I entered my pastor’s office in a heated fury. I was newly converted and had suddenly realized that the prosperity gospel is a lie. I roared with rookie passion, “I’m going to do something about this prosperity-gospel deception! I’m going to take those heretics down—every last one of them!”
My pastor, undeterred by my zeal, calmly sat back in his chair. “Have a seat, Costi.”
For the next several minutes he schooled me on the primary role of a pastor and the importance of faithfulness in the local church. He went on to explain that God has a “good handle” on his gospel and would call me if needed. Until then, I was to remember my call to pastor the people God had placed in front of me.
Humbled, and rightfully delayed, I was directed into years devoted primarily to quiet study and local service. Before long, my pastor’s wisdom helped me understand the important process of listening and learning before leading.
5 Books on the Prosperity Gospel
As I studied, the Lord used certain books to help unravel and realign certain beliefs. Here are the top five that shaped me in that season and continue to do so today:
1. Health, Wealth, and Happiness by David W. Jones and Russell S. Woodbridge
In my opinion, there is no better first book on the prosperity gospel. It’s short, to the point, and packs a biblical punch that knocks out the prosperity gospel.
In my opinion, there is no better first book on the prosperity gospel.
They name names in an objective way, quote and cite sources, and teach biblical truth. If someone asks you, “What is actually wrong with prosperity theology?” this book will answer quickly and clearly.
2. Prosperity? Seeking the True Gospel by Mbugua, Maura, Mbewe, Grudem, Piper
Written by a team of men who know this topic firsthand, this book offers a perspective like none other. Conrad Mbewe has called the prosperity gospel the number-one U.S. export to Africa and along with other authors has battled this issue for decades. This book is written in everyday language and addresses topics like suffering, misinterpreting Scripture, true blessings, and the true gospel. (Fun fact about this book: It was produced as an international-outreach project by TGC and was written as a result of the partnership between TGC and African Christian Textbooks Trustees.)
3. Managing God’s Money by Randy Alcorn
One of the most presumptuous arguments I hear goes something like, “If the prosperity gospel is so evil, are we all supposed to just live in poverty? God doesn’t want us to be blessed?” This couldn’t be more misguided. Thankfully, Randy Alcorn wrote a book all about managing money. It teaches balanced principles from the Bible that help us discern God’s will for us as money-managers. He covers materialism, generosity, poverty, prosperity, eternal perspectives on money, and more. Everything in this book points back to one thing: God’s Word on the topic of money.
4. Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel by Kate Bowler
This isn’t something you’re going to read in a few days. It’s thick—loaded with citations, quotes, charts, and more. Think of it as a prosperity-gospel textbook more than anything else. Bowler isn’t looking to “slam dunk” heretics so much as help us see things historically and objectively before drawing conclusions. She shares numerous anecdotes from her research experiences, including a trip to Israel with my Uncle Benny. Her firsthand experiences are helpful, and the information about the prosperity gospel’s history and expansive influence on churches in America and around the world is overwhelming.
5. The History of New Thought: From Mind Cure to Positive Thinking and the Prosperity Gospel by John S. Haller Jr.
This is another textbook that traces the lineage of prosperity theology. Haller’s work delves deeply into mystical and metaphysical beliefs and practices throughout history, and provides a clear sketch of New Thought characters like Phineas Quimby, Mary Baker Eddy, and more. This academically rigorous work is incredibly helpful for the Bible student who wants to know how “name-it-and-claim-it” theology evolved.
Know the Truth
It should be noted that other books on suffering and the sovereignty of God are relevant when reshaping our minds and guarding against prosperity-gospel infiltration. No doubt many other topics need to be rightly understood.
Regardless of your title or vocation, seek to better grasp gospel truth. By knowing and loving the truth, you will strengthen your ability to spot and defy dangerous error.