Our Problem With the Prosperity Gospel

I’ve been reading about MacArthur’s “Strange Fire” conference. And it’s a strange experience indeed. Mainly because I am so appreciative of his ministry to me through books and cassettes while I was in college. And yet now, I struggle to appreciate his way of speaking about his concerns of the charismatic church.

It seems one of his main concerns is the spread of the prosperity gospel among Charismatics.

I have mixed feelings about this concern. On one hand, I do not like the prosperity gospel that says God wants us to be blessed with health and wealth. The gospel of the killed One is at odds with this. I think the prosperity gospel uses Jesus as a means to created things.

So, why do I have mixed feelings?

Because, we are wealthy. I mean, compared to you, I am not wealthy. But compared to the vast majority of people in this world who we fear will hear the gospel of prosperity, I am. And the evangelical church in America and its pastors are very wealthy. We are awash in luxury. Whether you are talking about our facilities or sound systems or pastor’s salaries, we are rich beyond the poor of the world’s imagination. This is not necessarily a criticism. It’s just fact.

Think about this, many evangelical leaders will get paid to get on a plane, go speak at a conference, where they will have their lodging and meals covered, and they will most likely sell a lot of books. And they will often speak out against the prosperity gospel while there. And they will go home to a nice house and nice cars and all the gadgetry and plan a really nice vacation.

I am not so cynical as to think this is true of every leader in evangelicalism. But it is realistic. I’ve seen it. I know the temptation.

And this is our problem with the prosperity gospel – all of our protestations against the prosperity gospel will fall on deaf ears so long as we insist on sitting in the lap of luxury. It must be hard for the poor who long to no longer be poor hear us who have so much wealth say, “Do not put your trust in wealth!”

Now here is where I must stop. I do not think there is one particular answer to this problem. But we must acknowledge the tension of the problem.

Thursday’s Random Thoughts

The best thing about journaling is you can write anyway you want. All the tools and rules are yours to use at will or to ignore with abandon.

No kid dreams of selling credit cards for a living.

The BRMC show I saw on Saturday may have ruined me. Just can’t imagine seeing anything that profound again. I told my buddy Sean after the show, “All these other bands are just playing at the edges of reality. This was the real thing.”

My wife is hot. No, really, we have trouble getting our air in our home just right this time of year.

What if we’ve got it wrong. Almost all of our music in Christendom is easy listening. What if it’s supposed to have all the blunt force trauma of real life and all the bloody mess of emergency surgery? What if we’re supposed to hear drums pounding against our chest cavity and kicking into the darkness? What if we’re supposed to have our ears ring with guitars like electric saws cutting out all that vies against the kingdom? Almost all of our music is needle point when we worship the One of nails and hammers and thorns and blood.

My two favorite times of the week are communion on Sunday and making breakfast for the family on Saturday morning.

Thinking about a Kickstarter campaign to fill my meat drawer with bacon.

Theory: our desire to use the buzzwords of the day keeps us from talking about the things that matter. We use these buzzwords innocently enough in the beginning. But then, they become the litmus test for evaluating others. If they do not like those buzzwords, we judge them based on this. And then we find ourselves not able to talk about the things that matter.

This past weekend, The Cards won repeatedly, I ate a lot of bacon, had free steak tacos and saw Black Rebel Motorcycle Club in concert. That’s like winning the lottery.

We’re paying a lot of money for entertainment when the night sky is free.

Thursday’s Random Thoughts

1) One of the more profound things you learn in the midst of prolonged difficulty is what is solid and what is not, what will support and what will not.

2) Each passage of Holy Writ, like a bottomless mine, is inexhaustible in wealth.

3) I know it is common to say “baseball is boring.” But that was not the common opinion 50 to 60 years ago. We have changed more than the game.

4) When I say “We ignored the poets and then we got Miley Cyrus,” I am not making a mere moral statement. I mean that we chose spectacle over thoughtful. We are a culture that demands to be entertained at all waking moments. So of course, Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga are the inevitable result.

5) Me: The Cards won last night and they get to play in the NLCS!
Knox: Yesssss!…What’s that daddy?
Emma: Well, I learned how a bill becomes a law yesterday.

6) It is a regular occurrence that I sit across the desk from someone that is dying or has just lost a loved one. Two yesterday. Best part of my job.

7) There are some things you can say to yourself for comfort that are not always comforting words to others who are hurting. If I tell myself God is Sovereign over my suffering, I may very well be comforted. But I need to know that may not always be very comforting to someone else in the midst of their suffering.

8) It is only our need for entertainment that makes it easy for us to ignore the warnings about CTE.

9) I’m always feel like something is missing when enjoying something without my wife present.

10) Applied for a Hospice Chaplain position, feel free to pray for me. That I would get the job and and that if I don’t, I would not despair.