A Perverted Gospel

Rather than serve God and have it cost us everything, our flesh self wants God to serve us and for this to cost us nothing.  So we turn the gospel about Jesus into a gospel about us.  What can Jesus do for you?
– Greg Boyd

(t-shirt available at kerusso.com)

Marketing Jesus

Good friends, following Jesus doesn’t have to mean suffering and sacrificing for others like it used to.

Why that’s old-school religion.

Why today following Jesus doesn’t have to cost you any inconvenience whatsoever, because today we’re offering the personal What’s In It For Me Jesus.

With a What’s In It For Me Jesus, your life will be nicer, sweeter, richer, and happier.

The What’s In It For Me Jesus will get you a better job, a better house, a faster car, better family, better health, and yes, even a better love life.  Mmmm, think about that.

Your own personal What’s In It For Me Jesus will fix all your problems, answer all your questions, tell you exactly how you should vote, resolve all your conflicts, and protect you from all possible harm.

Yes friends, with your own Personal What’s In It For Me Jesus you can have everything you ever wanted right now and heaven to boot!

What a deal!  But wait, there’s more.

With the What’s In It For Me Jesus, you and your Jesus friends won’t have to trust God to transform you or your culture through those painful, inconvenient acts of self-sacrificial love.

Say bye-bye to those days.

The What’s In It For Me Jesus will do it all for you.
Wouldn’t that be just nifty!

Now you’re probably thinking, “I bet this What’s In It For Me Jesus costs a lot.  I maybe can’t afford it.”

Silly doofus head!  This is the best part.

The What’s In It For Me Jesus costs you absolutely nothing.
You heard me right folks, absolutely nothing. It’s free!

Just say yes to this incredible offer, and it’s all yours.

Supplies are unlimited, but time is not.
You could die and go to eternal flaming hell tonight.

So hurry up and get your personal What’s In It For Me Jesus.

Just call 1-J-E-S-U-S-What’s In It For Me.
That’s 1-J-E-S-U-S-What’s In It For Me.

by Woodland Hills Church
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14 thoughts on “A Perverted Gospel

  1. Yeah, I agree that the WIIFM gospel is twisted, but the knee jerk reaction by leaders is often to define for us exactly how we are to suffer for Jesus. I’ve heard way too many sermons start off with mocking the gospel of prosperity and end with an alter call to the gospel of works as defined by the church’s mission statement. The prosperity appeals to my self serving nature and the suffering appeals to my self justification. I’m very good a doing both vices at the same time. I think, however, that Jesus is calling us somewhere else.

  2. I do think the prosperity gospel misdirected. Health, wealth, protection from harm, having favor with men, success, promotion, etc. although positive elements of our temporary existence they are not thee priorities WOF types make them out to be. They are not God’s primary purposes nor should they be expected as if automatically intended for each & every saint in a continuous outpouring…

    And David Olson brings up a good point. There will always be someone authoritatively preaching just what is expected as the ‘vision’ or purpose for the church being held up as God’s favored congregation. It is all a form of manipulation even in its least offensive version…

    Jesus made this very simple guarantee: we will have trouble in this life. Now He also said we can take heart that He has overcome the world. But we will not have heaven’s standard of living here on earth…

    But then we have made salvation a selling point. Get out of hell free card included. Jesus is peddled as the answer to all life’s questions. He will ‘turn your life around’ & fix up what is broke. He is promised to invade our lives & transform us. Make all things new.

    Many elements of the standard evangelical gospel are full of promises that many times do not pan out in the lives of those that respond to a sincere altar call & pray a form of the sinner’s prayer.

    I do believe we want God to come through for needy people. We even want Him to come to our aid in times of real need. But I also believe God will let everyone down at least once. We will all face situations that seem like God is not intervening according to our expectations.

    I think we all need to be disappointed in God. At least we need the fakeness shaken from our concept of who He is & what He is committed to doing in us. Not sure I can promise anybody anything regarding how God will work things out in their life. I am very careful now with the way I present the twists & turns of a spiritual journey. God may or may not show up when He is needed most. He may bless those less deserving. May even seem downright messed up with how He deals with His kids. Not sure what this all adds up to, but it sure as hell will not resemble the prosperity gospel being peddled today…

  3. that t-shirt makes me want to vomit.

    joseph…great comments. “But I also believe God will let everyone down at least once.” So true. I used to be so sure of things…how God wanted to come into everyone’s life in a certain way and just *poof* make them all better. Doesn’t really work that way. And we do indeed need to be careful because you are right…God may or may not show up and usually when/if He does, it is not what we thought it would be.

