Thou Shalt (or Thou Shalt Not) Prosper?

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Dr. Brown looks at concepts of prosperity and success in the Old Testament, Jewish tradition, and the New Testament, and than examines the contemporary “prosperity gospel” in this light. Listen live here 2-4 pm EST, and call into the show at (866) 348 7884 with your questions and comments.

 

Hour 1:

Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: Let’s not allow those who preach a false message and who emphasize a carnal gospel, let’s not allow them to steal the truths of God’s Word from us.

 

Hour 2:

Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: We really do need each other on all sides of the issues!  If we love Jesus than we need each other!

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Other Resources:

Defining Terms: Gospel, Heresy, Prosperity, and More

Stirring Kingdom Testimonies and Faith for Kingdom Finances

African Charismatic Christianity: A Mighty Outpouring, or a Dangerous Counterfeit?

31 Comments
  1. It warmed my heart to hear Dr. Brown say that we Christians, despite our differences, need each other. I could not agree more!

    It is almost clichéd to say I value the enthusiasm and zeal of Pentecostals (and I do!) but I don’t think Pentecostals get enough credit for their racial inclusion. They are a model for the rest of the American church.

    I’m curious, though, how does Dr. Brown think the church needs us liberal Christians?

  2. I’m not so convinced there really is such a thing as a prosperity gospel.

    I wonder if there’s such a thing as a trinity gospel.

    I’ve heard that there’s a ditch on either side of the road.

  3. If there is a preacher who really is all about money, money, money, and not at all concerned about sin or the cross, what kind of fruit would you expect to be seeing?

    What do we really see?

    Now there may be a time when a preacher is teaching on giving and might not mention much about sin and the cross, but that doesn’t mean those things are not of importance to him.

    Sometimes I wonder if we really are judging by the fruit or not.

  4. Yes I believe it’s wrong to use fraud to raise money for a TV telethon. I just don’t easily recognize fraud in those situations.

    Maybe a preacher might encourage people to give three this or that because there were three gifts the wise men gave Jesus, or to give 7 because a priest sprinkled blood 7 times, or any number of things we may read about or that God might show us in life.

    Yet it could be manipulative couldn’t it?

    I’ve given more than a few times during such TV fundraising for the gospel, and I’ve felt drawn to give much more than I have ever felt manipulated or felt used by men in the flesh for carnal gain.

    I usually felt giving is what God wanted me to do at the time. That’s usually what I felt in my spirit, my conscience, or soul.

    I can remember some of the times I gave because of this or that number of things in the scripture that was talked about or that I decided on.

    When I decided on it by myself (without the suggestion of any TV evangelist) I don’t think I was manipulating myself into giving.

  5. When I have given during TV fundraising telethons, I have experienced a giving up of some love for the things of this world, the material things that money can buy.

    If you believe those fundraising services encourage a love of money in people who give, you can decide that.

    My question to you is, Have you given and if you did, what did you experience as a result of your giving?

  6. Greg, Did you get your book yet? (queer thing)
    I am at about 9 percent into the book and wanted your thoughts on the Prop 8= “American Taliban
    Ban Bigots ) Majority vote doesn’t matter))
    Don’t silence the Christians feed them 2 the lions.”))
    Is this the liberal Christian thought that you are buying into? Get started on your book.

  7. Ray

    Properity gospel is a real thing. Its where ppl focus sermons on money…how God wants u to be rich, u can buy blessings by increasing tithes, and your wealth show favor of God

    This is not a mere a fundraising…once a yr thing. It is an every weekend, fly to poor country promise Jesus as means to increse wealth. And i am not even mentioning the good health promises of these pastors

  8. Bo,
    >>I’m Curious, though, what do you think liberal Christians have to offer?

    I think we liberal churches keep the church relevant and dynamic. In contrast, conservatives anchor the church to the past.

    I think we liberals churches connect with society and reach-out diversely. Conservatives tend to stand against society.

    I think we liberals Christians tend to be the face of God’s love to the world. Conservatives tend to be the face of God’s judgment and righteousness to the world.

    I think we liberals tend to take the text of the bible more seriously. I think conservatives take correct doctrine and theological purity more seriously.

    I think that the church needs both sides of these tensions.

    (OF COURSE, broad generalities are always imperfect. For starters, every denomination and every person I know has BOTH conservatism and liberalism in them, even if they tend strongly one way.)

