One of the reasons I’ve been preaching on “blessing” and considering the prosperity gospel this month has to do with the fact that I see its falsehoods in the Christians I meet, and I see its deceptions in my own heart. SEBTS ethics professor, David Jones hits this point in his short article, “The Prosperity Gospel in My Own Heart.” He writes,
Imagine you’re driving to church on a cold, rainy Sunday morning, and to your dismay you get a flat tire. What is your immediate thought? “God, really? I’m going to church. Isn’t there some drug dealer or abusive husband you could have afflicted with a flat tire?” That’s the prosperity gospel.
Or maybe you don’t get that promotion at work, your child gets sick, or you’re unfairly criticized at church. The result? You get mad at God because you were overlooked, troubled, or disparaged. That’s the prosperity gospel.
The very thought that God owes us a relatively trouble-free life, and the anger we feel when God doesn’t act the way we believe he is supposed to act, betray a heart that expects God to prosper us because of our good works. That’s the prosperity gospel.
I don’t know an American Christian who hasn’t struggled with this sort of thinking—questioning God’s providential goodness when, in our attempts to serve him, he has permitted (or better: ordained) our trial. It is part and parcel of the evangelical experience in America that the message of salvation is accompanied by a promise of God’s good plan: “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life,” which includes eternal life and the absence of flat tires, right?
Not really. This is an American gospel of our own making. Therefore, we need to consider afresh just how much upward mobility we have imported into our own Christian faith. In my own case, I see far more than I would like to admit, and as I think on the prosperity gospel, I am beckoned to repent and return to the true gospel. Maybe God would have you do the same? And maybe, he would use David Jones’ article to help you see the tentacles of prosperity latching to your own heart.
For more reflections on the prosperity gospel, see this month’s 9Marks Journal on that subject.
Soli Deo Gloria, dss