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The Prosperity Doctrine
Part VII... Conclusion

Carol Brooks

    Index to All Sections

    Section I: Introduction and Origins
    Section II: The Whole Counsel of God
    Section III: Supposed Proof Texts. Rhema Vs. Logos
    Section IV: Joel Osteen.. The Blind Leading The Blind
    Section V: General Principles, The Tele-Evangelists
    Section VI: In The Service of God OR Mammon, Covetousness and Greed, The Crown Without The Cross? What Happened to Prayer?, The Sovereignty of God
    You Are Here 001orange Section VII: Conclusion



    Does God Want Us To Be Poor?
    The Link Between Love and Desire
    Front and Center Stage
    Universal Application?

    Muddling Through?

    God's Less Than Wealthy Servants
    God Funds His Own Projects

    How Does Thought Precede Physical Form?
    The End Result.. Rendering The Creator Redundant



    Does God Want Us To Be Poor?
    This is in no way to subscribe to the theory that God wants his people to be poor and needy. God is not opposed to wealth and the Bible never once condemns those that have money, just because they have money. In fact some of God's finest... Abraham, David and Job for example, were men of substance. Although he eventually fell rather badly from early on King Solomon was wealthy by any standard.

    The problem arises because of our tendency to equate success with wealth. Because we want to see ourselves as successful, we want to be wealthy.  However, God does not does not define success in monetary terms. It is possible to be rich and be a failure, or to be poor but yet counted a success in God's kingdom. Our financial standing has no relationship to our standing with God.

    Besides which we have to pay very careful attention to answer to the question of why God warns against wanting to be wealthy and focusing on the material in this world. ?

    What could possibly be wrong with wanting to be prosperous?

    The Link Between Love and Desire

    Even the tele-evangelists themselves, pretending that there is no kinship between desiring money and loving money, point to 1 Timothy 6:10 that says it is the love of money that is the root of all evil. But, as usual, the preceding verse has been glossed over. It says [Emphasis Added]

      But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction (1 Timothy 6:9).

    The author of the book of Hebrews himself correlates love of money with wanting more than you already have.

      Be ye free from the love of money; content with such things as ye have: for himself hath said, I will in no wise fail thee, neither will I in any wise forsake thee. [Hebrews 13:5]

    So, according to the proponents of the prosperity doctrine, God's wants me to prosper materially in this lifetime, In order to do so I have to see myself "rising to new levels". I have to take the time to learn the techniques that will cause God to 'increase me financially'. I have to see my dreams coming to pass. In other words I have to have the desire to obtain more than I have now.

    So why then does God warn that this desire is likely to plunge me into ruin and destruction?

    Front and Center Stage
    The answer is simple. As the Word says.. the "deceitfulness of wealth" can choke out the Word of God..

      "Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful." (Mark 4:18-19) does telling

    Has anyone noticed that, from cover to cover, the entire Bible, revolves around the theme of sin and salvation. It is the thread that around which the entire fabric of the Bible is woven... the one subject that under-girds virtually every one of the sixty-six books of the Bible.

    Yet, when prosperity teachers ascend their stages, there is a distinct lack of preaching on the Bible's Raison d'être ... Sin, The Wrath of God, and His judgment, Repentance and Salvation. None of which appeals to the modern generation who prefer to have their ears tickled rather than put up with sound doctrine, even though their very lives depend on it.

    What was that again about the "deceitfulness of wealth" choking out the Word of God? What was that again about those who want to get rich fall into traps and being plunged into ruin and destruction?

    Since so many Christians love the messages of Being all you can be, Achieving all you can achieve, and Getting all you can get that pander to self, is it any wonder that these churches, along with those that preach to 'felt needs", have so many followers and grow like weeds? While we might mourn the fact that so many have fallen into the snare set by the wolves in the church, we cannot deny that we were warned that this would happen.

