Josh Styles, Lay Pastor
As mentioned in Sunday's sermon, we wanted to provide our church with some resources for understanding the prosperity gospel; specifically, we wanted to provide some articles, videos, and other resources to explain more fully why the prosperity gospel is a false gospel and why it is so very dangerous. Perhaps more importantly, we want you all to be able to recognize prosperity teaching, especially the “softer” kind, as it has the ability to lead any of us away from Christ. Finally, our hope in sharing these links is that you would also be equipped to help others escape the grasp of the prosperity gospel, as many of us likely have friends or family members who have been taken captive by this false teaching. If you have questions or would like to talk further about the prosperity gospel or anything related to it, it would be my joy to talk with you. Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It's a privilege to serve the Body of Christ here at TCGS.
Resources on the Prosperity Gospel
First, here is a link to a short video that helpfully explains what the prosperity gospel is and why it is so dangerous.
Next, here is an article that explains some of the biblical and theological errors of the prosperity gospel.
The next article explains the “trademarks” of the soft prosperity gospel. This article has been one of the most helpful articles I have read that clearly and succinctly explains how to recognize a softer prosperity gospel that still leads people away from Christ.
Here is an article that has been personally convicting to me, as I often believe the prosperity gospel when I'm not even realizing it.
Here is an article that discusses how to help others escape the prosperity gospel.
Finally, here are 7 “keys” to detecting the prosperity gospel and other self-focused gospels that I derived from another article by John Piper (original article linked below):
The absence of biblical teaching on suffering. Does the pastor/teacher talk about suffering? If he does, does he/she speak about it from the perspective of glorifying Christ in the midst of suffering, or is the focus on how God is going to do something better for you following or through the suffering?
The absence of a clear and prominent doctrine of self-denial. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Does the pastor/teacher encourage self-denial, or self-indulgence? Does what he/she teaches make us love Christ more for who He is, or does it encourage to seek after Christ for what we can get?
The absence of clear and urgent teaching for believers to fight sin. Does the pastor/teacher talk about sin? Does he speak of how believers should hate sin and strive for personal holiness? Or is the emphasis on more generalized therapeutic methods that could make our lives and situations better?
The absence of serious exposition (explaining) of Scripture.Does the preacher/teacher take the Bible seriously by explaining what is really there in text? Does he/she work through passages of Scripture, explaining each passage in its proper context? Or does it feel like the pastor has his favorite topics, he circles around to them over and over making a few texts serve his purpose?
The absence of dealing with tensions in Scripture. Does the preacher/teacher take into account passages that might seem to contradict what he/she is teaching? Related to point 4 above, does he/she seek to be humble before the Word of God and to teach what the Scripture says, even if it contradicts a point he/she would like to make?
The minimization of Christ and the Gospel. Does the pastor/teacher continually draw attention to himself/herself by the statements he makes, or does he/she continually point away from himself and to Christ and His Word? For example, does he/she make statements such as “I’m preaching good!” or “I can’t hear you!” in order to bring about a reaction from the audience? And does the teaching/preaching ultimately cause the individual to look at Christ and His Word, or at the preacher and his methods?
And finally, related to all these points, what is the teaching or preaching ultimately encouraging people to love and treasure? More specifically, does the sermon or teaching lead people to value Christ and His Word and to treasure the Gospel above all else, or does it result in people coming to Jesus because of what they can gain from Him (not simply material blessings but success, fame, vindication, health, etc.). Any teaching that even inadvertently or unintentionally leads people to love money, possessions, success, or anything else more than Christ is extremely dangerous; as a result, pastors and teachers must be aware of how their teaching—even well-intentioned teaching—could lead people away from Christ.
“6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” —1 Timothy 6:6-10
*Adapted from John Piper’s “Six Keys to Detecting the Prosperity Gospel.”