The Link Between Open Theism and the Prosperity Gospel
While talking to a friend recently, I realized that there is a built-in affinity between open theism (the belief that God doesn’t know the future) and the prosperity gospel. I was quite surprised when I noticed this connection, but the more I thought about it, the more unavoidable it seemed to become. The logic runs something like this:
1) As an open theist, I don’t believe that God is completely in control of the world.
2) Therefore, the bad things in my life come from Satan, who is sometimes able to “get the upper hand” on God. (This means that God is just as shocked, wounded, and confused by the tragedies in my life as I am. Some find this comforting…?)
3) Therefore, the good things in my life come from God, who is “on my side,” although He is not quite omniscient enough to give me all that I want all the time. (should I feel sorry for Him…?)
4) Therefore, God always wants good things (health and wealth) for me, while Satan wishes for evil (sickness and poverty). Sometimes one wins, sometimes the other wins.
5) Therefore, pushed to its logical conclusion, if I only pray hard enough, and fast long enough, and (in other ways) get enough spiritual energy together to help God conquer Satan, both myself and God will get our collective wish of attaining perfect health and wealth for myself.
Perhaps someone who is more familiar with open theism could correct me: but is this not where the logic leads?
Ultimately, the issue is “sovereignty.” If God is “Sovereign,” then God cannot be a health-and-wealth sort of God. The God of the Bible is far more concerned with His glory than with the temporal happiness of His people. (If you don’t believe me, ask Ezekiel, Job and Hosea!) What really matters to God is that His name is exalted in the earth, that all praise honor and glory is given to Him, and that a faithful remnant worship Him with their whole heart, soul, mind and strength.
He desires this, of course, not because He is a megalomaniac, but because He is God. For you or I to seek to have the universe revolve around is absurd, arrogant, and the very definition of “sinful.” However, for God not to desire to have the universe revolve around Him would be a sin, or at least it would be supremely unloving. To worship God is to live: to turn away is idolatry and death.
That is why the first commandment is to worship God: that is why the beginning of the Lord’s prayer has to do with worship and the Sovereignty of God.
When we lose sight of the God who is in control, who has a plan, who seeks to be worshiped and glorified in all the earth, who is willing to subject His children/bride to the harshest discipline and allow them to walk through the very shadow of death in order to perfect and complete them, and who is both willing and determined to finally judge all unrepentant sinners – human and demon alike – with a final and horrifying judgment… When we lose sight of this God of the Bible, who is so completely determined to be glorified, to be honored, to be held up in high esteem, to be the center of the universe, to be – in a word, “God” – then we invent a make-believe God who…who what?
Wants us to be happy? Walks with us? Cries with us? Stumbles along, does His best…?
But ultimately, is this the picture of God which the Bible presents to us?
For more on my thoughts on Worship, see Idolatry and Worship of the True God (Youth Lesson Plan)
Also, especially see Piper: “Behold now the…severity of God!”