God the Cosmic ATM – a prosperity gospel heresy

Don’t Say Amen to the Money Gospel

This showed up on my Facebook feed today, along with the instruction to “type Amen and SHARE” and then the money would be all mine within 24 hours!

plenty money

Look at that fat roll of moolah!

And do you know how many people shared that photo! Over 1 million people! I bet they each got a fat roll of moolah because God can bless people with as many fat rolls of moolah as he wants, right?

Jesus must love to give people money. I’m sure it’s in the Bible somewhere, like this passage:

 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight. (Luke 16:13-15.)

Oops, Jesus said God detests the things people value, like money. Maybe I was thinking of this passage:

Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:24-25.)

Nope, not that one either. Maybe it’s this one:

Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12: 33-34.)

OK, I’m stumped. Where’s the passage where Jesus said he wants to give everyone a lot of cash?

You can search and search, but you won’t find it. And here’s the kicker: the outfit that posted that photo isn’t a Christian ministry. In fact, when I checked out their Facebook page I found out that they post nothing but photos and videos designed to get people to share them, no matter what the message, including photos and videos with profanity and sex. It’s nothing but a click-bait site.

Shame on Name It and Claim It Prosperity Preachers

The jet Creflo Dollar "needs" for his ministry (Wikipedia file photo)

The jet Creflo Dollar “needs” for his ministry
(Wikipedia file photo)

The responsibility for the popularity of a photo like that one can be laid in part at the feet of those who preach a name-it-and-claim-it gospel. Creflo Dollar made headlines recently when he asked his followers to send in enough money to buy him a jet (his board of directors later decided they already have enough money on hand to buy the $65 million aircraft) while Victoria Osteen told her followers it’s best to focus on themselves when they worship rather than on God:

When the focus is on yourself and on getting money to buy jets that billionaires line up to acquire, it’s easy to understand why people see a photo like the one posted on Facebook and think, “Why not me? Why shouldn’t I get vast wealth like Creflo and Victoria?”

After all, prosperity preachers like Leroy Thompson tell their followers that the Bible teaches “God said: ‘it is time to tell the money you don’t belong to the wicked, you belong to us.’ .. Money come to me now!” (See the article “10 Crazy Quotes” from The Christian Post for the source of that quote and more.)

Again, though, Jesus told his followers the opposite.

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Luke 9:57-58.)

I suspect some name-it-and-claim-it prosperity preachers will try to explain that away by insisting Jesus said these things just for those who were with him as he traveled across the land, and that there is a different blessing of wealth for us who follow him after the Holy Spirit came to be with God’s people.

They’d be wrong. Look at Peter and John, two of the biggest leaders of the church:

One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. (Acts 3:1-8.)

These are two of Jesus’ closest personal friends – filled with the power of the Holy Spirit- and they didn’t have a penny to give the man. Oh, he looked to them for wealth sure enough, but they set him straight.

A fat roll of moolah is worthless in comparison to the real gospel of Jesus Christ.

Can someone say amen to that?

***

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37 Responses to God the Cosmic ATM – a prosperity gospel heresy

  1. My husband, who is generally a mild-mannered individual, once declared the ‘prosperity gospel’ as the most pernicious, vile thing to emerge from the church in recent years. It is, quite literally, disgusting. It reminds me of flies on dog poop.
    As for the ‘God wants me to be happy so I should just do stuff for me’ I am gobsmacked. Even my 10 year old knows the falseness of this ‘gospel’! I have seldom heard anything more worldly from the lips of someone supposedly proclaiming Christ. This whole thing gives me the creeps – and makes me so very sad for the people who are searching for God and are given this bollocks instead (‘scuse my French).

    • Tim says:

      That whole “gospel” truly is as worldly as it gets, sfk, or perhaps we should say other-worldly since it is a lie from the pit of hell. Bollocks is the right word indeed.

  2. Pastor Bob says:

    When I was in Bible College a very sharp OT scholar called the prosperity group: “Name it, Claim it, Frame it” folks. Soon they were called the “Blab it- Grab it” group.
    I have heard some of the proponents say some the cruelest things imaginable.
    -The one that got my blood boiling was (in synopsis): The person with cancer relapse “was not going to make it” because the Bible had been unread for at least a few days.
    — *sigh…….

    • Tim says:

      That is cruel, PB, and thoughtless too. I imagine the person who said it believed it, which means there is someone else also responsible: the person who taught that heresy to the one who said it.

      • Pastor Bob says:

        The one who said this was one the big names in this – er, movement.

        the fruit of the spirit includes – patience.

