Health and Wealth is American Christianity

A recent LifeWay study found that 75% of Evangelicals believe that God wants them to materially prosper.

The Health and Wealth Gospel used to be a peripheral message in the church; it is now one of our new fundamentals of the faith.

The Bible is massively against materialism and material success. It, in fact, says that the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke out faith.

If you trace back the Health and Wealth Gospel you will find it originated around a guy named DL Moody.

Moody, in order to fund his revivals and his schools, hit up businessmen constantly for money. In order to get money from rich guys, you have to preach a message that doesn’t make rich guys feel guilty.

Mr. John Wanamaker was a successful businessman. He invited Moody to speak at a lecture for businessman that would be “tailored more than any that preceded it to the needs of business and professional people who wanted to be freed from the guilt of doing what they were doing.”

In other words, don’t make them feel guilty for making money.

Moody dipped into Health and Wealth teaching when he wrote, “It’s a wonderful fact that men and women saved by the blood of Jesus rarely remain subjects of charity, but rise at once to comfort and respectability.”

He later said, “I don’t see how a man can follow Christ and not be successful.”

Clearly, DL Moody was not as extreme as some of our modern televangelists. But he got awful close. There is a dark side to American revivalists, one that seems to follow the tents. DL Moody, Billy Sunday, right on up to the modern televangelists.

There’s something about coming up with a message that appeals to a large audience that seems to feed on materialism. Perhaps because people want wealth and desperately want to get rich quick. If we can make the Gospel sound like the trick, people will “get saved.”

I’m not trying to besmirch anyone’s character, I merely point out Church History facts. The Health and Wealth Gospel didn’t drop out of the sky! There’s a logical and recorded development that got us where we are today.

If you think Christianity is going to make you rich, successful, and respectable, I suggest not reading the Bible, for that will end your dream.

5 thoughts on “Health and Wealth is American Christianity”

  1. Billy Graham was not as bad as some of them, but he died a very rich man and certainly hobnobbed with the rich and powerful.

    In all of this, I’m not judging their sincerity or effectiveness, just tracing the origins of the health and wealth message.

  2. The health and wealth gospel CAN be found in scripture.

    But a majority of scripture has to be ignored to go a long with it.

    In other words – the health and wealth gospel relies on out of context proof texts, just like all other questionable doctrines.
    The test of a doctrine often depends more on the amount of scripture that needs to be ignored than on how many verses can be quoted to “prove” it.

    I was interested to see that the health and wealth “gospel” goes back further than I’d previously thought.

  3. In a very loose sense, the Health and Wealth Gospel can be found all over the Old Covenant–If Israel obeyed they would be materially blessed; if they disobeyed they would be materially cursed. With notable exceptions such as Job. To me, the Health and Wealth Gospel sounds exactly like Job’s friends and provides, as did they, miserable comfort.

  4. In a very loose sense, the Health and Wealth Gospel can be found all over the Old Covenant–If Israel obeyed

    Again, that comes down to context.

    Church people have been very good as appropriating things from the OT that are specifically related to Israel.

    In this case they’ve been very happy to claim the blessings, but have found ways to deny the application of the corresponding curses. (Again by appealing to out of context scripture verses)

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