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Why the Prosperity Preaching at Bethel Church is a Huge Problem

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Kris Vallotton at Bethel Church recently held a sermon called “Poverty, Riches and Wealth” which is nothing less than pure, economic prosperity preaching. His conclusions are basically that all Christians with some few exceptions should be rich and that wealth isn’t a problem as long as it multiplies and grows exponentially. In this video I respond to his arguments and show why they don’t work:

As you may know, I’ve argued that Christians should not be rich in my God vs Wealth series and I recently did a Holy Hangout on prosperity theology with some friends where I criticized the “health and wealth gospel” for being unbiblical and hurtful.

Now, some people have told me that Vallotton’s position actually is “balanced” and even close to my own, that he’s not that off after all. I strongly disagree. I was surprised to hear how radical his prosperity thinking was and how deliberately he ignored or distorted relevant Bible passages.

Vallotton starts off in 1 Tim 6, arguing that love of money isn’t the root to all evil but a root to some evil (the text actually says a root to all evil). He does not mention verses 5-9 at all, probably because they crush all forms of economic prosperity theology. Verse 5 talk about “people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.”

There you have it, prosperity preachers have been robbed of the truth. If Vallotton honestly wanted to teach the Bible on this issue, he should have least commented this passage. Also, he shouldn’t have ended the sermon encouraging the Bethel folks who want to be wealthy, since verse 9 says that those who want to be rich plunge themselves into ruin and destruction.

Vallotton makes several mistakes in his sermon, he argues that Jesus just told one single guy to sell everything and give to the poor, which isn’t true – He told all His disciples to do so in Lk 12:33 which is why all His disciples did so in Acts 2:44-45. Vallotton also thinks that the parable of the Talents in Mt 25 is about money, which is an absurdity and impossibility. If that was the case, and the money in the parable represents money, the implications would be that Christians who are bad at business go to hell.

What’s really tragic is that Vallotton doesn’t mention the poor. Like, at all. The “poverty” part in the title refers to how Vallotton used to believe that Christians ought to be poor and now he has discovered the “truth” of the prosperity gospel. He doesn’t talk about the implications that rich Christian Americans possess expensive houses, cars and other possessions while poor Christians suffer and die due to their poverty.

The primarily white Americans and Europeans at Bethel are among the richest and most privileged people on the planet, so to them the command “Sell your possessions and give to the poor” that Jesus gives His disciples in Lk 12:33 is not an amazing call to justice and equality but an annoying and irritating stumbling block that Kris has to explain away.

God bless Bethel Church and everything they do for the Kingdom, but this prosperity teaching is alarming. “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions”, Jesus said (Lk 12:15). Bethel, sadly, turns out to be a very greedy place.

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5 Comments

  1. Jd says:

    Woah. Thanks for sharing the sermon . Our team are greatly blessed by the sharing of wealth by Pastor Kris. It’s great to hear the man of God talking about the wealth as correctly defined by the scriptures.

    Keep sharing Micael !!

  2. So he’s one extreme and you’re the other?
    Do you know of any balanced writing on this, because we need people concerned with his teaching, but not one’s that say the exact opposite, we’re all supposed to be dirt poor..

    • Hi Jeremy! A position is not extreme just because it is unusual, and it’s not untrue even if it’s extreme. Hitler thought that we should kill all Jews, I think we should kill none.One could call the middle view – killing half of them – the “balanced” view, but it doesn’t make it right or Biblical. Similarly, I have Scripture on my side when I say that we shouldn’t be rich but live simply (which isn’t the same thing as being “dirt poor”). Blessings!

  3. nmylnar says:

    Another question, do you I think that this teaching is evidence that I thought his heart is not in the right place? Do you think that they would be one of those churches that Jesus says no you prophesied in my name…I never knew you…get away from me? I’m not really sure what to do with Bethel. On the one hand a lot of their sermons have really spoken to me, but then I listen to Kris’ sermons on money and I am perplexed and uneasy. Does this teaching disqualify them? Should I stop listening to them altogether?

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The author

Micael Grenholm - a Swedish charismactivist residing with the Jesus Army in the UK.

Micael Grenholm - a Swedish charismactivist residing with the Jesus Army in the UK.

Check out my YouTube channel!

A Living Alternative

God vs Inequality

Goodreads

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