Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Prosperity - Word of Faith - Heretics or Heroes?

I have to admit that I really struggle with so much of the flashy gold, sharply dressed, 'name it - claim it' brigade. Recently, watching a sermon by one (I didn't watch it all because I didn't want to pay the $$$ for the whole thing) I struggled to hear how all I needed to do was 'live in the triumph of Christ' and take the riches He has for me. Health, wealth, 'that job I've dreamt of' - all of them were mine - all I needed to do was claim them in the name of Jesus!

So I turned over to another channel and found a really slick performance going on. 'Let me have a BIG AMEN', they said - strutting up and down. They went on to repeat this little mantra:

'If you believe in your heart and say it with your mouth, it shall come to pass. God is Faithful'

Interestingly, or perhaps not, I know many who deeply believe stuff and proclaim it and it's never happened.

Perhaps God is unable to do what He is supposed (but being God, don't you think He'd know His job?).

Perhaps the people just didn't believe it enough (after all, belief is not the easiest thing to have now, is it?)

Perhaps they didn't say it enough and, like hits that generate money on a blog, there's a certain number of times that it needs to be said before you get it!

But fortunately the large gentleman in the shiny suit answered my question (perhaps God told Him I was wondering about it):

'And some of you do not receive because of your sin!'

Bazinga! There it is, the small print that says you aren't going to get it. That's it then - game over man, I know I'm a sinner and even though I've confessed it, repented of it and seek to sin less, it seems I'm not going to get what I want because of it. *

And because God was talking to him he heard what I have just written and continued:

'But you say to me, 'I've confessed my sins, why don't I receive?' and I have to tell you that what's getting in the way is your unconfessed sins, those sins you don't even know are there. They are stopping you from getting that job, From getting that house, From being healed.'

'Oh, no,' think I, 'There goes the farm! After all I have confessed, repented and work at living a right life (I haven't managed to rest in my redemption and celebrate Grace just celebrate yet), I'm doomed!'

And the bloke on the TV does it again:

'But you can give God your unconfessed sin and open the doors to the riches God wants to give you . . . let's pray ."

So he prays and they sing a song and I wonder whether the way forward is the next sermon in the series when, Hallelujah, I find the answer is already available and mine, all In need to do is send a donation and in return I will receive 'free of charge' the book:

 'How to confess stuff you never knew was there so you can get all the stuff you really deserve because after all that was the reason Jesus died - to make you healthy, wealthy and ....'

No, it's not the name of the real book (for that would tell you who this snake oil salesman was) and the final word of the title most certainly wasn't 'wise' either. Perhaps it should be, 'Look how rich He has made me!'

Now, can someone explain how on earth there is any integrity (worldly or Christian) in what I saw on my TV and how I can have any confidence in the proof texting, they hype and the misquotes?

As a pastor my desire is to see people in union with God, living for God because of the cross of Jesus, the Christ, and enabled by the Holy Spirit. I don't want to see people bound by law and weighed down by restrictions and demands upon them they can't keep. I know God provides and heals and blesses, but that, like Grace is a gift, not a right and I cannot comprehend a God who is a cross between Santa, the easter Bunny and the Genie from the bottle.

God meets our needs - and sometimes fulfils our wants too. In return he expects us to mirror Him and do the same in the world we find ourselves for Jesus came to bring peace to the earth - and He did - but we need to take it and share it because he opened the depot and filled it high, but unless we take it out and distribute it and help others to join the distribution firm, this world will live broken and out of control.

Now you don't need to send me money for that (but if you do :-)  )

I'll have to give it away!


*This would explain how, even though the Arsenal have been in the top spot of the English Premier League for longer than any club this season, they've fallen to fourth place - it's not Arsene Wenger's fault - it is my sin what took them there before it was accomplished!


Bob said...

Many I know who support this are often emotionally unstable and I wonder if this is the effect it has on them or the reason they follow such teaching.

mark said...

Probably very similar to the hype connected to the Lottery... "It could be you!" Just with a bit of Church thrown into the mix!

Anonymous said...

If they supported Newcastle, they'd become very depressed.

Vic Van Den Bergh said...

But would be thought of as extremely kind and caring if you supported the Gooners :-)

CPT said...

Spot on.

I used to attend such a church, and yes I was completely sucked in. Everything was centred on how to unlock the blessing God wanted to lavish upon you, those Blessings inevitably in the form of money, property, cars, and pristine health.

The secret behind unlocking the blessing? Give your offering, and you'll receive a 30, 60, 100 fold return. If you didn't receive it, then you had either sin in the way, unbelief and was lacking in faith or the wrong motive in giving.

After all, we don't give to receive, but if you give what God has laid on your heart, you'll receive it back with interest!

Who needs banks when you have the bank of God? After all, money to God is the very least: gold in heaven is used as tarmac! If you can be trusted with the very least, ie money, then you can be trusted with far more....hence giving financially unlocks everything. 3 John 2 was the mantra.

Now, I'll admit that there were three times when I actually did see a spectacular 'return' on my giving, and I know at the time I gave I really was convinced that God had laid it on my heart.

By spectacular I mean that 10s were given, and 1000s 'came back', often years after the initial giving and interestingly after I'd left that church. Coincidence, I don't know, but when it happened, God reminded me of when I'd given at a certain time.

There may well be at the very core some Truth, but I know that Blessings come in so many diverse ways, most of all and primarily in the form of the love of God, without which Life would be unbearable.

JonG said...

Found myself singing as I read this, "Jesus he knows me" by Genesis:

And, of course, the World sees such people and judges both the Church, and, by association, God, because of it.

Bob, I reckon it becomes something of a self-fulfilling kind of thing, the slightly vulnerable get sucked in and made more vulnerable.

JonG said...

This makes me ponder the whole subject of fundraising by the Church.
The church I attend has just undergone a major refurbishment, with plans for much more, in part with a view to being a community resource. The Vicar got some widespread and very positive media coverage a couple of years ago with a fundraising initiative (many of us were touched by an email from a national tabloid journalist who was clearly impressed by the reception they had when visiting).
There were, however, some members of the congregation who wondered if, considering we felt that the work was part of God's plan for the church, we should refrain from active requests for money, and trust that if He wants the money spent, He will motivate people to provide it.