I have been noticing a very worrying trend now, for many years. Here is one example of what I am talking about. Back in July of 2018, “Christianity Today” reported that about a third of Protestant churchgoers say their congregation teaches that God will bless them if they donate money. Two-thirds say God wants them to prosper financially. And about 70% said that in order to receive material blessings from God, I have to do something for God.
This is the message of the “Prosperity Gospel.” It is a transactional view of our relationship with God. “I must do something for God, and he, in return, will do something for me.” Those of us who know our Bible will recognize this as false teaching. It opposes the doctrine of grace and makes a mockery of our salvation.
But the “Prosperity Gospel” is also closely aligned with the “Word Faith” Gospel. According to Word Faith dogma, faith is a force that works independently of God. Word Faith teachers commonly misquote Hebrews 11:3. The passage says, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God…” They change the passage to say, “We understand that God created the universe by faith”. From their perspective, God had to use a force outside of himself to create. Furthermore, they argue that we can learn to act just like God, using the “Word Faith” force to create as well.
This then shows how the prosperity gospel is aligned with the word faith movement. Prosperity can be created if we use the same faith principle God has used and create wealth.
Of course, this is a very different God, than the one described in the Bible. The God of the Bible requires nothing outside of himself. God is not reliant on something that seems to exist independent of himself. I think it fair to say that the Word Faith god, is not the God of the Bible. For this reason, I have not thought of the Word Faith movement as a Christian movement. In my understanding, it is more aligned to the Christian Science Movement than to any form of historic Christianity.
Furthermore, the Biblical definition of faith is trust in God, not trust in faith. I remember having this conversation with one Word Faith leader. He asked me if I believed in faith. I said I most definitely did not. I said, “I believe in God.” Furthermore, the answer to my prayer does not depend on some kind of faith that I can muster. Rather the answer to my prayers rests in God. “And that”, I said, “is what I mean by faith. It’s about God and an assurance of his goodness.
Recently, a number in both the word faith movement and the prosperity gospel movement have made all manner of prophecies regarding the pandemic, the US election and a host of other matters. I, for myself, rejoice in these matters. Because, in almost all cases, they have been proved wrong. Their faith did not produce any of the results they proclaimed.
Let’s also remember the words of Deuteronomy 18:21–22. 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.
Indeed, let’s call on people to stop following false prophets!
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