Ps Benny Hinn’s recent comments rejecting the prosperity gospel has sparked a mixed reaction—as expected. Some believers, including ministers, have dismissed his rejection of this practice on the grounds that it is Biblical, that is, there is enough scriptural evidence to support it. I have read a few comments on a couple of Facebook articles I have posted including
-The Bible clearly teaches us to give
-Prosperity is God’s will for us
-It takes money to spread the Gospel
It is obvious that the vast majority of believers do not really know what is wrong with this Prosperity Gospel. Or maybe they do not know what this prosperity Gospel is all about in the first place. This article will briefly describe 4 pillars, certainly amongst many others, that are the foundations of this empire called the Prosperity Gospel.
But first, what is this Gospel?
What is the Prosperity Gospel?
The phrase “Prosperity Gospel” is what we as Christians have used to describe certain financial practices in the Church. There is no formal definition anywhere, and there is really nothing called the “prosperity Gospel.” The Gospel is the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Gospel of Grace.
Briefly stated, the essential practices of this Gospel is the emphasis that God wants us to be financially prosperous with a follow up that the key to this prosperity is to give money, often to the “Man of God,” minister or ministry as a financial seed that will unlock the supernatural and release all sorts of miracles, including prosperity, breakthroughs, deliverance, etc. There might be many things involved, but those listed are at the heart of this doctrine.
I want to briefly describe 4 key pillars that carry this empire.
Pillar 1: Giving is an Established scriptural truth.
I believe this pillar is the foundation of all of our confusion, and the remarkable success, past present, and even future of this deceptive teaching. It is because its foundations are based on established Biblical truths. The premise of the prosperity Gospel is actually true. It is Biblical! I know some of you might scratch your head and wonder where this is leading to.
The scriptures have laid out God’s words regarding our finances. Let me summarize the key truths here.
1. God has commanded the believer to give. You cannot know God, read the scriptures, and not see everywhere that giving is not only an exhortation but a commandment. It is in our Father’s nature to give, and He wants us to give. Noting proves love like giving. This is true, and we must be careful NOT TO REJECT THE TRUTH because someone is abusing it.
2. God’s desire is for us to prosper financially. This one is a hard pill for some believers. I have read some sincere believers reject this truth because they have seen people misusing and abusing it. No! This does not mean God has called us to pursue wealth as our goal. However, it does mean God wants us to be financially blessed. I love what Paul said here:
“And God is able to make all grace overflow to you so that because you have enough of everything in every way at all times, you will overflow in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8, NET)
We have moved as a church from one end of the spectrum of those who accepted poverty as a sign of humility and service to God to those who have made wealth God’s ultimate purpose in their lives. Can we as believers just learn to be balanced? Can we stick to scriptures, even if our experiences agree with the Word or not? God wants us to prosper whether you are prosperous or not. Look at Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the nation of Israel, David, Solomon, etc. Divine prosperity, that is, God making a man to be financially prosperous is a reality. And we have better things in Christ.
3. There is a reward for giving. God uses the analogy of sowing and reaping in our giving to describe this law. Yes, money is truly a seed in our hands. After I got so disgusted with the practice of “financial seed,” I made the error that many of us are making which I have stated above. Do not reject the truth of the scriptures because people are abusing it. Please take a moment and read the entire 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9 and see a remarkable presentation of God’s plan for our finances. I will not get into any details about this in this brief article. Please read it and study it for yourself if it remains a question in your mind. Do not pick one verse and try to make conclusions. I encourage you to read the entire section to get the entire revelation.
I will end with these three key truths, but there are more. These truths are scriptural. Ps Benny’s Hinn was not rejecting these truths. He was rejecting the Prosperity Gospel. You may now wonder what the difference between the Prosperity Gospel and the Biblical truths listed above is. If the prosperity Gospel ended here, it would not have been called prosperity Gospel. It would truly have been what it should be, the Gospel in its entirety. However, it turns out there are other things besides the scriptural truths above and that is where the problem lies. There are other pillars that carry this doctrine, and if it were only Pillar 1, it would have been perfectly acceptable.
Before I move to Pillar 2, let me give you an analogy to show you this is actually the work of the enemy amongst us. God gave Adam and Eve instructions. Satan did not bring a different instruction from someone else to deceive them. He used God’s Word to plunge Adam and Eve in humanity’s nightmare. He used the “scriptures.” Does that ring a bell to you? How often did the Devil use what is written when he tempted Jesus? Do you see the pattern?
The twisting of the truth is a powerful self-destructive weapon in our hands for the enemy to use. When we take the truth of the Word and stretch out until it exceeds its limits, the truth functions like a lie, and it becomes more dangerous than an outright lie because many will believe it is still the truth as it was meant to be. This is one of the things I call “Pentecostal or charismatic excesses.” And I am a wild-headed Pentecostal or charismatic also, if you mean those who believe in the operations of the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit! We have a problem with scriptures. A very big problem and that is taking truth and extending it until it loses its truthfulness. This is the heart of the problem with this prosperity Gospel. It is truly Biblical, at least on the surface, because its premise is what the scriptures have said. It is based on what God has actually commanded, but these commands have been taken and twisted not to benefit the Church, but for the prosperity and financial abundance of those who preach it.
Pillar 2: Greed is the Dynamo
Hidden behind the truth of the Word of God is the greed of the preachers of the prosperity Gospel. The scripture is the surface that everyone sees. However, beneath that scriptural surface is greed that is saddening to know about.
Many of you think this prosperity Gospel started a few years back. Well, that is not true. The Apostle Peter talked about it. It was the normal practice of false prophets and teachers even in the days of the Apostles.
“But false prophets arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. These false teachers will infiltrate your midst with destructive heresies, even to the point of denying the Master who bought them. As a result, they will bring swift destruction on themselves. And many will follow their debauched lifestyles. Because of these false teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. And in their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words. Their condemnation pronounced long ago is not sitting idly by; their destruction is not asleep.” (2 Peter 2:1–3, NET)
I want you to note the following words and 3 of the 4 pillars of this Gospel I am referring to in this article.
1. “In their Greed.” This is Pillar 2.
2. “They will exploit you.” Pillar 3.
3. “With deceptive words” Pillar 4.
Brethren, here is the Apostle Peter summarizing what is now called the Prosperity Gospel. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear indeed.
The driving dynamo that is typically unseen and under the surface is the greed of the min