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November 29, 2007

46

The cruelties of the Prosperity Gospel – a very modern heresy

by quaesitor

Prosperity Gospel. It is an affliction. And it is a cruel hoax. And I saw first-hand the damage it does to believers in Uganda during the 4 years that we were there. But it is STILL gaining influence and credibility – and it is not just in the poorest countries in the world (which is where the exploitation is at its worst). It is creeping beyond the shores of the USA (where its modern incarnations originate) and across Europe and Australia.

This was why I felt the need to speak about it in a sermon 10 days ago at All Souls. It certainly raised eyebrows – and a little bit of consternation. I guess the issues will rumble on. You can download/listen to the sermon and make of it what you will: Acts 8 – Shaken but not stopped. It was certainly a sermon that caused me great trepidation and is not the sort of thing that one could, or should, do every week.

But let me give a few explanations.

1. What is The Prosperity Gospel?

As far as I can see, the prosperity gospel is a spiritualisation of the American Dream. Quite what the American Dream is precisely is a moot point, but this definition from the relevant Wiki page seems helpful enough:

The package of beliefs, assumptions, and action patterns that social scientists have labelled the American Dream has always been a fragile agglomeration of (1) individual freedom of choice in life styles, (2) equal access to economic abundance, and (3) the pursuit of shared objectives mutually advantageous to the individual and society. [1]

When you start saying not only that this is available to you, but that it is precisely what God wants for you, you have the lethal cocktail of a Prosperity Gospel. No wonder it sounds like good news! No wonder it is attractive!

1. Turning a divine might to a divine ought

This is how Andrew Heard (at the start of the paper mentioned below) describes it:

In some Christian circles at the moment another gospel is making itself known. It looks a lot like the gospel that we received—the gospel of Jesus Christ who died and rose again to bring us reconciliation with God—but it has an emphasis upon physical healing, material blessing and success that is very different from traditional evangelicalism. The difference doesn’t lie in the conviction that God can and does bless his people with physical healing or material prosperity as this has always been accepted as biblical; the difference lies in the conviction that Christians OUGHT to expect God to bless them physically and materially here and now.

The problem is that when the realities of life kick in – through sickness, redundancy, bereavement etc etc etc, who do people start to blame? Instead of blaming the person who related these promises to them in God’s name, they blame God himself. That is both unjust and tragic. It is a huge slur on the character of God – whereas it is the prosperity preachers who should have to answer for these problems, not God. And supremely, it completely bypasses the centrality of the cross of Christ – both for our rescue and as our inspiration and lifestyle blueprint (see Philippians 2:5-11).

2. Twisting a divine word for an idolatrous church

On a slightly different note, prosperity teaching can only thrive where a woeful mishandling of the Bible takes place, and in particular with a literalistic and unnuanced reading of the Old Testament. For sure, there are elements of the Old Covenant of Abraham and Moses which resemble a prosperity type view – for the covenant people were to enjoy material blessing when they lived in the Promised Land, which was, after all, flowing with milk and honey. But you can’t draw a straight line from those Moses promises to the contemporary disciple – without taking into account, for example the Book of Job (from the OT); or the call of Jesus in Mark 8:34-38 and his radicalisation of what the Kingdom of God actually is in John 18:33-37 (from the NT). Furthermore, the nature of Christian new covenant experience is one of ‘now and not yet‘ – we don’t have all the blessings of God yet, but that is not to say that they will never come. It is all a question of timing – God’s timing.

As John Piper pointed out, Christ warned the apostles that they would suffer great persecution for the sake of his name. In a January 2006 sermon entitled “How our suffering advances the gospel”, Piper stated bluntly that “the prosperity gospel will not make anybody praise Jesus; it will make people praise prosperity”. (quoted on Wiki)

3. Lining the pockets by fleecing the poor

All of this needs a whole load of unpacking – and there are plenty of places where this is done well – see below. But I hope it is beginning to be clear (at least) why this is so serious and dangerous. This is no minor aberration – this is unfortunately a different gospel which is no gospel – it is a pipedream which in the end is not good news at all. And what is not addressed enough is the practical impact all this has – especially in the poorest countries in the world like Uganda.

I have never forgotten Bob, a dear Ugandan friend and former student, describing how his fingers got burned in a prosperity gospel church in Kampala. He described one sermon in which the preacher was sharing some “wisdom” about marriage. He was advising the single women on who would qualify as a suitable husband. He had this to say: If the man you are interested in does not have a wardrobe in his room, then take that as a sign of the lack of blessing from God. God has not blessed that man. This man has not trusted God to provide him with a wardrobe. Marry him and you will share his curse.

Well, I ask you! Of course that is a ridiculous example and you can’t tar everyone with the same brush. But what do you notice about this? Firstly it shows a hopeless and devastating approach to pastoring human relationships, which are fragile and fraught at the best of times. Secondly, it shows the level we’re talking about here. I know exactly which church this was preached in – and it is in a particularly poor area of Kampala. A wardrobe can be picked up on the side of the road from the myriad of carpenters for a handful of US$. That’s all. So these are people who can’t even afford that. Thirdly, it actually demonstrates a total degradation of what God’s blessing actually means. I mean, honestly, is that all God can muster?! Is a $10 wardrobe the best God has in store for us?! To think in such terms is to insult the unimaginable scope of divine generosity.

However, it wasn’t until Bob suddenly woke up to what was really going on at his church that he finally left. The congregation had been promised Mercedes Benzes (or at the very least BMWs) if they believed God enough. No wonder then that when their church was built, it was equipped with a spacious car park, despite being located in a Kampala slum. No one had cars. Or at least, no one apart from the pastors. And that was the shock – people who were so poor that they were barely able to pay the nominal taxi fares to get to church were being manipulated into supporting the excesses of the pastors’ lifestyles. All in the name of sowing seeds for God. That is sickening. And so Bob left – and for a while couldn’t face going back to any church at all. Thankfully he is now himself in full-time ministry in Uganda because he saw that there was another way.

2. Whys and Wherefores

So having spelled out why this is such an issue, i need to touch base on one or two issues relating to the sermon itself. I was questioned by one or two people about the wisdom of mentioning people by name (in particular Benny Hinn, and at the end of the talk Hillsong in parenthesis). This is a potted summary of my response:

1. Mentioning No Names?

  • Firstly, it is not something that was done at all lightly nor unilaterally. It was something discussed beforehand with a number of colleagues (including at our weekly All Souls preachers’ breakfast, which happens every Thursday morning – each week the preachers for the coming sunday have to present the outlines of their sermons to the rest of the ministry team for discussion, crits and suggestions – a scary but excellent discipline!).
  • Secondly, there is biblical precedent, both for dealing with the problems of prosperity teaching and for mentioning individuals by name. Intriguingly, the closest NT precedent for both issues occurs in the same place in 2 Timothy 2:17-18. Hymenaeus and Philetus are claiming that the resurrection (i.e. the second resurrection and therefore the full and final promises of heaven) has already occurred (thus making a sinlessness / perfectionism possible as well as, presumably, a truly blessed life). Paul describes such teaching as gangrene and something which has wandered away from the truth (v18) – and that ‘destroys the faith of some’. What’s more, Paul is explicit about their names! And it is not just because it is a private letter to Timothy – he does the same on many other occasions (eg Philippians 4:2-3 etc). Sometimes, people need to be warned about these things in explicit terms.
  • This does not imply I have apostolic pretensions! I am by no means claiming to know everything, nor to have a Pauline authority! But it seems to me that we do from time to time have to be quite clear about things especially where they are dangerous. Isn’t this precisely the role of the pastor teacher – 2 Timothy 4:2: in and out of season (i.e. including the times when things are most uncomfortable), and that includes both encouragement and rebuking (the latter being something that in Britain we shy away from far more than we should). Of course we don’t want the opposite extreme – it would destroy people if there was nothing but rebuke and correction (and far too many preachers err in that direction).
  • Would such actions cause division in a church? Well perhaps. But while we should wish to do everything we can to preserve relationships and pastoral concerns (of course), there is still the need to raise awareness when this sort of thing is being actually taught, even if people get upset about it. No one said that ministry was easy – nor did they say that a faithful preacher’s ministry would be a short cut to popularity!

