Articles, books, videos, websites and other research resources on the Prosperity Gospel, also known as Prosperity Theology or Prosperity Teaching.
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Articles on the Prosperity Gospel
- Contentment: Antithesis of Prosperity Teaching by Rick Blinson
- Death, The Prosperity Gospel, And Me. Kate Bowler, New York Times, February 13, 2016. See also this interview
The prosperity gospel popularized a Christian explanation for why some people make it and some do not. They revolutionized prayer as an instrument for getting God always to say “yes.” It offers people a guarantee: Follow these rules, and God will reward you, heal you, restore you. […]
The prosperity gospel holds to this illusion of control until the very end. If a believer gets sick and dies, shame compounds the grief. Those who are loved and lost are just that — those who have lost the test of faith. […]
I am well aware that news of my cancer will be seen by many in the prosperity community as proof of something. I have heard enough sermons about those who “speak against God’s anointed” to know that it is inevitable, despite the fact that the book I wrote about them is very gentle. I understand.
- Did Jesus promise to give literally anything we ask for in faith? by Ron Rhodes
- Do the righteous always prosper? by John Piper
- An Evaluation of the Key Doctrines in the Health and Wealth Faith Movement by Vincent McCann
- ‘Health & wealth gospel’ critiqued Brent Thompson, Baptist Press, Aug. 9, 2007
As Peters dug into the theology and history of the word of faith movement, he was more convinced than ever that Christians needed to know the truth about it. He discovered that the movement’s origins are not at all Christian; instead its roots can be traced directly to the metaphysical cults of the 19th century, Unitarianism, Christian Science, New Thought and even back to the early-church heresy known as Gnosticism.
“These preachers blur the line between the Creator and the created,” Peters said. “They demote God and deify man … To them, faith is not placed in God; faith is a force you direct at God to make Him do what you want Him to do. It is a very man-centered gospel which makes it a different gospel…. All this has been wrapped in a Christian terminology to make it more palatable.”
- The Heart of the Prosperity Gospel: Self or the Savior? by Dan Lioy, Conspectus, Vol. 4 (Sept. 2007)
Abstract: This essay explores whether self or the Savior is at the heart of the prosperity gospel. An analysis and critique of its dogma indicates that it is predominantly anthropocentric, rather than Christocentric. This ego-focused outlook is likewise present in the health-and-wealth movement. One discovers that preachers of success are touting a religion of self in which people are the measure of all things. A detailed discussion of Ephesians 1:3- 23 provides a needed biblical response. One learns that the Son, not self, is at the heart of the Father’s plan of redemption. Also, it is in Christ alone that believers find forgiveness, hope, and wisdom. Only He is the meta-narrative of life, whether temporal or eternal in nature. Indeed, He is the sole reason for the existence of the church and the one who enables believers to complete their God-given work.
- I can do all things A look at Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” This Bible verse is often used entirely out of context by those who promote ‘positive confession.’
- Is the “Prosperity Gospel” heresy? by Roger E. Olson
- The Hundred-Fold Heresy
- On Dying and Reckoning with the Prosperity Gospel. “How church historian Kate Bowler’s cancer diagnosis brought her face-to-face with the beauty and terror of the popular movement.” Interview with Morgan Lee, Christianity Today, February 23, 2016
Kate Bowler is a Canadian professor at Duke Divinity School who researches the prosperity gospel movement. She’s also 35, a wife and mother, and critically ill with cancer. In a widely shared New York Times piece “Death, the Prosperity Gospel, and Me,” the author of Blessed reflected on her research and how it informed her convictions on suffering and faith.
- Prosperity Preaching: Deceitful and Deadly by John Piper
- Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel [Hardcover]. [ Kindle edition]. By Kate Bowler. Note: See this article, and this interview.
Kate Bowler’s Blessed is the first book to fully explore the origins, unifying themes, and major figures of a burgeoning movement that now claims millions of followers in America. Bowler traces the roots of the prosperity gospel: from the touring mesmerists, metaphysical sages, pentecostal healers, business oracles, and princely prophets of the early 20th century; through mid-century positive thinkers like Norman Vincent Peale and revivalists like Oral Roberts and Kenneth Hagin; to today’s hugely successful prosperity preachers. Bowler focuses on such contemporary figures as Creflo Dollar, pastor of Atlanta’s 30,000-member World Changers Church International; Joel Osteen, known as “the smiling preacher,” with a weekly audience of seven million; T. D. Jakes, named by Time magazine one of America’s most influential new religious leaders; Joyce Meyer, evangelist and women’s empowerment guru; and many others. At almost any moment, day or night, the American public can tune in to these preachers-on TV, radio, podcasts, and in their megachurches-to hear the message that God desires to bless them with wealth and health. Bowler offers an interpretive framework for scholars and general readers alike to understand the diverse expressions of Christian abundance as a cohesive movement bound by shared understandings and common goals.
