Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The Prosperity Gospel and the Financial Crisis

An interesting item in 'The Christian Post' discusses a recent article in December's issue of The Atlantic entitled 'Did Christianity Cause the Crash?' Hanna Rosin suggests that a vast and growing sector of the church demonstrably played a part in the part of the crash we know as the “sub-prime mortgage” scandal and the “foreclosure follow-up”. She argues that sub-prime mortgages were sold especially into and through many poor Latino and African-American congregations - the same churches who were being led by pastors (or Bishops or Apostles!) who teach a 'prosperity gospel'.

Many of the terms and concepts used by prosperity preachers today date back to Oral Roberts, a poor farmer’s son turned Pentecostal preacher. Roberts developed his famous concept of seed faith, still popular today. If people would donate money to his ministry, a “seed” offered to God, he’d say, then God would multiply it a hundredfold. Of the USA's 12 largest churches, the article suggests, three teach prosperity—Joel Osteen’s, which dwarfs all the other megachurches; Tommy Barnett’s in Phoenix; and TD Jakes’ in Dallas. In second-tier churches—those with about 5,000 members—the prosperity gospel is said to dominate: overall 50 of the largest 260 churches in the US teach prosperity. The doctrine has become popular with Americans of every background and ethnicity...

However many church leaders in the US take a diametrically opposite view, eg:

John Piper, very forthrightly, in this video.

Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Community Church and author of various bestsellers including 'The Purpose Driven Life: “This idea that God wants everybody to be wealthy? There is a word for that: baloney. It’s creating a false idol. You don’t measure your self-worth by your net worth. I can show you millions of faithful followers of Christ who live in poverty. Why isn’t everyone in the church a millionaire?”


  1. RIP Oral Roberts, who died today, aged 91.

  2. Further comment on the theology of the 'prosperity gospel' here: http://tinyurl.com/yjff888