We need a New Kind of Faith Teacher. I've said this here before. Let me expand on that with the so-called Prosperity Teaching. The original Prosperity message wasn't exactly in the form that we hear it today. First of all, at least since
1971, I never heard Kenneth Hagin, Sr. teach it. This is borne out from Lee Grady, editor of Charisma magazine, who says people he knows who were friends of Hagin said that Hagin was very unhappy with how his disciples were using the faith message to teach this extreme prosperity message. This certainly is borne out by his book, The Midas Touch written in 2000, a few years before the end of his life. Having read it after it first came out, I don't think anyone reading this post would disagree with almost anything in that book.
So then, let's examine what Copeland, Price and Savelle did with it. Is there anything in that "prosperity message" that is worthwhile? Yes, absolutely. There are some "gems" in their overall message. So, let's really pick it apart and find out where it comes from and what it's all about before we trash the whole thing. By the end of this post, my objective is to convince you there are some parts not only worth saving, but parts we absolutely need to save and bring into our churches. And, of course there are parts that we need to dump quickly and to speak out against....which I will also do here.
Well, where does this message come from anyway? Is it out of someone's brain? Or, did someone find this in the Bible? Actually, they found in the Bible what they felt was this message. In Deut. 28, 29 and 30, it talks about the covenant God has with Israel. Deut. 28 says that God will bless His people (at that time the Israelites) with prosperity of crops, health and healthy offspring both human and from their animals IF they obey HIm. These faith teachers discovered that Christians have a better covenant. So do we have those things too in our covenant? They found some interesting things in II Cor. 8 and 9. For example, in II Cor. 8:9 it says that "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich." Here was a clear indication to them that we did have prosperity in the covenant through the cross (they also found Matt. 8:17 to cover healing in the covenant). Many think this passage is talking about spiritual wealth. As I was studying it, I remembered from my college mythology class that the Greek word used there, plutos, was the Greek-Roman god of wealth. To make sure fo this I went to the library and checked it. When the Romans needed money they prayed to that god. This was written, remember, to the gentile Christians in Corinth that came out of this system. They would have prayed to that god and would consider that god to be associated with money, not the heavens. In addition, chapters 8 and 9 of II Cor. are about money. So to say it is spiritual wealth is a stretch. Believe me, I was very skeptical of this but I had to allow the Bible to speak for itself and not bring my "this isn't about finances" agenda into it. But does that mean every Christian should be really, really rich? I've found that one problem with the Word of Faith teachers is they tend to take something written to a group of people and try to individualize it. Could this passage refer to the churches? Well, if you look in Acts 4: 32-35 you'll see how II Cor. 8 and 9 actually play out. It's the church that is given lands and wealth, not necessarily each individual Christian. And it's the churches that get this money to distribute to the poorer ones so that "it was distributed to anyone as he had need." (Acts 4:34-35). It doesn't say here that every Christian would be extremely rich. IMO this is where the faith teachers have erred.
Another way they've missed it is when you consider where God wants people. In other words, in which strata of society? Does God want people to live with the wealthy because they can relate to them? Then those people certainly can believe to live in those places if their purpose is pure as to why they wish to live there. On the other hand, there actually are people who feel they want to live with the poor. In fact, some of the poor like their neighborhood, if it was safer. Most evangelicals, frankly, really do not have much in common with the upper-middle or upper classes and many don't even like them. So then why would they want to live with them? They don't. Well then, why do they need to believe for the money to live in those places? They don't.
What of this prosperity message should we keep, if any? For some reason, some of the original teaching has gotten lost in the mad rush-for-riches shuffle. Here is the good part of it. Let me ask you a question. Let's say your neighbor owned a home and couldn't pay their mortgage. To make matters worse, they didn't have any place to go. Would you have the money to pay their mortgage (as a gift, not a loan) for at least 6 months or more? Or better yet, could you buy their house with full cash so they could live there for free? No? Why not? Why didn't you believe God for lots of money in case you needed to help people like this? Now you have one of the basics of Kenneth Copeland and Jerry Savelle's teaching. For people who want to take this faith challenge, it's interesting because there is nothing in it for you. You buy the house with full cash and the owners live rent free. You pay extra for property tax and insurance. That is my example, not Copeland's. Copeland, Savelle and Price go further however, to say you should also be living high off the hog. In other words, a financial windfall situation for both you and those you help. I disagree. But if you just believe for money to buy the house and keep your moderate living style (assuming it is moderate), you are living a very high form of faith and love. And that is the part of the prosperity gospel we should be hearing. But we don't do we? What church including Faith ones teach this? None. This is a hard gospel to hear because it takes a high faith for most of us to believe for that amount of money and also the discipline not to use it yourself for your pleasures. So, the good part of this message is to learn how to believe for extra money for the purpose of giving to the poor, people in sudden need and to worthy ministries.
Steps to Faith for Finances
The original faith teachers stressed that the first step in this message was to put your own financial house in order by getting out of debt and also stressed tithing and giving. I do not agree with the tithing laws the WOF teachers put people under as they are clearly not in the New Testament Law of the Spirit of Giving outlined in
II Cor. 8 and 9. In addition, there are three tithes in the OT. I never hear these teachers talk about two of them. Why not? If you are going to require the tithe, you need to teach it correctly. And in addition, poor people weren't required to tithe, only heads of families that owned land. So, perhaps the faith teachers need to rethink this tithing teaching. But the part about believing for your needs and getting out of debt AND how to have the faith to do so is excellent IMO. Why? Because they always base it on the cross. I like that. So, summarizing the first part, believe for the money to get out of debt, the money for giving, and enough money to live on.
The second part of the prosperity message is to how to believe for gobs of money for yourself to buy all sorts of huge houses and expensive cars and enough to give gobs to the poor and ministries. It's this second part that needs to go under a complete revision. I will call this part 2a. I would replace it with what I call part 2b. This should entail believing God for gobs of money to be saved to help people that need help at the right time while you are living a regular life, not an extravagant one, unless, as I said above, you have a burden for the upper middle class and you share their cultural interests.
But certainly, the first part (minus the tithing) would be excellent teaching to come into our churches, would it not? And if 2b was added, taught correctly and explained fully, would it not be an interesting challenge to some mature Christians to believe for this?
I hope you will rethink dumping this whole message in the trash can, because right now, our churches haven't saved money to help us. And, the government doesn't look too promising for help either, not with the massive debt they hold. This is why we need a New Type of Faith Teacher, to teach these things correctly and to put faith teaching back in the milieu where it belongs - in a balanced and Biblical way.
Note: I want to make a plea to comment only on what I've written, and not bring in all sorts of faith stuff that doesn't pertain to this like visualizing and Kenyon and Jesus in hell and so forth. IF you wish to email me and ask my opinion on htese things, that would be fine. If you don't agree with what I've written, what would you say is the alternative? More and more, I find that people against this message don't really understand it and its more valuable parts On the other hand, those of you who do understand it but you refute the first part and/or part 2b, please tell me why. That would be interesting to me. Thanks.