THE DANGER OF PROSPERITY THEOLOGY
One of the most dangerous movements on the American scene today is the so-called “Prosperity Gospel.” This is the teaching—rampant on television—that claims it is God’s will for Christians to always prosper financially and medically. It is sometimes called the “health and wealth” Gospel. Prominent teachers in the prosperity movement include E. W. Kenyon, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, and Joel Osteen, to name a few.
What’s the danger of their message? The danger is that much of what they are preaching is not the Gospel of Jesus. Here are some actual book titles: God’s Will is Prosperity; Your Key to God’s Bank; Power to Get Wealth; The Laws of Prosperity; How to Have More in a Have Not World; Your Best Life Now; God’s Master Key to Success and Prosperity.
Joel Osteen writes in Your Best Life Now: “Start calling yourself healed, happy, blessed and prosperous. Stop talking to God about how big your mountains are and start talking to your mountains . . . Start declaring ‘Everything I touch prospers and succeeds’ . . . Friend, there is a miracle in your mouth.”
This stuff is simply unbiblical. Prosperity teachers distort much of what Jesus had to say about the cross-centered life, denying ourselves, suffering, God’s sovereignty, discipleship, and the topic of wealth. To stand up and claim that God promises all believers prosperity (health and wealth) in return for faithful obedience is a flat-out distortion of the Bible. It also negates two millennia of Christian martyrs. Was Jim Elliott unfaithful because he ended up speared to death?! According to prosperity preachers, if we have enough faith, we don’t ever need to be sick or die. But don’t all Christians eventually die? Last time I checked, the death rate among Christians was still one per person!
by Jay Childs, Senior Pastor