The Prosperity Gospel is no longer reserved for televangelists and whacky, fringe churches. Prosperity Teaching is now normal Evangelical faith.
Maybe not blatantly, and certainly never admittedly, but there is little difference between the central tenets of Prosperity Teaching and most Evangelical doctrine.
The most recent manifestation of this is the #Blessed trend. Happy Christians must prove their constant happiness on their happy social media feeds. A lack of happy, positiveness demonstrates lack of faith. This trend has its roots in Prosperity Teaching.
Far from lazily hoping that God would somehow fix all their problems. . . the prosperity gospel requires practitioners to cultivate an intense mental discipline in order to constantly suppress thoughts of negativity or doubt.
Thus, they focus on the positive and chalk it up to God’s blessings, whether it is or not. This focus on the positive, while avoiding the “negative,” makes for a very lopsided view of life.
It even lopsides the Gospel. Where is the Man of suffering acquainted with grief? In what sense do we have the mind of Christ if He is this man of sorrow and grief? How does this hyper-happy, negativity-avoiding mentality deal with handicaps, suffering, and persecution?
The prosperity gospel has taken a religion based on the contemplation of a dying man and stripped it of its call to surrender all. Perhaps worse, it has replaced Christian faith with the most painful forms of certainty. The movement has perfected a rarefied form of America’s addiction to self-rule, which denies much of our humanity: our fragile bodies, our finitude, our need to stare down our deaths (at least once in a while) and be filled with dread and wonder. At some point, we must say to ourselves, I’m going to need to let go.
Prosperity Teaching promises you Jesus plus all the world. There is no sense in which the Bible agrees with this. Nor is there any way this can possibly be the Gospel that shows compassion to the weak, sick, persecuted, and poor among us.
The promise that we can have whatever we want leaves us ill-equipped to confront the realities of death and suffering. Tragedy becomes much harder to deal with when we are conditioned to think of ourselves as “blessed.”
God does bless His people. But the same God who constantly warns us about money and possessions and the inherent dangers of having and pursuing wealth, cannot then turn around and show His favor by heaping on us what He thinks is most dangerous.
This hyper-happy materialism is unbiblical and heretical. And it’s also modern American Christianity. Beware.