TV preaching and I were born and grew up around the same time, the eighties and nineties. Kenneth Copeland started in 1979. Jimmy Swaggart started his Telecast in 1975, but he really came to prominence in the early 80s when it began to be broadcast by 3000 stations and cable systems. The most epic examples of success and failure within the prosperity movement, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, started a television network (Trinity Broadcasting Network, TBN) and lost their ministries in astonishing fashion during my first decade of life. And who could forget Benny Hinn. Pardon me for saying so, but something within me knew he was a fraud from the first moment ever I saw him. He is quite the showman, though.
These all blazed the trail upon which people like Creflo Dollar (the most aptly named of all the prosperity preachers), Paula White, and Rod Parsley would tread in the nineties and beyond. Whenever any of these are publicly embroiled in controversy money will be at the heart of it. Their ministries bring in untold amounts of money. They live, many of them, lavish lifestyles, jet setting all over the world. Creflo Dollar’s ministry specifically drew the ire of the general public in 2015 when they tried to crowdfund their way to a $65 million private jet.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. 1 Timothy 6:10 ESV (emphasis mine)
Money itself is not the problem. What they’re preaching is, and they’re preaching just enough right that you might miss the wrong they’re adding in and the essential Gospel they’re leaving out.So don’t hate them because they’re wealthy. Wealth in itself is not an evil.
Idolatry is what the prosperity preachers sell. When you say that God has no legal claim over this world and that He needs your permission to act, as Myles Munroe once said to Benny Hinn on his show. Then you translate that into a doctrine of men and women being little gods, via messages from Creflo Dollar, and Kenneth Copeland (“When I read in the Bible where he [Jesus] says, ‘I Am,’ I just smile and say, ‘Yes, I Am, too!'”). Finally, you set up a doctrine of promises of wealth and health within the scriptures that ignores the context of those “promises” and every trial suffered by those whom God used to write the “promises”. What you end up with are Christians who, at least functionally, believe that God serves them and that they are the creators and controllers if their world. Even this is no reason to hate them.
My message was always going to be that there is no reason to hate the prosperity preachers. You may have seen that coming.
I’m not saying don’t despise their doctrines. I’m not saying don’t call out them and the falsehoods they would lead our brothers and sisters to believe.
“You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.” Leviticus 19:17 ESV
I’m also not saying stay in their church, continue to give them money, or feel free to watch their programs. We ought not hate, but God has no such prohibition on His conduct.
There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers” Proverbs 6:16-19 ESV (emphasis mine)
What we ought to do, dear reader, is pray for the false teachers, witness to our friends and family that have been taken in by them, and study ever more to be sure we can discern the difference.