The Controversy: Does Evangelism Includes Prosperity Gospel?

Evangelist Solomon Noah. Image: The Mayor Otu

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The role of the prosperity gospel in evangelism remains emotional and attracts rebukes and support from both sides of the debate. Evangelism is spreading the good news of the gospel that if you live according to the commandments of God, you will be rewarded. These rewards come as blessings, including peace, health and wealth.

Evangelism also spells curses for those who refuse to abide by the commandments of God. The list of curses and blessings is identical. While gifts promise God’s goodwill, curses invoke God’s wrath.

Curses will make the person subjected to oppression everywhere he goes. The land will not yield its full strength. Even the land has a spirit and can punish those whose ways are unpleasant to God. Curses will condemn the accursed into becoming a tail, not a head. Most likely, he will be barren, and where he has the fruit of the womb, he will not benefit as his enemies will send his offspring into captivity.

In other cases, the toils of his loins will reject him if it happens they are successful. If not, they will be too poor to bail him out in an hour of need. An accursed person will be overwhelmed by diseases until he perishes.

Not so for the blessed whose offspring shall delight in his eyesight, and peace shall govern his conduct. He shall lend to others, but he shall not borrow. The work of his hands shall be rewarded. He shall be a head, not a tail. And, no stranger shall rule the substance of his sweat.

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Both blessings and curses are impartial. They are just rewards and penalties to encourage or discourage a specific behaviour. If an individual walks with God, he is blessed, but if he doesn’t, he is accursed. Nobody can rely on past performance. The blessed and the accursed can change positions depending on their conduct. The blessed yesterday may be the accursed today, and vice versa. The reason is that God is living today, so your past is irrelevant to Him. He is asking us just one question daily: WHAT ABOUT TODAY?

Another area of mutual interest is miracles. The prosperity gospel has taken ownership of this faculty by storm, and it is a major source of whipping emotions and a gavel banging the top of the podium to the preachers circulating the prosperity gospel. The gospel says freely you have been given the ability to perform miracles, and freely, you have to serve those in need.

Not so fast, prosperity gospel evangelists have another strange doctrine that nothing comes for free. It would be best if you sowed seeds that you may be able to reap in due seasons. And they quickly remind their followers that God knows what they have. If they do not give offertory, they will be accursed with incurable diseases, abject poverty and shame, and no honour will pursue them until they are destroyed.

Chain letters are also deployed to urge believers to aid the digital preachers in spreading their interpretation of the word of God, where carrots and sticks are promised to cudgel obedience. In most of these letters, fairy tales are recounted to shape public opinion that the prosperity gospel is the real deal!

In the scripture, seeds are a parable standing for the word of God, but the prosperity gospel has completely changed that meaning. To them, seeds are earthly possessions which the scripture downtrodden as temporary and of no help in the ministry of reconciliation with God.

The prosperity gospel soars to astronomical heights by invoking fear and promises of success. Most of these preachers have a shared history: they have tried a litany of occupations, and being unsuccessful, they have turned to evangelism to earn a living. Another critical feature is that the preachers become filthy rich while their congregation are overfed with empty promises of get-rich schemes, succumbing to the indigent.

To win over their followers, these preachers hire actors who will pretend they have ailments which hospitals have failed to cure, and at times, unverified medical documents are grossly displayed. These actors beg the preacher to perform a miracle so that they may be freed from their predicament. When these actors are not paid, they reveal all that the preachers are what they are: bogus messengers of God.

The hallmarks of the prosperity gospel evangelism are casting out demons, healing the sick, solving family problems, turning the barren into child bearers, getting employment and promotion, making the business grow, and similar aspirations.

Some of the most extremist preachers will demand their followers to sell everything and bring their lot to them, or they will die. In other circumstances, doomsday prophesies become very handy in convincing people that the world will end, so they must be vigilant lest they miss their plan to go to heaven. In this case, fasting and embracing a life of self-denial is very much advocated.

As the congregation becomes poor, the preachers become rich, driving the latest SUVs and living in huge mansions, and their families are soaked in unthinkable wealth. Sometimes, the faithful question why they must suffer while their clergy is basking in untold riches. In such circumstances, sometimes the faithful revolt and remove the preacher, or they vamoose to other churches where similar get-quick-rich schemes are practised, albeit to a lesser scale.

Also, read The Spiritual Dimensions of Mental Health: Is It Demonic Invasions?

In Tanzania, evangelical church registration applications run into tens of thousands, signalling that new entrants are smelling blood, too. The plight of the faithful in seeking easy answers to profound problems is their undoing. A refusal to process what is happening before them is another reason why they keep on being hit by con artists touting the Holy Bible.

Some preachers even sell soil, anointing oil or commanding their followers to trample it to be blessed. Some of these followers have stomped themselves, killing each other as they tried to outwit one another while stepping on allegedly anointing oil!

Anointing oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit, and why should he bless you for trouncing Him? What we know is Satan is the one we need to wound his head by crushing it with our feet lest he bruise our heels. There is no reason stamping upon the anointing oil will lead to much-quested blessings. The opposite outcome makes plenty of sense.

Most followers do not read their Holy Books and depend on their preachers to reveal God’s valid will. Sadly, those cunning preachers either intentionally or otherwise twist the word of God to suit their parochial greed.

Surprisingly, the followers believe their preachers and any attempt to dissuade them from being fooled by these conmen is often interrupted as satanic hindrances. They will accuse you of being under satanic devices, and to your shock, they will advise you to attend their masses where their beloved preacher will exorcise you of demons that have led you to attempt to derail their journey to heaven!

Prosperity gospel is just a subset of the whole set of evangelism. And, sometimes, what appears as curses can be blessings in disguise. The word of God says the children of God will be purged of impurities through a furnace of affliction. So, it is not true that blessings are always good tidings. Sometimes, God brings bad stuff to test us for how much we love Him.

And whether we know our fate is solely in His own hands alone. In some of these cases, God is speaking to us that He is bringing calamity so that we may seek His divine intervention. Trouble stalks us so that we can remember there is God in heaven who cares and is Our sole Deliverer.

The question remains: is the prosperity gospel helpful, or is it daylight theft of the spiritually weak? Faithful ought to empower themselves with the word of God rather than being taken advantage of by thieves who have commercialized the word of God. The challenge remains: how many will thirst to know the word of God and take charge of their destiny away from con artists?

Every faithful will have to decide whether to remain vulnerable to spiritual henchmen in the name of evangelism or have the power to separate the sheep on the right hand from the goats on the left hand and live according to the portion God has ordained for them from the beginning.

The author is a Development Administration specialist in Tanzania with over 30 years of practical experience, and has been penning down a number of articles in local printing and digital newspapers for some time now.

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