Why Prosperity Theology Is Dangerous
Prosperity theology, or the prosperity gospel, is a set of beliefs in which believers are taught that God wants us to have financial wealth as well as good health/long lives.
Popular proponents of this gosepl include figures like Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, and Kenneth Copeland. Popular books promoting this like Your Best Life Now have sold in the millions and become bestsellers.
The theology is mainly based upon John 10:10, in which Jesus says that he came so “that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Most Christians interpret “abundant life” as in eternal life or a spiritually fulfilling life. Propserity proponents include increased financials and longevity to this.
But this teaching is very dangerous, unscriptural, and can turn genuine Christians away from the faith. Here’s a couple reasons why.
1. Jesus’ Own Words
The first piece of evidence refuting this belief is Jesus’ own words contrasting the physical with the spiritual.
Prosperity proponents consider the body and the spirit to be inseperable, meaning that one always affects the other. Therefore, they argue, that by Jesus‘ giving us abundant spiritual life through his death on the cross, our physical body must be enriched too. They correlate spiritual welfare with financial and physiological welfare.
But Jesus directly refuted this in Matthew 6:19-21-
- 19- “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on Earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,
- 20- but lay for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
- 21- For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
We can plainly see that physical well being isn’t always connected to spiritual well being. A poor physical state doesn’t mean you‘ve done something wrong spiritually.
2. Lazarus and the Rich Man
You probably remember the story of Lazarus and the rich man. We know Lazarus was faithful even though he was a beggar because he went to Abraham‘s bosom. We know the rich man was not faithful because he ended up in hell.
Yet why was Lazarus poor and the rich man rich? Would we say that Lazarus was only poor because he wasn’t faithful enough? No, because the rich man was less faithful than Lazarus and yet had more financial wealth.
Our life on this earth isn’t the be all, end all. We are not of this world, and we are told to not desire the things of this world.
If Christians desire the same exact things, like money and power, that nonchristians do, then we are not seeking out the things of God.
Why is This So Dangerous?
You may think that prosperity preaching is a good movement that‘s just slightly misguided on some things. I don’t. I think it’s highly dangerous for Christians to buy into.
Let‘s consider a hypothetical situation. A man hears a sermon from a famous prosperity preacher. He is told that as long as he is faithful to God, he will be financially blessed and will not have to worry about his finances or about paying the bills. He is also told that he will have great health and will rarely get sick.
Now let’s says the man does remain faithful to God. He may or may not become financially wealthy. It depends on what God’s will is, and this is different for each person.
If he isn’t financially blessed, this will most likely lead him to believe one of two things.
a) he has failed by not being faithful enough
b) God has failed him and God is cruel
Both of these beliefs could ultimately turn him away from God. Why? Because prosperity preaching is based upon lies, and lies always bring about destruction.
Now this all isn’t to say that God doesn’t bless us financially or health-wise. He often does to those who are faithful. But the important thing to remember is that riches and health aren’t promised.
All faithful Christians will receive rewards and treasure... in heaven. Those treasures will be greater than anything on Earth. We should look to those things. This life will not always be easy. Consider it a trial or a test. You will reap what you sow. The Bible says that heavenly treasure is unimaginable. Work towards that, for that is true propserity.