20 August 2010

Question of the Week:
Name It and Claim It?

by Anne Lang Bundy

Jim Bakker,
once a prominent prosperity gospel proponent,
who fully renounced that doctrine
after reading the entire Bible for the first time
while incarcerated for fraud

“What is the prosperity gospel I keep hearing about?”
~ Nina, Daytona Beach, Florida

Please forgive me for removing the capital "g" from that question, Nina, but the message you speak of—the prosperity theology also spoken of with terms such as "health and wealth" or "name it and claim it"—is anything but The Gospel.

The Gospel of Jesus says that the children of God Almighty—those reconciled to Him through the blood of Christ, who are adopted as His heirs—receive riches exceeding their highest imagination, beginning with forgiveness of sins and eternal life. The prosperity gospel takes that truth and applies it to material wealth and financial prosperity, relying upon this Scripture in particular:

"Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,"
Says the LORD of hosts,
"If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it."
~ Malachi 3:10 (NKJV);
(also see Deuteronomy 8:18; John 10:10; 3 John 2-4; Romans 8:32)

Because of the emphasis on tithing, the people most "blessed" by prosperity theology are those collecting tithes, purportedly to further ministry in general and healing in particular. Listeners are told that if they tithe with sufficient faith, they can name a Bible verse and claim its blessing for themselves, obtaining desired health and wealth.

But the Lord always defines true riches in spiritual terms ...

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
~ Ephesians 1:3 (NKJV);
(also see Psalms 119:71-72; 1 Corinthians 2:9)

... while He speaks of the desire for money as a snare to God's people ...

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
~ 1 Timothy 6:9-10 (NKJV);
(also see Mark 10:23-24; Matthew 6:19-20;
Luke 6:24; Luke 12:33-34;
& Proverbs 30:7-9—my personal favorite)

... and He describes material wealth as simply one more of the gifts we're given as a test to see how we'll use it:

Parable of the Talents
Matthew 25:14-30

Thus it is good to prosper in health and wealth, so that we have an abundance to put to use for building up God's true kingdom. But it is dangerous to desire to be rich or love money—the fundamental doctrine of prosperity theology.

Concerning why Christians aren't always healed in response to prayer, see "Why No Healing?"

Next week: Is tithing a requirement of Christianity?

© 2010, Anne Lang Bundy
Image source:


  1. Money is one of my least favorite topics that Steve and I talk about. A must, but ugh. We are both so frugal it's almost silly sometimes. I hope God reveals more and more to us about being good stewards.
    ~ Wendy

  2. Tithing and the prosperity gospel are defrauding the god naem of Christ adn the real Gospel. Discouraged Christians who are unable to give any more are leaving these churches never to return to any church again.

  3. I truly desire to be a good steward sis, love you.

  4. I didn't realize name it and claim it was so locked into tithing. I thought it simply meant claiming verses. I do believe God's word and I do pray His will. I figure I'm safe that way. Great post.

  5. Wendy ~

    It's been said that money is the most frequent topic used by Jesus in teaching. (I didn't do the calculations myself.) It is an important topic, however unpleasant to confront.

  6. Russell ~

    This prosperity gospel, bad teaching about tithing, and misuse of church monies are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to reasons people are offended by what's called "Christianity." All the more reason to bring biblical Christianity to the forefront, while pushing denominational divisions and humanistic philosophies to the sidelines.

    I cannot say I've never been guilty of discouraging another Christian. If I found a perfect church, it would cease to be perfect once I joined it. I pray that as the Lord conforms us all to the likeness of His Son, over time, that He will also help us be patient with one another as we search out Truth and work to heal all those hurt by bad doctrine. While there are many people outside the church in need of the true Gospel, forgiveness & healing, and genuine love, there are a great many inside the church who also need such ministry. I know that Russell Holloway (on vacation) joins me in seeking to be agents of such blessings.

  7. Densie ~

    Like all other godly abilities, we grow more like our Lord as we remain close to His Word, His Spirit, His people.

  8. T ~

    While the prosperity gospel is largely centered on material wealth and tithing, the "name it and claim it" philosophy gets applied in an infinite number of ways in the quest for temporal blessing without due regard for Blessor.

    Biblical principles contain sound wisdom which is likely to result in prosperity for either righteous or wicked when those principles are put into practice. Prosperity itself is one blessing from God entrusted to us. The differences may seem subtle, but there is a distinction to be made between thinking the Word of God is a formula for temporal attainment, applying biblical wisdom and benefitting thereby (whether or not one has faith in God), and walking by faith in the Lord as one learns from His Word.

  9. Thanks for the post Anne.

    As you know I'm big about praying for wisdom and courage. In the past I thought praying for wisdom was enough. As I get older I realize that praying for the courage to follow through with God's wisdom is more important. We generally know what to do; the courage to act on God's wisdom is more often missing ... at least in my life :-)