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Micael Grenholm, a Swedish charismactivist, apologist and author.

Micael Grenholm, a Swedish charismactivist, apologist and author.

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The Danger of the “Sowing and Reaping” Teaching


Don't have to tithe

In my previous post, I wrote about how God does want to prosper the poor but not to bring them to a state of luxury and wealth but to a state of generosity and sharing so that there may be equality for all. I wrote that the dangers of the prosperity teaching is that it glorifies gluttony and despises simplicity. But I didn’t mention the, in my opinion, greatest danger of the prosperity teaching here in Africa – the theology of sowing and reaping.

I was listening to a pastor teaching other pastors about how to break poverty bonds. He talked about prosperity and giving. At first I thought it was a nice combination – sure God can prosper the poor but it’s also the responsibility of the rich to give. Then I realized that what he was saying was that it is the responsibility of the poor to give to the pastor or the ministry in order for God to prosper them, because you reap what you sow.

He was exhorting these South African pastors never to be afraid of demanding generous offerings even in very poor churches, because “no one is too poor to give”. His proof texts for these statements were 2 Cor 8:1-4 and 9:6, where Paul is telling the Corinthians about how the Macedonians, despite their “extreme poverty”, gave generously over their ability, and that if you sow generously you will reap generously.

I raised my hand and argued against him. Firstly, the Macedonians and Corinthians were giving to the poor of Jerusalem, not a pastor or a church building (the latter didn’t even exist). Secondly, 2 Cor 9:6 is not necessarily talking about a financial reward, especially in the light of Mt 19:21 and 1 Tim 6:5. Finally, while Paul seems impressed of the Macedonians giving so generously despite their poverty, he is careful in pointing out that he doesn’t want the Corinthians to do the same:

Good and Bad Prosperity


In need of prosperity

The prosperity gospel is basically saying that God will bless you with money. A lot of money. In the West (especially in the U.S.), prosperity preachers often prove how blessed they are through buying luxuries, mansions and jet planes. This grotesque gluttony has spread to the African continent, where superstar pastors are “prospering” en masse while their church members are starving.

That was what I knew about prosperity teaching. And then pastor Jerry brought me to a shack church in the South African bush, where most church members are unemployed as well as have lost family members in AIDS. And he preached prosperity. God will give you a job. God will change your situation. God will lift you out of poverty.

I even started to like the prosperity message and preach it myself. Because it’s true, God wants to prosper the poor and break the chains of poverty. The Bible was written in a developing country, and the prosperity it talks about is not about cars or suits but about getting good harvests so that you’ll survive the winter, and to have a job so that you don’t have to be a beggar. Biblical prosperity is not about bringing people to a state of luxury, but to deliver them from poverty to a state of generosity and sharing, so that it may be equal for all (2 Cor 8:13).