The Prosperity Gospel: A Determined Assault On Biblical Christianity
(We must give full credit to Anton Bosch for almost all of this article on the prosperity gospel, not just the heading. The material, free, can be found at http://discernment-ministries.org. The original materials are in normal print; our comments are in blue. Readers are advised to check up the teachings of all persons and movements involved in prosperity gospel and word-of-faith teachings named in this write-up. The occult, satanic origins of both are very clear. )
The prosperity gospel has to be one of the grandest deceptions of all time. A Time poll conducted in the USA in 2006, produced the following statistics:
“17% of Christians surveyed said
they considered themselves part of
such a movement, while a full 61%
believed that God wants people to be
prosperous. And 31% – a far higher
percentage than there are
Pentecostals in America – agreed
that if you give your money to God,
God will bless you with more money”
(Time, Sept. 10, 2006).
From America the message has permeated the whole world, most notably Nigeria where two of the biggest promoters are David Oyedepo, whose Canaanland church seats 55,000, and Enoch Adeboye, whose Redeemed Christian Church of God claims branches in over one hundred countries – 14,000 branches and 5 million members in Nigeria alone. In 2008 Newsweek magazine listed him as one of the 50 most powerful people in the world.
The prosperity message has mutated into many variants that all share certain common traits and roots. A closely related teaching to the prosperity message is the “word-of-faith” teaching with its erroneous views on faith.
Many regard these errors as the same thing and while they are related and claim to produce the same fruit, their doctrinal and historical roots differ. The word-of-faith message developed simultaneously and parallel to the prosperity message, but its roots trace back through EW Kenyon to Christian Science (click here to read the teachings of Kenyon and Christian Science) , while prosperity’s roots trace back through Oral Roberts to Napoleon Hill. This article therefore only deals with the roots of the prosperity gospel which can be summed up as “give to God and He will give back to you” or “sowing and reaping”. (Word of faith is summed up in “name it and claim it” aka “blab it and grab it.”).
(The teaching that God is waiting for you to give Him something so He can give back to you is from the devil. It renders useless the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. It makes God into a hustler and changes the focus of godliness from true holiness and forgiveness of sins to material and financial gains. It brings in your works as the cause of your blessings.
It could not have come from the Spirit of the God of the Bible. Whatever spirit the prosperity gospel people call on is NOT God’s Holy Spirit. That is true for Benny Hinn, Enock Adeboye, David Oyedepo, Chris Oyakhilome as it was true for Kenneth Hagin, regardless of the numbers of their followers.
How much have you paid for oxygen or sunlight in the last 10 years?)
Fruits from Roots
Even to the casual student of Scripture it is clear that the prosperity gospel is another gospel which preaches another Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:4). This message preys on people’s greed and lust for money and lures the greedy into a religion which worships Mammon rather than the true God. The fruit clearly defines this as a doctrine of devils. “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). But what are the roots of this teaching? The conclusion of this brief article will shock you, but should not come as a surprise.
Most of the modern proponents are second or even third generation prosperity preachers. Most of them will have been influenced, either directly or indirectly by at least one of three men: Kenneth Hagin (1917-2003), Kenneth Copeland (1936-), and/or Fred Price (1932-).
These three in turn were influenced by Oral Roberts (1918–2009), who has to be dubbed the father of the prosperity Gospel.
Marketers of The Prosperity Gospel: Hagin, Copeland, Price
In 1967 Kenneth Copeland attended Oral Roberts University (ORU) where he also worked as one of Roberts’ pilots. This afforded Copeland the opportunity to see Roberts in action at his healing crusades and to learn first-hand from Roberts. But during his first year at ORU he heard a tape of Hagin and he, and his wife, instantly became disciples of Hagin. Like the Copelands, Fred Price also credits Hagin as the greatest influence in his life and ministry.
This brings us to Oral Roberts. During 1947 Oral Roberts had come to a crisis in his life and ministry. One morning he opened the Bible and was struck by 3 John 2 (“I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers”). This was a kind of epiphany for Roberts. Roberts and his wife would look back at that moment as “the point of embarkation.” A few days after this revelation, Roberts would receive what he believed to be practical confirmation of the fact that God wanted him to prosper materially. Through the agency of Roberts’ neighbor who owned a Buick dealership, Roberts was able to acquire a brand new Buick. The neighbor, Mr Gustavus, managed to get a very good price for Robert’s old car and helped him to get a new Buick at “dealer’s cost,” which was not much more than they got for the old car. This was in the postwar months when new cars were practically unobtainable. According to Roberts the “new car became a symbol to me of what a man can do if he would believe God” (David Edwin Harrell, Oral Roberts: An American Life).
