Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Reformed Health and Wealth Gospel

Don't Call It a Comeback: The Old Faith for a New Day (Gospel Coalition the Gospel Coalition)The second chapter of Don't Call It a Comeback is by Collin Hansen and is entitled The Story of Evangelicalism from the Beginning and Before.  It is a sweeping overview of the history of evangelicalism, alerting the reader to the key figures, dates and movements that have formed much of the foundation of today's evangelical church.

In this chapter, Hansen points out that in the last century, "Pentacostals have outpaced the growth of all other expressions of evangelicalism."  While not disparaging Pentacostalism as a whole, he goes on to point out, "Unfortunately, the Pentacostal impulse is all too often accompanied by an appeal to God to grant health and wealth in return for faith."

This statement prompted a series of thoughts in my mind.  Indeed, far too often Christians (and not just Pentacostals either) want to make this kind of bargain with God: "health and wealth" in exchange for "our faith." For most solidly Reformed theologians, this kind of deal is anathema.  I would argue though, that not only is God okay with that bargain, it is exactly what he wants.

Now before you pull together a committee to revoke my Reformed credentials, hear me out.  There is a key (and far too often misunderstood) truth that needs to be taken into account in order to grasp what I am saying here.  Namely, this is that "our faith" is not really "our faith" at all.  It is a gift from God.  As Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."

You see, our faith is not something we give God, but rather something he gives to us.  In order for there to be an exchange then, it is not God who gives us health and wealth, but rather we who give it to him, not as a bill to be paid, but as a joyful expression of thanks for what he has so graciously done for us.  All of our physical well-being, all of our finances, all of everything we have really, ought to be laid at the feet of the Lord.  This is the only kind of "health and wealth gospel" of which the Bible truly speaks. 


Jeff B. said...

Well said Pete.

Pete Scribner said...

Thanks Jeff. I hope you are having nice weather and a great time!