Monday, May 20, 2013

Against the "Prosperity Gospel"

I'll be honest, I've usually only been hypnotized by Joel Osteen's smile long enough to catch a couple points in his sermons. Then something snaps me out of it and I continue channel surfing for American Pickers reruns, UFC highlights, or the Weather Channel. But occasionally I've tuned in long enough to actually digest some of his teachings. They sound great on the surface. They're uplifting. They're inspiring. They're motivating. They promise good things.

Ay, but there's the rub. To paraphrase one comment I heard on his program: "pray and dedicate your life to God and expect good things to happen to you." Now I'm all for praying and I'm all for dedicating my life to God, but I'm not all for expecting results. This can all be easily summed up in one hypothetical situation.

Let's say there's someone suffering. Horrible suffering. Some problem that we just can't imagine. They pray to God. They dedicate their life to God. They live their faith. And then their situation changes. The problem is, it changes for the worse. Viewed from the perspective of Prosperity Gospel, what is this person to think? Either they didn't pray well enough, dedicate themselves enough, or do enough for God to intervene positively in their life. They weren't a good enough Christian.

This conclusion simply doesn't make sense to me. Sometimes horrible crap happens to good Christians. And then after they pray about it and redouble their faith, worse crap happens. There's no rhyme or reason. The Prosperity Gospel has been disproven definitively. Leave it and don't turn back.

What IS true of God when bad things happen and then even worse crap happens on top of it is that God is there with us -- suffering WITH us. That's the most important message.

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