Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Martin Luther - Word of Faith Preacher

Did you know that Martin Luther preached the prosperity gospel? Neither did I until I heard this quote from biblical scholar Benny Hinn on the TBN Praise-a-thon April 6th, 2008:

Martin Luther said Satan will use two weapons against the saints to stop the Gospel - tyrants or poverty. This is Martin Luther, the great reformer. The German priest that brought justification by faith to the church. It's in one of his books. I read it. He said Satan will stop the Gospel only two ways - by raising tyrants. By raising men like Nero or like somebody else. Or he'll convince the church that poverty is what God wants for them.
Now that is a shock! It looks like it's time to turn the LCMS into a full-fledged Word of Faith church - just watch it grow then!

Now I know there's no good reason to doubt the word of Benny Hinn but just for the record I suppose we should look at what Luther actually said. I found what Benny Hinn was referring to in Luther's Commentary on Galatians 6:6. Here it is in its entirety so you can see what Luther really said. I've highlighted some key passages. Galatians 6:6 by the way says "Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.":

Here Paul is preaching to hearers that they should share all good things with their preachers. I often used to wonder why the apostle was so diligent in commanding the churches to provide for their preachers. For in the papacy I saw everyone contributing with great generosity for the construction of magnificent churches, for the increase in the income and the growth in the revenues of those who dealt with sacred things.Thus the social position and the wealth both of the bishops and of the other clergy increased so much that everywhere they had possession of the best and most fertile lands. And so it seemed to me unnecessary for Paul to command this when the clergy were not only receiving donations of every good thing in abundance but were actually becoming very rich. Therefore I thought that people should be dissuaded from giving more rather than persuaded to give, for I saw that the excessive generosity of people was only increasing the greed of the clergy. But now we know the reason why formerly they had an abundance of every good thing, but now pastors and ministers of the Word suffer want.

Formerly, when wicked and false doctrine was taught, the pope became an emperor, and the cardinals and bishops became kings and princes of the world; so abundant was their prosperity, derived from the Patrimony of Peter—who claimed not to have any silver or gold (Acts 3:6) —and from so-called “spiritual goods.” But now that the Gospel has begun to be preached, those who confess it are about as rich as Christ and the apostles once were! We are finding out by experience how conscientiously people observe this commandment about providing for the preachers of the Word, which Paul so persistently urges and inculcates upon hearers both here and in other passages. We do not know of a single city today that provides for its preachers. They are not being provided for from any donations given to Christ, to whom no one gives anything. For when He was born, He used a manger instead of a cradle, because there was no room for Him in the inn (Luke 2:7). While He lived on earth, He had nowhere to lay His head (Matt. 8:20). At the end He was stripped of His clothing; and He died a miserable death on the cross, naked, hanging between two thieves (Matt. 27:28–38). No, our preachers are being provided for from donations given to the pope in exchange for the abominations of suppressing the Gospel, teaching human traditions, and establishing wicked forms of worship.

When I read the exhortations in which Paul preaches to the churches either about providing for their own preachers or about contributing something for the alleviation of the poverty of the saints in Judea, I am deeply amazed, and I blush with shame that such a great apostle is compelled to use so many words in obtaining this favor from the churches. To the Corinthians he presents this matter for two entire chapters. I would not be willing to defame Wittenberg, which is nothing compared with Corinth, as he defamed Corinth when he begged for support for the poor with such anxiety and solicitude. But that is the fate of the Gospel. When it is preached, not only is no one willing to give anything for the support of its ministers and the maintenance of schools; but everyone begins to rob and steal and to take all sorts of advantage of everyone else. In short, men seem suddenly to have degenerated into wild beasts. On the other hand, when the doctrines of demons (1 Tim. 4:1) are proclaimed, men become truly lavish and spontaneously offer everything to their seducers. The prophets denounce the same sin in the Jews, that they contributed to the support of godly priests and Levites only with reluctance but were extremely generous to the wicked ones.

