have To Wear A White Suit To Teach Prosperity Theology

As a general rule, any theology which is preached from a pulpit by a guy in a bright white suit is always wrong.

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Kyle Beshears is a pastor at the People of Mars Hill in Mobile, Alabama. He is the author of Robot Jesus and Three Other Jesuses You Never Knew and blogs at Dear Ephesus on church issues and apologetics.

[1] Laurence Smith, The New North: The World in 2050 (London: Profile Books, 2011), 92.

[2] American Gambling Association, 2013 State of the States: The AGA Survey of Casino Entertainment (Washington, DC: American Gambling Association, 2013), 5.

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