Oprah, Jesus, and the Golden Rule

I recently came across an interview between Oprah and Karen Armstrong, as part of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. I am not too familiar with Armstrong, but a quick Google search shows that she’s a religious historian, highly respected for her work focusing on the commonalities of the major religions. She argues that the Golden Rule was put forward by Confucius years around five centuries before Jesus did as recorded in Matthew 7:12. This is partly evidence that this ethical code serves as a common denominator within all of the major world religions. Let us see how the Golden Rule was put forth by some of the major religious faiths:

Confucianism: Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you (Analects 15:23)

Hinduism: This is the sum of duty: do not to others what would cause pain if done to you (Mahabharata 5:1517)

Buddhism: Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful (Udana Varga 5:18)

The common motif from atheists seems to be some form of, “Freely live your life so long as you don’t cause pain to others.”

Christianity: Do to others what you would want them to do to you (Mt. 7:12; Lk. 6:31)

However, Jesus’s puts forth a maxim that by definition requires action. It is an active command rather than a passive one. He is also drawing upon Leviticus 19:18, which arguably predates any of the Golden Rules mentioned above. The apostle Paul references it in his letter to the church at Galatia.

Theoretically speaking, One could follow the commands given by Confucians, Hindus, Buddhists, and atheists simply by alienating himself from the world entirely. If he isolates himself from society, he would then “hurt not others in ways [he himself] finds hurtful.” This is a bit nonsensical, to be sure, but I think it illustrates the point. 

Christians are called to actively serve others and live out this maxim. This is a radical charge to those who claim to follow Christ. What are we doing to show to love of Christ to a world that is desperately thirsty for it?

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The Prosperity Gospel

1. Introduction

What I confess I possess. What I say is what I get.

— E.W. Kenyon[1]

God is not magnified when you are broke, busted, or disgusted.

—   Paula White[2]

If you stay in your faith, you are going to get paid. I am now living in my reward.

—   Joyce Meyer[3]

God always promises financial blessings to those obedient to His instructions, laws, and principles.

—   Mike Murdock[4]

As odd as they may seem, the above statements collectively represent the belief of thousands of Christians in America today.[5] While E.W. Kenyon, the father of the modern-day prosperity gospel, is long deceased, his teachings remain in the ministries of men and women like Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Hagin, Creflo Dollar, and others. Joel Osteen, who in the contemporary media is widely regarded as the face of American Evangelicals, also promotes their teachings. These purported Christian teachers have used Jesus’ teachings to promote their personal agendas and ulterior motives. After all, little time elapsed after Jesus left his disciples that his teachings began to be distorted. A cursory look through early church history will show that a large number of councils were held to discuss heresies that were being promoted. These councils were so serious that some church fathers (e.g., Origen) were excommunicated because of deviant beliefs. The church has been battling false teachings since its inception. It should not come as a surprise; Jesus informed his disciples false teachers would surface. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits.”[6] The false teachings that were prevalent since the beginning of church history are more prominent than ever.

One of the most popular false teachings in contemporary society is Prosperity Theology. While a number of definitions could be produced for Prosperity Theology, the common theme will be that it is a philosophy in which God is ultimately concerned about the goodwill of man, usually in terms of having financial abundance and physical health. It is often called the Health and Wealth gospel, Word of Faith, or Seed-Faith. Rather than teaching the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever,[7] Prosperity Theology teaches that the chief end of man is to be glorified by God and for God to enjoy him.

One of the constants of Prosperity Theology is the underlying egocentric mindset and outright self-exaltation. This has fed into mainstream Christianity, and it has severe ramifications. A large number of Christians believe that they are the communal object of the Christian faith.[8] They then “church shop” to find a pastor who reinforces their self-centeredness. Their entire spiritual lives are stagnant at best and truly non-existent at worst. Christianity must never be anthropocentric, but theocentric; the moment it deviates from being centered on God, it is not Christianity, but idolatry.

The goal of this paper is to survey the presuppositions underlying the reasoning for Prosperity Theology and to examine their theological implications. After examining the evidence, the conclusion will follow that the implications inevitably render the theology heretical.

