Early Church Fathers Quotes on Material Prosperity or the Prosperity Gospel
And the way of death is this: First of all it is evil and accursed: loving vanities, pursuing revenge, not pitying a poor man, not laboring for the afflicted, not knowing Him Who made them, murderers of children, destroyers of the handiwork of God, turning away from him who is in want, afflicting him who is distressed, advocates of the rich, lawless judges of the poor, utter sinners. Be delivered, children, from all these.
Bear with me, brethren. Do not hinder me from living; do not desire my death. Bestow not on the world one who desires to be God’s, neither allure him with material things. Suffer me to receive the pure light. When I am come thither, then shall I be a man.[For] I write to you in the midst of life, yet lusting after death. My lust has been crucified, and there is no fire of material longing in me, but only living water speaking in me, saying within me, Come to the Father. I have no delight in the food of corruption or in the delights of this life. I desire no longer to live after the manner of men. – ibid
Shepherd of Hermas
“These are they that have faith, but have also riches of this world. When tribulation comes, they deny their Lord by reason of their riches and their business affairs.” And I answered and said unto her, “When then, lady, will they be useful for the building?” “When,” she replied, “their wealth, which leads their souls astray, shall be cut away, then will they be useful for God. For just as the round stone, unless it be cut away, and lose some portion of itself, cannot become square, so also they that are rich in this world, unless their riches be cut away, cannot become useful to the Lord. Learn first from yourself. When you had riches, you were useless; but now you are useful and profitable unto life.”
(The angry temper) insinuates itself into the heart of the man, and for no cause whatever the man or the woman is embittered on account of worldly matters, either about meats, or some triviality, or about some friend, or about giving or receiving, or about follies of this kind. For all these things are foolish and vain and senseless and inexpedient for the servants of God. – ibid
Therefore, instead of fields buy you souls that are in trouble, as each is able, and visit widows and orphans, and neglect them not; and spend your riches and all your displays, which you received from God, on fields and houses of this kind.- ibid
The rich man has much wealth, but in the things of the Lord he is poor, being distracted about his riches, and his confession and intercession with the Lord is very scanty; and even that which he gives is small and weak and has not power above…- ibid
These are they that are mixed up in business and cleave not to the saints. Therefore the one half of them lives, but the other half is dead. – ibid
Some of them are wealthy and others are entangled in many business affairs. The briars are the wealthy, and the thorns are they that are mixed up in various business affairs. These [then, that are mixed up in many and various business affairs,] cleave [not] to the servants of God, but go astray, being choked by their affairs, but the wealthy unwillingly cleave to the servants of God, fearing lest they may be asked for something by them. Such men therefore shall hardly enter into the kingdom of God. For as it is difficult to walk on briars with bare feet, so also it is difficult for such men to enter the kingdom of God. – ibid
We who valued above all things the acquisition of wealth and possessions, now bring what we have into a common stock, and communicate to every one in need.
And again, the Lord Himself exhibits Abraham as having said to the rich man, with reference to all those who were still alive: “If they do not obey Moses and the prophets, neither, if any one were to rise from the dead and go to them, will they believe him.” Now, He has not merely related to us a story respecting a poor man and a rich one; but He has taught us, in the first place, that no one should lead a luxurious life, nor, living in worldly pleasures and perpetual feastings, should be the slave of his lusts, and forget God. “For there was,” He says, “a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen, and delighted himself with splendid feasts.” Of such persons, too, the Spirit has spoken by Isaiah: “They drink wine with [the accompaniment of] harps, and tablets, and psalteries, and flutes; but they regard not the works of God, neither do they consider the work of His hands.” Lest, therefore, we should incur the same punishment as these men, the Lord reveals [to us] their end.
Clement of Alexandria
Besides, He makes preparation for a self-sufficing mode of life, for simplicity, and for girding up our loins, and for free and unimpeded readiness of our journey; in order to the attainment of an eternity of beatitude, teaching each one of us to be his own storehouse. For He says, “Take no anxious thought for to-morrow,” meaning that the man who has devoted himself to Christ ought to be sufficient to himself, and servant to himself, and moreover lead a life which provides for each day by itself. For it is not in war, but in peace, that we are trained. War needs great preparation, and luxury craves profusion; but peace and love, simple and quiet sisters, require no arms nor excessive preparation. The Word is their sustenance.
“Inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these My brethren, you have done it to Me.” But these (unbelievers), on the other hand, prefer ignorance to wisdom, turning their wealth into stone, that is, into pearls and Indian emeralds. And they squander and throw away their wealth on fading dyes, and bought slaves; like crammed fowls scraping the dung of life. – ibid
Love of wealth displaces a man from the right mode of life, and induces him to cease from feeling shame at what is shameful… For what end, then, are such dainty dishes prepared, but to fill ones belly? The filthiness of gluttony is proved by the sewers into which our bellies discharge the refuse of our food. – ibid
“Covetousness,” the Spirit of the Lord has through the apostle pronounced “a root of all evils.” Let us not interpret that covetousness as consisting merely in the concupiscence of what is another’s: for even what seems ours is another’s; for nothing is ours, since all things are God’s, whose are we also ourselves. And so, if, when suffering from a loss, we feel impatiently, grieving for what is lost from what is not our own, we shall be detected as bordering on covetousness.
But how can they follow Christ, who are held back by the chain of their wealth? Or how can they seek heaven, and climb to sublime and lofty heights, who are weighed down by earthly desires? They think that they possess, when they are rather possessed; as slaves of their profit, and not lords with respect to their own money, but rather the bond-slaves of their money. These times and these men are indicated by the apostle, when he says, “But they that will be rich, fall into temptation, and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and in perdition. For the root of all evil is the love of money, which, while some have coveted, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”