It’s been quite an education reading Kate Bowler’s Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel alongside studying the Book of Job. One church member offered the observation that the counsel of Job’s friends sounds much like the prosperity gospel. The prosperity gospel is also known as the “health and wealth gospel” and the “Word of faith” movement. A more crass description of this teaching is “name it and claim it.” Here are two errors that are prominent in both the prosperity gospel and much of the counsel of Job’s friends.
An Unbiblical Anthropology. Both Job’s friends and the Word of Faith teachers bring God down to the level of humanity. Both the Creator/creature distinction and the holiness of God are slighted. Both create a world in which God can be placed in man’s debt. The reason why I point this out is that apart from the Creator/creature distinction and the holiness and justice of God, there is no room for the gospel. In this paradigm man, on his own, can achieve the righteousness of God apart from being born again, apart from a changed heart, and apart from the gracious enabling of the Holy Spirit. Having minimized “death in Adam,” they preclude “life in Christ.”
An Over-Realized Eschatology. Eschatology is the study of the “end times,” the “last things.” Both Job’s friends and the prosperity gospel bring all the blessings and judgments of the world to come into this world. There is only immediate blessing and immediate retribution. Our Lord Jesus first suffered, and then entered into glory. As those who are in Christ, this is what God has called us to as well. Suffering precedes glory. This was Peter’s stumbling block in Mark 8:32-33. He saw the glory of our Lord, but could not imagine the necessity of the suffering of our Lord. This paradigm makes the process of sanctification, which is a vital element in the Christian life, superfluous. “Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.
In future posts, I’ll add more thoughts to this.