Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Defending the "prosperity gospel"?

Are Christian critics of "prosperity" arguing that faith and prayer are absolutely unconnected from material realities? ... In such matters, ordinary African or Asian believers (in the prosperity gospel) are not too far from the mindset of the biblical worlds they read about, in which there is a strong presumption that God will reward his faithful, in this world as well as the next. ... For a Northern world that enjoys health and wealth to a degree scarcely imagined by any previous society, it is perilously easy to despise believers who associate divine favor with full stomachs or access to the most meager forms of schooling or health care; who seek miracles in order to flourish, or even survive. The Prosperity Gospel is an inevitable by-product of a church containing so many of the very poorest. [Philip Jenkins, The New Face of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South (New York NY: Oxford University Press, 2006), 96-7]

I challenge Dr. Jenkins to tell the poor widow who just gave her 2 cents to the prosperity preacher so that the charlatan can enjoy his private jet, that the fact that she is swindled by what little she has is because that charlatan is "an inevitable by-product of a church containing so many of the very poorest." Go tell the poor believers who has just given out of their poverty, because they have been promised a 100-fold return from God, that their increasing poverty is just a "by-product" of being poor in a church that is poor.

I sometimes wonder where scholars put their brains when they defend the "prosperity gospel."

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