Today's Prosperity Doctrine
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Does this topic belong in Apologetics as it deals with a doctrine or Money and Stewardship since it deals with money? For better or worse, I chose Apologetics since this topic is widespread within the Body of Christ today.
We are looking at this new doctrine called “sowing or reaping”, “sowing a seed of faith”, “sowing to the need”, or some other title that has you “sowing “ a “seed” of money into a particular ministry, whether it be national or your own church with the expectation that you will reap a 30-fold, a 60-fold, or even a 100-fold return on your “seed” that you have planted in faith within a ministry or church. This doctrine is based on the Parable of the Sower and the Seed found in Matthew 13:2-8. The promise of a 30, 60, or 100-fold increase is based on Verse 8 of Matthew 13, “But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold”. Then verse 9 adds, “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear”. So how can this doctrine be wrong if it is based on Scripture?
Well, let’s take a look at this doctrine. Let’s say that I’m going to sow a “seed of faith” into Dr. X, Evangelist X, or Pastor X’s ministry. Since we are all brothers in Christ, lets just call the receiver of my seed Brother X. Now, I continually have more month left over after the money runs out meaning that I have to get into a tug-of-war with my ends just to try and have them meet every month. I sure could use a little relief! I heard Brother X say in that Praise-a-thon I was watching that if I would just sow a seed of faith into his ministry, God would multiply it 30-fold, 60-fold, even (imagine!) 100-fold. Now, to a financially struggling fellow like myself, this seems Heaven sent.
So I sow a seed of faith into Brother X’s ministry. But, due to my rather extreme financial position (I’m not just financially embarrassed, I’m financially ashamed!) all I can afford is $1. So I sow my seed of faith of $1 fully expecting God to increase it just 30-fold. I don’t want to give God the impression that I’m greedy, so I pass on the 60-fold and the 100-fold. 30-fold will do just fine.
In a couple of weeks, my boss comes to me with $30 that I had leant him some 4 months ago. Seems the debt just slipped his mind. Well, knowing that God uses humans to do His work (He has no printing presses in Heaven) I gladly receive the $30 and immediately realize that it is a 30-fold increase of the seed I planted in faith in Brother X’s ministry. Now, I’m getting excited, so I plant the entire $30 into Brother X’s ministry as a “seed of faith”. Lo and behold, a month later, an old car that I had been trying unsuccessfully to sell for the last six months sells for the asking price of $900. Again, a 30-fold increase in my seed of $30. I’ve planted two seeds of faith into Brother X’s ministry and now I have reaped a harvest of $900. My heart leaps for Joy. How do I know the sale of this car is my increase? Simple, God uses natural means to bless me financially. If He just printed the money and showered it on me He would be a counterfeiter, so the sale has to be God’s blessing me with a 30-fold increase on my seed of $30. Now I’m really stoked!
I plant my third seed of faith into Brother X’s ministry by giving the entire $900 to him. This makes Brother X quite happy and he tells everyone on his TV program about my experience with the “seed of faith”. Two months later, my wife and I are going through some of Dad’s old papers and we run across some old stock certificates that Dad had bought many years back. I took these to a lawyer friend who agreed to do a search on them to see if they had any value. Wouldn’t you know it, after my friend deducts his fee from the proceeds of the stock, I receive a check for $27,000. Another 30-fold increase in my latest seed of $900. Well, I’ve got to send this money to Brother X as my “seed of faith”. This is better than those get-rich-quick schemes on late night TV! Besides, Brother X needs help in buying that house in Miami Beach so that he can minister to the up-and-out who need Jesus just like we do.
Now I’ve got a “seed of faith” worth talking about as I put the entire $27,000 into Brother X’s ministry. My fourth seed makes quite a hit with Brother X who talks it up on his TV show so successfully that not only can he afford the 27-room mansion in Miami Beach, but there is enough left over to build an air-conditioned dog house for Buster, his faithful companion. By this time, both Brother X and I are flying high. We are even on a first name basis. I sit back and wait for this seed to bear fruit and sure enough, one of my uncles (whom I don’t remember) died and left the princely sum of $810,000 to his favorite nephew who gave him so much joy years earlier. You guessed it, I’m that favorite nephew! I’ve only planted four seeds and now I’ve harvested $810,000. Isn’t God good?
Nothing is going to keep me from planting another “seed of faith”, besides, Brother X is buying a million dollar airplane to save on airline expenses as he flies to all his various meetings. And he has already taken his second flying lesson in faith knowing that the airplane will be his. So my fifth “seed of faith” is a whopping $810,000 sown into Brother X’s ministry. He just happened to be holding his Praise-a-thon at this time and when I called him with the good news of my latest “seed of faith” he became very excited. He invited me on his Praise-a-thon to testify how God had used me to bless his ministry starting with only a $1 “seed of faith”. The response was so huge that Brother X was able to pay cash for his plane and bought an airfield to right next to his house in Miami Beach. He was really in a position now to minister mightily to the up-and-out!
I was wondering just how God was going to increase my latest “seed of faith” 30-fold when I discovered while watching the evening news that I was the latest winner in the state lottery! Boy, you could have knocked me over with a feather. After taxes and assorted fees, the grand total came to $24,300,000 (I chose the cash now option). Another 30-fold increase in my “seed of faith” of $810,000 I had sown into Brother X’s ministry. I have now gone from $1 five offerings ago to $24,300,000. Not wishing to appear greedy, I decided to stop my planting of “Seed of faith”. Common sense told me that at the rate my seeds were multiplying soon there would not be enough money in the world for God to bless me with. After all, a 30-fold increase on my present harvest would yield $729,000,000 and a seventh “seed of faith” would yield $21,870,000,000 (that’s billion, with a b). And that’s just on a 30-fold return, the lowest yield that Matthew mentions.
