Former prosperity gospel advocate, Sean DeMars, thundered back at his former faith recently, calling it “The ‘Gospel’ that Almost Killed Me.” Beginning with his horrific experience as a teen praying to be directly healed from mercury poisoning (rather than tell his mother or go to the hospital) he remembers saying: “Mom, Jesus is my doctor. I'm blessed, and I know that he would have healed me."
Sometime after recovering in the hospital, DeMars did hear the true gospel in a number of ways including the viral internet video: John Piper and the Prosperity Gospel. He now serves as a missionary in Peru.
It is estimated that approximately half a billion people worldwide are caught up in some form of prosperity gospel teaching. About this, John MacArthur writes,
“The gospel that is driving those surging numbers is not the true gospel, and the spirit behind them is not the Holy Spirit. What we are seeing is in reality the explosive growth of a false church, as dangerous as any cult or heresy that has ever assaulted Christianity.” (Strange Fire, p. xvii, Thomas Nelson, 2013).
But doesn’t Scripture teach Christians to pray for prosperity? “Yes,” writes Paul Tripp, speaking of David’s prayer in Psalm 51. Tripp then explains,
“[But] why does David pray for prosperity? For one reason: the glory and delight of the Lord. When God prospers people who are no longer living for their own little kingdoms, but are living for his, the result is the furtherance of his kingdom purposes on earth, which results in his glory. What David is requesting is completely different from the modern "health and wealth gospel" prayers for prosperity. Those prayers for prosperity have one fatal flaw in them. They are prayers for prosperity for the purpose of the delight of the person praying the prayer. Not so with David.”
Sean DeMars closes his post “The ‘Gospel’ that Almost Killed Me” with an impassioned plea for Christians to evangelize those who are caught up in the prosperity gospel:
“If you meet someone lost in this false gospel, please, please, please love them and tell them the truth. Sit them down, buy them lunch, and open up your Bibles. Speak life. Be brave. Odds are, no one has ever loved them enough to tell them the truth about themselves. The truth is they cannot be saved by a false gospel, and the prosperity gospel is certainly that. Jesus saved me from the prosperity gospel, and he can save more.”
Your turn. What do you think about the prosperity gospel? How well do your thoughts align with Scripture?
Alex Crain is the editor for Christianity.com