      For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. [2 Timothy 4:3]

    While there is truth to the statement made by Kirbyjon Caldwell, who said

      "it depends on how you define prosperity. I am not a proponent of saying the Lord's name three times, clicking your heels and then you get what you ask for. But you cannot give what you do not have. We are fighting what we call the social demons. If I am going to help someone, I am going to have to have something with which to help." [8]

    No doubt one cannot give what one doesn't have, but exactly how many people desire material goods just so that they can give it away and do others some good? In how many cases would the giving substantially exceed the usual ten percent teaching broadcast from most pulpits.  In any case In 2 Corinthians 8:2 Paul praises the Macedonians for abundant giving despite their deep poverty.

      how that in much proof of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

    This in plain English reads

      How while they were undergoing every sort of trouble, and were in the greatest need, they took all the greater joy in being able to give freely to the needs of others. [2 Corinthians 8:2. Bible in Basic English]

    Or did Time magazine hit the nail on the head when they equated what is preached by Joel Osteen and others with "American materialism".

      Most unnerving for Osteen's critics is the suspicion that they are fighting not just one idiosyncratic misreading of the gospel but something more daunting: the latest lurch in Protestantism's ongoing descent into full-blown American materialism. After the eclipse of Calvinist Puritanism, whose respect for money was counterbalanced by a horror of worldliness, much of Protestantism quietly adopted the idea that "you don't have to give up the American Dream. You just see it as a sign of God's blessing," says Edith Blumhofer, director of Wheaton College's Center for the Study of American Evangelicals...  [40]

    In other words.. The Christian faith clashed with American culture... and culture won hands down. But as Jesus cautioned the church in Laodicea

      Because thou sayest, I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art the wretched one and miserable and poor and blind and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold refined by fire, that thou mayest become rich; and white garments, that thou mayest clothe thyself, and that the shame of thy nakedness be not made manifest; and eyesalve to anoint thine eyes, that thou mayest see. [Revelation 3:17-18]

    Universal Application?
    One factor that seems to have not to be taken into consideration is that this doctrine is usually preached to Christians living in an affluent, or at least a comfortable society. However any Biblical doctrine has to have universal application... whether the believer lives in a grass hut in the jungle, or shops on Main Street. It has to be as effective in the slums as it is in the suburbs. It has to work in third world countries as much as it does in the west. As asked by the Assemblies of God...

      Does the teaching have meaning only for those living in an affluent society? Or does it also work among the refugees of the world? What application does the teaching have for believers imprisoned for their faith by atheistic governments? Are those believers substandard who suffer martyrdom or grave physical injury at the hands of cruel, ruthless dictators. [37]

    Muddling Through?
    According to the Time magazine article, Joyce Meyer asked

      "Who would want to get in on something where you're miserable, poor, broke and ugly and you just have to muddle through until you get to heaven?" [7]

    Well actually Joyce.. anyone with half a brain in their heads and a tiny amount of common sense, which should tell them that that the hope of the Gospel is life everlasting, not the drop in a bucket, seventy odd years that we have in this life. But perhaps that is a bit too much to hope for from this 'Gimme Generation" that wants everything and wants it now. Long term goals are fine as long as they happen tomorrow.

    To use the term "muddle through" is to imply that we are on our own and that we have no choice but to make it one way or the other until we reach the promised land.  Apparently there is no middle ground between being "miserable, poor, broke and ugly" and palatial homes, classic automobiles, expensive works of art and a fat bank account.

    What happened to putting our focus on God and His righteousness and Him adding on all the essentials... food, drink and clothing.

      “Therefore do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you”. (Matthew 6:31-33)

      And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. [Philippians 4:19]

    Look around. have you noticed that, in terms of social status, education, or income, most believers come from lower and middle classes? As the apostle James said

      Hearken, my beloved brethren; did not God choose them that are poor as to the world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he promised to them that love him? [James 2:5]

    This does not mean that God is not willing to save the rich, since there is no partiality with Him but, as said by the commentator Albert Barnes,

       "... there are circumstances in the condition of the poor which make it more likely that they will embrace the offers of the gospel than the rich; and that in fact the great mass of believers is taken from those who are in comparatively humble life".

