The gospel of prosperity, also known as the prosperity gospel or the gospel of success, has been a controversial topic among Christians for many years. This doctrine often teaches that seed faith or regular tithing leads to material wealth and physical health, often accompanied by a focus on financial blessings as a sign of Jehovah’s favor. However, this belief system raises several questions regarding its validity within Christian theology.
Biblical basis and verses against the gospel of prosperity
The thing is, advocates of prosperity theology contend that the Supreme Being, in all His divine wisdom, desires devout adherents to bask in the abundance of worldly prosperity. They substantiate their claim by referencing scriptural passages. Notably 3 John 1:2, wherein it is proclaimed, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.“
Yet some Christians contend that self-styled prophets take the above-mentioned verses out of context. And that the Bible contains numerous passages that warn against the relentless pursuit of wealth and material possessions. For example, in Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus of Nazareth admonishes his followers not to store up treasures on earth but rather to focus on heavenly treasures. This passage suggests that earthly riches are transient and should not be the ultimate pursuit for Jesus Christ’s followers.
Also, certain Christian denominations argue that the gospel of success relies heavily on emotional appeals rather than sound biblical exegesis. This is because many self-style prophets often use catchy phrases to grift their followers. Some of these catchy phrases include: “miracle money,” “your best life now” or “receive more, give more,” which resonate particularly with those experiencing economic hardship. Hence, people struggling financially, desperate for hope and security, may become vulnerable to manipulation or overemphasis on financial blessings rather than spiritual growth.
The prosperity theology and good ole capitalism
Seed faith and tithing
Back in the day, televangelist Granville Oral Roberts introduced the concept of seed faith, which encourages believers to give their resources to Yahweh as a seed they sow, rather than a debt they owe. Believers are encouraged to give their resources, trusting that YHWH will multiply their offerings and provide for their needs. Tithing, on the other hand, is the practice of giving one-tenth of one’s income to the Lord through His Church. Thus both seed faith and tithing are seen as expressions of gratitude and trust in The Most High God, as well as a means to further the work of the Lord on earth.
However, these practices are often used to promote a transactional relationship with the Creator El Shaddai. And can lead to the exploitation of vulnerable individuals, who may give their last pennies in the hope of receiving financial favor from the Creator El Elyon.
Note: Here are a few biblical verses that mention tithing
- Malachi 3:10
- Leviticus 27:30
- Proverbs 3:9-10
- Luke 11:42
Fake miracles (including speaking gibberish as often perpetrated by some charismatic pastors) are another controversial aspect of the gospel of success and capitalism. Hence, some of these fugazi preachers may claim divine powers to perform supernatural acts such as curing terminal illnesses or conjuring money out of thin air. These fraudulent acts by charlatans not only deceive believers but also undermine the credibility of genuine religious experiences and the power of faith.
Misuse of church donations
Another concerning aspect of prosperity theology is the misallocation of church donations. Some preachers and self-proclaimed prophets have been known to use donations from their followers to fund extravagant lifestyles, rather than using the funds to support the church’s mission and help those in need.