There was an Op-Ed piece in the January 21, 2008 USA Today titled “Why Christians Should Seek Martin Luther King’s Dream” by Tom Krattenmaker. He says “Despite gains, African-Americans as a whole have yet to attain King’s vision. Christians could be this country’s greatest force by rejecting the temptation of complacency — and a me-first prosperity gospel,” and if they do that they can “lead the way to racial justice.” Krattenmaker points out that “An African-American woman is secretary of State. A black man is a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. African-Americans coached both teams in last year’s Super Bowl.” However, these are not enough.

Part of the reason they’re not enough is that the church itself is communicating a prosperity gospel that has shackled the African-American community. Says Krattenmaker, “as one who has studied black church history and followed the more recent ascendancy of the prosperity gospel, I cannot help but wonder whether this blame-it-on-yourself pessimism among black Americans is not at least partially the result of a troubling message delivered from many popular pulpits….those who follow black church trends today will tell you that this prophetic” message of Marin Luther King “is giving way to something decidedly less idealistic: a prosperity gospel holding that God blesses individual believers with economic advancement.”

He quotes here Dyson, a black ordained minister and Georgetown University professor who said “insufficient faith and poor standing with God are to blame for individual blacks who are missing out on the American dream. He put it this way in a PBS interview: ‘The civil rights movement said you are responsible for your brother and sister; you ought to bring them along. The prosperity gospel says your brother or sister is responsible for him or herself, and what they should be doing is praying right so God can bless them, too.'”

In other words, according to this article, and I think correctly so, the African-American community is being placed back in shackles by a prosperity message that is communicating that faith is a force, words are the containers of the force, and through the force of faith one can create their own reality. Therefore, if you do not have prosperity there is nowhere else to look but yourself and the fact that you are not communicating faith-filled words. Which is to say, if you have sickness in your life it’s because you called that sickness into your life by speaking words of fear, and if you have want instead of wealth, you created that as well by speaking words of fear rather than words of faith.

The prosperity gospel, unfortunately, is as popular anywhere as it is in the African-American community. In other words, it is probably predominant in that community today, at least in America. I think, as a result of that, we should be teaching that this is mythology. It is the skin of the truth stuffed with a great big lie. It either compromises, confuses or outright contradicts the Gospel. To that end I wrote a book called Christianity in Crisis as well as an audiotape series in which you can hear prosperity teachers from Kenneth Copeland to Benny Hinn to Frederick Price and many others teaching doctrines that come right out of the kingdom of the cults, and in the process they are enslaving people.

Suggested Resources:

Christianity in Crisis: 21st CenturyHardcover Book
Christianity In Crisis: 21st Century
Resource# B995
Audience: General