Observations from a Recent Prosperity Gospel Crusade in Our Village

Before the Preaching

  • Before the preaching: An elder in his church had told me the day before (Wed.) that they were most aligned with Benny Hinn and Kenneth Hagin.
  • Before the preaching I asked a lay elder what were the most important methods for building a church. He answered quickly and confidently that the music was the most important. By music he meant loud speakers and drums. When I pressed him for more methods that were essential to planting a church, he replied, “Heal people.”
  • Before the preaching, the pastor stayed in his Mercedes which was parked in a visible location.

Pulpit Manner

  • In a poor village, he made sure to preach from an iPad, and keep it visible throughout the show.
  • He was a Venda, but he preached in English and had a translator into Venda. Our village is probably 80% Tsonga.
  • He wore a lapel mic, but had to ask for a hand held because he said needed “more power.”
  • He wiped his mouth and entire face with his hankie repeatedly even though it was a chilly night, and there was no visible sweat on his face.
  • After he got going, he did not mind cutting off the translator.
  • He called repeatedly for “Amens, Heys, and Hi” from the crowd.
  • Toward the end, he ran several times around the table frantically.
  • In one illustration, he danced, turned his back to the audience, and shook his rear end as the crowd cheered.
  • Near the end of his sermon, he noticeably touched his translator—a woman—on the chest.

Message Content 

  • “You will get a miracle that you could not get in a church.” 7:28
  • “You will hear something that you have never heard before. You will receive a miracle.” 7:32
  • He treated epilepsy in Matt. 17 like a person. The personal nature of the demon was transmitted to the disease. “An epileptic spirit… it is called a killing spirit.”
  • He compared the disciples in Matthew the Scriptural account with average Christians, and Jesus was analogous to the pastor. 7:38
  • He said the disciples were unsaved. He based this on the fact that he said the text called them wicked (which it doesn’t). 7:47
  • “Have the God-kind of faith. There is a human-kind, an animal-kind, and a God-kind.” Rerun Word Faith foolishness. 7:48
  • He implied the deification / little gods doctrine during this section.
  • “If you say, ‘Sickness come out!’ by faith, it has not choice because Faith is talking. When Faith is talking mountains must move.” 7:50
  • “There is no problem bigger than faith.”
  • “David ran to Goliath because [he] was his food. When you are born again problems are your food.”
  • “Faith is the most powerful force on earth. … When your faith speaks, your problem listens. Your problem says, ‘O, My god.’ [the “god” of the problem was faith.]… This is what the Word of God says.” 7:54
  • “The Devil doesn’t like Faith people.” At this point he had been going for about 15-20 minutes on the beauty and power of faith. We were supposed to be drawn to this mystical, personal Faith, yet there was no pointing to and very little referencing of Christ. There was no reference to the law of God, sin, humility, or repentance.
  • “You must be born again because if you don’t have faith, you will lose all the way. The demons who have been thrown out of Hell will walk on you.” There were several minutes here where he humorously threatened that those who do not have Faith will be conquered in their lives on earth by demons. Again, there was an emphasis on this life, no reference to the next.
  • “Whatever you want, if you speak, you will get it.” 8:01
  • He gave several illustrations implying that those who have Faith will fit size 32 skirts and drive VW Polos. Loud cheers from the crowd.
  • He quoted the Great Commission from Mark, but he skipped the part about preaching the gospel. “Go to all nations, heal the sick, cast out devils.” Later on he circled back and referenced preaching, but it wasn’t clear what was to be preached. It was very clear that the healing and exorcisms were important though.
  • On the earth doing miracles, “Jesus was exercising His faith. He was gymning [sic] his faith.”
  • He made a show of an illustration about the rapture saying that those who have Faith will be able to control the speed and even direction of the rapture. “You are controlling it [your bodily ascension]. If you forget to turn off the kitchen stove you can climb down the air. … you control it!”
  • “Your Faith can solve any problem. … I feel I am solving them [your problems] now.”
  • “That problem you have is not real.”
  • “Greater is your Faith than the problem. What is impossible with others is possible with you.”
  • “If you leave the house and forget your purse don’t go back. You have Faith. If you forget your phone, don’t go back. Phone by faith.” He then described an imaginary situation where a person imagines talking to his friend. The imagination of the phone call will prompt your friend to call whoever is with you at the time, and then you can speak to the original friend whom you had been dialoguing with in your mind. Lots of cheers here.
  • “When you believe your name is Jesus. You can call yourself Jesus.”
  • We were told when problems or disease comes to us, we must “Refuse to die!” 8:35
  • If we have Faith, we do not have to obey that sickness or disease. We should want to command our disease because “It’s boring in Heaven!” This line was said with enthusiasm. 8:36
  • “You are dangerous. You are powerful. You are strong.”
  • “When you become a Christian, you don’t have a parent. But Faith will become your parent.”

Conclusions

  • Important doctrines were not invited to this party. There was no discussion of repentance, the law of God, sin, the need for humility, the beauty of Christ, or eternal judgment. But with the things that were mentioned, these doctrines would have stood out like a Tsonga at a KKK meeting.
  • So many statements were asserted as fact that did not come from the text that eventually it became a waterfall of foolish, unsupported statements. The unconverted could eventually become accustomed (if they weren’t already) to hearing the ideas of man and equating the veracity of a statement with the volume of the speaker.
  • His main point did not come from the text.
  • The entire event was a show arranged for the pleasure of the natural man. The Big Man demonstrated his worthiness by technology, strutting, reverse psychology techniques, his car, and his self-esteem message of happiness. The repetitive, shallow music was blasted nearly a kilometer away. The “miracles” were designed even by their placement in the program to get attention.
  • The pastor promised that the people would get miracles. The pastor I spoke with in the back said no one could be sure that the miracles would come. So they wanted to use the certain promise of miracles to draw a crowd, but when they were pressed to explain what they meant, they actually denied the very premise used to manipulate attendance.
  • A Christian service must have its goal and content focused on some glory and beauty of Jesus Christ. This service was motivated by miracles and music. Obviously—even apart from the lay pastor’s explicit testimony—the music and drums were a powerful motivation for the people to attend. The content of the message glorified Faith as a personal force with very little reference to the Son of God except as He advanced some aspect of the Big Man’s agenda. Therefore, this was not a Christian service.

About Seth

Planting churches with the Baptist Confession in one hand and Tolkien in the other.
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5 Responses to Observations from a Recent Prosperity Gospel Crusade in Our Village

  1. This is great brother Seth. And just the kind of thing I was hoping you would write that would be perfect for me to re-post. I’ll do that now and start that Open Thread with your other post now. TY much and be blessed. :-)

  2. Pingback: Observations from a Missionary in Africa on a recent Prosperity Gospel Crusade in his village « THE WORD on The Word of Faith (a GroupBlog)

  3. Sounds like witchcraft to me.

    • Seth Meyers says:

      It is like witchcraft because it’s syncretistic–a mix of Christian vocabulary and traditional witchcraft. And what about that line, “It’s boring in Heaven.” I would think a Satanic messenger would really want us to believe that.

      • What is so sad is that God’s people believe the lies that are spouted by these so-called men and women of God. Only someone who does not know our Father could possibly believe that being in His presence would be boring. Just look at the magnificent world He created filled with so much beauty and wonder and we can see that God’s imagination is far greater than ours so I think He has something in store for us that is more than we can imagine. Must be wonderful.

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