Of Christian Rap & Reality Shows (Part 1 of 2) False Teachers & False Gospels


It doesn’t seem like it was all that long ago when I first heard the phrase the “prosperity gospel” or the “health and wealth gospel.”  From what I could gather, it sounded like there were some preachers, grown from the Pentecostal tradition, out there proclaiming that if you’re a good Christian, God will bless you with good health and plenty of money.  I didn’t find this surprising.  I remember the rise and fall of several TV evangelists in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s, and these “prosperity gospel” preachers were just the new school of that same tradition of celebrity pastor con men.

Earlier this year, Christian hip hop artist Shai Linne released his album “Lyrical Theology, Pt. 1: Theology” (which I highly recommend) and caught a lot of people’s attention with his song “Fal$e Teacher$,” which criticizes the prosperity gospel.  Not only does Shai Linne show how a catchy song with blunt lyrics backed by tight biblical theology can be powerful, but he also names twelve celebrity preachers, proclaiming them all to be false teachers, including Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, and Joyce Meyer.  Even respected evangelical preacher and author John Piper praised Shai Linne in a tweet for his stance.

(Listen to “Fal$e Teacher$” here and read the lyrics* and watch Shai Linne’s explanation of the song here.) ShaiLinne_album

(*Or see the lyrics at the bottom of this post)

Then, came the trailer for an upcoming TV reality show on Oxygen, The Preachers of LA.  As soon as I saw the trailer, Shai Linne’s “Fal$e Teacher$” burst into my head.  But when I sat down to watch the premier episode this past week, I tried to keep an open mind.  Not knowing anything about them, it’s hard to criticize all of the pastors on the Preachers of LA based a single hour-long show.  One or two of them might actually be legit and not as filthy rich as the rap-like slow-motion and shiny cars make them appear.

(Watch The Preachers of LA trailer here.)


I didn’t want to immediately dismiss these pastors as false teachers of the prosperity gospel.  Running a “mega-church” or driving a nice car doesn’t automatically make a pastor corrupt.  Many pastors write books, travel to speaking arrangements, and are involved in ethical businesses that may or may not have anything to do with their ministry, and if they work hard for their money and earn it honestly, what’s the issue?

Of course, this could move us into a discussion on Christian giving and sacrificial living, but I’ll say one more thing and leave this issue here for now: There’s nothing wrong with a pastor having money gained through honest means, but whenever we see a pastor with a lot of money – especially if he flaunts it – it should be a billboard-sized warning sign something could be amiss.

Another issue with watching Preachers of LA is an issue I have with all “reality” TV in general.  I know people who have worked on “reality” TV shows, so I know just how staged many of these shows are.  It’s really hard for me to watch a “reality” show and not feel like I’m being manipulated.  Further, it’s not hard to edit scenes and dialogue out of context to make characters appear to be saying or doing something that’s not reality at all.  I even read about editors bleeping words that weren’t even curse words in episodes of Duck Dynasty to make it appear as if the characters, who are Christians, were using foul language.  In the industry, these sort of shows are sometimes called “docu-dramas” because they have the feeling of “reality,” and there may be a lot of truth behind the characters, but the situations and conflicts are completely fabricated.


So perhaps this idea of a “docu-drama” about some prosperity gospel preachers is fitting because their preaching, like the show, is reality with just enough fiction mixed in to consider it phony.  Like docu-drama, the prosperity gospel preachers are giving a lot of truth about God, Jesus, and the Bible, but they are mixing in enough of a lie to make it heresy.  This is how false teachers operate, and in fact, how cults operate.  It’s rare to find a cult that doesn’t have a lot of truth molded into their lies.  Shai Linne addresses this in his song when he raps, “And you’re thinking they’re not the dangerous type because some of their statements are right – that only proves that Satan comes as an angel of light.”

Kate Bowler, an assistant professor at Duke Divinity School and author of “Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel” has a different take on the prosperity gospel in her editorial “Believers in Bling: Behold the Prosperity ‘Preachers of LA’” on CNN.com and portrays it quite positively.  She writes, “As my own research shows, millions of American Christians have turned to the prosperity gospel to help them understand God as deeply invested in their everyday lives.  They want a God who cares about their health, their mortgage payments and their ability to afford a better life.”

I don’t think you’ll find any Christian pastor who would disagree that God wants to be (and should be) involved in all aspects of our lives and wants what’s best for us, but this is not the only message the prosperity gospel preachers are spreading.  Even Bowler writes, “These pastors’ Midas touch provides endless sermon illustrations designed to tantalize audiences: If only you believe what I believe, you can have what I have, too.”

