Ur Video: The Prosperity Gospel

Christianity Today International, Out of Ur's publisher, and The Lausanne Movement, a worldwide movement of evangelical Christian leaders, present The Global Conversation: a year-long series of essays, short films, and photo essays about issues facing the church worldwide. These videos highlight topics to be addressed at the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization being held in Cape Town, South Africa, in October 2010.

In November the Global Conversation focuses on the prosperity gospel—the teaching that true Christian faith results in material wealth and physical well-being. While it has its roots in America, it has found fertile soil on other continents as well. To accompany the lead article in Christianity Today by Ghanaian scholar Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, director Nathan Clarke went to Ghana to explore the forms the prosperity gospel takes in that West African nation.

The Prosperity Gospel from The Global Conversation on Vimeo.

Displaying 1–10 of 18 comments

Barbara

October 12, 2010  3:21pm

I feel sorry for those who have perverted the gospel, because the consequences are very severe. In Galatians chapter 1 it says "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! " The entire Bible tells us that we are sinners to a God that created all things and expects holiness from us. However, Adam sinned and so have all of us. But God loved us, and sent us Himself, God in the flesh, to die as a perfect sacrifice for our sin to that we made be made righteous through faith, and spend eternity with God in heaven. Very, very little of the Bible is spent on disease, except to show that Jesus was indeed God, and could do miracles, such as turning water into wine at the wedding. Nothing in the Bible promises us riches, in fact, it has many verses against the rich who misuse their money. There is nothing in it that tells us to expect earthly wealth, which will only perish when the earth is destroyed and a new one is made some day when Jesus comes to rule. Things perish, and so will our bodies, until we receive new ones when He returns. God only mentions a very few of the followers who became believers in the NT, many thousands became believers, and many of them became martyrs of their faith, they most certainly all didn't become rich. In the NT, Paul often remarks about the suffering he is having to endure, and giving encouragement to others who are also suffering. He tells believers to visit other believers who were imprisoned. I believe that Paul was imprisoned 3 times, hardly a life of luxury. Try telling the millions of Christians throughout the world in China and the rest of Asia, most of Africa, and the middle-eastern countries who endure great suffering and loss of life in our time, that have their Christian faith all wrong. I'm sorry that you seem to think salvation of the soul is not enough for you. It certainly is for me. The whole Bible is about our sin and a need for a Savior, and how we can be saved by believing and trusting in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. This is what Paul boasts about, NOT riches! Verses such as 2Thess 1:3-5 talk about persecutions, trials, endurance, and suffering. There are far greater verses talking about this, than about any riches. 3We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. 4Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. 5May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance. Just because you can name a few who were rich, the vast number of followers were simple people, much like his disciples, who fished for a living. They never got rich. They all ended up as martyrs, dying for their faith, except for John. It is said that John was boiled in oil, but they were unable to kill him,, so he was exiled to the island of Patmos. I'm sure he had it real cozy there. Being exiled by the Romans was hardly a fancy motel. I've talked to believers like you have never been able to answer is this: Why do believers and non-believers have the same rate of cancer, the same rate of heart disease, and the same average age of death?? There are absolutely no differences between the two in any type of physical health. And you too, will die when it's your time, or perhaps be raptured, if you are a true believer. Paul himself asked 3 times for the thorn he was suffering from to be remov

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Bayo

October 12, 2010  11:05am

I don't know how most of the responder to this article read their bibles, or rather how they understand it. But i know one thing for sure - the gospel is called good news. What is good news to a sick person? Healing What is good news to the bound? Deliverance What is good news to the poor? Provisions If any of you want to take prosperity away from the message of the kingdom, i wonder how you read your bible! Check Rev 5:12. Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. Jesus Christ die to give us all the above mentioned packages. Riches is inclusive. Go through the bible and check all the patriach of old, how many of them were poor? The gospel of Jesus is not a gospel to make us victims on earth - take it or leave it! Rather, the gospel of Jesus is meant to establish our dominion here on earth - Dominion on every side. How poor was Christ when he was here on earth? He lacked nothing. How can the children of the one who own the earth and fullness thereof the crouching under poverty and lack? The more you can see from the Book, the more the delivery you can enjoy. Some don't see prosperity, they only see salvation from sin, and that's all what they would enjoy. But the package of salvation is all inclusive if only you can see it - Your health, protection, wealth etc. etc.