2. Mentioning Benny Hinn?

I’m afraid (and I say this with all tentativeness!) I am not apologetic about talking about Benny Hinn – not least because what is inescapable is the appallingly lavish lifestyle and hypocrisy that are features of his ministry. That, it seemed to me, made him a legitimate parallel to Simon the Sorcerer in Acts 8 – a desire for God’s power for the purpose of developing one’s own ministry and even personality cult (hence in Acts 8, Simon’s desire to pay the apostles for the ‘use of the Holy Spirit’ – presumably in his eyes that was a good financial investment).

What we see in Benny Hinn is a frightening cynicism about his lifestyle. This is not hearsay – for this is a matter of current USA Congressional Investigation (you can’t get much more serious than that); and it is the subject of a sober and thorough report by MinistryWatch.com. This organisation seeks to hold Christian organisations in the US to high standards of financial transparency. This is what the report alleges about Benny Hinn. Should these be the sorts of things that a pastor’s lifestyle, consistent with the ministry of Jesus, be noted for?

  • Hinn’s salary is somewhere between half a million and a million dollars per year (+ huge book royalties)
  • Personal perks for Hinn, family and his entourage include a $10 million seaside mansion; a private jet with annual operating costs of about $1.5 million; a Mercedes SUV and convertible, each valued at about $80,000
  • What the church termed “layovers” between crusades included hotel bills ranging from $900 per night to royal suites that cost almost $3,000 for one night’s stay. Layover locations included Hawaii, Cancun, London, Milan and other exotic locations.
  • Beverly Hills shopping sprees; Receipts showing Hinn’s daughter receiving $1,300 in petty cash; her boyfriend getting $2,550 for babysitting; $23,000 in cash dispersed to Hinn and his wife; and, $25,000 in cash for expenses for a crusade – 30 minutes away from Hinn’s home;
  • Hinn continues to espouse the theologically-suspect self-serving Word-of-Faith or “prosperity” gospel. Jesus and his followers never amassed personal wealth through their ministry and instead lived a clearly sacrificial life. Hinn would be wise to follow this example and encourage his followers to do likewise as this would lead to much greater spiritual prosperity, the value of which far exceeds anything material
  • Hinn employs two primary methods to manipulate those that watch him – promising healings to those afflicted with chronic or terminal illnesses, and claiming that donations are “seeds” being planted by the donor that will result in the gift giver enjoying financial blessings;
  • Television producer Nathan Daniel, a former BHM employee who was hired to improve the public image, instead reported to NBC, There was never one complete record that would suit the criteria for documented miracle healing.

3. Mentioning Hillsong?

This is a much trickier area – and in some ways I wish i hadn’t mentioned them, not least because they are very close to home geographically (their London venue is a stone’s throw from All Souls). This is not because there are no issues there, but because the issues are slightly different and not as clearly drawn from Acts 8. I certainly do not wish to imply the sorts of impropriety and lifestyle that Benny Hinn is alleged to characterise. The problem is that when you analyse mainline Hillsong teaching (and indeed some of their song lyrics) it is clear that they are following the same tradition. Their founder, Brian Houston teaches a prosperity gospel which gets lapped up and is spreading fast. I have been to London Hillsong – and I honestly went with a real desire and openness to hear from God (quite apart from the fact that I actually enjoy a lot of their music). What’s more, I have read some of their stuff. And to my great sadness, nothing I’ve heard or read has given me any reason to change my mind. Take this one example, quoted by Andrew Heard:

the Scriptures … [are] full of promises of prosperity. … Is it God’s will for you to prosper? … the answer is undoubtedly “YES”

Fair enough, perhaps – but it all depends on what we mean by prosperity. According to Heard, there is no doubt Houston meant material prosperity, given the book’s premise:

If you and I can change our thinking and develop a healthy attitude toward money, I believe we can all walk in the blessing and prosperity that God intends for us. We will never have a problem with money again.

Now, please understand, I am VERY willing to sit down and chat with people who think differently. I certainly do not wish to malign or misquote – if I have been unfair or unkind, then I do seriously want to know. There is plenty of scope for responding thru this blog or directly with me at All Souls. Furthermore, we all have our blind spots – and I’m sure there are areas where I/we here need to be confronted by the challenges of the word. None of us is immune or perfect (in theology or lifestyle).

But I cannot escape thinking that the issues raised by prosperity teachers are so serious that they demand people speak out and point out the emperor’s new clothes.

Some Follow-up Resources

Also, there’s this (if you like things in your face)

  • John Piper – video montage by a student in USA

This video is based on a sermon by John Piper given at the University Christian Fellowship (Birmingham, Alabama, USA) which you can listen to HERE. I’ve not yet had a chance to hear it all myself but from what i’ve listened to, Piper is his passionate and in your face self! His style is not everyone’s cup of tea (esp in the UK) but his challenges are never without a point.

46 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nov 29 2007

    Very well written article. I am an American youth pastor who is struggling with the thoughts of the “American way”. I drive to nice cars, not BMW’s but good cars, I have a motorcyle, and my wife and I have many clothes. I look at some of the people in our community, and around the world, and say “wow we are blessed.” Pastor Steven Furtick (Elevation Church) says God has blessed us to be a blessing. I think that is a major thing we miss. Okay God has blessed you with a good job now show the love of Christ to someone. Instead of taking your lifestyle to the next level help someone out of the pit.

    I to like Hillsong woship songs but I want to make sure that they are God Centered not me centered. I look upto and respect John Piper greatly. Its not about us, its about Glory. So weather I am rich or poor I want to give God the Glory. If I am blessed with a good job, I want to be a blessing to those who have nothing. Life hurts but God is still good.

    Thanks for the post. Im gonna listen to the sermon now.

    Reply
  2. Phil craig
    Nov 29 2007

    Great post. I will download the sermon.

    I remember a Channel 4 documentary called ‘Miracles’, screened around 1999/2000. It followed Benny Hinn, and one couple in particular who hoped their son–born with half a brain or something like that–would be healed. When he wasn’t, despite Benny Hinn actually laying hands on him (a big deal apparently!), they were devastated. The interviewer asked them about it, and it’s stuck with me ever since–to paraphrase:

    Interviewer: How do you feel about God after this?
    Father: I don’t know. I wonder what we have done to deserve this. We must have done something for God to punish us like this.
    Interviewer: What do you think about Benny Hinn?
    Father: He is a great man. We will continue to support him with all our strength.

    Reply
    • P James
      Aug 9 2011

      Sounds like Hinduism! Millions of poor, unfortunate and suffering people in that country believe they must have done something wrong in their previous life. This is why nothing like an “Arab Spring” can happen there. This is victim-blaming at it’s worst. Benny Hinn and his ilk are no better.

      Reply
      • P James
        Aug 9 2011

        Incidentally, Benny Hinn and Joyce Meyers are hugely popular among Christians in India. It’s a message that resonates for them.

  3. Nov 29 2007

    Thank you so much Mark. I see the “American Dream” and the Gospel as opposing not aligning. I have read in a recent article (I will have to get the citation) where the author claims that if we are not getting what we are praying for then there must be something wrong with our prayers… This is so sad. People are becoming disappointed with God and/or themselves. Thank you for speaking out about this as “cruel.”

    Reply
    • Asher Philippino
      Sep 25 2012

      thank God i came across this enlightening article. Prosperity gospel holds so true in the Philippines which is so stricken with poverty. Many believers hearing this “gospel” can’t draw the line between blessing and prosperity.

      Reply
  4. lionfiish
    Dec 2 2007

    Good post.

    It is great that you have spoken out publicly and named names.People who raise such issues within these Churches are silenced and stonewalled.

