Prosperity Gospel: A distorted View of Man’s Greatest Need

What is Man’s biggest need? Is it food, shelter and clothing? Or is it good health, wealth and prosperity?

This is a tricky question to start with, but can I challenge you to think of people who have every access of these basic needs and yet they are unsatisfied? I remember sharing with a brother who worked in a hospital, seeing and interacting with people in their deathbeds, and how the experiences made him to be convinced that man’s greatest need is far greater than the daily felt needs.

Our daily basic needs always scream for our responsiveness, with most of us falling prey to the consumerism and materialistic modern world as we seek for comfort and pleasure in this life. The reality of materialism becomes not only a dragon but also a god that demands our attention and loyalty.

There are countless delusions of prosperity in our modern materialistic world. Technology is playing a major role in dispensation of prosperity messages with every screen screaming for our attention on the ‘How To’ guides of a good life.  Sadly, pastors instead of exalting Christ by preaching the true saving gospel of the Bible, they preach prosperity messages with some grains of biblical truth and appealing to our natural human desire. This kind of preaching has wealth and health messages at the core, neglecting to point out the sinfulness of man’s heart and our need for a savior.

Just as doctors need to identify a patient’s disease to be able to diagnose it well, preachers of the Word too need to get the right diagnosis of man’s greatest need to offer the right solution to the man’s greatest problem.

And what is this problem? It is a problem that made God to send Jesus into the world, which was not to deal with our physical, financial, and relational struggles, to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21). We need to identify our biggest problem that although we know God, as Paul notes in his letter to Romans, we do not glorify him as we should and in fact, end up giving the glory of the Creator to what he has created (creature). This idolatry is the heart of sin and our greatest need is to fix the problem of sin.

One of the authors of a book against Prosperity Gospel notes that,

“My biggest problem is far worse than being hungry or broke! If I understand that the Almighty and Holy God is angry with me, then my financial struggles, relationship stresses and career ambitions can no longer be my first priority. My sin problem becomes the priority. ” (Quoted from Prosperity? Seeking the True Gospel,)

If we come to Jesus and follow Him for the material and prosperity blessings, then we are not any different from thousands who followed him after the miracle of feeding of the 5,000 men. True and faithful followers of Jesus are not after material advantage, but believe on him to receive eternal life (John 20:30-31).

We need to grasp that all the pains of life are symptoms of our real disease; our God-defying sin. Knowing sin is our biggest problem will help us seek a gospel that addresses not just the symptoms but the root cause. We need to be aware of any gospel that downplays human sinfulness and the eternal benefits of the gospel. The true gospel calls us to believe in Christ for forgiveness of our sins and hence escape God’s wrath.


Prosperity gospel: Trades God to a ‘God’ man can Use and Command

“A Christian is strong or weak depending upon how closely he has 
cultivated the knowledge of God.    (Quote by A.W. Tozer)

Prosperity gospel is a false teaching and a dangerous heresy that has erroneous concepts that are found in its theology. As noted in an earlier post, Prosperity Gospel: A dangerous lie wrapped in a covering of a religion , this gospel has crucial distortions of biblical gospel in that it proclaims a small God, fails to identify man’s greatest need, empties the gospel of its power and robs God of his glory.

Prosperity preaching turns Christianity into idolatry and trades the glory of God for a cheap substitute by making health and wealth the goal of our salvation. This gospel deviates from the true gospel which is about an infinitely great God, an eternal King who reigns in all the earth as the Psalmist notes (Ps 47:8, 93:1, 97:1) who offers Himself to us sinners so that we can know Him and enjoy him forever. Christ suffered so that He might bring us to God as Peter notes (1 Pet 3:18). There can be nothing better than knowing God!

Sadly, prosperity gospel waters down and destroys such Good News, making many to pursue false and unsatisfied god of material prosperity. This new gospel, as Ken Mbugua notes in the book Prosperity? Seeking the True Gospel, reduces God to a sugar daddy by treating material gifts as the purpose of the gospel. He adds that this gospel emphasizes temporary benefits of material prosperity as the reason Jesus died to win for us forgetting that these are inferior gifts compared to fellowship with Almighty God.  

