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Calling out the preachers of the prosperity Gospel

Calling out the preachers of the prosperity Gospel

Pastor Rick Henderson speaks out against the so-called “prosperity gospel” in the Huffington Post:

I have been preaching for 20 years. Yesterday I did something that I have never done before in a sermon. I publicly called out false teachers and named them by name. I said:

If you listen to Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer, if you take what they teach seriously, it will not be good for you. It will be detrimental to your long-term growth as a follower of Jesus.

I used to think that their error was so blatantly obvious that they could just be ignored. I was wrong. They are massively growing in popularity in the evangelical world and are seen as credible and helpful. Before I’m inundated with questioning emails I want to share why I distrust these two and think you should as well. So, don’t shoot me — at least not yet.

When I was a kid I could tell the difference between neighborhood kids who wanted to be my friend from the neighborhood kids who were my friends so that they could play with my toys. Joel and Joyce are the latter. They both teach a twisted form of Christianity that teaches obedience, giving and faith as a way to get things from God. They are both products of what is known as the Prosperity Gospel and The Word of Faith Movement, or the Seed Faith Movement.

Henderson goes on to name the issues with the prosperity gospel movement leaders, especially Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen:

Joyce Meyer: What I wrote and linked in the first section should have been enough to completely remove her from our sphere of trust. Her doctrine is horrific. Her hermeneutics are horrible. She is a woman who seems to have an unrestrained love for money and applause. Her finances are questionable at best. Her example is questionable at best. Her impact on desperate people here, as well as churches and pastors around the globe is wildly destructive.

Like Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen has some really great things to say. He is encouraging and the man is certainly happy. This should not be held against him. The man is confused on theology. He has much of the same doctrinal misunderstandings as does Joyce Meyer. They come from the same tradition. His doctrine is difficult to discern for many because he won’t talk about doctrine. He won’t talk about theology. He quickly back pedals when asked hard questions, as seen here in an interview with Larry King.

Henderson commends John Piper who also speaks to this subject:


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I had no clue the prosperity “gospel” people were still around. Much less that their popularity is increasing. I suppose our present economic problems are to blame.

Bill Dilworth

Bill Ghrist

John Piper’s critique of the Prosperity Gospel is spot on, but then he veers off into what is all too close to the extreme opposite and equally problematic idea that being a Christian is all about suffering and that the real Kingdom of God is what happens to us when we die. I know, he gives lip service to the idea that the Kingdom of God is not just in the future. But what he says comes too close to promoting the idea that you should seek suffering because it is a sign of righteousness. Maybe the problem with both sides is the idea that our purpose in following Christ is to earn a reward–the difference being whether to expect the reward now or in the afterlife. Either way, it makes it seem that our ultimate motivation is to seek our own best interest rather than to help create God’s Kingdom for God’s sake.

Adam Wood

The prosperity gospel is only the most extreme version of a heresy almost all of us fall into regularly: the notion that the circumstances of our physical life are somehow directed by God as either reward/punishments for behavior, or on the influence of our prayer activity.

I wrote on this recently, and would like to share:


“There but for the grace of God.”

What vain oath, or what wicked spell,

Canted when confronted by the odd

could better our presumption tame and tell?

For when we see the hungry or the poor,

the teeming wretched refuse of the Earth,

do we suppose that we are something more,

and not the hapless protégés of birth?

That God is gracious, I am ever sure,

and boundless are the reaches of that grace.

Yet all the ills of Earth do yet endure,

and many are the sorrows of our race.

So better seem the prosperous and healthy,

so damnable the sick of mind and soul,

so meritous the righteous and the wealthy,

so sad the broken, so at peace the whole.

Yet broken, blessed, and given unto dying

is every person on the pilgrim way,

And every sinner’s soul is ever crying,

and every dog and demon has a day.

The grace, then, of our God is hardly magic.

Though wondrous, it is not a wonderment.

We are not pagan people, comi-tragic,

seeking boons and blessing thunder-sent.

Do not be so confused as to consider

that fortune is a ray of grace’s light,

for every saint endures a trial bitter,

and every tyrant sleeps in peace by night.

Do not forget- yea, do not be mistaken-

for homelessness is all our native state,

and lest your faith by worldly ills be shaken,

be mindful of the life for which you wait.

Strawdogs we, and servants made to be,

and only God’s own grace has drawn us higher-

Not in our station, nor in ways we see:

Salvation and The World do not conspire.

So weep and pray for those in cold despair,

And do what all you can to ease their lot.

And when one day you find you’ve fallen there,

do not let grace’s reason be forgot.


I trust, O God, your Wisdom to fulfill

All needs I have, yet beg for blessings too.

But if you take all else, take first my will,

That I may know that all I need is You.

Nathan Roser

Chris Hedges also has scathing comments about the prosperity gospel in “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.” IIRC, that chapter on the argument is entitled “The New Class.”

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