Blank Check Heresy

by Greg Williamson (c) 2008

LIFE: This morning I had occasion to see just a few minutes of Kenneth Copeland's television program. The theme of the week was "confession," which allegedly amounts to an ironclad guarantee that we can have whatever we want. A guest "pastor" summarized this (false) teaching by quoting the Scripture that states, "From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." Knowing all about Copeland and his program, I'm not the least bit surprised. However, despite myself, I am upset. I'm upset at the fact that this so-called Christian pastor is blatantly misinterpreting Scripture and teaching others to do the same. And I'm upset at the fact that large numbers of gullible followers - some simple-minded Christians among them - are buying into this blank check philosophy that puts God at our beck and call.

THEOLOGY: Does God promise to bless his children? Without a doubt. However, the blessings he promises are primarily spiritual in nature. In the physical realm, every true follower of Jesus Christ can expect a life that includes hardship and difficulty as he/she is called to imitate Christ in both serving and suffering. One of the many truths overlooked/ignored by health and wealth proponents is the fact that suffering is an indispensable part of God's plan for blessing his children. How so? Because pain and problems are the most effective means of molding and shaping our character, including teaching us to value what is most important - namely, God, the Bible, and people - and to depend on God rather than self. On the other hand, the only thing the prosperity gospel effectively teaches is greed and self-centeredness.

Is there a time when God chooses to bless his children with material wealth and/or physical health? Absolutely. However, to clam such as one's spiritual birthright is nothing short of extreme misunderstanding. And to make such a claim the bedrock of one's teaching amounts to nothing short of heresy. Lest we forget, God has indeed promised to reward those who peddle such false teaching - with his wrath.

Jesus' statement regarding speaking from the abundance of one's heart is found in Matthew 12:33-35 and Luke 6:43-45. In Matthew, Jesus addresses the hypocritical Pharisees, while in Luke his audience is his disciples. In both cases Jesus' point is simply that our speech reveals our "true underlying beliefs, attitudes, and motivations." [ref] Most assuredly Jesus is not teaching that his followers have the power to confess or "speak forth" anything. In fact, it is just the opposite: we are powerless to prevent our true character from showing forth through both our words and our deeds: "The heart 'spurts out' (ekballei) good or evil according to the supply (treasure, thesaurou) within." [ref]

Here is one "abundant verse" that every prosperity gospel advocate would do well to read and heed: "Then [Jesus] said to them, 'Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions'" (Luke 12:15).