Affixing blame during times of crisis is a natural phenomenon. We are continually looking for what got us to where we. That’s not always a bad thing. However, it can begin to be a bit unhealthy.
This week, an article in Time magazine implies that churches and pastors who ascribe to the Prosperity Gospel have played a role in the recent mortgage crisis. The Prosperity Gospel is a primarily charasmatic movement whose proponents say that God will bless you according the the measure of faith that you have in him. There are biblical texts that, when taken out of context, seem to support the claim. To be clear, the article suggests that the congregation members who have received bad loans are “victims” of the crisis.
Critics of the movement, including myself, believe that pastors who proclaim the Prosperity Gospel ignore great chunks of the Bible. Does the story of Job, a righteous man who suffers great calamity, shed light on what full faith looks like? What shall we do with Stephen who had so much faith in God that he was killed? Then, of course, there is Jesus. You can’t have anymore faith than in the Father than Jesus had. Yet, he had no place to lay his head and was crucified. Fullness of faith does not often lead to wealth and financial prosperity in the Bible. The delusion that faith will bring financial prosperity can be very harmful.
While I have some theological issues with proponents of the Prosperity Gospel, the article in Time seems to be unfair in its accusations. From my view, it seems that most the congregations of most Prosperity Gospel churches are not wealthy. So, they are simply looking for a faith that “works” for them. In most cases, the pastor truly believes the tenets of the Prosperity Gospel. She or he is certainly not trying to hurt the congregants. Second, the article implies that Prosperity Gospel necessarily involves the duping of the congregation for the financial gain of the pastor. While that certainly does occur, to present it as a norm is a bit reckless.
What do you think?