They betray Christ for money (Mt. 26:15).
They love maintaining the outward appearance of holiness (Mt. 26:25).
They show remorse at public scandals but not true repentance (Mt. 27:3-5).
They sometimes refuse money to feign godliness (Mt. 27:5).
They interact with Jesus’ disciples while being secretly paid to deceive them (Lk. 22:5-6).
They display public affection for Christ while working for the devil (Lk. 22:47).
They expertly fool the masses but cannot deceive the righteous Judge (Jn. 5:26-27).
They use the guise of caring for the poor to hide greed (Jn. 12:6).
They are demonic (Jn. 13:27).
They show that despite their terrible sin, the sovereign will of God cannot be broken (Hb. 2:14).
The concept of “limited good” denies that wealth can be created. It supposes that since there are not enough good things for everyone to enjoy, a person can only increase his or her wealth/blessings/good at the expense of others.
Notice this kind of limited good thinking in Pumla Gqola’s book Rape: A South African Nightmare:
“[The desire for wealth] seduces the poor into working harder, in search of the elusive ease, but no matter how hard they work, there are finite resources in the world. Therefore wealth requires the hoarding of resources, which means taking away resources that would allow the poor to live decently in an equitable world” (38).
“Limited Good” in Africa
Prof. Koos Van Rooy, an anthropologist and linguist for decades among the Vendas in rural South Africa, defines the African idea of limited good this way:
“There is only a limited amount of good (that is: life force, good luck, prestige, influence, children, possessions) in the cosmos. Each person is allotted a fixed quantity of this good. It can only be increased at the expense of someone else, by way of black magic, ritual murder or theft.”
Think of a pie. Limited good thinks that by cutting out a piece for oneself, the person is taking from others. Wealth, as the thinking goes, can only be transferred from one person to another. If I become rich, someone else must become poor. Continue reading
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).
“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
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
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
The 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
TD 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