As I said last time, "God is all you need" is one of the most harmful lies of "the church." That one can be joined by the idea that God rewards people who are good, go to church, and tithe, i.e., the righteous. This is called the Prosperity Doctrine (or, actually, any number of other things). Not to get into the history of it, but, in the history of Christianity, this a brand new idea going against centuries of Christian doctrine. You know, all that stuff that says you should give the coat off your back, care for widows and orphans, and things like that.
And, hey, I get it! It's great to believe that all you need to do is go to church and toss a little bit of money in the plate and you'll get all kinds of rewards and prosperity. Pastors count on it, in fact.
As could be expected, the Prosperity Doctrine saw its big rise to prominence in the 1980s and was the foundational message of many of the big televangelists. It has also been the foundation of virtually every mega-church out there, around the world, not just in the United States. And though it has mostly grown out of non-denominational churches, Prosperity Doctrine has permeated nearly every protestant denomination there is. Oh, and Christian music is full of it.
I'm going to share with you an example from a very popular Christian band, a band I like, that is just horrible. I hate this song, and I hate it so much that I lost major respect for this band that I have liked for years. So, yes, it's a horrible song, but you should listen to it anyway -- the words, not the music -- so you'll know what I'm talking about.
That's the whole problem: It seems to make sense. You know, if God loves us, why wouldn't he want us to thrive? Why wouldn't he want us to have lives full of... well, everything that we want to have in them? Which is the context of the song, God made you to have full, rich lives, full of everything you should have to make you happy. All you need to do is praise God (and give your 10%!), and he's gonna give you ALL the STUFF!
If you read the Bible, especially the New Testament, it's very easy to see that the call to Christianity is not the call to a life of ease and riches. The call to Christianity is a call to hardship. The road less traveled because it's a road that requires sacrifice. That's a hard message for people to take and was driving people away during the great rise of consumerism of the 80s. So how about a message that's all about how God wants to reward you instead?
As with most lies of "the church," all of this prosperity bullshit is based on one verse that is taken completely out of context: Malachi 3:10. It says blah blah blah bring the whole tithe to the storehouse, and I will pour so much blessing on you that you can't hold it all blah blah blah. Oh, yeah, and it says "test me on this." So, yeah, it's a challenge from God: Bring me your tithe and see if I don't just bless you beyond your ability to keep it all.
Again, it sounds great, which is why so many people buy into it, but there are so many things wrong with taking this as a personal message from God:
1. It's not a personal message from God! Not to individuals. It's a message from the prophet Malachi to the entire nation of Israel. It's a message delivered because, as was so often the case, Israel was screwing up. This is not a message intended to be used by people to get rich.
2. Tithing itself is something that has been taken out of context and shouldn't exist in the Christian church. Tithing was for the support of the professional priest system of the Israelites. The Christian church was not supposed to have professional priests, and, if you look at the first century Christian church, it did not. Professional priests got re-invented for Christianity during the formation of the Catholic church and tithing, then, was re-introduced. It was never supposed to be that way.
3. Look, I could go on, but those two are really enough; however, I'll add this:
Honestly, God just doesn't care about your personal "happiness." He's not sitting around up in Heaven somewhere thinking, "Hmm... I wonder what I can do to make Andrew happy today. Oh! I know! I'll send him a check for $10,000!" Your material life not just isn't at the top of God's to-do list, it's not on the list at all. He doesn't care.
He doesn't care if you have a big house. He doesn't care if you have a nice car. He doesn't car what kind iphone you carry. He doesn't care what kind of clothes you wear. Seriously, if God was concerned about you having these things, everyone would have these things. Why? Because no one is "good" in the eyes of God, so everyone would be rewarded the same way.
So, yes, the Prosperity Doctrine draws people in, but, ultimately, it drives almost all of those same people away. Just as soon as they realize that it doesn't work. God is not a slot machine. There is no payout. Not in cash. Not in things. Not in "happiness." There's a system in place for all of that stuff so that God doesn't have to bother with it, if that's a way to put it (which it's really not, but I don't have a better way). Just get over the idea right now that if you're good then God is going to "bless" you or make you rich or whatever.
And, if you're in a church that teaches this idea, even a watered down version of it, you should get out now. That church is concerned with the right things.