    I resigned my own membership with a Church closely aligned to Hillsong after fair questions I asked regarding the assertions made in the Business review Weekly’s article “God’s Millionaires: (June 2005) would not be answered adequately by the Senior Pastor – and financials not provided.

    After much research, (I am a Business Analyst by profession), I have concluded that these organisations are family owned Businesses – rather than Churches that:

    1) Claim “..the books are open” yet detailed financials of all related entities are not provided upon request.

    2) Manipulatively promote the teaching on ‘tithing’ which does not stand up to accepted principles of biblical interpretation.

    3) Facilitate a ‘networked speaking circuit’ where these Senior Pastors pay each other large sums of money to speak at each others Churches and Conferences into tax-free ‘ministry’ entities that they control.

    4) Are autocratically controlled by the Senior Pastor and his appointed Board – allowing these Churches to become ˜inherited family owned businesses (refer to the Articles of Incorporation and you will see what I mean). Many megachurches are passed down Frandk Houston > Brian houston > Joel Houston etc.)

    5) Cover up contradictions such as Brian Houston’s “on the record” (“Lords Profits” SMH 2003) statement that “he makes money as a property developer” and later “(He) has never been a property developer” (Letter to Editor, BRW/Australin Story 2005).

    I urge all “Spiritual consumers” to be astute and heed the words of St Jerome (345-420 a.d. ) “Avoid, as you would the plague, a clergyman who is also a man of business.”

    Reply
  5. Dave
    Dec 2 2007

    Hi Mark,

    I should start by saying that I actually attend Hillsong, and secondly that I am strongly against the kind of prosperity teaching that your article refers to. Having attended this church for almost 11 years now, I can definitely guarantee you that by and large, the teaching is balanced, and does not remotely approach the excesses that your article presents.

    I think the teaching at Hillsong is very much about adjusting our attitude to money so that it doesn’t rule us, but rather that we would rule it, and secondly, that we would not view it as something to make our life great, but rather, that we would view it as a tool to filfill God’s work. Hillsong encourages us to be generous with our money, not just in our giving to Hillsong (duh!) but also outside – a quick google search will show that we the congregation have been encouraged thru hillsong to gave away very large amounts of money to various charitable organisations including World Vision and Opportunity International – which have got absolutely nothing to do with Hillsong!

    I should also mention that most of our sermons have nothing to do with so-called prosperity theology at all – I’d say the last time I heard a message that worked along those lines would have to be about 6 months ago. But of course we do discuss this from time to time, and we touch on aspects of it when we take up an offering.

    Anyway, here’s a few rebuttals to your article. I hope you will take them in the spirit they are intended:

    1. I think a lot of people like to talk about “analysing mainline hillsong teaching’ as your article states – but then they attend two weekends, or read Brian’s infamous book ‘You need more money’, and then feel that they are able to comment on Hillsong teaching with some authority. I’d argue that the only way you can really find out what Hillsongers believe is to interview a decent sample set of Hillsong attenders and find out what we’re really being taught.

    2. You quote
    “If you and I can change our thinking and develop a healthy attitude toward money, I believe we can all walk in the blessing and prosperity that God intends for us. We will never have a problem with money again.”

    and you automatically assumed that the statment ‘we will never have a problem with money again’ means that we will have as much money we want because God will bless us etc etc…

    I would argue (because I am very familiar with Hillsong teaching) that this statement means that if you develop a healthy attitude towards money, you will be able to use it as God intended, which is to release it to God’s purposes. Money will no longer rule you, you can rule your money. (a common phrase uttered in several Hillsong sermons).

    Does this mean that you can’t get a great sound bite from the Hillsong pulpit to support the notion that Hillsong is teaching some rampant prosperity doctrine that teaches us all that God’s sole purpose of dying on the cross was to make us rich?

    Unfortunately you probably will be able to get this if you look hard enough. Of course, we have our fair share of guest preachers, who get up and say things that are definitely on the ‘edge.’ The leadership wouldn’t necessarily agree with all of these statements the guest preachers make but they don’t necessarily get up the next week and say ‘so-and-so’ was wrong last week, for a variety of reasons that aren’t clear to me. I guess their hope is that if you attend our church for a decent period of time, you will capture the heart of what we call our ‘prosperity’ theology’.

    We also have some of our younger preachers who sometimes are more heart than head if you know what I mean, and sometimes their statements on stage (particularly when giving testimonies, taking up an offering, etc, they don’t often preach) will be completely wrong, and I’m quite sure they get taken aside and spoken to afterwards🙂

    anyway, I do welcome the spirit in which your article was written, but I would seriously suggest that you do more research than just the net and wikipedia. Maybe it’s worth talking to the people who you intend to write an article about (I’m not a fan of Benny either, but I would seriously want to make sure I talk to him and know his motivations before I make statements accusing him of running his ministry for the “purpose of developing one’s own ministry and even personality cult”. ). It’s pretty difficult to really know what somebody’s motivations are, so I would suggest present the facts (which you also have done) and leave it to the reader to make their own mind up.)

    look forward to hearing from you.
    cheers
    dave

    Reply
    • Melinda Flores
      Jun 2 2011

      It is amazing to me and very sad at the denial or so called ignorance in which so called “mature” christians write these responses. If you have been a member of a church who believes and teaches the prosperity doctrine or prosperity theology, you are just as indoctrinated as the ones who deny it exists at all! I too attened a church for 20 years, that from top to bottom has every answer, strategy and hook to pull people into this way of thinking. Champion Centre in Tacoma Washington, pastored by Kevin and Shelia Gerald is such a place. They accuse people of horrible things from rebellion, to ignoring pastors who are fornicating, living in sin/and hiding sin, to protect their image and name. They accuse people of being bitter and finding falult and actually tell people from the platform “if you leave” you will just find more problems at the next church because “you” are there.
      This church is a prime example of fleecing the poor. They show up in designer clothes, drive expensive cars, and so does most of their executive staff. There are a network of pastors who will preach in their “circut” and they pay each other large sums of money, sell books and tapes in order to keep the cash coming in.

      The concept of if and when you question things in this church or their practices you are seen as rebellious and black balled from ministry.
      Over and over, the “tithing” and “offering” message is preached along with organized events to “raise money”. They claim to “give” to the community, but the way it is truly behind the scenes is much different. It is all marketing.

      They also have “Kingdom builders” a monthly meeting you can go to at the local “nice hotel” for breakfast with the pastor and hear “special teaching on how to be more prosperous”. Oh, I forgot the part that you are only allowed to go if you commit to “giving” 200.00 above your regular tithe and offering…..
      Since when do I need someone to sell me Jesus? Don’t we read the same bible? and if I have the relationship I am supposed to have with the Lord then I don’t need someone to “teach” me how to live. I am not at all saying it is wrong to be a church member or goer, or to submit oneself to authority, I am just saying, Don’t be fooled ! the bible I read tells me to be careful of sheep in Wolves clothing.

      What I came to understand after I was asked to leave the church when my husband and I came against a pastor who was living a life in sin, and who was creating and conjuring up lies because we were on to his ugly truth of abuse and use of power and control (Jezebel Spirit) is that My relationship with God is my responsibility and I didnt need champion centre to fulfill my calling in life.
      The constant barrage of “get Connected” so you can give your tithe and offering and then you will be blessed mentality took its toll on our family. We even had the youth pastor try to pull our son literally out of our home, by offering him housing, a job, and a car if he would stay loyal to that way of thinking, trying to have secret and private phone conversations and meetings with him to lure him away. All the while they told him ” we were offended and ” and they were “concerned” about his future as a spiritual leader. His conclusion, was he wanted nothing to do with ministry the Champion centre way.

      We are like thouseands if not millions of wounded believers, cut up and left bleeding by thier own church. But our true healing came when we had the courage to walk out the doors, write them a letter of truth, and call it good.
      We give to the poor and homeless and less fortunate as a part of our “tithe” and “offering” and our lives have changed for the better.

