This post is Part 2 to my last blog. I discussed the dangers of food poisoning within the church, which is what I called “doctrine poisoning”. No, I don’t mean that the kitchens are poisoned—I mean that sometimes Christians promote false doctrine.
I don’t believe that most Christians promote false doctrine with ill intent, or even know that they’re doing it. I’d like to believe that these Christians have also bought into the lies that they’re selling, so they’re selling something they believe in. Some, however, twist the real gospel to gain a bigger following with the world.
Some false doctrines are easier to recognize than others. You may recognize one of them, called the Prosperity Gospel.
In order to find a loose definition of the term, I turned to Wikipedia (don’t deny it, you do it too). From Wikipedia, “Prosperity theology is a religious belief among some Protestant Christians that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one’s material wealth.”
God tells us straight up that we will experience hardship. James 1:12 encourages to remain steadfast under trial. When God tells us that we are blessed, our blessing comes from having His power behind. Our blessing does not come from having a worry-free life, no matter how much we give away.
People who preach the Prosperity Gospel tend to be those who are benefitting from having people donate their money. Think of some, but not all, TV evangelists. The more they can convince people that they will be blessed if they give, the more people will donate to their church, hoping to also be blessed financially. And funnily enough, the more prosperous the evangelist becomes.
On the flip side, the Lord tells us to be good stewards of our money. If you’re missing your car payments just to donate your funds, you need to re-evaluate your priorities. Spend it wisely (that is, necessities first).
It’s true—God blesses generous hearts. But God does not guarantee this blessing financially in this life. Much of our reward comes after this life.
Some false doctrines are harder to recognize, and these are to do with God’s temperament. I’ve seen Christians fall into the camps of “God is always wrathful” and “God never gets angry”.
Both are wrong. God is love, but He also is a God of justice. He does get righteously angry. The Bible also tells us that he’s a jealous God, because He’s the one who made us. Passages include Ex 20:5, Ex 34:14, Deut 4:24, Deut 5:9, Deut 6:15, 2 Corinthians 11:2—just to name a few. Love, justice, and anger co-exist. It is not love to allow yourself to be treated as a doormat, and God knows that. He does not like when you place other things above Him.
If it goes against God’s character, it’s a false doctrine. If it involves putting God anywhere other than first in your life, it’s a false doctrine.
Basically, if it involves making you the controller of your destiny, it’s a false doctrine. I addressed this a few weeks back with my post God Is Not a GPS; He’s The Car Driver. God’s reactions to the world are not something we can categorize. We can’t put Him in a box. We can’t put life in a box.
But more importantly, we underestimate the power of Satan and human selfishness. And we underestimate the power of mere bad luck.
I think we turn to false beliefs about our faith and God because we like to control the things in this life that don’t make sense to us.
Why do both devout Christians and corrupt people die from cancer? Why do good people go bankrupt? How come some parts of the world experience natural disasters regularly, and others are calm? Why do some families face more devastation than others?
If we believe that godly people who go through a bad spell are secretly sinful, then we can reinforce the harmful narrative that godly people live a rosy life and ungodly people live a hard life. But this is not truth. We reap our rewards/punishments at the end of days. If we believe that godly people who go through a bad spell just need to “give more”, then we convince ourselves that life is something that we can control. These false narratives put us in control when we were never meant to be.
To answer the question—I don’t know why bad things happen to godly people. But I do know this: believing in a false ideology means that you’re believing in a false God.
Believing in a false God is harmful enough on its own. But where it really takes the cake is when we project this false God in our sharing the gospel with other people and call it “Christianity”.
Use discernment. Be humble to receive correction. And most importantly, read the scripture.