Sunday, December 18, 2016

The fallacy of the "prosperity gospel"

What is the prosperity gospel? It is when God is not our ultimate pursuit but only a means to another goal of a healthy and wealthy life; a life where our greatest joy is in physical and material comfort/benefits, not in our relationship with him. 

Tim Keller touches on this in the following quote:

"We tend to see God as a means through which we get things to make us happy. For most of us,  He has not become our happiness." - Timothy Keller (@timkellernyc):

This is only "seeking and praising God" for what he gives us, not for who he is, therefore it is not actually seeking God in the truest sense, but created things. God is important only because he is considered the best means by which to obtain something else, i.e. health and wealth. In essence the prosperity gospel does not truly seek God or to honor God but to use him.

For these reasons the "prosperity gospel" is ultimately destructive. It draws us away from God, not to him. It draws us to temporary life in created things. It is appealing because it caters to our fallen condition i.e. to our desire to be our own god (our bent towards independent self-trust) instead of dependence on the only true God. 

The problem however is not in the prosperity gospel in itself, it is in our hearts. Our hearts, in our present broken condition (even as his children), are naturally inclined to find life apart from God. 

If our hearts were truly and fully inclined to God and not to created things there would be no prosperity gospel. It would have no appeal.

Only when we find God to be the one and only true sustainer of life, might he grant us uncommon health and wealth if (and only if) it advances his good purposes in us and the world for his glory. 

This is contingent on two things. Our gifts/calling and our heart. Not all are gifted to do well in business and only he knows our hearts well enough to know when they are after him and not wealth. We only think we know.

But we must also keep in mind, we are in a broken world and in this world we will always have tribulation (John 16:33). We will all eventually die. Our joy does not come primarily from God granting us circumstantial bliss and success but that he redeems our brokenness and the brokenness of this world in bondage, for our ultimate good and his greatest glory i.e. he has overcome this broken world...he raised to life and so will we in him. 

Once we find God to be our life, health and wealth (i.e. used only for our personal/private gain) no longer matters, for we have true life in him now and will experience it fully (i.e. circumstantially) once we are in his unobscured, unfettered presence and totally restored (glorified) in eternity with him. 

12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 1Cor 13:12(ESV)

"People knew God, but they did not honor him as God, and they did not thank him. 
Their ideas were all useless. There was not one good thought left in their foolish minds. They said they were wise, but they became fools. 

Instead of honoring the divine greatness of God, who lives forever, they traded it for the worship of idols—things made to look like humans, who get sick and die, or like birds, animals, and snakes. 

People wanted only to do evil. So God left them and let them go their sinful way. And so they became completely immoral and used their bodies in shameful ways with each other. 

They traded the truth of God for a lie. They bowed down and worshiped the things God made instead of worshiping the God who made those things. He is the one who should be praised forever. Amen." - Rom 1:21-25


  1. Well reasoned, Jim.

    I suspect I'm going to enjoy reading your articles.

    I like the layout of your blog. Still have some work to do on mine.

    1. Hi Terry glad you found the article helpful. Sorry I didn't respond sooner. Somehow I missed notice on your comment.



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Grace to you
Jim Deal