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.