Tuesday, April 14, 2009

In many ways we are all fools. I think that might be the beginning of wisdom right there. Let me qualify that by saying what a fool is. Just because a person doesn't know a given fact doesn't make them a fool. That makes them ignorant. There is nothing wrong with being ignorant as long as that knowledge isn't important for you to know and you don't go about life pretending you aren't ignorant. I am ignorant about many things. That is how I've learned so much useful and useless stuff. If I come across something I don't know I ask questions about it. A fool won't ask questions or even worse will try to appear an expert on the subject. Of course that isn't what makes a person a fool that is what a fool does.

I think the simplest definition of what makes a person a fool is when people are too self-absorbed to care.

A fool usually thinks they are wise. A fool usually thinks everything is someone else's fault. A fool knows a little and makes it spread a long ways.

I think you can see how we can all be foolish from time to time. If you think this doesn't apply to you, then you are probably too self-absorbed to care. Anyone remember what that was a definition for?

Anyways, now that we have a working definition for a fool, let me jump right in and focus on one of the most foolish bits of theology that I've had to endure. The Prosperity Doctrine is one of my biggest pet peeves in Christianity. I have to be careful if I write or talk about this because I don't want to hurt anyone and this is super sensitive.

There are a great many problems with the faith church but there are also good things. I think I need to be more open to living by faith, but this does not mean living in prosperity. Of course, the biggest problem I have with prosperity doctrine is that it makes it seem like we need more. Seriously, if you are in America you are on the top 10% of the world income. I am very poor by American standards but I am literally in the upper 10% of the world. Do I really need God to bless me with more? If He does what will I do with it? OK sure I might be super awesome and give 50% of my income if God blessed my with a 6 figure income. If I had that kind of money I could give 50% and still have more disposable income than I do right now. Of course, even giving 50% away would still leave me with unspeakably more money than most of the world. That is pretty sad when you think about it. Anyone see just how self-absorbed that is?

Of course, that isn't really the biggest problem. The biggest problem is the dark side of the doctrine. Prosperity doctrine takes verses out of context to try and say that God blesses those with faith financially. There are different versions of this, but all of them use these verses to try and make some kind of formula that can be followed to get God to pour out money. Of course, we forget just how blessed we are and instead start focusing on getting more. These are the good points by the way. The dark side it the opposing view that must be true if the primary view is true. If God financially blesses the faithful, then those that are not financially blessed must not be faithful.

Don't believe this is a prevalent view in Prosperity circles? Let me share a story about someone I went to school with. Andrew Hagee. This would be John Hagee's nephew. The guy made sure everyone in the school knew who his uncle was, as if we cared. In one class we would go through a very short devotion on Proverbs at the beginning of each class. We were encouraged to read a chapter each day and the prof would usually pick a single verse to build the devo off from. One time he quoted a verse about a "sluggard." There are plenty of those in Proverbs. The prof asked the class what a "sluggard" is. Haggee's nephew said, "Anyone on welfare." Of course this is just plain foolish. Sure some people on welfare are sluggards, but so are some rich people. Some people on welfare work plenty hard but are unable to find work or the work they can find doesn't pay enough.

Of course, these are just people in America. I wonder just how many people in foreign countries are blessed enough by Prosperity standards? None of these points even begin to touch on the lack of context in verses. Yes God wants to bless us, but He wants to bless us for eternal things not perishable things. Sometimes He give financial blessing, but it rains on the just and the unjust alike.

The thing that makes it most clear that people who adhere to faith doctrine are dangerously close to being fools is the fact that they will not hear wisdom on things such as this. Try talking to them about how blessed they are in their poverty and you will be greeted with hostility. Quote the rest of a passage like Mark 10:29 & 30. So many Prosperity teachers can readily quote most of that passage. Anyone that gives up … to follow me will receive 100 times in this very life … Funny how they stop halfway through verse 30. The completely ignore "and with it great persecution." Next time someone throws that verse in your face go ahead and finish the quote. Every time I do they completely shut down or explode. It is never well received.

