Monday, September 11, 2006

Prosperity Preachers and African-American Baptists

By now, you've probably heard about or read the Time Magazine cover story which asks, "Does God Want You Rich?" (HT: Justin Taylor). I haven't read the article, but I know the answer to the question. I'm right there with Anthony Carter who points out that this particular menace, the so-called "prosperity gospel," is ravaging churches... and far too many predominantly African-American churches.

So, imagine my surprise when I came across this news release describing the recent National Baptist Convention's, the largest African-American Baptist denomination in the U.S., denouncement of prosperity preaching and preachers. Last week 35,000 delegates attended the annual convention in Dallas, TX.

WFAA TV ran this brief story on the convention. And while it wasn't much in terms of any official positions from the convention, I was pleased to see that local pastors were getting a voice in the coverage... and that what they chose to denounce wasn't this or that pet peeve, but the cross-denying, atonement-mocking, false "gospel" of the Creflo Dollars, Fred Prices, T.D. Jakes, Paul Mortons, Clarence McClendons, and Mr. "Money Cometh" Leroy Thompsons of the world. That's a start.

Now, if we can just get the folks who denounce the prosperity gospel to give up the social gospel and preach the biblical gospel of redemption from sin and joyous eternal life through the blood of Jesus Christ... then we'll be getting somewhere!


Anonymous said...


I think the most scary thing to me about the preachers you have named and Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn etc etc etc, is that certainly here in the UK, they are mainstream Christianity (whilst the Church of England with it's angst over ordaining gay priests may get the most media coverage). When Jakes came he packed a huge conference centre a no of times (as did Meyer). If Piper or when your own Mark Dever came, not a chance !

When I speak with colleagues who would be fairly conservative pentecostals, even they quote or are influenced by these speakers.

How much do we need to get not only the gospel, but our doctrine (I know there is no split - I merely do it for emphasis) out 'on the road.'

These are worrying times - when we (reformed churches), don't really seem to be responding. We are good at critiquing from a distance, but we need to be sensitively, but firmly engaging with those involved.

Brother Melvin, who does the 'Pulpit Pimps' website is a good example, although I am not sure he is always sensitive...


Anonymous said...

The article is worth the read guys - read the article. It portrays both side of the coin and has a conclusion that leans towards a 'non-prosperity' point of view.

I am cautious in labeling the prosperity gospel as an African American trend. The largest congregation of this movement is that of a Caucasian minister in Texas.

If anything, this is a movement that caters to one of the strongest natural desires of man. For this reason, I suppose it could easily appear to favor one ethnic group over another. These two points may be interesting to discuss.

FellowElder said...

thanks for stopping by and commenting. For the record, I'm not at all suggesting that the movement is only an African-American trend. And you're absolutely right about the nature of man that craves such flesh-serving teaching.