    Although poor by the world's standards, they are rich in what is far more important.. faith in God, which makes them heirs of much greater riches than this world can give... they are heirs to the Kingdom. Even a cursory glance through the biographies of some of the great servants of God will reveal that none of them were rich.

    The 'Poor' Servants of God
    . A.W. Tozer is one of the most quoted and respected Christians in Christendom today but money was extremely tight in the early days of his ministry. The Tozers made a pact to trust God for all their needs regardless of the circumstances. "We are convinced that God can send money to His believing children, but it becomes a pretty cheap thing to get excited about the money and fail to give the glory to Him who is the Giver!" Tozer never swayed from this principle. Material things were never an issue and the family never owned a car. Tozer, instead, opted for the bus and train for travel. Many have said if Tozer had food, clothing, and his books, he was content. Even after becoming a well-known Christian author, Tozer signed away much of his royalties to those who were in need.

    God Funds His Own Projects
    To those that claim that it takes exorbitant amounts of money to take the Gospel into people's homes all around the world, thus justifying the constant begging for donations, I say.. you know nothing about your God... If God gives you a job to do or sends you on a mission it is His responsibility to provide for you and to make sure that you have everything needed to carry out the assignment.

    The constant warnings to viewers from stations like TBN and Daystar etc. is that they will not be able to stay on the air if said viewers will not give generously. Horse manure! The only reason there is for anyone to resort to fund raising, begging, and who knows how many gimmicks to raise money, is if their project is NOT from God...  When they have to fund multi-million dollar church buildings or ministry buildings that God did not commission.

    Besides which the majority of people who tune into Christian radio or television programs are Christians. For the most part, unbelievers don't watch Christian programming.

    On two occasions when Jesus sent His disciples out to preach the Gospel, He told them not to take anything with them for the journey not staff, wallet, bread, money .. not even two coats [Luke 9:1-6, 10:1-30]. The world was turned on it's head largely by a bunch of Jewish nobodies who didn't have a penny to their name between them.. "Silver and Gold I have none"...

    George Mueller
    lived by prayer and faith alone, feeding and housing thousands of homeless children in England. Yet he advertised his financial needs to no one but God. He never asked for a penny from any one and his prayers were answered in seemingly impossible situations. In fact in 1856 he wrote to a man who had sent him 100 pounds for the maintenance of him and his family. Mueller turned down this offer saying [Emphasis Added]

      “I have no property whatsoever, nor has my dear wife; nor have I had one single shilling regular salary as a Minister of the Gospel for the last twenty-six years, nor as the director of the orphan house... ” He added that he thought that any provision for himself and his family “...would be displeasing to my Heavenly Father who has so bountifully given me my daily bread hitherto.”

    Since there is not enough space nor time to go in to the lives of other servants of God like Hudson Taylor, the reader would do well to research it for themselves. None of them sought wealth, money or prestige, and many died almost penniless. They knew the Word of God through and through, but never 'claimed the promises' that God make them wealthy. The only prosperity they sought was the prosperity of seeing many souls converted to Christ. Or did they, like Paul, have it all wrong.

    So how is the gospel to be spread? The bottom line is the Gospel was always spread one on one ... or in small assemblies. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with modern media which, in many instances, can make things so much easier, it doesn't have to cost the earth. Besides which God is perfectly capable of taking care of whatever costs are incurred.

    In fact, how much better proof can there be that a ministry is God driven than if said ministry never asks for a penny, but takes all their requirements to God in prayer, then miraculously has all their needs met.. often at the eleventh hour. Who, even in the secular world, would not eventually realize that 'something' is going on there.

    The bottom line is the prosperity doctrine is preached by those who have no compunction in feeding off the gullibility of those in need, using the Word of God to further their own ends. The tragedy is that they take advantage of genuine human need, convincing people that the best way to get out of debt, or find a better paying job is to donate to them.

    They are those shepherds talked about by the Prophet Zechariah …

      Thus says the Lord my God, “Feed the flock for slaughter, whose owners slaughter them and feel no guilt; for those who sell them say ‘Blessed be the Lord, for I am rich’; and their shepherds do not pity them.” (Zechariah 11:4-5)

    Which brings us to our final question...

