Prosperity theology a bit off
By: Stu Salkeld
| Posted: Saturday, Sep 28, 2013 06:00 am
When I was a boy, I remember sitting in a pew in church and listening to a very nice pastor talking about Jesus becoming angry, possibly the only time I ever remember such a thing, and overturning the moneylender’s tables in the temple. If I recall correctly, the lesson I was taught that day was “It’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter God’s kingdom.” (Mark 10:25)
Have you ever heard of prosperity theology? It is a philosophy within Christianity, becoming ever more popular, that preaches getting rich means you are a good Christian. God rewards good Christians with material, worldly wealth, sayeth the prosperity theologists. Thus, if you are wealthy, you know you’re doing God’s good work.
Obviously, prosperity theology has caused much consternation within Christian circles.
Major evangelical leaders, men like Rick Warren and even Jerry Falwell, have actually spoken out against prosperity theology. Other critics, such as author David Jeremia, whose work is often featured on respected websites like Christianity Today, have stated the theology actually contradicts what appears of Jesus’ teaching in the New Testament.
For instance, the lifestyle of Jesus and his apostles in the New Testament was one of sacrifice, poverty and simplicity, which seems at odds with the teachings of prosperity theologists, who encourage the accumulation of wealth, status and material possessions.
Theological authors David Jones and Russell Woodbridge in their book Health, Wealth and Happiness, state that prosperity theology seems to contradict the teachings of hundreds of years of Christian leaders. While traditional Christian doctrine should include compassion, sacrifice and hope embodied in Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, instead prosperity theology teaches Christians they can earn grace through bank accounts, expensive cars, houses and snobbery. In fact, prosperity theology removes Jesus Christ from Christianity, and replaces him with money and worldly success.
I’ll give Jeremia the final word, quoted from an article on Christianity Today:
“You do not have to go far on television or the Internet – or perhaps in your own community – to find a Christian preacher who will tell you that Jesus wants you well and wealthy. This unorthodox version of Jesus' gospel is referred to as ‘prosperity theology’ or the ‘health and wealth’ gospel. There is nothing inherently wrong with being well and wealthy. But as a basis for theology, it is far from the good news of the gospel that Jesus preached.
“Prosperity preachers usually have no trouble attracting a large following since they appeal to the basest of human instincts: the desire to avoid suffering, be healthy, and the desire for gratification, be wealthy.
“Jesus came to earth as a servant and lived like a servant, unconcerned with material comfort. And his apostles lived the same way. It seems that if Jesus' gospel had included wealth, He would have demonstrated that fact in his life and the lives of his apostles.”
Stu Salkeld is the editor of the St. Albert Gazette.