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Derek Vreeland

This paper was written by Derek Vreeland.

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Derek Vreeland holds an M.Div degree from Oral Roberts University. He is the assistant pastor of Cornerstone Church in Americus, Georgia.


Original paper. Included with the author's permission. This paper has since been modified and published in article form in Refleks 1-2 (2002).

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Articles > Charismatic Theology > Reconstructing Word of Faith Theology

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Reconstructing Prosperity

            The word of faith movement has received the label “health and wealth” gospel  by various critics because there is an emphasis not only on physical healing, but on material wealth. In word of faith theology, financial prosperity is rooted in the Abrahamic covenant that the believer enters into by the atonement. Hagin writes,

 

Abraham’s blessing is ours!…Abraham’s blessing was a threefold blessing. The first thing God promised Abraham was that He was going to make him rich. “Do you mean God is going to make us all rich?” Yes, that’s what I mean. “Do you mean He’s going to make us all millionaires?” No, I didn’t say that. But He is going to make us rich. You may not understand what the word “rich” means. The dictionary says it means “a full supply” or “abundantly provided for.” Praise God, there is a full supply in Christ![83]

 

The eulogia tou Abraam – blessing of Abraham – recorded in Galatians 3:14 is a singular blessing (i.e. the justification of Abraham by faith) however the undeniable result of covenant blessing in Old Testament theology is material prosperity.  Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. observes, “Material blessings in the Old Testament were used by God for various ends.  First of all they were given that God might confirm his covenant promise to build a mighty nation.”[84] God glorified himself in his covenant(s) with Israel by blessing them materially for specific purposes.  The provisions of Yahweh were not only spiritual/ceremonial, but material/physical.  The Psalmist declares, “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”[85] In Word of Faith theology, these material blessing are conferred upon the Christian as the child of Abraham in Christ.

 

            The doctrine of financial prosperity has its value especially in its missiological concern.  Edward K. Pousson observers, “(Charismatics) now see their vast deposit of spiritual and material wealth as a resource for empowering and financing an army of laborers for world-wide evangelism and church planting.”[86]  This does not excuse the selective hermeneutic of word of faith exegetes. The writings of word of faith teachers emphasize texts that refer to wealth, but they exclude other texts that bring a biblical balance.  They theologically stack the prosperity Scriptures (often out of their context) and declare it to be the truth of God. Yet their interpretation of Scripture does not include the full biblical material on the subject; it only includes the texts that support their position. For example, Hagin writes,

 

Paul said, writing to the church at Philippi, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).  All your needs would include your financial, material, and other needs. In fact in this chapter, Paul is talking about financial and material things.[87]

 

Hagin’s selective hermeneutic draws attention to verse 19 which mentions prosperity (God meeting our needs), but he excludes the context of the passage. In Philippians 4:11 & 12, Paul writes,

 

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 

 

God’s promise of provision is true, but this does not imply secured wealth at all given times. The context of Philippians 4:19 contests the notion that anyone in the will of God will always experience prosperity.  Paul freely admits his moments of lack.  The biblical balance is not absolute prosperity at all times, but contentment. Promoting contentment over greed is the initial step to reconstructing prosperity.

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