For some time I have desired to write an article addressing the Orthodox perspective on one of the most popular Evangelical teachings today known as the prosperity gospel. However, I recently discovered a short work that summarizes the issue quite nicely, which I would like to quote in full. The following is an excerpt from Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick’s book entitled, “Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy.”
“This teaching (the prosperity gospel) has its origin in a strain of Calvinism that linked earthly prosperity with faith. For these Calvinists, a sign that you were among God’s ‘elect’ was that you enjoyed success in the earthly life. For prosperity gospel preachers, earthly success is directly linked to how much ‘faith’ you have, which is often demonstrated by sending in donations to their ministry. The ostentatious and luxurious lives of such preachers are put forth as ‘proof’ of their great faith.
Yet Christ’s instructions to His Apostles and the witness of the saints is that those with true faith are often persecuted, poor, and hated by the world. For Orthodoxy, true faith is not measured by any of these things, certainly not by earthly riches. It also has nothing to do with being able to perform signs and wonders. True faith is a life of repentance of sins and participation in the grace-giving sacraments of the Church. True faith is humble, never making a show of anything, especially not miracles. When Jesus performed miracles, He used no emotionally manipulative music or over-anxious preaching. Indeed, He often sent everyone out of the room, and then after He was done told those He had healed not to spread the news to anyone.
Orthodoxy is marked by sobriety, not by emotional enthusiasm. It is also marked by a quite ‘ordinary’ persistence in living the humble, consistent life of Christ, not by seeking out extraordinary experiences, especially supernatural ones. To the true believer, those experiences sometimes do come, but they are rare, and the example of the saints is that they are often suspicious of them. It is better accidentally to reject an angel by being overly vigilant than to embrace a demon through undiscerning enthusiasm.”