  4. As I continually meet unchurched people and intentionally listen to their stories, they will often get into spiritual matters (people actually want to believe in something bigger than their issues). One of the biggest ‘stumbling blocks’ to their going deeper with Christ is that they have somehow come into contact with at least the ethos of the ‘prosperity gospel’. Let me give you an example:

    While vacationaing in Florida recently, I developed a relationship with a colorful and salty old retired construction worker from New York City. Jimmy is a likable guy, full of street savvy. You don’t get much past him. Through our daily discussions he discovered I was a follower of Christ. I had no idea where he stood until one day we got into a situation (not of my making), where we were confronted by a woman who was struggling with issues that evolved from our current economic mess. She asked us if we believed in Jesus. I was somewhat shocked to hear Jimmy reply, “Hell yes I believe in Jesus … but I have a lot of questions for Him when I see Him.” Later, as we were talking together over a beer while watching his fishlines, we were talking about the size of the waves that day. This brought to Jimmy’s mind the Tsunami that hit Asia a few years back and took so many lives. “Where was Jesus then?” he asked. “What good did He do those poor bast***s?”
    You see, Jimmy’s idea of Jesus was that He was supposed to keep everyone safe from random catastrophies in this world. Because Jesus didn’t do it, Jimmy didn’t seem interested in pursuing Him in this life. He would grill Jesus in the next to see why Jesus didn’t live up to all of those expectations that religious folks created to actually draw the Jimmy’s of life into their churches.

    This is a typical example of so many I meet who have either dropped out of church, or who have no interest in pursuing the message they believe the church is offering.

    Maybe it’s time we begin to pursue the true message of the gospel, being more careful as to how we present Jesus to the world.

  5. Anon says, Since we live in such a consumer-driven culture, the church must face the reality that many people who visit their churches have a consumer-mindset. However, this doesn’t mean that they need to accommodate theses desires and wishes just to get people to come (beware of another danger: attractionalism).

    Grace – I very much enjoyed this post, you way better put my thoughts into words. THankyou.

  6. joel,
    Thanks for the link. I didn’t realize that was available online. Everything of Wayne’s is outstanding.

    david,
    Your example made me shudder. Yes, nothing worse than some leader deciding what the gospel should cost you.

    joseph and davida,
    So true and if the magic formulas are all that you have, they aren’t enough to carry you through the tough times.

    rebuildingruins,
    LOL get in the trunk!

    fred,
    Pocket size Jesus? As jerry said, be careful what you ask for, you just might get it. :)

    ken,
    Love the story. What’s wrong with introducing people to a God that they can wrestle with, one who is able to handle all of their questions, anger, and hurts without trite Sunday School answers. As your story exemplifies, people want to know Him and understand Him in relationship to the evil that they encounter in their lives and in the world.

    mark,
    Well, they aren’t my words, but I enjoyed them too which is why I shared them with y’all. I always enjoy the way that you point out some of the silly Jesus stuff that Christians do.

  7. You know, after a few good cocktails (bourbon of course) & a nagging rumination in the back of my mind, I would have to say that much of charismatic/Pentecostal theology built upon a pyre of wood, hay, stubble presumption…

    God has been molded into a convenient sized idol that can be taken out of a pocket & thrust into any perplexing/challenging situation like a divine talisman guaranteed to come through for us when summoned.

    I have wanted God to show up. You know, ‘open the windows of heaven’ & other stuff that gave Him permission to knock the socks of saint & sinner alike…

    Dazzle the doubtful Lord! Strengthen the faltering faith of the desperate ones God. Shine forth your glory O Lord…

    I have wanted God to appear in unusual ways. Confirm His uniqueness in amazing manifestations. Make the mountains tremble…

    Well, the passionate desires of many sincere saints did not obligate God to come through as expected. But many saints decided to point to this strange doing or that claimed manifestation that was the next great thing God was up to…

    One big problem with the prophetic movement was the exaggerated claims meant to magnify the Majesty unleashed upon earth. Unverified stories passed around & embellished with each telling. An entire miracle urban legend category established to enchant those eager to champion the supernatural…

    Men have added to the gospel just like our Congressmen & Senators add their special interest riders to any budget bill passed. Each & every unessential interest pushes its agenda to be supported by the public’s taxes. So it is with the peddling of the gospel riders like prosperity…

    Lord have mercy… :(

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