prosperity gospel – does god want you to be happy?

so the tradition i was brought up in, is big on prosperity gospel. god wants to bless us, spiritually and materially. if we keep god’s commandments, pray hard and live in accordance to god’s will, god will show god’s favor upon us. and of course, to complicate matters, the tradition i believe in now is not big on prosperity, at least not in the way most prosperity preachers would like their congregation to believe.

i just read dave sung’s blog where he asks what prosperity gospel folks would do with the passage where apostle paul asks god three times, to take the thorn away from his side and god responds to paul by telling him that god’ grace is sufficient for him (pasted from dave sung’s blog out of laziness on my part):

7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

so how would prosperity (god wants to bless us – physically, materially, spiritually) gospel preachers respond to this passage?

i think the problem with prosperity gospel is that they emphasize material (wealth, health, etc.) blessing at the expense of spiritual blessing. and those who criticize prosperity gospel folks do it at the expense of limiting how god can/does bless us. granted, i know those who are pointing fingers at prosperity gospel preachers are saying they are limiting god and choosing to believe in a god who is like a santa clause – giving toys (or blessing) to those who are good (theough works, not grace). and well, i can’t disagree there! they are picking and choosing to believe in a god that does not fully capture who god is as revealed through the hebrew bible and the new testament.

but the non-prosperity gospel preachers don’t/can’t/couldn’t deny that god could bless us if god chooses to – in all aspects, not only spiritually, but materially, physically, etc. we can’t run with hebrew bible (as well as some NT) passages where god says do X and god will bless you. for instance, if you commit your works to god, or if you ask, if you have faith, etc. then god will “bless” you. now exactly what the blessing is, isn’t that what prosperity gospel preachers are choosing to focus on wealth, health, etc. BUT they shouldn’t leave out spiritual blessing. and those who are non-prosperity preachers shouldn’t just say god blesses us spiritually because god can and does bless us in anyway god chooses to.

i just realized that the distinctions i’m seeing here explain why my parents and i don’t understand each other sometimes! okay, a lot of times. wowsers.

Author: bleuemoon

PhD Student in theology, pastor, chaplain...

3 thoughts on “prosperity gospel – does god want you to be happy?”

  1. Hey Alice let me further expand on my entry,

    The problem with osteen and prosperity preachers is that they are stating that God should bless you materially and physically and that you will have a good life and if you don’t then you must be disobedient in some way. There is no mistake that God can bless us materially if he so chooses, that’s not the problem. The problem occurs when we say that God must bless us materially, because we are obedient to him. Then our obedience buys God’s favor and there is also a limit to what God can ask of us! Then we have a right to shake our fists at God for not giving us what we want! THERE IS NO GRACE! It’s just a barter system.

    When talking about instances in the Old Testament, they must be looked at within context, because most of the OT is in narrative form. They are stories as opposed to New Testment letters that are written directly to the church. Pastors like to pull verses out of the Old Testament and say that it must be true for everyone’s situation and ignore the context of the passage. God made specific covenants with these figures in the Old Testament and they usually do not extend beyond that figure. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 it says that Paul was beaten, stoned, imprisoned often went hungry, with lack of clothing. So according to the prosperity preachers, he must have not been praying enough or not keeping God’s commandments. But yet he says, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 11:1. Not that we should be looking for suffering and hardships, but when it hits us we should not be surprised. Paul writes in Romans 5, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Ok I wrote too much, but yea that’s what I see as the big problem in preachers sending out this kind of message.

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  2. Does God want you to be happy? The answer to this simple question is made clear by reading the word of God. The answer is NO!

    You appear to be an intelligent person. I hope you’ll be so bold as to check out my site http://doubtingthomas426.wordpress.com/ even though the questions I post for god worshipers will most likely rub you and yours the wrong way. I’ve categorized all my posts on the left. Take a few minutes to read through a few. Leave a comment if you like. Take Care.

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  3. That’s the thing I think lots of Christians struggle with: balance. We tend to fall into the ditch on either side of the road instead of hitting it straight on. Good points.

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