Mary Adamski

View from the Pew
A look inside Hawaii's houses of worship

By Mary Adamski

Saturday, June 2, 2001

Tithing is way to
prosperity, pastor says

"You don't have to worry about the economy. There will be no recession at Word of Life," the speaker assured the Kakaako crowd.

It was the second of three "Financial Destiny" sessions by Bishop Keith Butler, founder of a 17,000-member Detroit church, a lesson in the modern school of prosperity theology.

Many of the mostly 20- and 30-something crowd at Word of Life Christian Center noted Butler's formulas for prosperity. But it wasn't tips on the stock market. It was biblical passages referring to abundance, treasure ... and tithing.


Message: "You will be on top, the people at Word of Life will have no lack ... because you hear God, and you sow."

Participation: The audience put notebooks aside and brought out checkbooks. Many hands, raised as they sang the praise chorus, waved checks and bills in the air.

From Psalm 50: "The beasts are mine, the world is mine and the fullness thereof is mine," and, said the preacher, "that includes the money in your pocket. God has placed his prized possessions in our hands. He's saying, 'I give you the ability to get it.' He is making us stewards of it.

"I've got a Mercedes, my wife has a Mercedes, my daughter has a Mercedes. It all belongs to God and he's letting me use it," said Butler. "There is nothing wrong with having a large house and car, with taking trips around the world ... as long as you do what God wants you to with it."

Butler compared his Word of Faith International Christian Center on a 110-acre site "that is called the jewel of the city, a most beautiful place," with the warehouselike surroundings at 544 Queen St. where Word of Life members gather during a multimillion-dollar building project to expand it.

He referred them to the Book of Malachi: "See if I do not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out an abundant blessing for you. I shall forbid the locust to destroy the produce of your soil. All the nations will call you blessed for you will be a land of delights." And he quoted Psalm 75: "God is judging the upright, bringing some down and raising others."

The key to God-given prosperity, he said, is that the believer share his wealth with the church. "God said bring tithes to the storehouse," said Butler. After his wife persuaded him to put their last nest egg into the collection basket, he received financial aid that continued through his seminary training.

He promised the same "spiritual umbrella" to the Oahu crowd. "Tithing is a prerequisite, the ultimate way to show whether God can trust you on this earth."

From the Gospel of Mark, he quoted Jesus' command to "Go ye into the world." Butler said "for this particular church, to take the gospel into the world requires money."

Butler did not quote the passage in which Jesus told his followers "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."


Mary Adamski covers religion for the Star-Bulletin.
Email her at

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