The prosperity gospel has been preached by ministers all over the country and the world that claim God rewards our faith when we invest in their ministry.
If the prosperity gospel is true, grace is useless and God is also irrelevant, as everything then depends on our giving. Whether it is atonement, giving, faith, or prayer, the prosperity teachers make the relationship between God and man into a give and take relationship.
Where did this teaching come from?
It started as an offshoot of Pentecostalism in post-World War II America and became viral in local congregations and tent revivals.
The rise of “televangelism” made it get bigger and bigger in the United States and other European countries. Fifty years ago, the people in the Pentecostal church were poor and they heard the Word of God gladly as it gave them a hope for a better future.
All Pentecostal or charismatic preachers may not be associated with the prosperity gospel, but it is largely connected to revivalist and charismatic churches and is gaining popularity in Africa, South America, and those countries where Pentecostalism is increasing.
The person who is considered the father of the prosperity gospel teaching is Oral Roberts who became so influential that he started his own school, Oral Roberts University (ORU). Others who paved the way for the televangelism of the prosperity gospel in the 1980s, included Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Benny Hinn, and Pat Robertson.
The late Kenneth Hagin Sr. was the head of a group of white ministers called “word of faith” teachers who challenged healing evangelists as leaders of the neo-Pentecostal movement. They wanted to dispense a deeper understanding of the place of Christians in God’s kingdom, which included financial riches, and perpetual good health.
Nowadays Creflo Dollar, T. D. Jakes, Guillermo Maldonado, Joel Osteen, and Paula White are some big names who are actively preaching the prosperity gospel.
How to find out which is a prosperity gospel preaching?
There are certain ways wherein we can identify a prosperity gospel:-
There will be an absence of serious doctrine of suffering, self-denial, and serious exposition of Scripture. There will be no teaching on tensions and the preachers will be displaying an exorbitant lifestyle and there will e lifting up of self and marginalization of the greatness of God.
It has been seen through surveys that black prosperity gospel preachers, black evangelicals were of a favorable opinion about prosperity gospel teaching in comparison to Hispanic or white evangelicals.
Be content in God through Jesus Christ
But rather than teaching us to run after riches and prosperity, the Bible teaches us to be content and to find our contentment in God.
Paul talks about trials and hardships in the book of Philippians, how he has learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Philippians 4:11-12, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance, and need.”
Contentment is being happy and filled with joy with what God has given you, and finding pleasure in Him alone. By being content and leading a content life we are really prosperous.