Exploring Prosperity Preaching by Debra J Mumford, PhD.

Hey everybody!

I was recently blessed to be called on to join a blog tour and review Rev. Dr. Debra J. Mumford’s new book on prosperity preaching, a subject that always sets my heart on fire!  And I don’t mean in a good way, as you all know, because my blood boils when I think about the manipulations, trickery  and emotional oppression that goes into most prosperity preaching.   I happen to view the bulk of these preachers as greed filled hypocritical materialists, unfazed by the things of God or God’s sovereignty, even as they boldly twist the Word of God to suit their bottomless lust for riches and power.  Anyway, after reading Dr. Mumford’s balanced view of this controversial subject, I was left with a new and expanded outlook on it all.

In her book, Dr. Mumford objectively looks at and weighs the negatives and positives of the prosperity gospel.  Now I must admit that I was intrigued when I was told that this book would look objectively at the pros and cons of this subject.  I had no understanding that there WERE any pros.   Well, we live and learn daily! If we pay attention, God will teach us something from a subject or situation that all we could do was disdain as beneath us.   With disdain as my foundation, and not realizing what blessings would come to me, I started reading “Exploring Prosperity Preaching” to see what Sister Debra would say about it.

Lo and behold, my sister had quite a bit to say, and in a very straightforward and concise way.  I especially liked her chapter breakdowns, in which she uses a popular catchphrase of the prosperity gospel movement for each chapter title.  For example:

Chapter 2: The Word Of God Means Exactly What It Says.
Chapter 3:  The World’s Economy Is Not Your Economy.
Chapter 4:  Poverty Is A Curse And Jesus Was Not Poor.
Chapter 5:  God Is Your Source.

She starts off the Chapters by highlighting a particular Prosperity Preacher and his style of interpreting certain scriptures for his congregation.  She gives a bit of background in how the preacher comes to his understanding of the particular scripture, showing the plausibility of his interpretation.  She brings history into the mix to show the forefathers – the ones who originally put forth the scripture’s understanding into place.   Also within each chapter is the “Sifting the Wheat from the Chaff” section, my favorite aspect.  Here is where Dr. Mumford exegetes the text, which is what we all should do.   She examines the text more closely – comparing and contrasting the prosperity preacher’s interpretation with other interpretations.  Basically she questions the conclusion that the particular pastor arrives at in informing his position.

To be sure, none of us has to be a biblical scholar to “exegete” which simply means to study a particular passage of scripture from different angles.  We have to be willing to study the bible for ourselves first of all, then to approach our study with a certain amount of openness.  We need to have a spirit of receptiveness to a new point of view so we can draw Godly conclusions.  We need this, because we don’t want to fall into dogma, which is dangerous.   As we know, the bible has been interpreted in all kinds of false ways in order to justify all kinds of evil.

In separating the wheat from the chaff, Rev. Debra illuminates the good aspects of the prosperity gospel, which is its strong belief in God’s sovereign power in our lives.  She points out the prosperity gospel’s unshakeable faith in God’s ability to change our circumstancesThe Prosperity Gospel is nothing if it isn’t about having faith in God.  When I thought about this fact, I had to admit it and say, “yes, it is so”.  That realization expanded my mind.  And that is what’s so wonderful about this small, but heavy book, Exploring Prosperity Preaching, Biblical Health, Wealth and Wisdom.  I appreciate that it showed me something of value in the prosperity gospel that I never would have found otherwise.  The Word of God is so big, that it is more than able to meet anyone on any level of their Christian walk, even if it’s in a pit of disdainfulness.  Debra’s book reminds me, and all of us with an ear to hear, just how powerful and wonderful God is.  There are lessons that can bless us, even in dry and desolate places.

What stands out for me is that Dr Mumford gets right to the crux of her subject matter.   She’s not wasting words saying more than what needs to be said to teach the lesson.  Exploring Prosperity Preaching is laid out in a very reader friendly manner, clearly and succinctly making its points.  I highly recommend this book for your library.

http://www.lpts.edu/About_Us/FacultyDocs/Mumford-CV-2009.pdf

http://thechurchladyblogs.com/2012/06/06/debra-mumfords-take-on-the-strengths-and-weaknesses-of-prosperity-preaching/

http://jasonpkees.com/2012/06/07/exploring-prosperity-preaching-biblical-health-wealth-and-wisdom/

Related Articles –  https://nachalooman.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/creflo-dollar-deconstructed-and-self-destructed/

18 Comments Add yours

  1. Reblogged this on Espiritu en Fuego/A Fiery Spirit and commented:
    Please also check out my companion piece to this article on: A Call to Witness: http://acalltowitness.com/2012/05/26/unmasking-the-secret-exposing-errors-of-the-secular-prosperity-gospel/

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Thanks Debra! It’s a wonderful book.

  2. liftingasweclimb says:

    Appreciate the post and your honesty. It’s very difficult in the climate in which we live to look at things in a balanced way. The culture of opinion too often drowns out wisdom and perspective.

    I believe the prosperity gospel is part of a larger movement in the church. There is a generational shift that will no longer accept pie in the sky, by and by. It is also the church’s attempt to address the incredibly intense impact of materialism from Wall Street’s Greed is Good to the celebration of the Rich and Famous that previously went unaddressed. In some ways, prosperity gospel also refutes criticisms of the stereotypical black preacher driving a Cadillac while his or her congregants walked to church. Now riches are, at least potentially, available to all.

    Personally, I think prosperity gospel is a disaster because it ignores crushing factors: sky high black unemployment, globalization, unbelievable debt, greed. Where are the prayers about those concerns?

