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Nov 07 2011

Motivational Christianity

Prosperity gospel and a unicorn have something in common - Both are a myth

After my last post on Shocking Christian Books, I just happened to listen to a Joel Osteen video on YouTube.  The guy is really good.  He is personable and engaging.  Problem is he’s not a preacher but a motivational speaker.  He motivates people on how to feel good about themselves.  I looked up motivational speaker on Wikipedia.1 and the site made a distinction between a motivational speaker and an inspirational speaker.  A motivational speaker “A motivational speaker or inspirational speaker is a speaker who makes speeches intended to motivate to and/or inspire an audience2  while an inspirational speaker “delivers a “warm, encouraging message.3.  He is both and he’s quite good.  The goods that he is selling is how to feel good about yourself, have a happy and wealthy life.  He even has a book out titled “How to be happier 7 days a week.

I’m not isolating Joel Osteen as opposed to the many other prosperity “preachers” out there.  I just happened to listen to one of his clips and realized why people are drawn to these inspirational speakers.  They are all the same, selling the same goods and they are good at what they do.  And the goods they are selling folks is what the majority of people desire.  Who doesn’t want a happy life filled with comfort, health and wealth?

The general teaching goes something like this:  When believers give to the “anointed” teacher, there is some kind of spiritual law that is enacted.  This “spiritual law” that God must abide by guarantees a return in the investment.  In other words, the contributor will receive more than he contributed.  This is called “seed” offerings.  What a scam. 

I used to feel bad for those that fall for this scam, and make no mistake, the prosperity gospel is a scam.  I don’t feel bad at all anymore.  People give to these prosperity teachers for one reason and that is that they expect to receive more than they gave.  Greed is the motivation for the giving.  They are convinced that if only they give their “seed money” to these “anointed preachers,” they will also live in wealth, luxury and free from all illnesses.  It doesn’t seem to matter that the Bible does not teach this.  Jesus did not live a life of luxury and wealth.  None of the apostles lived a life that these prosperity teachers teach.

I have written this before here but I have never sat down to listen to one of these false teachers.  I was surprised at how engaging these people can be.  I should not be surprised.  A scam artist must be engaging and personable in order to convince people that if they invest their money in their particular scheme, they will see a greater return.

Holding the bible in their hand, sporadically sprinkling the word “God” in in their speech apparently is enough to fool folks into believing this is a Christian message straight from God.  Well, that and their greed as that is what that want to hear.  What is being taught is as mythical as a unicorn.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Margaret

    What really tears me up is that many of the people who fall for this kind of preaching are looking for hope and a faith that will carry them through some big-time problems.

    Their problem is that they never open up their Bibles to get comfort, hope, faith, and strength from our Lord and Savior. How can they imagine that a mere person can help them better than God Himself? I hope many learn from this post before they get hurt.

    1. Tishrei

      Hi Margaret,

      I know. I remember reading about and posting (couple of years ago I think) about this Christian family that had a diabetic son. They believed what these folks teach and that is if you have enough faith, there is healing. So they took away this child’s insulin and he got sicker, and sicker and sicker. Finally he went into a coma. And still they did not seek medical help. The child died a needless death. He was already on insulin. They just took it away from him.

      Parents went to jail where they belong.

      It’s sad and these parents put their hope and faith in these false teachings. Cost them the life of their child and their freedom.

  2. Melody Johnson

    well said. As a new Christian I fell into believing those scams. Thankfully I am past that. I find it is hard to talk to those who believe in the get rich scams by donating to false teachers. Hopefully they will learn and mature enough to believe God and not them.

    1. Tishrei

      Hi Melody,

      Like you, it is EXTREMELY difficult to talk to folks believing in the get rich scams. They don’t see it as a scam and believe it to be spiritual. They are very, very protective of these teachers and will not listen to reason even if you use scripture.

      p.s. I was into that stuff too when I was a new believer. Praise God He led me out of that nonsense.

  3. Glen

    I agree completely, but…

    It is not always easy to see the good in everything or everybody. I have trouble watching the mega preacher at work. Sometimes I see them as no more or less as the Catholic priest of old that WOW! the mass’ by the pomp and show, many are drawn in, and many sacrifice much while in the passion of the moment; but few remain true when God does not respond as man expects.

    But on the other hand news about God (the living God), however acquired, must be viewed as “good” not evil. There in lies my dilemma. Often I forget that it is the word that is alive because of the Holy Spirit and not the messenger.

    Mark 9:40 “for whoever is not against us is for us.”

    …and in closing, keep up the good work that you do reminding me to be humble.

  4. Tishrei

    Hi Glen,

    The problem with the “preachers” that I am referring to is that they are not preaching the Gospel. Yeah, they throw the word “God” in there and quote some scripture. However, they are not talking about sin and the need for salvation. Without that, there is no salvation. They are preaching how to have a nice life in the here and now. That’s something God never ever promised us, health, wealth and happiness.

    I agree, the Word is alive because of the Holy Spirit and not the messenger. But they have to preach the Word and they are not.

  5. Motivational Speaker - John Beede

    While I totally agree with you that the message of “donate to me and you’ll become rich” is a repugnant teaching, this shouldn’t be confused with the teaching that God wants us to prosper, which is a very Biblical teaching.

    Of course, I don’t mean only in a financial way, but He wants us to prosper in our relationships, families, physical bodies, etc. Having – in abundance – is what Jesus taught (“I came so that you might have life to the fullest”).

    A critic may say that he also taught that it’s harder for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven… or that he and his apostles didn’t have many earthly possessions. No, they didn’t, but David & Solomon sure did, and “I have plans for you to prosper” is in the good book as well.

    I think the most balanced take-away is that keeping priorities on riches other than ‘earthly’ riches is key. However, it’s not sinful in and of itself to make money or to prosper financially any more than it’s sinful to become an accomplished athlete. It’s all about how you mentally and spiritually internalize your successes.

  6. Tishrei


    While I would agree with you that it is not sinful in and of itself to proper financially, there is no indication in the Word of God that “prosper” meant financial abundance. The problem is that people are focusing in on prospering financially and they think that they lack faith because they are not. These new prosperity preachers are teaching that if we’re not propering financially, we’re lacking in faith. Hogwash.

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