also known as the “Word of Faith Movement,”
the believer is told to use God, whereas the truth of the
Bible is just the opposite--
God uses the believer.
Prosperity theology sees the Holy Spirit as a power
to be put to use for whatever the believer wills.
The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is a
Person who enables the believer to do God’s will
The prosperity gospel "movement" closely resembles
some of the destructive
greed "sects" that infiltrated the early church.
Paul and the other apostles were not accommodating to or conciliatory with the false teachers who propagated such
They "identified them" as dangerous false teachers and urged
Christians to avoid them.
Paul warned Timothy about such men in 1 Timothy 6:5, 9-11.
These men of “corrupt mind” supposed godliness was a means of gain and their desire for riches was a trap that brought them “into ruin and destruction”
The pursuit of wealth is a dangerous path for Christians and one which
God warns about:
“For the love of money is a "root" of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves
with many griefs”
The Parable of the Sower
(sometimes called the Parable of the Soils) is a parable of Jesus found in Matthew 13:1–23, Mark 4:1–20, Luke 8:4–15
and the extra-canonical Gospel of Thomas.
Jesus tells of a farmer who
sows seed indiscriminately.
Some seed falls on the path (wayside) with no soil,
some on rocky ground with little soil,
some on soil which contains thorns,
and some on good soil.
In the first case, the seed is taken away; in the second and third soils, the seed fails to produce a crop; but when it falls on good soil, it
grows and yields thirty-, sixty-, or a hundred-fold.
Jesus later explains to his disciples
that the seed represents the Gospel,
the sower represents anyone who proclaims it,
and the various soils represent
people's responses to it.
“Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed,
some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it.
Other seed fell on rocky ground,
where it did not have much soil,
immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil.
And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root,
it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
And he said,
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
— Mark 4:3–9 (ESV)
And when he was alone, those around him with
the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them,
To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God,
but for those outside everything is in parable,
so that‘they may indeed
see but not perceive,
and may indeed hear but not understand,
lest they should turn and be forgiven.’”
And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable?
How then will you understand all the parables?
The sower sows the word.
And these are the ones along the path, where the
word is sown:
when they hear, Satan immediately comes and
takes away the word that is sown in them.
And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who,
when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy.
And they have no root in themselves,
but endure for a while;
then, when tribulation or persecution
arises on account of the word,
immediately they fall away. And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares
of the world and the deceitfulness of riches
and the desires for other things enter in
and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
But those that were sown on the good soil
are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit,
"thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”.
— Mark 4:10–20
In Mark's Gospel and Matthew's Gospel, this parable, the explanation of the purpose of parables, and the explanation of the
parable itself form part of Jesus' third or "Parabolic" discourse,
delivered from a boat on the Sea of Galilee. In each narrative, Jesus used the "boat as a means of being able to address the huge crowd gathered" on the lake shore. Luke's Gospel does not use a boat for the delivery of the sermon, but still has Jesus presenting the parable to a large crowd gathered from 'every city' and follows the parable with a question on the
purpose of parables and an explanation
of the parable of the sower itself.
While the parable was told to the "multitude,"
the "explanations were only given to the disciples."
If riches were a reasonable goal for the godly,
Jesus would have pursued it.
But He did not, preferring instead to have
no place to lay His head
and teaching His disciples to do the same.
It should also be remembered that the
only disciple concerned with wealth
Paul said covetousness is idolatry (Ephesians 5:5) and instructed the Ephesians to avoid anyone who brought a
message of immorality, greed, or covetousness
(having or showing a great desire to possess something belonging to someone else.).
Prosperity teaching prohibits
God from working on His own,
meaning that God is not Lord of all because
He cannot work until we release Him to do so.
Faith, according to the Word of Faith doctrine, is not submissive trust in God; faith is a formula by which we "manipulate the spiritual laws" that prosperity teachers believe govern the universe.
As the name “Word of Faith” implies, this movement
falsely teaches that "faith is a matter of what we say"
"whom we trust or what truths we
embrace and affirm in our hearts."