Of course, that goes with last week's post. You can answer them and get into a debate that only makes you look foolish, or you can let them run off in their own arrogant ignorance and let them think themselves wise. Either way, good luck.

Anyone think I'm wrong about Prosperity doctrine? Got anything else to add? Think I was too mean? Think I threw John Hagee under the bus unfairly?


katdish said...

That was good on many levels. I love the definition of a fool. I am ignorant about many things, and even foolish at times. But you're dead on about people being too self-absorbed to care about the Truth.

One of the things that is so heartbreaking about this doctrine is that it is spreading like wildfire in some of the poorest parts of the world. True hope is replaced by false doctrine. Desperate people are being taken advantage of. I know an elderly lady that found out several years ago that she would have to have her leg amputated at the knee. She watched Benny Hinn, sent in money, and prayed that she would be healed of the condition that caused the need for the removal of her leg. Fortunately, she also began coming back to church on a regular basis around the same time. She ended up having the surgery, and now reflects back on that time and tells everyone what a blessing it was to have her leg removed. It forced her to rely on God in ways she never did before and she is grateful for it. She also had caregivers at church whom she now considers her good friends. She has been a blessing to that body of believers in so many ways. She doesn't write checks to Benny Hinn anymore, and she is an awesome witness for God.

Nick the Geek said...

One lady that ended up leaving the church recently watched almost every Prosperity televangelist out there. She left not long after I did a sermon about trusting God with our finances. The problem is that many preachers stop short and say things like "if you give your tithe God will bless you." This is not strictly a Biblical concept.

God wants us to compeltely trust Him and giving the Tithe is the beginning, but there are a lot of other things we need to do like avoid debt, work hard, invest shrewdly, and take care of the poor. If we give God out 10% and assume that is enough we won't receive His blessing because the blessing flows from righteousness. Go ahead, give God your 10% and make that up by spending the money on your credit cards. In a short time you will be in debt beyond what you can handle and blame God.

That was the essence of the sermon but she didn't like it because that isn't what her TV preachers told her. I blasted them and she didn't care for that either.

Chris said...

I live in the "buckle" of the Bible belt, which also happens to be the buckle of the prosperity movement (Billy Jo Daughtery, Kenneth Hagin), so the movement is very prevalent around me. I work at a ministry that assists persecuted Christians and even working here, seeing what we see every day there are so many that believe in this twisted version of prosperity. How can they see these precious people being persecuted for His name every day, in abject poverty, and believe that posperity is "God's best" for them? They really believe that these people wouldn't have to go through that if they just had more faith.

It almost makes me sick.

Nick the Geek said...


I lived in OKC and Springfield, MO so trust me when I get the Buckle of the Bible belt mindset. I thank God that He does bless me, but I also look at Job and the things He endured which were God's best for him. Sure He was financially blessed at the end of it, but I'd rather be relatively poor in America than to endure those things to receive the kind of blessing Job did. I wonder if people that teach Prosperity ever endured suffering so they would better understand why God blesses them, which is to share the blessing.

Nick the Geek said...


I see you are in OK. OKC area or Tulsa area? I know there is more to OK than that but I don't want to ask what city straight up and I'm guessing one of those two regions over the rest of the state because that is where most of the population lives.

While speaking of OKC and prosperity if anyone wants to pay for me to come out and speak in OKC I'm totally down with that. I didn't make it to the city before leaving Springfield and I regret not seeing some of my friends. I'm sure that is God's best for me because it benefits me.

Beth said...

I think a lot of this comes from people who rely on things other than their Bible to teach them about Christianity. If you don't know truth, it's really easy to swallow lies.