      People neglect taking care of thier families financially and avoid being responsible because they “tithe” first, when they can’t even put food on the table. The idea that we have to give to God first and they He will bless us based on whether or not, or how often we give money is total heresy! All the people we considered friends have been told to cut ties with us, and most of these people are in financial ruins and extreme financial strain due to the belief of “tithing”. All the while, there are marriages ending, people having affairs, people losing their homes, and going hungry. The solution? Buy the cirriculum “breaking free” from the church (paying another church member who wrote it 20,000.00) which pushes tithing as a way to financial wealth. This is just a snapshot of what goes on, but do know, thriving financially is their number one goal, and is what they tell people is the mainstay of living a “successful Christian Life”…..

      Reply
      • Janet Chandler
        Dec 8 2011

        Well said, Melinda.There are so many ‘pastors’ copycatting the ‘success’ methodology of the get-rich-quick tithing scheme churches – putting more and more vulnerable believers under bondage and financial lack. God is exposing their lies and heresy. May truth set the captives free, amen.

      • cgunnyon
        Jan 13 2014

        I been to Champion Centre, heard Craig Groschel, Christine Kane, and Stoval Weems talk and it seriously reminded me of Network Marketing. They treat the church like a business. They talk a lot about financial success and giving and they are all millionaires. I am not originally a Pentecostal, but seriously, the bullshit wears thin. These pastors all want to build financial empires for themselves and their families, and they did it in the most easy way imagineable, they hijacked your beliefs. And guess what, its all tax free. The beautitudes or sermon on the mount never said to be how these pastors are, so why follow them. Jesus was pointing to something , you just have to wake up. WAKE UP. Quit buying their crappy books and read the bible. The bible seriously does hold the truth and if you can read a horribly written book by a false teacher yet you can’t read your bible- you will always be blind.

    • cgunnyon
      Jan 13 2014

      Dave, your a tool.

      Reply
  6. Dec 2 2007

    Thank you all very much for commenting – it’s great to know that someone reads these things at least! And I’m certainly grateful for Dave seeking to put a defence. I am pleased and hope that this can be part of a wider healthy dialogue. There is certainly NO malice on my part and I’m glad, if not downright relieved, if I am wrong!

    The nature of every analysis is going to be partial at some level – and i certainly accept that mine was. I also take the point about referencing wiki pages and the odd book – i merely wanted to talk about things which could be quickly referenced on the net elsewhere. That is a limitation of the blog setting which is not designed to be a more thorough academic paper. I also fully accept that any church movement will contain a degree of diversity within it, and so it is often hard to discover what precisely is ‘mainline’. The odd visit or visits will never help to get a sense of church (and i know full well that at All Souls we have more than our fair share of off days!). Of course, it is difficult to meet or discuss these things with the relevant people and we are all, to some degree, bound to engage with what people put into the public domain. All I can say is that I have read various things and have not simply relied on the odd website.

    Having said that, I still stand by what i said: namely that nothing i have read or heard in Hillsong circles has caused me seriously to change my mind. Which i suppose is to throw down the gauntlet and say please point me to a Hillsong sermon/book which thoroughly and clearly rejects prosperity teaching. This is important because there is too much that LOOKS and SOUNDS like it – so if it isn’t, we should have that clarified! I’ll rejoice if I hear Brian Houston for instance expounding a profoundly cross-shaped understanding of the Christian life, an understanding which is able to embrace fully suffering and disappointment as part of the journey of trusting the Sovereign God. This is not a matter of preference or penchant on my part – it is about understanding the essence of NT gospel living like Christ – because a prosperity gospel will always undermine that.

    But as I said before, i would love to have this clarified. Let’s keep this dialogue open and positive!

    Reply
  7. Dec 2 2007

    Just another quick thought to add in – i’m not sure how relevant to the debate it is that Hillsong or any other church gives to this, that or another organisation. For if Hillsong is a prosperity teaching movement (a big “if”, which i’m happy to be proved wrong on), you would expect it to be generous. The whole point about prosperity teaching is that it encourages GREAT and sometimes HUGELY SACRIFICIAL giving – the issue is what motivates it. Is it a matter of giving out of pure gratitude to God? or is it a matter of sowing seeds because the more you give the more you’ll get…? A caricature perhaps – but that seems to me the heart of the problem.
    Anyway – put me straight, please!

    Reply
  8. russkellyphd
    Dec 2 2007

    Good article and discussion. I would like to put what you said about Benny Hinn on my web site but you did not give your source.

    Also I do not know where Piper stands on tithing but I have written a long rebutal of Brian Houston’s viewpoint at http://www.tithing-russkelly.com/id67.html.

    Having carefully read through Matthew lookng for texts on the prosperity gospel, I found none. I will evntually cover the entire Bible in my search. Jesus has very little sympathy for the wealthy and said that it would be difficult for them to be saved. Does that also apply to super wealthy “preachers” of the gospel?

    Keep me attached tdo this thread if you can.

    Russell Earl Kelly, PH. D.

    Reply
  9. Dec 2 2007

    Hi Russell – the Benny Hinn info all comes from the MinistryWatch articles/reports which are linked in the Hinn section and in the Follow-up Resources at the end.
    The issue with wealth in the Bible is fundamentally one of idolatry it seems to me – so that when the rich young ruler leaves sad it is because he can’t give up the thing that he worships as supreme. That is what makes wealth so dangerous. And of course preachers/pastors are never immune from any temptation!

    Reply
  10. Emma
    Dec 3 2007

    Hi Mark

    Thank you for this, I’ve listened to your sermon and does clarify your points so I would recommend it to some of the commentators above.

    The only thing I have to add is that I wonder if this is something which we all believe to SOME extent in the western church regardless of the soundness of the teaching received from the front (although sound teaching helps -to correct it I mean!!!) In that Christians (myself included) expect God to act like Jim’ll fix it and fix it for me to be married, wealthy etc etc. This false expectation is seen most clearly with marriage (as you mention in your sermon) where people know that this is one of God’s good gifts, and see that is is not good for man to be alone, and cannot understand why a God who works for their good would see them unhappy and not married.

    Sadly I think that the reaction of the person in John Piper’s video would also be the exception rather than the norm, given this underlying belief in a God who works to my agenda. (And I’m not sure that I would be the exception either)

    I wonder if some of this belief is due to the way in which testimonies are presented, as they often focus on what God has done for the person in a material way. I also wonder if it has to do with a culture, of which we are a part, which has largely ditched the idea of self sacrifice and service in favour of a “what’s in it for me” mentality, and this is incorporated into Christian thinking with the absorption uncritically of a lot of Pop psychology. It seems sometimes that our language is inadequate and our language shapes our thinking, hence recent comments, I’ve heard (and made myself) like “you have a right not to be treated that way”, “work-life balance” and “I couldn’t help myself-it was a subconsious impulse”, all of which are not particularly Biblical in worldview. The failure of Christians to challenge this type of talk but in some cases to endorse it with a selective reading of scripture only compounds the problem.

    I’d be interested in your comments if this isn’t too off topic.

    Emma

    Reply
  11. Dec 11 2007

    Hello all, I am an international evangelist. I travel to some of the poorest places on earth spreading the everlasting gospel, not prosperity unless you mean the incredible richness of knowing Jesus!! I do believe in God’s mighty healing power as I have seen so many healed. Not because they deserve it ,but because God is good and does give good things to his children. But some are not healed too, to them God is still GOOD!! Who is to say that not being healed is also a blessing from the very had of God who does the healing and does all things well. I remain just a tool in my Lord’s hand. I don’t have a lavish life style, unless you compare me to some of the worlds poorest, whom I have kissed and hugged. I am incredibly rich to them, but not so much in American, it’s kind of relative isn’t it? But, I just use the money given to me to go and spread the Good News, Jesus died to save you and heal you on that cross. He will always save you and sometimes He will heal you. But you can trust Him no matter what!! Hallelujah to the Lord so mighty and strong.
    Keep up the good work.

