Religious Impact of Prosperity Preaching on Sustainable Economic Development

Religious Impact of Prosperity Preaching on Sustainable Economic Development 


Religious Impact:

The prosperity gospel is damaging the world for many reasons, especially in Africa. The five reasons for the negative consequences are :


1. It is mixed with occultism birthing cultic theology:

Before Christianity came to Africa, people visited witch doctors and sacrificed goats or cows for prosperity. They poured libations on the ground so the gods would hear their prayers. Today similar practices continue because the prosperity preachers have replaced the Ifa priests. There are stories of church ministers who buried live animals under the floor of their churches to win people’s favor. The people who follow these prosperity preachers are reminded that their promised windfall won’t materialize unless they give large donations of money or properties. 


2. It drives greed by fueling self-indulgence:

The prosperity preacher teaches people to focus on getting, not giving. Church members are continually urged to sow financial seeds to reap more significant rewards. In Africa, Christian revivals are dedicated to collecting offerings to achieve wealth. Preachers tell their followers that their physical prosperity measures spirituality. This greed preached from the pulpit spreads like the plague in God’s house.


3. It promotes conceit:

The greedy atmosphere in prosperous churches has produced arrogance and a warped leadership style. A Kenyan, Gideon Thuranira, the editor of Christian Professional magazine, called these men “churchpreneurs.” They plant churches not because they have a burden to reach lost souls but see different currencies of the world when they fill an auditorium with chairs. The most successful prosperity preacher is dangerous because he can convince a crowd that Jesus died to give you a Lexus, airplane, or several mansions. In Nigeria, there are many cases of these preachers accumulating fabulous wealth and living in luxury as their followers become poorer.


4. It works against the formation of Christian character:

The prosperity gospel is a poor imitation of the true gospel because it leaves no room for brokenness, suffering, humility, or delay. Prosperity preachers promise instant results and overnight success; if you don’t get your breakthrough, it is because you are not giving enough offering. Jesus calls us to deny ourselves and follow Him; prosperity preaching calls us to deny Jesus and follow our materialistic lusts. Some church ministers are so set on getting rich; that they cannot go through the process of discipleship that requires self-denial. Spiritual formation has been scrapped for materials formation.


5. It keeps people in poverty:

The government of Malawi was once under international scrutiny because of fraud carried out by top leaders. The so-called “Cashgate” scandal is that professing Christians in the administration of President Joyce Banda were implicated. One of these people stole millions of kwacha from the government and hid the cash in a teddy bear! Most people in Malawi live on less than $1 a day, yet their leaders have been known to buy fleets of cars and vast plots of land with money that was not theirs. Sadly, the prosperity gospel preached in Malawi has encouraged pastors and leaders to follow the same corrupt pattern. As a result, God’s people have been financially exploited.


The same thing happened in Nigeria during the administration of Goodluck Jonathan when the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria was implicated in the South African government’s seized cash from his plane. Jesus described false prophets as wolves in sheep’s clothing. Churches have been increasing in many parts of Africa today, yet sub-Saharan Africa is the only region where poverty has increased in the past 25 years. So, according to the statistics, the prosperity gospel is not bringing prosperity! It makes their followers poorer, so it is a flawed message! 


The Bankruptcy of the Prosperity Gospel:

Over one hundred years ago, the renowned pastor, Charles H. Spurgeon said to the then-largest congregation in all Christendom:

I believe it is anti-Christian and unholy for any Christian to live with the object of accumulating wealth. You will say, “Are we not to strive all we can to get all the money we can?” You may do so. I cannot doubt what, in so doing, you may do service to the cause of God. But what I said was that to live with the object of accumulating wealth is anti-Christian. [1]


Due, in part, to the rise of several ungodly philosophies and movements,[2] a new gospel is being taught today. This gospel has been ascribed many names, such as the “name it and claim it gospel,” the “blab it and grab it gospel,” the “health and wealth gospel,” the “word of faith movement,” the “gospel of success,” the “prosperity gospel,” and “positive confession theology.” In the words of Robert Tilton, one of the prosperity gospel’s most well-known spokesmen: 

I believe that it is the will of God for all to prosper because I see it in the Word [of God], not because it has worked mightily for someone else. I do not put my eyes on men, but on God who gives me the power to get wealth. [3] 

Preachers of the prosperity gospel encourage their followers to demand of God everything from modes of transportation to homes, furniture, and hefty bank accounts.


Prosperity Gospel and the Spirit of Capitalism:

Ihenacho (2012)[4] observes that the contemporary Nigerian church is submerged in society’s quest for material benefits. Capitalistic tendencies have replaced spiritual growth and moral sanctity toward eternal life, and nothing is sacred when it comes to this spirit of capitalism. The preachers of Prosperity Gospel declare very sick people suffer from disorders that cannot be treated in hospitals but only through their spiritual intervention. They charge exorbitant fees even before attempting a cure. Elements such as oil, handkerchief, water, etc., are sold at exorbitant costs to their followers for miracles. 


They prey on these people in search of miracles in their troubled lives. The Nigerian Punch newspaper of 18th May 2011 published a headline: “Africa’s wealthiest Pastors in Nigeria spend $225 million on Private Jets”. In the News was David Oyedepo of Winners Chapel, believed to be Africa’s most prosperous gospel preacher. Oyedepo owns a private collection of four expensive aircraft and a private hangar to park them. The overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, is another owner of a $30 million Gulfstream jet among others. Pastor S. Adeyemi, the founder of Daystar Christian Centre and a preacher of the financial prosperity gospel, also owns a jet. The spirit of capitalism has also seized the people who hear the prosperity gospel sermons. As Ayang (2011) points out: “nobody wants to attend a church service where the pastor dresses in simple clothes, rides a bicycle and lives in a low-income house.” The people will not believe such a pastor can perform miracles.


Consequences of Prosperity Message for Public Morality:

The preaching of the prosperity gospel threatens the nobility and integrity of the Christian faith. The zeal to gain wealth, by all means, harms the African nations. That is why crimes like armed robbery, kidnapping, ritualism, fraudsters, and so on have increased. Many people have fallen prey to these prosperity ministers. Some false preachers use socio-psychological manipulations to control and exploit their victims. They use techniques like altered states of consciousness, peer pressure, expectations, and hypnotic suggestions to prey on their victims. They falsely claim to anoint God by selling items like handkerchiefs, water, oil, and candles of different colors. The implications of prosperity preaching on African nations include loss of Godly character, loss of faith, lack of personal economic security, and the people’s general well-being.


  •   [1] Tom Carted, ed., 2,200 Quotations from the Writings of Charles H. Spurgeon (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988), 216.
  • [2] While it is impossible to trace the prosperity gospel back to an exact starting point, there are at least three movements from which it draws its ideas. One is experience-centered Christianity, birthed in the mind of nineteenth-century theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher and has come to fruition in the form of the twentieth-century Charismatic movement. A second philosophy that gave rise to the prosperity gospel was the “positive thinking” school of Norman Vincent Peale. Indeed, scholar Harvey Cox wrote concerning the prosperity gospel, “it owed much to the ‘positive thinking of the late Norman Vincent Peale.” Harvey Cox, Fire from Heaven (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1995), 272. The third modern movement influencing the prosperity gospel is simply the “American dream,” or materialism.
  • [3] Robert Tilton, God’s Word about Prosperity (Dallas, TX: Word of Faith Publications, 1983), 6.
  • [4] N. Ihenacho, “A Critical look at Contemporary Nigerian Christianity Society for Research and Academic Excellence,”

2 thoughts on “Religious Impact of Prosperity Preaching on Sustainable Economic Development

Leave a Reply