It seems like the popularity of ‘prosperity gospel’ preachers never diminishes. When one person escapes from the darkness, two new converts take his place. It's a distressing thought for faithful Christians who simply want to make God appear glorious and to proclaim the good news from His Word—that sinners can be forgiven and accepted by God through Christ.
If you’re not entirely clear on what ‘prosperity gospel’ means, it seems you are not alone. Recently, Dave Ramsey found himself being called a prosperity gospel preacher by certain readers who took offense at his website post: “20 Things the Rich Do Every Day.”
Yes, Ramsey might have fostered better understanding among his readers by prefacing his post. He could have explained that the list is not exhaustive, that it only applies to people living in a first-world economy, and that being a Christian doesn’t guarantee becoming rich. But does the act of posting a thought-provoking list of 20 common-sense habits really give readers sufficient warrant to brand Ramsey as a prosperity preacher?
John Piper’s famous diatribe against the prosperity gospel rips apart the false claim that the Bible teaches that being God’s child results in having a big bank account. Rather, the true gospel calls people to come into a right relationship with God through faith in Christ. As our Creator, God has the right to receive honor, worship, and thanks from everyone. People defraud Him of that right by honoring and worshiping themselves. The prosperity gospel turns the Bible’s message on its head. It promotes self-worship and says that when people give money to a prosperity preacher, and adopt certain mental habits, then God is obligated to reward them with greater and greater material goods.
Dave Ramsey’s ministry instructs people on how to use money wisely and to stay out of debt, but does that make Ramsey a prosperity preacher? What do you think?
Alex Crain is the editor of Christianity.com