Introduction: Some Views on Prosperity
Some Christians believe that God has promised them prosperity and affluence as a reward for their faith, and enjoy it. This is especially attractive to the impoverished, often pentecostal in tendency - e.g. Benson Idahosa. Other Christians believe that riches and affluence are evil, and that God has a 'bias to the poor'. Such Christians are often socialist in tendency. Yet others believe that moderation is the key: have enough for a pleasant lifestyle but 'not too much', not realising that their 'pleasant lifestyle' is far above the poverty line. Yet others believe that the pleasant lifestyle of millions is destroying the planet.
In the Bible can be found individual statements that support any and all of those views. So, if we want to follow Christ and truly represent God in the world, as this 'new view' beleives, how can we make sense of this? How should we live? To what should we aspire?
Towards a More Coherent Picture
What is the Bible's take on prosperity?
- Genuine prosperity is not wrong in itself, indeed is what God intended in his creation.
- But affluence and pleasant lifestyle are not genuine prosperity. Does not genuine prosperity involve joy? Is it not better described as "life in all its fullness" [John 10:10]? See Reality Rejoicing.
- Genuine prosperity is for all, not for the individual [Malachi 3:10-112]. See Relatedness.
- In particular, it includes prosperity for the whole creation, not just people we know, not just humankind, but for all. Human beings have the privilege and responsibility to order things for the sake of the rest of creation [Genesis 1:26-28, 2:15]. See Radah.
- Prosperity for all is a result of going with the flow of the diversity of laws that God has woven into the fabric of creation. See Law of God. Especially the laws of agape-love. See God is Love.
- Prosperity is a responsibility.
- When the individual prospers, it might occasionally be a sign of God's blessing - both because we go with his laws [e.g. Psalm 1:2,3], and because God sometimes intervenes [Philippians 4:19].
- But often it is more a sign of that individual's arrogance, selfishness and injustice. [Psalm 37:7, Psalm 73:3-12]
- If I prosper, it is so that I can bless others, bless the rest of creation, not so I myself can be blessed. [Paul====]
- But I must beware: prosperity is like thorns and thistles, which choke my spirituality, my relationship with God. Remember Solomon.
- Prosperity is not primarily something we enjoy, so much as something we enact, something we bring about.
- Full, substantial, lasting prosperity is not to be found in this life, but in the next. Whatever genuine prosperity we experience here and now is only a tiny foretaste of what is to come. The prosperity we enact here and now is like a seed, which falls into the ground, dies to itself, and in so doing grows into a full, fruitful plant. That is the lasting, substantial prosperity - the shalom of the next life. That is God's cosmic plan.
This page is offered to God as on-going work in developing a 'New View' in theology that is appropriate to the days that are coming upon us. Comments, queries welcome.
Copyright (c) Andrew Basden 2010, but you may use this material subject to certain conditions.
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Created: 5 December 2010.