Mohler’s Poverty Gospel Promises too Little

I saw this quote the other day by Albert Mohler.

“”(a)The problem with Prosperity Theology is not that it promises too much, but that it aims for so little. What God promises us in Christ is far above anything that can be measured in earthly wealth – (b)and believers are not promised earthly wealth nor the gift of health.”

This is so bad, and it reeks of false humility. Does he really expect Christians to fall for this type of sophistry and rhetoric?
(a) It is misleading, or worse a false witness. Just because person X preaches health and wealth, it does not mean person X is neglecting to teach forgiveness of sin and eternity spent with God. There are points of this movement that need to be corrected, but if you do correct them, then at least be better than the people you mock.

He is making the same mistake that the people he is critiquing makes. Why are theologians worse than the people they criticize? How is it they have degrees, without critical thinking skills? Where is their faith in God’s Word?

What God promises us does include health and wealth. His statement appears to imply the only promises are the ones you cannot see, such as a cleansed soul and a future heaven. Even if these eternal promises are superior, for example compared to a healing promise today, then it is a point of irrelevance to the argument. It is a red-herring. A promise is a promise. Christian ethics are God’s commands. The Scripture commands us to seek them all. God was sovereign when He made promises, whether about heaven or healing. It is unbelief. It is disobedience to not seek any one promise God has commanded us to seek. Do they expect to escape God’s judgment?

This is obvious, but for some it needs to be said, I guess. To exclude promises of God is to exclude them.  Therefore, if there are 10 promises and one kills 6 of them so that only 4 remain, then their gospel is defective, being based upon human speculation. Thus, Mohler’s poverty gospel promises too little. He is guilty of the same thing he condemns in others. How can theologians be so stupid?
As for (b) he is flat out mistaken. “Give us our daily bread.” As Vincent Cheung points out several times, this includes, “the things the pagans seek after!” The mercy given to Job after his testing by God, (James 5) in context is not a spiritual blessing, but a double portion of health and wealth. James instructs us to apply Job’s story to us.  James does the same with Elijah’s prayer for rain in to O.T. to be moralized for us to pray for healing now.

Vincent Cheung commenting on this says,

James writes, “Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered.” People love this. Although James applies the experience of the divinely inspired prophets directly to us, no one complains about moralizing, shallow preaching, or anything like that. Why? Because it is about suffering, not healing. It is about pain, not joy. It plays into their religious bias about what it means to serve Christ, and so their usual inhibitions fly right out the window.

Then James continues, “You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy” (James 5:10-11). We can always count on Job to give us an excuse to talk about our suffering. This is excellent, until we look up “what the Lord finally brought about” — health and wealth. God gave Job healing, long life, and double the wealth. James calls this God’s “compassion and mercy.” He says this even right after he condemned certain rich people — he is against their character, not their money. So it does not turn out as the religionists want, but it illustrates that James takes the prophets and makes a direct application to us.[1]

(b) Also, the way Mohler uses, “gift of health,” looks to be a misleading equivocation if originally meant as “healing” from a broken body. Who denies that we suffer and are born with a broken body? We are not promised to be born perfectly healthy and then also be perfectly healthy until we die. I do not know of anyone who teaches this. However, we are promised healing when bad health comes up–if you have faith.

James 5, “You WILL be healed,” and “You WILL be forgiven.”

 

In fact, Jesus did not say it was “sufficient,” for the Jewish woman to be healed due to being a child of Abraham. Rather, Jesus said it was necessary because she was a daughter of Abraham. Logically, a “sufficient” reason is not strong enough to make a propositional or syllogism argument work. It must be a “necessary” category or connection. For example, often when a propositional argument is made to be a Modus Ponens, but is not effective (not sound) it is because the “cause to result” connection (or the B to C term) is only a sufficient connection and not a necessary one. This often takes place because an Affirming the Consequent fallacy was merely restated as a Modus Ponens. For example, if I say, “(P) If my belly is full, (Q)then I ate lots of bread,” it fails because maybe my belly is full because I ate lots of fish? It is in fact an affirming the consequent fallacy camouflaged as a modus ponens. It should be, “(P) If I eat lots of bread, (Q) then my stomach gets full. (Q) I ate lots of bread, (P) Thus my stomach is full.” As a side note, this fallacy is the foundation for all scientific experimentation, but that is for another time.

Jesus’ argument is a true cause to result Modus Ponens, because it is a necessary connection from antecedent to consequent. “(P) If someone is a child of Abraham, (Q) then it is necessary for them to be healed. (P) It is true that she is a daughter of Abraham. (Q) Thus, she must be healed.” Jesus says the same thing about faith all the time in His ministry. Over and over He put faith into basic “if then,” modus ponens enthymemes. “If you have faith, then this.”  “(P) If you believe, (Q) then the necessary result is that you will receive what you ask for. (P) I did ask in faith. (Q) Thus, I will receive what I ask for.” Or the opposite as a modus tollens. “(P) If you believe, (Q) then the necessary result is that you will receive what you ask for. (~Q) I did not receive what I asked for. (~P) Thus, I did not ask in faith.”

