Monday, 21 May 2007

In the Will of God

I was in conversation with someone the other day and after she'd finished telling me about her ideal house (lap pool, verandah, etc.) it went something like this.

Me: Wow. Sounds like a nice house. So, since you're a Bible college student, how are you going to pay for this dream house?

She: God will pay for it.

Me: God will?

She: Yes, it's a desire of my heart.

Me: So God automatically gives you the desires of your heart (thinks: sounds like a bad use of a proof-text to me).

She: Yeah. Well, as long as you're in the will of God, that is.

Me: So, if I'm in the will of God and I have a desire of my heart then God will make it happen?

She: Yep.

At this point, I think I began to feel a blind rage well up from deep inside of me. I didn't act on it and held my tongue. This is what I think was wrong with her logic.

If condition A is true (A = I'm in the will of God) and condition B is true (B = I have a desire of my heart) then action C will occur (C = God will provide the substance of the desire).

Suppose that I'm a sincerely believing Christian in suburban Brisbane, I can see how this might apply. I'm sincere. My desires and dreams are mostly centred around security for my loved ones. The chances are high that a house (etc.) will be mine before my death. Ergo, A is true, B is true and C has happened.

Now suppose that I'm a sincerely believing Christian in southern Sudan. I'm sincere. my desires and dreams are centred around security for my loved ones. However, the chances are high that one day I'll come home to find the violated and slaughtered carcasses of my family left out the front of the charred remains of my house. C has not happened. Which of A or B was not true? Was I not sincere enough in my belief? Was there some secret sin in my life? Did I not really desire safety and security for my family? What did I do wrong?

These two examples expose the prosperity gospel mentality for what it is: a myth which has been placed over the top of reality. The reality is that the wealth of the world continues to flow to the wealthy, including people who live in suburban Brisbane. These people have no problems getting food, clothing and shelter. The wealth has to come from somewhere, and all too often it comes from places like Sudan or Cambodia, at the expense of the poor.

I left the pentecostal movement for various reasons and this is one of them. It is little more than a modern-day fertility cult. Devotion to the cult will always be rewarded with fertility or prosperity. Any evidence of lack (including speech about lack) is apparently evidence of a lack of faith or the smallness of one's vision. I cannot believe in a God that would operate that way. I cannot believe in a God whose will it is (assuming that the Brisbane Christian and the Sudanese Christian are both in the will of God) that Sudanese people should suffer at the same time that Brisbane Christians get all their desires satisfied.

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