I received an email from a television viewer who heard me mention the false theology of Joel Osteen last week, and asked about another famous television preacher, Richard Roberts. The son of the late Oral Roberts continues in much the same vein as his father theologically.
I want to be very clear: I have nothing personally against these men, no axe to grind, other than the fact that they are misleading people by misinterpreting Scripture or, even worse, by claiming to have “new revelations” from God. The Bible makes very clear that no one has the authority to add to Scripture–it already says everything that needs to be said. Those claiming to have “new revelation” are often just putting their own spin on Scripture, but occasionally they go so far as to outright contradict what the Bible plainly teaches, and that is what I am standing against–as all believers should. Here’s my response:
“The Bible makes very plain that a false prophets is someone who either teaches contrary to what God has said or embellished and adds to His Word. The words of a false prophet will not come to pass and be revealed for what they really are. Richard Roberts, like his father Oral before him, has gone out on the theological limb of ‘name it and claim it’, or ‘word of faith’. In a nutshell, they teach that if a believer says the right things at the right times, or if they give enough money, or if they do something, then God will bless them by giving them exactly what they are asking for—money, healing, freedom from adversity. This sort of compromised, heretical theology reduces God nothing more than a genie in a bottle, or Santa Claus sitting in his chair at the mall. According to Roberts, Osteen, and others of this ilk, God is waiting for us to bring our list of items to him—health, wealth, worldly prosperity—and if we can just discover the secret words and ways, God will have to give us what we ask. This is diametrically opposed to Scripture. It is plainly not God’s plan for all believers to be free from illness or to be extremely wealthy. While some believers do enjoy such benefits, it is not a blanket promise to all.
In 2 Corinthians 12:7, we see the apostle Paul wrestling with some thorn in the flesh that he asked the Lord 3 times to take away from him. While we don’t know exactly what the thorn was, we know it was sufficiently troubling that the apostle asked numerous times for God to take it away, or ‘heal’ him from that difficulty. If the ‘name it and claim it’ brand of theology were correct, then God would have been obligated to ‘heal’ Paul because of his outstanding faithfulness to the spread of the Gospel and his commitment to God. God did not take away the difficulty, but rather told Paul ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Cor. 12:9). If God’s strength is perfected in weakness, the clearly His plan is not for everyone to be healthy and wealthy. Paul also pointed out that not many wise, mighty, or noble are called (1 Corinthians 1:26). If it was God’s plan for everyone to be healthy and wealthy, then Paul would have to be misleading people. If the Holy Spirit is the true author of Scripture through inspiration (2 Timothy 3:16), then the He would be misleading us to suggest through Paul and others that suffering is a part of the life of a Christian life unless God intended us to face adversity so that 1.)we might rely more upon Him and 2.) we might be forged and built up into who Christ wants us to be through such adversity.
In the Old Testament book of Daniel, we see Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego taking a stand for their faith in God. Refusing to bow before a false idol, they were facing death by incineration in a furnace. Their statement to King Nebuchadnezzar was that they would not bow down because they knew God would deliver them; but even if He didn’t, they still would not bow before an idol. They were then tossed into the furnace. ‘Word of faith’ theology would need dictate that because of the boldness of their faith, they should have avoided being thrown into the furnace. Instead, God delivered them through the furnace. The distinction here is that God allowed them to go through the adversity without removing them from it—He was there with them the whole time. This is the same message God gave Paul in dealing with his thorn: ‘You don’t need me to take away your problems, you just need Me.’
I never want to come across as unneccessarily harsh, but the Bible makes very plain that we are to warn people of the danger of false teaching.”