John 15:8,16. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and your fruit should remain, in order that whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. ….My Father is glorified by this: that you bear much fruit, and prove to be my disciples.

Vincent says regarding this verse,

God will give me whatever I ask. I will have whatever I ask. What I ask, I get. And I am predestined for this. So I am chosen to get whatever I ask. I am predestined to get whatever I ask. It is my foreordained destiny to receive whatever I ask God in the name of Jesus. If you have never heard this, then you have never heard the Bible’s doctrine of predestination, you have never heard the Bible’s doctrine of prayer, you have never heard the Bible’s doctrine of the name of Jesus, and you have never heard the Bible’s doctrine of discipleship. Just several verses earlier, Jesus said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (15:7-8). Getting whatever we ask from God is intertwined throughout his discourse with the notions of bearing fruit, being his disciples, and loving one another. Thus getting whatever we ask from God is as pervasive as the gospel itself. It cannot be taken out and thrown away without tearing apart the entire gospel, and thus also our salvation.[2]

Thus, if Jesus predestined you to bear fruit, then you prove you are his disciples if you bear fruit. If you do not bear fruit, then Jesus did not predestined you to bear fruit. In context of John 13-16 this fruit is twofold. One is to love each other as Jesus loved them, and secondly to ask anything from God and (not get an answer) get the very thing you ask for.

The point is not that God answers their prayers with a “yes,” “no,” or “maybe later,” but rather, that God gives them whatever they ask for in faith. Jesus says this is fruit that proves someone is Jesus’ Master.  This has nothing to do with apostles, or gifts of the Spirit, or the prophet Joel. This is fruit that comes from being a normal follower of Jesus, that proves you truly belong to Him. If Jesus’ words abide in you and you in Him, then not only do you prove this by (1) continuing to believe Him, and (2) by loving others and (3) being set free from sin, but also (4) by asking anything and receiving it. Only true disciples can have these results.

Thus, if you ask anything from Jesus and receive it, then you are truly Jesus’ disciple. [Transposition] Thus, if you are not truly Jesus’ disciple, then when you ask anything from Jesus you do not receive it from Him.[3]

 

A God Centered Humbleness vs a False one.

Healing is health! I am sure Jesus meant it that way. I am sure the people He healed (Son of David, have mercy on me!) took it that way too. “In this world you will have trouble, but cheer, up I have overcome the world.”

The issue is that the Bible is simply not humble enough, for some people; they feel the need to help out the Bible and make it more humble according to a man centered view.

Like Peter telling Jesus (John 13) not to wash his feet, Mohler might think he is being humble, but the opposite is in effect. It is humble for a weak person to let their compassionate Master wash their feet, or that is, to heal and bless them, precisely because they are so needy. Is this not what psalm 103 says! It is a proof of maturity to receive God’s strength, help and power. Refusing help from the Master, who has a washcloth on Him, is saying you are already good enough without His help and example. Some people are arrogant against God, while deluding themselves that they are humble.

Humbleness starts at the epistemology level. It cannot begin until it starts by throwing aside your observations, your experiences and your emotions to the trash, and then, reorient your system of viewing the world from God’s Word and commands. God’s Word commands that we have faith for healing. It is not a suggestion! If you do not start here, then humbleness never even began for you. If you do not start here, then everything after would be a mockery of humbleness as taught by God’s Word. If this is you then the Kingdom-of-Self rules in you, and not God’s Kingdom.

In context of being washed by Jesus, Jesus commands—not suggests—that they ask anything and receive the very thing they ask for. He says this as much has he commands them to love each other.  This lines up with what Jesus said to them at an earlier time after receiving power to heal, “freely you have received, freely you give.” Paul commands that with healing and prophecy the Corinthians need to always mix it with love for one another. Did not Jonah learn a similar message of mixing compassion with the role of a prophet? That is, Jesus washing the disciple’s feet was not only a washing of spiritual dirt, but a compassionate help for all of their defectiveness, even healing.  And in return they are to show this same love to others, even power to heal and bring miracles.

 

Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to Me.”

Jesus. John 13:8. [NLT]

 

——-Endnotes——-

[1] Vincent Cheung. All Things Are Yours. Web. 2016.

Found in Sermonettes Vol. 9. Chapter 3. 2016.

Also, see Vincent Cheung, Divine Mercy and Natural Benefits.

James says, “As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy” (James 5:11). If you want to know what he means by the Lord’s “compassion and mercy,” then you go read about “what the Lord finally brought about.” See? It tells you where to look.

Flip over to Job 42, and read the words. God made him twice as rich as before (v. 10), and gave him long life (v. 17). God gave him wealth and health — double the wealth and a lot of time to enjoy it. James refers to this even after his earlier condemnation of “rich people” (5:1-6). Read the words. James does not condemn wealth itself, or even rich people as such, but their lifestyle of oppression, licentiousness, and murder

[2] Vincent Cheung. Predestination and Miracles. http://www.vincentcheung.com. found in, TRACE, 2018 chapter 18.

[3] See my essay, Scripture and Logic : Jesus commands Proof of Discipleship, John 15:4–17. www.osheadavis.org.