(3 John 2 is a mere greeting wish for well-being, similar to modern greetings. This is erroneously converted into a stand-alone super doctrine by people who do not care what the Bible is about. Oral Roberts was deceived in this; so also is Enock Adeboye and everyone that is building a doctrine of God’s promise of unfailing prosperity on the verse. They are teaching people that God sent His only begotten Son to the world so we might all have the latest version of Mercedes Benz cars and live in 30-room mansions!
God will never alter His clear words for any human being, not for Adeboye, not for Oyedepo, not for Oyakhilome, not for Copeland, not for Prince, not for Osteen, not for Meyer, not for Price. The sooner everyone following prosperity doctrines knows this the better for him.
You might wonder how someone as educated as Pastor Enock Adeboye could be wrong in interpreting this simple Bible verse. You only need to spend a little time on the Bible and read passages such as you have in 1 kings 22 and Acts 16:16-18: Pastor Adeboye, like the hundreds of other fake prophets we read in those stories, is deceived by deceiving spirits. He is not in touch with the true God of heaven.
The God these preachers say they represent called John the Baptist the greatest man that ever lived. The same God considered it a thing of great honour that the same John should leave the earth without his head and that others should exit through hot oil or crucified on the stake.)
Roberts immediately began to preach the prosperity message. By 1954 he was promising refunds to people who gave him money and who did not receive the amount of their gift returned to them, from an unexpected source, within a short period. In 1955 he published his first book on the topic entitled “God’s Formula for Success and Prosperity.” Note that this was four years before Hagin received his “revelation.” This was followed by a number of other books on the topic.
It was only in 1970 that he published the book “Miracle of Seed-Faith,” which became the book that had the biggest impact in terms of spreading the message across the world.
1 The idea of “seed faith” was based on the principle of sowing and reaping, and it taught that anything you sow into God’s Kingdom will result in an abundant return (Hope you can hear the echo of this in Pastor Adeboye’s teaching that you cannot reap US dollars if all you sow to his church is the pitiful Nigerian Naira?) .This applied especially to money, but also to things like time, energy, love etc. Elements of Seed-Faith are still present in the theology of all modern prosperity preachers.
(As seemingly good as the teaching sounds, a little thought on what they are saying will easily lead you to place less reliance on the Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ as the basis of God answering your prayers. The effect is to make you less and less reliant on God, in place of your ‘investments’ in His work. Since your relationship with God is based on ‘investments’ and His ‘indebtedness’ to you, you can command Him to answer your prayers as and when you desire them. If He doesn’t answer you quickly enough, you are justified to snatch your ‘inheritance’ from His hand!
I hope you can see that whoever teaches these sort of doctrines, such as David Oyedepo, Enock Adeboye or Chris Oyakhilome cannot be servant of the Almighty Sovereign God of the Bible?)
But there was one major influence that resulted in Roberts coming to these beliefs, which we must examine if we are to discover the true roots of this teaching. That man was none other than Napoleon Hill (1883-1970).
Roberts was inspired by Hill’s 1937 book, Think and Grow Rich, and had established a close and longstanding relationship with Hill.
Napoleon Hill’s Your Magic Power to Be Rich is a 2007 compendium of several of Hill’s books. On page 207, in the foreword to The Magic Ladder to Success, the editor, Patricia G. Horan says:
“The likes of Dale Carnegie, Norman Vincent Peale, and Oral Roberts became devotees and sometimes shared speaking platforms with Hill.”
It is abundantly clear that Hill had an enormous influence on Roberts, and that Roberts’ views on prosperity were largely shaped by Napoleon Hill. Hill had a “Law of Compensation” which operated the same as Roberts’ principles of Seed-Faith. (US Televangelist Robert Tilton, amongst others, unashamedly uses the Law of Compensation – a blatant copy of Hill’s formula). We would need to devote several more chapters to examine Hill’s sources and influences, which will open more cans of worms. Click here for them
But for now the most significant source will have to suffice:
In Hill’s book, Think and Grow Rich, he speaks of a “cabinet of Invisible Counselors” made up of nine men, most of whom were deceased at the time when Hill had “meetings” with them:
“These nine men were Emerson, Paine,
Edison, Darwin, Lincoln, Burbank, Napoleon,
Ford and Carnegie. Every night, over a long
period of years, I held an imaginary council
meeting with this group whom I called my
“Invisible Counselors.” The procedure was
this. Just before going to sleep at night, I
would shut my eyes, and see, in my
imagination, this group of men seated with
me around my council table… I had a very
definite purpose in indulging my imagination
through these nightly meetings. My purpose
was to rebuild my own character so it would
represent a composite of the characters of
my imaginary councilors…I deliberately
assigned myself the task of voluntary rebirth
through the method I have described above…
After some months of this nightly procedure,
I was astounded by the discovery that these
imaginary figures became apparently real…
These meetings became so realistic that I became fearful of their consequences, and
discontinued them for several months…
These facts are mentioned preliminary to a
statement of fact which I shall now make,
namely, that during my meetings with the
“Invisible Counselors” I find my mind most
receptive to ideas, thoughts, and knowledge
which reach me through the sixth sense. On
scores of occasions, when I faced
emergencies, some of them so grave that my
life was in jeopardy, I have been
miraculously guided past these difficulties
through my “Invisible Counselors””.