Only now do we understand how necessary this commandment of Paul’s about providing for the ministers of the churches really was. There is nothing that Satan can bear less than the light of the Gospel. When it shines, he becomes furious and tries with all his might to extinguish it. He attempts this in two ways: first, by the deceit of heretics and the might of tyrants; secondly, by poverty and famine. Because Satan has been unable thus far to suppress the Gospel in our territories through heretics and tyrants, he is now trying the second way; he is depriving the ministers of the Word of their livelihood, so that poverty and famine will force them to forsake their ministry, and the unfortunate people, deprived of the Word, will eventually degenerate into animals. To make this dreadful evil come more quickly, Satan is vigorously pressing it through wicked magistrates in the cities and nobles in the country, who are seizing and misappropriating the possessions of the churches, from which the ministers of the Gospel should get their living. “From the hire of a harlot,” says the prophet Micah (1:7), “she gathered her possessions, and to the hire of a harlot they shall return.” In addition, Satan leads even good men away from the Gospel by means of satiety. A constant and daily attention to the Word makes it cloying and contemptible to many, who then gradually become neglectful in the practice of all the duties of godliness. No one nowadays is bringing up his children in the knowledge of good literature, much less of sacred literature, but only in ways of making a living. All these are efforts by Satan for suppressing the Gospel in our territories, and that without the might of tyrants or the deceit of heretics.

Thus it is not useless for Paul to admonish the hearers of the Word to share all good things with those who teach. He says to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 9:11): “If we have sown spiritual good among you, is it too much if we reap your material benefits?” Therefore hearers should minister in their material needs to those from whom they have received spiritual benefits. But today the peasants, the townspeople, and the nobles only abuse our doctrine to get rich. Formerly, under the dominion of the pope, there was no one who did not pay something to the priests annually for so-called anniversary Masses, vigils, etc. The mendicant friars had their share too. Trade with Rome and the daily offerings also got something. Our people have been set free from these and endless other exactions by the Gospel. But they are so far from being grateful for this freedom that they have been changed from prodigal donors to thieves and robbers, who will not give even a pittance either for the Gospel or for its ministers or for the holy poor. This is the surest possible sign that they have already lost the Word and faith and have been excommunicated from our blessings, for it is impossible that true believers would permit their pastors to suffer need. But because they laugh and poke fun when their pastors suffer some sort of adversity, and because they deny them their support or do not give it as faithfully as they should, it is certain that they are worse than heathen. Soon they will learn by experience what calamities will follow this ingratitude, for they will lose both their material and their spiritual goods. It is inevitable that grave punishment should follow this sin. I am sure that the only reason why the churches in Galatia, Corinth, etc., were so confused by the false apostles was that they had neglected their faithful teachers. Finally it is the utmost justice that someone who refuses an obol to the God who offers every good thing and eternal life should end up giving a gold piece to the devil, who offers him every kind of calamity and eternal death. Whoever is not willing to serve God in a small way for his own great advantage, let him serve the devil in a big way to his own supreme loss. Only now that the Word is shining do we see what the devil and the world are.

When Paul says “all good things,” this is not to be taken to mean that everyone should share all his possessions with his preacher. No, it means that he should provide for him liberally, giving him as much as is needed to support his life in comfort. The word κατηχούμενος is familiar to anyone who knows Greek.

The papacy and the rich bishops with their fertile lands = the Word of Faith empires and preachers with Lear jets, Lincoln Continentals? No, must be a coincidence!

Cardinals and bishop getting rich and the real preachers are as poor as the apostles? - But Word Faith teaches the apostles and Christ were rich! Maybe I've been misunderstanding the Hinns of this world - they wouldn't contradict Scripture or Hinn's hero Martin Luther, would they?

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At April 24, 2008 1:26 PM, Blogger Scott Diekmann said...

Great post Bob.

I guess if the Bereans didn't take St. Paul's word for it, we shouldn't take Benny Hinn's word for it either. But it's so much easier to take someone's word for it. It's also un-Scriptural.

1 Thessalonians 5:21 tells us to "Test everything. Hold on to the good."

Thank you for hunting down heresies and pointing them out.

Your brother in Christ,

Scott Diekmann

At November 25, 2017 12:43 AM, Blogger Zsolt NX said...

So, Martin Luther said, the devil will use poverty. I think, that makes sense because when people are poor, they cannot help each other. You can only lift someone up, if you are higher. If we are all in the mud, how are we going to pull each other out? There's no way. If our goal is to get us out of the mud, the solution is not to attack everyone who's gotten out of the mud already. So, we are not helping each other by pointing out that so and so has too much money. When we point that out, it's our JEALOUSY speaking from our heart. For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Jealousy's purpose is to get us all on equal level by bringing everyone else down. It's the foundation of communism and socialism.

When we are too preoccupied with researching how much money other Christians have compared to us, we're really not doing what God wants us to do. Did you know that those who running a race can fall behind by looking back to see how far others are? And when we point out that some Christians are richer than others, we're actually not helping anybody. We're just wishing they didn't have as much. It's our own jealousy masquerading as piety and holiness.


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