Why is South Africa so Vulnerable to the Prosperity Gospel? (3) Witchcraft

African culture has long been interwoven with belief in magic, witchcraft and sorcery. Samuel Kunhiyop in African Christian Ethics says that almost all African societies believe in witchcraft. A personal anecdote will help.

During my first two years in Africa I stayed in a little rural village with the chief’s family. One evening, while I was away preaching, thieves broke into my room and stole most of my electronic devices. Because the chief’s wife was responsible for watching my room, she felt terrible. The next day she could be seen scurrying about with a list in her hands containing “items” the witch doctor needed. These would make the potion that would soon locate my pilfered goods. And she was a ZCC member that “believed in Jesus.”

Witchcraft in Scripture

According to Deuteronomy 18:10-11, many forms of sorcery fall beneath the umbrella of “witchcraft.” “Diviners” (v. 10) seek insight from evil spirits. “Sorcerers” (“those who cause to appear”) specialize in conjuring up ghosts and visions (Jdg. 9:36-37). “Soothsayers” like to use objects for their craft (Gn. 44:5). “Spell casters” (v. 11) hurl hexes and curses upon people (Ps. 58:5).

Notice the promotion for “power.” Notice the venue. To date, none of the blind have ever been healed

“Witch doctors” were experts at warding off evil (Isa. 47:9-12) or performing signs–like Pharaoh’s wise men turning rods into snakes (Ex. 7:11). “Mediums”, “necromancers” and inquirers of the dead could communicate with the dead–such as the witch of Endor (1Sm. 28). The latter takes the form of ancestor worship today.

The Lord abominated all of these practices. Moreover, human sacrifice was often associated with witchcraft, as seen in this passage and in others (2Kngs. 17:17).

Witchcraft in African Culture

The example above of the chief’s wife probably fits into the “soothsayer” category. She tried to manipulate divine power through a witch doctor and a host of traditional methods such as amulets and muti to ward off evil or bring blessing. Continue reading

Advertisements

Why is South Africa So Vulnerable to the Prosperity Gospel? (1) Single-Parent Homes

We’ll be exploring several of the reasons why the Prosperity Gospel (PG) is so prevalent in South Africa. The first cause we’ll address is absentee fathers, or, single-parent homes.

Surveys show that South Africa has among the highest number of single parent homes in the world. In fact, according to a recent study, children from South Africa are least likely to live in a home with two parents. Only about 36% of South African households have both a father and a mother.

It is most likely even worse in the rural areas because so many men and women leave for Joburg and other big cities to find work.

Why do single-parent homes lower a culture’s defenses against false teaching like the PG? First, Scripture warns us that charlatans and false teachers will prey on women. “For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions” (2Tm. 3:6). Continue reading

30 Reasons it is Good for Christians to Suffer

John G. Lake, Zion City evangelist and co-founder of the Apostolic Faith Mission in South Africa, laid out one of the strongest pentecostal cases for the superhuman ability to overcome sickness. Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science, in her 1875 manifesto Science and Health, disavowed the reality of sickness and death–arguing suffering comes from mental errors. E.W. Kenyon believed physical healing is God’s intention for humanity. Kenneth Hagin claimed: “I have not had one sick day in 45 years.” Continue reading

14 Reasons Why Jesus Hates the Prosperity Gospel

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 3.19.37 PMThe Prosperity Gospel heresy is so dangerous because it contains elements of truth. If it were completely false, no one would believe it. God does sometimes bless people with material prosperity and well-being.

But Scripture also warns of the dangers of promising health and wealth, especially when it is used to draw people to God. We could define the Prosperity Gospel message thus: Jesus came into the world to make people prosperous, not to remove God’s wrath upon them. God’s will is never suffering, but always health and wealth.  Continue reading

The Folly of “Faith” Healing

screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-2-30-01-pmTD Jakes and his false teaching of modalism is certainly a great threat to the church. Here in Africa, however, his followers are most influenced by another of his heresies: the Prosperity Gospel.