– Source: Publisher’s information
“Very readable and engaging…Blessed is the best history of the development of the prosperity gospel written to date. It is an important addition to the library of pastors or scholars who regularly encounter the prosperity gospel in their ministry.”–Southwestern Journal of Theology […]
“Marvelous this is a stunningly empathetic book. By pushing far beyond caricature, Bowler has produced a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the prosperity gospel and how it is, even now, remaking the American religious landscape.” –The Christian Century
– Source: Editorial reviews at Amazon.com
- Faith, Health, and Prosperity: A Report on “Word of Faith” and “Positive Confession” Theologies [Paperback] by Andrew Perriman
In 2003 the Evangelical Alliance Commission on Unity and Truth among Evangelicals (ACUTE) published a report, edited by Andrew Perriman, on prosperity teaching. It was a direct response to the Word of Faith movement which seemed to contrast with mainstream evangelical teaching. The full title of the report is Faith, Health and Prosperity: A Report on ‘Word of Faith’ and ‘Positive Confession’ Theologies . The conclusions in the report come from Perriman’s book.
- Health, Wealth & Happiness: Has the Prosperity Gospel Overshadowed the Gospel of Christ? [Paperback] [ Kindle Edition] By David Jones and Russell S. Woodbridge. A well-received, well-documented book. It shows that “[i]n light of Scripture, the prosperity gospel is fundamentally flawed. At bottom, it is a false gospel because of its faulty view of the relationship between God and man.”
Believing that the prosperity gospel is constructed upon faulty theology, authors David W. Jones and Russell S. Woodbridge take a closer look at five crucial areas of error relating to the prosperity gospel. In a fair but firm tone, the authors discuss the history and theology of the prosperity gospel movement to reveal its fraudulent core biblical teachings that have been historically and popularly misinterpreted, even by some of today’s most well-known pastors. After an introduction and assessment of the movement, readers are invited to take a look at Scripture to understand what the Bible really says about wealth, poverty, suffering, and giving.
– Source: Publisher’s book description
The five theological errors discussed are:
- The Abrahamic covenant is a means to material entitlement
- Jesus’s atonement extends to the “sin” of material poverty
- Christians give in order to gain material compensation from God
- Faith is a self-generated spiritual force that leads to prosperity
- Prayer is a tool to force God to grant prosperity
- The Money Cult [Hard Cover] [ Kindle Edition] by Chris Lehmann.
America was founded, we’re taught in school, by the Pilgrims and other Puritans escaping religious persecution in Europe—an austere and pious lot who established a culture that remained pure and uncorrupted until the Industrial Revolution got in the way.
In The Money Cult, Chris Lehmann reveals that we have it backward: American capitalism has always been entangled with religion, and so today’s megapastors, for example, aren’t an aberration—they’re as American as Benjamin Franklin.
– Source: Publisher’s book description
Scholars have written shelves of books trying to discern why religious faith remains so dominant in the United States, even while America is at the same time as consumerist, hedonistic and, above all, as capitalist as anywhere on Earth. The answer, in a socioeconomic if not spiritual sense, according to Lehmann’s eye-popping and prodigiously researched book, is simple. There never was a contradiction: from Pilgrim founders to the prophets of the gospel of prosperity, the genius—the presiding spirit—of American religion has been the same as the genius of American capitalism. It’s always been a money cult, with prosperity a sign of salvation and poverty something to self-help your way out of.
– Source: Brian Bethune, Praise the Lord and grab the money, a review of The Money Cult
- The Word-Faith Controversy: Understanding the Health and Wealth Gospel [Paperback] by Robert M. Bowman Jr. Bowman’s ability to provide easy-to-understand evaluations of complex issues is as valuable as his balanced approach.
Is it God’s will that believers be healthy, wealthy, and wise? Wise, definitely, but Robert M. Bowman questions those who teach a message of bodily health and financial prosperity through faith. In this balanced book, Bowman examines the word of faith movement by revealing the origins, teachers, and errors of this distortion of Christian doctrine. The faith healing and prosperity gospel aspects of the movement are what appeal to some and turn off others, causing a confusing and sometimes heated controversy.
But the word of faith movement is, Bowman insists, “neither soundly orthodox nor thoroughly heretical.” Using the Bible as his touchstone, Bowman helps readers sort through the controversy and distinguish acceptable Pentecostal teachings from distorted offshoots.
– Source: Publisher’s book description
News and News Archive
- Prosperity Preachers Exposed A collection of video outtakes documenting how various prosperity preachers try to get their followers to give them money. See also this similar video.
This entry is edited by Anton Hein, who reminds readers of the words of the apostle Paul to the Philippians:
I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
– Source: Philippians 4:12-13, NASB