    Evan

    Reply
  12. Feb 4 2008

    Excellent commentary.
    Steve

    Reply
  13. Apr 30 2008

    BRILLIANT ARTICLE!!!
    Couldn’t agree more… yet i see that God, in His mercy, uses frail vessels full of fallibility, faults and foibles, to extend His Kingdom.
    Jesus shall have His Church, the Lamb shall have His marriage to His Bride – prosperity doctrine – preaching not withstanding!
    God bless you for exposing false teaching!!
    There should be more of it – but alas, Jesus Himself warned that TRUE prophets might find themselves hacked in half between the altar and the pulpit!
    Antoinette.

    Reply
  14. leonecomm
    Sep 3 2008

    One of the scriptures that Jesus used to address the Pharisees and Sadducees of his time is found in Mark 12:24 “And Jesus answering said unto them, ye therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?”(KJV).
    This goes to the heart of your editorial titled Why Prosperity Gospel Is Not As Relevant Today As The Book Of Job. What we have here is a commentary by someone who never provided a simple scripture for the basis of his argument but a bunch of run down, tired clichés that are used many times but lack a solid biblical foundation.
    1Corinthians 2:14 says this “But the natural man received not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
    If you go back at Abraham in Genesis 22 :17-18 In blessing I will bless you and in multiplying I will multiply your descendants like the stars of the heavens and like the sand on the seashore. And your Seed (Heir) will possess the gate of His enemies, 18 And in your Seed [Christ] shall all the nations of the earth be blessed and [by Him] bless themselves, because you have heard and obeyed My voice.
    The word bless means “empowered to prosper” and that blessing extended from him all the way to Isaac, Jacob and Christ and the Bible says if you are in Christ, then are you Abraham’s seed and therefore heir according to the promise. What promise? That we will be blessed.
    If suffering teaches us a lesson, how come all poor people are not wise. Poverty does not teach anything. The word of God teacheth.

    Before you can meaningfully comment on anything whether it is a book, a movie or a doctrine, you owe it to your audience to study it out.
    I suggest that you download free Podcasts from these ministers, study it out and see if you will not reach the same conclusion.
    I use to think the same way until I took this challenge and the Bible is right, in John 8:31-32 “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
    32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
    Unto the question of being rich. What is rich? How do you define rich? Assuming you got to a company to apply for a janitorial job of $5/Hr and you happen to see the CEO and he/she offers you a corporate position paying $1M, are you going to turn it down because according to some people, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. God doesn’t mind us becoming rich so long as we do not do anything desperate to get it. That is what Christ preached against.” The Love of Money is the root of all evil.”
    It is a fool that will go to these reality shows and eat worm to get rich. Now that is the love of money that Paul was talking about in 1 Timothy 6:10. When Paul made the statement he was talking to the Jewish unbelieving bunch. After all, he is the seed of Abraham, and David and he said that he did not come to abolish the old covenant but to affirm it.
    Did you know that Christ had a treasurer and that his name is Judas? Did you read John 13:29 “For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.” Now why did they think that? Because Jesus had done that many times before. How many poor people do you know that sends out their treasury in the middle of the night to give alms to the poor? The fact that they used the term “the poor” means they themselves were not poor and it makes sense. These men had trade before they were converted and Christ had rich friends ministering to him their funds. He had Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh as gifts as a new born baby.
    Trust me there are going to be a bunch of poor people in hell. Poor mean, sexually perverted, lustful, lying and cursing, fornicating, adultery etc people are not going to heaven because they are poor.
    Thanks and God bless you.
    Remember Proverbs 4:7 “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.”
    Leon

    Reply
  15. Jan 22 2009

    The “clever” thing about Hillsong is that they have a lot of guest preachers so even if Brian Houston isn’t telling everyone to give money, the guest preachers will. It’s a… “love offering”.

    Furthermore, the list of guest speakers from many Hillsong Conferences are the who’s who list of the Word of Faith movement, including people such as Joseph Prince, Joyce Meyer, TD Jake and this year Joel Olsteen.

    One of my friends once commented that her pastors were Brian and Bobby Houston but I found it strange because it’s not like she can actually talk to them on a regular basis, let alone be directly accountable. Whereas, I’ve actually had my pastor come over for a BBQ and SingStar.

    Reply
  16. read
    May 18 2009

    “according to some people, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” leonecomm said;
    read and read and read again, not some people but Jesus said that. You should not read in a manner that comfort you in the way you live but read the truth and face it. And you will be sad just as the young lad was sad because he was rich. But for god nothing is impossible so even if you don’t change who knows maybe you will be saved no matter how hard your heart is

    Reply
  17. ProsperityConvert
    Aug 6 2009

    Hi All
    This a very interesting thread. Firstly I would like to say one thing about the “Prosperity Gospel” that is by own very own lust are we enticed James 1:14. I think the reason why allot of people are deceived by the prosperity gospel is that they are taught with very questionable hermeneutics (interpretation of biblical text). Theology as we know is derived from the Greek word Theos and logos. Theos means God and logos is the written word. Prosperity Gospel teachers ignore the concise teachings on the subject matter by both Jesus and the Apostles in favour of twisted unsound interpretation of old testament biblical narratives and isolated scriptures. We must as believers understand fully what covenant is as well as the difference between new and old testaments. A good starting point would be to read Hebrew 9 , Roman 3, 7,8 Galatians 3, 2corihtians 3, Colossians 2. I suggest read these entire books to gain clarity on the issue of the old and new testaments. Then one can read 1 & 2 timothy, Titus , Ezekiel 34, 2 peter and then I think Philippians 3. Those chapters will bring light about the new and Old Testament and the issue of greedy prosperity preachers. Prosperity teachers add on the gospel of Christ with twisted interpretation. Abraham was rich so all believers must also be rich. If that was the case why did Jesus say that the poor you will always have with you? Old Testament were just a shadow of the things to come. God blessed the NATION of ISRAEL materially in the Old Testament. In the New Testament the promise is not material it is spiritual. It is the Holy Ghost that is promised to believers.
    Gal 3:14 “ That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
    The promise we have as Christians is the Holy Spirit which is the seal of our eternal life. One reason people are deceived so easily is we don’t spend time “Studying” the word. 2Ti 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
    As a modern day believer you don’t need a degree in theology from oxford but you need to have an understanding of Gods words otherwise you will be subject to manipulation and misinterpretation. Take for instance the word blessing it has several interpretations such as bestowment, praise and fortunate the only interpretation that leans towards “empowerment to succeed” would be bestowment which would be the word baw-rak. In the beatitudes Jesus uses the word makarious which does not directly imply anything to do with earthly riches. The prosperity gospel is borderline heresy. Jesus didn’t die so we can be rich. Any connotation of eartly wealth is not by the accumulation of wealth as Jesus taught against it. What the scripture promises us in the New Testament is the Holy Ghost and that he would meet our needs (Food, drink, clothing) if we seek the kingdom first. It is dangerous to ignore all of Jesus teaching in favour of Old Testament narratives in order to put bondage on believers after Christ has liberated them. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law. If you choose to be bond by something you are liberated from that’s a personal choice but I implore all who believe in the prosperity gospel to take time and study the New Testament with the guidance of the Holy Ghost. We also have to move away from a spirit of false humility that says “touch not my anointed”. I don’t believe in causing division in churches but like the word says
    Tit 1:1-11 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision:
    Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.

    Being of african decent i was heavily indoctrinated in the gospel of prosperity i had all the ready made defences for defending this herectic doctrine. But as i read the word for myself it just didnt stack up. The Holy Ghost opened my eyes and i saw the truth for myself. I wanted to be rich to blessed others but my greatest desire is to be right with god and to be revealed with chirst in his coming glory. The prosperity teachers can keep thier jets i have sometthing on the inside that you could buy if you owned the whole world.