Stickers like that on the left is common in our villages. Notice the name of the church, the key words, and the swanky pose. Most of this is the cheap imitation of what they see Jakes do on TV and in his books. As the pastor of the Potter’s House, Jakes has crystalized in his doctrinal statement the false teaching that is rampant in so many African churches:

We believe that it is God’s will to heal and deliver His people today as He did in the days of the first Apostles. It is by the stripes of Jesus that we are healed, delivered and made whole. We have authority over sickness, disease, demons, curses, and every circumstance in life.

The Prosperity Gospel teaches that it is always God’s will to heal. If healing doesn’t come, it is because of the sick person’s lack of faith. But is this true? Was faith necessary for healing in the New Testament?   Continue reading

Duped By Delayed Healing

screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-2-30-57-pm“You are healed!” This was what one charismatic woman declared over me recently upon hearing of my flu-like symptoms. When I told her my illness was just the same as it was a minute ago, she implied it would pass in a couple of days. “Sickness has no power over you, man of God.” If only this were true.

This lady didn’t know it, but she was exhibiting one of two common marks of the Prosperity Crusades: (1) pre-arranged settings and (2) delayed healings.

The Prosperity crowd typically does their healings in sterile, pre-planned environments so they can control who comes and goes. Paraplegics? Downs Syndrome? Amputees? Not a chance. These wily hucksters are looking to heal heart failure and headaches. Bodyguards protect the stage in order to vet each person who wants healing. Everything is orchestrated perfectly.

Contrast this with Jesus, who didn’t need to touch or even see the official’s sick son. He healed him from 25 kms away (Jn. 4:50). Elsewhere, Jesus happened to be at Peter’s house when he healed his mother-in-law (Mt. 8:14-15). Humanly speaking, the healing was unplanned and impromptu. The same thing happened with Peter, who healed the cripple en route to the temple (Ac. 3:6-7).

There are times, however, when those thirsting for a cure don’t play along with the charlatan on stage. Their arm was lame and it’s still lame. What now? This is when the idea of postponed healings comes into play. Like the woman said earlier, sometimes healings take a couple of days to kick in.

But, again, this is not the case in Scripture. The nobleman’s son was healed the very hour Jesus said the word (Jn. 4:52-53). He healed the lepers (Mk. 1:42), the blind man (Mk. 10:32), and the paralytic (Ac. 3:8) instantly. There are a couple of examples in the Gospels where a miracle was delayed for a few minutes (e.g. Lk. 17:11-19) but there was a purpose for this small delay, and never was it for an extended amount of time.

For those church con men who claim to follow in the footsteps of Jesus by healing the sick, a good place to start would be with immediate and spontaneous healings. Anything short is fraud.

The Blessings of Sickness

screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-9-45-13-pmWhile waiting in the doctor’s office last week, I sat next to a full-blown Prosperity campaigner. If Joseph Prince or Kenneth Copeland were Don Quixote, this man would have been Sancho Panza. “It’s never God’s will for Christians to be sick, “ he said, only to follow with the saddest line of all. “That’s why I just can’t understand why my wife is here.” A few minutes later, they rolled her out in a wheel chair.

There are many answers to the question of why. Why do Christians suffer? On several occasions we’ve taught our people in the village 30 reasons-it-is-good-for-christians-to-suffer. Most of these come from St. Paul, himself no stranger to affliction but just as anxious to share in Jesus’ suffering (Phil. 3:10).

A good place to start is the story of Jesus healing the nobleman’s son (Jn. 4:46-54). This man and his whole household came to Christ because of the boy’s sickness. The implication is that had the boy not been sick, the father would never have had a reason to believe. This should rectify our qualms with affliction, as so much good comes from it.

Suffering is the oft-used tonic in God’s medical bag. Indeed, strength and vitality bring special blessings, but broken bodies are even better if they draw us to Christ. As David said, “It is good for me that I was afflicted” (Ps. 119:71).