Why The Prosperity Gospel Prospers

Joel Osteen and the prosperity gospel was handed down to us from both our religious and secular histories. It is a form of Christianity that thrives only in the U.S. Our country is one where God wants you to dust yourself off and try again. God does not want you to live off of handouts. The link says about the Prosperity Gospel, …this tradition has come to represent the worst of the conflation of American-style capitalism, religion, and Republican party politics. 

In the religious sphere we have had a history of flashy preachers. But, their message of lift yourself up with Jesus comes in part from the secular source called “New Thought.” It stressed mind over matter. The individual is responsible for his or her own happiness, health and economic circumstances. Applying mental energy was sufficient to cure any ills.

Pentecostalism brought with it the idea the individual finds God without clergy as an intermediary. If the individual can do this, why cannot that individual find prosperity by himself. The “spiritual gift” one has to talk in tongues is the gift he/she has to prosper. Along with Pentecostalism has been the Calvinistic “Protestant Work Ethic.”

Thus, when Joel Osteen walks onto the stage before 15,000 people, thrusts the Bible in the air and says this book will make you rich people really like it. Those who say he is Mr. Bible Lite may not understand there are apparently deep yearnings in the U.S. for this to be true.

The Prosperity Gospel might be called America’s religion.



17 Responses

  1. Juan Ruiz

    How many of these con men made it thanks to their old man?

    Joel Osteen
    Franklin Graham
    Richard Roberts
    Jerry Falwell, Jr.
    Garner Ted Armstrong

    To name a few. Prosperity? Nah, nepotism.

  2. Jinx II

    Why does it prosper? So its followers can continue to sin, make money, dominate others and have all their actions justified by their version of god.

    1. Jinx II 9:11 Why does it prosper? So its followers can continue to sin, make money, dominate others and have all their actions justified by their version of god.

      Why does it prosper? I won’t say this is the ultimate answer, but a social science (especially sociology) would explain it like this:

      Many branches of Christianity prosper. The Prosperity Gospel jumps out at us because of it audacious display of wealth. But all the on-going denominations, Catholics, Methodists etc etc take in money and people make a living from it. They are the same as the Prosperity Gospel except for the amounts and display of money.

      The reason they are all so successful is about sociology, not religion per se. We are born into a society and/or a subset of it that has certain existing ideas, morals, standards and myths. We mostly pick up these and make them into our own reasoning. Prosperity Gospel is successful because it moves into an existing idea that we can will ourselves to be wealthy. We just need to be motivated by a good preacher holding up a Bible. When that happens, and we briefly leave our ordinary lives, it is an exciting moment–worth paying for.

      1. Catcher

        Jon @ 9;50; re; ” They, (etc. etc.) are the same as the Prosperity Gospel except for the amounts and display of money.”

        Jon; You are welcome to attend any of our Synod’s churches, any Sunday or every Sunday to see and hear with your own eyes and ears. The sermons and printed materials have no content of being successful or wealthy the prosperity preachers and churches present.. Even giving to church , pledge drives, etc. is a rarity, and never mentioned from the pulpit. I DOUBLE DOG DARE YOU. (but you won’t.)

        Re.” Making a living from it”. Most of our churches have only one paid pastor. Some have a part time paid secretary and a custodian. Some do pay the organist ten to fifteen dollars per service. All else is voluntary. With the exception of the Pastor, hardly a qualification for “making a living from it”. And they are not over paid for the amount of education they had to complete for ordination. Far less than a college professor in comparison. In addition, their pay is determined by the congregation they serve. In dual parishes, the pay is split between the churches they serve.

        Your conflation is of the same type of the priest james. No honesty or integrity.

        1. Catcher 10:46 . I DOUBLE DOG DARE YOU. (but you won’t.)

          I’ve been in churches of your denomination and you what you are saying is correct. It is the conclusion you draw from it that is incorrect.
          What you are saying is this: Pastors in small churches (both Protestant and Catholic) are paid little. Therefore, money does not influence anything in the church’s beliefs or operations. Mega church preachers are paid huge amounts. Therefore they have no higher goal than bringing in money.

          The first part of this belief, that churches with low salaries for pastors are not influenced by money, is incorrect. The latter, that mega churches are influenced only by money, probably is technically incorrect.

