Poor, Poor Prosperity Gospel

A mistaken theology has gained a strong foothold in some circles in the western world, and it is consuming Africa.  It's called the prosperity gospel.

Essentially, a preacher will mine the Bible for passages he or she can misuse to support an idea that the more God loves you the more he will bless you with material things.  By being a believer in Christ, the poor gain more money and physical wealth.  The more money one gives to the church, the more God gives back to them.  And in this idea, the most holy people, the people loved the most by God (so they would claim) are those with the greatest monetary wealth.  

Lies!  It's a lie.  This is wrong.  It's bad theology.

However, I'm told that there are many churches in extremely poverty-stricken areas where this idea is taught.  And guess what?  While the poor walk to church, in no shoes and hungry, the preacher shows up in an expensive suit and fancy car.  I hesitate to call this preacher a pastor because a pastor is one who shepherds and protects the flock through the proper teaching of the gospel.

The easiest way to stray from right biblical principles and correct doctrine is by getting away from teaching the Bible.  It is obvious when a pastor skips difficult passages as the congregation is working through a book of the Bible.  When the Bible is preached, book by book, passage by passages, difficult passages will demand their time just as the easy ones do.  Areas of church attitude or practice that are not inline with what the Bible says will quickly be thrust into the light and rebuked by the Word of God.  However, no preacher of the prosperity gospel could possibly be teaching through the Bible--there are too many passages that rebuke this idea that the more God loves you, the richer you will be.  I'll share just one example of what the Bible says about an incorrect focus on riches.  It is found Psalm 49:5-20 (NLT).  I can't imagine how a prosperity gospel preacher would teach on this text.
5Why should I fear when trouble comes,
  when enemies surround me?
6 They trust in their wealth
  and boast of great riches.
7 Yet they cannot redeem themselves from death
  by paying a ransom to God.
8 Redemption does not come so easily,
  for no one can ever pay enough
9 to live forever
  and never see the grave.

10 Those who are wise must finally die,
  just like the foolish and senseless,
  leaving all their wealth behind.
11 The grave is their eternal home,
  where they will stay forever.
They may name their estates after themselves,
12   but their fame will not last.
  They will die, just like animals.
13 This is the fate of fools,
  though they are remembered as being wise.    Interlude

14 Like sheep, they are led to the grave,
  where death will be their shepherd.
In the morning the godly will rule over them.
  Their bodies will rot in the grave,
  far from their grand estates.
15 But as for me, God will redeem my life.
  He will snatch me from the power of the grave.    Interlude

16 So don't be dismayed when the wicked grow rich
  and their homes become ever more splendid.
17 For when they die, they take nothing with them.
  Their wealth will not follow them into the grave.
18 In this life they consider themselves fortunate
  and are applauded for their success.
19 But they will die like all before them
  and never again see the light of day.
20 People who boast of their wealth don't understand;
  they will die, just like animals.  (Psalm 49:5-20, NLT)

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