Tag Archives: health and wealth gospel

Does It Pay to Believe?

Can faith in God/Jesus lead to material prosperity? This is one of the central ideas of the “health and wealth gospel.” And needless to say, this kind of message has an obvious attraction. Most of us would rather be rich than poor. And if we can get more money by essentially believing that God wants to open up his heavenly storehouse and bless us in that way, well, why wouldn’t we?

Perhaps because this kind of thinking has several problems associated with it, at least if we take the Bible seriously. To mention just one of the most significant, we have to figure out what to do with any number of passages that underscore God intentionally using, not prosperity, but rather privation for the good of his people. Paul, no stranger to hunger, thirst, and exposure, can even say that such things are “preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17). Nor did Jesus exactly cash in on his Father’s supernatural favor. His road included “nowhere to lay his head” (Mat. 8:20), not to mention even greater suffering and, eventually, his execution.

No, the Bible is clear that God’s greatest gift to us is not a house on the water or luxury SUV or simply a comfortable life. It’s himself. And so his purposes for his people are often more complex and, ultimately, much more glorious than the “faith equals wealth” message would have us believe.

Still, we can perhaps make another error if we believe that a biblically shaped Christian faith has no relationship with economic flourishing in this world. Or at least that’s the contention of theologian Wayne Grudem and economist Barry Asmus in their book, The Poverty of Nations.