You can turn on the TV or go online and see Fundagelical preachers promising prosperity to anyone who will sow a seed of faith. In Fundagelical Christianese that means to send that particular preacher some money.
Televangelist and prosperity preachers live in huge mansions and fly around in private jets as “examples” of how God wants to prosper you. Of course, God has prospered them by your giving, not their giving. The whole idea of “seed faith” is one of the biggest fundraising tactics and an example of really bad theology.
First, let me say, borrowing lines from promoters of get-rich-quick schemes doesn’t promote confidence in me. Every con artist makes big promises. Want to make a fortune in real estate with no money down? There are dozens of “successful” millionaires who will share their secret techniques with you for only $1,995. What’s their secret? They sell courses on how to become millionaires. Anytime I hear that someone is so wealthy that they want to sell me the secret to their wealth, I know I’m about to be conned. “I became wealthy, send me money and I’ll tell you how.”
The prosperity gospel is just a variation on this con. “God made me wealthy, send me money and God will make you wealthy too.” The only difference is they aren’t sending you any secrets or courses in wealth building. I’m guessing they save a lot on printing cost.
One of the best fundraisers, the late Oral Roberts, was highly influential in spreading the concept of seed faith offerings, and he taught people to expect a miracle when they sow a “seed” from their “need.” He wrote, in Principles of the Seed,
“To realize your potential, to overcome life’s problems, to see your life become fruitful, multiply and provide abundance (i.e., health, prosperity, spiritual renewal, in the family or oneself), you should decide to follow the divine law of the sower and the harvest. Sow the seed of His promise in the ground of your need.”
In the July 1980 edition of Abundant Life, Roberts wrote,
“Solve your money needs with money seeds”
Kenneth Copeland in his book The Law of Prosperity says,
“You give – then it will be given to you again. The key is to give continually. As you are working in the Word and God’s prosperity is being produced in your life, you will reach a point -when your bread is coming back to you on every wave. It is your job to put it on the water. It is God’s job to see that it comes back! You do your job and let God do His; then you will be continually receiving. The more you give, the more you will get; the more you get, the more you will have to give. God intended for these things to work this way. When you get to this point, more will be coming in than you can give away!”
The proof texts offered for this bad theology are taken out of context. The idea that God multiplies seeds a hundred-fold comes from Mark 4:8. “Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” This verse is lifted from its larger context. It comes from the parable of the sower. It definitely isn’t about money. In fact, when Jesus explains the parable, He identifies the seed with the word of God. “The sower sows the word.” Mark 4:14.
A favorite proof text, I have heard sermons preached on, is Luke 6:38. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” Now that sounds promising. Except it has nothing to do with money. Look at the previous verse, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven;” Luke 6:37. The context is in giving forgiveness. Imagine that, if you are a gracious and forgiving person, other people, and God, will be gracious and forgiving to you.
“Seed faith” teaching is in direct disagreement with the teachings of Jesus. In Luke 6, Jesus teaches that to do good deeds in hopes of receiving something back isn’t the way of His kingdom. “Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you?” Our charitable acts, as followers of Christ, should be done expecting nothing in return. If we give to God expecting a hundred-fold profit, how are we any different than a common Ponzi scheme investor?
In 2 Corinthians 9:10-12, Paul writes about seeds, “He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God.”
In this case, God, not the human person, provides the seeds. The seed is righteousness, and the harvest is also righteousness. The other enrichment promised is thanksgiving. Paul was asking for money to support Christians in need; charity is an act of righteousness. (Righteousness is the fair and equitable treatment of others.) Practicing righteousness trains us to be Christ-like. We are promised to become more righteous the more we practice. That makes sense. I tend to get better at the things I practice. What I don’t see is any promise of monetary gain.
One question that must always be asked about theology is this: what does our theology say about God? “Seed faith” theology says that God will not act unless you do something first. Apparently, God is like everyone else; He only returns favors. It doesn’t sound much like Grace. “Seed faith” theology is a big step back into tribal god thinking. The word “Cult” has the same root word as “Agriculture.” Agriculture is the care of the land. Religious cults take care of their gods. If you give your gods what they need, food, sacrifices, virgins, then the gods will give you back something. My God is self-sufficient and doesn’t need anything. He doesn’t need me to take care of Him. In fact, He went out of His way to take care of my needs. He expected nothing in return. I respond to God’s gifts, not the other way around. “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
A final word, often those who preach “seed faith” present people that testify how they gave money and then received large amounts of money back. However, I’d like to see a few statistics. Maybe a comparison between how many people gave and how many people received. I bet the number of people who received and are featured giving their testimonies, are a very small percentage compared to those who gave and received nothing.
Of course, if you received nothing, it’s due to your lack of faith. Oral Roberts says that you must give “Expecting a miracle.” It must be nice for conmen to have an easy out for when the promised miracle doesn’t materialize. “Sorry folks, you just didn’t have enough faith.”
The early Church fell prey to hustlers and conmen just like the later Church does. Peter wrote, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive opinions. They will even deny the Master who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Even so, many will follow their licentious ways, and because of these teachers the way of truth will be maligned. And in their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words. Their condemnation, pronounced against them long ago, has not been idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” (2 Peter 2:1-3)
Thanks for reading, don’t forget to like the post and subscribe if you haven’t already. You can watch my vlog at Rev’s Reels on YouTube. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Join me and a bunch of other former Fundagelicals at Open Door Ministries in Westminster at the Westminster Mall every Sunday.