Luther on the Prosperity Gospel

It’s no secret that American Evangelical Christianity is obsessed with prosperity, health, wealth, material blessing, and positive self-image.  (Your honor, exhibits A, B, and C:  TBN, Joel Osteen, and Lakewood)  That statement isn’t even scandalous enough to draw a reaction on the blogosphere…it won’t even raise the readership of this post.  Unfortunately, such heresy is not new.  Preaching on John 6 and Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand, Luther said:

Christ tells the people that they’re following him, not because of his teaching, but because of their stomachs, which they hold dear.  They were thinking to themselves, “Jesus is a great teacher for us!  He’ll give us freedom.  We will all be full and satisfied, getting whatever we want.”  In this passage, the Lord reveals what type of followers the gospel will attract.  Even today, the gospel attracts people who think it will fill their bellies, satisfy their desires, and help them here in this life.

This idea is so common today that I have almost become tired of preaching and teaching it.  People, pretending to be sincere disciples, come to hear a sermon.  But under this guise, they come only for personal gain.  However, the gospel wasn’t sent from heaven in order to allow people to fill their own bellies, take whatever they want, and do whatever they please.  Christ didn’t shed his blood for this purpose!
(from Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional / LW 23:5)

Woe to us for focusing on solely material aspects of the abundant life (Jn 10.10) instead of recognizing the plentiful abundance we have at the cross through the complete forgiveness of our sins in Christ!  Let us not be blinded by the selfish desires of our sin but focus on the true mercies our Father showers on us each day through our brother and Savior, Jesus Christ!  Hallelujah!

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2 thoughts on “Luther on the Prosperity Gospel

  1. Great quote. I saved it to my Google notebook. Our pastor recently preached through Philippians and made the same point in her sermon on 3:12-4:1

    “They would have called themselves Christians, but their behavior demonstrated that they were in fact not followers of Christ. Instead of taking up their cross and denying self, they walked as enemies of the cross and their god is their belly. They were more concerned with physical pleasures than they were with self-denial. Instead of setting their minds on eternal things, they were focused on earthly things. They wanted their pleasure and their joy completely in the here and now. They were distracted by the stuff of earth.”

    The complete manuscript is here:

    http://www.tbcsikeston.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=328&Itemid=9

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