Should We Preach Prosperity?

Well, there is a new book that helps us understand what the question even means. Many of the most popular preacher in the African American community could be considered “prosperity preachers.” These are preachers who seemingly guarantee financial and other kinds of blessings based on parishioners “sowing seeds” in ministries.

The preachers often use language taken directly from the Bible and this fact can trip up many. Well, Dr. Debra J. Mumford, a homiletics professor from Lousiville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, has written a book that will help all who wish to deal with this phenomenon.

The name of the new book is Exploring Prosperity Preaching: Biblical Health, Wealth, and Wisdom and we are participating in a Blog tour.

In the book, Dr. Mumford looks at the roots of prosperity preachers. It also provides a look at many of the common teachings of these preachers.

In the book, Dr. Mumford zeros in on the use of the Bible in that community. Including looking at the Biblical texts that are often used to promote this theology.

There is undeniably an African American “tint” to the book, but it can be helpful to all preachers in that it identifies and addresses the fundamental theological positions that prosperity preachers present.

On a side note, Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr, forward is worth reading in that it provides three questions to ask before attempting to apply scripture to your life situation.

What Do They Teach?

But back to the book, Dr. Mumford provides a look at the hermeneutical principles at work in the use of the Bible by Prosperity Preachers.

Then the book goes into specific teachings used by prosperity preachers. Like the divine economy is not the secular economy. In that position, members of God’s kingdom can ignore the world and live into your wealth by simply following the divine economy.

How many of you have heard this next one, “Jesus wasn’t poor, and poverty is a curse.” What does the Bible actually say on that? These and other theological positions are addressed from an African American prophetic preaching perspective in this book.

You Need To Be Informed

Let me add, that “prosperity preaching” has affected many of us in some way. It has invaded many churches, even those who may not be considered “prosperity churches” they hear aspects of these theological positions. Even here at SoulPreaching.Com I often have to answer in emails and comments why we don’t teach that theology. This book will be one that I suggest as a resource to those of us who have to address such questions.

It ain’t all grim news. There are significant issues, but as Dr. Mumford also attempts to recognize and name the beneficial things that prosperity theology can give to us in the Christian world.


Finally, I want to thank the publisher, Judson Press, for making the book available on the Kindle. The publisher graciously offered me a PDF version of the book for this review, but I think I am going to pony up and buy the Kindle version. But don’t worry if you still want the tired and true paperback, those are available as well.

You can buy the book at this link:

Exploring Prosperity Preaching: Biblical Health, Wealth, & Wisdom

And we will be coming back to this book again in the coming weeks. I encourage all to check it out and let me know what you think.

Comments

comments

Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

Posted in blog, Issues
8 comments on “Should We Preach Prosperity?
  1. Allen White says:

    I am the minister of a Unity church (Unity in Silver Spring–part of the Assocation of Unity Churches International). Prosperity preaching really got its start with Father Divine who was enamored with the writings of Mary Baker Eddy (Christian Science)and Charles Fillmore (founder of the Unity movement)

    It really blossomed with Rev. Ike who again studied the writings of Charles Fillmore. He was instrumental in enhancing the preaching style of Johnnie Colemon. Johnnie Colemon was a Unity minister and had one of the largest Unity churches (Chicago). She preached mainly the prosperity gospel.

    WHere things went wrong was that Fillmore clearly stated that prosperity was the natural result of one’s conscious experience of God’s presence through silent prayer. The above cited ministers left this part out. Yet, it is the most important part.

  2. Ali Grace says:

    I m happy on this topic.One thing I would like to suggest is that all God’s work should be judged in the last day by God Himself .Consider what Paul said in Philippians 1:15-18.15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

    Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,
    Another fact I really recommend all of us minister to know before we pen anything against someone’s way of serving God is ,wisdom.You really never know when you will be doing the samething tomorrow or one day .1 Samuel 19;24 says…He stripped off his robes and also prophesied in Samuel’s presence. He lay that way all that day and night. This is why people say, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” I saw many cases in the ministry.These who start by critics end up in the same work.
    Third ,Love is above all said Paul in 1Corinthians 13:13.
    The greatest world need is love .And the major reason the pagan are reluctant to believe in our Lord Jesus is how juggemental we treat oneonother in the christian family .Take your book as one example .When some one write a book against or criticising another’s ministry,where is love?
    Finally, we should not forget ,how good ,God is using these prosperity preacher ,and how powerful their ministries are than judgemental ones.
    I m not a prosperity preacher ,but I believe in the word in Malachie 3:8-12.“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.

    “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’

    “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse —your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe, ” says the Lord Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.
    May God help christianity.
    Thanks
    Ali

  3. Bro. Sherman,

    Thank you for this book review! I am glad a person of color has written this kind of book, not to mention she is right here in my hometown. As a matter of fact, I have met Dr. Mumford on more than one occasion, and I have attended one of her seminars at a Those Preachin’ Women Conference here and at the seminary. I have met Dr. Soaries, too. I look forward to reading this book.

    I love apologetics. It has helped me grow tremendously in the faith. The warnings in the bible to beware false doctrine shouldn’t be so easily dismissed. God wants us to be discerning. Some people have the spiritual gift of discernment. There is a difference between being discerning and being judgmental. However, I agree to some extent with the previous comment in that we need to continually pray for prosperity pastors to reject that teaching, repent and return balanced theology.

    Keep up the great work!

    Be blessed!

  4. Dr. Anthony R. Watson says:

    Thanks for the heads-up on this book. I’m looking forward to reading it. I’m particularly interested in seeing how it compares with David W. Jones’ book: Health, Wealth & Happiness: Has the Prosperity Gospel Overshadowed the Gospel of Christ?

  5. Rev. Dr. John Carroll Travis says:

    Good evening Brethren!

    I for one am sick of this so-called “prosperity gospel” that is being promoted these days! Why would God bless someone who cannot manage the money they have now with even more money.

    Besides, who says that “prosperity” is only money!

    It might help if some preachers would learn what the word CONTEXT means!

  6. Pastor Frederick D. Harris says:

    Rich, I’ll have to check out Dr. Mumford’s book and a look at the hermeneutical principles she discusses. It should be a good addition to my library.

  7. Sylvester Warsaw, Jr. says:

    My dear brother, Elder Cox,

    This is a hot topic and one worth discussing. The problem with “The Prosperity Gospel” is the gullibility of the hearer. To many people are looking at the hands of God instead of seeking the face of God to know Him and grow in the grace and knowledge of who He is. The Prosperity Gospel is tied into the so-called American Dream. The American Dream isn’t the kingdom of God. Make no mistake be not deceived God isn’t mocked. The Prophetic Word of God isn’t the Prosperity Gospel. God promises to give us this day our daily bread that which we need to sustain us not what we want.

  8. Kristin Patrick says:

    This is a topic that many of the churches I have attended are afraid to touch but, at the same time its members are struggling to pay its bills. I believe that churches should preach prosperity but with a grain of salt and tact. My pastor has not done a legnthy sermon on paying tithes and offering. But because I followed his advice by paying a little more in tithes and offering than my usual 10% I was blessed. It is definitely something that needs to be addressed because churches also need the money so that they can feed or clothe the poor and be a blessing to the community. God loves a cheerful giver money should not be given out of obligation but because one believes what He has promised. In order to receive what the Lord has for us we must give him something to work with. This was a very good topic!

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