MARCH 22, 2005
BEWARE OF PROSPERITY PREACHING!
I am writing this because of Dave, who sent me a tape from Unity and asked me to pray for him. One of the things he wanted from God was more "prosperity."
After speaking with him, listening to the tape, and sleeping on it, God gave me some dreams that carried insights. Beware of Prosperity Preaching!
It starts out innocently enough, as with the teachings of it's greatest minister, Catherine Ponder. But it ends up like this:
Unless you have material prosperity, your faith isn't good enough, you have not attained what God has to offer, and you should be ASHAMED OF YOURSELF. I spoke of this before, as in the Trinity "Jet Plane Faith" trip. In the end, this kind of thinking makes the rich think they are blessed and the poor, that they have been passed over, that they have failed. The middle class think they just ain't got it - faith - to the degree the rich folks have. But all of this flies in the face of the teachings of Jesus, Buddah, and all the great saints of all religions. What starts out innocent ends up faulty and sinful.
Catherine Ponder errs not in what she says, but in what she leaves out. She leaves out the goodness of suffering! All of prosperity, and much of Protestant theology, leaves this out. It is as if this earth was a Heaven and we have to receive all abundance, all fulfillment, on earth! Nothing could be farther from the truth! Earth is not a place of fulfillment, at best, partial satisfaction, but earth is a place of expiation, learning, karma, and PAYING FOR SINS so that we can have FULFILLMENT IN ETERNITY. How are we to pay for our sins when we have all the goodies God has to offer here and now? If we have the health, the wealth, the relationships, the material goods, then how are we not like the hedonists and materialists, who live only for the world, flesh and devil?
No, my friend, Prosperity Preaching is all mixed up, it is far from the truth, it is not perfection. Those who follow it are destined to be mixed up and sorrowful, for they will not be One in Union with God.
Now if one were to follow Catherine Ponder exactly as she wrote it, with saintly perfection, there is a possibility one might not err - too much. There is a margin here where you can go either right or left, wrong or right. If you stay right, you will understand the first law of Prosperity is Union with God, Union of your will, your soul, your mind, your Heart, with God - and that is the only REAL prosperity. If you have that, you have it all. The rest is not important to that. But if you go left, it becomes,
"God is the universal supply, the infinite storehouse. All I have to do is have faith, and demand that I have all the goods of life. I must have good relationships, good health, abundance, material resources and all that life, and God has to offer. The only things keeping me from this are my faith, my belief, my own consciousness. Set my consciousness right and all the goodness of life and God will start pouring into me."
This is not right at all, I assure you. You don't know what is good for you. You don't know what lessons you will learn from relationships that hurt! You don't know how much merit will come to you from poverty! You don't know how many sins and karma you will pay for by illness! Your earthly want and need, your suffering, your emptiness, is all merit gained for yourself and the salvation of others. Suffering burns up karma, burns up sin. Suffering purifies, cleanses your soul so you get brighter and become a more evolved saint. Now if you push away suffering and demand "Heaven" on earth in terms of not Nirvana, but physical goods on earth, you have gone left, and that is not God, it is like the path to Hell. After all, the thing that separates saints from regular mortals is saints are willing to suffer, and do whatever it takes to have perfect union to the Will of God. Those who are not willing to suffer are not willing to pay the price for union with God. Some of these are the lukewarm, and some are bent for Hell.
I cannot stress this enough: Prosperity is not the way of perfection. Perfection is union with the will of God, no matter what that brings, including hardships and suffering. Hardships and suffering is the path all saints and yogis take. Renunciation, not prosperity, is the key. Now you might ask,
"But doesn't God ever want us to have prosperity and happiness on earth?"
Yes, it does happen that we have happiness on earth, but usually after long and hard sufferings. God gives us rewards, and God gives us what we need. But to dwell on physical/material prosperity will not bring us closer to God, it will take us closer to Hell. We are not supposed to have cravings, desires that go too far. You can have some legitimate desires, but they must be kept under control, always being relinquished if God wants otherwise.
The other problem with the Prosperity Preaching is that it makes the prosperous self righteous and look down at the poor. They look at the poor as if there is something wrong with them, when in fact, spiritually, there may be nothing wrong at all. They may have faults that have nothing to do with spirituality, like the lack of intelligence, social skills, talents and the like, but they might have perfectly good hearts. On another note, the poor are not poor because they sinned, necessarily. It does sometimes happen that sin leads to poverty, but usually, it does not. In fact, some of the biggest sinners are the wealthiest. They got there by the age-old adage of "might makes right." They got there by sins of their ancestors, who stole and exploited. A lot of this is done legally these days, by professions such as insurance, medical and other big rip-off institutions. People are getting rich - but does that mean they are right with God? Wealthiness, if used as a measure of being close to God, is one of the most foolish axioms I have ever heard of. It usually is the other way around, with the saints saying more rich people are falling into Hell than poor.
