Saturday, November 1, 2008

Prosperity Gospel: Let the ranting continue...

Thanks for all the comments on the previous post. It is an issue that seems to raise the blood pressure a few points -- at least it does for me. A very special thank you to Caron for the link to Justin Peters' organization. I couldn't watch the entire presentation on his site, but was able to view it at the following link:

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=71208151703


This presentation is only a 30 minute overview of the seminar he offers to churches, but I found it to be an extremely powerful and compelling argument against these "health and wealth" pushers. And while I wholeheartedly agree with everything that Mr. Peters presents, I also understand that it is my responsibility to seek God's word and make sure Mr. Peters' arguments hold up. I urge you to do the same. My approach to bible study is a bit unorthodox, and I don't recommend it, but here's what I did:


Towards the end of his presentation, Justin Peters quoted my all-time favorite verse:

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Cor. 12:9a)


The rest of the verse is as follows: Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

So, I started from this verse and worked my way backwards until I came to 2 Corinthians 11 and 12 where Paul writes about false apostles, boasts about his own sufferings and talks about the thorn in his flesh. What struck me about these particular passages is that not only do they support the argument against the prosperity gospel, but in places Paul is dripping in sarcasm -- something I can definitely relate to.

"I hope you will put up with a little of my foolishness; but you are already doing that." (2 Cor 11:1)

*My translation: Since you are obviously open to all kinds of audacious b.s., hear me out as well, because I'm actually going to tell you the truth.
"For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. (2 Cor. 11:4)
*My translation: How can you be down with the Truth, the Holy Trinity, the Gospel of Christ, then turn around and readily accept something that is in direct conflict with what you profess to believe? I wonder if I could interest you in a time-share opportunity.

"But I do not think I am in the least inferior to those "super-apostles." I may not be a trained speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way." (2 Cor 11:5-6)
*My translation: "I'm no Benny Hinn, and I don't have a fancy suit or million dollar smile like Joel Osteen, but I think I have the educational and ancestry credentials (a Jew among Jews) and experience to be considered somewhat of an expert in this particular area. And did I mention the time when I met Jesus on the road to Damascus?"
"In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or pushes himself forward or slaps you in the face. To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that! (2 Cor. 11:17-21)
I'm not even going to comment on this particular passage. It pretty much speaks for itself.

**Paul provides several more zingers, but I'll stop there. I encourage you to read 2 Corinthians (again) in its entirety. I found it to be just loaded with insight and wisdom concerning this topic and others. Trust your pastor and others whom you consider to be wise counsel, but be like Ronald Reagan: TRUST, BUT VERIFY! And if someone tells you something and it doesn't sit well with you, there's probably a very good reason for that. If you are a believer, The Holy Spirit resides in you.

For any who remain unconvinced that this so called "gospel" is a heresy. I want to address a quote from Benny Hinn:


"Physical healing is as easy as being forgiven of your sins."

(Implying that if you are not healthy and whole, you and/or your family does not have enough faith, and that you are not saved.)

If you believe that, then I invite you to visit me in Houston. I want you to explain to me face to face how my friend Dee (with her husband, children and grandchildren present) didn't have enough faith to cure her cancer. That cancer and ten years of chemotherapy was God's punishment because she didn't have enough faith. Please explain to me that despite the fact that she lived a life of devotion to Christ , rarely complained, came to church and to our small group when she was in tremendous physical pain due to the sores and other ailments she suffered by the poisons being pumped into her body week after week, that it was her fault. Tell me about how her selfless, Christ-like attitude of humility and her servant's heart was wasted on the countless friends, neighbors, family members, doctors, nurses and strangers that she witnessed to by words and by actions. That in the end, it was a waste of time. Please help me understand how it is possible that in her final days, when she was pumped full of morphine, she was able to speak to me in a moment of absolute clarity in order to encourage me to continue to the work that God has set before me. Convince me that her cancer served only as a curse, and not as a blessing. Please come and explain all of this to me in person. I double-dog dare you.

And while you're here, you can pop over to see my friend Kris and her mom and sort some things out for them as well. Actually, I have quite a few friends down here that need to be enlightened. Stacey, for example, needs to know why she can't seem to conceive a child while newborns are being left in dumpsters. From here, you can jet up to Chicago and visit my friend Helen and her mom, then to Findley, Ohio where friends of Jeff and Tamara will tell you that while the massive floods destroyed their homes, the Hogans were spared because they are WAY more righteous than any of them. From there, back down to Georgia. Perhaps you can tag along with my friend Jamie and her husband Ken when they go to the hospital. While they are setting up for their photo session in the neonatal ICU unit, you can explain to the grieving parents that the stillborn child they hold in their arms is a direct result of their lack of faith.

