What Is Seed Faith?

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What is "seed faith?" Why was it important to certain Protestant ministries?

Brief History

In the 1970's, television evangelist and United Methodist preacher Oral Roberts pioneered a principle he called "seed faith." It uses the familiar concept of planting (sowing) and harvesting (reaping), coupled with misapplied and misinterpreted Scriptures, in order to encourage financial support toward a particular Christian ministry (in this case, his own!).

This "seed" teaching, adopted by some Charismatic Protestant ministries, helped give birth to the greater Word of Faith movement.

The logic of this belief is deceptively simple. It is taught that giving money to a religious cause is like planting a seed towards God. Those who contribute will receive blessings from the Eternal in direct proportion to the amount of money they give (or "sow").

Those who give only a small amount of support can expect to receive only a small blessing. Those who contribute or pledge to give as much as they can (even beyond what they can afford), however, can expect an abundant blessing from the Lord.

The Appeal

The appeal of the seed faith teaching, according to the book "Field Guide to the Wild World of Religion," is "with those who feel disenfranchised from the system of prosperity which many in the Western world enjoy" (pages 190 - 191).

One major false assumption of seed faith revolves around the idea that the Bible promises prosperity and health in this life if only the right "key" or "formula" is utilized. Although Scripture promises prosperity (Revelation 21:7) and healing (verse 4) in the resurrection, no such guarantee exists for this life. In fact, there are times when it is God's will that a believer suffer for his sake.

Now on the other hand, if you do undergo suffering for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. But you should not be afraid of their terror, and you should not let yourselves be intimidated . . .

For it is better, if it is the will of God, for you to suffer while doing good than to suffer for doing evil (1Peter 3:14, 17, HBFV).

Yet if anyone is suffering as a Christian, he should not be ashamed; but let him glorify God because of this . . .

For this reason also, let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in well doing, as to a faithful Creator. (1Peter 4:16, 19).

The apostle Paul, the most influential Christian preacher next to Jesus, suffered trials and troubles all his life. He spent at least five total years of his ministry in prison, was whipped five times, beaten three times with rods, had infirmities (2Corinthians 12:7, Galatians 4:13) and a host of other difficulties. He also experienced being stoned and enduring three shipwrecks (2Corinthians 11:23 - 28)!

Tempting God

Another big problem with the teachings of seed faith is the notion that if a believer says or does certain things (e.g. claim a Biblical promise or give money), that God MUST respond in a certain way (e.g. give a blessing). This contradicts the Biblical teaching that only God knows what is best for a Christian at any given time.

Demanding God perform according to a human's understanding of Scripture, which is what seed faith does, is tantamount to tempting him. This is precisely what Satan did when he told Jesus to "test" the Biblical formula that God would save him if he fell.

Then the devil took Him to the holy city and set Him upon the edge of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, cast Yourself down; for it is written, 'He shall give His angels charge concerning You, and they shall bear You up in their hands, lest You strike Your foot against a stone.' "

Jesus said to him, "Again, it is written, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.' " (Matthew 4:5 - 7, HBFV, see also Psalm 91:11 - 12).

List of All Terms in
Dictionary of Biblical Words

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