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The Prosperity Gospel leaves Christians Spiritually Shortchanged

by Robert Randle  
6/26/2009 / Church Life

One of the early expositors of what is commonly referred to as the 'Prosperity Gospel/Prosperity Theology' was Norman Vincent Peale, who in 1952 wrote, "The Power of Positive Thinking;" which sold 20 million copies worldwide. He blended a bit of psychoanalysis and Scripture, such as the statement by Jesus, "The kingdom of God is within you ['in your midst'];" thus laying the groundwork for what is becoming increasing popular today in Evangelical Christian circles. Even that work might have received inspiration from an earlier book by Napoleon Hill, "Think and Grow Rich," which was published in 1937. Later in Christian circles believers were introduced to "prayer cloths" and anointing with "Holy ['olive'??] Oil" to receive divine blessings for material things (cars, house, money, jobs, etc.); be that as it may, what does the Bible really say about this subject?

Proverbs 13: 7
There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing; And one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches.

Matthew 25: 14-30 "Parable of the Talents"

COMMENTARY: This particular story is not a literal interpretation of investment strategies because Jesus states in v. 14a: "For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling into a far country." If it were used in the contemporary sense for the purpose of financial counseling, then the servant with the one talent perhaps should be commended instead of condemned. For one thing, he had much less money to work with and therefore was prudently more careful with losing the Master's money and more content to keep his money on the sidelines and wait until market conditions stabilize where the timing was more favorable to invest in the stock market or purchase Corporate/Treasury Bonds, T-Bills, Treasury Notes, Commercial Paper, or a Bank CD.

The other two servants had more money to work with and perhaps they were more risk takers, deciding to roll the dice and take their chances; which fortunately for them, it paid off on this occasion. Any significant incremental movements in the market on the downside could wipe out a small amount of money such as with having only 'one' talent, percentage-wise. The thing that sealed the fate [v. 30; 'cast into outer darkness, weeping and gnashing of teeth'] of the servant with this single talent was not so much that he 'hid his talent,' but rather how he tried to justify his course of action by upbraiding his Master and in some way attempt to blame him for his failure. What the Lord Jesus Christ used the illustration for was to teach the disciples about the importance of 'bearing fruit' and the dire consequences for not doing so.

The modern Evangelical "SUPER-SALESMEN/WOMEN FOR JESUS" who borrow heavily from some of the highly successful motivational speaker techniques used in Direct Selling Association (DSA) and Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) seminars to win over an ever-increasing multitude of 'true believers' to this "New Gospel," and in many ways, it is like 'the blind leading the blind.' Some of these gurus will make available their 'plan for material success/prosperity' in a taped series on lectures on audio cassette tape/CD, or on a pre-recorded DVD live in front of an audience within the backdrop of an elaborate stage setting, sanctuary, outdoor arena or auditorium, or, as an author with a book published as a bestseller on the New York Times Top 20.

Jesus says in Matthew 6: 31: "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life. What you will eat; nor about your body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothing."

I Timothy 6: 9-10
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money [not necessarily 'riches/wealth' per se] is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the 'Faith' in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows ['regrets'].

Matthew 16: 26a
For what profit is it to a man to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

Hebrews 13: 5a
Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.

I Timothy 6: 6-8
Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out; and having food and clothing
['shelter'/other basic 'necessities'??], with these we shall be content.

Psalms 37: 25
I have been young and now I am old; yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his ['their'] seed begging for bread.

So, when one of these preachers expound so eloquently upon how great and awesome our God is and that He is rich and does things in a very big way, get ready for the 'punch line.' They will also tell you about how one is robbing God in the matter of tithes and offerings and about bringing all the tithes into God's storehouse. Just a reminder: You might come to find out that the money collection and contribution of the saints might be filling up their storehouses, not God's.

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