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As part of a series of articles on Joyce Meyer, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an article highlighting prosperity teaching:
Today, Meyer heads a ministry fast approaching $100 million a year and is among a dozen or so evangelical superstars headlining a revived, and very healthy, industry.
The prosperity gospel also has been called the ``name it and claim it'' theology. God wants His people to prosper, evangelists like Meyer maintain. Those who follow God and give generously to his ministries can have anything, and everything, they want.
But critics, from Bible-quoting theologians to groups devoted to preserving the separation of church and state, abound. At best, they say, such a theology is a simplistic and misguided way of living. At worst, they say, it is dangerous.
Michael Scott Horton, who teaches historical theology at the Westminister Theological Seminary in Escondido, Ca., calls the message a twisted interpretation of the Bible -- a ``wild and wacky theology.
``Some of these people are charlatans,'' Horton said. ``Others are honestly dedicated to one of the most abhorrent errors in religious theology.
`` I often think of these folks as the religious equivalent to a combination of a National Enquirer ad and professional wrestling. It's part entertainment and very large part scam.''
Sociologist William Martin of Rice University said that most people who follow TV religious leaders put so much trust in them that they want them to thrive. Martin is a professor of sociology at the university, specializing in theology.
The preachers' wealth is ``confirmation of what they are preaching,'' Martin said.
Ole Anthony's Trinity Foundation, best-known for working with the national media to uncover questionable activities involving TV evangelists, often resorts to digging through preachers' trash to find incriminating evidence. Anthony said that most of the preachers begin with a ``sincere desire to spread the faith. But the pressure of fundraising slowly moves all of them in the direction of a greed-based theology.''
Even J. Lee Grady, editor of Charisma & Christian Life magazine has become alarmed at what he sees as the excesses of some TV preachers.
Grady defends the principle that if you are stingy with your money, you will lack things in life; and if you are generous, you will get things in return.
``But that doesn't mean you can treat God like a slot machine,'' Grady said in an interview.- Source: The prosperity gospel St. Louis Post-Dispatch, USA, Nov. 18, 2003
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