Friday, October 06, 2006

Does God(?) want me to be rich?

Time magazine offered an article entitled "Does God want you to be rich?"(,9171,1533448,00.html) The article explores the prosperity theology of some prominent Evangelical pastors and their churches. This theology offers that God intends for you to be blessed, meaning, having more than all your needs being met; that can include the best job, house, car, boat, investment portfolio and on and on. From the perspective of prosperity theology, God does indeed intend for you, if living the righteous life, to have all that this world, especially in America, has to offer.

In our Peregrini discussion there was quite a bit of conversation around the "goods" and "evils" of money. How you get it and what you do with it. All of this never got at the basic question, "what does God intend for you?"

That question encompasses far more than money. It gets at the core of how can I actually know what God wants for me; if God wants me to be rich, how do I know that for sure?

The Time article pointed out that on both sides of the discussion (yes, God wants me to be rich, or no, God wants what is good for me which is a much different argument) "use" the Bible to prove their point (proof texting). How can I know God's certainty for me when it seems that with the right "slant" the Bibles writers could be interpreted as saying anything? Good question.
At the root of the question regarding whether God wants you to have wealth is the notion of transactional theology. That theology suggests that if I, as a believer, do what I am supposed to do (live the righteous life) then God will reward me with the good things of life.

The troubling part of that kind of theology is, first, it sounds a lot like American Santa Claus and second, so what about when bad things happen to good people? There is no answer to that question, but, do I really believe in a God like that? For me, no. God is much bigger than all that. God is in the mystery and the unseen.

Does God want me to be rich? I think the better question is, "Does God care given all the pain, suffering and poor in the world?" Maybe those are the things I should be focusing on as well?