Review (pt.4): When Helping Hurts

Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, Moody, 2009, 230 pages 

Corbett_Helping HurtsFourth Concern: Mis-defining the prosperity gospel

It was painful to see how the authors defined the prosperity gospel. There is no greater deterrent to the gospel in sub-Saharan Africa than the Health and Wealth message. One missionary syllogized it as follows:

  1. Prosperity theology is the most common expression of Christianity in sub-Saharan Africa.
  2. Prosperity theology is not Christian.
  3. Therefore, sub-Saharan Africa’s Christianity is actually not biblical Christianity.

The sons of Sceva have reached our continent in the form of Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, Fredrick Price, Joel Osteen, and TB Joshua.

I was thrilled, then, when I saw the heading “Repenting of the Health and Wealth Gospel.” Finally, something I’ll agree with. But in the end, the authors define the PG not as the false notion that Jesus came to earth to make us healthy and wealthy, not as the promise to heal us of all our diseases, but rather as the failure of genuine (yet wealthy) believers to trust God in everything (68-70). This, friends, is the prosperity gospel.

Seth Meyers says regarding When Helping Hurts: “This book will not help us to plant churches or evangelize like the believers in Acts, and yet it wants to pretend that the emphasis it places on poverty alleviation is rooted in the NT model of the church. There may be some temporal pain caused by placing the great majority of our resources into church planting in contrast to helping unbelievers out of poverty, but if we believe the NT model is best, then there will be little helping without it.”

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