“I really believe that if Jesus was physically on the earth today he wouldn’t be riding a donkey. Think about that for a minute. He’d be in an airplane preaching the gospel all over the world.”
— Jesse Duplantis
Recently, Charismatic televangelist Jesse Duplantis said that God wants his congregation to raise tens of millions of dollars for him to buy a private jet. Unfortunately, this mentality is not unique to Duplantis. Creflo Dollar got himself a $70 million jet, and Kenneth Copeland recently got himself a new jet. In the following video, both Duplantis and Copeland talk about the multi-million dollar jets they have had over the years, and why God allegedly wants them to have them:
Unfortunately, this mentality is not new in the Charismatic world, and it is quite widespread. It is especially common if you turn on a Christian television station. There are far too many examples of these preachers — from Joel Osteen to Mike Murdock.
The theology that these preachers build upon is known as “prosperity theology” or the “prosperity gospel”. The major distinction between this school of thought and mainstream, orthodox Christianity is the claim that God wants his people to have material wealth and prosperity. Health and wealth are seen as evidence of God’s blessing in your life. So, Duplantis buying a mulit-million dollar jet isn’t a sign of greed, but of God’s blessing.
This form of thinking is fundamentally unchristian. It is not what Christ and his apostles taught, and it is a slap in the face to all of the saints and martyrs who struggled through this world for the gospel. We must understand that the prosperity gospel doesn’t actually have its basis in the historical church, nor in the Pentecostal and Charismatic revivals. The prosperity gospel is actually rooted in a non-Christian philosophy known as New Thought.
New Thought is an American new religious movement that is not too different from the modern New Age movement. It teaches that God is a vague divine essence that is everywhere and in everyone. As a part of that, we can will our own destiny. Everything negative in our life comes from our mental state, and we can desire for health and wealth, and it will come. This is called the law of attraction.
The New Thought viewpoint became conflated with the Biblical concept of prayer. Instead of prayer being a way for us to communicate with God and align our wills with his, in the New Thought model, our prayer is a mental exercise that makes “God” bend to our will. We see this in how prosperity preachers ask for certain prayers and donations, and then promise that these actions will guarantee a future degree of health, wealth, and security.
These preachers took a non-Christian viewpoint (New Thought) and gave it the outward appearance of Pentecostalism.
The prosperity gospel isn’t just contrary to mainstream Christian viewpoints either. We can go right back to the words of Jesus and his apostles and see the contradiction between the two:
Do not accumulate for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But accumulate for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. — Matthew 6:19-21
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. — Matthew 6:24
Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father is well pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide yourselves purses that do not wear out—a treasure in heaven that never decreases, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. — Luke 12:32-34
For the love of money is the root of all evils. Some people in reaching for it have strayed from the faith and stabbed themselves with many pains. — 1 Timothy 6:10
Command those who are rich in this world’s goods not to be haughty or to set their hope on riches, which are uncertain, but on God who richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment. Tell them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, to be generous givers, sharing with others. In this way they will save up a treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the future and so lay hold of what is truly life. — 1 Timothy 6:17-19
Our conduct must be free from the love of money and you must be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you and I will never abandon you.” — Hebrews 13:5
James has probably the harshest words of all for the wealthy:
Come now, you rich! Weep and cry aloud over the miseries that are coming on you. Your riches have rotted and your clothing has become moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted and their rust will be a witness against you. It will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have hoarded treasure! Look, the pay you have held back from the workers who mowed your fields cries out against you, and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.You have lived indulgently and luxuriously on the earth. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. — James 5:1-5
I could go on and on when it comes to the witness of the Scriptures concerning material wealth. There is also plenty that could be said from the perspective of the church fathers, monastics, saints, and martyrs throughout the ages — many of whom struggled in this world due to their allegiance to the next.
Now, compare the testimony of Scripture to what Duplantis says in the following sermon:
Duplantis is living in plain contradiction with the Scriptures — in contradiction with the teachings of Christ and his apostles.
Material prosperity is not a blessing for a disciple of Christ. Rather it is a temptation. As the Apostle Paul says, it is the root of all evil. It is something that rots us from the inside out and makes us less loving towards our neighbor. God is not the one “blessing” Jesse Duplantis with a $54 million jet — it is the Adversary, the Wicked One, the Tempter. It is the one who attempts to turn our hearts towards mammon and away from God.
Rev. Kevin R. Daugherty is a contributing editor for PCPJ and a mission developer/pastor from Elizabeth, Pennsylvania.
Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world. If you like what we do, please join our Facebook forum, and sign up for our newsletter!