  3. Melody says:

    amen. ;0)

  4. Kevin Mason says:

    There is also the “dark-side” of the prosperity gospel that says if you are experiencing financial struggles or ill health, that is an indicator that God is cursing (un-blessing) you. To say that God is showing dis-favor to those experiencing the normal struggles of life is damning. It makes God a cruel creator. It says God is cursing or chastising those who are ill or do not have wealth.

    We are missionaries and were once told by our home church pastor that because we experienced the normal tropical diseases, and struggle with insufficient financial support that is a sign from God that He wants us to quit serving as missionaries and return to the USA. REALLY? Looking at the experiences of Paul, the other apostles and many of the now revered missionaries of the past, If they took the advice given by our pastor, they would have all quit and returned home. It is not a surprise that our pastor measures God’s blessings by church growth and the affluence of the church. He and the leaders bought into the worldly business standards of the world as a means of measuring spiritual success. It is akin to using a tape measure to measure a person’s weight; it is a wrong standard of measurement but it gives them their desired result.

    The prosperity gospel is popular here in Ecuador where there is much poverty, it appeals to the desperate and to the greedy. It tells hurting people that Jesus will end their poverty, heal their illnesses, etc. it is a great method to give false hope, fill a building, fleece the already poor and assure that they will never know the real Jesus or enter heaven. When the hope fails, the sickness remains, the increase in wealth remain elusive; the people eventually give up on Jesus or worse, permanently reject the real Jesus. No wonder it is a popular tool of Satan.

    • Tim says:

      That pastor’s advice flies in the face of Romans 8:1 which tells us that God does not condemn his people for anything. I am glad you are a light shining for the freedom found in Jesus to the people around you, Kevin.

  5. Carmen S. says:

    It’s a pyramid scheme with the 1% forerunners/organizers absconding and the 99% crying foul. But the 99% don’t cry foul. They have been deceived. Solution: Colossians 2:8 “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the traditions of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

    • Tim says:

      At the extremes it’s an out and out con game run by experienced confidence men and women who know exactly what they are doing: making a living off the misfortunes of others.

      • Carmen S. says:

        Hmmm…there are many in the world who make a living off of the misfortunes of others. These people specifically do it using God’s Word and the apostles themselves had to deal with this, which brings it into perspective. Maybe that is hard to wrap your mind around… this is not “The American Dream idol” that is being exported to third world countries, as I have heard a few Reformed pastors falsely conclude of the “Prosperity Gospel”. Why do Reformed pastors read the latest books written by The Gospel Coalition ( and published by Crossway) and diss the “American Dream”, but have forgotten the “Protestant work-ethic”, and why it was called that? ( I digress). 2 Peter 2:3 “And in their greed they will exploit you with false words.” 2 Corinthians 2:17 ” For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word”… KJV: “corrupt” – the word means who are merely “trafficking with”, “adulterating”, “huckstering” the word of God.

  6. The worst thing about this movement, at least in my mind, is that it places the worth on results and not on the One we’re to be worshiping. God seems at best just the dispenser or ATM, that provides us with what really matters, the good life. Is God worthy of worship even if there are no tangible benefits to following him? That’s not to say there aren’t, but I’ve found it a challenging question. The desire for prosperity is in my own heart as well at times, even if it isn’t for a private jet.

    • Tim says:

      On whether God is worth worshiping even if there are no positive results, I think of Daniel 3 when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego answered Nebuchadnezzar after he told them they were going into the furnace: “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[c] from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

  7. Carmen S. says:

    Kevin Mason…which bible verse does the pastor use for support of his view? John 9:2?
    Yes, it does sound like you are an unsuccessful missionary. You will be forgotten. You have accomplished nothing. This all sounds like Dr. David Livingstone. His wife, Mary, died from fever, and Livingstone died of dysentery and malaria. He only had one convert…a man who listened because he was attracted to the world’s wealth. You might as well give up, Kevin.

    You stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before !

    • Kevin Mason says:

      I am thankful that God uses his standards (obedience to Him) rather than the world’s standards to measure success. My senior pastor once told me that if our church here in Ecuador continues to preaches against sin, preach the need for repentance and preach the need for obedience to God’s word, our church will never become a large church. He was right. But thankfully it is Jesus Christ who is the head of the one true church and not my senior pastor (Who now brags 1,200 attendees each week).

      We are more concerned about spreading God’s truth and the biblical means of salvation, going out into the community and sharing God’s word with others and praying the Holy Spirit convict unbelievers to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Rather than trying appeal to people to enter our church building via worldly means. The same senior pastor said he hopes to get as many people as possible into the church by whatever means with the hope that eventually some might be saved.

      We refuse to use worldly pragmatic means to draw crowds; we refuse to dilute the gospel to make it palatable to those who reject the pure gospel. We will never be popular or tout large numbers of attendees. We ultimately desire to hear the words, “well done good and faithful servant”.

