The Gospel-less "Gospel"

You may have seen this video making the rounds this week, an eight minute film produced by Christianity Today and The Global Conversation:

[vodpod id=Groupvideo.3844220&w=425&h=350&fv=]
more about “The Prosperity Gospel“, posted with vodpod

 

The video is exceptional, disturbing and incredibly convicting. Watch the last couple of minutes, starting at 6:14, or read the transcript to see what I mean:

Rev. Sam Korankye Ankrah (a pastor who preaches the prosperity “gospel”):
“We were born in poverty. We suffered; we struggled; we almost didn’t get food to eat. We struggled for food. We struggled for space. For love. You might have been born into poverty but you can change the status quo and turn around and  leave a legacy of wealth for your children. You have been born into many difficulties and challenges—but here it starts with you. So for us, preaching prosperity, dreaming prosperity, craving for prosperity, praying for prosperity is non-negotiable. It’s power to break poverty.”

Narrator:
“It’s a compelling argument. A sanctified materialism offers a way out of poverty. But to my eyes, this church was filled with middle class Ghanaians. But what about the poor? Does the prosperity gospel work for them?

“Throughout Ghana, healing camps like this are popping up. People come for seven to twenty-one days to be healed & delivered from all manners of spirits and demons. They arrive with physical, mental, and emotional needs. Some even arrive with their passports seeking prayer for visas.”

Professor Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu:
“There are so many countless–of them in every corner of the country. If you preach prosperity, that people must prosper by all means when they do the right things. And by right things—paying tithes, paying offerings, being faithful to the [undecipherable]… But, it gets to a point where, things don’t seem to work the way we’ve been taught that they work.”

Narrator:
“In a way, this is the end of the line for the prosperity gospel. Pilgrims, desperate for God’s promised blessings, but incapable of grabbing them for themselves. Perhaps the only real difference between them and me is that, for me to be materially blessed, I don’t have to turn to God at all.”

Watching this film reminded me of the hopelessness that comes from a gospelless “gospel.” A “gospel” that proclaims anything but salvation through Christ alone is an affront. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves,” said Jesus in Matt. 23:15.

It’s a powerful warning to be mindful of the gospel I proclaim: Is Christ a means to an end or is Christ the end?

Woe to me, if it anything but Christ as the end.

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  • Wes

    Disturbing, indeed. What amazes me the most at the Ghanaian scene is that the congregation is living in grass huts while the church looks like something found in America.

    Simply put, the prosperity Gospel is a scam. It destroys lives, not restores them. Poverty is a simple fact of life. Most are born into it; fewer live a life that leads to it. The prosperity Gospel promotes those living in poverty to misuse the resources that the Lord blesses them with. In essence, it’s a transfer of wealth from the poor to the strong. And this makes no sense.

    The church will function without money. Christ provides the sustenance that sustains His church. Money is not that sustenance. The people are. A church full of poor people will function properly (provided they’re following God), and I would make the case that it’d probably function better than a church built from wealth by the strong.

    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      I think you’re making an excellent point, Wes. In the churches I’ve seen in Honduras and Ethiopia, I’ve been amazed at the vibrancy and the hope that exists because they know that it is God who provides; Christ sustains, as you said.

      Thanks, Wes.