“Hardline evangelicals dismiss the prosperity gospel as unchristian.”

Not all of them, I’m afraid.

My father’s evangelical Southern Baptist church does not mince their words in their condemnation of Joel Osteen. “He’s not telling people the truth, only telling them what they want to hear,” they say. “He doesn’t preach about Hell.”

And yet, when it comes time to pass the collection plate, their rhetoric sounds an awful lot like Osteen’s prosperity gospel.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard my father parrot his church’s catchphrase, “You can’t outgive God.”

His claim: tithe your 10%, and God will make sure that money comes back to you twofold with success in your business. Give more than 10% and your reward will be even greater.

I wouldn’t have as much of a problem with his giving to the church if he could afford it. But I’ve seen him donate $400 and then be unable to pay his mortgage for that month.

When I try to tell him he can’t afford to keep tithing like that, he just says, “I can’t afford not to.”

Writer.

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