  9. Dr Brown,

    >>Greg, define “liberal Christians.” As I understand the term, it refers to those who do not hold to the absolute authority of the Word and who deny certain fundamentals of the faith.

    It seems like you’ve defined us out of legitimacy in your heart.

    Both conservatism and liberalism are such broad categories that I would have a hard time neatly defining either.

    Take the issue of the bible. The mainstream “liberal” church I attend now has A LOT more scripture in it than any conservative evangelical church I’ve attended.

    We may, indeed, not view biblical authority the way evangelicals too. Yet, in evangelical churches the bible reading may be 5 minutes long and the sermon 45 minutes long. In my church the bible readings are typically longer than the sermon and almost always longer than in any evangelical church I’ve ever been in

    And, if you listen to the content, the sermons at my church take the text very seriously as a guide for living. In a lot of evangelical churches I’ve attended (and preached in!) , they base the sermon on a trendy current book or beat some societal issues with a single verse

    So, which church REALLY takes the bible more authoritatively?

  10. PS to Dr. Brown,

    If you can’t think of anything you need from liberal Christians, you should not use that line about church unity.

    One can’t honestly say they support church unity if their support goes no further than a narrow right wing of God’s people.

  11. jon,

    Yes, I read the book. I studied it, actually

    I was planning on doing a chapter-by-chapter reflection but decided that I cause enough trouble around here as it is.

    I appreciate Dr. Brown tolerating me and even answering me fairly often.

    I don’t want to turn his web site into a forum for beating up his book.

  12. jon,

    But, regarding the “American Taliban” thing.

    It’s ridiculous to call American conservative Christians the Taliban.

    I happen to have lived among the Taliban for a number of years.

    I have also lived for years among some of the most conservative Christians in America.

    The two groups are very different!

    That being said, they have more in common with each other than they surely want to admit.

    Fundamentalist groups (also Hindus as I know them) share this sense of being under siege by larger societal forces. Sadly, they also tend to justify their own aggression with a victimhood mentality.

    (note: I am using “fundamentalist” in the more accepted way. Not in the “fundamentalist vs. charismatic” way one hears on Dr. Brown’s show.)

    Conservatives/fundamentalists also tend to appoint themselves as moral guardians of society. In the process they can be pretty hard on women and on anyone among their ranks who does not conform to a set of fairly narrowly defined rules.

    Fundamentalists also tend to, without reflection, embrace traditional society and then justify it with their scriptures. They don’t read their scriptures for what they actually say but use their scriptures to justify and enforce societal norms from a prior generation.

    But, of course, having shared assumptions does not make the two groups the same!

    I could write a MUCH LONGER list of how The Taliban and American conservative Christians differ.

  13. Greg Allen,

    You Wrote:
    “I think we liberals tend to take the text of the bible more seriously. I think conservatives take correct doctrine and theological purity more seriously.”

    How does liberalism take the bible more seriously if it ignores what it says in many areas. Also, if I am remembering correctly, our conversations about homosexuality and abortion have a very one-sided scripture reference content. Me, the ultra-conservative, quotes extensively and you do not. So who takes the scripture more seriously?

    Liberals take doctrine just as seriously as conservatives do, but conservatives base their teachings on the scripture and liberals more on social justice. The conservative churches that I used to go to used passage out of passage of scripture in their teaching. The liberal churches that I have gone to have preached about societal ills told nice stories of human interest.

    You wrote:
    “I think we liberals Christians tend to be the face of God’s love to the world. Conservatives tend to be the face of God’s judgment and righteousness to the world.”

    Hmmm? I guess it depends on ones definition of love. I think liberals think of YHWH as a grandfather that hands out candy whether or not the parents approve and not being concerned about nutrition and tooth decay and whether or not the children will get into the habit of looking for handouts, while the conservatives are not so short sighted and are looking at the long term societal and eternal results of candy handout love. The conservatives have more of a parental love that knows better than to let children just go their own way with the fleeting hope that they will turn out all right someday. Real love does not rejoice in iniquity, but in the truth. Real love rejoices when the children walk in truth. YHWH is revealed to us in the scripture as a father, not a grandfather.

    1Co 13:6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
    2Jo 1:4 I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.
    3Jo 1:3 For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.

