Creflo Dollar, Joel Osteen, Rod Parsley & Debunking "If-Then Theology"

We have all heard this theology before!  "If" you_____ "then" God will _____.

It seems to be everywhere!

Take a second and check out a statement by Creflo Dollar, 
"Words are seeds. Whatever you speak will come back to you in the form of either positive or negative manifestations. It’s easy to become weary and give up when the pressure is on. But if you continue to speak positive, faith-filled words about your situation, then you will see breakthrough."

It will be no surprise to many that Joel Osteen has stated the same thing.

"If you'll dare to take your mind off your troubles, get your mind off your own needs and instead, seek to be a blessing to other people, [then] God will do more for you than you could even ask or think.  You have to learn to follow your heart.  You can't let other people pressure you into being something that you're not.  If you want God's favor in your life [then] you must be the person He made you to be, not the person your boss wants you to be, not even the person your parents or your husband wants you to be.  You can't let outside expectations keep you from following your own heart." 

And in this quote from Rod Parsley, it is hard to believe that he is actually serious, 
"I want to see the seven truths about favor activated in Your life this year!  [If] Use the enclosed reply for-- please check the boxes to demonstrate what kind of favor you need from God this year and let me know how I can pray for you.  Sow your seed of $37, or $77, or $177, or even $1777-- right now -- [then] to gain God's favor for yourself and your family in 2011!"

Here is yet another one from a guy named Zophar spoken to Job in the book of Job, 
 "Still, if you set your heart on God and reach out to him, If you scrub your hands of sin and refuse to entertain evil in your home, [then] You'll be able to face the world unashamed and keep a firm grip on life, guiltless and fearless. You'll forget your troubles; they'll be like old, faded photographs. Your world will be washed in sunshine, every shadow dispersed by dayspring. Full of hope, you'll relax, confident again; you'll look around, sit back, and take it easy.   (Job 11:13-18)
The problem with this theology, which can be classified as Glory Theology, is that it puts our relationship with God in a man-made conditional context.  Luther once stated that a person, "who believes that he can obtain grace by doing what is in him adds sin to sin so that he becomes doubly guilty."  

While things in this life (i.e. life under the sun) are often conditional we need to be careful not to mingle things of the horizontal conditional nature with our status with God.  In other words, the following statements are generally true in this life:  if you work hard, then you will get a pay check and may get a raise; if you complete school, then statistically you will make more money in your life time.  Conditions in life under the sun are a part of everyday life, they depend on us... that is how the world generally works.

The problem that arises is when these horizontal conditions, the ways of the world, are confused with our vertical and spiritual relationship with God.  When this Glory Theology of conditions is mingled and intertwined with our vertical relationship the following things can happen:  

  1. Putting conditions on God through the 'if' and 'then' ideology puts us in the driver seat spiritually speaking.  We begin to believe that this spiritual life is dependent upon us and our moral zeal rather than God.    
  2. Introducing conditional 'if' and 'then' theology shifts our attention inward to how well we are performing the 'if's' rather than outward to Christ and His performance.
  3. 'If' and 'then' theology attempts to put God in debt to man's actions.  "God, I have done these things, now you owe me!"
  4. 'If' and 'then' theology ends up making man into the main 'doer' of the verbs rather than God.  What this means is that mankind actively does the verbs and God becomes a passive bystander.
  5. 'If' and 'then' theology aids one in losing assurance.  When a person does their part and the 'then' portion of the equation doesn't come true they are left with two options...  either God is not caring of their needs or the individual is lacking faith.  Regardless assurance is stripped.
  6. Furthermore this kind of theology where the focus is on God rewarding man for doing righteousness and punishing man for doing unrighteous things leaves little room for a theology that depends on God's salvation based upon the righteousness of Christ.  In other words, the focus of righteousness is shifted from Christ's credited righteousness to man's righteousness acquired by his/her own efforts.  We begin to do some navel gazing.  
Gerhard Forde comments on this further saying, 

The gospel of justification by faith is such a shocker, such an explosion, because it is an absolutely unconditional promise. It is not an “if-then” kind of statement, but a “because-therefore” pronouncement: because Jesus died and rose, your sins are forgiven and you are righteous in the sight of God! It bursts in upon our little world all shut up and barricaded behind our accustomed conditional thinking as some strange comet from goodness-knows-where, something we can’t really seem to wrap our minds around, the logic of which appears closed to us. How can it be entirely unconditional? Isn’t it terribly dangerous? How can anyone say flat out, “You are righteous for Jesus’ sake? Is there not some price to be paid, some-thing (however minuscule) to be done? After all, there can’t be such thing as a free lunch, can there?”
You see, we really are sealed up in the prison of our conditional thinking. It is terribly difficult for us to get out, and even if someone batters down the door and shatters the bars, chances are we will stay in the prison anyway! We seem always to want to hold out for something somehow, that little bit of something, and we do it with a passion and an anxiety that betrays its true source-the Old Adam that just does not want to lose control (Justification by Faith: A Matter of Death and Life, pg. 24).

The only condition in our vertical relationship with God is Christ!  Christ is the condition and Christ fulfilled the condition.  The good news of the Gospel is that our vertical relationship is dependent upon Christ and His zeal for us.  Christ met the condition of the Law which means our eyes can shift outward.  God is the one doing the verbs... He is the active one in this Christian relationship and we are the passive recipients of His verbs.  Finally, our assurance is in Christ, for we already have every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm. (Eph. 1:3).  

To Learn More On This Subject Check Out The Following:
Two Theologies Diagramed
Viewing The Apostle Creed Through Glory vs. Cross Theology
Two Ways Of Viewing Christianity