“The doctrine of prosperity they teach has nothing whatsoever to do with the true gospel of Jesus Christ. They are promoting crass superstition blended with false doctrines purloined from assorted Gnostic and metaphysical cults, cloaked in Christian terms and symbols. It is not authentic Christianity.” (John MacArthur, Strange Fire, available at Cleveland's Visible Voice Books)
MacArthur begins his book by not so subtlety sharing his disdain for the belief in “seed faith”, a teaching that is popular in charismatic circles. The idea is based on Paul’s words in scripture that “you reap what you sow” (Galatians 6) and Paul’s words that whoever “sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6).
While Paul’s words in Galatians speak more broadly about choices we make, his words in Corinthians are directly tied to money and giving. While MacArthur may find it offensive that some teachers talk about giving in order to receive from God, the idea is not foreign to scripture.
Indeed, in one of the most oft quoted verses about tithing and giving we read, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10).
As Mike Murdock, the controversy over tithing has never been about giving, it has been about whether or not one should expect a harvest for the seed one has planted. MacArthur makes his view clear, equating this belief with superstition and cults. The reader will have to determine where they stand after considering the context of the above verses. The important thing to recognize is whichever side one falls on, the teaching of men like Oral Roberts and Creflo Dollar is not something they simply made up, but was founded on a particular interpretation of biblical claims.
MacArthur next claims his main point in his entire book, what he calls a “flaw that accounts for just about every theological aberration or abnormality that makes its home within the Charismatic Movement. It is this: Pentecostals and charismatics elevate religious experience over biblical truth” (emphasis in original).
While this is a broad generalization to be sure, is it true? While MacArthur draws on bizarre examples and extravagant testimonies, is this a valid argument? In the next article we will examine this claim and consider more of MacArthur’s work.