In his book, Preachers of a Different Gospel, Femi Adeleye notes that Prosperity gospel has a counterfeit faith that abuses faith from God, to having faith in faith or faith in the ‘Man of God’ who is the commander of ‘God the slave’ who should provide all demanded from him.  He quotes Oswald J. Smith who wrote in his book The God Man Uses;

“In the days we live in and within the church, the ‘modern’ Christian has invented a God he can use. This ‘God’ is supposedly the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, but He is also a being whom people, and particularly some preachers, can use and manipulate for their own ends. This God has mass appeal and followership since he can be ordered, instructed or commanded to do whatever we want.”

It is sad to note that Prosperity teachers preach an easily manipulated ‘God’. Femi notes that this gospel ensures that God has no glory left, for after the miracle, the focus of attention and awe is not God, but the ‘Man of God’ who has made God do what the audience wanted. Femi adds;

“God’s holiness and sovereignty matters not for this ‘God’ hardly cares how his followers live.He winks at ungodliness or double standards in lives of followers and promoters. Most of the worshipers can live in sin and seen in worship services hours later ‘commanding’ God to do what they want. ”

David Jones and Rusell Woodbridge  in their book Health, Wealth and Happiness noted that Prosperity preachers demote God, stripping Him of His sovereignty, and place humans at the center of their theological system. They conclude,

“Prosperity gospel has a distorted view of God with some teachers making outrageous and irresponsible statements about God. They make the gospel man-centered due to their faulty view of the relationship between God and humanity reducing God to a ‘cosmic bellhop’ attending to the needs and desires of his creation.”

Prosperity gospel is offering us a little ‘God’ who is no God at all.  It is sad that most of us Christians have lost our art of reverence and awe before God through this new preaching that makes God irrelevant and we become the measure and center of all things.

May God help us to recover the lost ground by rejecting all falsehood of prosperity gospel and return to Biblical truth and knowledge of God of the Bible… the Isaiah 6 God worshiped by the Seraphs,

Holy, Holy Holy is the LORD Almighty,
the whole earth is full of his glory.

Prosperity Gospel: A New and Strange Gospel

Churches in Africa have become a hub of a new gospel. Most of our churches are no longer preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ but a new gospel that has no cross in it but that which emphasizes health, wealth and happiness. In almost every city, this gospel has already taken root and is spreading like bush-fire to the villages.

The effect of the gospel has come as a result of new technology that has exposed many unsuspecting followers to western false preachers who are propagators of this teaching. Every day, there are hundreds of trending messages of this gospel in every social media that contains some grain of biblical truth, and that is appealing to the natural human desire. Most of us follow them for we have little knowledge of biblical doctrine and thus we are ‘ripe for accepting the distorted teachings.’

The new gospel is frustrating the work of the early faithful missionaries to Africa who preached the gospel simply and uncomplicated, yet powerful. These missionaries put the Cross of Christ at the center of their preaching, calling Africans to deny their barbaric cultures which were not saving at all and to put their faith in Christ Jesus, our only Savior. Our forefathers heard the gospel and accepted it, but we are slowly drifting away from this truth. We now believe a softer gospel that is comforting, satisfying and appealing to our immediate appetites.

In his book, Preachers of a Different Gospel, Femi Adeleye calls Prosperity Gospel a ‘gospel of greed that has no room for the cross and suffering.’ He continues to say that this gospel is silent on pain and suffering because it has no theology for it. It is sad to see people gathering every Sunday to get a user-friendly gospel that has no room for the real Jesus of the Cross. Many prosperity preachers as Femi notes ‘has created a new Jesus whose aim to come to the world was to make people comfortable and to guarantee their security.’

Western prosperity preachers have had large impact on propagating this new gospel in Africa. In their book Health, Wealth and Happiness, Jones and Woodbridge notes that many African believers equate Christian faith with wealth noting that this influence comes from Americans’ affluence and prosperity, hence making many native preachers to take up the prosperity message.

Sadly, the many followers of prosperity gospel get realities of life but remain lost in their sins since this gospel has lost the emphasis of repentance in believer’s life. The new gospel has replaced the gospel that emphasized contrition and repentance with ‘self-esteem.’ As an effect, there is a new breed of strange Christians who have lost awe in the presence of God. Everyone can preach, and no emphasis on character and conduct. Many live in sin from Monday to Saturday and yet lead others in worship on Sunday. It is OK to lead in worship and continue in sin.

Prosperity gospel is a short cut to good things of life and contradicts the essence of biblical faith. There is no better way to recover lost ground than rejecting all falsehood and returning to Biblical truth. May this be the commitment of every preacher, and of course of every member of any church!

(This is the first post in a series on Prosperity Gospel)