    Psookay is temporal Dzooay is eternal pick one

    If there is any one here who can assist me with my studies i am quite eager for any assistance i can get. God Bless. Email me at wong_fei_hung3025@hotmail.com

    Reply
  18. jerry waqa
    May 4 2010

    Thanks man, I love this blog. It brings back the reality that we need to work rather deceiting people for handouts. Every monetary blessing is someone’s sweat, isn’t it. So why don’t we all sweat, it might help in keeping the universe in working order to sustain husustain all.

    Reply
  19. James Hudson
    Jul 30 2010

    Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matt 6:19

    Matt 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

    15Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

    21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

    For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Matt 16:26

    And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 1 Tim 6:8

    Reply
  20. Joe rigt
    Jan 1 2011

    I find it interesting that people take the extremes of an issue to set up these straw man arguments. Their own intellectual prowess is really what they have faith in. They attach a derogatory label to something in order to bash it but really they offer no true insight and display an ignorance in a my opinion. Atleast I qualify what I say as opinion, but they claim supreme knowledge.

    Reply
  21. Elwyn
    Jan 2 2011

    So Joe, would you say that the Bible is fluid and flexible? That the truth depends on when and where you live? Does parts (if not all) of the Bible lose truthfullness or applicability depending on time and place? If so, how do deal with that?

    Is reading the Bible in proper context, understanding how it’s original target audience was to have and applying it to understand now count as over-intellectualism?

    Reply
  22. sidefall
    May 4 2011

    I’ve just picked this up as it was linked on another blog. I think Mark was spot on with what he said back in 2007.

    Let me comment on Hillsong. They do definitely preached a gospel of success and prosperity – the whole culture in their church is that faith is about being attractive and wealthy.

    As far as their London church is concerned, the accounts available from the Charity Commission reveal that their pastor, Gary Clarke, is paid £120,000 a year! That’s more than the Archbishop of Canterbury!!! I can’t see any justification for this. I couldn’t belong to a church and donate money that will be used to give the pastor a lifestyle that few have.

    Dave also mentioned things said from the platform that are wrong. With respect, this should not be tolerated in a church. A visiting speaker should not be invited if they are going to say things that the church disagrees with. If something wrong is said in public, it should be corrected in public. And the younger preachers he described should not be allowed to preach until they have sufficient maturity to know what is right and what is wrong.

    Ultimately, having studied Hillsong over many years, I’ve concluded that it has more in common with a business than a church.

    There’s a very perceptive report on them found at: http://www.matthiasmedia.com.au/briefing/library/3883/ – well worth checking out.

    Reply
    • May 5 2011

      Thanks for your comment and link, sidefall

      Reply
  23. P James
    Jun 13 2011

    My impression is that they are overstating a truth to a point where it becomes utterly distorted. I myself pray for prosperity sometimes. As a father, I feel I am not doing enough for my family sometimes and I do believe that prayer can help alleviate that problem. However, I recently read the book, “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne and it struck me that the philosophy is almost the same including victim-blaming. The Secret, shockingly goes as far as to say that the Tsunami victims brought the disaster on themselves! I live in India and I am quite aware of the notion of ‘karma’. Any bad fortune, be it with health, finances or professional is usually put down to some wrong behavior in a previous life. The prosperity doctrine seems to me more in line with the Eastern notion of karma that with Jesus’ teachings in the Gospels. Having said that, we should not go to the opposite extreme and no longer have any expectancy from God. He did promise to supply all our needs etc.

    Reply
  24. Gashirayi Mwarianesu
    Jan 15 2012

    I wish you would write blogs about the goodness of Jesus and step away from criticising the Lord’s anointed. Why do u not have your services in the bush and have people sitting on the floor. Why do u want to destroy ministries that are touching millions, let me tell you why the devil cannot act without people. Shame on you if you do not realise that both the poor and rich need God. God did not bring us here to live according to your short sighted ways but His which are higher than yours.

    Why do you not get offended when people in the world get rich from writing books and singing songs. Get over yourself and let God do His work on earth to change and transform lives and every single person matters rich or poor. Dig deeper into the word of God and understand His need for us to prosper. How can you have a testimony if God’s hand does not move visibly in your life. How can we attract people without showing God as our provider. Hypocrites thats what I say, let the church rise up and become wealthy so she can afford to take the word of God to the ends of the earth. It is not people like you who will take it because u want to present our big God, who owns the universe from your Ido not own anything perspective. If u care soooooo much about the poor work hard and start feeding and shine on all the other churches and they can follow your noble ways.

    You cannot touch God’s anointed and get away with it, pray for them if you are convicted to pray. Where is the love in blogs that destroy the church, she is the bride of Christ bless her for He Christ found her without blemish or spot because He paid the price for her. I wish you could speak about how God loved you and bought u with the blood of Jesus, u also have been bought out of sin. I wish you had said Jesus somewhere for me to trust your blog but all I see is you saying me, me and bitterness towards the church.

    The church of Jesus Christ is His responsibility and let me tell you the church is going to get richer and richer until the devil has nothing to offer the world, who sent you and your website, when did God appear to you and ask you to do this. If anyone feel Hillsong or any of these churches is not their piece of pie look for another one where they do not have Jeremiah 29:11 in their bible. All of God`s promises are yes and amen, so I do not care how you feel my Dad The King is a man of His word and He will stand by it to perform.

    I wish you would tackle real issues like slavery, human trafficking, child soldiers gay rights and going ye therefore to all nations. You choose your victims cowardly because u know they will not fight back. Put on the full armour of God and go to real war and fight against principalities, have you confronted any of these people face to face or all you do is slander. I recommend that you buy a bible and read things like, give and it shall be given unto you good measure pressed down shaken together and running over, He God the King opens the windows of heaven and pours out a blessing we cannot contain. What kind of a God do u think we serve, we serve the one true God who was and is, that means all things belong to Him, He planned all these good things for us His children.

    Have you met any Jew lately they are still blessed and wealthy because they are the seed of Abraham what more the church the bride of Christ, God’s chosen generation, a royal priesthood. Read your bible sometime it will bless you. Jesus is Lord and He is coming soon and I say come Lord Jesus come. The gospel, the message and the word of God will spread like a wild fire to the ends of the earth. As a man speaketh so is He. Speak life and life in abundance renew your mind. Do not be bitter God loves u too and remember the mandate to end poverty is not on the Pastors only its on u too.

    Most of all Jesus the Lord of the Harvest is passionately in love with you best believe it.

    In love and in Him

    Warrior Princess we are going home soon and very soon.

    Reply
    • Guest
      Apr 15 2012

      I’m sick of people throwing around the word Anointed as if it applies to false teaching. Anointed means set apart for the Lord’s use. The Lord is not using false teaching so if they are teaching falsely it is not anointed but sinful. Read your bible for yourself starting in Genesis to Revelation and don’t just believe other people’s interpretation of what it says. Don’t mix up truth with being hostile or judging. Prophets in the Old & New Testament spoke against false teachers. I won’t even remind you of what John the Baptist called them.

      By the way no one is beyond correction or being infallible but God/Jesus. Stop worshiping men it is sin.
      Even Paul rebuked Peter when he was in the wrong and these were real men of God without a doubt
      Galatians 2:11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly wrong.

      Reply
    • LUKE
      Apr 15 2012

      Revelations 3:17 “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked”.

      I’d rather sit on the ground with the power of the Holy Spirit working in me than on a padded pew with my nose up in the air cause I have material things that I can’t take with me to heaven!
      America is going to get worse and worse in sin with all the money in the world they won’t be able to take it with them when they leave here. I bet you would have thought that rich man who Jesus said went to Hell was better than poor Lazarus who Jesus said went to the bosom of Abraham. You better beware of judging by this world’s standard and outward appearances of wealth does not mean they have God’s favor or every billionaire on the Forbes list of billionaires would be saved when it’s just the opposite. I pity how brainwashed you are

      Reply
  25. sidefall
    Jan 15 2012

    Gashirayi Mwarianesu, I don’t have time to fully respond to your long comment, but if you knew your Bible properly you would be aware of the following about the phrase “touch not the Lord’s anointed”.

