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Thoughts on preaching the Prosperity Gospel

February 09, 2011

Q. A recent Senate investigation into spending by high-profile televangelists found no actual wrongdoing, but raises interesting issues about the lifestyles of such people. The inquiry targeted six televangelists and examined how they used the funds raised by their respective churches, and whether they were breaking the rules pertaining to the tax-free status they enjoy as religious nonprofits. All six investigated preach some form of the so-called Prosperity Gospel, which says that paying tithes or donations to the ministries will result in God favoring the donors.

The investigation found that between them, the six churches take in tens of millions of dollars a year, none of which has to be reported to the Internal Revenue Service and for which no financial records are required to be passed on to anyone. The pastors of each church, and in many cases their spouses and families, live lavish lifestyles, travel in private jets and expensive cars, live in multi-million-dollar homes and stay in hotels costing thousands of dollars a night when traveling the country.

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The Prosperity Gospel — which preaches the idea that God will reward the faithful with health and wealth —and its adherents are derided by many mainstream Christians for preaching what could be described as a message of greed masquerading as God’s word, but those who preach it claim that it works and that they’re living proof that God rewards the well-off.

What are your thoughts on the Prosperity Gospel? Is it a suitable subject for a church to base its religious mission on? And how does the Prosperity Gospel shape up when compared to what Jesus’ words, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!” (Luke 18:24), or the sins of avarice and pride?

I believe the Prosperity Gospel is just one piece of the Bible. As such, it should not be focused on single-handedly. The main scripture I see that supports our tithing back to the Lord is in Malachi, which states, “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it’” (Malachi 3:10). This has to do with tithing to your home church, not offering to other ministries.

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