Subtle Prosperity Gospel

I had a friend, JM, who went through a similar story at the same time as I in her first marriage. JM, though, believed the subtle, false, teaching in the church that says if you read your Bible, have your quiet time, honor God, give faithfully, attend church regularly, attend Bible studies, make your children have quiet times, respect your husband, that all will go well with you.

I’m not saying these things are wrong. They are actually good.

What is wrong is the philosophy that if you do these things, then God will always bless you in humanly beautiful ways. It’s a subtle ‘prosperity gospel’ that is often taught in churches.

The Truth is that when we trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding, that God will direct our paths. The Truth is that when we keep our eyes and heart fixed on Jesus, He will keep us in perfect peace. The Truth is that when we arm ourselves with the Armor of God, He will go into battle with us and fight for us, along side of us. The Truth is we will face many trials of various kinds, and the only way we will come out of them with hope, and not tossed and turned by every wave, is through Jesus Christ.

JM believed the former, and when her life fell apart, so did her faith. We were close friends; I loved her like a sister. When I confronted her on her bitterness toward God, she ended the friendship, and I haven’t talked to her since. That was so many years ago that my girls don’t even remember who she is. It is sad for me on many levels. I miss my friend, and I miss her four children.

Recently I came across something that publicly critisized JM in her profession. I was saddened. Her bitterness continues. She will have much to answer for. Though she did receive false teaching, she was presented with the Truth, and she chose. It breaks my heart.

Somewhere in there, though, and I’m not God so I don’t know how it will all come about, the church will be held responsible for false teaching.

6 thoughts on “Subtle Prosperity Gospel

  1. Back in college I had similar expereinces at one point. You can only help those God has softened the heart of. Some He gave me power to aid, some wrapped themselves in heteropraxy, and some walked away from the faith. God is soveriegn. Let God be praised (though sometimes through tears).

  2. Nothing new under the sun here. Back in the day, everyone was hoping Jesus would kick Pilate’s ass, impale Herod on a pike, and set up the paradisical Kingdom of Israel. The “faithful” people–which included many Pharisees–had been banking on that messianic vision. They worked hard, they tithed, they studied the Bible with all passion…

    And then Jesus came along and busted their vision by saying, “My kingdom is not of this world.” He didn’t join the tax protests, He didn’t join an anti-Roman crusade, He didn’t mount a revolt against Herod or Pontius Pilate, He refused to settle estate matters that were at dispute. He stayed out of materialist issues.

    Instead, he told His would-be disciples not to worry about what they would eat or wear; He told them to be joyful when they were persecuted; He told them they would be hunted down and hauled in front of various tribunals; He told them their life doesn’t consist of material things; He told them that His message would divide families–even turning parents and siblings and spouses against one another.

    The Western Prosperity gospel–as false a gospel as there ever was–is being exposed, on all levels, for the bankrupt vision that it is.

    Folks like JM are finding out–the hard way–what the real Gospel is. That they are rejecting the real Gospel on account of the failure of the false Gospel is nothing new.

    After all, the Pharisees rejected God’s own Son because He did not offer them their vision of what life ought to be.

  3. Russ – “Let God be praised (though sometimes through tears).”

    yes; excellent.


    Amir – yes. excellent. we want God the way we want Him, not the way He is. it’s easy to blame the church for not teaching Truth, but when we’re presented the Truth, we still get to choose. my late Mentor would say it was much easier to teach a non-believer the Truth than to un-teach and re-teach one who was taught false truths.

    “An interview that begins with a statement like, “Well, Piers, to me, faith is all about learning to be happy where you are,” is probably not going to end well.” – priceless

  4. Russ – you know, that’s a really hard lesson to learn. my late Mentor taught me the whole verse of Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

    somehow i had only picked up that i had to live at peace with everyone … i had totally missed “If it is possible” … and “as far as it depends on you” … meaning, i am NOT going to be able to live at peace with everyone b/c i can only control me – and not all things are humanly possible … and what God CAN do and what God WILL do are often two totally, separate things.

    when i learned this – ahhh, the freedom! i am not responsible for everyone else!

    this may seem simple to some, but having grown up with abusive parents, it was huge for me. perpetrators rarely take responsibility for their choices, but they have to blame someone, so they blame their victims. i grew up being blamed and taught i was responsible for what happened to me. i took that into my first marriage. it took years to learn the Truth. once learned, though, what freedom!

    still, as you so wisely stated, “Let God be praised (though sometimes through tears).” it is very painful to not be able to get along with everybody. it is very painful to loose friendships b/c they do not want the friendship. it is very painful to watch people make choices that you know will reap horrible consequences … and then to watch those consequences unfold over the years. many tears, indeed. still, let God always, always be praised.

  5. @Ame
    That’s the thing: we’re not going to be held accountable for what Joel Osteen said, although I will not want to be within a hundred miles when he gets his reckoning.

    We will, however, be held accountable for what we did with the Real Deal.

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