Word of Faith Wealth Theology: Part Two

This entry is part 11 of 23 in the series Wolves in Wool

The Apostles Were Wealthy

Continuing this charade of wealth being the divine right of believers, WOF teachers furthermore present the apostles as wealthy men, heavy hitters and financially influential in their time.

(the) “apostles were businessmen they were rich men had plenty of money, I’m going to show you that Jesus was a wealthy man had plenty of money and see all of that completely foreign to us from a traditional point of view.” “Jesus and the disciples were rich, only rich people could take off for 3.5 years.”
Fredrick K.C. Price (Ever Increasing Faith, TBN November 23, 1990)

Price poses an interesting hypothesis (though he speaks it as if it were truth.)  “Only rich people could take off for 3.5 years.”  I’m sure this seems clever to Price, who certainly could take off for 3.5 years, which would benefit everyone.  Yet, this quote only serves to demonstrate Price’s misunderstanding of the very nature of the calling of the apostles.  The simple facts are that they chose to quit their jobs, follow Christ and be poor!  It speaks not of their wealth, but rather of their lack of the love of money, something Price cannot fathom.

Matthew 4:18-20 (NIV)
18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.

Peter and John were fishermen.  They were common, blue collar worker bees, who left their boats, nets and money making ability on the ground to follow Jesus, as were James and John:

Matthew 4:21-22 (NIV)
21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Matthew was a tax collector, and may have been wealthy when Jesus called him, as may have been Luke.  Yet, these men gave up their incomes to follow Jesus. 

Avanzini speaks of the later years of the apostles, asserting that successful and financially bloated ministries were attributed to them.

“Paul had the kind of money that could stop up justice.”
John Avanzini (Believer’s Voice of Victory, TBN, January 20, 1991)

Yet, Paul himself testified quite the opposite about himself and the other apostles.

1 Corinthians 4:9-13 (NIV)
9 For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. 10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! 11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.

Does Avanzini know Paul better than Paul knows his own situation?  In Paul’s own testimony, he was hungry, thirsty, wore rags, hard working, persecuted and homeless!  How can Avanzini presume to be a biblical teacher and make such outlandish assertions in clear denial of the scriptures?  Perhaps the more important question should be, “what is the purpose of attempting to reconstruct Jesus and the disciples as wealthy?”  It is for no other reason than to defend their dishonest doctrines and paint themselves as godly and biblical in their continual lust for wealth.

It is Sinful to be Poor

The natural conclusion of this doctrinal mirage lends WOF teachers to preach that all should be wealthy who are in Christ.  If you are not wealthy then, you are a failure as a Christian and are living in sin.

“For you to sit in physical bondage is to deny the power of the gospel. Most people would have no trouble shouting whatsoever if I said, “To remain in the bondage of sin and death is to deny the power of the gospel.” If I said the same thing about poverty and financial bondage, it would get as quiet as a tomb. If I said that for you to live from paycheck to paycheck is to deny the power of the gospel, many of you would get angry. In Luke 4:18, Notice there was an anointing to preach good news to the poor. A lot of people don’t like to look at that because good news to a poor man is that he doesn’t have to be poor anymore. We have multitudes saved, delivered and filled with the Holy Ghost, and many are healed, yet over 90% of the church of Jesus Christ are living in absolute financial bondage. All the while, Jesus is saying, “I’ve been anointed to preach the good news to the poor.” You have held back the flow. You have denied the perpetual propulsion of power that could deliver you from not only sin and sickness but from the horrible stench of poverty.”
Rod Parsley (God’s Answer to Insufficient Funds, 1992 pps 46-47)

According to Parsley, living paycheck to paycheck is denying the power of the gospel.  I agree that living in this manner is unbiblical, as one should manage his income more properly than that.  Yet, “the power of the gospel” has nothing to do with financial increase.  Parsley’s contention is that if one lacks financial means he has “held back the flow.  You have denied the perpetual propulsion of the power that could deliver you…from the horrible stench of poverty.”

I wonder what James meant when he said,

James 1:9-10 (NIV)
9 The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10 But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower.

It sounds as if the poor are the ones encouraged by their high position.  He further asserts that we should not show favoritism to the rich, for

James 2:5-7 (NIV)
5 … Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?

 It seems almost preferable to James (one of the supposed “wealthy” apostles of the early church) to be poor materially while being rich in the faith.  Similarly, Jesus said,

Luke 18:24-25 (NIV)
24 … “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

One might expect a perversion of scripture to lead one to the conclusion that being rich is a sin rather than being poor.  Scripture does not teach this, yet it comes far closer to teaching it than it comes to teaching one that being poor is a sin. 

WOF teachers continue to preach their doctrines, however, in spite of a wealth of biblical evidence to the contrary.

