Truth For Generations Blog

Prosperity Gospel

Truth For Generations Blog

Prosperity Gospel

Defining Terms

Prosperity gospel may also go by the following titles: Prosperity theology, the health and wealth gospel, the gospel of success, or seed faith.

Prosperity gospel is a religious belief among some Protestant Christians that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one’s material wealth.

Prosperity gospel theology has been criticized by leaders from various Christian denominations, including within some Pentecostal and charismatic movements, who maintain that it is irresponsible, promotes idolatry, and is contrary to the Bible. Secular as well as some Christian observers have also criticized prosperity theology as exploitative of the poor. The practices of some preachers have attracted scandal, and some have been charged with financial fraud.

Prosperity theology views the Bible as a contract between God and humans: if humans have faith in God, he will deliver security and prosperity. The doctrine emphasizes the importance of personal empowerment, proposing that it is God’s will for his people to be blessed. The atonement (reconciliation with God) is interpreted to include the alleviation of sickness and poverty, which are viewed as curses to be broken by faith. This is believed to be achieved through donations of money, visualization, and positive confession.

In the late twentieth century, the Pentecostal movement gave birth to the Word of Faith movement. It was founded by E. W. Kenyon, who studied Phineas Quimby’s metaphysical New Thought ideas. Pentecostalism was mixed with mind science (where “name it and claim it” emerged), resulting in a strange blend of traditional Christianity and mysticism. Kenneth Hagin, in turn, studied under E. W. Kenyon and helped to establish the Word of Faith movement.

The belief in the “power of faith” is at the heart of the Word of Faith movement. Words are said to be able to influence the faith-force and thereby generate what they believe Scripture promises (health and wealth). The faith-force is thought to be governed by laws that function independently of God’s sovereign will and that God Himself is subject to these laws. Turning our faith—and, by extension, ourselves—into god is nothing short of idolatry.

It asserts that God created humans as mini gods in His literal, physical image. Humans possessed the ability to use the faith-force to call things into existence before the fall. Humans took on Satan’s nature after the fall and lost their capacity to summon things into existence. To fix this predicament, Jesus Christ gave up His divinity and became a man, died spiritually, took Satan’s nature upon Himself, went to hell, was resurrected with God’s nature, and rose from the grave. After that, Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to believers to reproduce the Incarnation in them, allowing them to become mini gods as God intended.

Following the natural evolution of these teachings, we can once again manage the faith-force and become rich in all aspects of life as small gods. Illness, sin, and failure are the result of a lack of faith, which can be overcome through confession—claiming God’s promises for oneself. Simply phrased, the Word of Faith movement elevates man to godhood while lowering God to manhood. Needless to say, this is an inaccurate portrayal of what Christianity is all about.

Kenneth Hagin, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Paul and Jan Crouch, and Fred Price are among the prominent pastors and professors who have shaped the Word of Faith movement.

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