    You wrote:
    “I think we liberals churches connect with society and reach-out diversely. Conservatives tend to stand against society. ”

    Is the above statement anything less than admitting that liberals are not holy/set apart? That they are just the same as unbelievers? Do conservatives stand against society or against the abuses and the sinfulness of society. There is a difference. What is true society, but that people live righteously with one another.

    2Co 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
    Re 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

    You wrote:
    “I think we liberal churches keep the church relevant and dynamic. In contrast, conservatives anchor the church to the past.”

    Another admission that the liberal goes with the flow of society as it sinks lower and lower. Do the conservatives act as an anchor to the past or to truth?

    Obviously, I think that liberal Christianity sacrifices truth on the alter of getting along with people. And that it would rather console the unrighteous than to show them how to become righteous and escape their suffering and the suffering that they cause others.

    Liberalism seems to clap and cheer at people that do not know how to swim for doing such a good job of jumping into the water with those that are drowning so that they will not be alone in their peril instead of doing things of real help like hiring a lifeguard, teaching people to swim, and throwing them a life saver to pull them out of the quagmire of sin.

    Liberals seem to tell the drowning, “It is OK for you to inhale water even though it has proven fatal to others. Maybe you should just do it with a loving life-long commitment and you will be fine. Have pride and be free in your flailing.”

    They say, “It is a hard decision, but if you push down on the heads of little children that cannot yell for help you might stay afloat a little longer. We have asked the lifeguards to give you the right to choose and we’re sure that the person that owns the lake will understand.”

    And as long as the people in the lake do not know that they are drowning, they will thank you for not frightening them or making them angry by telling them that they do not know how to swim. And you will be able to congratulate yourselves on how well you are relevant and connected to those drowning and how you are showing them the lake owners face of love, but what do you really think the lake owner is going to say when he finds his lake full of dead bodies that could have been saved?

    It is time for you to take some swimming lessons and then teach others to swim instead of cheering their sincere efforts to drown themselves and others.

  14. Greg,

    The Bible commands us not to have unity with false teachers such as those who promote immorality. There needs to be agreement on core issues to have unity.

    Doug

  15. Greg wrote:
    “But, regarding the “American Taliban” thing.
    It’s ridiculous to call American conservative Christians the Taliban.
    I happen to have lived among the Taliban for a number of years.
    I have also lived for years among some of the most conservative Christians in America.
    The two groups are very different!
    That being said, they have more in common with each other than they surely want to admit.”

    That is so offensive and silly that I can’t believe you read it before you pressed ‘Submit’. There is a girl here in the UK who flew here to be patched up after the Taliban shot her in the head for wanting to go to school. A fortnight ago they said that they intend to shoot her again and finish the job.

    Not even the most snooty anti-American racist would see Christians as belonging in the same group.

    Instead of harping on about your pet topics, why not address what Dr Brown is doing here? He has been (falsely) accused by the Grace to You crowd of not challenging the poor conduct of those in the Pentecostal branch of the church. He is clearly doing that here, as he has done before. Well done, Dr B,!I think that those who accused you have 3 fingers pointing back at them. There are some really sorry things going on in Reformed churches. Don’t worry, I won’t mention them here.

    I do appreciate your integrity Dr Brown, and I enjoy the programmes you put out. My husband and children have listened to some episodes, and now we are having discussions at home about faith issues. I love the fact that you are responsive to events in the news, too. It does make you a bit of a lightning rod at times, but remember what I tell my children — Just look what they did to *Jesus*!

  16. Anthea,

    What is offensive? My clear statement that “the two groups are very different.”

    Yet, in my experience, the fundamentalist wings of Islam, Christianity and Hinduism have more in common with each other than they want to admit.

    I have had the unusual experience of having lived among all three groups. I will tell you, they have some things in common.

    No offense, but you seem to have some issues going-on that I can’t know about.

    “anti-American racist”?? Where in the world does that come from? Certainly not from anything I’ve said.

  17. Doug,

    OK. Fine.

    But homosexuality is not a “core” issue of the bible. It’s barely mentioned. Jesus doesn’t talk about it all all.

    To conflate the gay issue with salvation would make _you_ the heretic. (ironically!)

  18. Bo,

    >> How does liberalism take the bible more seriously if it ignores what it says in many areas.