A favorite term of prosperity gospel teachers is “positive confession.”
This refers to the teaching that
"words themselves have creative power."
What you say, prosperity teachers claim, determines everything that happens to you. Your confessions, especially the favors you demand of God,
must all be stated positively and without wavering.
Then God is "required to answer"
(as though man could require anything of God!).
Thus, "God’s ability to bless us"
supposedly "hangs on our faith"
clearly contradicts this teaching: “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’
Why, you do not even know what
will happen tomorrow.
What is your life?
You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
Far from speaking things into existence in the future,
we do not even know what tomorrow will bring
or even whether we will be alive.
Instead of stressing the importance of wealth,
the Bible warns against pursuing it.
Believers, especially leaders in the church
(1 Timothy 3:3),
are to be free from the love of money (Hebrews 13:5). The love of money leads to all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10).
"Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions”
(Luke 12:15). In sharp contrast to the prosperity gospel emphasis on gaining money and possessions in this life, Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19). The irreconcilable contradictions between prosperity teaching and the
gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ
is best summed up in the words of Jesus in
"You cannot "serve" both God and money.”
Prosperity theology teaches that Christians are
entitled to well-being and, because spiritual and physical realities
are seen as one inseparable reality, "
interprets well-being" as "physical health and economic prosperity."
Teachers of the doctrine focus on personal empowerment,
promoting a positive view of the spirit and body.
They maintain that Christians (not God) have been given "power over creation" because they are "made in the image" of God and teach that positive confession allows Christians to exercise dominion
over their souls and material objects around them.
Leaders of the movement view the atonement as "providing for" the alleviation of "sickness, poverty, and spiritual corruption; poverty and illness" are cast as curses which can be broken by faith and righteous actions.
There are, however, some prosperity churches which seek a more moderate or reformed paradigm of prosperity.
Wealth is interpreted in prosperity theology as a
"blessing from God,"
obtained through a "spiritual law" of
positive confession, visualization, and donations.
Believers may see this process in almost mechanical terms;
The prosperity theology teaching of positive confession
stems from its proponents'
view of scripture.
The Bible is seen as a faith contract between God and believers;
God is understood to be faithful and just, so believers must fulfill their end of the contract to receive God's promises. This leads to a belief in positive confession: the doctrine that believers may claim whatever they desire from God,
simply by speaking it.
This view teaches that the Bible has promised prosperity for believers, so positive confession means that believers are speaking in faith what God has already spoken about them. Positive confession is practiced to bring about what is already believed-in; faith itself is a confession, and speaking it "brings it into reality." This man-made view is far removed from fundamental scriptural truth. It uses parts of scripture as a tool to promote mind-control and self-improvement without scripture truth as a whole, living, revealing, authoritative word of God. Instead of scripture being man's personal relationship and revelation with God, it diminishes the authoritative God of scripture in elevation of Man's authority.
The teaching often depends on
non-traditional interpretations of Bible verses,
the Book of Malachi often being given special attention.
While Christians have generally celebrated Malachi for its passages about the Messiah, teachers of prosperity theology usually draw attention to its descriptions of physical wealth. Prosperity theology casts itself as the reclamation of true doctrine and thus part of a path to Christian dominion over secular society. It contends that God's promises of prosperity and victory to Israel in the Old Testament apply to New-Covenant Christian's today, and that faith and holy actions release this prosperity.
Prosperity churches place a strong emphasis
on the importance of giving.
Some services include a teaching-time focused on giving and prosperity, including Biblical references to tithing; and then a sermon on another topic which follows the offering. Congregants in prosperity churches are encouraged to speak positive statements about aspects of their lives that they wish to see improved. These statements, known as "positive confessions"
(distinct from confessions of sin),
are said to miraculously change aspects of people's lives
if spoken with faith.
Most churches in the prosperity movement are non-denominational and independent, though some groups have formed networks. Prosperity churches typically reject presbyterian polity (or governance) and the idea that a pastor should be accountable to elders; it is common for pastors of prosperity churches to be the highest organizational authority-figure. Critics maintain that prosperity teachers cultivate authoritarian organizations.