2. Examining the History of Prosperity Theology

It may be surprising to some that the origin for the Prosperity Theology movement has cultic origins. It began with Emanuel Swedenborg, a Swedish scientist and inventor in the late eighteenth century. Despite his contributions in the fields of mathematics, astronomy, economics, political theory, and medicine, his most significant contribution was in religion. After a decade of “searching for the human soul,” he published a work in which he stated that he received visions from the apostle Paul, Martin Luther, and Moses.[9] He also claimed to have the ability to look into heaven, hell, and other dimensions of the spiritual world. Swedenborg rejected a number of orthodox Christian dogmas and believed that God was a sort of mystical force and that the human mind has the capacity to control the physical world.[10] These beliefs would later become core doctrines of New Thought.[11]

A number of other men were involved in the development of the New Thought movement. These include Phineas Quimby, Ralph Waldo Trine, Warren Felt Evans, and Wallace D. Wattles, among others.[12] Trine has been regarded as the most reputable of New Thought writers.[13] These men spearheaded the establishment of New Thought philosophy across the United States. While New Thought began as an ideology addressing the welfare of a person’s health and mental state, it evolved and progressed to include monetary success as well. Wallace Wattles wrote, “Whatever may be said in praise of poverty, the fact remains that it is not possible to live a really complete or successful life unless one is rich.”[14] The philosophy of Prosperity Theology used some of the ideas of New Thought as a basis for its modern form. The New Thought movement can be summarized into five core beliefs: (1) a distorted view of God, (2) an elevation of mind over matter, (3) an exalted view of humankind, (4) a focus on health and wealth, and (5) an unorthodox view of salvation.[15]

Despite the popularity of the New Thought movement across America, it was not until the late nineteenth century when E.W. Kenyon added a Christian spin to it that it came to be known as Prosperity Theology. There is a significant amount of information about Kenyon, despite no known biographical works on him. Perhaps the most telling material in regards to his influence on Prosperity Theology is found in his attendance at Emerson College. During his enrollment, Ralph Waldo Trine was both a student and teacher there. As previously mentioned, Trine was one of the chief figures responsible for the dissemination of New Thought philosophy in America. In fact, Emerson College had on its faculty some of the best known and most articulate advocates of New Thought.[16] This fact coupled with Kenyon’s writings, classmates, and professors exhibit an idea of the degree of influence New Thought had on Kenyon’s philosophy.

Kenyon combined the metaphysical foundation of New Thought with his version of Christianity to produce the modern day Prosperity Theology. By replacing Swedenborg’s idea of “mystical force” in foundational New Thought with “Jesus” and selected passages of Scripture, Kenyon became the father of the contemporary Word of Faith movement. Common with many, if not all, proponents of Prosperity Theology is the considerable use of eisegesis when referencing Scripture. Some examples of this will be examined later in this paper. In his writings, Kenyon fostered an idea that was grounded on the belief that with enough faith, believers should never become sick. In line with New Thought ideology, he believed that words can change reality. Quimby, who was a significant influence on Kenyon, once wrote, “If I believe I am sick, I am sick, for my feelings are my sickness, and my sickness is my belief, and my belief is in my mind. Therefore all disease is in the mind or belief.”[17] Quimby believed that if a person changed his thinking in his mind, he could eradicate any disease he may have. His words have the power to change reality; the abstract can affect the material. Similarly, Kenyon wrote,  “My words work wonders… I boldly speak words that work wonders!”[18] Kenyon wanted everyone to adopt his ideology. He envisioned a great future for mankind if they followed him. He foresaw the extinction of disease, failure, and various struggles in his philosophy. Indeed, he claimed,

When these truths [the tenets of his philosophy] really gain the ascendency in us, they will make us spiritual supermen, masters of demons and disease… It will be the end of weakness and failure. There will be no more struggle [sic] for faith, for all things are ours. There will be no more praying for power, for He is in us… In the presence of these tremendous realities, we arise and take our place. We go out and live as supermen indwelt by God.[19]

 

According to Kenyon, man had the capability to be completely free of any and all deterrents to complete autonomy. Kenyon maintained if man accepted his teachings and put them into practice, he would eventually rid himself of any need for God apart of the indwelling of God in himself.

