Proof-Texting Prosperity

I have a nice home, I own my own motorcycle, and I have a car to use (but do not own). I do believe that I can ask God for my own car, and that He will provide one for me, either through my own income, or through the gifts of others. I will do everything in my power to never be a poor person. Obviously to be poor is a foolish goal. I try to be generous and give because I know that all I have belongs to Him, and that I am just a steward. I know that God will supply all my needs (not wants). That is His promise to me from Philippians 4:19. Don’t make a promise out of the Bible where none is given. Below is an excerpt of a blog written by Mark Driscoll explaining the problem of taking a promise where none is given.

Proof-Texting Prosperity by Mark Driscoll

Those who promote prosperity theology/idolatry are prone to proof text 3 John 1:2 from the New King James Version, which says, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” This verse is simply not a promise, but a wish. Like every good friend, John is saying that he wishes and hopes that his friend Gaius would be in good health and would be able to meet his needs. This is a far cry from a promise, especially a guaranteed promise for all. Rather, it is a goodwill prayer for a friend. A great brother and enjoyable friend of mine, Dr. Daniel Akin, writes about this verse in the New American Commentary:

After an initial greeting, John moves to express his good wishes for Gaius in the form of a brief prayer. He begins by again expressing his love and affection through the second use of agapete (“dear friend”). In Greek concerning “all things” is put first in the sentence for emphasis: “Concerning all things [John] prays that [Gaius] may prosper and be in health just as his soul prospers” (my translation). The word “prosper” (translated “all may go well with you” in the NIV) can mean “to have a good journey.” Here it is used metaphorically. John asks God for the best in every way for Gaius. Further, he specifically prays for “good health.” (New American Commentary: 1,2,3 John, pg. 240)

We should be free to pray for the total well being (spiritual, physical, and financial) of our friends as John did. But to take a prayer of goodwill and twist it into a promise of guaranteed health and wealth is to completely distort the faith we have in the homeless and poor Jesus Christ, who was so distressed that he sweated blood before suffering excruciating physical pain in order to liberate us from the idolatrous worship of created things, such as health and wealth, in place of the Creator God.

To view the full post by Mark Driscoll click here.