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The Prosperity Call

Let me give you some backstory. I grew up in Detroit, Michigan, and even though there is a church on literally every corner, I was not raised as a Christian. Being young, angry and Black allowed me to fully embrace my disdain for the church. God saved me the summer before my sophomore year of high school and, soon, I I began to attend a huge prosperity teaching church. We were naming it, claiming it, sowing it, supernatural debt cancelation-ing it, “moneeeeeeeeey cometh to me”-ing it as often as we could.

[Tweet “Being young, angry and Black allowed me to fully embrace my disdain for the church.”]

After deeply sensing the Lord’s call to pastoral ministry, I did what every good Charismatic, prosperity gospel believing, “by faith”-claiming young man does – I went to RHEMA. There, I learned first-hand from the late Kenneth Hagin Sr. the teachings on the prosperity movement on faith, sowing/reaping, declaring, etc.

A Different Way to Prosper

Fast forward a few years.

After personally confronting my own misgivings, frustrations, and doubts about what I had learned, I have embraced and been transformed by many of the teachings that some would label “Reformed.” There is one area of teaching in particular that wrecked me some years ago, and though it is not inherently or historically reformed, it is definitely championed by one of the leading Reformed voices of our day.

The teaching of Christian Hedonism has been summarized as the fact that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” It’s teaches that everything we do should be done for God’s glory and for his pleasure. This teaching emphasizes the fact that every circumstance we endure was ordained by God for his honor and glory; and since these circumstances are ordained by God, they should bring pleasure to us.

[Tweet ” Christian Hedonism teaches that everything we do should be done for God’s glory and his pleasure.”]

God does things that please Him. “Our God is in the heavens, he does what He pleases.” Psalm 115:3

This was an idea that rang oddly familiar to me from my past because it contains one of the core ideas of the Prosperity message.

“God takes PLEASURE in the PROSPERITY of His servants.” Psalm 35:27

You see that? If my satisfaction is found in being in a state that God takes pleasure in and God takes pleasure in my prosperity then shouldn’t I pursue prosperity? Wouldn’t God bring pleasure to Himself by making me – His servant – prosperous?

Reforming on This Common Ground

The prosperity gospel is Christian Hedonism gone wild. Because of this, I believe the ideas of Christian Hedonism can be wildly beneficial in the areas where the prosperity message has taken root. The prosperity/word of faith message does put an emphasis on pleasing God and doing the will of God. It creates a false sense of self by making our comfort and well-being the primary aim of God’s will. And by creating a false sense of self, it creates a false ideology and theology of suffering & sovereignty.

[Tweet “The prosperity gospel is Christian Hedonism gone wild.”]

[Tweet “The prosperity/word of faith message does put an emphasis on pleasing God and doing the will of God.”]

Christian Hedonism uses familiar phraseology for those consumed by the prosperity message’s trap. Since the vocabulary emphasizes “pleasure” and “the glory of God,” this framework can be used to navigate some of the lies these people have been sold (figuratively and literally). The theology of Christian hedonism can give prisoners of the prosperity gospel the truth that will free them.

[Tweet “Christian Hedonism uses familiar phraseology for those consumed by the prosperity message’s trap.”]

[Tweet “The theology of Christian hedonism can give prisoners of the prosperity gospel the truth that will free them.”]

Many in Reformed circles stand from afar and bash those who preach and believe the prosperity message. It is easy to sit on a high horse when you are not one of the people who lives and serves in contexts where the prosperity message isn’t merely an Internet video to watch, but, rather, a real person in need of truth.

If we want to see people grow, I believe we must adopt and adapt the ideas taught about Christian Hedonism to bring others to a fuller and truer view of God, his blessings, and His care and control over all things. This would lead many to pursue a saving faith in Jesus, not just a “blessing faith” to get the car of their dreams.

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