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Name it and claim it

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Name it and claim it is a "theology" taught by some televangelists, faith healers, megachurches, and Pentecostal preachers. Some such teachers regard the "name it and claim it" label as derogatory and prefer to call their doctrine "Word of Faith" or the "prosperity gospel". Less kind detractors also call Word of Faith theology "blab it and grab it".

The movement has its roots in the griftier parts of New Thought.[1][2][3] The movement itself became popularized through the operations of Kenneth Hagin (1917–2003), a Pentecostal preacher from Texas and later based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He taught faith healing and founded the Rhema Bible Church and Rhema Bible Training College.[4] His church was moderately famous around the state of Oklahoma for the insanely large and expensive Christmas-light display but not really notable for anything else. Hagin authored scores of booklets teaching how the Holy Spirit could make you rich, healthy, and "anointed" with spiritual gifts if you would just have enough faith to "name it and claim it".

What it is about[edit]

The gist of "name it and claim it" is that the Bible contains numerous promises from God to Christian believers, but that believers have to first "claim" the promise before it can become effective. These "promises" may include healing from disease, exorcism of evil spirits, power to engage in spiritual warfare against Satan, or various supernatural gifts supposedly from the Holy Spirit. Romans 10:13, which runs:

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

is tortured to breaking point in order to suggest that anything the flock are in need of, not just salvation, can be earned simply by claiming it in the name of the Lord. Passages such as Deuteronomy 28:1-14, Isaiah 53:5 and Psalm 91:1 are taken hilariously out of context in an attempt to back up this theological howler.

This basically means that all you need to do is to engage in magical thinking (in a Christian version of The Secret) and/or sympathetic magic (see the “seed” example below) to have the Good Lord shower you with worldly goods and success.

Unsurprisingly, "name it and claim it" is highly controversial among the many shades of Christianity and tends to be especially disliked by those of the left-leaning variety.

Note that God's promise of salvation is normally viewed as requiring acceptance (i.e. you can’t be saved against your will) and hence it is not in itself a distinguishing feature of "name it and claim it" theology to highlight the necessity of acceptance for salvation.

A variant of the "prosperity gospel" preached by figures like Mike MurdockWikipedia, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar (no, seriously, that's his real name), Todd Coontz[5] (currently in prison over tax fraud[6][7]) and James Payne[8] involves gulling their more desperate audience members into bribing God sending "seed money" directly to the televangelist with the promise of divine rewards in the form of wealth gains proportional to the size of their "seed". This was parodied by comedian John Oliver on an episode of his show.[9]

Controversial interpretation of the Bible[edit]

Since the Bible includes promises that God will meet the needs of believers, some "name it and claim it" preachers focus on this promise in particular and apply it in ways that would make the actual Jesus Christ want to vomit. Do you "need" that new car? Just name it, and claim it! Do you "need" a lot of money? Do you "need" that winning lottery ticket? You get the idea.[note 1] Often these preachers solicit money for their own lavish lifestyles by encouraging tithing, or giving 10% of one's annual income, to the corporation tax-exempt church. For example, former heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield once gave $3.5 million to Creflo Dollar after a title fight. Holyfield's house is now going through foreclosure proceedings.[10] The US Senate had some (fairly feeble) investigations into several "name it and claim it" ministries.[11]

Show me the money[edit]

Popular passages that have been cherry picked and abused by the preachers are:[12]

  • John 10:10: "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."
  • James 4:2: "Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not."
  • Mark 10:29-30: "And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life."
  • Galatians 3:14: "That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."
  • 2 Corinthians 8:9: "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich."
    This is probably the verse that rang a little bell in the deep-dark recesses of Trump's brain.
  • 3 John 1:2: "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth."
  • Malachi 3:10: "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
  • Isaiah 53:5: "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."
  • Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."
  • John 14:14: "If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it."

Large-scale economic damage[edit]

This line of magical thinking may have helped to fuel the expansion of sub-prime mortgages which fed into an economic mess. Preachers encouraged people with bad credit-ratings to take out mortgages on homes that they could not afford because, since they were faithful Christians, God would take care of the rest. In fact, many of the areas worst affected by the housing bubble also happened to be home to churches advocating "name it and claim it."[13]

Roman Catholics[edit]

Some prejudiced reactionary Roman Catholics have their own inverted version of this philosophy. In their world view, sin causes all poverty, and Jesus only extends his blessings to Good Catholics™ (however, this looks more like the concept of karma and runs counter to the conventional Catholic teachings, which emphasize charity and compassion). By contrast, liberation theology defines "sin" as "political oppression and suppressing the poor" and, influenced by Marxist views on poverty and class struggle, liberation theologians seeks to change these prevailing patterns through a very human struggle, rather than assuming that God will somehow fix things.

Prominent promoters[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. This philosophy doesn't always work, so some churches urge responsibility in managing one's finances.

References[edit]

  1. For Marianne Williamson and Donald Trump, religion is all about themselves: The conviction that you can shape the world with your mind is an American tradition. By Tara Isabella Burton (August 1, 2019) The Washington Post.
  2. All's Right With the World by Charles Benjamin Newcomb (1897) The Philosophical Publishing Company.
  3. Thought-Force in Business and Everyday Life: Being a Series of Lessons in Personal Magnetism, Psychic Influence, Thought-force Concentration, Will Power & Practical Mental Science by William Walter Atkinson (1901) Sydney Flower, 18th edition.
  4. Founder's memorial. rhema.org (Kenneth Hagin Ministries).
  5. Todd Coontz at rockwealth.org.
  6. Appeal denied for former Charlotte televangelist convicted of tax evasion. WSCO TV, 17 April 2020.
  7. A Prosperity Gospel Preacher Found Guilty of Tax Fraud is Finally Behind Bars
  8. James Payne at jamespayneministries.com.
  9. Televangelists: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, YouTube, 16 August 2015.
  10. Pulpit Pimpin' + Rich Athletes = $$$! Part 1 and Part 2, Youtube, 19 April 2009.
  11. Rchel Zoll, Televangelists escape penalty in Senate inquiry, NBC News, 7 January 2011.
  12. Ten Bible Verses Prosperity Gospel Preachers Need to Stop Misusing: Can you believe your way to health and wealth? Prosperity teachers say yes — and they misuse these Bible verses to convince millions of people that they’re right. by Corrie Mitchell (May 9, 2014) On Faith, FaithStreet (archived from May 11, 2014).
  13. "Did Christianity Cause the Crash?" Hanna Rosin, the Atlantic Monthly, December 2009.