    (1) It meant do not harm physically. David still issued a public rebuke to Saul (see 1 Sam 24 and 26).

    (2) It refers to the King of Israel. At the risk of stating the obvious, prosperity preachers are not the King of Israel.

    (3) Even if it could be applied to other people, who says that any given prosperity preacher is “the Lord’s anointed”? The simple answer is no-one but themselves. They have no more right to proclaim themselves as “the Lord’s anointed” than I do to proclaim myself as the King of England. They are not the Lord’s anointed, they are crooks and conmen.

    In addition, the Bible specifically commands us, in many places, to guard against false teachers, watch out for wolves amongst the sheep, and to test all things against the scriptures. The prosperity gospel has been tested and it is wrong. I pray the Lord will open your blind eyes to realise this.

    Reply
  26. Guest
    Apr 15 2012

    1st Peter 1:18 “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers but with the precious blood of Jesus without spot or defect.

    Revelations 3:17 “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked”.

    Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God”

    Acts 8:20 “Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!”

    The Prosperity message being taught by Word of Fakers oops Word of Faith, name it and claim it teachers like Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Mike Murdock, Todd Koo Koo Coontz and their clonies is basically the principle of sowing money to their Empires to get God to favor you with blessings. In reality it’s selling the favor and free Grace of God to the highest cash bidder.

    The Holy Spirit, Jesus and his blood was shed for free and Jesus even emphasized it by saying Paid in Full, It is Finished on the cross. He did not say Pay in full, but
    Paid in full.

    I was curious enough to call an Orthodox Jewish Traditional Synagogue and spoke to a Rabbi well versed in the Old Covenant law of Judaism. To my surprise I discovered Orthodox Jews no longer Tithe but instead give Free Will Offerings. Seems No one but the Tribe of Levi from the descendants of Aaron were authorized by God to collect the tithes and only the Jewish Tribes who owned land paid tithes. Since there is no longer a Temple in Jerusalem,or Levi’s, or animal sacrifices it would be sinning to tithe this way since God gave specific instructions on how he wanted the tithes given and from Land owners whom he allotted land to those in the Nation of Israel, under the Old Covenant.

    Gentile Christians cannot be cursed with the curse in Malachi 3:8-10 since Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law. Gal.3:13-14 We have been flat out lied to on Sunday at collection time. Now some prosperity messages have slipped into heresy that tithing will earn you salvation.

    The Old Covenant is long gone.Truth is in the latter days Jesus said it would be perilous times and called it the beginning of sorrows. It may even cost you money and jobs if there is no compromise. Ex: Bishop TD Jakes and Joel Osteen were given plenty of airtime on Oprah’s Own network, now that her ratings are floundering they ran to her rescue. However the absence of the word Jesus was very telling. Jakes taught on Purpose for a lengthy while. I don’t want to judge maybe it was edited. I’m just giving the facts. In the last days Jesus called it birthpangs and even rebuked the churches in Revelation. Notice you rarely hear Prosperity teachers preparing teaching the Book of Revelation. Guess that kind of message won’t pack out stadiums or megachurches with people needing their ears ticked on how to get rich and good times.

    Reply
  27. JL
    Sep 11 2012

    Brian Houston, who’s on top of the ponzi scheme, is anathematized to even know any better. He’s a true wolf, and he can continue to do what he’s doing, and only thing that’ll ever come out of his ‘ministry’ is nothing but tares. Stay away from Hillsong United/Hillsong Live stuff. They are a business. I’ve noticed Brian Houston, and the whole Houston family to be very proud and arrogant. Nothing like what a real Christian is supposed to be. And yes, I speak from experience, since I’ve encountered them first hand. Avoid such people, and do not buy anything that comes from there.

    Reply
  28. MJ
    Sep 24 2012

    Hillsong is another one of those typical televangelists who are a bunch of frauds. Simply another version of Benny Hinn in AU, adding music as another facet to their ministry.

    Reply
  29. sky simone
    Jul 11 2013

    Hello. This has been pressing on my mind for a very long time. I just really want to pray for God to bless all of you for speaking openly. First and foremost I would like to point out that I see the “prosperity gospel” as coming from a place of pride! The underlying message of the prosperity gospel is “look how good my life is, and if you are as good and obedient to God, your life can be as good as mine’ and that is just completely false doctrine, and based heavily on pride.

    Hillsong has some very popular music, and some very good music. I have not really heard any music that promoted prosperity. I would like for you to share the names of the songs, or a link to the lyrics in relation to the songs that you are talking about, as Hillsong songs are primarily sung in mainstream churches in Australia and America.

    I will say this. I attended a service at Hillsong Sydney in 2010. My mother had just died in October 2009, and the sermon was all about how if you havn’t recieved healing, then you havn’t been praying hard enough. Pray harder, the healing will come! I spent most of the sermon crying, and after the service I went to the pastor who preached it, and I said ‘my mother did not recieve healing. She died suddenly and we don’t know how. She had a lot of suffering, and recieved no healing despite spending most hours of every day reading the bible, praying to God, we had pastors from multiple churches praying for her, praying with her, annointing her in oil, and nothing worked. Are you going to tell me to my face that my mother and I did not have enough faith?
    That somehow we are undeserving? He said to me ‘no, not at all, my mother died of cancer and she never got any healing or remission from it at all’.
    Well my jaw dropped and I felt flabbergastered. In one sentence he threw away his entire sermon that he had preached to the thousands of people sitting in the mega church that night. I was devestated. I feel like the ‘if you are not healed, you are not praying hard enough’ preaching comes from a route of pride.
    The underlying message I see in it is ‘if you are as holy as me, and have as much faith as me, then you would not have any illness, because I do not have any illness’
    Job 1.21 tells us ‘The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Praise be to God”
    That sentence summarizes what God has already told us, that life happens. Free will happens. Sickness happens. The earth is polluted. I do believe generational curses and demonisation can cause SOME illnesses, but this is a matter of biblically investigating such matters and ruling that out. I see that as being a matter of ‘breaking free’ where you have the power to, but blaming somebody for being ill (rather than trying to help them out of the situation) comes from pride-fullness

    Why are christians desiring the prosperity gospel so badly?
    Well the man who wanted to follow Jesus but didn’t want to give up his possessions is a good demonstration of this. A prosperity preacher may have been able to convince the man that Jesus was wrong, and that he should hoard more possessions and that it was Gods will.. But we must keep coming back to Jesus.

    Luke 3.11
    11 “If you have two coats, give one away,” he said. “Do the same with your food.”

    I used to attend Riverview church run by Pastor Phillip Baker in Perth Australia
    Phil was very down to earth, and a very good man. I remember how Phil would share his ‘human temptation’ and tell us stories about ‘I walked past somebody who was begging, and I was thinking about the chocolate that I was going to buy, and I started to wrestle, help them.. eat chocolate.. help them.. eat chocolate.. help them’
    He would share the human way his mind worked, and of course he would share that it is always Gods will for us to hand over the money, rather than going to buy chocolate that is quite clearly NOT a need..
    but lately, especially in America, so many preachers are preaching about God as if he is Father Christmas and these are teachings that are not in the bible.

    Luke 14.33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

    Acts 2 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.

    Why churches are preaching against the teachings of Christ only has one reason.. to get people in the door. The Bible tells us that church leaders and ministers will be judged by a harsher measure, so the judgement of them preaching false doctrine is on God to do, but they key is to preach against it because they are leading people astray.

    Reply
    • Jul 12 2013

      Hi Sky
      thank you so much for your comment and for being so open. It is heart-rending to read but I’m sure you are on to something here.
      I wish you ever blessing in the future.
      Mark

      Reply
    • cgunnyon
      Jan 13 2014

      Amen

      Reply
  30. Bighoss
    Jan 9 2014

    The hideously heretical and blasphemous purveyors of the prosperity gospelizing ilk who dominate satellite and cable television will not find prosperity in that lake of fire to which they are headed unless they change their scamming, money-grubbing ways!

