Riches Gospel: A subtle kind of occultism

By Learnmore Zuze Learnmore Zuze

“THERE is someone sitting here who wants God to bless him with a car yet that selfish person continues to bring a paltry twenty dollars into the offering basket. How do you expect God to give you a six thousand-dollar car when all you give him is twenty dollars?” This statement has almost become a slogan in contemporary churches today. The statement captures well the essence of a gospel that is spreading like a bush fire in the wind in our motherland.

The gospel of giving in order to attract riches has taken Zimbabwean Christianity by storm. Followers of the materialism gospel are consistently reminded that their promised blessings and ‘breakthroughs’ will not materialize unless they give huge donations to church ministers. Marketers of this gospel have touched the hearts of thousands of eager Zimbabweans seeking to escape from the jaws of poverty.

Whereas the focus of the Biblical gospel is salvation and repentance from sin, today’s followers have been schooled in a new kind of message which focuses on the acquisition of worldly riches. This all-popular riches doctrine emphasizes materialism. It is focused on the hear-and-now. It has had startling success in Africa in general. A daily newspaper of June 2012 carried a headline story in which economists acknowledged that some prosperity churches had reached a level where they could even bail out struggling corporations.

African pastors who struggled to own a standard house have come to own private jets on account of the riches doctrine. This gospel is premised on the idea that sacrificial giving to church ministers will bring great returns. It has seen the poorer of the poor taking the little they have to donate to mega rich church ministers in the hope of receiving blessings and wealth in return. I quote a live recorded statement by a famous Harare based preacher, “If you are still poor then you aren’t giving hard.”

No-one can deny that the Bible has many scriptures which tell of God’s blessings. However, the tragedy of those who peddle the gospel of riches is their myopic focus on earthly riches and their reluctance to emphasize the core objective of the Gospel (salvation of mankind) which is the very reason Jesus died (John 3:16). Nowhere in the Bible did Jesus ever teach that His Gospel would also be a tool for attaining earthly riches? Throughout all history you will not find a man who gave greater condemnation to earthly riches than Jesus Christ. Jesus identified more with the downtrodden and the common man in the street. He spoke against riches in more ways than one:

  • “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.” (Luke6; 24)
  • “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Luke 18:12)
  • …You cannot serve God and money.” (Matt 6; 24)
  • “Do not build for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and   rust can destroy.” (Matt 6:19, 20)

However, what the devil has done today is to come up with a well crafted manner of misleading Christians, particularly in Africa. It would have been easily picked if one were to come and start contradicting Christ’s stance on earthly riches. The Deceiver has thus brought in Christianity mixed with occultism and the average Christian does not even know, let alone suspect it because Old Testament verses are twisted in this regard. This very popular concept that is being taught in the wealth churches is a replica of the concept practiced in the occult.

I will illustrate. Before the advent of Christianity in Africa, the central spiritual belief for fortune seekers was to consult with witch-doctors. Witch-doctors were found amongst the elite and even kings would house them closer for divine guidance. People thus consulted with witchdoctors and were told to sacrifice fat portions of cows and goats to attract wealth. Very few of us in Zimbabwe would say they never saw stray sacrificial goats (mbudzi dzakarasirirwa) or a sacrificial black hen with a red cloth tied to its leg in the bushes. Such sacrifices were done to attract wealth or get rid of bad luck (exactly as they teach today).

Some daring witch-doctors would even tell fortune seekers to sacrifice their own family members to attract wealth. This concept is well captured in most traditional African literature. The thrilling Shona novel, “Wakandigona Wena” by B.C Chitsike aptly captures this occult practice; a clever witch-doctor, Vhurusaka, tricks an evil man who wanted to sacrifice his wife for riches into believing that she has been successfully killed in a ritual only for the man to be shamed later as his wife is presented before the entire village and the man’s evil intentions exposed.

What has simply happened under the modern day riches doctrine is that the juju priest has simply been replaced by a man wearing a shiny suit who drives the latest car in town. One researcher, J lee Grady, in an essay titled, The Prosperity Gospel Hurting Africa noted that, “I am aware of one pastor who asked his congregants to bring bottles of sand to church so he could anoint them.” Closer to home, people are parting with hundreds of dollars in the scramble for ‘holy water’ which they are told to sprinkle on their beds, work places and cash notes to attract wealth.

My dear friends, this is certainly not Christianity but a disguised form of occultism. God would truly want Christians to give but to give wholeheartedly whether a coin or a dollar. God reads the heart and looks for sincerity hence the irony to be found in Jesus story of praising a poor widow’s offering (two coins) ahead of the offerings of the rich. The truth of the matter for those who seek prosperity the Biblical way is summed up in this verse, “Seek first the kingdom of Heaven and all these things (cars, houses and wealth) shall be added unto you”(Matt 6:32,33)

(“All these things will be added” refers to  “daily needs” or basic needs… not cars, houses and wealth. Jeff Hawkins)

This is the last hour. Take heed that no one deceives you.

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