They argue that leaders attempt to control the lives of adherents
by claiming divinely-bestowed authority.
Many also contend that prosperity theology is used as a tool to justify the high salaries of pastors and that prosperity churches
heavily emphasized home ownership based on
reliance on divine financial intervention that led to
unwise choices based on actual financial ability.
Mainstream christianity has consistently opposed prosperity theology as heretical and prosperity ministries have frequently come into conflict with other Christian groups, including those within the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. Prosperity theology has little in common with traditional Christian theology, and promotes the idolatry of money.
In Mark: Jesus, Servant and Savior, some 1st-century rabbis
portrayed material blessings as a sign of
He cites Jesus' statement in Mark 10:25 that
"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" (KJV) as evidence to oppose such thinking.
Other critics of the movement assail promises made by its leaders, arguing that the broad freedom from problems they promise is irresponsible. Televangelists are often criticized for abusing the faith of their listeners by enriching themselves through large donations. Prosperity theology has been opposed for not adequately explaining the poverty of the Apostles. For instance, some theologians believe that the life and writings of Paul the Apostle, who is believed to have experienced significant suffering
during his ministry, are particularly in conflict with prosperity theology.
"Jesus was born poor, and he died poor. During his earthly tenure, he spoke time and again about the importance of
spiritual wealth and health.
When he talked about material wealth, it was usually part
of a cautionary tale."
In their book Health, Wealth and Happiness, theologians David Jones and Russell Woodbridge characterize the doctrine as poor theology. They suggest that righteousness cannot be earned and that the Bible does not promise an easy life. They argue that it is inconsistent with the
gospel of Jesus
and that the central message
of the gospel should be
Jesus' life, death, and resurrection.
Jones and Woodbridge see Jesus' importance as vital,
criticizing the prosperity gospel for
marginalizing him in favor of a focus on human need.
In another article, Jones criticizes the prosperity theology interpretation of the Abrahamic covenant, God's promise to bless Abraham's descendants, arguing that this blessing is spiritual and should already apply to all Christians. He also argues that the proponents of the doctrine misconstrue the atonement, criticizing their teaching that Jesus' death took away poverty as well as sin.
He believes that this teaching is drawn from a misunderstanding of Jesus' life noting that Paul often taught Christians to give up their material possessions.
Although he accepts giving as "praiseworthy",
he questions the motives of prosperity theology and criticizes the
"Law of Compensation",
which teaches that when Christians give generously,
God will give back more in return. Rather, it cites Jesus' teaching to
"give, hoping for nothing in return".
Jesus instructed followers
to focus on spiritual rewards,
citing his command in Matthew 6:19–20
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth ... But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven"
Jesus does not believe that it should be used as a spiritual force
for material gain but seen as selfless acceptance of God.
Examples of negative confessions in the Bible
(where Biblical figures express fears and doubts) that had positive results and contrasting these examples with the focus on positive confessions taught by prosperity theology. The Council argues that the biblical Greek word often translated as "confess" literally translates as "to speak the same thing", and refers to both positive and negative confessions.
The statement also criticizes the doctrine
for failing to recognize the will of God:
God's will should have precedence
over the will of man,
including their desires for wealth, and Christians should
"recognize the sovereignty of God"
The statement further criticizes prosperity theology for overlooking the importance of prayer, arguing that prayer should be used for all requests,
not simply positive confession.
The Council noted that
Christians should expect suffering in this life,
because suffering brings us to God, the centrality of the Gospel.
Religious organizations reduce themselves to rule books. They urge readers to apply practical tests to positive confession, arguing that the doctrine appeals to those who are already in affluent societies but that many Christians in other societies are impoverished or imprisoned. Finally, the paper criticizes the distinction made by advocates of prosperity theology in the
two Greek words that mean "speaking", arguing that the distinction is false and that they are used interchangeably in the Greek text.
