Reject the prosperity doctrine and be hit with the ugly stick?

“Who would want to get in on something where you’re miserable, poor, broke and ugly and you just have to muddle through until you get to heaven?” asks Joyce Meyer, a popular television preacher and author often lumped in the Prosperity Lite camp. “I believe God wants to give us nice things.”

This quote comes from a Time magazine article called “Does God want you to be rich?” – you can read it in full here. Now I have heard good things about Joyce Meyer as a preacher, but I have to say that if this quote is accurate, it leaves a lot to be desired. Now I know that prosperity doctrine is alive and well in west, and financial success appears to metered out by God’s grand ATM in the sky where your deposits and a good measure of faith increase your withdrawals, but since when did our physical attributes get lumped in this fantasy land of theology? Does this mean that as a Christian who does not espouse prosperity doctrine, I am destined to be miserable, poor, broke, and now ugly? Maybe because I can’t afford liposuction, a personal trainer / dietician and a nose job…. Sign up for Jesus, so you too can be beautiful, happy and rich? Whatever happened to taking up your cross and following Jesus? Metaphoric of course. The first is certainly a more appealing advertising slogan, but it just doesn’t match up the Jesus I read about in the gospels, the Jesus I have dedicated my life to following and serving as best I can. Over at the green book Ruth has been reflecting on taking the beautiful things of Christianity and discarding the rest, and prosperity doctrine of this ilk sounds exactly like that.

Sorry for the sarcasm of this post. As you may have gathered, I feel rather strongly about this!

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12 thoughts on “Reject the prosperity doctrine and be hit with the ugly stick?

  1. Hello Christina and all,

    RE: “Does God want you to be rich?”
    How about, does the Creator want some people to suffer and starve while some wallow in luxury and ignore the plight of others? What about “serving mammon” (money and materialism) instead of truth, justice, and your fellow souls? How about the rich man and the eye of a needle? Talking about the blind leading the blind…

    To take this a step further, what would the Creator say about forming organizations (corporations, religions, governments, political parties, etc.) that accumulate vast wealth and resources while living people and other lifeforms suffer as a direct result? What does this say about the complete hypocrisy of all religions?

    Here’s some pivotal knowledge (wisdom) so people can stop focusing on symptoms and obfuscatory details and home in like a laser on the root causes of and solutions to humanity’s seemingly never-ending struggles.

    Money is the lifeblood of the powerful and the chains and key to human enslavement

    There is a radical and highly effective solution to all of our economic problems that will dramatically simplify, streamline, and revitalize human civilization. It will eliminate all poverty, debt, and the vast majority of crime, material inequality, deception, and injustice. It will also eliminate the underlying causes of most conflicts, while preventing evil scoundrels and their cabals from deceiving, deluding, and bedeviling humanity, ever again. It will likewise eliminate the primary barriers to solving global warming, pollution, and the many evils that result from corporate greed and their control of natural and societal resources. That solution is to simply eliminate money from the human equation, thereby replacing the current system of greed, exploitation, and institutionalized coercion with freewill cooperation, just laws based on verifiable wisdom , and societal goals targeted at benefiting all, not just a self-chosen and abominably greedy few.

    We can now thank millennia of political, monetary, and religious leaders for proving, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that top-down, hierarchical governance is absolute folly and foolishness. Even representative democracy, that great promise of the past, was easily and readily subverted to enslave us all, thanks to money and those that secretly control and deceptively manipulate all currencies and economies. Is there any doubt anymore that entrusting politics and money to solve humanity’s problems is delusion of the highest order? Is there any doubt that permitting political and corporate leaders to control the lives of billions has resulted in great evil?

    Here’s a real hot potato! Eat it up, digest it, and then feed it’s bones to the hungry…

    Most people have no idea that the common-denominator math of all the world’s currencies forms an endless loop that generates debt faster than we can ever generate the value to pay for it. This obscured and purposeful math-logic trap at the center of all banking, currencies, and economies is the root cause of poverty. Those who rule this world through fear and deception strive constantly to hide this fact, while pretending to seek solutions to poverty and human struggle. Any who would scoff at this analysis have simply failed to do the math, even though it is based on a simple common-denominator ratio.

