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The Second Day of Apostasy: Prosperity Gospel

January 3, 2015

The book of James is critically important for those who wish to discern the errors of our time. James focuses our attention to the various causes and symptoms of “false faith.” He asks “Can that faith save you?” This is the second of a series of twelve apostasies. Click here for Day 1 (Liberal Theology).

[Please note that I am NOT making any claim that particular Christians who are part of these movements are unsaved! Further, many truths may be taught and practiced by those who hold to these teachings. What I am suggesting is that the abuses found in the movements promote apostasy]. The links to the opinions of others may differ from those of my own.

 

Strike up the music:

  

On the second day of apostasy, James is warning me… of the PROSPERITY GOSPEL, and of Lib-er-al Theology.

Apostasy #2 – Prosperity Gospel

 Keyword(s) from James: Ask wrongly (James 4:3)

Teaching: The Prosperity Gospel

Beginnings: New Thought Movement

Motto: “Name it and claim it”

Influencers: Kenneth Hagin, Oral Roberts

Mouthpiece: Televangelism, Trinity Broadcasting Network

Effects: Fleecing the sheep; disillusionment

Cultural Icon: Tammy Faye Bakker

Adherents: Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, one in eight African Christians

Interesting reading: The Power of Positive Thinking (link)

Click here for: A Message to the Positive Thinkers

I. Wrong motives. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. James 4:3. When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. Gen. 3:6.

We are naturally self-centered and seek our own comfort and happiness. The prosperity gospel feeds these self-centered tendencies.

II. Because God is loving, he will graciously pour out financial and material blessings on those who demonstrate their faith. Positive speech and positive thinking, combined with donations to Christian ministries, will bring an increase in wealth, success and happiness. Some hold that Jesus and the disciples were men of means.

III. The New Thought Movement. Beginning in the 1830’s, the New Thought Movement taught that the mind had great power to heal. Philosopher William James labeled the movement “the religion of healthy-mindedness.” Obviously, there is great appeal to the belief that we can control our circumstances – that we can be like God. Here is a representative list of the best selling books of all time:

  • Think and Grow Rich (1937 – 70 million)

  • The Alchemist (1988 – 65 million)

  • You Can Heal Your Life (1984 – 35 million)

  • Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1970 – 40 million)

  • The Power of Positive Thinking (1952 – 20 million)

  • The Purpose Driven Life (2002 – 30 million)

  • The Secret (2006 – 20 million)

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936 – 15 million)

  • Your Erroneous Zones (1976 – 35 million)

  • The Hite Report (1976 – 50 million)

As you can see, we are desperately seeking the quick fix that will guarantee our comfort and well being.

IV. Motto: Name it and claim it. I use this motto that describes the teaching of the “Word-Faith Movement.” Second place rhyme: health and wealth. This describes the teachings of those who treat God as a vending machine of their success and comfort.

 

V. Oral Roberts (1918-2009) “discovered” the prosperity gospel when he randomly opened his Bible one morning to 3 John 2. The verse: Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. He shared the verse excitedly with his wife, and thus was born a worldwide ministry. Roberts taught the seed-faith message: that contributions to his ministry would be like seeds that would grow to material blessings to the donor. Kenneth Hagin (1917-2003) was convinced that comfort and blessing were promised by Jesus to those who have faith: Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. Mk. 11:24. Hagin stresses the importance of your words – that you can speak your reality into existence. He claimed to have visited heaven and hell, and that Jesus had come to him in visions.

VI. The heyday of televangelism began in earnest in the 1970’s with the founding of the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) by Paul and Jan Crouch and Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. In 2011, the “nonprofit ministry” received $95 million in contributions, $62 million in program revenues, and $17 million in investment income. Its assets totaled $845 million versus liabilities of $18 million. The ministry is described as a “church whose primary purpose is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world through its television based ministry.” Popular televangelists that have aired on the network include Creflo Dollar, Bishop Eddie Long, Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, and John Hagee. In 2012, TBN was accused (link) by their whistle-blowing former CFO, Crouch’s granddaughter Brittany Koper, of financial misappropriation, including the purchase of side-by-side mansions, private jets, and a $100,000 mobile home for their dogs.

VII. The people getting rich from their “faith” are the prosperity teachers. They do so at the expense of their students. The cause of Christ is polluted by the lavish lifestyles (link) of many of these false shepherds.

VIII. Tammy Faye Bakker and PTL. The co-host of the PTL Club with her husband, Jim Bakker. Here is a vintage video of the program. I visited PTL’s water park at Heritage USA (Fort Mill, SC) back in 1987 with my family. I didn’t have the nerve to attempt the waterslide (link). Dr. Jerry Falwell took the plunge, though (in return for $22 million in donations to resurrect the PTL complex). Is that what is meant by “backsliding?”

IX. Some prosperity teachers. Click for links to videos (one for first name, one for last). Benny Hinn. Kenneth CopelandCreflo Dollar. Be blessed?

Coming next:

The third day of apostasy.

In Christ,

Dale

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