Argument against the prosperity doctrine and determinism
by Andrea Elizabeth
From the Prolog of Ohrid for today:
THE HOLY FORTY-TWO MARTYRS FROM AMMORIA
They were all commanders of the Byzantine Emperor Theophilus. When the Emperor Theophilus lost the battle against the Saracens at the city of Ammoria, the Saracens captured the city, enslaved many Christians and among them these commanders. The remaining Christians were either killed or sold into slavery. The commanders were thrown into prison where they remained for seven years. Many times the Muslim leaders came to them. They counseled and advised the commanders to embrace the Islamic Faith, but the commanders did not want to hear about it. When the Saracens spoke to the commanders, saying, “Mohammed is the true prophet and not Christ,” the commanders asked them, “If there were two men debating about a field and the one said, `This field is mine,’ and the other, `It is not, it is mine,’ and near by, one of them had many witnesses saying it is his field and the other had no witnesses, but only himself, what would you say, `Whose field is it?'” The Saracens answered, “Indeed, to him who had many witnesses!” “You have judged correctly,” the commanders answered. That is the way with Christ and Mohammed. Christ has many witnesses: the Prophets of old, from Moses to John the Forerunner, whom you also recognize and who witness to and about Him [Christ], but Mohammed witnesses only to himself that he is a prophet and does not have even one witness. The Saracens were ashamed and again they tried to defend their faith in this manner: “Our faith is better than the Christian Faith as proved by this: God gave us the victory over you and gave us the best land in the world and a kingdom much greater than Christianity.” To that the commanders replied, “If it were so, then the idolatry of the Egyptians, Babylonians, Hellenes, Romans, and the fire-worship of the Persians would be the true faith for, at one time, all of these people conquered the others and ruled over them. It is evident that your victory, power and wealth do not prove the truth of your faith. We know that God, at times, gives victory to Christians and, at other times, allows torture and suffering so as to correct them and to bring them to repentance and purification of their sins.” After seven years, they were beheaded in the year 845 A.D. Their bodies were then thrown into the Euphrates river, but they floated to the other side of the shore where they were gathered and honorably buried by Christians.
But what about the Bible verses where God promises to prosper you?
First thing that comes to mind is that these are promised to Israel as a whole, not to individuals. Second thing, ‘What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul’. Third thing, what about all the wealthy Christians out there?
First thing that comes to my mind about the last question, ‘It is harder for a rich man to get to heaven than for a camel to get through the eye of a needle’. The other day I was thinking this relates to the Rich Young Ruler who was attached to too many things to give them up for Christ. He couldn’t fit through the small hole with all his stuff.
Then why is being prospered presented as a good thing?
Old Testament materialist typology of spiritual blessings?
That sounds gnostic.
C.S. Lewis implies in The Great Divorce that material things get more real in heaven. I take that to mean we exchange them. ;Lest a grain of wheat fall to the earth and die’, it can’t grow into a healthy plant. Material things are like seeds. Gotta plant them, not horde them. In this way a rich man is to live the same way as a desert hermit. Just as unattached to his money and stuff, even though he, unlike the ‘desert ascetic’, or martyr for that matter, keeps getting more of it.
(references to the above quotes supplied upon request if you want to put me through digging them up)