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The Theology of Prosperity

المؤلف: Amos Yong
التاريخ: 05.03.2010
Category: إنجيل الرفاهية

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The Lausanne Global Conversation (LGC) is an opportunity for Christians around the globe to wrestle with important issues related to world evangelization, in connection with Cape Town 2010, the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization. One of these issues is surely the prosperity gospel. Termed pejoratively as the gospel of health and wealth by its critics, it has surely been controversial for various reasons.

Of course, this gospel of prosperity is not a new phenomenon. One of its most direct antecedents especially in North America, and certainly its most influential genealogical stream, can be traced through the charismatic renewal and the Latter Rain revival movements of the mid-twentieth century back to the teachings of popular writers like Essek W. Kenyon, among others. Particularly in this broad tradition, prosperity was considered not just in financial terms but also in relationship to bodily health (hence the label “health and wealth”). Kenyon’s teachings, as mediated through Latter Rain personalities like William Marion Branham and charismatic leaders like Oral Roberts, Kathryn Kuhlman, Kenneth Hagin, and Kenneth Copeland, among many others, have not only informed the scope of discursive practices that have fueled the spreading of the prosperity message across the global south in the last generation, but also been the source of many critical assessments of the theology of prosperity.

The pervasiveness of the prosperity theme around the world is also surely another reason for its contemporary notoriety. Yet because the notion of prosperity has been especially prevalent among churches associated with the global renewal movement, it is very difficult to make reliable generalizations. One the one hand, prosperity features prominently in fairly traditional Pentecostal churches like the Redeemed Christian Church of God which is based in Nigeria but has missionary congregation practically around the world; on the other hand, prosperity is also central to new and independent churches emergent from out of the charismatic renewal movement like the Brazilian based but also globally present Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus (Universal Church of the Reign of God). And if things weren’t already complicated enough, there is also the phenomenon of prosperity among groups like El Shaddai Ministries, a major aspect of the burgeoning Roman Catholic charismatic renewal in the Philippines. As representative of the diversity of the global renewal movements, these churches and organizations also illuminate the pluralistic shades of prosperity embraced by Christians around the world. But cumulatively, they represent an irreducibly complex mix of sociological, economic, political, and historical factors, all interwoven with the ongoing task of meaning-making that is central to spiritual pursuit and the religious life.

Back in the North American context, the prosperity gospel continues to thrive, although simultaneously morphing according to the shape of its carriers. The emergence of mega-churches – most of which cut across racial and ethnic lines – that provide for middle and upper-middle class respectability means that prosperity preaching is now much more subtly communicated and received. To be sure, there remain televangelistic ministries which promulgate blatant forms of especially the wealth message as well to their followers. Inevitably exposés and scandals following well-known personalities inflame public opinion, and rightly so.

كلمات مفتاحية: prosperity gospel, charismatic, theology, poverty, wealth, global, renewal movement

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رد ضع علم 0 يعجبني لا يعجبني RagamuffinRese (3)  
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I appreciate your drawing attention to the subtlety of the megachurches as a form of the prosperity movement. People who drive luxury vehicles with GPS units find it difficult to hear they are poor and lost!

It is difficult to square the wealth and health of the prosperity gospel with the rampant poverty, injustice and persecution of many of God’s people.  In the end it marginalizes and oppresses millions of people who need to hear the Gospel.


12.08.2010
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رد ضع علم 1 يعجبني لا يعجبني Justin (0)
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It has always seemed clear to me that prosperity teachings are off center. In the movie Apollo 13, they needed to keep the earth in the little window. They had to keep it centered in the window to get home. Christ is in our window and if we keep Him the focus and center than we too will find ourselves home. Jesus said that we will have trials and tribulations. He said to align ourselves to His Kingdom and all other things will be added. I believe He decides the resources that we receive. I believe that He knows the seasons of plenty come and when they go. I believe our prosperity is described in John 17... our relationship with the Father and being found in Him. Our wealth and health is the humble submission to His love. And apart from His love anything that we say or do is quite empty and quite poor and quite ill. Our message is Hope, our gospel is Peace, our calling is Love.


06.04.2010
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رد ضع علم 0 يعجبني لا يعجبني Colin_Buckland (0)   
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I am reminded of a ministry trip I took to Haiti a few years ago. I was faced with abject poverty all around me and then in a local church, hearing the prosperity gospel being preached to some of the worlds most poor people. I was horrified to see the congregations response to this. I will never forget it.


18.03.2010

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