    Here is Wisdom

    Doctrine of Two Spirits…

    Peace…

  2. absolute power corrupts absolutely, Seven Star Hand, when it’s placed in the hands of humans. perhaps this is the improper forum for a lengthy discussion, but nonetheless i can see a relation.

    Christina, have i mentioned recently that i love your philosophical questions? “does God want us to be rich?” yes. of course He does. but not like the prosperity doctrine states. He said we were getting paid for our good works. how we’re getting paid? totally different story. perhaps it’s a “tit for tat” situation where we get repaid in kind works for us. perhaps even in possessions or money, as well. but i think (and this is solely my opinion, not backed up with any empirical evidence whatsoever) that God has more ways of paying his believers than with just money and good looks. God knows, we have enough celebrities. let them look famously good. i just wanna know Him, and be known by Him.

    keep writing. it always brightens up my day.

  3. Thanks for your comments, Seven Star Hand and Will. I agree that God desires to bless us, but not necessarily in the format that appeals to our western consumerist ways of life. love your last three sentences there Will – fortunately I am in no danger of contributing the beautiful celebrity pool! To know and be known by God… sounds good to me. Thanks for your encouragement too…

  4. Christina, I have to admit that I am really diturbed by this message. And it just goes to show that human fraility is alive and well. I just hope and pray that not too many get hurt by this message.
    As for sarcasm, don’t worry, somethings can only be said that way so as for people to notice and respond.
    I love this part of your last comment “To know and be known by God… sounds good to me.” That is what I desire – nothing more.

    ps – I also have a post about this via Hamo

  5. It disturbs me too, and feels like such a sell-out to our consumerist culture. Maybe sell-out is the wrong word – perhaps it is more about wooing people by touting Christianity as the means to obtain the “must-haves” dictated by pop culture… BTW, I checked out your post – got me thinking further….

  6. This creeping-in doctrine is of the devil.. it is damnable. It is meant to bring in the last day heresies that base faith on worldly pleasures, than on God himself. I weep for thoese that teach this.

    Why?

    Jesus stated to the disciples,”the poor”(financially) you will always have with you.

    Some of the disciples were “poor” YES! If their financial state was why Jesus chose them then, contrary to the world salvation can be be bought with money. I hope not! Now it is by grace that you are saved, not by works , less any man should boast.

    Based on the professions of disciples, we can sse the contrast, Luke was a physician (high class- income) Matthew the tax collector (middle class i income) and Peter the fishermen (lower class – income).

    Their incomes was not the reason “Jesus” called them to be disciples. It was their spiritual condition of poverty. That is where they and we are made RICH!

    We need a balanced perspective on term BLESSINGS!

    Paul charged us (Christians) that are rich (financially) to do good to the poor. That means we have poor (financially) Christians. Are they less of Christians? No.

    I stroingly hope there are no ATMs , NASDAQs and rich and famous in heaven. Yes, heaven is adored with jewels that are priceless and abundantly decorations there.

    Though he created all things for us to enjoy…the splintered church has taken the “riches of this life to mean” ,blessings in finance 90% and spiritually 10%. They make merchandise of the gospel for GAIN. Tithing is used to fatten the salaries and the building fund. It is rarely used to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick. It is used to scare people into beleiving if you don’t do it.. you will be poor and therefore CURSED. This is manipulation and a form of witchcraft.

    I believe when a ministry can give a vast majority of its tithe and offerengs to reach the poor in a balanced perspective and not making their “ministries” filthy lucre for the sake of creating mega churches : the reason to contribute to its growth…

    My prayer is this, Father forgive them for they no not what they do.