    Reply
    • Jennifer Benkhauser
      Dec 19 2014

      To me the prosperity gospel caused me to loose my faith and the blessings certainly did not come about at the pastors said it would. I used to attend AOG in Richmond and unfortunately the pastors were all getting blessed while most of the congregation especially the poor section went without. The church had the best of everything, up to date sound equipment; stage lighting, top notch musical instruments.. the list goes on. The pastors drove around in expensive cars, dressed in designer suits, their wives in designer clothes as their children did also. It used to sicken me!! Whilst they constantly preached Malachi 8:10 at you saying that you wont be blessed if your sacrificial offering is second rate! Firstly I was always lead to believe that as Christians you were not under the old law any more that Jesus did away with that law! Furthermore I even asked why we don’t practice Church the way they did in the upper room in Acts and they said well that was just in the first century it doesn’t apply any more. Wrong!! If the Bible is supposed to be the unadulterated Word Of God then it applies. It just did not fit in with the AOG dogma that Is why it did not apply!! Furthermore Jesus was right when he said there are only 2 commandments: Love Me & Love thy neighbour as thyself! It covers the 10 Commandments totally. Which I’m not bound too for I am under Grace & not under Law- I’m not Jewish! To cut a long story short I left b/c what they were speaking about did not resonate true for me not the Prosperity Gospel as told by the AOG or by the New Age Movement per se. I found nothing but lies, deceit, and outright guilt trips f I didn’t put all of my 100 in weekly .. tithing, plus offerings.. I was in their church for over 15 years giving close to roughly $20.000 & for someone who had to rely on welfare that is a sickening lot of money to give by money hungry preachers. I walked sickened & totally disillusioned by the whole industry for that is what religion has become nothing but a sickening dirty money laundering business – steel from the have nots to give to the filthy rich pastors and their greedy wives!!! What did Jesus die for ? Was it to make you bastards rich who preach His name? Since when did God become a slot machine? In the end I found Christians to be a bigoted self-righteous individually condemning people tied to the notion that if your not being blessed financially or in any other areas of your life then you are indeed out of favour with God!!! Meanwhile the pastors kept getting rich and the poor kept getting poor!!! And you were looked down upon judged, and despised, probably because you are a poor specimen when it comes to the reason as to why the Prosperity is working … a bad witness for the church…

      I left and I have no regrets whatsoever…the only regret was leaving good people behind who were suckered in by it. They gave but their marriages broke down some got sick and died prematurely, they lost their homes etc. Yet they faithfully gave to the church before they gave to anything else. Why wasn’t it working for them??? As the pastors PROMISED UNEQUIVICLLY that it would!! Because they were going against the Bible against what Jesus really taught….sorry but I don’t buy that teaching anymore! it is the teaching of rogue pastors…. of thieves of true heretical teaching that Jesus warned us about!! It ruined me!!! I will never ever step inside nor give to organized religion again !!!
      !!

      Reply
  31. watchman
    May 14 2015

    It’s great to see a truthful accurate article exposing the insidious and false ‘prosperity gospel’. Sadly most people who are caught up in Hillsong C3 or any of the Word of Faith churches are totally ignorant to the prosperity doctrine because they have never heard of it. Do yourself a favour and look it up on Wikipedia. Essentially, the prosperity doctrine reduces God to a spiritual poker-machine who can be manipulated. It strips Jesus of His sacrifice on the cross by undermining the work of Calvary. Jesus said ‘it is finished. That means, no more need for blood sacrifices, circumcision of tithing to the priests. The prosperity gospel says the opposite that Jesus got it wrong, that it is not finished at all. Instead we must still offer up our tithes to the priest (AKA pastor) because the work of the cross was inadequate. Most Christians who have been brain washed by churches like C3 and Hillsong don’t realise that when the Israelites tithed it was NEVER money, always food and the tithe was only once per year based on INCREASE. Salary earners women and children never tithed, only farmers of produce and animals tithed. Gentiles never tithed. Churches like Hillsong are a family business. The Houstons are in it for the money and only strictly align themselves with other well-known peddlers of the prosperity gospel like Bethel in California etc. I used to attend Hillsong in Sydney. I’ve even completed my qualifications through the Hillsong bible college. I was one of those people once brain washed. It took me years to break free and through the grace of God and many wonderful loving Christians who patiently and gently showed me the way out. I slowly came to learn the truth. I had to study the truth for myself. People like Dave and many others on this blog are brain washed. I say that respectfully as one who has come out of Hillsong. The organisation is very sect-like and in some ways cult-like. I know many ex-Hillsongers (including ex-pastors) who have been spiritual casualties of the money making machine that churns through people and pastors. Spiritual abuse is rife within its ranks. That said, many well intentioned people who love Jesus have been deceived. The purpose of this blog is to expose the lies of Satan and where the devil has infiltrated the church. The concept of not speaking about the Lord’s anointed is restricted to the old covenant. The new covenant teaches that all followers of Christ are anointed and that it is the same Holy Spirit in each of us. We are instructed to discern and to confront apostasy and heresy in the body of Christ. The Apostles did this constantly and warned of coming false teachers as did Jesus. Lastly Jesus made it clear you CANNOT serve both God and money. Maybe Jesus got it wrong and all these spiritual superstars are really serving God with their millionaire mansions, private jets and million dollar salaries. If you look carefully, all these superstars like Osteen, Meyer Hinn are preaching open heresy. Research it. Houston recently taught that Allah is the same God as Yahweh. Essentially that Satan and God are one. Hence the term given to Hillsong – Hillslam. Its time to wake up people – for further references look up http://hillsongchurchwatch.com/about/

    Reply
    • Jennifer Benkhauser
      Jan 13 2016

      I am so glad that I am out of it! But I was stupid b/c then I went further into it, but in a modified fashion thru the Unity/Christian Science philosophy after leaving the Assemblies of God in the mid to late 90’s. I started delving into Conversations with God, Doreen Virtue; Louise Hay, & Osho, & Tolle (A New Earth) What left me feeling really despondent about this lot -from a New Age perspective, was that no matter what I did spiritually and faithfully following Virtue’s Hay’s etc instructions it never ever worked but the blame game like in the AoG was very strong and again I felt totally let down. Its only now that I am trying to come out of it by giving my heart back to God, and reading the Bible, and listening to authentic Christian sermons such as Grace Community Church on You-tube from the USA. John MacArthur has got it truly together & there is a difference I’ve recently discovered between preaching and virtual motivational speaking- ie telling people how to live when those people are so hypocritical it makes my blood boil. I listened, sad to say, to Osteen the other day and after he’d finished speaking (no preaching) just telling others how to live, h’s wife comes on and the finish of her speech she is saying the usual garbage re giving of tithes and offerings- if you love God and have complete faith in him you would want to worship Him in this manner… It took me back to the AoG from years previous. That is why these days , though I don’t mind listening to MacArthur occasionally, I’m extremely hesitant if i’ll ever go back to Church. Finding the right one is so important BUT in Australia they are few & far between most are caught up in the Prosperity Gospel in the Evangelical Circles, or the Mega-churches. There is one Grace Community Church but that is miles away from my home. So I just do the best I can with what I have at my disposal. But it has left me practically destitute. They make it sound so easy that calling on the name of Jesus is no different to casting a spell or waving a wand. And in the AoG they were big on whatsoever we bind on earth is bound in Heaven.. Hermeneutics (As above, so below) and it doesn’t work at all. And one thing I have found out it the work on the Cross was final – It is finished! then why the binding all the time?! And yes the AoG were big on tongues, being slain in the spirit and laughter etc . Totally demonic… totally off!! Some of the footage that I have seen of the American Pentecostals has been downright demonic bordering on scary (& I don’t scare easily)! The snakes are a “good” one…lol!! Though I have never heard of that happening in Australia.

      Like I say I am out of it now but i’m still trying to come out of the New Age movement with the likes of Doreen Virtue etc…. Please pray for Me .. God Bless and thankyou for your blog!

      Reply

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