The Means of Attaining Wealth

So, if one is to conclude that being wealthy is the natural state for the believer in Christ, the question which remains is, “How does one attain this wealth?”  Should we begin a preaching ministry on TBN?  That certainly seems to generate great wealth.  Should we make up doctrines that tickle the ears of thousands and write books from them?  That clearly works, too.  But, the WOF teachers do not desire competition.  Instead, the source of a believer’s wealth is taught to come from two sources: speaking the Word of Faith, and giving generously to the ministry of the WOF teacher.

Of the first form of payout, Marilyn Hickey is quick to rehearse her students on the methodology.

“What do you need? Start creating it. Start speaking about it. Start speaking it into being. Speak to your billfold. Say, “You big, thick billfold full of money.” Speak to your checkbook. Say, “You, checkbook, you. You’ve never been so prosperous since I owned you. You’re just jammed full of money.”
Marilyn Hickey (Claim Your Miracles audiotape #186, side 2)

As with all other areas of WOF doctrine, when all else fails the pronouncement of the word of faith will come to your rescue.  As Kenyon stated, “what I confess I possess” is the battle call for one’s miracle to form.  Apparently, money literally appears in one’s wallet!

Copeland echoes,

“What you are saying is exactly what you are getting now. If you are living in poverty and lack and want, change what you are saying. The powerful force of the spiritual world that creates the circumstances around us is controlled by the words of the mouth.”
Ken Copeland (The Laws of Prosperity, 98).

Just as healing is presumed to be manifest by words, so is one’s financial position.  Ironically scripture teaches one’s financial position is somehow tied to one’s work ethic and good stewardship.

Ephesians 4:28 (NIV)
28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

Proverbs 10:4 (NIV)
4 Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.

Matthew 25:26-27 (NIV)
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

What a novel idea… work hard and spend wisely.  Hardly fitting for the lifestyles of the rich and faithless, however.  Instead, money is seen as a means to self gratification and is gained through the utterance of unbiblical mantras.

 

The second way one is to attain this “guaranteed” wealth from the Lord is to support one of his faithful WOF preachers’ ministry.  Those who support the false teachers are noted to be unleashing a “seed” of faith, which the Lord will reward generously!

“Do you have a need? God’s law is simple and clear: Plant a seed – just like God did when He had a need. God needed sons and daughters, so He planted His very best – His only begotten Son – God could not have given more! As we have taught often, what did He receive? You know: MILLIONS of sons and daughters. Give God a seed – your best – and watch Him meet your need, great or small.”
TBN Newsletter – (August 4, 2004)

Apparently, another of God’s unwritten “laws” are known commonly by the TBN Word of Faith crew.  This law is “plant a seed.”  Upon having planted said seed, all that lacks is to “watch Him meet your need.”

Or, as Rod Parsley says it,

“Ask your biggest need, go to the phone and put a seed to your need!”
(Rod Parsley, TBN, Praise-A-Thon, March 31, 2004)

Even at this point those of an innocent mindset could find themselves confused.  What exactly is this “seed” that one is to plant?  Do you really have to ask?

If people make the 2000 dollar faith pledge to TBN, not only will God give them the 2000 dollars before the year 2000 but he will also make them totally debt free AND their WHOLE family will be saved before the year 2000.
(R.W. Shambach, Praise The Lord, TBN, Nov. 2, 1999)

The “seed” of course, is cold hard cash (or credit cards suffice in most cases). 

There is no mistake:  God can be bribed into meeting your needs by simply sending your money to one of his “anointed” televangelists.

“Yes, Lord, I’ll do it. I place a curse on every man and every woman that will stretch his hand against this anointing. I curse that man who dares to speak a word against this ministry. But any man and any woman that raises his or her hand in blessing towards this ministry, I bless that man. I bless that home! I bless that family. Under this anointing, the words I speak cannot fall to the ground. Under this anointing, everything I say, happens.”
Benny Hinn (TBN September 10, 1999)

One may think that such a teaching encourages “giving for greed.”  Yet, according to these teachers, it is not greedy at all to harvest from God’s “spiritual law.”  It is in fact, just!

“If I give $1,000 I deserve to get back $100,000 because I am just; that’s not greed!”
Jesse Duplantis (“The Just Shall Live By Faith”, TBN, December 19, 2003)

Nor is it to give in a wrong motive:

“Giving dosen’t cost, it pays!”
(Joyce Meyer, Daystar Spring Share-A-Thon, March 2, 2004)

This raises the greatest question of all concerning the WOF teachers.  If their doctrines are true, why do they ask people to give at all?  Are they not empowered by the word of their faith to “create” their own wealth?  Why do they insist on building it from their acknowledged congregations of financially struggling people?  If, like Marilyn Hickey, they are able to simply “speak to [their] wallets,” why do they not do so and leave the rest of us quite enough alone?

Dear friends, do not follow these teachers.  Scripture has warned us about those who consider financial gain to be the aspiration of one’s spiritual practice.  Their end is not pretty, and to be their follower puts you on the same path.

Philippians 3:18-21 (NIV)
18 For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV)
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

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