If this post has deeply offended anyone, I pray that it is for the right reasons. I also pray that before you dismiss this post outright as lies and character assassination, you do some research of your own.

*I believe that all scripture is the inerrant word of God, and I mean no disrespect to His Word or to you.

**What strikes me most about Paul's sarcasm here is that it's really not his style at all. He goes out of his way to make a point. And while sarcasm comes quite naturally for me, it's not typically so caustic and mean spirited -- I'm also attempting to make a point.
PLEASE NOTE: While I am of the opinion that most of the "healings" that occur on TBN, Daystar, et. al., are mostly a complete sham, I do not dismiss the idea of faith healing outright. God is God. He can do anything. This includes the healing of the sick IN SPITE of these so called faith healers, not because of them. Furthermore, I have had a group of believers lay hands on me in prayer and I have done the same with and for others. But it is God's power and God's will that brings about healing, not our own.
Update: I love me some Oswald Chambers! Here's the devotion for October 31:

DISCERNMENT OF FAITH
"Faith as a grain of mustard seed. . ." Matthew 17:20
We have the idea that God rewards us for our faith, it may be so in the initial stages; but we do not earn anything by faith, faith brings us into right relationship with God and gives God His opportunity. God has frequently to knock the bottom board out of your experience if you are a saint in order to get you into contact with Himself. God wants you to understand that it is a life of faith, not a life of sentimental enjoyment of His blessings. Your earlier life of faith was narrow and intense, settled around a little sun-spot of experience that had as much of sense as of faith in it, full of light and sweetness; then God withdrew His conscious blessings in order to teach you to walk by faith. You are worth far more to Him now than you were in your days of conscious delight and thrilling testimony.
Faith by its very nature must be tried, and the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God's character has to be cleared in our own minds. Faith in its actual working out has to go through spells of unsyllabled isolation. Never confound the trial of faith with the ordinary discipline of life, much that we call the trial of faith is the inevitable result of being alive. Faith in the Bible is faith in God against everything that contradicts Him - I will remain true to God's character whatever He may do. "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" - this is the most sublime utterance of faith in the whole of the Bible.

11 comments:

Beth said...

Very strange that today my husband's mother called us and guess where she was headed...to see Benny Hinn. They were having some problems with traffic and I don't know if they got there or not. Last spring she was supposed to go see Joel Osteen but had some sudden health problems and ended up in the hospital. Yes, very strange indeed that you wrote about this. Her faith is the main reason my husband is a Christian, and I love her dearly. But we may have to have a talk about money and God and what the Bible says. Darn it. That won't be fun.

katdish said...

Beth,

If your mom-in-law ever wants to see Joel Osteen, I'll put her up here at my house. Heck, I'll even drive her there. But she's gonna hear what I think all the way there...

Kris said...

kathy,

mom will be healed, either here on earth or the ultimate healing in heaven. dee has been healed also.

mom has said that this illness has brought her back to a right relationship with God and has served as an encouragement to all around her. it has also brought a fervor for prayer for our friends and loved ones. God will use anything, even illness, to advance His kingdom and draw all men unto HIM.

great post.

kw

katdish said...

Kris,

Yes, yes. I know you're right. I get so angry sometimes. You and I know better than to follow these "brood of vipers", but what about the millions of people that don't know any better?

My neighbor came to our outside service today (and yes, it was great being outside). It's no wonder he is so confused about Christianity. He is a camera man who currently films Sunday service at a large African American church. But before that, he worked for TBN. He asked me why Christians preach one thing and live their lives another way. (Argh!!!!!)

It was great to have him worship with us. I pray that he can come to understand that the prosperity gospel is not the REAL gospel. I pray that we were a good example of a what it means to live a life abiding in Christ.

Christine said...

Ok, so in seminary we are learning all about our worldviews and that your theology is really a mixture of what you really believe about the revelation of God...(i.e. do you believe that ALL Scripture is truly God-breathed, 2 Tim 3:16, or do you think it's ok to just pick and choose the "main themes" and say that that's what God "intended")...and that you cannot ignore the influence of your experience, culture and tradition in your theology. The Health/Wealth gospel is a perfect example of people approaching scripture through the eyes of their "experience" instead of vice versa. Some people are wealthy, or greatly desire to be, and so decide to work out a way in the Scripture to make it so that God "sanctions" that wealth. Other people do the same thing with traditions...it has even been done to justify slavery.

This is a good post, Kathy, and I think you hit it on the money (pun intended!)