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Paul N

December 15, 2009  10:45am

I am late but will still respond. The gospel is nothing more than Christ crucified for our sins and raised on the third day giving eternal life. If you add anything to the gospel, it is sin - let them be accursed Jesus said. If I am poor the prosperity gospel will be attractive to me, however we can see in America that it doesnt stop at meetings ones needs. We think if sinners are living in mansions and driving Bentleys, then so should we as Children of God while we neglect the fact that Jesus said that a mans life does not consist in the abundance of things. In other words this leads to carnality and greed more times than not. Before I go further, there is no place in scripture that promises the child of God will be rotten rich in this life but Christ does say If we seek His kingdom and His righteousness that our NEEDS would be met. What I hate most about the prosperity gospel is that it takes away the obvious need for community, helping eachother. We can read in the early Church that the poor were being helped daily (Acts 6:1). The Apostle Paul also said that needs should be met (Romans 12:13). So we neglect the helping out of eachother while praying that we will get a financial breakthrough, rubbish! Its james who said whats the point of praying for a Naked and Hungry brother and dont give him anything to eat or wear? I also dont see according to scripture where the Pastor should get rich out of tithes and offerings. where is that scripture. How can it be right for one man to have a mansion while some live in depravity. We have taken the OT and tried to apply it to the church but it is not so and I also dont read that the preists lived lavished lives anyway. Yes God can bless a man finacialy but what is wrong is that we look at those who God has blessed and think it should happen for all without even looking into the fact that Christ like thing is for the more fortunte to help the less.

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still

November 13, 2009  12:28pm

A book "Conspiracy of Kindness" by Steve Sjogren formulated this prolific equation on evangelism: Servant Evangelism = Deeds of Love (DL) + Words of Love (WL) + Adequate Time (AT) In a capsule, DL creates "permissible access/entry" for transmitting the WL thereby allowing us to sneak the Gospel into the fortress of the non-believers' hearts in God's own (AT). Kindness became Jesus' DL in dealing with the Samaritan woman. He talked with her - despite his Jewish tribe's hatred for hers, despite the cultural disapproval of talking with any woman in public - a kind act that overcame the racial and social prejudices at that time. (John 4) Thirst became the thematic mainspring of Jesus' WL. When she came to draw water from the well to quench her thirst, he offered her instead the living water - the Gift of God. Lo and Behold! The Samaritan woman's conversion was instantaneous affirming Jesus' operating words: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws [her]..." (John 6:44}. Jesus could have done it differently. He could have done well to tarry in DL by taking pleasure in welcoming the woman with bread and serving her water in abundance while sweeping off her feet with his inimitable presentation on the cutting edge technology of well-digging - in a nutshell, the Prosperity drive. He didn't. I propound three grounds: One, Jesus would have laid aside the role of living water had he tarried in the abundance of plain water. In today's context, Oswald Chambers' words sound the alarm: "Beware of anything that competes with your loyalty to [God]...Are we more devoted to service {DL} than we are to [God] Himself?" Two, Jesus would have left out in the cold the wretchedness of the woman by missing this revelatory call: "Go, call your husband..." C.S. Lewis' insight is piercing: "...pain shatters the illusion that all is well...how hard it is to turn our thoughts to God when everything is going well with us." Three, the woman would have failed to know and meet God in the person of Jesus Christ who claimed ultimately, "I am he." Pope Benedict XVI wrote, "It is no accident that the people who in their history have been the most condemned to suffering, who did not have to wait for 1940-1945 to be in "Auschwitz," also became the people of revelation, the people that have known God and made him visible to the world." I prescribe the "Gospel of Kindness" at the entry-level of Evangelism, rather than the "Gospel of Prosperity."

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Marshall Shelley

November 11, 2009  12:29pm

Nathan Clarke's video here of the relationship of the prosperity gospel to the three different gatherings in Ghana is well done and utterly haunting. It forces the question. Is this kind of prosperity gospel ... 1. A false gospel to be opposed? 2. A neglected gospel to be encouraged? 3. An entry-level gospel to be built upon? My initial sense leans toward #3. While promises of a better life in the here-and-now are a draw to the gospel and offer hope (like Jesus' promise of living water to the woman at the well), there is much more to be learned as you advance in the Christian life (like taking up your cross daily and being willing to suffer and die).