  7. Very thoughtful and inspired words – love the stuff from your comment posters as well. It was Social Justice Sunday (the only day of the year we Anglicans think about it!…joking)yesterday; the theme was making indigineous poverty history.

    Jonothan Inkpin and Graemme Mundine produced a paper entitled The Lazarus Demand that explores the story of Lazarus and Jesus calling him out of the tomb and commanding his friends to unbind him in terms of indigineous poverty:

    ‘Unbind him, and let him go’ is a challenge made to all of us, and especially to those who
    have power and wealth: which, in the context of Indigenous Australia, means most non-
    Indigenous Australians. Use, and let go of your power, says God. It is not enough, says
    Jesus, for the Word of God to be proclaimed and for Lazarus to respond. The Lazarus
    Demand is not for an individual alone, but for the renewing of the whole community. It is
    not merely an initiative of divine compassion. It involves human action and human
    compassion. It calls for new relationships, involving rights, respect and reconciliation.

    A rethinking of our responsibilities as Christians with our money is definitiely in order. Ugliness is not what we look like to ourselves or to one another -but what we look like to God when in the words of St Ambrose: we who are rich come to church not to give to the poort, but to take from them

  8. Thanks Greg – I had not thought to look at the story of Lazarus from that perspective before – worth further thought. Good redefinition of ‘ugliness too – much better considered from the perspective of spiritual rather than physical. I think that nearly as bad as taking from the poor is simply failing to acknowledge them or our responsibility in their poverty.

  9. Love all the thoughts on this topic!

    I’ve been reading a little around this lately, trying to weave together my thoughts on environment, social justice, consumerism and what it actually means to be a Christian. Firstly a secular based book, “Affluenza” by Clive Hamilton and Richard Dennis – well worth a read on rejecting consumerism (or conscious consumerism as they call it) and the idea of downshifting (Hey Mr Howard, I don’t need a plasma TV and new car, a maxed out credit card and unservicable mortgage on a massive house and have to work 80 hours a week for it, all I really want is to be part of a community). It dispells the myth of the Aussie Battler, where most whom are categorised in this way by politicians during elections can still afford a big TV and to go on holiday every year. We are already wealthy! If we spent more time looking at those poorer than us than coveting the things of those richer than us we would be a heck of a lot happier! Though God isn’t mentioned, the book fits well into the Christian ideals of lifting others above the desire for money.

    The other “Money and Power” by Jacques Ellul is a fantastic book that I am part way through (like wading through mud with its dense thoughts assulting my pregno-brain at the moment!) which is proving to provide a really really interesting commentry on the role of money in Christianity, including socialism vs capitalism from a Christan perspective (neither are the answer!), wealth in the Old Testament (Abraham, Job and Solomon – can you be righteous and wealthy?), the temptation of wealth and the responsibilities of the wealthy: the duty to continually provide for the poor (no virtue or merit here!). Maybe the wealthy are judged more closely because they have the means? Does this mean I can never again brush aside someone asking me for money on the street?

    I’m just getting on to the juicy bits about money as a reward or blessing. The best bit is that the book was originally written in 1954, with an update in 1975 which basically says that things haven’t changed much and the core of the thought is still relevant. In many ways it’s comforting that this is not a new problem.

    So if being a Christian is more than about just waiting for death and eternity (because I want more than that), and God does intervene and bless us from time to time, sometimes deserved and sometimes not, I’m starting to think that I’d prefer the blessing that comes in the form of almost perfectly fitting maternity jeans found in an op-shop, or beautiful conversations with the retired folk who walk their dogs in the park that I track through on my way to work from the bus stop, any sort of connection with people than lots of money (although y’know God winning that Toyota Prius competition would be nice!). And maybe in 30 more years I’ll be ugly to the prosperity doctriners who can all afford facelifts, but I’m hoping that the joy from living a life where money has no hold over me, with only one master who is loving and good, will be all the beauty that I need. And who needs money when they have joy anyway?!

    Sorry about the waffle. Had to get it off my chest!

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