In yoga, they call those who pray for THINGS - whatever those things are - HERON MEDITATORS. The heron stands silently and meditates on fish, and he catches them. But does that mean he is a great yogi? You may meditate on God and give God the list of things you want, but then you have reduced God to Santa Claus, the Wish-Fulfilling Tree, the Wish-Fulfilling Cow and the like. God is there for what we can get out of Her/Him. Is this the way you want to be loved? Do you want to be loved for what you have and what you can give, or do you want to be loved, just for yourself? Loving God for THINGS is false love, it is not real at all.
Loving God in PERFECTION, the way the saints love God, is to love God for HERSELF. What do you get from that? You get into the consciousness of God, the reality of God. God lives in you in reality, in truth, in vision, in righteousness and love. To have more of God is to have more Truth, Love, Vision, Understanding and the like. This is loving God for God, not things. Fill your pockets with money, your house with things, and drive the best car. Is that perfection? Nonsense!
It all boils down to CHARITY. Have charity for God, for yourself and for others. This is a tall order and this is what we strive for. This also takes discernment, because we cannot open ourselves to the demonics and the users. We have to be careful. Nobody said life was easy. Maybe it is a mine field, but yet, we have to walk through it.
The real prosperity, not against God, is that God can and will give us what we need, when we need it. Let God decide when and how much. Meanwhile, the greatest task of perfection is to be satisfied with what we have, to try and help others when we can, and love God daily no matter how hard life is. I could never be a righteous minister preaching the Protestant Prosperity teachings. It is so against charity, so against the poor, it goes against everything of God and the saints. I do believe that God will give us all that we need to help others and for our great eternal life.
Words that come to mind are "Go, sell all you have, give to the poor and follow me."
Jesus said this to the rich young man who followed every rule except that one - which means giving up all for God. It reminds me of the Orthodox Jew who loves Kosher food, so he eats it. He keeps the Sabbath and all the rules, but one. That is the rule of sex. That is the one rule he will not keep. He has demons of lust, and he wants them. This reminds me of the Prosperity people. They will give God everything they have but their wealth. They will praise God and pray, giving God their time, attention and "love." But they want God to pay them, here and now, for what they give to God! What rubbish!
I think of Holy Buddhism, how great it is, and how against this type of "prosperity." Buddhism says that suffering is caused by desires. Specifically, these are not desires for God, but other things. "Prosperity" falls into those "other things" as taught by Unity and Protestants. Buddhism teaches that Nirvana, or Heaven on Earth, is attained by detachment, not attachment, to things. By relinquishing our desires of the earth, for material situations, we become free. Prosperity teaches the other way around. It teaches a road to Hell. It says that we must have faith for more and more. I know they will deny this, but listen to them carefully. In the tape sent me by David, the Unity minister even used the word "demand" a few times. We have the right to demand all we want!
Does the clay tell the potter what kind of a pot it has to be? What color, what shape and size? What right has the pot to demand anything? We are mere finite creatures of an Infinite God who knows all, sees all, can do all things. Prosperity and Unity says that as we "align" ourselves to God, we receive all that the Infinite has to give. But the Infinite isn't handing out welfare checks, the Infinite gives Spiritual Graces and Gifts, so we can be happy with God now and in eternity. These gifts are virtues, like the evangelical virtues - poverty, chastity and obedience; like patience, temperance, modesty, fear of the Lord, kindness, fortitude, equanimity, long-suffering, knowledge and understanding, discernment, counsel and many other things. Then there is Faith, Hope and Charity. Then there are mystical gifts like visions of the mind, the inner senses and the outer senses. There are the movements of the Heart. There are great gifts of self sacrifice and martyrdom. Where does wealth come in? To desire wealth becomes a craving, like an addiction, a sickness. All the world has it. Is the world happy? Is the world going to Heaven or Hell? The world is the broad highway to Hell, and the world wants THINGS. It is by wanting THINGS of the world, and the flesh, that we are tricked into turning our backs on God and ending up in Hell. Remember the rich man who made a feast and sent his servants to go get his "friends."
All his "friends" were busy with the things of the world (not with sin) and begged off. The rich man was angry and had the sort of "derelicts" of the world called in for the supper. This is an analogy of the rich and busy, against the poor and obscure. The poor, in this story, appreciated the Kingdom of God. The rich and busy did not.