The Council accused prosperity theology of taking passages out of context to fulfill its own needs, with the result that doctrine of positive confession is contradictory to the holistic message of the Bible.
In the Acts of the Apostles
we read of ‘all that Jesus began both to do and to teach.’
His doing preceded His teaching.
Every sermon that Christ preached was "prefaced by a model miracle."
We are going to follow His example. To begin with this false view makes the assumption that the “doing” of Jesus was always a miraculous event which was then followed up with His
proclaiming of the Gospel,
ergo we should "expect to work miracles" first and then preach the Word.
"They are reading into this text more than there is,
he is guilty of eisegesis versus exegesis.
There are a great many sermons where Jesus did not perform miracles “first” and then proceed to teach the people. Frankly, just about anytime Jesus spoke it was a sermon of one type or another. Matthew 7:28-29 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as [one] having authority, and not as the scribes.
Here Jesus preached first then we read of Him healing several people, the leper (8:2), the centurion’s servant (8:7), Peter’s mother-in-law (8:15). In all of these cases we find examples of healing and not miracles.
The healing is a result of perceiving the depth of the word,
In fact, these texts in places state “and I will come and heal him” (The Word)
We read in Mark 1:39 “And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils.” Jesus again is shown
preaching the Gospel then performing signs and wonders.
This is simply wrong in teachings about miracles. Unfortunately this view has been part-n-parcel of
early Pentecostalism and today’s Charismatic
It is important for you to understand clearly that
our Lord Jesus Christ does still heal His people.
However, He does so according to the good pleasure of His will.
There are no steps, laws, or principles that we can enact
in order to "cause our Lord" to heal anyone.
In the minds of the extremists today it is the mature believers within the Church who wield the "true spiritual authority" over the devil and demons,
not Jesus Christ.
2 Thess. 2:2-6: not to be quickly shaken in mind or excited, either by spirit or by word, or by letter purporting to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way;
For the Day of the Lord will not Come
unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself
against every so-called god or object of worship,
so that he takes his seat in the temple of God,
proclaiming himself to be God.
Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you this?
And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time.
The evil one is currently under divine restraint and always will be. He is not manifesting anything in an unrestrained mode of operation at all. Satan is a
created being who, although rebellious,
is still completely subject to the sovereignty of God,
As was with Judas. God uses his instruments for his purposes.
He and his minions can do only what the Lord allows them to do.
This is clearly seen in Job 1:10-12 or when the demons asked Jesus to allow them to enter into the swine (read Matt. 8:31-32).
False teachers introduce heresy about God that sounds just like the truth but is not Complete Truth. (2 Pet. 2:1-4, Jude 4) False teachers are motivated by financial gain, and they prey on the people who follow them. (2 Pet. 2:14-16, Jude 11, 1 Tim 6:9-10) False teachers aim to please the ears of their listeners rather than share truths that may be hard to hear, yet are needed for freedom. (2 Pet. 2:17-20, 2 Tim 4:3-4.
The Word Faith group is more properly called a movement.
There is no official doctrine, writings, headquarters, or even (technically) a founder. It is a fairly tight group of teachers and pastors who adhere, however loosely, to a set of heterodox and heretical beliefs concerning many areas of the Christian faith. Although not all Word Faith teachers are united in what they believe, The Word Faith basically teaches that
we can change reality through our words,
and that God wants us healthy and wealthy.
The Bible teaches that God imputes suffering on people
purposefully so that he can use it to further his purposes,
drawing us in closer relationship with him through suffering and revelation.
The ongoing revealed word is the relationship that
reveals our biblical calling.
The relationship is formed -through- the understanding of
the word of god,
which reveals his will for us.
We do not find our biblical purpose outside
the word of God's revelation to us.
The relationship is the point of the Bible. That's the only way to know him- not words,
but relationship with God.