It has been shown that despite the efforts made by proponents of Prosperity Theology to label it a “biblical” teaching, it has cultic origins and has carried them over to its current form. It is important to note here that rendering it unbiblical is not committing the genetic fallacy. [20] This would be the case if the teachings of Prosperity Theology were disregarded specifically because of its origin. The fact remains that the New Thought teachings have slowly evolved into the doctrine of Prosperity Theology.

3. Examining the Presuppositions behind Prosperity Theology

The presuppositions behind Prosperity Theology parallel the aforementioned core beliefs of New Thought. While there are a number of presuppositions in the philosophy, only four will be discussed here. They are (1) a distorted view of God, (2) an elevation of mind over matter, (3) an exalted view of humankind, and (4) a focus on health and wealth. Not surprisingly, Prosperity Theology has little to say concerning soteriology, as the main concern is attaining material wealth in the current life.

A Distorted View of God

First, Prosperity Theology presupposes a heterodox view of God. One of the central attributes of God in biblical theology is his omnipotence. The first words of Scripture acknowledge the omnipotence of God: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). To be omnipotent means to be in control of all thing as well as sovereign over all things. Perhaps one of the explicit verses concerning the omnipotence of God is “[the] lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD” (Prov. 16:33).[21] The writer of this proverb chose the most random event he could think of and deduced that God always remains in control. A contemporary equivalent of casting lots would be shaking a Magic 8 Ball. God, in his sovereignty, is in control of every result. There is no event that comes to pass that he does not authorize. Likewise, in his omniscience, there is no event that could occur that God is not aware of and has not permitted. If event A could occur outside of the permissiveness of God, then event A would be greater than God. As God is the greatest conceivable being, there cannot logically be anything that is greater than him.[22]

Proponents of Prosperity Theology paint a feeble picture of God concerning his omnipotence. Instead of God having the freedom to act on behalf of his own volition and be a true free agent, he is bound by actions of man. Therefore, God’s actions are merely reactions to the actions of man. The Seed-Faith movement, another avenue for Prosperity Theology, hinges on this reduction. Seed-Faith theology teaches that when one sows a “seed” into the work of God,[23] God is then bound to provide a “harvest.” This harvest is always whatever the person most desperately desires. If John sowed a seed for a new car, God is obligated to respond to his faith and give John the new car. There is no reason for any believer to be in wanting. God is nothing more than a celestial investment banker. The root of this ideology is built into Kenyon’s idea that “[what] I confess I possess. What I say is what I get.”[24] Prosperity Theology seeks to strip God of his character and replace him with a caricature of his true self, a god whose actions are strictly contingent upon man’s. Richard Bloodsworth wrote, “[in] the Word-Faith system God is not Lord of all; He can’t work until we release Him to do so. He is dependent on human instruments, human faith, and above all else human words to get His work done.”[25] This view of God’s sovereignty is simply one pillar of the heterodoxical view of God in Prosperity Theology.

An Elevation of Mind Over Matter

Another presupposition in Prosperity Theology is the elevation of mind over matter. Joel Osteen currently pastors the largest church in America. As previously noted, he is also widely regarded as the face of evangelical Christianity. A cursory look at his teachings will show that he has questionable teachings. Writing to those going through tough times, Osteen advises them to

start boldly declaring, “God is restoring health unto me. I am getting better every day in every way.” Or maybe your financial situation doesn’t look too good. Start declaring, “I am blessed. I am prosperous. I’m the head and not the tail. I will lend and not borrow.” Don’t merely use your words to describe your situation; use your words to change your situation [emphasis added].[26]

Osteen’s ideology here is dangerously close, if not identical, to some of Kenyon’s writings. Kenyon wrote, “[faith’s] confessions create realities.”[27] Osteen believed that spoken words have the power to affect one’s reality. By first constructing the thought in the mind and then simply speaking out the changes one desires for his life, it can come to fruition. The abstract can change the material world. The mind is superior over matter because by speaking out in faith, one can change his circumstances.