Unity/Prosperity will be you, craving material things and keeping busy with appearances and earthly commitments.
In my early theological days I studied Mary Baker Eddy's Christian Science, so I know that Unity is an offshoot of it. (So is Science of Mind.) It was around 1971 that I began studying "Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures." After that I subscribed to the literature, read it for years, and also read the two-volume life of Mary Baker Eddy. Mary Baker Eddy had a new slant on Christianity, and it was metaphysical and spiritual. She was against "materia medica" and the evidence of the senses and the physical. But somewhere within all this was that germ of prosperity, and aligning ourselves to the Infinite Mind, and receiving everything out of it.
A few comments about Mary Baker Eddy's life and work. First, she was so poor that she had to give her son to foster parents. Her dentist husband ran away with another woman and never helped her or their child. She was desperate. For years she barely survived, but during that time she did a lot of thought and study. One thing she studied was a metaphysical manuscript by a doctor named Quimby called "Science and Health." She had had a serious fall on the ice and was intent on getting healed, and this fine man did spiritual healing and loaned her his manuscript. I have the book "The Quimby Manuscripts." In it are chapters like "Christ or Science," "The World of the Senses," "Disease and Healing," and so on. Sounds like "Christian Science" to me, but Mary Baker Eddy forever claimed it was not the same thing. Nor did she admit being inspired by this man or his written beliefs.
Mary Baker Eddy worked nine years on putting together her religion, and when she finally had it in book form, charged students almost a thousand dollars each to learn to "heal." That was a phenomenal sum in those days. Mary Baker Eddy went from poverty to wealth in a short time, through the success of her religion.
Why did her religion prosper for a time? It was because people went to her, paid their money, and put out a shingle saying "Doctor." In other words, they were all doctors of healing, and when the medical was an inexact science, faith was as good as anything else. Many people who went to these "doctors" actually were healed - because faith does heal. There were a lot of theories of why healing works, but most people - neither the healers nor the healed - really got into it deeply.
It's all about believing the spiritual reality rather than the material reality and the senses, and to hold on to the belief which is positive and good and deny the evil and negative. These are fine theories. So in other words, do not believe in the cancer in your body but affirm healing, and this sort of belief can heal you. (Mary Baker Eddy was adamant that this was not faith, but science....blind faith is not a healer, but science, or understanding, heals!) Catherine Ponder went into every minute detail of this kind of belief, believing in all things good on every level, affirming all things good, and allowing all things good to happen. Naturally, it works, as the mind is a powerful thing.
get to how this went astray in a moment. But first, what happened to Christian
Science? Of itself, there was a decline. Why? Because medical science became
exact and could help many more people. People did not have to go to "faith
healers" when their doctor knew what was wrong with them and could give
them a prescription. And so, people took what they wanted from the religion
and turned it into "Science of Mind" and "Unity."
Christian Science still exists, but it is not flourishing.
Where the theories went astray is that instead of affirming health and other positive things - which was the main thrust - they began affirming wealth. People wanted wealth. They had more of health than ever, from medical science. But wealth wasn't so easy. You couldn't go to a CPA and get it. So they began to use faith for prosperity/aka money. The best of the teachers did not emphasize money, but the ministers today do. It is despicable, because it does not bring people closer to God.
What is so damming is that it has some good elements, and people are fooled by the bit of good into believing the whole thing. People are confused - they are not saints. They are not on the highest level of evolution and the ministers they look to for guidance are leading them off the straight and narrow road.
recap the whole thing: Believe in God, that all things will work out for the
good. Do not believe in THINGS or that THINGS will make you happy. THINGS
bring you to a dead-end road. Trust in God, that God will take care of you
through thick or thin, rich or poor, and that God loves you no matter where
you are. Being poor, in most cases, or being rich, was not caused by the individual.
It is ancestors, family, situations out of our control that make us rich or
poor. It is nothing to be proud of to be rich nor ashamed of to be poor. Nor
is it shameful to be suffering, to be sick, to be needy. All the saints suffered,
most saints were poor, and all those who reach God go through terrible hardships.
There is no Heaven on Earth, but it is in Eternity. The joy we have on earth
is fleeting and temporary. Don't try to attain physical Nirvana, as it never
happens. Spiritual Nirvana does happen, but you must give up all craving for
things and people to get there. And even so, spiritual Nirvana is not constant.
There are "dark nights of the soul" for all saints.
Take all Prosperity Preaching with a fifty-pound block of salt.