The Old Testament Promise Of Material Blessings And The Contemporary Believer -- By: Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 09:2 (Fall 1988)
Article: The Old Testament Promise Of Material Blessings And The Contemporary Believer
Author: Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.


The Old Testament Promise Of Material
Blessings And The Contemporary Believer

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.

Trinity Evangelical Divinity School Deerfield, Illinois

Can the OT be interpreted as advocating a prosperity gospel of wealth, health and success? Are such passages as Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 28 and Psalm 37 fairly understood as supporting a theology of affluence? Can we revise the proverb to say “Early to faith and early to obedience, makes a person healthy, wealthy and wise”? Regardless of anything else?

Such questions are being answered affirmatively by an increasingly large number of evangelicals and some positive thinkers. In fact the promise of wealth, health, and success is too tempting for many to resist. Unfortunately, this so-called “gospel of success” tries to appeal to biblical authority and examples. Prominent among the lists of alleged biblical proof-texts are a number of passages from the OT.

These challenges, apart from any other reasons are more than adequate to call the academic and believing community to express what is the OT case for the legitimate enjoyment of the material aspects of our culture. There is, of course, a theology of culture in the OT. It is grounded in our positive affirmation and God’s approbation of the created order. There is also a holistic approach to the spiritual and material aspects of reality.

The sad fact is that few have ventured into those portions of Scripture that call for a balanced approach to the questions of wealth, health, and success. Instead, success, and the determined quest for it alone, is spoiling America’s “worldly evangelicals.”1

It is important that we first understand who the advocates of the prosperity gospel are and what it is that they are claiming. The prosperity gospel does not appear to belong to any particular denominational group or brand of theology; in fact, it is so broadly spread over the American scene that it defies any easy categorization theologically. At times it has the emphasis of the possibility

or positive thinking of a Robert Schuller and a Norman Vincent Peale. At other times it appears to be the private preserve of faith-healing groups. But more than all of these it rests on our culture’s heavy involvement with an affluent suburban Christianity.

Some of the more visible personalities in this broadly based group include Kenneth Hagin, pastor of the Rhema Bible Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Kenneth and Gl...

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