An Exalted View of Humankind

Prosperity Theology also presupposes an exalted view of humankind. Osteen devoted an entire chapter in one of his books to “The Power of Your Bloodline,”[28] where he argued that man is inherently good. Osteen wrote, “He [speaking of God] has programmed you with everything you need for victory. That’s why every day you can say things like, ‘I have what it takes. I am more than a conqueror. I am intelligent; I am talented. I am successful; I am attractive; I am an overcomer.’ God put all those things in your bloodline.”[29] In Osteen’s philosophy rings a slight tune of Pelagianism.[30] Man has the capability to do and be all these things because God constructed him that way. He ultimately has no need for God anymore. He can now take his divinely programmed body and achieve all of his greatest wishes and desires.

A Focus on Health and Wealth

Another presupposition behind Prosperity Theology is that the ultimate goal for man’s life is to prosper and have abundance in whatever he desires. Additionally, this presupposition holds that this is God’s desire and will for man[31] and that this was one of the reasons for the atoning work of Christ. Osteen wrote,

God wants us to enjoy our lives here in the nasty now and now. He wants us to have a little heaven on earth, right where we are. One of the reasons Christ came was that we might live an abundant life. You can be happy and free in this life, not simply in heaven one of these days; you can accomplish your dreams before you go to heaven! How can you do that? By tapping into God’s power inside of you. The Bible says, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law.” The curse is behind any kind of defeat- sin, mistakes, wrong choices, fear, worry, constant sickness, unhealthy relationships, or bad attitudes.[32]

Underneath Osteen’s feel-good message of hope and victory lies an assortment of beliefs. In addition to his view on the will of God, he holds that the curse of the law spoken of in Scripture consists of all negative things. These are chiefly poverty, sickness, and fear.

Proponents of Prosperity Theology often use the seed-faith message when spreading their message of health and wealth. A number of verses are eisegeted to support their position, but a commonly referenced verse is Gal. 6:7: “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, this he will also reap.” Mike Murdock, a prominent contemporary Prosperity Theology preacher, often uses this verse to encourage his listeners to sow into his ministry. He used it to support his statement  “Uncommon favor must begin as a seed from you before it returns as a harvest to you”[33] The idea is that before one can receive a harvest from God, he must sow first. The implications and ramifications of following this ideology will be examined further in the next section.

For now, it is worthwhile to examine the mishandling of the Galatians text. Concerning the context, Jeffery Gongwer wrote,

[The] apostle Paul… is speaking of “sowing” or yielding to the desires of the flesh or the Spirit. The flesh is a human being’s innate, natural propensity to rebel against God’s commands. The Spirit is God, the Holy Spirit, that indwells believers and leads believers toward obedience to God. This passage is not referring to money, but to the choice between yielding to fleshly desires to the impulse of the Holy Spirit. The harvest that is reaped is everlasting life, not more material wealth in this life.[34]

Unfortunately, this text is one of many that proponents of Prosperity Theology use to support their message of health and wealth. Murdock would have his readers believe that the verse cited is in favor of the Prosperity Theology philosophy. He ignores the direct context of the passage to further his message.  The main objective in one’s life is to accrue material possessions and live the blessed life that God desires for his creation.

4. Examining the Implications of the Presuppositions

After surveying the historical foundation and presuppositions behind the Prosperity Theology movement, one should examine some of its significant implications. These implications will show that Prosperity Theology should be labeled as heretical.

The Underlying Idolatry

Perhaps the first implication is the most obvious: one who solely trusts in God for his blessings is not truly trusting in God, but in his blessings. He does not want God but wants God’s things. The root of all sin is idolatry. Idolatry is when one holds something that is not God to be of higher value than God. Prosperity Theology teachers view God as a means to an end; that end is material prosperity. Even though America is the wealthiest country in the world, the Prosperity Theology movement has seen the rampant self-indulgent lifestyle and latched itself on. This has successfully convinced numerous people that God desires for them to have material abundance. The fact is that simply being in America renders someone rich in comparison to the rest of the world. Platt had some convicting words when he said, “If you and I [speaking of Americans] have running water, shelter over our heads, clothes to wear, food to eat, and some means of transportation (even if it’s public transportation), then we are in the top 15 percent of the world’s people for wealth.”[35] Platt also noted that “today more than a billion people in the world… attempt to survive on less than a dollar per day. Close to two billion others live on less than two dollars per day. That’s nearly half the world struggling today to find food, water, and shelter with the same amount of money I spend on french fries for lunch.”[36]

