Christianity's MISSING THE POINT: Jesus Through a $$$ Lens Isn't the Whole Picture
November 29, 2019
Written by: Kaitlynn Zaenger
Let's face it: most of us live some kind of paycheck-to-paycheck life. Sure, you probably have a rainy day fund and a savings account for something special, but you probably don't have the financial freedom to drop $1,000 on something frivolous. According to Forbes, CareerBuilder -- a prominent job search platform -- reports that just over 3/4 (78%) of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. That staggering 78% statistic hits closer to home when you're the one who can't pay your electric bill. Or for repairs when your car breaks down. Or when you have to choose between gas to get to work and groceries for the week. Seventy-eight percent hits differently when you realize that's you. That's me. That's your neighbor, and that's probably most of your friends.
The Prosperity Gospel, while grossly inaccurate and spiritually misleading, is appealing to many because it promises just that: prosperity. And when you're struggling and just can't seem to make ends meet, the promise of wealth and God's financial favor is tempting. Prosperity Gospel demagogues know this and do their best to make it all sound very . . . biblical.
From Robert Tilton's own mouth, "[b]eing poor is a sin when God promises prosperity. New house, new car, that's chicken feed. That's nothing compared to what God wants to do for you."
Kenneth Copeland certainly agrees: "You get spiritually rich, and you'll get financially rich!"
And let's not forget that Joel Osteen believes "God wants us to prosper financially, to have plenty of money, to fulfill the destiny He has laid out for us."
The Prosperity Gospel is so, incredibly enticing. It sounds good. But let's look a little deeper, friends.
At its peak, Robert Tilton's television ministry, Success-N-Life, was bringing in $80 million/year in revenue. He was also sued for fraud by a Florida couple who gave money under the false impression that it would be directed toward a cause that Tilton openly supported and fundraised for. The couple was awarded $1.5 million.
Kenneth Copeland -- who is valued at $760 million -- owns 3 private jets and shamelessly defends them, assuring his supporters that they're necessary to advance the Gospel. Kenneth Copeland Ministries is centrally located in Fort Worth, Texas, where the poverty rate is 16.9% (compared to the national average of 11.8%).
Not to be outdone, Joel Osteen -- whose sermons are broadcast worldwide to over 20 million people monthly -- sees approximately $32 million in annual donations to his 16,800-seat megachurch. Osteen, together with his wife and two children, lives in a 17,000 square foot, $10.5 million mansion in River Oaks, a wealthy suburb of Houston, and owns a second multi-million dollar mansion in Tanglewood.
Is this biblical, though? Does the Bible really say God will make us filthy rich?
If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me. ... Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.
[Matthew 19:21, 24]
Hm. Interesting. Does the Bible say anything else?
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Is the Prosperity Gospel biblical?
Friends, money is not the point. Getting rich is not the point. God has put an infinitely more important call on our lives than to live in big houses and drive fancy cars.
He doesn't say He'll make us rich; He says He'll make us more like Christ.
He doesn't say He'll give us everything we want; He promises to provide for our needs.
He doesn't tell us to buy more and live bigger; He says "I am enough."
Robert Tilton, Kenneth Copeland, and Joel Osteen are experiencing ripoff Christianity. They are missing out. Don't hate them; pray for them. Pray that they see the real Jesus through their piles of money and temporary "feel good."
The Prosperity Gospel misses the point. Let us be careful that we don't.