The Sunday Mail
Religious Affairs Acting Editor
KENNETH Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Bishop TD Jakes, TB Joshua, David Oyedepo are big names when it comes to televangelism.
Besides being renowned preachers, they have another thing in common: they are all multi-millionaires.
At the core of their message is what has become known as the prosperity gospel. And they live up to their prosperity gospel, owning private jets and living in monstrous houses.
They have inspired hundreds of other preachers across the world, including in Zimbabwe.
Proponents of the prosperity gospel says Jesus died on the cross to defeat the dark forces of poverty.
The argument is that God does not want his people to be drowned by lack and want.
Satan, the preachers say, uses poverty to trap the children of God.
But others say it is all about materialism, with little focus on God’s Commandments, and primarily serves to enrich the preachers while ironically impoverishing the majority of followers.
Wonderful International Ministries founder Prophet Henry Mandishona says this brand of preaching should speak to three things: prosperity of the body, soul and spirit.
“Prosperity is the reason why Jesus died on the cross. We get this from 3 John 2 which says, ‘Beloved, I wish above all things that thou may prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospers.
“The problem we have now is that some ministers are focusing on physical wealth instead of saving souls through preaching salvation first.
“The Bible says ‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you’. The Church needs to go back to basics.”
Prophet Mandishona emphasises that “gospel” means “good news” – which is prosperity.
“It’s incorrect that Christians and church leaders should be poor to prove that they are saved. Being poor isn’t righteousness,” he said.
Pastor Marcus Thomas of Siloam Ministries, says God brings prosperity against sin, death and poverty.
But Righteous Revival Ministries founder Apostle Tawanda Chikeya is convinced that the prosperity gospel is not biblical.
“In one of his first sermons to the multitudes on the mount in Matthew 6:19-24, Jesus taught that we should not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth. He is very clear that He wants to lead people to eternity, that is, to Heaven.
“In Matthew 19:16-26, a certain young rich ruler asked Jesus a very sensitive question, saying ‘what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?’ He told him to keep the Commandments and to sell all that he had and give to the poor for the young man to have treasure in Heaven. Jesus persists on his message of laying the treasures in Heaven not on earth.
“Jesus said ‘Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven’. He said it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom.”
Apostle Chikeya notes that Paul writes to Timothy counselling on the love of money.
1 Timothy 8-11 says: “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
“But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.”
Apostle Chikeya adds, “I charge everyone who will read this truth to have their minds enlightened. People are being deceived and many are lost believing in the gospel of prosperity not focusing on the truth that riches should be gathered in Heaven not on Earth, for where your treasure is your heart will be there also.
“Who is living in a mansion worth millions and wants Jesus to come? Who is driving cars worth millions and wants Jesus to return?
“Be careful with the gospel you celebrate because your Lord was rejected by His own Israelites because they wanted him to be a physical king yet He is a spiritual king. They wanted Him to minister into the worldly things and He refused.”