Yet despite these sobering statistics, the American population has seized this health and wealth gospel as though God desires for them to never lack in anything. The fact is that simply by being in America, a man is arguably better off than nearly half of the world’s population. Most Americans are more concerned with furthering their selfish agenda while disregarding the marginalized around them. This facet of the philosophy behind Prosperity Theology is incompatible with the gospel. Prosperity Theology holds personal accumulation of wealth as primary importance.  It is impossible to have a heart regenerated by the Holy Spirit and be more concerned with materialism than helping the poor. This would go directly against the evidence of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.[37] Jesus challenged his disciples to care for the poor.[38] Ben Witherington added, “[If] there is to be a prosperity gospel worthy of its name, it should be all about the great blessing of giving and living self-sacrificially and how freeing it is to be trusting God day to day for life and all its necessities.”[39] Perhaps this is what the apostle Paul spoke of in his letter to the church in Philippi, that God would provide for him in every circumstance and that he had learned to be content in Christ.[40] Paul learned to rely on God himself, not the things that God created. Witherington adds, “the New Testament is very clear that the goal of the Christian life is not success or prosperity, but godliness with contentment.”[41]

The Idea that Man is Inherently Good

Another significant implication behind these presuppositions is that man is inherently good and is ultimately deserving of any and all blessings that God may give him. Osteen rhetorically asks, “[who] told you that something was wrong with you?”[42] To Osteen, that someone is Satan, who is discouraging the children of God into believing something that is not true about themselves. According to Osteen, man is good, and there is nothing wrong with him. There is little, if any, message of sin or repentance in Osteen’s version of the gospel. Osteen’s preference to focus solely on the good in people fails when one sees that there is no good in him.[43] Osteen disregards the fact that every person is due the true gospel. No one is too lost for reconciliation through Christ: the majesty of God’s mercy. Whenever a gospel message is shared, it is always in the context of solely improving the lives of its hearers and adherents. In his own words, “God’s plan for each of our lives is that we continually rise to new levels. But how high we go in life, and how much of God’s favor and blessings we experience, will be directly related to how well we follow His directions.”[44]

Osteen believes that God’s plan for humanity is to “rise to new levels.” This is a grossly egocentric and ostentatious theology. Matt Chandler put it rightly when he said, “[The] gospel message is not our benefit or our salvation; the context of the gospel is [ultimately] the supremacy of Christ and the glory of God.”[45] The beauty of the gospel message is that despite man’s sin and depravity, God still provides reconciliation through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. God’s glory and grace are the answer to the question of “the most mysterious aspect of the mystery of sin is not that the sinner deserves to die, but rather that the sinner in the average situation continues to exist.”[46] Like God’s provision for the Israelites, God spares and saves sinners to bring glory to himself.[47]

A Formulaic Algorithm versus a Personal Relationship

A third implication of the presuppositions is that it ultimately takes any personal relationship with God out of the picture. Instead of a personal relationship, Christianity is reduced to a formulaic algorithm. Because the end goal for man is to materially prosper, he is to conduct his life by laws and rules that will enable to him to achieve that goal. This is identical to legalism: man is to obey these rules so that God will bless him. There lacks any notion of a personal and growing relationship with God. Osteen asks his readers, “[My] question to you is: How high do you want to rise? Do you want to continue to increase? Do you want to see more of God’s blessings and favor? If so, the higher we go, the more disciplined we must be; the quicker we must obey.”[48]

