Friday, September 5, 2008

Piper on the Prosperity Gospel


Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like there is a lot of "hatred" in his tone. Interesting.

Anonymous said...

Why were Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob rich men? Why did God tell the Israelites that He would give the the power to get wealth? Why did God instruct Solomon to build a temple that in todays money would equal about $174 billion dollars? Why would God make Solomon rich? Why did Jesus have a treasurer? (Judas) Why if Judas was stealing off the bag, did it not come up and be dealt with? Do poor people give to poor people? Can I give something to the poor if I don't have anything to give them? What do we do with the wealth of the wicked? What is the reason that our barns are filled with plenty and our vats overflow with fatness? Why when talking to the Corinthians did Paul tell them to give him money? What does the word "rich" mean when it says that He (Christ) became poor that we might become rich? Is it only spiritual richness or is it Biblically sound even in New Testament Greek, that he was referring to monitary wealth. Why would Paul use words like "super abundance" when obviously (within context) referring to monitary donations? These are all interesting questions. One's that Biblically need answers.

Jake said...

A few things:
1 - this blog post is from 2008 but, thanks to modern technology I get a notification when people comment on any post... no matter how old.

2 - You don't actually engage with any of the comments/points by John Piper in the video.

3 - "Anonymous" might just be the worst possible way to actually engage in a conversation for a couple of reasons:
- You aren't open to an ACTUAL dialogue because you aren't making yourself known.
- You want to throw rocks (and small ones at that) from the darkness rather than confronting directly
- It shows a lack of sincerity and it shows a whole lot of fear.

Typically I don't bother with anonymous comments but I feel like responding to a few of your points would be worthwhile.

First... "hatred"
Yes. I think there is ANGER in his tone. And it should be. Jesus had Anger in his tone when he turned over the tables in the temple courts of all the money-changers who were getting rich off of fees and exchange rates for those who came to give offering at the temple. (Matthew 21, Mark 11, John 2).
There is a righteous anger when God's name is defamed and his people are taken advantage of for others (PARTICULARLY "shepherds") personal gain.

Now... to you actual points:
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob were rich men. God chose to bless them in that way. We know little in terms of economic status of Samuel, Gideon, Elijah... even Peter, Paul, Phillip... we know that John the Baptizer took a vow and lived in camel hair and ate locusts...
but what is the point. The POINT is that it wasn't about prosperity or money at all. Each of these was faithful men no matter what level of wealth they had!
I am not arguing that God has the ability to provide financial abundance... but rather that we shouldn't exalt financial abundance as the most treasured thing (1 Samuel 2:7 - "The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low and he exalts.")

The same argument applies to your comment on the temple and Solomon. God CAN do what ever he wants... but it is not that he MUST make each man wealthy.

Jake said...

About Jesus and Judas and the money bag. As any good group of students following a rabbi, they were sharing moneys earned by them or given to them for the ministry that they did. So... someone gets healed and as a thank you says, "here are a few coins for food on your journey..." Into the bag they go to help the whole group of disciples on the journey. Judas was greedy and felt a sense of entitlement which worked in his heart to take from the bag for himself that which was intended for faithful stewardship for the whole group.

About it being "dealt with"... did you miss the point where Jesus KNEW all of Judas' sin and when he (Judas) finally felt the weight of his sin (including that of betraying Jesus) he went out and hanged himself? Are you advocating that because Jesus didn't say anything to Judas he was telling him it was ok to "take a little off the top"?

Your question: "Do poor people give to poor people?"
My answer: yes.

Mark 12:41-44 - The widow has little and gives anyway, out of faithful obedience and trust that God will supply all her needs.

if you read Jesus' teaching to his disciples here is CLEAR that it isn't about the AMOUNT (because those who had much and gave much actually gave little in comparison) but rather it was about faithful obedience.

Any plenty or abundance we have is FROM God and it IS a blessing! But just because I ASK for a full barn doesn't mean that God HAS to fill it. He may choose to keep its stock low so that I may be forced to depend on him for my daily bread. And, at times, he may fill it up that I may be able to glorify Him for his gracious gift and share that ALL THE MORE with others in need.

To your last few points:
- Paul does tell the Corinthains that the work he is doing among them (as a teacher, training elders, planting churches, etc) is worthy of some kind of compensation BUT he says he didn't ask for anything from them so that they wouldn't be confused or have the message muddied by all the talk of money. He accepted money from other Christians (like a missionary) in order to better serve the people in Corinth (2 Corinthians 11). So he didn't tell them to "give him money"... AND it is in the context of faithful obedience to generosity. God is generous to us in Christ... therefore we are generous to others.

2 Corinthians 8 - to which you are referring in your comment about "He (Christ) became poor that we might become rich" DOES have to do with both a spiritual and economical reality... BUT where is the focus? Generous GIVING! It wasn't about God's abundance being so much that I bought a Escalade and a new house... 2 Cor. 8:15 - As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”

So it isn't about gather it up and make my bank account fat.

Jake said...

However, what Piper is referring to and what I am arguing is that MOST of the "prosperity" teaching coming off the TV and out of America isn't REALLY about generosity. It says, "Give to me and my ministry and my church and God will bless you financially to pay off your credit cards and by a Lexus." And it gets exported to the rest of the world and says, as Piper says in the video, if you really have faith and give money to me "...your pigs won't die and your wife won't have miscarriages."

And those are just not true statements. Those exalt God as give of gifts and make him into a cosmic santa clause.

What do you say to the foreign missionary who lives on little... enough... but little and has mountain-moving faith... and his wife still gets cancer? Does he not have enough faith? Is God not big enough?

What do you say to the man who works two jobs to provide for his family, faithfully pastors his children and loves his wife... serves his church by setting up chairs week after week, and YET gets laid off from his primary job because of cutbacks? Does he not believe that God could fill his checkbook?


What would you say to them both because BOTH of them give generously to their neighbors, to others in the church and give regularly to their churches to continue the work of the ministry there... and NEITHER of them have monetary wealth?

God CAN bless with money. It isn't an issue for Him (God). He has all the money in the world because He owns it ALL! BUT it is an abomination to proclaim that God's desire is that you would be financially RICH in all circumstances... that is plain FALSE!

Will He provide all that you need? Yes. Will He grant great blessings financially and otherwise? Yes. Will He often give you just enough to meet your need and trust Him for His constant provision... yes!

Hebrews 11 talks about those who are seen as giants in the faith. Some are listed with great accomplishments (Putting armies to flight, shutting lions mouths, etc) and some "...went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated..."

The problem isn't about money. Its about the heart. If you don't feel like you can "give" because you don't "have" then I would argue that you don't have a clear understanding of the Gospel. ALL we need is in Jesus... why then would we strive so hard after money? Work hard? Sure. Make it my god? Nope.

I hope you read this anonymous. If you'd like to talk more about some of my response or actually address the points in the video that would be fine. Until then I pray that God would give you a more glorious picture of Himself as all that you need and rescue you and me and the church in America from continuing to buy into the trap of the "prosperity gospel"...