Unemployed? Overwhelmed by debt? Need money? Just faithfully pay tithes and offerings to the church, and you will be blessed, repaid, and rewarded through divine intervention (according to the prosperity preachers). Prosperity gospel is a Christian religious belief, largely promoted by prosperity ministers. The controversial doctrine centers around the idea that God provides unimaginable prosperity and wealth for those he favors.
According to the popular doctrine, in order to access those blessings, believers must first “sow seeds of faith” through faithful payment of tithes and offerings. Closely associated with the very successful prosperity movement, is the emergence of the mega-church. Today, there are over 1,300 mega-churches scattered throughout the nation. About 48 of the massive congregations are situated in Tennessee. The “mega” concept has quickly evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry, casting charismatic ministers as millionaire CEOs, with opulent church campuses as their playground.
Critics argue that the prosperity message focuses on personal financial gain rather than on the gospel of Jesus Christ. They contend that the gospel of Jesus is universal and can be applied to any one, in any situation, in any part of the world, at any given time. Not so, with the so called prosperity gospel. In attempting to apply the doctrine, one could ask “Where would people living in third world countries fit in? Are they poor because they are not favored by God? Are they not worthy of God’s blessings because they do not have “seeds to sow?” Are they doomed to a life of poverty?
Prosperity as a religious doctrine, appears to create more questions than answers. Jesus did not live in the midst of wealth and prosperity. In fact, the Bible does not make mention of any worldly items he possessed. That is not to say that he does not want health, wealth and prosperity for believers who desire them. Rather, he sought to provide order and direction. He spoke of seeking the kingdom of God, first. It is tragically deceptive for anyone to suggest that the first step on the road to the kingdom, necessitates acquiring material possessions as opposed to accepting the intangible spiritual gifts offered by God.
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