Monday, September 11, 2006

Does God Want You to Be Rich

The "Properity Gospel" teaches that the more faithful you are to God the richer you will become. Time Magazine made it a cover story in this weeks issue. This unbiblical movement contributes to the stereotypes that alienate the true gospel of Christ from having credibility with the world around us. Here is the CNN summary of the Time article. Here are a few clips:
"Prosperity" first blazed to public attention as the driveshaft in the moneymaking machine that was 1980s televangelism and faded from mainstream view with the Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart scandals.

But now, after some key modifications (which have inspired some to redub it Prosperity Lite), it has not only recovered but is booming.

Of the four biggest megachurches in the country, three -- Joel Osteen's Lakewood in Houston; T.D. Jakes' Potter's House in south Dallas; and Creflo Dollar's World Changers in Atlanta -- are Prosperity or Prosperity Lite pulpits (although Jakes' ministry has many more facets).

"Who would want to get in on something where you're miserable, poor, broke and ugly and you just have to muddle through until you get to heaven?" asks Joyce Meyer, a popular television preacher and author often lumped in the Prosperity Lite camp. "I believe God wants to give us nice things."


Seven Star Hand said...

Hello Scott and all,

RE: "Does God want you to be rich?"
How about, does the Creator want some people to suffer and starve while others wallow in luxury? What about "serving mammon" (money and materialism) instead of truth, justice, and your fellow souls? How about the rich man and the eye of a needle? Talking about the blind leading the blind...

Here's some pivotal knowledge (wisdom) so people can stop focusing on symptoms and obfuscatory details and home in like a laser on the root causes of and solutions to humanity's seemingly never-ending struggles.

Money is the lifeblood of the powerful and the chains and key to human enslavement

There is a radical and highly effective solution to all of our economic problems that will dramatically simplify, streamline, and revitalize human civilization. It will eliminate all poverty, debt, and the vast majority of crime, material inequality, deception, and injustice. It will also eliminate the underlying causes of most conflicts, while preventing evil scoundrels and their cabals from deceiving, deluding, and bedeviling humanity, ever again. It will likewise eliminate the primary barriers to solving global warming, pollution, and the many evils that result from corporate greed and their control of natural and societal resources. That solution is to simply eliminate money from the human equation, thereby replacing the current system of greed, exploitation, and institutionalized coercion with freewill cooperation, just laws based on verifiable wisdom , and societal goals targeted at benefiting all, not just a self-chosen and abominably greedy few.

We can now thank millennia of political, monetary, and religious leaders for proving, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that top-down, hierarchical governance is absolute folly and foolishness. Even representative democracy, that great promise of the past, was easily and readily subverted to enslave us all, thanks to money and those that secretly control and deceptively manipulate all currencies and economies. Is there any doubt anymore that entrusting politics and money to solve humanity's problems is delusion of the highest order? Is there any doubt that permitting political and corporate leaders to control the lives of billions has resulted in great evil?

Here's a real hot potato! Eat it up, digest it, and then feed it's bones to the hungry...

Most people have no idea that the common-denominator math of all the world's currencies forms an endless loop that generates debt faster than we can ever generate the value to pay for it. This obscured and purposeful math-logic trap at the center of all banking, currencies, and economies is the root cause of poverty. Those who rule this world through fear and deception strive constantly to hide this fact, while pretending to seek solutions to poverty and human struggle. Any who would scoff at this analysis have simply failed to do the math, even though it is based on a simple common-denominator ratio.

Here is Wisdom

Doctrine of Two Spirits...


First Theology said...

I'll have to confess I don't fully understand the last SSH's post, so I'll just respond to Scooter's reference to this article - maybe I'm indirectly addressing some of SSH's concerns?

One challenge in thinking thru this theologically is that in the OT the idea of blessing/cursing was strongly tied to material possessions - i.e. inheriting the land (milk & honey...). It's easy to make this case and I probably don't have to proof-text to do so. To be blessed materially in the OT was to have God's favor. While not negating the goodness of material blessings expressed through this OT concept, Christ comes in during the NT and seemingly turns much of this on its head (can't serve God & mammon, Rich man & Lazarus; Rich Young Ruler; eye of the needle)... or does he? Christ & the apostles that followed him express that wealth is not necessarily a sign of God's favor (altho it might be) and can be a curse as well as a blessing. While all of God's creation is good (materially) in the presence of sin/evil/suffering there are inequalities leading to poverty which are bad (dare I say dehumanizing) and need to be addressed by followers of Christ - to not do so is to miss a major implication of God's redemptive work in this world. Clearly loving money (as Paul says in 1 Timothy) can lead to a wrong/selfish use of God's blessings and turn them into a curse. This idea augments and expands the OT teaching on material possessions without negating it so that some tension must be held between the two.

The difficulty with some prosperity proponents is they don't see any discontinuity between the OT and the NT - all they see is a one-to-one parallel. So they want to grab a verse written to the nation of Israel in the promised land and appropriate it today directly = God wants me to be rich. They remove the tension and say "wealth = good" without looking at the other side of the equation critically. To me that's a bit over simplistic and sloppy interpretation (not "accurately handling the word of truth" as Paul says elsewhere to Timothy). Similarly demonizing material possessions is also an oversimplification incompatible with the biblical narrative about the goodness of God, his good creation (material & immaterial), and the way he blesses people through it. It only looks at the giving side of the equation and fails to look at God's material blessings critically. Both extremes fail to see that certain extremes of wealth and poverty are intolerable. This is the idea you see in Proverbs 30:8-9... Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me my daily bread.

So bottom-line the people of God are blessed to be a blessing (Gen 12:3) - that seems consistent throughout OT & NT. It means that we can affirm the goodness of God's creation and his material blessings and we see the call/stewardship to give generously (sacrificially as it's pictured in the NT) to help right the inequalities and the tragic consequences and dehumanizing effects of poverty. To me this all points back to the fact that this world is not the way it's suppose to be and God has called each of us to work redemptively (both spiritually and materially) to manifest signs of the Kingdom today. All this must be said in a confessional tone that the western church has often squandered this stewardship - by western church I mean me - and needs a kick in the pants and a call back to a biblical theology of material possessions. I would commend to you the Craig Blomberg's "Neither Poverty nor Riches" as a very helpful & BALANCED treatment of these issues that avoids polarizing at either end of the spectrum.