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Friday, December 28, 2007

"The Prosperity Gospel"

I wanted to comment on this news article, but the entry was getting long so I decided to journal it here instead. Here goes:

I found this interesting:
The Book of Job is a case study in piety unrewarded...
I guess Mr. Palmer forgot to read all the way to the end of the book of Job. I'm sure he can find a better example than that!

Lack of balance on the part of some doesn't mean that the whole thing is incorrect. As I journaled recently, just because someone is mistaken about the nature of the sun doesn't mean there's no sun. To me there is so much evidence that God wants His people to be well-supplied (I won't go into multimillionaire territory here... I just mean not destitute and scrambling for funds) that it's hardly worth arguing, but here are a few things to think about. God calls us an army. Who sends their army out without provisions? God calls us his children. Who willingly sends their children to school hungry? Jesus called us "friends." Who sees his friends in need and doesn't try to help out? We just had a new baby; friends of ours from church brought us dinner for a week. Jesus said the Church is his "bride." You wouldn't marry someone and then lock them in the basement to starve, would you?

All of those terms are terms of endearment, of love. The world around us is partially constructed in such a way that it teaches us things about God... which is why we have fatherhood (to show us fathers how God feels about us) and marriage (to show us how Jesus feels about us) and all those other things. If you think God wants you dirt-poor or sick or any of those other negative things, you're not paying close enough attention to your own attitudes toward the ones you love.

Now, I think some people live lives of poverty because of a call of God. If you are one of those people, you know it and have peace about that; if you don't have peace about that, you're likely not that person. Some people's lives end in martyrdom; those are casualties of war, not some kind of Holy Corpse Brigade. Sometimes things don't seem to fit the mold, but the concept remains: God loves us and His best, in general, is not for His beloved to suffer.

The problem here is thinking that you can do something and make something else happen. Thinking that I can put a $10 bill in a collection plate and then, based on the "hundredfold return" principle, assume that God is obligated to send me $1,000 right away. That, my friend, is not "faith" but "magic." Witches and magicians think they can cast spells and control nature. Christians know that only God can control nature. Nothing I can do can force God to do anything.

So, my thinking is this: we need to follow the teachings of the Bible as best we can, including the ones about giving and tithing. Doing these things Scripturally means that you are doing them out of a giving, generous heart, not with an attitude of trying to get something back. When we do so, we satisfy something in the system of just cause and effect which God has set up, and it allows us to receive from God whatever He, in his sovereignty, has decided to provide for us.

We're not making things happen. A better way to look at it is that we are being obedient to God in an effort to not stand in the way of the blessings which we believe He is sending our way.

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