Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Gospel of Wealth

Great story in the NYTimes about the resurrgence of prosperity theology among some Protestants in New York and other cities. It teaches, as can easily be surmised, that material wealth and success is directly tied to religious devotion and God's favor:
It is a theology that is excoriated in many Christian circles but is
becoming increasingly visible in this country, according to religious scholars.
Now, it is beginning to establish a foothold in New York City, where capitalism
has long been religion.

...

"There's no question that almost every Christian leader - reformed,
Pentecostal, however you want to call it - sees it as a blight on the face of
Christianity," said Timothy C. Morgan, deputy managing editor at Christianity
Today, an evangelical magazine. "Yet it's so seductive."

The theology taps into the country's self-help culture, said William C.
Martin, a professor emeritus of religion and public policy at Rice University in
Houston. "One of the goals of America is for you to become prosperous," he said.
"For the church to put a blessing on that and say, 'God wants you to be rich,'
is quite appealing."

Not surprisingly, the story notes that the preacher and the church focused on in this story received an 'F' for financial transperancy by an evangelical Protestant watchdog group, which also advises people not to give money to this church.

Contrast the prosperity gospel with what Pope Benedict said today in his Angelus message: "Being a disciple of Christ: this is enough for the Christian." (via Amy)