Comparing the True Gospel with the Prosperity Gospel

This was for my class, Comp II. I had to be unbiased, but it was a lot of fun to write!

Two different gospels are being exalted in today’s churches. One gospel is grounded on the teachings of the Bible, while the other is based on the teachings of men. The former, known as the Gospel of Repentance, or the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is taught by thousands of pastors across the globe, the most renowned being men such as John Piper and John MacArthur. It teaches repentance for our sin and confession to Jesus, as specified in the New Testament (English Standard Version, 1 John. 1.9). The latter has been given many names, but is most frequently referenced as the Prosperity Gospel, which was popularized in the late 1980s, and is currently taught by men such as Joel Osteen and Benny Hinn. It teaches giving of money to receive blessing from God, who is portrayed as a type of genie. Although the Gospel of Repentance and the Prosperity Gospel appear to be similar in teaching, they differ in both Biblical Evidence and Apostolic conclusion.

Both the Gospel of Repentance and the Prosperity Gospel appear to be similar in teaching. Both teach that Christ came to earth, died, and resurrected, freeing us from sin. They also teach confession and repentance of sin, but this is where the similarities end. The Gospel of Repentance states that God is the only God in the universe, and only He has the power to create. The Prosperity Gospel teaches that we are little Gods, made in his image and thus given his power. We, as Christians, know this to be false, as we see here: “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible’” (Matthew. 19.26). Should people trust teaching that, although being based on “Biblical Evidence”, can be disproved using more substantial Biblical evidence?

When using Biblical evidence, the Gospel of Repentance and the Prosperity Gospel completely differ. The Gospel of Repentance has many supporting verses, but the most commonly known is, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John. 3.16). The Prosperity Gospel, on the other hand, is built on 3 John 1:2, which states, “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” The Prosperity Gospel also bases its teachings on Philippians 4:19: “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Both verses, while seeming to be supportive of the Prosperity Gospel, are taken completely out of context. The first verse, 3 John 1:2, was a greeting from John to his close friend Gaius. John pronounces a blessing on Gaius, but in no way is he writing a doctrinal statement about Christ’s power. John is emphasizing that he hopes Gaius enjoys great health and blessing from God, nothing more. The second verse is also taken out of context, although it may appear to be quite the latter. Paul, writing to the Church at Philippi, is thanking them for their generosity during his time of need, and is pronouncing a blessing upon them for their generosity. He prays that God will bless them for their generosity according to their legitimate needs, not according to the desires of their hearts. A line must be drawn between things that are needed and things that are desired. In today’s world, these are often blurred. Great care should be taken, however, in ensuring that the Apostle’s words are not taken out of context.

Regarding Apostolic conclusion, the Gospel of Repentance and the Prosperity Gospel contrast a great deal. “What does Apostolic conclusion mean?” Many ask. The words Apostolic Conclusion always indicate a few things. Firstly, the term indicates that the Apostles or their predecessors concluded on the teaching in question. Furthermore, the term also explains that the teaching may be examined using the written works of the Apostles, namely the books of the New Testament. The Apostles themselves and their predecessors all affirm the Gospel of Repentance thousands of times, and the Twelve Disciples were all eyewitnesses to the Resurrection. Thus, there is no question as to the Apostolic conclusion on the Gospel of Repentance. Now, because the Apostles and their predecessors all died before 300 A.D, many would find it impossible to apply their criticism to teaching which didn’t emerge until the 1880s (Bowler 14). What surprises numerous people, however, is that the Apostles and the early church did write about issues relating to the Prosperity Gospel. The Prosperity Gospel teaches that “getting takes the place of giving” (Longman 2017). In other words, we should focus on getting what we can from Jesus. Paul, on the other hand, clearly states in his letter to Timothy “For the love of money is the 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 6.10). The Apostle Paul is quite clear- money is the root of many evils. As the “give to receive from Jesus” teaching is the base of the Prosperity Gospel teaching, stating that it has no Apostolic support would most likely be considered true.

The bases of all teachings should be closely examined before they are to be trusted. Because the foundation of the Gospel of Repentance is based namely the works and words of Jesus Christ, the God, and Savior of the Universe, many see no reason to question His teaching. But because the base of the Prosperity Gospel can be disproved by Biblical research and the words of the Apostles, many would consider the Prosperity Gospel to be false. However, one thing must be emphasized- although they appear to be similar in teaching, these gospels are different, especially when examined using Biblical evidence and Apostolic conclusion. These gospels are not the same and should be examined separately. Which one is true? According to the differences between the Gospel of Repentance, especially in Biblical evidence and Apostolic conclusion, people should attempt to judge as to which gospel is correct.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bowler, Kate. Blessed, A History of the American Prosperity Gospel. Oxford University Press, 2013. Google Books, https://books.google.co.ug/books?hl=en&lr=&id=oJc4DwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=Prosperity+Gospel+history&ots=n50iV8ANd6&sig=RmXY36eslZ8Y0QMhC9aCXCveL8g&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=Prosperity%20Gospel%20history&f=false

Longman, Robert. “The Prosperity Gospel- Who Gains, Who Loses?” Spirit Home, 12 April 2017, http://www.spirithome.com/prosperity.html

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Crossway, 2001. Print.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Crossway, 2001. Print.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Crossway, 2001. Print.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Crossway, 2001. Print.

 

 

15 thoughts on “Comparing the True Gospel with the Prosperity Gospel

  1. Great post, very well written! Mormonism would most definitely be considered partly Prosperity Gospel I think, as they believe that when you die, you are all little gods and you all live on separate planets. What do you think? Also, have you ever read Out of Mormonism; A Woman’s True Story by Judy Robertson? It is a very good read and makes you really think about what others believe in depth!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Africa Boy's Birthday (and a shoutout!) – Africa Boy

  3. Ella Smalley

    Totally agree. Prosperity gospel is a big thing in America and I find most of there teaching to completely contradict the Bible. Also how do you think it makes all those good Christian people who are poor feel. It was great to see this issue in context. Thanks so much for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Comparing the True Gospel with the Prosperity Gospel — Elisha McFarland – Spread the Word

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