I’m obviously not blogging much these days. The reason is two-fold:
1. I’m editing a book and that is taking up all my available energy.
2. I’m in my final two weeks of Hepatitis treatment and as the drugs accumulate in my system, life is getting rougher. My energy levels are super low and don’t seem to get restored (due to the fact that I have very little hemoglobin, among other things). I simply cannot sleep at night either (last night between 10pm and 8am I managed a little less than 4 hours of sleep). I have a constant headache that never goes anywhere. It’s going to get worse as the drugs build in my system, but then on about Dec. 22nd I’ll be done and they’ll slowly dissipate out of my system over the next six months. I’m surviving well enough and don’t really have anything to complain about; all those things I mentioned are at the level of “inconvenience”.
I don’t want to sound like a whiner. The Lord has been amazingly good these past 2 years and we’re surviving. Our church has been really supportive (and I’ve probably not exactly been as outwardly thankful for that as I should be. Thank you everyone at Valley Heights!). The fundraiser that a dear friend from Grace Community Church put on for us kept our heads above water, financially speaking (and I am eventually going to thank her by finding a husband for her; it’s the least I could do!). In the grand scheme of things, I have it pretty light. I Still got all my limbs. My kids are fine. I live in a country that where I’ve been able to be sick for 2 years and I haven’t ended up living on the street (plus I had $100,000+ of medication paid for).
So, on Twitter, I’ve gone back and forth with the son of a man who has been rather strongly accused of teaching the prosperity gospel (and the son was commissioned to ministry by none other than Creflo Dollar, so maybe there’s some reason to suspect that the accusations might have a bit of merit). The fellow that I’ve been interacting with eventually blocked me due to some arbitrary rule about Twitter etiquette (apparently if a person doesn’t respond to a tweet within a certain amount of time, they’re some sort of “bad guy”) and I was hoping to get him to offer forth his definition of the Prosperity Gospel. Of course, he thinks that he’s the only one allowed to define it, and does so in a way that conveniently leaves room for his own teaching, but as I’ve been editing and adding some rather substantial footnotes, I found myself reading an old book by Kenneth Copeland. I’d dare suggest that since the Pope sees Kenneth Copeland as the current spokesman for Protestantism, as well as one of the elder statesmen of the Prosperity Gospel circles, Kenneth Copeland is a decent enough authority on the idea of the Prosperity Gospel. I wanted to share what will be part of a footnote, since it’s been over 2 weeks since I blogged anything:
Kenneth Copeland, The Laws of Prosperity (Fort Worth, TX: Kenneth Copeland Publications, 1976), Cited 9 December 2014. Online: (http://www.kcmcanada.ca/books/lawsofprosperity.pdf). In no uncertain terms, Kenneth Copeland sets up the prosperity gospel as “good news”about a second tier of Christian spirituality as opposed to “good news” about the cross or the resurrection.
Copeland writes ” there is spiritual prosperity; there is mental prosperity; and there is physical prosperity” (Copeland, 10). He explains spiritual prosperity when he writes ” To prosper spiritually, you must be born again. When you accept Jesus as your Savior and make Him the Lord of your life, your spirit is reborn and brought into fellowship with the Father, the Almighty God. This then puts you in a position to receive from Him all the things promised in His Word” (Ibid). He then explains mental prosperity when he writes:
“Prosperity of the mind comes when you use the knowledge that has been accumulated—when you are controlling your mind instead of your mind controlling you. Second Corinthians 10:5 says we are to cast down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God (or against the Word of God), bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. The person who does this has control of his mind and is in position to prosper mentally. You cannot control your mind completely without the Word of God being alive and operating inside you.
You must control your will in the same way. Some people say, “Lord, help my will to crumble.” God doesn’t want a broken will that He can dominate. He wants your will whole and in submission to His will so that the two of you can work together in unity. When God made man, He gave him a will that has power. It is actually a godlike will because man has the right to choose his own eternal destiny. Only a god has that kind of choice! Man was made in God’s image and given the will to make up his own mind. You can go to hell if you want to and God will protect your right…you don’t have to, but you can. On the other hand, you can choose Jesus Christ and the Word of God.” (Copeland, 10-11)
Then, Copeland explains the relation between mental and physical prosperity when he writes:
“The world’s definition of physical prosperity (prosperity of the senses) includes gold, silver, financial favor or power, political favor or power and social favor or power. The world’s definition of mental prosperity (prosperity of the soul) is “knowing it all.” Put these two ideas together and you have a person who can use his mind to get financial and political power. This is the world’s total concept of prosperity. You can easily see its drawbacks! Wealth and power cannot answer every problem. Money makes a lousy god! It can’t buy good health or prevent sickness and disease from taking over the human body. Yes, it can go toward buying it, but the world’s system of healing just isn’t good enough. In the mental realm, a person can have all the facts in his head and not have the ability to use that knowledge to obtain the money or the health that he needs.
What produces spiritual, mental and physical prosperity? What brings all these areas together? The Word of God. The Bible says in Hebrews 4:12 that the Word is alive, powerful and sharper than a two-edged sword. It says that it divides the soul and the spirit, the joints and the marrow, and that it is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. When you are walking in the Word of God, you will prosper and be in health” (Copeland, 11-12)
So the basic idea is that spiritual prosperity is getting “in position” to have fellowship with God and receive what he wants to give you, and mental prosperity is essentially learning to “line up your will with God’s will”, meaning thinking the right sort of “positive confession” thoughts (i.e. “I’m a little God” or “my words have power to create”). Then, once you’re fully brainwashed with pagan theology and ready to willingly twist scripture, you can take all the Old Testament promises about Old Covenant blessings, or any scripture related to money that you can twist, and apply them to yourself in order to get money, favor or power.
This is what Kenneth Copeland has taught for decades. This is what is explicitly taught by the largest “church” in the United States and Canada.
Just some thoughts about the prosperity gospel.
Some Charismatics, like Michael Brown and Craig Keener, have portrayed the Prosperity Gospel as “Jesus died so that you can have money”. That’s simply a smokescreen to portray the prevalence of the Prosperity Gospel as only a component of the “lunatic fringe” since nobody on planet earth, outside of a handful of completely insane people, teaches something so blatantly heretical.
Also, if you’re going to critique someone as a prosperity preacher, do so accurately. The fact that people are heretics doesn’t give license for believers to lie about them or misrepresent what they teach.
Until Next Time,
Lyndon “Getting the Prosperity Gospel Right” Unger