10 Jul Health, Wealth, Prosperity, and the Gawdy Gospel
Last week it struck me that much of the illness that we see in evangelicalism is due to this lack of teaching all peoples everything that Jesus commanded. As I mentioned earlier, the preaching of Whitfield and Edwards is far away from filling out a card indicating that you “made a decision.”
I have no qualms with large group meetings. People decided to come and listen and ponder what is spoken. (Don’t worry, I will mention more on door-to-door issues). But for the sake of numbers and a feeling of accomplishing what we have been “called” to do, the message of repentance and solid faith in Jesus was neglected. Sure, we would like to put the tally up at a campaign that says 1,003 people prayed to receive Christ. But what kind of message did they receive? Insurance from Hell (definite play on words here), make me happy (meaning: I am still god and this message is meant to serve my needs), legalism (pat me on the back, I’m in the religious nut club!)…Or did they hear the robust message of God in the flesh, perfectly obedient, was crucified as a substitute, and risen for my justification?
The latter will produce a disciple. The former will feed an idolator.
The title of this post comes from my ponderings on the relationship between the stripped down gospel of revivalism and big tent meetings and that which we see in the health, wealth, prosperity (HWP) movement. What is the relationship? Well, both exalt the person as being the aim of the message. Secondly, if you do not have a robust theology that informs your decisions to follow Jesus, then you will fall back into your old way of thinking (not having your mind conformed; Rom 12.1-2). You will not be fighting resident sin, but will float along in the ocean like an empty bottle. What you need is an anchor to hold you firm.
Thirdly, in the HWP there is no thought of Jesus telling you to deny yourself and take up your death-knell. There is no call to sell all you have. There is no call to hate family, lands, prestige…Instead, coliseums are filled to capacity where the lion of the demanding Gospel is tamed and the ears are tickled with sugar plum dreams. “God wants you to be rich and healthy!” are the cries. But the soul needs a foundation to stand on when they just lost their job and their children are starving and their marriage is on the rocks and they just got diagnosed with a terminal illness. They won’t get that in a false hope of earthly treasures…Nor will they be comforted by the slogan, “Think positive.” What is needed is the Gospel. Does the health, wealth, prosperity movement know the gospel? Or has it dressed up a puppet in the garb of bigger barns and earthly crowns?