In all seriousness, my MIL has swallowed a lot of this stuff and I worry about her. Her faith is what brought my husband to Jesus...in so many ways I admire her, but I don't know whether or not I should put my two cents in on this stuff with her. Probably more my husband's role...or I'm using that as a cop out because I hate confrontation. Ug.

And by the way...I think I'd be punching that Haggee guy. I'm about the least violent person out there, but that is about the most repulsive thing I've heard. I've met some very giving and caring people on welfare. More giving and caring than a lot of Christians in fact. But I don't need to tell you that.

Nick the Geek said...


Someone got kicked out for punching him. Actually I think it was the third time that the guy finally got the boot. I will say that last time I saw him he was a very different man. There was a crisis of faith that brought him to a place of clarity. Pain can do that.

My MIL is really into this and she blames God for their massive debt which only gets bigger. She is one of the people I don't want to intentionally offend. I really reigned in the sarcasm for this post. Could you tell?

Helen said...

Being healed by faith links with these. I do believe that God can heal the afflicted. I also believe that He can bring glory to Himself and bless others through the afflicted. He knows why He does what He does. I know He has the power to heal my mom. I also know that she has continues to be a blessing even though she is now disabled, and in some ways, a more urgent blessing than ever. Do you know what I mean? People who would have once smiled and said "that's nice for you" when she talks about God actually take her seriously now.

Beth said...

Wow, he really DID get punched!?

Nick the Geek said...

I believe strongly in being healed by faith, but I also believe that some things are not healed regardless of our faith. Paul was preaching one night and a guy falls out the window and dies. Paul goes down and prays and the guy is healed then Paul goes back to preaching. Another time they throw him in jail and God opens the doors and releases the shackles. Another time Paul asks God 3 times about a "thorn in his flesh" but God answers that he must endure it. Anyone questioning Paul's faith? What about the end of his life when God doesn't free him from jail, is that Paul's failing faith? Of course not, and so it is impossible to say what faith we have because of our status. I know many who are strengthened in faith because of what they endure. That is much more powerful if you ask me.

Yes he really did get punched in the face. At least one time that I saw plus 2 other times if my memory serves. Of course the guy that did it was a real jerk. He almost punched me once. I disagreed with him on a theological point and he got really mad.

Annie K said...

Nick, I think prosperity gospel is a 'pick and choose' religion. They are picking the stuff out of the bible that makes them feel good and 'blessed' and preaching on that and choosing not to preach the stuff that's not so great (like the last part of that verse.). God and His Word are all or nothing.

I don't think we can give 10% with our right hand and be holding out our left expecting something in return for doing our 'good deed'. That's having a motive for tithing and wrong.

And your post was very well written by the way.

wv: glosse

I was especially blessed because my black Louis Vuitton purse was extra glosse.

Nick the Geek said...

Annie K,

I agree 100%. Prosperity doctrine is a real cut and paste doctrine. Of course the danger is in feeling pretty proud about our own doctrines when we may well be in the same boat. I think, if anything, we should take what we do and believe to the Bible more often just to be safe.

Also you are right that it is silly to think that we can do teh bare minimum that God asks and expect Him to pour out his blessings. Doesn't that sound like a doctrine that comes from the same culture that says we should give everyone good grades if they show up to school so they don't feel bad about themselves and give all the kids trophies for playing? Good job getting out of bed today and coming to work. Have a bonus check. Who is God AIG?

Finally, you know glosse is Greek for tongue. I'm just saying.

Chris said...

I am just a little north of Tulsa. In a "name it, claim it" church.

Just kidding.

Nick the Geek said...

See I knew it would be one of those two regions. My wife graduated Jenks and I graduated Moore (Just south of OKC)

Chris said...

Bartlesville all the way, baby!

Nick the Geek said...


Unless things have changed drastically in the past 10 years Bartlesville wouldn't last the first quarter against JHS or MHS, but thanks for playing. I really wish I had been able to get down to the city before I left Springfield. Better stop now before I get all nostalgic about missing the last ever Moore War and all my old friends.

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