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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Pass the offering plate

by Eric


Several weeks ago, Time magazine featured a picture of a classic Rolls Royce with a cross serving as the hood ornament. The headline reads, “Does God want you to be rich?” The subhead adds, “Yes, say some meagchurches. Others call it heresy. The debate over the new gospel of wealth” (9/18/2006).

First of all, this is not a “new” gospel. This “Health and Wealth” prosperity teaching has been around for more than 40 years. Names like Hagin, Copeland, and Hinn have certainly helped popularize this idea that Christians are children of the King, with prosperity to be considered a God-given right. Remember the televangelist scandals of the 1980s that produced plenty of material for Johnny Carson jokes? Even a movie starring comedian Steve Martin (Leap of Faith) made fun of the scandalous practices that certain preachers used to fleece people of their money. I once heard a sermon where one such pastor commanded his congregation to not only pray about a Mercedes but to also have the faith to pray for its color. To do any less, he said, meant you really didn’t have the proverbial mustard seed of faith!

It’s true that, generally, God blesses His people with not only with spiritual blessings but with material blessings as well (e.g. Prov. 3:9,10). However, nowhere does the Bible say that God intends all of His people to be wealthy. As Saddleback pastor Rick Warren put it, “You don’t measure your self-worth by your net worth.” Unfortunately, God is treated by these prosperity teachers as a celestial gumball machine. Just put your quarter into the slot and out comes the giant circular prize. But God doesn’t work like that. We should follow Him and give generously, not to get something material out of it, but because we love God and desire to be a blessing to others. A person’s motive plays a crucial role here.

Why do I bring this up? Because I’m sure a number of Mormons who saw this article have conveniently stereotyped all Christians as having this same attitude. They tune into the TBN network (Trinity Broadcasting) just to mock the methods used by these prosperity teachers. (I know because one Mormon often sends me e-mails making fun of these people and showing me the “fruits” of “Evangelicalism.”)

However, many respected leaders and the people of God disagree with this prosperity doctrine. After all, it’s not hard to point to the Bible to show how such a teaching is corrupt. In 2 Timothy 3:1ff, Paul explains how “there will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud,…” etc. He goes on to list more than another dozen attributes characterizing these end times, with his advice of “have nothing to do with them.”

Yes, sin and even heresy can creep into the church. The question is how will God’s people react? I, for one, reject this teaching and will have nothing to do with those who preach a “name it and claim it” prosperity doctrine. My hope is that most evangelical Christians will agree and call on these leaders to resist the temptation to preach this corrupt gospel.

6 Comments:

  • At September 28, 2006 1:29 PM, Blogger rick b said…

    I have been dealing with the health and weatlth (Blab it and grab it) Doctrine for over 12 years now. It is a false Gospel. My wifes entife family are involved in this crap, I once ruined the entire Christmas get togther for everyone, because they were preaching it and I openly rebuked them.

    The biggest thing about this that I hate is, My wife has MS, So I heard family members say, your wife must be living in sin because she has MS. My questions were, Why do you take Medications such as asprin or go to a doctor.

    Their replys are things like, well were so highly used my God, were being attacked by the devil, he uses pain to get us, O-Sure, your so rightoues the devil comes after you, but not my wife, it must be sin.

    I also pointed out, John 9:2 The apostles said to Jesus, Good Master, Who sinned, this man or His parents, that he was born Blind? Jesus said Neither, it is for Gods glory. Why is it Sin or your simply so holy the devil hates you, Not God using it for His glory? Their was no reply.

    Sadly my wifes family pretty much no longer speaks to me or if they do they avoid the Health and wealth Gospel like the Plauge. It is very destructive. Rick b

     
  • At September 30, 2006 8:44 AM, Anonymous Russ said…

    Amen, Eric! A friend of mine very much likes Joyce Meyer. I asked my friend a rhetorical question, "Have you heard that God supposedly wants you to have all the expensive, expensive shoes that your heart desires?"

    I don't think the pastor in China that lost his family and his family business over his new-found Christian faith would share such nonsensical views.

     
  • At October 04, 2006 12:21 AM, Blogger Matthew said…

    The love of money is the root of all evil. That is what the Lord told us through the Apostle Paul.

    Does the Lord want us to live a life of poverty or to strive to be wealthy? I believe the answer is neither.

    In Matthew 6:24-34 we are told that we cannot serve God and Mammon. In addition we are told that the fowls of the air and the lillies of the field are taken care of and that we should not worry about material wealth but instead seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness and all these things will be added to us.

    Many Latter-day Saints will say that striving to be rich is not something people should do and rightfully so, however if these same Latter-day Saints were to drive through the Holladay neighborhood of Salt Lake City they would see that clearly some people are using their money for things other than "sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me."

    Many Latter-day Saints will say that it is not right to judge the church by its members. I shall dare ask, is it right to judge Protestants and Catholics by the action of their members too?

     
  • At October 04, 2006 9:53 PM, Anonymous Russ Bales said…

    Oh, Lord. Won't you buy me. A Mercedez Benz. My friends all drive Porshes. I must make a menz.

    (Sorry, just popped into my head.)

     
  • At October 14, 2006 1:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    ERIC SAID IN "PASS THE OFFERING PLATE" CORRUPT GOSPEL. THERE IS NOT SUCH A THING OF CORRUPT GOSPEL.
    THE GOSPEL CAME FROM GOD, AND GOD IS NOT CORRUPT. MEN ARE CORRUPTED BUT NO THE GOSPEL. NEVER.

     
  • At October 16, 2006 1:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Men are tempted by many things. Money is one of them. Money is a form of idle worship. So are many other passions. Brigham Young once said that his greatest fear is that the saints' industry would create wealth that would destroy their spirituality. Along those lines anyway. I do believe i see it today. Maybe in my own life a little. Let us all be introspective. We should use the gospel to justify our lack of industry or work ethic because we say money is evil, either. Achieve a balance in all things I would say.

     

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