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Opinions of Saturday, 28 September 2019

Columnist: Marian Ansah

There is nothing Christ-like about the prosperity gospel ministry

The church has been drifting from its original objective The church has been drifting from its original objective

Recently, Benny Hinn, a renowned Televangelist, openly denounced the prosperity gospel. The comment obviously elicited mixed reactions from the public. There were those who supported his open condemnation of the prosperity gospel as well as those who thought this new breed of gospel should not be condemned.

That the church has been drifting from its original objective – reconciling the world back to God and seeking and caring for the poor cannot be over-emphasized. In fact, Hinn only said in public what majority of Ghanaians have been whispering – it is only that our hypocrisy won’t allow us to criticize our church leaders. It is sickening how Ghanaian pastors are so immersed in the prosperity gospel, thus neglecting the needs of the poor and the gospel – the main aim of Christianity.

In the olden days, the Ghanaian community of churches, in keeping with the teachings of Christ, engaged in the practice of actively supporting the community through the construction of hospitals, schools, etc.

However, this practice is gradually giving way to ‘pastorpreneurship’ or what has become the ‘commercialization of the church.’ These days, some members of the clergy focus more on enriching their pockets at the expense of the souls of the congregants. This wanton greed by those church leaders has increasingly become the norm rather than the exception.

A case in point is when a popular church headquartered in Accra with branches dotted across the country, at a recent conference in Accra, listed some blessings accompanied with specific amounts quoted in dollars. The implied effect of this move, which turned out to be unpopular among a large section of the public, was so obvious; without money, God will not bless you. Clearly, there is nothing Christ-like about majority of these modern-day Christian churches.

The Lausanne Theology Working Group defines prosperity gospel as the teaching that believers have a right to the blessings of health and wealth and that they can obtain these blessings through positive confessions of faith and the “sowing of seeds” through the faithful payments of tithes and offerings.

This doctrine is egregious. It cowers Christians into believing in the notion that they can manipulate God through giving. It also projects the toxic idea that God will only be kind and gracious to folks who pay fat offerings and tithes. The prosperity gospel puts needless pressure on individuals who aren’t economically stable to give what is meant for daily bread.

Any person who is a believer in the Almighty God, and a keen reader/follower of the Bible must be very concerned with some of these current churches given that they stay nonchalant when the poor are concerned. They fail to care for church members struggling to make ends meet. These churches have failed to live up to the teachings of the Christian faith as encapsulated in the gospel of Acts 20:35 that requires Christ-followers to practice the art of caring for the weak and giving to the poor. Instead, these prosperity gospel Ministers are only interested in taking and not giving back to society. With some of these churches, members are expected to pay for camps, and other programmes aimed at promoting spiritual growth. Folks who cannot afford are consequently eliminated.

Apathy in the church

I believe Christians can do better by holding the men of the cloth to account, just like how we do with political leaders. We need to question why the church no more cares for the poor. We need to ask why the church has stopped building hospitals, schools, orphanages for the community.

We need to find out why funds are not set up to cater for widows, orphans and the poor. We should ask why Ghanaian pastors dine with corrupt politicians, instead of demanding accountability and integrity. We ought to seek answers to why the church has become apathetic when it is expected to protest against bad decisions of leaders that lead to economic , social or even moral challenges.

We cannot be fanatics just clapping hands and ‘shooting’ at the devil every now and then. The church can do better and it will start if we actively engage with church leaders and change our approach. We ought to be more practical. The church should call out corrupt politicians, rather than hosting them in churches to deceive Ghanaians the more. The populace must reclaim the true meaning of Christianity. We need to start by de-commercializing the Christian faith and attaching great emphasis on winning souls to Christ – through feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless among others!