    EVERYBODY ignores what the bible says in many areas.

    I would argue that we liberals accept the bible, as it really is, more than conservatives do.

    Conservatives tend to come with the bible with a set of presumption “abortion is wrong!” “Gays are evil!” “there can be no contradictions in inspired scripture!” and then make the bible conform to their presumptions.

    We liberals are far more likely to let the bible be the bible.

  19. Bo,

    >>The liberal churches that I have gone to have preached about societal ills told nice stories of human interest.

    That’s the stereotype I had of liberal churches, as well, until I started actually attending one.

    In my experience, “mainstream” churches have _A LOT_ more bible in them, than to
    evangelical/Pentacostal churches.

    And it is almost laughable to claim that conservative churches don’t focus on societal issues. At times, it seems like that is ALL they focus on — feminism, gays, taxes, elections, and sex, sex, sex, sex.

    Yet, major teachings of the bible get ignored — gluttony, welcoming immigrants, pacifism, wealth, hypocrisy, helping the poor, greed, etc, get almost totally ignored.

    Instead, conservative churches let the American “culture wars” set the agenda for them.

    In my mind, this is NOT treating the bible authoritatively.

  20. “No offense, but you seem to have some issues going-on that I can’t know about.”

    It’s very very patronising to answer someone in that way. I made myself perfectly clear, that Malala Youfzhazi’s shooting by the Taliban is an example of the way that the Taliban operate. As a British person, I have had the privilege of learning from her experience as she spoken about it in the last few months. It’s an instructive example of how very different it is to live in a land run by the Taliban. It’s not at all like the Bible Belt,and surely you can see that? Even the most gun-lovin’ Christian does not shoot a girl for going to school!! To suggest otherwise is to stretch the truth to make a point.

    You might have lived in all those places, but you were protected by being a male and a foreigner. Malala’s experience and that of so many other women shows that the Taliban is an evil of a particular kind. It is very wrong to it in with a branch of Christianity to make a rhetorical point.

    Much of the criticism of American Christianity *is* racist. Over here in England, the atheists and agnostics love to sneer at Americans and American believers in particular. The fact that it’s against white people does not excuse it at all. Constantly having a pop at American Christians is foolish. And I write that as a ‘black-as-the-ace-of-spades’ British woman.

  21. PS If I do not debate this any further, it is because it is ten to twelve here, and tomorrow our church is busy doing what Jesus commanded in Mk 16:15, preaching the gospel and giving out free bacon butties. I only have time to pop onto LOF occasionally, mostly to download the shows.

    Besides, I couldn’t say it better than Malala Yousafzai — watch this show and judge for yourself if Greg is being in any way fair:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03d0tfq/Panorama_Malala_Shot_for_Going_to_School/

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24379018

  22. If there really is such a thing as a prosperity gospel, what would it look like?

    Would it look like this?

    “Jesus came to make us rich financially, not to give us eternal life or to save us from our sins.”

    or

    “Though Jesus did come from heaven to save us from our sins and to prepare us for the kingdom of heaven that we might eternally reign as kings and priests with him, his primary job was to make us financially well off. All the rest is simply extra, non-essential stuff.”

    I would like to see a program devoted to investigating the “prosperity gospel” with some TV evangelists on as guests.

    Maybe we could all learn something. I’m just not yet convinced that there really is such a thing.

    Somebody might put a lot of emphasis on the Trinity. Would that mean there is a Trinity gospel?

  23. Greg,

    What would you do if you found yourself standing in front of the door to heaven, and there was a sign posted there that said in effect, “NO LIBERALS.”, and next to the sign was seen a small window where the glass was beginning to melt and stain with smoke, and you could see that there were Devils tearing people apart while they were screaming?

  24. Re Greg and the book ( A Queer Thing)
    How did you read the book so fast? not only did you read a 500 page book, but you studied it.
    If you read the book how in the world would you come to the conclusions that you come to?
    I do not want to doubt you, however I just do not understand how you would not have another view to the subject of this age we are in ??

