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A few days ago Marc Cortez wrote a post asking people to mention some of the worst events in the history of the church. One comment by Ryan Collins suggested that the prosperity gospel should be added to the list. I tend to agree with him.

Yet I know that there is a catch-22 in doing so. To some extent Christianity has been the common religion of some of the most wealthy and influential people groups for hundreds of years. If you have ever been to Vatican City, or if you have spent time watching TBN, you know that there is plenty of money going in and out of the hands of Christians.

Now much of the prosperity gospel here in the United States feeds on our greed. That being said, I am sure that there are many poor people who watch Creflo Dollar or Benny Hinn thinking that if these people are rich because of God then surely God can do the same for me. As a middle class white male who lives in a nice apartment, drives a nice car, works at a stable job, eats more than I need, and lives an overall comfortable life, what right do I have to tell the poor and the hungry not to listen to the preacher telling them that they too can live good lives?

I do say it in passing. I teach a class at my local church every Sunday and as I work through Scripture I often point out that our hope is in the resurrection life offered by Christ through the Spirit and therefore not in any guarantee of good health, wealth, and the like. Yet sometimes I fear hypocrisy.

Similarly, I hear that this prosperity gospel is being preached in poor areas of Africa and South America. I sense that when many impoverished people remain impoverished there will be some disenchantment with the Christian gospel that may cause people to never listen to another Christian preacher again. In the meantime, it seems a bit odd for me to ramble on and on about how misguided this “gospel” is when I just ate a cookie after a filling lunch, I am drinking coffee, I am wearing clean clothing, and I write this all on a computer while sitting in a building that protects me from the weather. On what grounds should I tell other Christians that God may not want them to have all that I do?

How do you wrestle with this tension? How do we well-off (some wealthy) Christians warn against the dangers of the prosperity gospel when it seems like Christianity has treated us well? Thoughts?