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Prosperity teacher Joyce Meyer changes mind on suffering

Joyce Meyer, an uber-popular and influential American charismatic Christian author and speaker, has told a US audience that her views on prosperity and faith had got “out of balance.”

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Meyer, who heads up the multi-million-dollar Joyce Meyer Ministries, has been repeatedly criticised for some of her teachings and her lavish lifestyle. Her teachings have been labelled the “prosperity gospel” – the belief that financial prosperity comes from having enough faith, and therefore that problems in life come from a lack of faith.

“If your child died, you didn’t have enough faith. Well, that’s not right.” – Joyce Meyer

However, in a video clip of a recent sermon on the book of Galatians – which has been shared thousands of times on social media – Meyer says, “I don’t care how much faith you’ve got, you’re not going to avoid ever having trouble in your life.”

Here is what she said: “[In] the Word and Faith movement back in the ’60s and the ’70s, [there was] lot of teaching in that about prosperity … I thank God for it. God touched my life back then in a powerful way because I knew I was saved by grace, but I didn’t know anything about using my faith for anything other than just salvation. Faith is something God gives you that you need to use and release in your life. It’s a powerful force, but it’s not just automatic. You put your trust in God. You put your faith in Him.”

Meyer continued, “I’m glad for what I learned about prosperity, but it got out of balance. I’m glad for what I learned about faith, but it got out of balance. So every time somebody had a problem in their life, it was because they didn’t have enough faith. If you got sick, you didn’t have enough faith. If your child died, you didn’t have enough faith. Well, that’s not right. There’s nowhere in the Bible where we’re promised that we’ll never have any trouble. I don’t care how much faith you’ve got. You’re not going to avoid ever having trouble in your life.”

“Everything that’s good doesn’t always stay good.” – Joyce Meyer

Meyer’s comments do not back away entirely from prosperity teaching, but rather point to it as an example of one “movement” among many that has got ‘out of balance’.

“Everything that’s good doesn’t always stay good,” Meyer said. “It seems like we, as Christians, just don’t know how to stay out of the ditch … You have to be very careful about veering away from the truth.

“Balance is so important. And to be honest, we are just not real great at it.”

Meyer does not pretend to be a systematic theologian, but prior Christian minds have defined a balanced view.

“Gain all you can, save all you can, then give all you can” is how John Wesley, in many ways the father of the Pentecostal movement as well as Methodism, summed up a balanced approach in his sermon number 50.

There has always been a link between Christianity and relative prosperity. The habits of sobriety, faithfulness in marriage and hard work are some of the fruits of the gospel, and cause people to prosper.

Meyer’s new insight is that prosperity is not automatic, or something grasped by faith. To her left, critics like the economic historian and socialist R. H. Tawney, in his Religion and the Rise of Capitalism saw seeking wealth as something that leads people away from Christ, with a desire to make money replacing following Jesus.

When seeking a balance, Wesley deserves the last word.

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