What do you think are the most significant errors of the prosperity gospel movement?
There are numerous errors, but let me break down four. First, it’s an assault on the sovereignty of God because it teaches people that they can control God with an offering or positive confession. People think they are the puppet master and God is the puppet. Growing up, I viewed Him as a magic genie, thinking that if I asked Him right, I would get whatever I wanted.
Second, it’s an assault on the atonement. Prosperity theology teaches that health, wealth, and happiness are earthly guarantees because of the atonement. The truth is, Jesus took the full wrath of the Father as a substitute for His people. The purpose of the atonement is to provide salvation, not “stuff.”
Third, prosperity theology does not have a biblical theology of suffering. God’s Word has answers regarding trials, sickness, pain, and loss. People need those right answers.
Fourth, prosperity theology twists biblical teaching about wealth and stewardship. Money is not evil, but we all must keep an eternal perspective (Matt. 6:19–24).
What do you think is the best way to talk about the errors of prosperity gospel theology to friends or family who are involved in the movement?
A seasoned pastor once told me, “We can be right, but we don’t need to be ugly about it.” Another once advised, “Preach with wet eyes.” Those wise words have proven helpful over the years. As difficult as it may be, we need to maintain a godly posture even when in the midst of intense disagreement. It’s vital to remember that all people lost in deception have souls. They are the mission field. I’ve found that asking questions and respecting opponents works best for getting through to them. Hammering people with imperatives and aggressive remarks without care usually only triggers a defensive or argumentative posture. Building or maintaining relationships with people for the purpose of sharing truth is a wise and prudent thing for Christians to do. That being said, there are times when we may need to cut off dangerous relationships and avoid those who are brazen in their false doctrines (Jude 23). There have been moments when I have had to confront my family in very direct ways.
Why do people find the prosperity gospel so attractive?
It appeals to the core desires of human flesh. We all desire some level of comfort, ease, protection, security, and assurance. The prosperity gospel trades the eternal security we are supposed to find in Christ alone and elevates temporal security and man above all else.
Do prosperity gospel teachers sincerely believe the theology they teach, or are they in it just for the money and fame?
The words of 2 Timothy 3:13 can be helpful here. Paul references “evil men and impostors” who “will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” I would say it’s both. Many sincerely follow prosperity theology because they believe it—I most certainly did. Others are just looking to exploit people for greedy gain (2 Peter 2:3). I saw firsthand many moments where things were done or said that were blatantly false and we knew it. Moments like those are usually justified in some manipulative way.