These Christians Are Worse Than Socialists
The nation's megachurch pastors and prosperity preaching are leading the country down a road that's worse than socialism or communism.
I'm not talking about a path of moral or spiritual decline — although many would argue that, too. But instead it's a highway leading to economic disaster. And something should be done about it soon, or the entire country and economy might suffer. Let me explain...
Prosperity preaching has a lot of names. Sometimes it's called "prosperity theology" or "prosperity gospel" or "the gospel of success." And when followers are trying to distance themselves from the teaching, they'll call it the "word of faith movement." But it's all the same thing.
Prosperity preaching teaches that wealth and prosperity are strictly blessings from an independent, sentient, and living God — specifically the Christian God.
In other words, if you're rich, it's only because God wants you to be rich.
Let that sink in for a minute: If you're rich, it's only because God wants you to be rich.
Of course, that thinking works the other way around as well: If you're poor, it's only because God wants you to be poor.
What that seems to suggest is that wealth inequality is God's plan. If you're poor, you deserve to be poor, because that's God's plan for you. And the wealthy/prosperous — which does in fact include people like Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, Rodrigo Duterte, Robert Mugabe, Charles Taylor, and other warlords and dictators (all of whom are extremely wealthy and prosperous) — are in God's favor.
In his 2016 book The Money Cult, author Chris Lehmann writes, “The leading lights of today's Protestant faith in America are not merely inclined to endorse the notion that the rich are beloved by God — they are themselves rich, and cite their worldly success as evidence of God's favor.”
Now, I'm sure some of you are reaching for your Bibles right now to find scripture passages that line up with this teaching. But don't bother. I'll do it for you. Here are the main passages prosperity preachers like Joel Osteen like to quote all the time:
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich, and he adds no sorrow with it. (Proverbs 10:22)
And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. (2 Corinthians 9:8)
And the Lord shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers to give thee. (Deuteronomy 28:11)
Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:26)
And maybe a favorite verse of Osteen and others:
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. (Luke 6:38)
And, of course, the key word there is “give.”
It's no secret that megachurch pastors like Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, and other live like rock stars.
Osteen is estimated to be worth $40 million and lives in an $11 million mansion in the suburbs of Houston.
Meanwhile, Copeland is said to be worth anywhere between $300 million and $750 million and lives in a $7 million lakefront mansion with a private airstrip and hanger for his private jets.
Another megachurch pastor pleaded with his congregation to buy him a sixth private jet... because five isn't enough.
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But while I'm at it, let me go ahead and quote a few more passages from the Bible that prosperity preachers purposely ignore:
(I've put quotes from Jesus in red below and above. All quotes below come directly from Jesus according to the Bible Christians follow.)
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. (Matthew 6:19)
And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided. So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. (Luke 12:19-21)
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)
And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. (Matthew 19:24)
FYI: Christianity literally means “Christ-like.” And you've just read the exact words of Christ (at least according to the Bible). So I'm not sure how prosperity preachers even call themselves Christians. But I digress.
The economic problem with prosperity preaching is this: If your wealth and prosperity is only a blessing from God, what's the point of doing anything at all? Why put any effort forth at all?
Why create or innovate if your success is strictly limited to what God will allow you?
Political ideologies like socialism and communism create the exact same kinds of problems: Why create or innovate if your success is strictly limited to what the government will allow you?
If you have no control over your own wealth, and it's just something God gives to whoever he wants, why work? Why create? Why innovate? Why do anything at all if your personal prosperity is totally in the hands of someone else?
The prosperity preaching message obviously differs from the political ideologies of socialism and communism. But the macroeconomic results are the same. It strips the individual of their power by telling believers they're not in control. And it should be stopped.
You are in control of your finances and life — no one else. By preaching that there is a God who's in control of your prosperity devalues all your efforts. And left unchecked, this kind of teaching (like socialism) could lead to a society with no concern for the future or interest in creation or innovation.
At the end of the day, the message is that it doesn't matter what you do because God is in control of your prosperity. That's economically dangerous. Just imagine if the entire country felt that way. If Osteen and others had their way, the entire country (and the world) would believe that.
The sources of creation and innovation are financial and economic incentives. If people believe those incentives are limited to what a God or government will allow, creation and innovation are stifled. Is that what we want?
I'm going to leave you today with one last Bible passage:
The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get. (Proverbs 21:20)
Until next time,
As an editor at Energy and Capital, Luke’s analysis and market research reach hundreds of thousands of investors every day. Luke is also a contributing editor of Angel Publishing’s Bubble and Bust Report newsletter. There, he helps investors in leveraging the future supply-demand imbalance that he believes could be key to a cyclical upswing in the hard asset markets. For more on Luke, go to his editor’s page.
P.S. If this is something you're interested in learning more about, I'd recommend reading Chris Lehmann's The Money Cult. The book is overwritten in my opinion. But if you can slog through it, it's worth a read. But perhaps the best book to read to show that guys like Joel Osteen and Kenneth Copeland are nothing but mere charlatans is the Bible itself. You'd be surprised what you'll find in there if you actually read it. Unicorns — yes, unicorns — are referred to as real-life animals in the KJV of the Bible nine times! Niiiine times!
P.P.S. I understand that prosperity preaching does not represent the entirety of Christianity. And I know there are many Christians out there who adamantly disagree with guys like Osteen and Copeland. You don't need to message me about that. But I do want you to recognize that Osteen alone has over 9 million Twitter followers, a weekly attendance of about 52,000 people at his church in Texas, reaches another 10 million people around the world through TV every week, and has sold 14 books, some of which have been ranked number one on the New York Times Best Seller list. Osteen doesn't represent all of Christianity. But he does represent a significant portion and has an extremely heavy influence.
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