This follows Osteen’s previous quotation about God’s plan for humanity. In Prosperity Theology, wealth is linked with obedience. There is an implicit sense of a deuteronomistic theology in the messages of preachers like Osteen, Murdock, and Meyer. The idea is that if man obeys God, then God is bound to reward him for his obedience. The most glaring evidence of this is the excessive use of Old Testament passages in support of their doctrine. They ignore the context of the passages and reference them as if they were prescriptive and not descriptive. Murdock said there are basic principles of prosperity established in Scripture and cited Deut. 28:1-2 as his initial support for the principles.[49] Not surprisingly, Murdock disregarded the rest of the Old Testament laws not pertaining to contemporary life unless they relate to material prosperity. His blatant cherry picking of Scripture and eisegesis is further evidence that not all Old Testament passages are meant to be prescriptive for believers at all times, but rather may be descriptive for the specific narrative. As Christ has fulfilled the Law, Christians today are no longer bound by it.[50] Therefore, Murdock cannot appeal to many of his chosen Old Testament texts as they are completely inapplicable in any support of his statements.

These implications are a few out of many that could be discussed. They focus on the inherent idolatrous nature, the severe exaltation of man, and the legalistic ideology of a God bound and governed by supposed laws that govern the universe.[51]

5. Conclusion

The purpose of this paper has been to show that the implications derived from the presuppositions grounded in Prosperity Theology effectively render it heretical. Due to the severe ramifications found when following through the ideology of Prosperity Theology, it is clear that the church needs to quickly eradicate this false teaching from itself. Scripture is littered with warnings of the arrivals of false teachers. Paul told the church at Colossae, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit… and not according to Christ.”[52] The apostle Peter cautioned his readers,

false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who brought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.[53]

The first leaders of the church were well aware of the arrival of false teachings. The contemporary church must, as well, be alert and cognizant of the same. Unless the church erases the heresies from her peripheral vision, she will not see it even when it is standing in front of her.

 

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Books

Bloodsworth Jr., Richard L. A Theological Analysis and Assessment of the Prosperity Gospel. Denver: Denver Seminary, 2009. Microfiche.

Chan, Francis. Forgotten God. Colorado Springs, David C. Cook, 2009.

Chandler, Matt. The Explicit Gospel. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2012.

Gongwer, Jeffery A. The Theological Poverty of the Prosperity Gospel: Philosophies and Practices of Financial Stewardship from the Perspectives of “Christian Financial Management” and the “Prosperity Gospel” Movement: Comparisons and Conclusions. Cordova: Mid America Baptist Theological Seminary, 2007. Microfiche.

Gossett, Don, and E.W. Kenyon. The Power of Your Words. New Kensington: Whitaker House, 1977.

Jones, David W. and Russell S. Woodbridge. Health, Wealth & Happiness. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2011.

McConnell, D.R. A Different Gospel. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1995.

McGrath, Alister. Heresy. New York: HaperCollins Publishers, 2009.

Murdock, Mike. 31 Reasons People Do Not Receive Their Financial Harvest. Ft. Worth: The Wisdom Center, 1997.

——— . The Law of Recognition. Ft. Worth: The Wisdom Center, 1999.

Osteen, Joel. Become a Better You. New York: Free Press, 2007.

Platt, David. Radical. Colorado Springs: Multnomah Press, 2010.

Sproul, R.C. The Holiness of God. Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 1998.

Wattles D. Wallace. The Science of Getting Rich. (Holyoke: E. Towne, 1910): 9. Quoted in David W. Jones and Russell S. Woodbridge, Health Wealth and Happiness. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2011.

Witherington III, Ben. Jesus and Money. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2010.

Electronic Documents

Sproul, R.C. “The Will of God.” http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/wills_spro ul.html (accessed May 19, 2013).

St. Anselm College. “Anselm’s Ontological Argument.” http://www.anselm.edu/homepage/dbanach/an selm.html (accessed May 23, 2013).

The Westminster Presbyterian. “The Westminster Shorter Catechism.” http://www.westminsterconfess ion.org/confessional-standards/the-westminster-shorter-catechism.php (accessed May 23, 2013).

[1]Don Gossett and E.W. Kenyon, The Power of Your Words (New Kensington: Whitaker House, 1981), 142.

[2]David W. Jones and Russell S. Woodbridge, Health Wealth and Happiness (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2011), 66.

[3]Ibid., 67.