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Lance

November 09, 2009  8:35pm

Abijah, With all due respect, "what if you're wrong?" and "what scriptures speak against this?"...Jesus had plenty to say about the love of money and temporal things. John's epistle, over and over, warns against love of the things of this world. The prosperity gospel is earthly focused, material based, and self-centered. In fact, it is obsessed with these things. It is clearly a message of me-ism and in America it is spiritual consumerism. The messages by these false prophets do not focus on cultivating lives that become blessings to others. They focus on getting and getting more, all for the sake of accumulating wood, hay, and stubble.

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still

November 07, 2009  12:06am

"I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference." - Robert Frost, "The Road Not Taken" Where's that road less traveled by? Jesus shows us the way: "...small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it (Matthew 7:14)...anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple... any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:27,33) The other road? It is leading to a gate with this Epicurean inscription: "Stranger, here you will do well to tarry; here our highest good is pleasure. The caretaker of that abode, a kindly host, will be ready for you; he will welcome you with bread, and serve you water also in abundance, with these words: 'Have you not been well entertained? This garden does not whet your appetite; but quenches it.'" A warning sign to all Christian travelers: No U-Turn. Peter learned his lesson when he enticed Jesus to take that other road. Jesus rebuked him: "Out of my sight, Satan!"(Mark 8:33) In the light of this video, it will make our blood run cold to reflect who really "The Great Satan" is in our planet today.

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Gary Ware

November 06, 2009  6:45am

Nate ~ I actually hadn't thought this was about greedy pastors seeking lots of cars. If I want that I could watch 'Leap of Faith' again. (aluminum siding, anyone) We can accept these folk are sincere while maintaining they are sincerely wrong. God 'told' a speaker that the congregation needed to bring US currency. Really. Your observation that this was not just a simple scheme to raise money, but connected emotionally and spiritually with the people stood out. I don't understand why the two are mutually exclusive. If I wanted to part people from their money I'd be trying to engage them emotionally and spiritually. That was actually what you saw happening. Your worldview comments basically described what is a Christianised veneer over animistic practice. Kwabena characterises this as a gospel that seems focussed on the individual's effort and work to experience prosperity and blessing. Jesus is not mentioned, so in this framework it seems what His complete saving work does is get the Christian into a position where they can now work to earn God's blessings. Contrast this with a Gospel in which all heavenly blessings have been won by Christ and we share in them. Forgiveness of sin is not mentioned, only believing for financial victory. The most pernicious thing is that for those to whom prosperity does not come the only explanation proferred is that their faith is lacking. Christ's work is not enough. Instead of the freedom of the Gospel their is only a crushing burden of failure for something the Scriptures do not promise. I know this is not a direct answer but it's all I've got for now.

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Nate Clarke

November 04, 2009  11:05pm

Gary, I'd like to hear you unpack some of your ideas a bit. As the filmmaker of this piece, I was tasked with investigating the prosperity gospel as it is being expressed in Ghana. I'm not entirely convinced by the statement that this piece is a rejection of the prosperity gospel (it certainly isn't an acceptance of it either.) Rather we are showing three expressions of the prosperity gospel in three very different settings. Yes I have my own opinions about it after experiencing it which are actually rather different than what I thought I would think before taking off for Ghana. But I do think this piece at least opens the door for a very different picture of the prosperity gospel than just pigeon holing it as greedy pastors who want expensive cars. If I wanted to do that, I would not have included the second church. In regards to the contentions made in the piece without Biblical data, what contentions would be better supported with such data? Thanks again for the comments / feedback

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Gary Ware

November 04, 2009  10:45pm

A thoughtful piece. It is interesting to see that there is a 'gospel' that Leadership/CT would basically reject. There seems to be an irony inherent in the posting of this the day after lodging a post that asserts "the strength of the Free Church tradition—the willingness to experiment with ways of reaching people—the unchurched and the poor—with the goodness of the gospel". Why should those who hold biblical expressions of the Gospel be linked to practitioners like these by blanket labels like 'free church'? There also doesn't seem to be any Biblical data to support the contentions made about the shortcomings of the prosperity Gospel in this video. In the end we're left with the author's feelings. I agree with his feelings, but not because his well made video makes me feel a certain way.

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