Last week U.S. Postal Service inspectors and IRS criminal investigators raided the offices of Benny Hinn, the infamous faith healer and “health and wealth” preacher. Here is what should know about Hinn and the prosperity gospel movement.
What is the prosperity gospel?
The prosperity gospel (also known as the “health and wealth gospel” or by its most popular brand, the “Word of Faith” movement) is a perversion of the gospel of Jesus that claims that God rewards increases in faith with increases in health and/or wealth. As Stephen Hunt explains,
In the forefront is the doctrine of the assurance of “divine” physical health and prosperity through faith. In short, this means that “health and wealth” are the automatic divine right of all Bible-believing Christians and may be procreated by faith as part of the package of salvation, since the Atonement of Christ includes not just the removal of sin, but also the removal of sickness and poverty.
What makes the prosperity gospel a false gospel?
David W. Jones outlines five errors of prosperity gospel teaching:
1. The Abrahamic covenant is a means to material entitlement.
2. Jesus’s atonement extends to the “sin” of material poverty.
3. Christians give in order to gain material compensation from God.
4. Faith is a self-generated spiritual force that leads to prosperity.
5. Prayer is a tool to force God to grant prosperity.
“In light of Scripture, the prosperity gospel is fundamentally flawed,” Jones says. “At bottom, it is a false gospel because of its faulty view of the relationship between God and man. Simply put, if the prosperity gospel is true, grace is obsolete, God is irrelevant, and man is the measure of all things. Whether they’re talking about the Abrahamic covenant, the atonement, giving, faith, or prayer, prosperity teachers turn the relationship between God and man into a quid pro quo transaction.”
Where did the prosperity gospel come from?
The prosperity gospel originated as an offshoot of Pentecostalism in post-World War II America. While it started in local congregations and in tent revivals, the movement gained a larger following through the use of radio and television, and became firmly entrenched in the 1980s with the rise of “televangelism.”
While not all prosperity gospel preachers are Pentecostal or charismatic (and most charismatic and Pentecostal Christians are not associated with the prosperity gospel), the movement is still largely connected to revivalist and charismatic churches. This has made it easier for the movement to gain traction in Africa, South America, and other areas of the world where Pentecostalism is rapidly expanding.
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SOURCE: The Gospel Coalition