          Your church and its pastors and its modest buildings exist because they are able to attract dollars away from others things church goers might spend their money on. In that way, it is no different than the gas station down the street. To confirm this, take away completely every dollar spent on personnel and building and see if the church continues. I assume some churches in your denomination close every year. That is because the market has drawn people out of the communities where they were and the church is not able to attract the money to fund a pastor’s salary and building. That the previous pastor’s salary was small made no difference in the market’s decision. Where there is not money the church closes.

          As to the Joel Osteens of the religious world, it is not different. If we looked up his church on the web (I’m not interested enough to do this) we would find its statement of purpose. Would it say, “This church is here to make Joel Osteen rich”? No, it would say this church is here to lead people to Jesus, not unlike whatever you church’s purpose says.

          In the end, you modest church and Osteen’s mega church have something in common. They both are there because people pay them to be there. That’s my point.

          1. Catcher

            @ Jon; Don’t try to put words in my mouth.

            Again, you try to divert. That won’t fly. The topic is the “Prosperity Gospel” (“A new Gospel”)

            You are incorrect. Economics is not what drives the church.

            You should come often 2 dogs.

          2. Juan Ruiz

            “Economics is not what drives the church.”

            Of course it does. I was brought up in a neighborhood Presbyterian church. The congregation dropped as the old people died, offerings disappeared, and it merged. Repeat, and another merger. It is now part of four formerly independent churches.

            Catholic churches have had it worse. Five parishes in Minneapolis merged into two. One of the largest in St. Paul had to merge and even changed the name.

          3. Juan 11:00 Of course it does. I was brought up in a neighborhood Presbyterian church. The congregation dropped as the old people died, offerings disappeared,

            That are economics the most important driving religions and denominations into business or out of business is self evident. As you can see, however, there is some denial.

          4. Catcher

            @ 11;00 Jurn; “Of course it does”. Of course it does NOT. You forget what is “Church”. A common practice here.

            It does work for hot dog stands, but the purpose and calling of “church” is a different matter entirely.

            Because Jon, you or anyone else says so does not make it so. You are starting to sound like an economist too.

            Economics do not define “church”.

          5. Catcher

            Jon @ 11;36. WRONG ! No denial ! You forget, ( if you ever knew) the purpose of “church”. “The church” is where people in communion, (agreement) gather in a divine service The building is only the place. the service is conducted. In addition, a building is not required, but is nice to have a roof and walls in case it rains.

          6. Catcher

            @ 12;04 The church building I attended as a child was closed due to the loss of farmers in conjunction to big machinery . One farmer can farm as much as ten farmers of a previous time. When that church building closed, the members, (church) remained, and drove 12 miles to another location. The congregation, (church) continues to this day.in union with the members, (church) at the new location.

            You fellars are thinking boards, glass, and concrete, not “Church”.

            Again, “the church” is / are the members in communion, (agreement). and where divine services are conducted, be it a building, open field, or park..

          7. Juan Ruiz

            ” You forget what is “Church”. ”

            No, I don’t. While the original meaning is derived from the Greek “ekklesia,” (gathering), that has long ago been lost. As exemplified by such expressions as “going to church,” “Little White Church in the Vale,” “church supper,” et al. All denote a structure. Just like the old stereotype of the first act of new ministers forming a building fund. Some samll groups may neet in homes, and call themselves a church, but those are an exception.

          8. Catcher

            Our “new ministers” don’t start churches, as the Baptists or others do. The people in an area call a pastor to serve them. Sometimes starting in a small BUILDING. fIRST COMES THE PEOPLE then comes the location / building.

            No, ecclesia has not been abandoned. In fact, ecclesiastics is a well familiar term. among us, as is “church”, but we differentiate the two.

            Re. Building fund; A name given by existing congregations, (ecclesia) as a designated fund set aside for maintenance and repair. Never mentioned from the pulpit.

            It’s “The Little Brown Church in the vale. Baptist origins.

            We separate the congregation from the building. Evidently you guys can’t.
            You can piss and moan about it all you want, but that won’t change a thing.

          9. Catcher

            In fact, I have used the term “ecclesiology” quite often in the past to describe the operation and practices of the congregation (ecclesia-church), as compared to theology, a different matter. Here too there are those who use the terms interchangeably when they should not be.

  3. entech

    I am already prosperous, because I have more than I need. I have more than I need because I don’t need much.
    If I was a humble, modest preacher then I would, of course, need mansions, private jets,concubines and so on.

  4. Rob

    Perhaps in larger cities the prosperity gospel preachers have a little influence, but they are irrelevant in this region. To call it America’s religion is delusional.

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