Monday, September 22, 2014

Hey Prosperity Gospel Preacher, Don’t Condemn The Poor (Is A Christian Poor Because He Sins?)

            This short essay is to emphasize the false doctrine of the prosperity preachers. Prosperity preachers preach false doctrines when they preach prosperity and blame the poor for their poverty. When prosperity preachers blame the poor for being poor, they miss out on the crux of Historic Christianity that Christ came not to make poor people rich, but to make dead people live (spiritually).

            A few introductory remarks are essential.

            First, let’s define poverty. In the context of this short essay, I use the word poverty to signify material poverty (not spiritual). Material poverty includes wellness of body and mind. Poverty, therefore, is an insufficiency of necessary ingredients such as shelter, food, clothing, sanitation, education and healthcare.

            Second, people generally do not desire poverty. Minimally, all of us strive to have our basic needs met.

            Third, the Bible teaches that God prospers people (Deuteronomy 15: 4, 28:11; Psalm 25:13, 37:11, Proverbs 13:21 et al.). But the question is whether prosperity ought to be the universal status of all believers. In other words, does God allow poverty upon HIS people?

            Fourth, the Bible does not teach that God desires poverty or that God’s people should desire poverty. However, the Bible mentions the presence of poor and needy even among God’s people. This is not a condemnatory reference of the poor but a reference that encourages the wealthy to help the needy, but more on this later.

            This is the claim of the prosperity preachers:

            1. God wills prosperity upon HIS people and not poverty.

            2. If God’s people obey God and believe that God would prosper them, then they prosper and not remain poor (Deuteronomy 15: 4-6 et al.)

            3. There are poor Christians.

            4. Poor Christians are poor since they do not obey God (sin) or they do not believe in God’s words that God wants HIS people to prosper or because of other people’s sins.

            5. Therefore, poverty is the fault of poor Christians.

            My brief response to this teaching of the prosperity preachers is, GET OUT!

            My rather elaborate response to the prosperity preachers is as follows:

All Are Sinners; Even the Prosperity Preachers

            The Bible teaches that all are sinners - Christians and Non-Christians (Romans 3: 10, 3: 23 et al.). The sinners include the wealthy and the poor Christians, and the prosperity preachers as well. The prosperity preacher is either just as much or more sinful than the poor Christian. Therefore, if sin is universally present in mankind, then sin does not play a universal role in causing poverty among Christians.         

            This entails that prosperity is not granted to a lesser sinner or poverty upon a greater sinner. In other words, prosperity need not be the consequence of a believer’s greater obedience to God or poverty a consequence of a believer’s lesser obedience to God, especially when all believers are sinners.

Poverty Is Not Sinful

            The Bible does not teach poverty to be a sin as in the likes of idolatry, adultery, drunkenness, theft, homosexuality etc. Neither does the Bible teach that it is very difficult for the poor man to enter God’s Kingdom.

            In fact, it’s the other way around. The Bible teaches that it is very difficult for the rich to enter God’s Kingdom (Cf. Matthew 19: 23-24).

            If poverty is not a sin, then the prosperity preacher is not justified calling it so.

God Allows Poverty; Poverty Is A Tenable Status In Christendom

            These verses state that God allows poverty, “The rich and the poor have a common bond, The Lord is the maker of them all” (Proverbs 22:2) and “In the day of prosperity be happy, But in the day of adversity consider— God has made the one as well as the other So that man will not discover anything that will be after him” (Ecclesiastes 7:14)

            Just as the rich, if the poor are to praise God, then poverty is a tenable status in Christendom, “Let not the oppressed return dishonored; Let the afflicted and needy praise Your name” (Psalm 74:21).

            The following verses establish that God’s people could be poor.

            Exodus 22:25: “If you lend money to My peopleto the poor among you…”

            Exodus 30:15: “The rich shall not pay more and the poor shall not pay less than the half shekel…”

            Leviticus 14:21: “But if he is poor and his means are insufficient, then he is to take…”

            Prosperity preachers who cite Deuteronomy 15: 4-6 should read the 7th and the 11th verse as well. Deuteronomy 15:4, “However, there will be no poor among you…” is not a categorical imperative about the poor being an abomination, for a couple of verses later the poor are mentioned as being in the family of God’s people, If there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers, in any of your towns…” (Deuteronomy 15:7).

