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Prosperity gospel, as I understand it, is the teaching that God wants to bless us with wealth and health. I can't really see this in the Bible. For example, Paul writes in 2 Cor 12:7-10 (ESV):

7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Or, looking at what Jesus has said:

Matt 22:10 (ESV) and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

John 15:20 (ESV) Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.

What arguments (biblical or otherwise) can be used to support prosperity gospel? What does prosperity theology say about passages such as the ones I cited?

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5 Answers 5

Some verses the prosperity gospel are built on are:

John 10:10 NIV The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Philippians 4:19 NIV And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

3 John 1:2 NIV Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.

While I believe these all do say that Christ's death does allow us to have good in this life, I don't believe they should be our only focus. As mentioned in your question, there are many verses which say we will also face adversity.

I also believe that the life and prosperity God wants for us is most likely not the prosperity of riches and glory on this earth that is being offered in this movement.

I do not pay too much attention to those that preach only prosperity, because it often seems dry and lacking to me. I am just guessing, but I would bet that they avoid the passages you provide. It just wouldn't make people feel good to know that they might have problems. And of course, when people don't feel good, then it just causes more problems, so that wouldn't be good, right?

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In regards to the three verses mentioned, none of them mentions material wealth. –  Nathan Osman Aug 30 '11 at 22:31

The main argument as I see it, for the "Prosperity Gospel", comes from the Old Testament. So prayer of Jabez is an example - but this is a flawed application of the prayer of Jabez.

Blessing in the Old Testament is physical. Faithfulness to God, by David, Solomon, Job, Abraham, Jacob etc were was rewarded by having many posessions. The old testament prophets speak of how much physical blessing will ensue if you following God.

However, the New Testament redefines blessing to be spiritual, blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1).

The prayer of Jabez is a prayer calling on God to fulfil his promises - as they were then - That Jabez would enjoy blessing on earth and that the territory promised him would be given to him.

The N.T extends God's promises beyond the mere physical to the eternal.

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Psalm 37:4. Delight yourself in the lord & he will give you the desires of your heart.

Luke 12:31. Instead seek his kingdom & these things will be added unto you.

Jeremiah 29:11. For I know the plans I have for you,declares the lord,plans for wholeness & not for evil, to give you a hope & a future

There are numerous passages of Scripture that supports the idea of success & prosperity. Prosperity is not only limited to money. I believe that there is always a word of revelation or truths for every generation in relation to God's prophetic timetable. There are people who have taken this teaching too far & distorted the fundamental principles that governs this Biblical teaching.

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Welcome to the site! This is a good first answer! As a new visitor, I'd recommend checking out the following posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": help page, How we are different than other sites? and What makes a good supported answer? –  David Stratton Oct 22 '13 at 12:40

One reference is from the Prayer of Jabez

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.

1 Chronicles 4:9-10

Personal note: I think it is quite a reach to go from asking God for success to expecting success, fame, fortune, etc. We should remember that we are under Grace, so we can't demand from or trade with God for anything. When He answers prayer, that's a bonus.

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The initial definition links health and wealth and the arguments 'against' then challenge the 'wealth' side. The health side, to my mind is unambiguous. Jesus healed everyone who came to him. There are some he didn't heal but they didn't actually come to him. This is New Teatament and it is physical. It is manifestly for this life. Healing was part and parcel of the kingdom - witness Paul at Malta, for example.

Paul's thorn in the flesh may well be related to the Old Testament term 'Thorn in your side' and the immediate context points not to illness but to persecution. In his book on healing Francis MacNutt distinguishes between suffering from the outside - hostility, rejection, persecution and suffering from the inside pain, sickness, depression etc. The atonement of Christ virtually promises trouble from he outside whilst offering redemption from the trouble from the inside.

Additional point with respect to the comment below. Paul Tournier in Guilt and Grace makes exactly this point. That if you believe in healing miracles, what does it do to those who don't receive them? Tournier sites it as one example of how patients can feel guilty about being ill. On the other hand if you remove the possibility of recovery, you remove hope. I'm not sure that the answer is simply to conclude that 'God has chosen not to heal' either. A healthy 'I don't know why.' may be a better response. Francis MacNutt in 'Healing' - simply says that we are inefficient channels of God's grace. That's why we don't see as much healing as Jesus did. Healing is there in the atonement. We may not be great at appropriating it but if we say it is only there for some, we are in danger of going down a route of some kind of limited atonement.

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Welcome to the site. We are glad you decided to participate. This answer is a bit hard to follow, though I do see a genuine attempt to answer the question. Perhaps, is there more information you could edit in that would better develop your thoughts? –  fredsbend Oct 6 at 18:46
Here are some meta posts about this site to help you learn how we do it here: What this site is about and How this site is different. I hope to see you post again soon. –  fredsbend Oct 6 at 18:46
All you've done is say what the prosperity gospel is, not argue for it. To say that God will cure every Christian of depression is naive, dangerous and abusive to the many faithful Christians who God chooses to not heal. –  curiousdannii Oct 7 at 0:12
Thanks for the comments. I've made an initial response to curiousdannii in the text - because I certainly don't intend to be abusive. I hope to get back to fredsbend's comment later –  Mike Oct 8 at 9:49
Good edit Mike. To promote that 'God chooses to not heal' could equally be viewed as'naive, dangerous and abusive' - it all depends on what is 'Truth': I think the second part of your comment is actually off-topic for this forum @curiousdannii - I haven't flagged it, but at the very least it is not constructive. –  bruised reed Oct 8 at 12:18

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