My latest article is up on the Covenant Eyes blog: When it Feels Like You’ve Been Irreparably Damaged by Porn
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I’ve ripped on health & wealth theology (also called the prosperity gospel) for a long time.
What I’d like to do here is slow down and examine the intent behind health & wealth theology, what parts are true biblically, and what parts come from reading the Bible incorrectly.
When the New Testament gives verse after verse promising Christians we will suffer, and most of the early Christians did suffer and die for their faith, beating up on the caricature of health and wealth theology has always felt too easy. That caricature being something along these lines:
If you start this video from the beginning you’ll hear the theology that goes along with these sort of antics, which is essentially that you have to give money to the church (and already very wealthy pastors in a lot of these cases) in order to get blessing, a.k.a. money from God in return. So this brand of health-and-wealth theology serves as a get-rich-quick scheme to pastors and offers God as a slot machine to churchgoers.
So this brand of health-and-wealth theology serves as a get-rich-quick scheme to pastors and offers God as a slot machine to churchgoers.
I’m beginning this article with the worst (and most notorious) form of prosperity gospel so you can see why it’s been so easy to beat up on it using basic and obvious Scriptures. But this type of caricature is not the whole picture behind health and wealth theology. Let’s first look at where adherents of H&W theology draw from in Scripture, followed by looking at a more complete way of understanding these texts.
The video above covers the “wealth” side of health and wealth, with the other side being “health.” This one is more self-explanatory, that God wants you to be healthy, and has a lot more New Testament scripture to back in up. These Scriptures focus around the miraculous healings Jesus and his disciples did and how healing is listed in the New Testament church’s spiritual gifts inventory in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11. Another vein of New Testament scripture you will find prosperity preachers using are New Testament verses on prayer where it makes it seem you can demand something of God by having enough faith, and he must give it to you. So you demand money or health, and he must give it to you. Continue Reading…
Easter Sunday is coming, which has a lot of people thinking about resurrection from the dead. Two Sundays ago, I preached on how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead after he had been dead (and smelly) for 4 days (John 11). This was the straw that broke the camel’s back for the religious leaders to kill Jesus once and for all (John 11:47-53). It’s sort of hard to disprove a religion where people keep coming back from the dead, after all.
This got me thinking about the significance of the other New Testament accounts of people being raised from the dead, and wondering if other religions made these same claims. It’s sort of going “all in” once you say that 6 local “Average Joe” types that everyone knew had risen from the dead in spectacular, public fashion, most of them at their very public funerals, and you try circulating that story in the very town you claim it happened. (Knowing your reward for circulating it was persecution, torture, and death by the Roman authorities)
I did a little research…okay I posted in on my Facebook page…to see if other faiths/religions made such audacious claims of local people coming back from the dead or not. If your God is able to make dead people come back to life, that’s a pretty good claim of authenticity. Continue Reading…
The Bible is a thick book. Always has been. In the first century, an expert in the Old Testament Scriptures asked Jesus to summarize all of the commands in the Bible into the greatest commandment, to slim down that thick book into something easy to remember. Jesus tells him the greatest commandment is to love God with all your being and he throws in a close 2nd, to love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:35-40)
In a different conversation, another expert in the Old Testament Scriptures wanted to press Jesus further on this issue. He asks Jesus, Who is my neighbor? These experts in the Law would be the equivalent of a modern day seminary professor and pastor rolled into one. The expert in the Law in Luke 10:25-37 was testing Jesus as well as seeking to justify himself. Jesus’s answer is no less astounding 2000 years later as it was when it came off his lips. But we so often miss what makes it so astounding… Continue Reading…