      There are many missionaries in the world whose names are not known beyond the tiny circle of those they serve on the mission field and families and friends in their home countries. And we are okay with being part of that group. God opened an opportunity for us to serve and we are happy to serve. It’s not about us, it’s not about numbers, it’s about Jesus Christ.

      • Carmen S. says:

        Kevin,
        There are pastors who look to the “successful”…they have done so much for the Lord. “I have done so little”. I have always asked them, “How do you know they have done so much?”

        • Kevin Mason says:

          I agree as I have witness the leadership of my home church and other churches that have chased after every new method and business model of growing the church: First it was Rick Warren and the “Purpose Driven Church”, Then is was Bill Hybels and the Willow Creek model, and now it is Andy Stanley. Also to add to the mix is the mystical teachings from the New Apostolic Reformation leaders (new revelations from God, visions, healings, casting out of demons, raising the dead and the offering of classes to learn these things) also add a chest-thumping sound system and rock concert quality lighting system.

          What burdens me greatly is that thanks to YouTube, churches here in Ecuador want to copy what they see in the mega-churches in the USA. Many pastors want to replicate what they see happening in the USA and read the books by mega-church pastors. It does provide the “WOW” factor for the people and the emotional excitement and entertainment of a rock/rap concert but that is all it provides. Jesus becomes another entertainer and the church is another entertainment venue.

          I understand and have felt the temptation to compromise, but I also understand that making compromises does not bring people to the real Jesus Christ. I am constantly reminded that the true path to Christ is straight and narrow and I also know the final destination of those who wish to make it wider and the destination of those who chose the wider path.

  8. Mary Anne says:

    Yes, thank you very much. Some of this “name it and claim it” nonsense has caused me more pain than just about any other phenomenon I’ve encountered as a believer. As for the “faith” movement (as in, you can write your own ticket with God if you have enough faith!), I’m convinced that it’s done more to screw up people’s lives than any “movement” since so-called free love. I wish I’d never heard of either of these concepts.

    If God wants to “bless me with plenty of money” it’s not like I’ll say no, you understand. 😉 But that’s up to Him, and if He suddenly decided to hand me a whopping amount of money, I hope I’d try to use it well.

    • Tim says:

      Good points, MA. And another thing I’ve noticed is that for many people getting a ton of money can be a curse, not a blessing.

      • Mary Anne says:

        All in the use, I think. As Dr. Johnson pointed out, money can put it in a man’s power to do more good–or there’s a saying I heard growing up that money is a good servant but a bad master.

  9. Judy says:

    I’ve never quite understood the prosperity gospel. Oh, I’ve understood what it is and why people go for it, but the Scriptural back up for it has never added up. Jesus was simply not interested in money, for he knew that God owns it all and that His kingdom was worth a whole lot more. I love the story of Peter catching a fish at Jesus command and paying their temple tax with the coins that were found in its mouth. That about sums up Jesus’ concern for money.

    • Tim says:

      That story and the one where Jesus looked at a coin and said since it had Caesar’s picture on it they should give it back to Caesar. There’s nothing about accumulating wealth as a sign of God’s blessing can be found anywhere in the New Covenant.

  10. Susan Furst says:

    The beggar at the Gate called Beautiful received true wealth that day. It was not money or even the physical healing. It was hearing and believing on the name of JESUS as the ONE sent from
    GOD who suffered and died on the cross to forgive his sins. The free gift of JESU’S righteousness is the only wealth worth having. Have you opened the door for JESUS yet?

  11. Jeannie says:

    If wealth and worldly success are indicators of one’s faithfulness and righteousness, then Jesus isn’t much of a representative, is He? Maybe the prosperity gospel has it all backwards …. (Ya think?) Thanks for this, Tim.

    • Tim says:

      Jesus said that when we look on him we see the Father. It makes you realize God’s riches are not the same as what the world calls wealth.

  12. God is not a vending machine.

  13. Michelle says:

    In my opinion, those who are unsaved look at the prosperity preachers and their obsession with wealth and are immediately turned off to the real gospel–Jesus saves sinners.

    • Tim says:

      I think it obscures people from seeing Jesus too, Michelle. It’s sad, but true.

    • Yes, I’ve seen non believers less snowed and more easily recognize prosperity gospel preachers inguenuineness and how they take advantage of others. They laugh loudly when they see one of these “men or women of God” wanting to send someone a piece of a palm frond once they send in their $30 “love offering.”

  14. Pingback: 5 reasons to be concerned about prosperity or positivity teachings | Enough Light

  15. Nick says:

    AMEN!!!

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