            Subsequently an imperative appears in Deuteronomy 15:11, “For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land…’(Emphasis mine). The importance here is on your brother, your needy and the poor in your land, signifying that the poor belong to the family of God’s people.

            Primarily, the Bible establishes the fact that there could be poor among God’s people. Then the Bible states that poor will always exist. These verses do not state the reasons behind the poverty of God’s people, but they merely state that they are poor and should be supported.

            If the Bible refrains from emphasizing causes to the poverty of God’s people, then so be it. Instead of examining and emphasizing the cause of a believer’s poverty, these nonsense-wielding prosperity preachers should alleviate the poverty of their brothers and sisters. 

            We are not done yet. Please observe more verses that establish the presence of the poor among God’s people.

            Leviticus 25:25, If a fellow countryman of yours becomes so poor he has to sell part of his property…”

            Leviticus 25:35, “Now in case a countryman of yours becomes poor and his means with regard to you falter, then you are to sustain him…”

            Leviticus 25:39, “If a countryman of yours becomes so poor with regard to you that he sells himself to you...”

            The Lord Jesus exalted the giving of the poor widow instead of alleviating her poverty or blaming her for her poverty (Mark 12: 41-44; Luke 21: 1-4). In fact, Christ’s ministry was not about eradicating poverty or prospering people.

            The Apostle Paul boasted about his weakness than his success (2 Corinthians 12: 9-10). He relates abundance and poverty giving neither the dominance over the other, but emphasizing upon the fact that we should be satisfied during poverty and abundance (Philippians 4: 12-13).

            The verses cited above merely mention the poverty of believers, and instruct the fellow believers to sustain and support the poor than blame them for being poor. There are more such verses, but the point is made.

            The Bible establishes that poverty is a tenable presence in Christendom.

Poverty Sans The Sin Of The Poor

            Sin could play a specific role in poverty e.g. a person may gamble his possessions to become poor. But specificity of sin as a cause for poverty is in some instances only. Most surely, sin cannot be universalized as a cause for poverty.

            Think this through please. If a person is born to a poor family, then the person cannot be blamed for poverty.  People cannot be blamed for poverty when their entire possessions are destroyed due to natural calamities such as earthquake or hurricane. Similarly, a person may invest his life’s savings into a business and may end up in bankruptcy.

            In these instances and more, the poor cannot be blamed as being sinful for their poverty.

            The Bible, in other instances, refrains from blaming the poor but recognizes their presence and supports them. Here are those citations from the Bible:

            The Bible commends the giving of poor people (Luke 21:4; 2 Corinthians 8:2).

            The Bible warns against pursuing wealth (Matthew 6: 19, 24; 1 Timothy 3:3, 6: 10; Hebrews 13: 5)

            God will sustain the poor man (Psalm 12:5, 34:6, 72:13, and 140:12)

            Bible defends the poor (Proverbs 19: 1, 31: 9)

            Finally, how can the prosperity preacher judge with all certainty that the poor refuse to believe in God’s words that HE would prosper them? Only God knows perfectly well as to what a man believes or not.

            Moreover, God is a God of believer and unbeliever. When God blesses those who do not believe in HIM, how can the prosperity preacher proclaim that God will not bless the Christians who apparently do not believe in God’s promise for prosperity? Thus the prosperity preacher exposes his lack of understanding of God and HIS Word.

            May these words of our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ conclude my tirade against the prosperity preachers, “Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15; NIV). Amen.


All Scripture verses are from NASB, unless mentioned. The scripture verses have been emphasized by me through italics and underline.  


sarah said...

Duet.15 holds the rich responsibile for the unequal distribution of wealth - the hardheartedness and tightfistedness of the rich.
God warns the rich not to harbour wicked thought.

True, laziness is admonished, but the preaching here is a cover for their wrong teaching -

God says, '' do not be like camels and mules who do not have understanding.'' Understanding comes by knowing God, by reading and studying, not blindly following like animals who do not have understanding. In other words, use the mind. Think.

Raj Richard said...

Thank you Sarah. I agree with you. The Lord Himself implored us to "love HIM with our mind...."