Pastor Mike Winger of BibleThinker.org recently did a live Q&A answering questions about theology, apologetics, and Christian life. One of the questions asks dealt with the prosperity gospel message that is heavily inundated in the Word of Faith doctrine. The question posed was, “Does God at times want a believer to be wealthy and pursue wealth, have a big house, or buy an expensive car? Would you trust someone whose prophecy is weighted towards wealth and success?”
Winger replied that he “would not trust someone whose prophetic utterances where they claim to speak from God, and they’re telling, they’re basically focused on giving us wealth and success. It’s actually… this is a dangerous thing for us. It’s an indication that someone is a false prophet, I think, when they come to us in this season of God working, and they tell us that we’re gonna get wealth and success, wealth and success.”
Duke University Professor of Religion Kate Bowler, author of the book Blessed: History of the American Prosperity Gospel, stated in a 2014 Teachings of Enoch podcast hosted by James Allen that there are four common buzzworthy topics that “health and wealth” prosperity pastors hit: faith, health, wealth, and victory. Faith is the most distinctive topic that separates this form of teaching from traditional messages.
“They view faith just not as a hope, or maybe trust, but as a kind of spiritual power that believers can unleash with their mind, though filled with belief and positive prayer, spoken words like Scripture. Believers trust that they can see the results of this faith in their own bodies in their health, or in their financial success.”
Bowler added that the biggest detriment to this movement is that so many Christians feel condemned in their faith when a healing or financial success-specific prayer is not answered, due to indirectly (and even sometimes directly) putting God in a bind by saying if one’s faith does not work, “then perhaps the believer is at fault.” In another 2014 interview by BookTV, along with the Teachings of Enoch interview, Bowler added that notable prosperity preachers include Joyce Meyer, T.D. Jakes, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, John Hagee, Joel Osteen, and Frederick Price.
Allen Parr of The BEAT exposed the prosperity gospel in a 2016 video, using a list of five problems with this message. Firstly, it is inconsistent with the Bible, which teaches the even believers can experience tribulation (Acts 14:22), suffering (Romans 8:17), and pain (2 Timothy 3:12). Moreover, while God does promise an abundant life, He does not promise the “best life now” as many prosperity preachers state. Revelation 21:4 strongly indicates that heaven is the time where there will be no more crying or pain.
Moreover, Parr states that Christians should not take individual scriptures to beef up this message, and it also oftentimes leads to a major disappointment from many church congregants when a specific expectation is not fulfilled. Stating that someone has not become rich or overcame a terminal illness because they did not have enough faith can be very offensive to a faithful Christian. Parr also references Paul’s thorn in the flesh, as recorded in 2 Corinthians 12:7. Instead of healing him, God said that His grace is sufficient for Paul.
Editor’s note: You can listen and view my previous interviews with Allen Parr and Mike Winger below.