Now, let’s see, just how many of you, starting with a $1 seed have seen it grow to $24,300,000 after just five seed plantings? Strange, I don’t see any hands raised. If this were really the case, very soon all the Christians in the world would own the world. So why don’t we and why haven’t you received a harvest of $24,300,000 from five plantings of your “seed” starting with $1? The answer lies in Matthew 13. Jesus specifically states in Matthew 3:19 that the seed is the “…word of the kingdom” not money. The prosperity teachers have twisted this parable to say that if a ”seed of faith” meaning money is sown into their ministry, then there will be a 30, 60, or 100-fold increase in that seed. Jesus never mentions money in this parable, it has been inserted by the prosperity teachers who found a gold mine in Matthew 13. Twisted scripture is a poor basis upon which to found a Christian doctrine. It only leads to ruin. God is not bound to honor scripture that has been twisted to meet a need.
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This was a really enjoyable read for me. I don't agree with the comment "anyone would stop reading this after the first paragraph or so because of its sarcasm". Of course, finding it on the "most read" page of the site is a solid indicator that that isn't true. As for the Scriptural context of the prosperity doctrine, I simply have one question for everyone who believes in it: How do you explain the church of Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11)? Smyrna was one of only two churches Christ had absolutely no issue with, and yet they are recorded as being monetarily destitute. As for Scripture's speaking of "riches" - what that means is really based on what you determine riches to be. Riches does not automatically mean money. As a matter of fact, Proverbs tells us wisdom is better than gold and silver. I would say people who immediately think of money when they see the word "riches" should consider other potential meanings. And should consider what is actually said in Scripture, and what our minds ascribe to the word when we see it. Often the two things are very different. I just wrote an article on The Church of Laodicea I think you might appreciate that deals a bit with this same thing. http://www.faithwriters.com/article-details.php?id=132322
I liked you article very much. Especially the seed being the Word of GOD.
From King James: What is the complete picture of Christianity? Shouldn't we look at scriptures united as a whole? Pro 3:16 Length of days [is] in her right hand; [and] in her left hand riches and honour. Mat 19:23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily, I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. Mat 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Hsa 10:12 Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for [it is] time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you. Hbr 11:37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; Hbr 11:38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and [in] mountains, and [in] dens and caves of the earth. Phl 2:3 [Let] nothing [be done] through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
Hello Wayne, I agree with you and your article was very good and I liked the way you presented it. I found it tasteful and one thing I might add. The bible speaks of the seed or money being sent to others in the body and abroad. 2Cor 9:5-15. Sowing and reaping is a principle of God, but it was not meant as it is taught, as our abundance was to abundantly supply to those in need. Not those who live in big mansions and drive mercedes. We can sow many differnt things though, that is why there are so many scriptures pertaining to sowing and reaping. Peace, love, righteousnes, etc. WHATEVER WE SOW WE SHALL REAP.
Prosperity preachers only thrive in affluent western countries where the ambition of people is more money, a better job, a bigger house and a better car. People love to hear they'll get richer. Such messages wouldn't mean a thing to Christians in Communist China or Africa. Incidentally, I never hear such preachers telling us to give the money to the church down the road! Let's preach Christ, the blood, the cross, sin, salvation and nothing else.
I both agree and disagree with you. I agree with your motivation that the "prosperity doctrine" is falsely used. However, it is not false. Regardless of my point of view, though, we are here to help you with your writing skills. First, I would like to point out that the tone of your article was extremely sarcastic, which would make any reader stop reading after the first few paragraphs. Second, while the grammar and sentence structure is good, I dislike your apology paragraph. Take out the first paragraph altogether or re-word it. Third, check your last paragraph. Your scriptural chapter reference should be "13", not "3". Please understand that when you write an article of this nature, you are not going to have much positive feedback by coming from an attack position.
Sowing and reaping is mentioned in the bible 108 times in 95 verses. There are different kinds of sowing and reaping. And of course, it you don't sow anything, you will not reap anything. Please read the entire 13th chapter of Matthew. In the particular passage of scripture that you are referring to, Jesus was speaking to a multitude. He was speaking to them in parables. The disciples asked Jesus why he was speaking to the multitude in parables. And that's when Jesus explained to the disciples "sowing and reaping" pertaining to the mysteries of the Kingdom. Jesus told the disciples basically that they (his disciples) understood the parables because He was with them. They understood him and whatever they didn't understand, Jesus would explain to them. On the other hand, everyone in the multitude was not with Him. So he could speak parables to them and they would not/could not understand because they were not Kingdom minded. And not only that--but because they were not with Him, he did not break down the parables and explain it to them.... It's just like that today. We can read the bible and hear the Word of God all we want to but if God is not with us/IN US..... then there is no way for us to understand His word nor the mysteries of His Kingdom.... And that's why Jesus started talking about the seed being sown on stony ground etc...... I honestly believe you mean well in stating your beliefs---but we have to stick to what the Bible says. The bible has at least 108 instances of sowing and reaping and you can't just take one of those instances and decide that the other 107 don't matter. If you want a financial blessing, then you have to start by sowing a financial seed---even if it's only a penny. God Bless!!!