    Does Thought Precede Physical Form?
    The million dollar question is whether matter can be manipulated by sound (or thought) that emanates from a person, or are these sounds and thoughts heard by or perceived by an intelligent force, that then manipulates the matter? 

    The unsettling parallels between the principles espoused by so called Christian preachers and men inspired by the occult should have begun to raise questions in the mind of any discerning reader. The belief common between them is that thought precedes physical form...we translate into physical reality the thoughts and attitudes we hold in our minds... regardless of what they are.

    The question of how this happens has two possible answers, both of which lead back to exactly the same place.

    On the one hand, it is argued that since the book of Genesis tells us that all matter was spoken into existence people can, to some miniscule degree, do what God did. Either they can speak things into existence or, at least, manipulate existing matter. This perhaps because of being made "in His image" which, in spite of the many and varied opinions advanced, remains a little understood concept. However, as usual, many of the Word Faith preachers take it ten steps further and teach that not only is it possible for our thoughts to transform physical reality, but it is happens because people are gods. [See Man as god]

      "[Man] was created on terms of equality with God, and he could stand in God's presence without any consciousness of inferiority... God made us as much like Himself as possible... He made us the same class of being that He is Himself... Man lived in the realm of God. He lived on terms equal with God...[The] believer is called Christ... That's who we are; we're Christ" (Kenneth Hagin, Zoe: The God-Kind of Life, 1989. Pgs. 35-36, 41)

      "You don't have a god in you, you are one." (Kenneth Copeland, "The Force Of Love" tape # 02-0028)

      "Adam and Eve were placed in the world as the seed and expression of God. Just as dogs have puppies and cats have kittens, so God has little gods; we have trouble comprehending this truth. Until we comprehend that we are little gods, we cannot manifest the kingdom of God" (Bishop Earl P. Paulk. Satan Unmasked. Pg. 97). [More About Paulk]

      "You have the same creative faith and ability on the inside of you that God used when he created the heavens and the earth." (Kenneth Copeland. "Inner Image of the Covenant", Audiotape. Side 2)

        Note: As an aside, Copeland’s statement that God used "faith" to create the heavens and earth is so much poppycock. Who or what exactly did God have "creative faith" in, considering that He is the object of faith. He is the one we have faith in. He, in Himself has the ability to accomplish whatever it is He wishes.

    Make absolutely no mistake.. man is not, never has been, and never will be a “little god”. Man is not, never has been, and never will be Christ or equal to Christ in any way.

    However, we run into a very large question mark when it comes to using thought to change the physical, simply because Napoleon Hill’s principles or “magic formula” actually seem to work. This was testified to by men such as United States Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Harding, Wilson, and Taft, plus some of the world's greatest scientists and founders of America's leading corporations: Thomas A. Edison, Luther Burbank, John D. Rockefeller, F. W. Woolworth, William Wrigley, Jr., George Eastman (Eastman Kodak), Robert Dollar (Dollar Steamship Lines), and others. The following endorsements (among other) are seen in the 1941 edition of Think and Grow Rich.. [Emphasis Added]

      Woolworth said "By applying many of the 17 fundamentals of the Law of Success philosophy we have built a great chain of successful stores. I presume it would be no exaggeration of fact if I said that the Woolworth Building might properly be called a monument to the soundness of these principles."

      William Wrigley "Whatever success I may have attained I owe, entirely, to the application of your 17 fundamental principles of the Law of Success. I believe I have the honor of being your first student."

    And through the ensuing years since Hill first set pen to paper, his principles and techniques are taught, in one form or the other, by every motivational speaker/ life coach on the planet... with often successful results. The non-believing world can, by learning and applying certain principles match, or even exceed, the gain that "Christian" ministers promise.

    How? We do not know.

    But what is very apparent is that it is not only God that grants health and wealth.