Bowler appears to think this message is legitimate Christianity, but this is exactly the whole issue with the prosperity gospel!  Nowhere in the Bible does God promise to bless us with material wealth, great health, or a life free of hardships if we follow him.  In fact, Jesus says quite the opposite.  In Matthew 16:24-26, he tells his disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me… For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?”

Elsewhere, Jesus tells his followers that they will be persecuted.  Paul, Peter, and most of the other apostles met early deaths by following Jesus.  What would Paul and Peter think of the prosperity gospel?  Where’s their wealth and good health?

Even if 95% of what the prosperity gospel preachers are saying is true, that still leaves 5% as false.  And anything added to or taken away from the true Gospel of Jesus Christ is not the true Gospel of Jesus Christ at all.

Perhaps someone should remind these prosperity preachers of what Paul said in Galatians 1:6-9:

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — which is really no gospel at all.  Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.  But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!”

You don’t get much clearer than that.  Paul, the church’s greatest missionary and writer of much of the New Testament, tells his audience if he, the other apostles, or even an angel from heaven tells them something different than the Gospel of Christ, he, the apostles, and the angel are cursed by God!

NEXT: Part 2:  What does Scripture have to say about the prosperity gospel?


(Take a moment to listen to some insightful thoughts from John Piper about the prosperity gospel here and here.) 







**LYRICS**  Shai Linne  “FAL$E TEACHER$”

One two one two, Yo!
Special dedication to my brothers and sisters on the great continent of Africa
To Saints in Malawi, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe.
Don’t be deceived by what America is sending y’all man, yeh?

Let me begin, while there is still ink left in my pen,
I am set to contend for Truth you can bet will offend,
Deception within the church man, who’s letting them in?
We talked about this years ago, let’s address it again. (Yeh)
And I ain’t really trying to start beef, but some who claim to be part of his sheep got some sharp teeth.(they’re wolves)

You cast at me when you criticize them when you criticize them, but Jesus told us: Matthew 7:16, we can recognize them!
And God forbid that for the love of some fans, I keep quiet and watch them die with their blood on my hands!
(so…)There’s nothing left for me to do except to speak to you in the spirit of Jude 3 and 2 Peter 2
And I know that some would label me a Pharisee, because today the only heresy is saying that there’s heresy:
“How dare they be specific and drop some clarity on the popularity of the gospel of Prosperity”

Turn off TBN that channel is overrated. The Pastor’s speak bogus statements, financially motivated. It’s kind of like a pyramid scheme. Visualize Heretics christianizing the American dream.
It’s foul and deceitful, they’re lying to people, teaching that camels squeeze through the eye of a needle!
Ungodly and wicked, ask yourself how can they not be convicted treating Jesus like a lottery ticket.
And you’re thinking they’re not the dangerous type because some of their statements are right,
they’re only proof that Satan comes as an angel of light.
This teaching can’t be believed without a cost, the lie is you can achieve a crown without a cross
And I hear it all the time when they speak on the block
Even unbelievers are shocked how they’re fleecing the flock
It should be obvious then, yet I’ll explain why it’s Sin, peep the Bible it’s in 1 Timothy 6:9-10
It talks about how the desire for riches has left many souls on fire and stitches mired in ditches
Tell me, who would teach you to pursue as a goal the very thing that the Bible said will ruin your soul! (huh?)

Yet they’re encouraging the love of money,
to make it worse, they’ve exported this garbage into other countries!
My heart breaks even now as I am rhyming. Do you wanna know what all false teachers have in common?(what?)
It’s called self(ism) the fastest growing religion; they just dress it up and call it “Christian”.
Don’t be deceived by this funny biz, if you come to Jesus for money, then he’s not your God, money is!

Jesus is not a means to an end, the Gospel is He came to redeem us from sin, and that is the message forever I’ll yell!
If you’re living your best life now you’re heading for hell!

(Talk to them)
Joel Osteen – false teacher!
(Let them know)
Creflo Dollar is a false teacher!
(Who else? Who else?)
Benny Hinn is a false teacher!
I know they’re popular but don’t let them deceive ya!
(Talk to them)
TD Jakes is a false teacher!
(Tell the Truth)
Joyce Meyer is a false teacher!
(Let them know)
Paula White is a false teacher!
Use your discernment, let the Bible lead ya!
(Keep going)
Fred Price is a false teacher!
(Tell the Truth)
Kenneth Copland is a false teacher!
(Who else? Who else?)
Robert Tilton is a false teacher!
I know they’re popular but don’t let them deceive ya!
(Talk to them)
Eddie Long is a false teacher!
(Let them know)
Juanita Bynum is a false teacher!
(Who else? Who else?)
Paul Crouch is a false teacher!
Use your discernment, let the Bible lead ya!

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” 2 Peter 2:1-3