Friday, August 10, 2012

Review of Health, Wealth & Happiness by Jones & Woodbridge

I have really poor eyesight.

Not able to see the big giant “E” type of horrible eyesight.

Not even knowing that there are letters I’m supposed to see type of horrible eyesight. 

Nevertheless, I was planning on driving 45 miles without my contacts.  I wanted God to know I was serious about having my eyes healed.  It wasn’t really bugging me that I couldn’t see but my homeboy Benny Hinn was telling me that I needed to whole and complete and not have any sickness.  I felt fine, but these dastardly eyes were a problem. 

So I did what he told me to do. 

With trembling hands I touched the television.  I could feel the electricity coming forth from his hands.  It was amazing.  I prayed with him.  Yes, he knew what I was going through, I could feel it.  You want my money Benny?  I’ll give it.  Just let me see, Benny!  And then when he encouraged me to plant my seeds of faith I knew what I was supposed to do.  Go to sleep and then drive to school the next morning without my contacts in.

Thankfully for myself and the other drives on the road (or probably those walking on the sidewalk and the cows in the nearby field) I lost the faith.  I let Benny down.  I let myself down.  I knew that God could heal me but I just couldn’t conjure up the faith.  Same thing with some of the other things too.  People in my life that needed a good savin’.  Addictions that people needed broken from.  Financial problems that needed solvin’.  Unfortunately, I lacked the faith to get it done. 

I’m not sure when the turning point happened in my life.  Honestly, (and I don’t mean this snarky) I think it was when I began really reading Scripture and rubbing shoulders with broken people.  I also had a professor in college that graciously pointed out the errors of the prosperity gospel way of thinking.  Eventually (and thankfully somewhat quickly) I was rescued from its clutches and the gospel really began taking root. 

Sadly, many still buy into the false beliefs of the prosperity gospel.  46% of self-identifying Christians believe God will make them rich if they have enough faith.  That is a number that David W. Jones and Russell S. Woodbridge would like to see plummet.  That is why they have written Health, Wealth & Happiness

The book itself is only a little over 160 pages and six chapters long.  In the first part of the book the authors critique the prosperity gospel.  They look at the foundations of prosperity teaching and help the reader to understand that it has more in common with New Thought and Hinduism than it does with biblical Christianity. 

They also look at specific teachings and errors in the prosperity gospel.  They quote the sources themselves and often do so with painstaking accuracy and context.  Having come out of a season of devouring this stuff every night I truly believe that those within the movement would say, “Yes, this is what we believe”.  Jones and Woodbridge are not prone to caricature but they are rigorous in applying the Scriptures to the teachings of the prosperity “gospel”. 

At the end of the day they come to the conclusion that it really is no gospel at all.  “Simply put, if the prosperity gospel is correct, grace becomes obsolete, God becomes irrelevant, and “man is the measure of all things” (102).  It really turns the biblical gospel on its head.  Though prosperity teachers may seem sincere and even genuinely want to help people at the end of the day, “their message achieves just the opposite, for they do not proclaim the Christ of the Bible” (163). 

In the second part of the book Jones and Woodbridge correct the prosperity teachings.  They outline a biblical theology of suffering, wealth and poverty, and giving.  It’s clear through each chapter that these men have done their research on both the teachings of prosperity teachers and a thorough biblical understanding of the areas that the prosperity teachers are not faithful. 

My Take:

Even those that are familiar with the prosperity gospel, like myself, will be surprised to see some of it’s similarities to obviously non-Christian teachings.  Furthermore, I was shocked at the audacity of some of these teachers.  As a new Christian I swallowed this stuff because they were charismatic, spoke with authority and conviction, and I simply did not have a firm biblical foundation by which to analyze their teachings.  

I am thankful for the work of Woodbridge and Jones.  They admirably critique the movement (even sharing why it is at times appealing) and they set up a thorough and succinct biblical theology in its place. 

Should You Buy It?

I recommend it.  I do so because somebody (if not many people) in your church have swallowed this teaching.  This book will help you share the biblical gospel with them.  I am not saying that they are not saved but their growth will be ridiculously hindered. 

I pray that the Lord uses this book to rescue many from the teachings of the prosperity gospel.  Get this book, read this book, and spread this book.  It’s a much needed message. 

You can buy it here

1 comment:

  1. Mike,

    Thank you for your kind review and recommendation of the book. I pray that the book will help people see the errors of the prosperity gospel.

    Russell Woodbridge



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