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Friday, October 7, 2016

The Prosperity Gospel and Its Anti-Christian Prophets of Profit

The Christian Bible's story describes Jesus as saying that it is easier to pass a camel through the eye of an needle than for a rich man to enter Heaven.  Doesn't sound like wealth is an advantage in this regard, and definitely not a measure of quality, human worth, or righteousness.

The following program from CBC Ideas explores the American Prosperity Gospel, something that started as overt religion and insinuated itself  so far into American culture that even pro-wrestlers performed the passion play of its theology. It has become the de facto American faith, a faith in wealth, commerce, and entitlement. A subconscious, implicit bias that transforms the Dream into a nightmare.

The dogma has become, "Prosperity through growth at all costs." If you aren't "prosperous", God hates you.

Prayer is supposed to be a form of communication with a God, a request for help or forgiveness, and statement of thanks. Working out ritual and formulas deigned to make God give you what you demand is "witchcraft" and it often uses snake-oil.

Prosperity Theology plays on the belief that you are better than everyone else and entitled to better. God owns everything so only the rich are righteous and good. The rest of us are pack-camels, too smelly to pass into the house.

Evil, dehumanization, always turns the truth on its head or around to face the wrong way. That's how hierarchy declares its divine right. They say, "God only made me in his image, not you. I  am Adam and everyone else is a rib, taken from me."God is rich so wealth must equal divinity. You buy your way into Heaven like a Start Trek Ferengi. Not an idea original to America. The Caste-system is based on the idea that you deserve it. In the Dark Ages, the Catholic Church sold indulgences, passes to Heaven,  a "get-out-of-Hell" card.  Indulgences were a glaring sign that Roman Catholicism had gotten turned around. That sign has been flashing in America for quite a while.

No one deserves wealth or is entitled to privilege. You earn them. Compassion is all that we truly deserve from one another. Nature doesn't give a damn. Compassion is the only thing that enables real spiritual prosperity, real personal prosperity, from which come social and economic. Economic comes last. It's a tool not the goal. God is supposed to be a father, not an accountant. Mental, physical, spiritual, and social healthcare aided by economic, but don't depend on it. Most life prospers just fine without it, and we did long before we invented money.

Jesus wasn't born rich, didn't live rich, and certainly didn't die rich and comfortable. He wasn't a businessperson, financial genius, inventor, entrepreneur, lawyer, politician, or royalty. He was an adult with compassion for us all.

That's why he became divine.

The Prosperity Gospel is antichrist by definition. It comes from the story of the Satanic Bible. Its profits and disciplines are antichrists not Christians.

According to the story.

Trump is the Messiah of the “Gospel” of the false prophets of an antichristian capitalist witchcraft cult. That’s the “Prosperity Gospel”. Jesus blessed the weak, the poor the suffering and walk among them as one of them. He judged no one except religious hypocrites, merchants exploiting religion, and child abusers. An antichrist believes only the bad, the cursed, the inhuman, are poor, sick, or suffering. The antichrist is certain that because they are good, even if they are poor now, they will become rich. Only evil people demanding help and compassion can get in the way of this wish fulfillment because they perform the sacred rituals of the prophets. God must obey. He works for the blessed because the blessed made themselves. The blessed consumers aren’t just gods, but divine royalty. Antichrists are certain that they deserve it. The prophets say it and Trump the Messiah proves it. 

Trump the Tweeter believes it. No one else but him knows what to do.  He is all-knowing and all-winning. Why bother listening? 

Satan doesn’t create his own. He can’t. He twists the truth back upon itself and corrupts what exists. He influences and inflates the ego. That is all that is needed for all the world’s evil to be done by us. The best lie is woven inside many truths.  Ask any good fiction writer, marketer, or con artist. That is the Prosperity Gospel, the antichrist’s good news. Christ’s is compassion, mercy, sharing, forgiveness, and love. Not ruthless competition, tuthiness, self-righteousness, and greed. Facts are meaningless when positive thinking works miracles and salvation come through finance.

Friday October 07, 2016

God Wants You To Be Rich

(Nick Oza/CP Images)

Listen to Full Episode 54:00
Why do millions of Christians in the United States believe that their faith, financial status and health are all intertwined? That's the question that Paul Kennedy explores with Kate Bowler, author of Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel. They turn to the early 20th century beginnings of this uniquely made-in-America brand of theology, where it was first preached in pentecostal tent revivals. Now it's being preached from mega-churches across the country. For many, it is a key to a richer and fuller life. For its critics, it's hucksterism at its worst.

It's a made-in-America theology, combining faith, health and wealth. And it's everywhere: from mega-churces to presidential politics. It's the prosperity gospel. But what exactly is it?
 God Wants You To Be Rich - Creflow Dollar
Reverend Creflow Dollar (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Pouya Dianat)

Jesus claimed that if you have faith without doubt, you can move mountains. Preachers like Creflo Dollars, Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, and Joyce Meyers would like you to know that if you have faith without doubt you can move wads of cash into your bank account. This "good news" is called the prosperity gospel, which promotes the belief that one's financial status and health are blessings from God.  It is the subject of author Kate Bowler's compelling book Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel.

The prosperity gospel is an American Christian movement that stretches back to the early 20th century. Kate Bowler writes, "The roots of the modern prosperity gospel are long and tangled. To understand the size, success, and diversity of today's movement, we first need to understand certain ways of thinking about spiritual power that emerged and competed for attention early in the twentieth century.  The thinking took many forms and went by different names, including the mind-cure, success literature, positive thinking, self-help, and prosperity theology ... This was the core: adherents, acting in accordance with divine principles, relied on their minds to transform thought and speech into heaven-sent blessings."

From the  pentecostal tent revivals of the early 1900's to present day mega-churches the success of the prosperity gospel has been phenomenal. The marketplace is flooded with books, magazines, audio tapes, workshops, DVDs, and workshops touting the wealth and health that God bestows upon those who embrace this gospel. With its roots firmly in America, is there something that makes it a uniquely American phenomenon? Ms. Bower replies, "The message certainly resonated with a set of national characteristics deeply embedded in the American social imaginary." Those "national characteristics", according to her, are reflected in the qualities that make achieving the American Dream possible: hard work, moral fiber, and an entrepreneurial spirit. For many Americans the man who embodies these qualities at the moment is Donald Trump, whose pastor, Mark Burns, just so happens to be a preacher of the prosperity gospel.

God Wants You To Be Rich - Blessed by Kate Bowler

Though there are many critics within and without religious circles of this "uniquely American phenomenon" its success shows no signs of faltering. Not that surprising given what it offers to believers. Ms. Bowler writes, "One level, the appeal of the prosperity theology is obvious ... The faith movement sells a compelling bill of goods: God, wealth, and a healthy body to enjoy it.  But it is the enjoyment, the feelings that lift believers' chins and square their shoulders. That is its fundamental achievement.  The first step in accessing this good news is the belief that things can get better. The prosperity gospel's chief allure is simple optimism."

Kate Bowler is Assistant Professor of American Religion at Duke Divinity School in Durham North Carolina. She is presently working on her memoirs, which will be published by Random House.

Related websites:

**This episode was produced by Frank Faulk

Everything is always in process
Only compassion defeats dehumanization.