Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Way of Prosperity!

It’s not easy for me to write a blog about the Pro$perity Go$pel and the folks who sell it.  Everytime I try I tend to black out and then wake up in front of several pages of angry, expletive heavy ranting.  I’m going to try and keep it together for this blog though in the hope that maybe, just maybe I can convince one naïve soul out there to think twice before sending that guy with the weird hair on TV their money. 

For the sake of full disclosure, once upon a time I was that naïve soul “sowed” my “money seed” and waited for my “harvest”.  And waited.  And waited.  And waited.  It still burns my ass everytime I think about it!  So maybe this blog is not so much to the hypothetical naïve soul who is about to send off his/her money – because let’s face it, the odds of such a person reading this blog is slim to none.  This blog is probably more directed to my much younger, incredibly gullible self.  Don’t knock it, blogging is cheaper than therapy.

The thing about the Pro$perity Go$pel is that it’s rotten to the core.  There is so much wrong with it on so many levels I’m not sure where to start.  

For starters, the entire system is predicated on a horrible – and incredibly unchristian – set of foundational beliefs:

1 – You can have it all.  Fabulous wealth, total life long health, a perfect spouse, wonderful children, your dream home, dream job, dream everything.

2 – You can have it all because God desires nothing more than to give you the most awesome, comfortable and pleasurable life imaginable!

3 – HOWEVER you may have noticed that you don’t in fact have it all and that your life looks nothing like the ideal.   This is because while God wants to give you all these things He can’t.  (Also He is very sad about that, but what can He do?  It’s not like you can expect the Almighty to be all-powerful or anything… )

4 – BUT there is a way that you can untie the mighty hand of God!  You can sow a seed!  The seed will release a harvest of blessing!!  (Just so we're clear, by “seed” I mean money and by “sow” I mean give to the Pro$perity preacher)

5 – If you are skeptical, just look at the Prosperity preacher!!  He is living proof that this system works every time – he is after all fabulously wealthy, money keeps finding him, he has the adoring and perfectly coiffed wife and the house of your dreams!  Clearly it works!

I have to concede on point 5.  The Pro$perity Go$pel does work fantastically BUT the trick is that for it to work you have to be a Pro$perity Go$pel preacher.  See the Pro$perity Go$pel is a one way street where everything flows to the man at the top.  The reason the Prosperity preacher has so much money and stuff is because people give him money and stuff and the reason they do that is because he tells them to (in order to get more money and stuff for themselves).  Your greed feeds his.  The Pro$perity Go$pel doesn’t actually work*, but preaching the Pro$perity Go$pel works incredibly well!

Now regarding these preachers, there are three things you need to know.

One, these are not the kind of people you should be taking advice from.  They have been too wealthy for too long and have become too used to people throwing money in their direction for them to have any relevance in the real world.  They may occasionally vacation in the real world but they certainly do not live in it.  Case in point (as well as the inspiration for this blog): this letter from Benny Hinn.  Basically his advice to people suffering due to the recession and struggling with debt is to send him more money.  Don’t change your spending habits, don’t try to budget better, don’t go for debt counseling, just send pastor Hinn more money and all will be well.  These are not good people!!

Two, calling them pastors** would be inaccurate.  Calling them wizards would be far more accurate.  Think about it, in their theology God is a well meaning but slightly retarded cosmic force that can be bound and harnessed by speaking incantations from their spellbook (the Bible) provided of course that you speak these magic words with the proper amount of spiritual energy (faith).  They don’t treat Scripture like a narrative that has something to say about life in the world.  Instead they encourage you to use individual verses as charms to ward off evil and attract good fortune.  Case in point:  Benny Hinn’s debt cancellation stickers.  Yes that’s right, if you are struggling financially you just stick these verses and exhortations by the Great Wizard Hinn on your bank statements and bills and let the special Jesus Magic do all the work for you.  It’s like magic beans, only more useless.

The third and most important thing you should realize about Prosperity preachers is that they don’t actually believe a word of what they tell you.  Oh they may claim that it was these “laws of prosperity” that made them rich but it obviously wasn’t.  God didn’t give them a cent, all their money came from people who bought what they were selling.  Their actions speak much louder than their words.  What do they do when they need money?  Do they “sow a money seed”?  No.  They send letters and do television broadcasts asking people to send them money.  If they really believed any of what they taught, why don’t you ever see them “sowing” their vast fortunes?  (They would claim that they do but unlike them I don’t count buying bigger church complexes or more tv stations as “sowing”)  Surely if it worked the way they claimed they could be busy turning their millions into billions – all it would take would be for them to do all the things they tell others to do.  But they never do that, do they?  In their heart of hearts they must therefore know their magic doesn’t work as claimed.  I think the Naked Pastor summed it up best:

* I say this not for theological or intellectual reasons – though there are plenty of those – but because I personally tested it on a level most of the faithful never dared.  I am living, empirical proof.
** Pastor means shepherd.  Shepherds sole reason for existing is not fleecing their flocks.  Just sayin…

1 comment:

Plucky said...

Oral Roberts pioneered this "sowing the seed" approach. I think basically he was an okay guy however this teaching has sure blossomed into something sinister.

Sometimes I think it was one of those examples where God had one person try one thing to teach them something, then they wrote a book and attempted to apply it to everyone else's lives. More formulaic tripe . . .