Welcome to the Torch Leadership Foundation’s Cross in Culture Podcast where we consider different perspectives on what is happening in our culture and apply a biblical worldview. I am your host, Daniel Whyte III. This is episode #30.
This episode is titled, Harvey Lays Bare the Flaw of the Prosperity Gospel
For any biblically-minded Christian, the prosperity gospel is not a belief system which should be regarded as any element of Christianity. It is not simply another take on the old, old story; it is an entirely new story — one that does not have any biblical foundations. In a perfect world in which man had never fallen, would God want all of His children to be healthy and wealthy? The answer is yes. But we don’t live in that world, and thus we must reject the prosperity Gospel out of hand. Unfortunately, though, we cannot ignore its influence. It is one of the major teachings that American preachers have preached for many years now, and have exported to the “global south” — Africa, South Asia, and South America, where Christianity is growing rapidly.
However, its flaws were most recently laid bare here at home. As Hurricane Harvey swamped Houston, in a manner never before seen, Lakewood Church — the largest church in the nation whose pastor, Joel Osteen, is one of the main purveyors of the prosperity gospel — indicated that it would not be open in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane’s landfall. Whether the church had legitimate concerns about their own building being flooded and posing a danger to others is neither here nor there. What matters is the perception: People who do not even claim to be Christians were criticizing and mocking Osteen and his church for the blatant incongruity of America’s most prosperous church and its most prosperous preacher not exiting their gilded quarters to help the needy literally floating by their front door. One popular meme that circulated on social media showed Osteen sailing through flooded Houston on a yacht while people swam for their lives around it.
Kate Bowler, author of Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel, wrote in the Washington Post that this scenario “made America’s prince of the prosperity positive gospel into an object of social media contempt.” She added that Osteen was “lambasted as being, at best, sluggish in providing emergency aid to those suffering from the disaster and, at worst, a hypocrite who cares more about people’s wealth than welfare.”
Hurricane Harvey washed away the veneer of positivity that the prosperity gospel lacquers on everything. Prosperity gospel preachers are adept at either finding a positive way to look at a negative situation or blaming those who are suffering in the situation. But this time, there was none of that. For the people of Houston, there was no positive way to look at Harvey. There was no blessing in it. There was no silver lining. The Associated Press reported that Harvey “raged through neighborhoods rich and poor, black and white, upscale and working class. Across Houston and surrounding communities, no group sidestepped its paralyzing deluges and apocalyptic floods.” Yes, the ‘blessed and highly favored’ were just as underwater as the ‘poor and needy.’ And, like a fish turned belly up, Osteen, Lakewood Church, and the prosperity gospel — metaphorically and literally — was laid bare and had nothing to offer.
In closing, let me leave you with some Scripture and a quote to think about.
Luke 12:15 says, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”
John Piper said, “Prosperity cannot be a proof of God’s favor since it is what the devil promises to those who worship him… If God’s love for His children is to be measured by our health, wealth, and comfort in this life, then God hated the Apostle Paul.”
Francis Chan said, “It is not scientific doubt, not atheism, not pantheism, not agnosticism, that in our day and in this land is likely to quench the light of the gospel. It is a proud, selfish, luxurious, church-going, hollow-hearted prosperity.”
In light of what we have discussed today, I want to remind you that in our ever-changing world, there is one Person who never changes. That person is Jesus Christ. The Bible says that He is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” He is not subject to the whims of society or popular opinion. He has an unchanging, eternal love for you. If you do not know Him as your Savior, I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Thank you for listening to this Torch Leadership Cross in Culture Podcast.
Visit us online at www.torchleadershipfoundation.com
Until we meet again, remember to keep Christ first in our ever-changing culture.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books including the Essence Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and Amazon.com national bestseller, Letters to Young Black Men. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry.
He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity (formerly Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary). He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree.
He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica since 1987. God has blessed their union with seven children.