(Napoleon Hill. Think and Grow Rich. 1938.
(Did you note the fact that the meetings were held with men that were known to be dead at the times of the meetings? Note, also, that allusion to the sixth sense. That is spiritual. Since it is not from the Spirit of God, that spirit is demonic. Napoleon Hill confessed he got his ideas from demons.
These same demonic entities gave him the ideas that were later named Prosperity teachings!
This is the source of the teachings of David Oyedepo, Enock Adeboye, Chris Oyakhilome, Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland, Joseph Prince, Benny Hinn, Fredrick Price, Johnson Suleiman and Paul Enenche sprinkled with bible quotations here and there!
By the way, did you notice the immediate prominence given to Nigeria in the second paragraph of the original of this report produced for the American audience? Fake Christianity has been successful in no other Country like Nigeria.)
In, Think and Grow Rich, Hill tries very hard to convince his readers that these figures were simply in his imagination but his own testimony (above) makes it clear that these influences were not imaginary but were actually spirit guides. In fact, in his book, You Can Work Your Own Miracles, Hill refers to them as “guides” or “talismans.” These are just other names for demons who impersonate any character they wish in order to deceive the living into believing that they are in touch with the dead.
The Bible clearly forbids contact with demons:
“There shall not be found among you anyone who… practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, “or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. “For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12).
The Prosperity Gospel: A Recap
So, let’s recap. Every form of prosperity teaching can be traced back through Copeland, et al., then Hagin, then Roberts. Roberts mixed some Bible verses with what he was taught by Hill, and Hill was taught by demons. The facts are undeniable – this is a doctrine designed, not by greedy men, but conceived in hell itself! As with the prosperity gospel, every doctrine must be examined against the Bible and in some cases the source needs to be examined.
The first thing we need to do with any teaching is check it against the plumbline of the Scriptures. The fact that people quote verses to support their teaching does not mean that it is sound doctrine. We must search the Scriptures and ask the hard questions to make sure that the teaching is based on a correct interpretation of the Bible. “These (Bereans) were more fairminded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
2 Timothy 3:13 says: “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them”. Because there are so many false teachers, we need to be sure whom we are learning from. Paul says to Timothy that he can have confidence because of the source of the teaching. The one who taught Timothy was Paul, and Paul received his doctrine from the Lord (Galatians 1:12).
Like Hagin and Roberts, every false teacher claims to have received his doctrine from the Lord, but a bit of digging – that is, searching and studying the Word of God – will often reveal that it is contrary to Scripture. Either doctrine lines up with Scripture read in context and with a proper interpretation, or else it is of the father of lies, the devil. For further confirmation looking at the sources and influences of the teacher will confirm that the true source is not the Holy Spirit but another spirit (2 Corinthians 11:4), or man’s own imagination.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 Jn 4:1).
Since the teachings of these preachers were initiated by demons, is it any wonder each of them gleefully give prophecies which never happen, speak ‘tongues’ known for centuries as languages spoken in witches’ covens, pronounce supposed ‘healings’ the sick never experience and teach doctrines that do nothing but rub in the dirt the glory and majesty of the Lord Jesus Christ while pretending to promote Him?
You have ample materials in the Bible and from this and many other websites devoted to discernment that what prosperity preachers teach are another gospel in the service of another christ.
Do your own research: compare what they teach with what is in the Bible.
THE POISON SPREADS
Many pastors and elders in evangelical churches are the unwitting conduits by which unbiblical, demonic, prosperity gospel teachings infest the church. Readers may access the following Benny Hinn video to see a pastor from one of the main evangelical churches in Nigeria eagerly receiving his theological education from Benny Hinn. Benny says he gets his ‘anointing’ from tombs. One can only imagine what his student-pastor transfers to his audience!