The Story Behind John Piper’s Most Famous Attack on the Prosperity Gospel

Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra | February 14, 2017

John Piper’s most-viewed sermon clip of all time was an afterthought.

In fact, it was an off-the-cuff tangent to an afterthought, unusual for a man whose sermons are well-prepared and meticulously researched.

“I don’t know what you feel about the prosperity gospel—the health, wealth and prosperity gospel—but I’ll tell you what I feel about it,” Piper told a gathering of more than 1,000 college students in November 2005. “Hatred.”

The founder of Desiring God and then-pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church continued:

It is not the gospel, and it’s being exported from this country to Africa and Asia, selling a bill of goods to the poorest of the poor: “Believe this message, and your pigs won’t die and your wife won’t have miscarriages, and you’ll have rings on your fingers and coats on your back.” That’s coming out of America—the people that ought to be giving our money and our time and our lives, instead selling them a bunch of crap called “gospel.”

The sanctuary at Mountain Brook Community Church in Birmingham, Alabama, was so full “it felt like college students were hanging from the rafters,” recalled David Mathis, who accompanied Piper on the trip.

But “you could hear a pin drop that night,”…

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