Thursday, September 14, 2006

Pressing God for Prosperity

I have been thinking about the foolishness of the cross of Christ, about which I will be preaching this week from I Corinthians 1. The apostle Paul declares that “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength” (1:25). Paul is speaking specifically about the “message of the cross,” that Christ’s death in this “shameful” and “lowly” way is actually God’s move to redeem humanity and unveil his kingdom reign. But there is a more general sense in which much of the life God prescribes seems “foolish” to the world, and much of the world’s “wisdom” God pronounces foolish.

Keep this in mind as we turn to the cover story of this week’s Time magazine, “Does God Want You to be Rich?” It examines the burgeoning “Prosperity Lite” movement among Pentecostal, evangelical and even mainline Protestant American churches (it is referred to as “Lite” because it refrains from some of the more hard-core “prosperity gospel” teaching of the “televangelist era” of the 1980’s). Many evangelicals are critical of, and embarrassed by, this movement, but its power is that it has just enough reasonability to be alluring. The hard-core prosperity gospel takes the form of a spiritual contract: if you do your part, God will do his. Period. If you’re not wealthy it’s because you’re not doing your part. Most Christians with half a brain and an ounce of judgment smell the rat in that supposition. The “Prosperity Lite” gospel, however, claims that God wants us to have “abundant life” (John 10:10) and this naturally (as the reasoning goes) pertains to those things that we hold dear: happy relationships, meaningful work, good health, and enough money to live a “good” life. See how reasonable that is? You’re not telling me that God DOESN’T want me to have those things, are you? They are the bedrock values we live by and vote for in America.


The problem with this theology, and the key to its insidiousness, is how quintessentially American it is. It sounds positively constitutional, as if Jesus in John 10:10 is talking about “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Listen, I honor “the American dream.” It’s a great secular (which is not to say anti-religious) ideal. But let’s not hold God accountable to it by reading it into the Bible.

And this is the challenge of the Cross. It’s easy to see God’s wisdom over against obviously sinful and wrong philosophies in the world. But it gets real interesting when we put it up against what I would call “pleasing wisdom,” folksy aphorisms we have grown to accept such as “God helps those who help themselves,” (then why am I supposed to help people?) and “God wants you to be free from financial worries” (but what if financial worry is the only thing that will prod me to turn my attention to God?!).

As much as I would like the cross of Christ to confirm all the things I want out of life, it doesn’t. It actually challenges my “wisdom” in this regard. A good rule of thumb I have found is that if everybody wants it (financial prosperity, movie star looks, etc.) it’s probably not of God. That’s not to say it is against God’s will and purposes. But we blaspheme God when we enlist Him to justify it rather than submitting it to Him to winnow it.


Blogger Seven Star Hand said...

Hello Matt and all,

Good article. It’s clear there are many things we can agree on. Much of what I reveal will be a bitter pill to most though, but it will be sweet as honey on your lips, after you digest it. Sound vaguely familiar? Be patient and be aware that what I say is intended to make people very uncomfortable with the status quo so we can forge a new path to the future. Your interpretations are close but not wholly accurate. Here’s the chance to truly understand the Creator’s mind and expectations.

RE: "Does God want you to be rich?"
How about, does the Creator want some people to suffer and starve while some wallow in luxury and ignore the plight of others? What about "serving mammon" (money and materialism) instead of truth, justice, and your fellow souls? How about the rich man and the eye of a needle? Talking about the blind leading the blind...

To take this a step further, what would the Creator say about forming organizations (corporations, religions, governments, political parties, etc.) that accumulate vast wealth and resources while living people and other lifeforms suffer as the direct result? What does this say about the complete hypocrisy of all religions?

Here's some pivotal knowledge (wisdom) so people can stop focusing on symptoms and obfuscatory details and home in like a laser on the root causes of and solutions to humanity's seemingly never-ending struggles.

Money is the lifeblood of the powerful and the chains and key to human enslavement

There is a radical and highly effective solution to all of our economic problems that will dramatically simplify, streamline, and revitalize human civilization. It will eliminate all poverty, debt, and the vast majority of crime, material inequality, deception, and injustice. It will also eliminate the underlying causes of most conflicts, while preventing evil scoundrels and their cabals from deceiving, deluding, and bedeviling humanity, ever again. It will likewise eliminate the primary barriers to solving global warming, pollution, and the many evils that result from corporate greed and their control of natural and societal resources. That solution is to simply eliminate money from the human equation, thereby replacing the current system of greed, exploitation, and institutionalized coercion with freewill cooperation, just laws based on verifiable wisdom, and societal goals targeted at benefiting all, not just a self-chosen and abominably greedy few.

We can now thank millennia of political, monetary, and religious leaders for proving, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that top-down, hierarchical governance is absolute folly and foolishness. Even representative democracy, that great promise of the past, was easily and readily subverted to enslave us all, thanks to money and those that secretly control and deceptively manipulate all currencies and economies. Is there any doubt anymore that entrusting politics and money to solve humanity's problems is delusion of the highest order? Is there any doubt that permitting political and corporate leaders to control the lives of billions has resulted in great evil?

Here's a real hot potato! Eat it up, digest it, and then feed it's bones to the hungry...

Most people have no idea that the common-denominator math of all the world's currencies forms an endless loop that generates debt faster than we can ever generate the value to pay for it. This obscured and purposeful math-logic trap at the center of all banking, currencies, and economies is the root cause of poverty. Those who rule this world through fear and deception strive constantly to hide this fact, while pretending to seek solutions to poverty and human struggle. Any who would scoff at this analysis have simply failed to do the math, even though it is based on a simple common-denominator ratio.

Here is Wisdom

Doctrine of Two Spirits...


10:57 AM  

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