Prosperity theology can be traced as far back as world war II as an offshoot of Pentecostalism. The prosperity gospel is a brand of Christianity which holds to the belief that financial success and physical well-being is always the will of God. The theology primarily teaches personal empowerment; prosperity preachers teach that it is Gods will for Christians to be happy. This theology maintains that Christians have been given power over all creation because they have been made in the image of God.
A YouGov survey in 2015 among adults who either identified themselves as “born again” or evangelical Christian found that 42 percent of blacks, 15 percent of whites and 25 percent of Hispanics believed prayer could make you wealthier. Now granted the sample was small, I am sure the numbers would be higher in Africa. It turns out the poor the country the more religious they are. And it is this desperation that prosperity preachers exploit, the theory is the more you give into the church, the more God will bless you.
One such preacher is prophet Shepherd Bushiri best known by the name “Major 1”
Prophet Shepherd Bushiri was born in Lilongwe, Malawi, he is best known as “Major 1”, he comes from an impoverished African Christian family. Bushiri attended Moyale secondary school in Mzuzu where he obtained his SSCE. His journey as a prophet started when he was just ten after a supernatural being which he allegedly recognised as God appeared to him in a dream. God ordered Bushiri to go out and warn people of the world to repent of their sins. After that Prophet, Bushiri recounts how God kept on appearing to him with messages for the people.
Mr Bushiri’s estimated worth is 150 million dollars; he owns a fleet of cars, houses in Malawi, South African and other parts of Africa. He also owns three jets one of them worth 37 million dollars, according to answers Africa.com, the man is so rich that he does not even get paid by the church. Asides from being in Ministry Mr Bushiri also owns a telecommunication company, various farms and a private university in South Sudan.
So How does Mr Bushiri make his money?
According to an article that was published in the Zambian observers, forget the mines, forget the businesses whatever you were told that he supposed owns is not true. Due to the word limit and time constraints, I am not going through the whole list. But here are the top two ways My Bushiri makes money I found interesting.
Firstly, spiritual seed, to be blessed through the anointing of Mr Bushiri, one has to sow a seed and the higher you sow, the bigger the blessings, that follow you and your descendants. This is a typical reasoning given by most prosperity preachers not just Mr Bushiri, Benny Hinn, Creflo A dollar and other mega church pastors. The justification is, of course, Luke 3: 16 “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” People sow in abundance, and others even sow houses, cars and everything in their bank account to prepare for more and more blessings through prophet Bushiri.
The second way he makes money is through commissions; it is alleged that the prophet benefits a lot from the deals he makes with organisations and countries. For example, recently he closed a deal in Sudan worth 200 million USD. According to the article, this money does not come from Mr Bushiri but rather from AFRICCI, an organisation he is in charge of which belongs to his associate who lends to money to countries. According to other reports, all he has to is be the face of the organisation, and his job is to attract countries to get loans so that he can cash in on the commissions.
The third and probably the worst one is the selling of anointing oil, his famous anointing oil, the lion of Judah sells for USD 35, which you can now get for USD 25. Lion of Judah is not the only oil he sells he has numerous others, the most expensive of the all is angel Gabriel oil which usually sells at USD 55 and favour oil which is also USD 55 each.
From what has been written about him Mr Bushiri is a wealthy man, not just by African standards. Now there is nothing wrong with having a lot of money, but at what point does too much money start corrupting the essence of the message as a pastor. The property gospel in many respects has created a theology that makes it hard for people to get into heaven according to Ps John Piper. Ps John further went on quote Mark 10:23-27, which says ” How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”
Moreover “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs”.(1 Timothy 6:10). It is very easy to confuse needs with wants; we are not satisfied with just having a big house, we want a house bigger than everyone else’s. It is hard to believe that Prophet Bushiri does not have widows and orphans in his church that need looking after.
What makes the prosperity gospel a false gospel?
David W. Jones outlines five errors of prosperity gospel teaching:
- The Abrahamic covenant is a means to material entitlement.
- Jesus’s atonement extends to the “sin” of material poverty.
- Christians give in order to gain material compensation from God.
- Faith is a self-generated spiritual force that leads to prosperity.
- Prayer is a tool to force God to grant prosperity.
“In light of Scripture, the prosperity gospel is fundamentally flawed,” Jones says. “At bottom, it is a false gospel because of its faulty view of the relationship between God and man. Simply put, if the prosperity gospel is true, grace is obsolete, God is irrelevant, and man is the measure of all things. Whether they’re talking about the Abrahamic covenant, the atonement, giving, faith, or prayer, prosperity teachers turn the relationship between God and man into a quid pro quo transaction.”