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John Avanzini

John Avanzini, as most Word of Faith teachers do, focuses largely on supposed promises of earthly financial prosperity for those who would follow Christ. One of his most well known teachings is that of the "hundredfold increase" (a similar teaching is also used by Gloria Copeland in her book "God's Will is Prosperity"). Based on Mark 10:29-30, Avanzini stood before his audience on TBN and said that God told him, "I want you to lay hands on that offering, and I want you to speak hundredfold increase over that offering - that it will be multiplied back to the giver one hundredfold."(1) Of course, this neglects the context and the essence of Mark 10:29-30, which reads:

"I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields - and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life."
Did Christ mean someone would receive one hundred literal homes? How about one hundred mothers? Perhaps one hundred children? No, Christ was talking about our fellowship as Christians. As Christians, the homes of others become accessible to us when we need a place to stay (if we have "left home"). We gain hundreds of brothers and sisters in Christ when we become part of the body. It is interesting that, despite this, people believe Avanzini's teaching, which also neglects to mention the "persecutions" that go along with following Christ. Why not mention receiving persecutions a hundredfold more than what one receives if he does not become a Christian? It would not encourage people to give their money as the story does when the persecutions are left out.

Be that as it may, Avanzini preaches a Jesus that looks more like himself than the Jesus of the Bible. Avanzini comes up with many proof texts to try to assert that Christians should be rich because Jesus was rich. For instance, based on John 19:23, Avanzini says:

John 19 tells us that Jesus wore designer clothes. Well, what else you gonna call it? Designer clothes - that's blasphemy. No, that's what we call them today. I mean, you didn't get the stuff He wore off the rack. It wasn't a one-size-fits-all deal. No, this was custom stuff. It was the kind of garment that kings and rich merchants wore. Kings and rich merchants wore that garment.(2)
Beyond that, Avanzini states:
Jesus had a nice house, a big house - big enough to have company stay the night with Him at the house. Let me show you His house. Go over to John the first chapter and I'll show you His house.... Now, child of God, that's a house big enough to have company stay the night in. There's His house.(3)

Jesus was handling big money because that treasurer He had was a thief. Now you can't tell me that a ministry with a treasurer that's a thief can operate on a few pennies. It took big money to operate that ministry because Judas was stealing out of that bag.(4)

Unfortunately for Avanzini (and those who trust him), his teachings crumble in the light of scriptures such as the following:
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. - 2 Corinthians 8:9

Listen my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? - James 2:5

People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. - 1 Timothy 6:9-10

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." - Matthew 19:23-26

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there you heart will be also." - Matthew 6:19-21

Do these sound like the teachings of and about someone who is rich or who advocates worldly wealth? What about the parable Jesus told in Luke 12:16-34? That is not to say that God does not bestow wealth on some, but that is His choice and that worldly wealth should not be our focus. However, Jesus was very obviously not wealthy; Avanzini clearly teaches a different Jesus. This is truly sad since 2 Corinthians 11:3-15 shows that those who preach a different Jesus are false teachers. The real Jesus and His disciples taught not to seek after such things, that worldly wealth is not important. If Jesus were rich and taught that Christians should also be rich, should not his disciples also have been rich? If so, how can teachers like Avanzini account for the following verses?
Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." - Acts 3:6

To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless..Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world. - 1 Corinthians 4:11-13

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him... - Philippians 3:7-9

Do these sound like the words of rich men? How well it would do for these teachers to turn from their ways and teach as the apostles taught. Paul's desire in Philippians 3 is to share in Christ's suffering, not to become wealthy. What about Paul's writings in 2 Corinthians 11:23-33? It is shameful that claiming Christians follow these teachings not only without question, but with absolute fervor!


  1. John Avanzini, "Praise the Lord" program on TBN (November 5, 1990).
  2. John Avanzini, "Believer's Voice of Victory" program on TBN (January 20, 1991).
  3. John Avanzini, "Believer's Voice of Victory" program on TBN (January 20, 1991).
  4. John Avanzini, "Praise the Lord" program on TBN (September 15, 1988).

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