In the various RSS feeds I track there were two related posts this morning, both of which touch on the issue of the prosperity gospel. Those who know the language will recognize the bit of irony in saying that a “gospel” is not “good news,” since gospel (at the least the Greek word which it translates) means good news. Unfortunately, the prosperity gospel tends to be very bad news for many people, and it is distinctly bad theology as well.
Dave Warnock, on his blog 42, wrote about bad theology, and included the prosperity gospel as an example of such–rightfully so. I’m aware that, as one of his commenters noted, this is debated. But just because there is debate doesn’t mean that such debate is justifiable. I don’t mind those who believe God will bless. Where I think there is an unequivocal problem is where preachers and teachers assure people that if they just give, even if they can’t afford it, God will bless them multiply. That is not God’s plan for supporting ministry.
From a somewhat different perspective, Ed Brayton wrote on prosperity theology, and provided excellent examples of just why this is wrong. He brings up the issue of just where we can begin to call this fraud from a legal point of view. Since many religious claims are viewed as fraud by other religious people, the religious liberty issue is difficult. But as an individual, I have no such problems. The extreme claims of prosperity theology prey on vulnerable people.
I also believe that they are contrary to the way in which God has asked the church to work. The tithing system is exceptionally fair, in that it is based on increase, which I think matches today’s profit quite closely. I wrote something about this here. God calls for giving that is willing and proportional; not for bleeding those who cannot give for more and more.