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Thanks for your imput, Sister! I never thought of it all as the church’s attempt to address society’s materialism. But for me if that’s what the prosperity movement is trying to do, then they should be teaching people to reject the overly materialistic ways of the world, and latch on to God Heavenly prosperity. It seems that it’s a methodology that went south in a very bad way, according to how most prosperity preachers practice this thing. It ends up that nothing changes and the preacher still is driving his/her big Cadillac to church while the congregation is walking to church. Except now they driving Expeditions, Mercedes, Rolls Royce, and Maybachs, and we are riding the bus.

      1. liftingasweclimb says:

        Agreed. Materialism has become a disease that’s pumped into our communities 24/7 from music to tabloid television, from the pulpit to the street corner. Bling, celebrity and getting paid have displaced God in many ways. It’s as pernicious as crack and meth.

        What I’m seeing are preachers and many congregants rolling to church without savings or, worse, leveraged to the hilt. Meanwhile our schools beg for STEM supplies. The neighborhoods around many of our churches are crumbling. Long term this is devastating because it suggests that we serve an impotent God.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hmmmm… not one of my fave subjects, but this sounds like a fascinating read that may just prove to be Enlightening. Thx for the literary heads up, A M.

    One.

    1. Anna Renee says:

      No problem LMR. The subject is kinda grimy, and Sister Dr.’s book is right on time to address it.

  4. markonit says:

    This is an interesting post. I am very suspicious of the new prosperity gospel, memories of Rev. Ike and his kind being fresh in my mind as a young boy still. As an agnostic, it is seems as if the “truth” is something that is being twisted and subverted. The new interpretation that G-d wants for us to be materially wealthy is a new exaggeration (I think) and calls for the faithful to be on their look out. Once, the church demonized education and learning and we had the Dark Ages. For the church to speak to prosperity, the masses seems to think that it is condoning the pursuit of material things as if it was part of a holy sacrament!

    I am really wondering what is the truly “the ends” of the prosperity gospel?

    1. Anna Renee says:

      I see it as a very twisted and demonic thing, because they so deftly use Scriptures to justify it all. And as we know Scriptures can be used to justify ANYTHING! It’s in the exaltation of the Holy book to the level of God. People forget that the Holy Book is NOT God. And as for what is “the ends” of the prosperity gospel? It’s for Passa Creflo to get “those ends

  5. Amenta says:

    I believe a prosperity gospel (God’s Spell) is real and true. I am not sure, however, telling a congregation that “God” does not want us to be poor is not enough. When I see preachers, ministers, and reverends teaching classes on fiat currency, fractional banking, derivitives, public central banks, private central banks, DRIPS, ETF’s and such, I will not believe they are really teaching prosperity. To teach a blessin will come upon you one day from out of no where is very dangerous and wicked. Not to teach this is not to disbelieve it cannot happen, but the law of probability are against this to happen to most people. Others of us need to utilize the blissing given bestowed upon us to ascertain and learn about commerce and begin to practice what we learn. Those in the pulpit, if having learned certain aspects of economics and do not teach what they have truly learned and only speak/teach that only if one were “on one accord” with the Lord, will he bless you with what I have acheived. Then this, IMO, is a mountebank and a thief.

    This may seem harsh, yet, I feel required. I have not read Dr. Mumford’s book and this is not about her. This is about those that are obviously are hurting the people. We, are at a dire time, and no matter how we want to believe this economy is not our economy we are sadly misled. Every time we spend a dollar we are all participating in the economy at whatever stage it is in. We bemoan cost of things going up, never once realizing how that works and the reason it appears the price is going up. When in fact the price is truly not going up. Until our prechers,ministers, and teachers are teacing their congregations how and why this happens then, what are they really teaching concering prosperity?

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Hey Brother Amenta! That’s the deal as far as I’m concerned – the PP’s aren’t interested in the wealth of the people, but their own wealth, which they derive from the people. I don’t believe most PP’s care one whit about the economy as it’s practiced in the world from a Wall Street perspective. I dont think they KNOW how it works.
      Their mentality is pimping. Like a pimp runs game within the confines of his little world, the Creflos of this world manipulate the minds and run game on their followers, who become dependant upon and mentally enslaved by their particular “mand of God”.
      It aint nothing about teaching the people anything worthwhile for their economic uplift. It’s about pimping them to give up their little bits of moeny in exchange for a pipe dream of being rich like he is, which only happens because they done gave up all their little bits of money to him. It’s a vicious circle and people caught up have been brainwashed effectively to ignore this circle of foolishness.

  6. Anna Renee says:

    I guess my thing is that though I abominate the prosperity gospel, to quote John Piper of Desiring God, there is that truth that they teach having faith in God. It’s like what Jesus said to the people when He told them to do what the Pharisees say, but not what they do.

    Because the Pharisee, the religious leaders and teachers back in the days of Christ on earth taught people to do the right things, but they themselves mostly did the wrong things. Or they did the right things for the wrong reasons.

    The PP’s teach their followers to have faith, but they teach it for the wrong reason – to keep people ensnared and mentally shackled to their own greed.

  7. Kim S says:

    Thanks for this thoughtful and engaging review!

    1. Anna Renee says:

      No, thank YOU!!

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  11. Tee Turner says:

    This was a very good read and a balanced peice of work on a very impotant subject. Having lived in california during the early years of Fred Price ministry he often claimed that he or his family would ever get sick of course that changed when his wife took ill. Tee Turner

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