The Prosperity Gospel, often referred to as the “Health and Wealth Gospel,” is a religious belief system that has gained popularity within certain Christian circles. It proposes that unwavering faith and positive affirmations lead to financial prosperity and good health as rewards from God.
Despite its large following that finds hope in these teachings, the Prosperity Gospel has faced substantial criticism for its potential negative impact on people and the Christian faith. In this article, we will explore ten teachings of the Prosperity Gospel that can be harmful.
1. Taking Advantage of Financial Resources
One significant issue with the Prosperity Gospel is how some preachers encourage their followers to make substantial financial contributions to their ministries. They promise blessings from God in return, even if these donations put people in financial distress.
“One of the exciting benefits of this revelation is that financial harvests are not seasonal. If you give, you will receive! You may not receive the harvest immediately, but if you plant, you will always be on the receiving end.” – Kenneth Copeland
2. Overemphasising Materialism and Wealth
This belief system often places too much importance on material possessions and financial prosperity. It can lead followers to focus more on acquiring personal wealth and less on nurturing relationships, personal growth, and spiritual development.
“Well, you need to hear about money, because you ain’t gonna have no love and joy and peace until you get some money!” – Creflo A. Dollar
3. Offering Promises That May Be Unfulfilled
When the Prosperity Gospel fails to deliver on its promises of wealth and good health, it can result in disappointment and doubt. Individuals may begin to question their faith and feel abandoned by God.
“He wants you to live in abundance. He wants to give you the desires of your heart…God is turning things around in your favor” – Joel Osteen
4. Neglecting Health Care
Some Prosperity Gospel followers believe sickness should not even be a part of their life. Others believe that prayer and positive confessions alone can bring about physical healing, causing them to forego seeking medical attention when they are sick. These decisions can have serious repercussions on their health.
“There will be no sickness for the saint of God…If your body belongs to God, it does not and cannot belong to sickness.” – Benny Hinn
5. Oversimplifing Theology
The Prosperity Gospel reduces complex theological concepts to a simplified formula. It conveys that faith is a transactional relationship with God, where material blessings are directly linked to financial contributions and positive declarations. This overly simplistic theology distorts the fundamental principles of Christianity.
“Give, give, give expecting to receive, so you can give, give, give!” – Kenneth Copeland
6. Pressuring to Give Generously
The financial pressures imposed by adhering to Prosperity Gospel teachings can lead to conflicts within relationships, including family and friendships. The pressure to give generously to religious leaders can create rifts among loved ones.
“Being totally committed to Jesus and living to give. If you are not living to give, then you are living for yourself and cutting off the flow of God. Living to give will bring you into the place of living from your giving.” – Kenneth Copeland
7. Targeting Vulnerable Populations
The Prosperity Gospel frequently targets vulnerable individuals, including those living in poverty, dealing with illness, or facing other hardships. Preachers make grand promises to exploit the desperation of these individuals.
“Suddenly, things will change, suddenly, that business will take off. Suddenly, your husband will desire a relationship with God. Suddenly, that wayward child will come home. Suddenly, God will bring your hopes and dreams to pass” – Joel Osteen
8. Worsening Wealth Disparities
This belief system often exacerbates wealth inequality within religious communities. It can result in a small number of charismatic leaders amassing significant wealth while their followers continue to struggle financially.
“God wants us to prosper financially, to have plenty of money, to fulfill the destiny He has laid out for us.” – Joel Osteen
9. Neglecting Social Responsibility
Some promoters of the Prosperity Gospel argue that poverty and suffering are consequences of a lack of faith or sin. This perspective discourages individuals and communities from addressing societal issues and working toward their improvement.
“We receive what we believe. Unfortunately, this principle works as strongly in the negative as it does in the positive” – Joel Osteen
10. Damaging Christianity’s Reputation
Perhaps the most significant issue with the Prosperity Gospel is the damage it does to the reputation of Christianity as a whole. Many Christians disassociate themselves from this theology, as it contradicts the teachings of Jesus, who emphasized humility, service, and spiritual growth over the pursuit of wealth and material gain.
“Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Matthew 23:10-12