USA Today’s Brendan Clarey on Trump and the ‘Prosperity Gospel’ Sell False Promises to Credulous Evangelical Christians

FILE – In this Jan. 31, 2016, file photo, Pastor Joshua Nink, right, prays for then Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, as his wife, Melania, left, watches after a Sunday service at First Christian Church, in Council Bluffs, Iowa. In his first campaign move of the 2020 election year, President Donald Trump on Friday will launch a coalition of evangelicals as he aims to shore up and expand support from an influential piece of his political base. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Brendan Clarey is an evangelical Christian and a former Collegiate Network fellow for USA TODAY’s opinion section. Follow him on Twitter: @BrendanClarey. The views expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

President Donald Trump made a speech Friday night at a church known for preaching the “prosperity gospel,” a false doctrine that claims those who give financial support for pastors and churches will become wealthy and healthy.

That Trump’s first appeal in his “Evangelicals for Trump” campaign comes from this church, Miami’s King Jesus International Ministry, sends a clear message to evangelical Christians: Prosperity gospel and Trump’s promises are as spiritually hollow as they are similar.

Both rely on this basic principle: Give something now, get something later.

On one of King Jesus International Ministry’s donation pages, called First Fruits, can be found a core tenet of the prosperity gospel: “God honors our faith multiplying those fruits and giving us a blessed year.” Essentially, with a little faith, God will multiply your January gift into more money year-round.

Another prime example comes from another of the church’s donation pages: “When we bring offerings to God, He brings overabundance to our finances.”

The lie of the prosperity gospel

King Jesus International Ministry Pastor Guillermo Maldonado wrote a book, published in 2009, called “Jesus Heals Your Sickness Today,” which the description yells in all caps: “WHILE THE WORLD IS SUFFERING UNKNOWN ILLNESS AND EPIDEMICS, THIS BOOK BRINGS TO LIFE THE MINISTRY OF JESUS. IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE NEED HEALING, HERE IS THE PERFECT TOOL YOU NEED TO ATTAIN IT.”

The problem with Maldonado and his church’s teachings is that in no way are they supported by Scripture. God doesn’t promise his followers in the Bible that they will receive “overabundance to our finances” if only they cut him a check. Similarly, he never promises he will heal them when they are sick.

If you want to know what following the will of God looks like in practice, look at Jesus, who was brutally tortured and murdered on the cross for our sins. Look at all the apostles and martyrs who died on account of proclaiming the Gospel.

These people didn’t receive back what they lost in earthly prizes or see their bank accounts increase. They sacrificed their lives for the sake of God’s true word in order to receive the gift of heaven. The prosperity gospel is based on the lie that you can get everything you want from the world by following God. The true Gospel is that Christ alone saves sinners like you and me from eternal punishment if we turn from our sin and follow him by God’s grace.

It appeared Trump preached from an appropriate pulpit Friday night, considering the promises he made to evangelicals. Throughout the speech, Trump tried to sell himself to Christians as a political savior who, if they vote for him, can give them everything they’ve ever wanted politically and culturally.

Trump spent much of the speech trying to convince evangelicals that he has saved their religion from the clutches of the God-hating left. He alone ended the war on Christmas. He alone ended the government’s war on religion. He alone can defend believers and our churches from being silenced by Democratic presidential candidates.

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Source: USA Today