The Word/Faith movement is dangerous, because we can't just pick a scripture, "name it" and then "claim it". What happened to understanding that the Bible is the VERY WORD OF GOD...HIS VERY BREATH?? It should be handled with great care, not just in teaching it, but in learning and understanding it. We can not ignore the cultures, times, and people that God chose to speak through. We can't ignore the WHOLE COUNSEL of the His word throughout history. There is a bigger message that God is speaking to us through those decisions that He made in delivering His word to us.

I don't recall Him saying "Give us this day our daily Lexus..."

I pray that God's people move beyond being spoon fed through a tv.

Christine said...

Wow...I think that's the longest comment I've ever left. Btw, here's a good site that has a few things to point out about Benny Hinn: http://www.apologeticsindex.org/h01.html

katdish said...

Christine,

Thanks for the link (very enlightening) and for your discernment. I bet you're kicking butt in seminary!

Helen said...

I read about Stacey, and I know exactly how she feels. Whenever I hear on the news about someone who kills their kids, I cry out to God for those children and ask Him why they couldn't have been mine. Would I have really made a worse mother than that woman? I cried out in prayer today that I don't understand why women who abort their babies were so blessed in the first place, and my husband and I beg for a child like Abraham and Sarah, and are refused. If my faith was so lacking, I doubt that I'd be crying out in the first place. If I was so faithless, I would... well fill in the blanks people.
Another thing that the Benny Hinns don't consider is that the handicapped become a blessing in their handicap. Yeah, I know it sounds weird, but if mom weren't sick, I would be working and spending less time with her. Spending time with her has been a blessing.
She now has more time to pray because she is unable to do other things. Her prayer list has increased I don't know how many fold. I do know that she prays more for "the lost" now than before. She not only prays for family to be blessed with material blessings and to keep their job and practical stuff like that, but she prays for them to draw nearer to God. And she now has time to make crafts with bible verses on them, and gives them away to family members whether they are believers or not. And they all cherish her projects, whether they are believers or not, because it was made by their dear disabled aunt. I like to think that their eyes will look upon the right verse at the right time, and that my mom will have had a part in that.
I know this will sound bad, but I have been blessed by my mom's illness. I can see that our value as people is not in our abilities. We don't stop being the image of God when we are sick, or "unwhole". Sometimes, that is when God's image shines through more brightly.
Sorry for the tangent. I guess I should have done this on my own post in my own blog. Oh well, here I am, selfishly taking up your space. Tsk on me.

By the way...

" Kinda like when I think of people from Chicago I hear Plankton's computer wife Karen in my head..." I read what you said on SCL. Who is Plankton and his computer wife Karen. You've got me curious about what I sound like in your head.

vanityofvanities said...

I am right with you on the prosperity gospel. I think it's straight from hell and it's leading people astray.

I have no idea who this Justin Peters guy is, but his presentation was excellent. I love that instead of just reading quotes he actually had clips of the heretical statements. That's so much more powerful.

Sherri Murphy said...

I think that many of these men may start out in the ministry with pure motives. Then, as their popularity increases and demand for their "presense" (speaking, seminars, writing books) they get away from the initial calling and start directing their messages toward what people want to hear- what draws the most crowds, then what is bringing in the most money.

My husband and I can't stand to watch Chritian TV for that reason. There are a few good ones, CHarles STanley (could you find a more humble man?), and I feel the same way about attending many of the churches.(mine being the exception, of course)
Sad part is I'm a gospel singer and sing in many of these "churches".I don't know this about them till after I've sung and am sitting listening to their sermon.(Start looking for the back door).

My motto has been in my music "ministry" --- "FREELY you have received, Freely give". My voice is a gift, it cost me nothing, and I'm to share it, FREELY. I never ask for money- and guess what, I still have a roof over my head, and food in my belly everyday!

If you follow blogging, you can't help but notice which posts draw the most responses and if one day or week you were "empty" and had nothing to share from your heart, it would be very easy to "copy" a topic that would draw alot of response to make you appear to be a successful blogger. Then people would want to hear your tips for success and next thing you know, you're not blogging the same way- your whole intentions have changed- you now have a "following" and a full schedule- no time for the pure thoughts from your personal experience, just throw out some cookie cutter stuff, most people will never know.

My feeling is that most of these TV preachers are probably not spending time with God for the sake of their own relationship with him. They may go to the Word to find "new material" (how sad) but not for their own instruction and guidance.
Thus, the perversion of His scriptures.

I don't mean to judge their motives, I just think, from my own experience teaching at church, it's easy to go to the scriptures to tell everyone else what God is saying while missing the whole idea of why we she be studying the Word of GOd. For our OWN growth, strength, wisdom, encouragement, etc. I've done this myself, I'm ashamed to say.

I will add, we DO need to pray for these men/women. They are deceived, they need help.

Anonymous said...

THATS IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I NEED A BELT! I'M GOING MONEY CHANGERS WAR ON THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!