Blog Archive

Friday, August 20, 2010

Question of the Week:
Name It and Claim It?

Jim Bakker,
once a prominent prosperity gospel proponent,
who fully renounced that doctrine
after reading the entire Bible for the first time
while incarcerated for fraud

“What is the prosperity gospel I keep hearing about?”
~ Nina, Daytona Beach, Florida

Please forgive me for removing the capital "g" from that question, Nina, but the message you speak of—the prosperity theology also spoken of with terms such as "health and wealth" or "name it and claim it"—is anything but The Gospel.

The Gospel of Jesus says that the children of God Almighty—those reconciled to Him through the blood of Christ, who are adopted as His heirs—receive riches exceeding their highest imagination, beginning with forgiveness of sins and eternal life. The prosperity gospel takes that truth and applies it to material wealth and financial prosperity, relying upon this Scripture in particular:

"Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,"
Says the LORD of hosts,
"If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it."
~ Malachi 3:10 (NKJV);
(also see Deuteronomy 8:18; John 10:10; 3 John 2-4; Romans 8:32)

Because of the emphasis on tithing, the people most "blessed" by prosperity theology are those collecting tithes, purportedly to further ministry in general and healing in particular. Listeners are told that if they tithe with sufficient faith, they can name a Bible verse and claim its blessing for themselves, obtaining desired health and wealth.

But the Lord always defines true riches in spiritual terms ...

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
~ Ephesians 1:3 (NKJV);
(also see Psalms 119:71-72; 1 Corinthians 2:9)

... while He speaks of the desire for money as a snare to God's people ...

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
~ 1 Timothy 6:9-10 (NKJV);
(also see Mark 10:23-24; Matthew 6:19-20;
Luke 6:24; Luke 12:33-34;
& Proverbs 30:7-9—my personal favorite)

... and He describes material wealth as simply one more of the gifts we're given as a test to see how we'll use it:

Parable of the Talents
Matthew 25:14-30

Thus it is good to prosper in health and wealth, so that we have an abundance to put to use for building up God's true kingdom. But it is dangerous to desire to be rich or love money—the fundamental doctrine of prosperity theology.

Concerning why Christians aren't always healed in response to prayer, see "Why No Healing?"

Next week: Is tithing a requirement of Christianity?

© 2010, Anne Lang Bundy
Image source:

: : :

This post originally appeared at Bullets & Butterflies. To see additional comments click here.


  1. I wonder how that concept -- prosperity gospel -- ever got started. There is nothing in the Bible that would indicate any such thing.

  2. Elizabeth ~

    Every one of us is inclined toward self-centeredness, by whatever means. But to use God's Word to justify it, or worse, to pervert God's Word to obtain selfish desires—it seems to me to be using the Lord's name in vain at best.

  3. Elizabeth ~

    I happened to re-read my reply. The words read with a different tone in black and white than in my mind.

    I whole-heartedly agree with you. I hope my first reply conveyed that with the sincerity I have. : )


Your comments are appreciated and you can expect a reply. If Blogger doesn't accept your comment, or if you prefer
another method, I hope you'll respond via Twitter or email
(see sidebar icons or the "Contact Me" tab, above).

(Comments to older posts and will appear after approval.)