New Thought teaches that correct thinking and believing accompanied by positive confession has the power to change reality, health, wealth, or sickness. It also teaches the deity of man. Many of the phrases popularized by present-day prosperity preachers, such as "What I confess, I possess," were originally coined by Kenyon. Thus, it was not charismaticism that spawned this new heresy - but it provided the soil in which it grew. Word Faith teachers say that God wills the financial prosperity and healing of every Christian. Obviously, then, when people remain sick or poor it is due to their lack of faith and they are living outside of God's will.
Prosperity theology, or philosophy, is a religious belief among some Protestant Christians that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one's material wealth. Material and especially financial success is seen as a sign of divine favor.
Prosperity theology has been criticized by leaders from various Christian denominations, including within some Pentecostaland charismatic movements, who maintain that it is irresponsible, promotes idolatry, and is contrary to the Bible. Secular as well as some Christian observers have also criticized prosperity theology as exploitative of the poor. The practices of some preachers have attracted scandal and some have been charged with financial fraud.
Prosperity theology views the Bible as a contract between God and humans: if humans have faith in God, he will deliver security and prosperity. The doctrine emphasizes the importance of personal empowerment, proposing that it is God's will for his people to be blessed. The atonement (reconciliation with God) is interpreted to include the alleviation of sickness and poverty. This is believed to be achieved through donations of money, visualization, and positive confession.
Kenyon taught that Christ's substitutionary atonement secured for believers a right to divine healing. This was attained through positive, faith-filled speech; the spoken word of God allowed believers to appropriate the same spiritual power that God used to create the world and attain the provisions promised in Christ's death and resurrection. Prayer was understood to be a binding, legal act. Rather than asking, Kenyon taught believers to demand healing since they were already legally entitled to receive it.
Kenyon's blend of evangelical religion and mind-power beliefs—what he termed "overcoming faith"—resonated with a small but influential segment of the Pentecostal movement. Pentecostals had always been committed to faith healing, and the movement also possessed a strong belief in the power of speech (in particular speaking in tongues and the use of the names of God, especially the name of Jesus).
By the 1940s and 1950s, however, a recognizable form of the doctrine began to take shape within the Pentecostal movement through the teachings of deliverance and healing evangelists. Combining prosperity teaching with revivalism and faith healing, these evangelists taught "the laws of faith ('ask and ye shall receive') and the laws of divine reciprocity ('give and it will be given back unto you')". Oral Roberts began teaching prosperity theology in 1947. He explained the laws of faith as a "blessing pact" in which God would return donations "seven fold", promising that donors would receive back from unexpected sources the money they donated to him. Roberts offered to return any donation that did not lead to an equivalent unexpected payment. In the 1970s, Roberts characterized his blessing pact teaching as the "seed faith" doctrine: donations were a form of "seed" which would grow in value and be returned to the donor. Roberts began recruiting "partners", wealthy donors who received exclusive conference invitations and ministry access in exchange for support.
In the 1960s, prosperity became a primary focus in healing revivals. Osborn began emphasizing prosperity in the 1960s and became known for his often ostentatious displays of personal wealth. During that decade, Roberts and William Branham criticized other prosperity ministries, arguing that their fund-raising tactics unfairly pressured attendees. These tactics were prompted in part by the expense of developing nationwide radio networks and campaign schedules. At the same time, leaders of the Pentecostal Assemblies of God denomination often criticized the focus on prosperity taken by independent healing evangelists. Although nearly all of the healing evangelists of the 1940s and 1950s taught that faith could bring financial rewards, a new prosperity-oriented teaching developed in the 1970s that differed from the one taught by Pentecostal evangelists of the 1950s. This "Positive Confession" or "Word of Faith" movement taught that a Christian with faith can speak into existence anything consistent with the will of God. By the late 2000s, proponents claimed that tens of millions of Christians had accepted prosperity theology.
Word-Faith teachers claim that God operates by spiritual laws and is obligated to obey the commands of believers. Faith teachers also make God into a large man.
In Word Faith theology, man is a little god, and basically on par with Jesus Christ.
Spoken Word (Rhema), or thought actualization, is commonly known as positive confession. It stresses the inherent power of words and thoughts. Each person can change reality by what he says. Faith is seen as a force that is controlled by words.