[4]Mike Murdock, 31 Reasons People Do Not Receive Their Financial Harvest (Denton: Wisdom International, 1997), 16.

[5]For the purposes of this paper, the term “Christian” will be ascribed to one who claims to be a follower of Christ, regardless of whether he holds proper theology or exhibits any outward evidences of conversion. See Francis Chan, Forgotten God (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2009), 32.

[6]Matthew 7:15-16a. All Scripture references will be taken from the English Standard Version.

[7]The Westminster Presbyterian, “The Westminster Shorter Catechism,” 1647, http://www.westminsterconfession.org/confessional-standards/the-westminster-shorter-catechism.php (accessed May 23, 2013).

[8]David Platt, Radical (Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2010), 70.

[9]Jones and Woodbridge, 28; A common denominator for the majority of cults is that they begin with an alleged extrabiblical revelation.

[10]Jones and Woodbridge, 28-29.

[11]Ibid., 29.

[12]Ibid., 30-31. One of Trine’s students was Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, another cult with similar teachings.

[13]D.R. McConnell, A Differerent Gospel (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers), 40.

[14]Wallace D. Wattles, The Science of Getting Rich, (Holyoke: E. Towne, 1910) 9, quoted in Jones and Woodbridge, 31.

[15]See Jones and Woodbridge, 34-48, for an in-depth discussion on each of these.

[16]McConnell, 41.

[17]Jones and Woodbridge, 30.

[18]Gossett and Kenyon, 116.

[19]McConnell, 21.

[20]An example of the genetic fallacy would be to say that Volkswagens should never be driven since the Nazi party originally produced it. Any merit the Volkswagen may or may not have is distinct and segregated from the value of its original manufacturer.

[21]See Ps. 103:19 and 1 Tim 6:15 for an example of other verses concerning the sovereignty of God

[22]St. Anselm College. Anselm’s Ontological Argument, 2013, http://www.anselm. edu/homepage/dbanach/anselm.htm (accessed May 23, 2013).

[23]This “work of God” is usually determined by the messenger and often supports his own ministry.

[24]Gossett and Kenyon, 142.

[25]Richard Bloodsworth, A Theological Analysis and Assessment of the Prosperity Gospel, (Denver Seminary, 2009), text-fiche, 30.

[26]Joel Osteen, Become a Better You (New York: Free Press, 2007), 114.

[27]Gossett and Kenyon, 67.

[28]Osteen, 33-47.

[29]Ibid., 37.

[30]For an exhaustive introduction to Pelagianism, see Alister McGrath, Heresy (New York: HarperOne, 2009), 159-72.

[31]For more information, see R. C. Sproul, “The Will of God,” 1992, http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/wills_sproul.html (accessed May 19, 2013).

[32]Osteen, 41.

[33]Mike Murdock, The Law of Recognition (Ft. Worth: Wisdom International, 1999), 69.

[34]Jeffery Gongwer, The Theological Poverty of the Prosperity Gospel: Philosophies and Practices of Financial Stewardship from the Perspectives of “Christian Financial Management” and the “Prosperity Gospel” Movement; Comparisons and Conclusions (Cordova: Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, 2007), microfiche, 100.

[35]Platt, 114-15.

[36]Ibid., 108.

[37]Gal. 5:16-25.

[38]Matt. 25:35-40.

[39]Ben Witherington III, Jesus and Money (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2012), 77.

[40]Phil. 4:10-13.

[41]Witherington, 143.

[42]Osteen, 9.

[43]Romans 3

[44]Ibid., 301.

[45]Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012), 90.

[46]R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God (Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 1998), 117.

[47]See Ezek. 20: 5-11, Ps. 106:8, Matt. 5:16, 1 Cor. 10:31, among other references for verses concerning God bring glory to himself.

[48]Osteen, 302.

[49]Murdock, 161-62.

[50] Rom. 10:4.

[51] Murdock wrote, “Life is Governed by Laws [sic]” in his book The Law of Recognition Refer to it for more examples of such laws as The Law of Promotion, The Law of Reproduction, The Law of the Seed, etc.

[52]Col. 2:8.

[53]2 Pet. 2:1-3.