Yes, I’ve been harsh on Crown Financial Ministries, and I meant to leave them alone after the last post, but discovering that they teach the prosperity gospel is alarming. Prosperity theology is insidious and utterly non-Christian, and people have attributed to it everything from Pat Roberton’s remarks about Haiti to the economic crash.
Crown doesn’t teach the extreme “name it and claim it” gospel, already familiar to anyone who has studied the paranormal and the occult, where the same doctrine, sans God, is known as the law of attraction, and, to their credit, it doesn’t permeate most of the course. However, in the chapter on giving, we discover that they take “give and ye shall receive” quite literally indeed:
One reason God reveals that we can anticipate a material increase is because He wants us to recognize that He is behind it. God has chosen to be invisible, but He wans us to experience His reality.
When we give, we should do so with a sense of anticipating a material increase from God even though we do not know how or when He may choose to provide it. Our experience has shown Him to be very creative! (Crown Biblical Financial Study Life Group Manual, p. 80)
That may not sound so bad. They’re encouraging people to give, after all, and to do so even if there’s no immediate or anticipated payoff. Plus, this view encourages people to view prosperity as being solely due to God’s providence, not human brilliance, which is good. But even this mild form of prosperity theology has a nasty side, and it shows up a few pages later:
Q: I thought the Bible says that if I give generously, God is supposed to prosper me. Why hasn’t this happened? I’m confused.
A: It’s important that you handle all your money God’s way. Some people are generous, but suffer financially because they’re dishonest or they don’t work hard or they use credit to spend more than they can afford. (p. 84, boldface in the original)
See the problem? If prosperity is a sign of God’s favor, then financial struggles must be a sign of God’s disfavor. If Crown promises that people who handle their money in a Godly way will inevitably be financially blessed, then anyone who is not being financially blessed is doing something wrong–according to the above quote, they’re lazy or dishonest. In other words, poor people are poor because it’s their own fault.
Have a look at that map. It shows the percentage of the population living on $2 a day or less. All those brown and orange places, according to Crown Financial Ministries, are places where everyone is doing something bad and God is therefore withholding money from them. To be fair, Crown never really deals with these implications and, indeed, contradicts them two chapters later with the reminder that good people sometimes don’t prosper. Still, they said it as unambiguously as possible. There was a diagram and everything.
It’s the prevalence of this kind of mistake that makes this course so worthless. Once you’ve run across a couple of misleading things, you can’t help but approach the material warily, carefully making sure that every claim the books make is actually correct. This eliminates the possibility of actually learning from the course, since you can’t evaluate anything it says that you didn’t know already, so any potentially new information is automatically suspect and best ignored.
Well, at least there are only two weeks left.
Map found here.