    On the other hand
    the second option is that it takes intelligence, defined as the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills, to order a sequence of events that leads to poverty or riches. While it is all very well to use high-sounding terms like "Cosmic Ordering", these terms are meaningless since the cosmos or universe has no intelligence or ability to hear your words or perceive your thoughts, much less cause your boss to offer you that dreamed of promotion, or cause your number to come up a winner in a lottery.

    In examining this second option, it has to be considered that there are only two intelligent forces in the spiritual world.. God and His angels, and Satan and his demons.

    So is God the only one that can heal a person or grant him financial stability and even wealth? Or do Satan and his demons use the "blessing" as tactics to fool people and perhaps, in many cases, lure them over to their side.

    The problem is that people don't believe Satan or his demons can perform genuine miracles. The Christian has been repeatedly told that God is the source of health and wealth and that Satan's work is to maim and destroy, so they assume that any teaching that is accompanied by signs... whether a fat bank account, freedom from debt or a physical healing... has to be from God.  However it has to be remembered that Satan is not particularly concerned whether or not you prosper financially and materially, or have perfect health in this life as long as at the end of it all you are judged unworthy at the judgment seat of Christ. Satan is perfectly capable of giving you your hearts desire whether it be money, property or the constitution of an ox. [Also See Are All Miracles From God?]

    Unfortunately, too many Christians, to their detriment, ignore the words of our Lord in Matthew 24:24

      “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible”.

    The End Result.. Doing Away With The Creator:
    The problem is in many, if not most, cases these techniques have been shown to originate with those who can disguise themselves as angels of light while, as we have shown, the Bible does not tell us we can think or speak things into existence. To sum up...

      There are no clear examples of Positive Confession in the Scriptures

      Negative statements do not result in negative results.

      The prosperity of Godless people often perplexed those that lived under God's laws, yet they were never instructed to "see" themselves as rich, but only assured that this situation would not last a very long time and that their basic needs would be taken care of. Rewards are not promised believers in this life.

      The texts quoted over and over again by the Word of Faith teachers are usually taken way out of context and therefore do not prove their point.

      That the words logos and rhema so overlap in terms of definition and usage that there are absolutely no grounds to relegate them to entirely different categories, yet today's Word-Faith preachers have built entire doctrines around these imaginary distinctions

      The Scriptures refute the general principles behind the beliefs and teachings of the Prosperity Doctrine camp...

      The teaching that believers are to confess rather than to pray for things which God has promised is contradicted by the Bible. Food is one of God's promised blessings, yet Jesus taught His disciples to pray: "Give us this day our daily bread". He also emphasized the importance of persistent prayer

    Surely the fact that these techniques have stemmed from the occult world, should tell however it is accomplished, it perfectly suits the objectives of Satan and his cohorts.

    But, I started this section saying that the two choices 1) Matter can be manipulated by sound (or thought) that emanates from a person...  2) These sounds and thoughts heard by or perceived by an intelligent force, that then manipulates the matter both lead to exactly the same place, inasmuch as...

    Both do away with, or render redundant, the necessity of the one Creator... Man, with or without help from dark forces, can create for himself. His "faith" and desires are firmly ensconced on the throne that belongs to God alone.

    For some reason the modern church seems to be under the impression that they cannot be fooled. Perhaps those simpletons of the first century needed to be warned about the wolves among the flock. Perhaps the uneducated peasants of the early church needed to be reminded that it is wise to check everything by the Word of God. But times have changed. Today's modern, smart techie generation can not be so easily taken in. How can any wolf fool us... after all won't their blood drenched fangs be a dead give away?

    So, we continue in our conceit, totally oblivious to the fact that the path we are on is pointed down, not up. That the fangs are well concealed behind the facade of ornate and expensive stages, slick even engaging personalities, and brilliant smiles.

    A day of judgment is coming when we will be asked, not how much money we had, but whether we lived a faithful life, and in that day the wolves, and those that heard and supported them, will not fare very well.


    End Notes
    [40] Time Magazine. Does God Want You To Be Rich? David Van Biema And Jeff Chu Sunday, Sep. 10, 2006.


    Index To The Prosperity Doctrine ..
    Does God Want Us To Be Rich?