  25. Ray – In my experience of being a part of a Prosperity Gospel Church (or whatever you want to call it) I have seen it first hand and can tell you that it exists. The fruit would be > How much of the persons emphasis is on giving/offerings versus preaching the gospel. When I would go to church half of the service was dedicated to an “Offering” sermon. So many times I would think it was the actual sermon but it was not…it was a way to pump up the crowd (string on their emotions) to give a big offering. I never noticed this at first until I had went to the church for a while and they started to use scriptures that referenced SEED and HARVEST and a lot of the scriptures they would use the SEED and HARVEST was referring to SOULS (souls coming to know Christ) and not money at all. The Preacher would also make comments like if you cannot give $100 then give $1,000 and if you cannot give $1,000 then give $10,000. He also would say that we are to never come to the house of the Lord without an offering (money). At that time I was in college and did not hardly have a dime to my name. I felt so pressured that I had to give an offering every service that I went to my car during service to find pennies and dimes in the seats and floorboard. It was quite sad. Then I read in the Bible where it says that we are not to give under pressure and that we are to be a cheerful giver. I was giving under pressure all the time and I did not have money to give. There was times I even gave my jewelry because of the pressure I was under. I mean I went to church 4 times a week and got paid once a week but I felt the pressure in every service due to this “Offering Sermon” that was given. Sometimes these would last 30 or more minutes. Every service I was hearing it pounded in to us to plant a seed (money) into the ground and it will bring a big harvest (blessings). I think a lot of the preachers that teach this way is under the Word of Faith movement (which you may want to research) and they name things and claim things. So getting back on point. I think that the fruit is in how much of the emphasis is placed onto money versus what preachers should place it on. This is not meaning every preacher and this is not meaning Telethons but there are some that are like what I am saying. They will come up with all kinds of things that sound good to get a big offering. They are very smooth talkers. VERY! I cannot think of any examples right now but just ask God to open your eyes to this and to also look at the scriptures they use to see if they are really talking about money or if the Bible is referencing Souls or something else. This is how I figured out what was happening. I believe the Lord will Bless us in our giving for sure but some preachers do take it to far and have the scriptures turned around also. I hope that I have helped some with the experiences that I have had. If I think of any other examples I will post them. I have not listed to the broadcast yet but I hope to tonight. Tiff

  26. The word “strawman” came to me today and so I looked it up in a dictionary. It’s a term someone brought up to me once in a conversation and at the time I didn’t know very well what they were talking about.

    It’s a high calling we are called to in Christ Jesus and sometimes it’s a fine line we need to walk.

    One thing I like about the Line Of Fire program is that we walk through things together and grow thereby.

    Suppose we find ourselves setting up straw men because we don’t quite see things as clearly as we might. Suppose our vision is fuzzy at times, and we walk just a bit unjustly as if we are only a bit of the resemblence of what we ought to be, a phantom of sorts.

    Then are we the real thing, or just a fuzzy resemblence?

    Could we in a sense be called a fake group whenever we walked not quite right together,
    a false body, though we are the real body of Christ?

    Suppose a man said of a certain group, “I call them a false body at times and here’s why…” and he explains that though they are the real body of Christ, they at times walk together in a way that is not exactly right, unlike Christ himself, for they are yet carnal.

  27. I find it interesting to think about whether or not we are being what we are meant to be, or whether we are being what we really are not.

  28. Greg Allen,

    You Wrote:
    “I think we liberals tend to take the text of the bible more seriously. I think conservatives take correct doctrine and theological purity more seriously.”

    You also wrote:
    “But homosexuality is not a “core” issue of the bible. It’s barely mentioned. Jesus doesn’t talk about it all all.”

    Hmmm?…So you do not take the the text of the Bible seriously unless a certain subject is mentioned more than 6 or 8 times and then only if Messiah spoke about it directly. Me thinks that the one that takes the Bible more seriously is the one that accepts the straight forward statements against homosexuality instead of looking for excuses to relegate the statements to side issues.

    And for that matter Y’Shua did talk about it. He said that “YHWH made them male and female” and “the two shall be one flesh” in regards to marriage. There is no need to speak directly of an aberration when the absolute is expressed.

    You might want to read the above a couple of times until it sinks in. To take the text of the Bible more seriously one must pay attention to the details and accept all of what is written. The one whose doctrine accounts for the details in scripture is the one that takes the Bible more seriously.

    It is past time to wake up.

  29. Greg,

    Then was Paul was a heretic for saying homosexuals would not enter God’s kingdom? Jesus was quite clear about his call to sexual purity by the way.

    Doug

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