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Old 10-03-2008, 03:51 PM   #1
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Default "Prosperity Gospel" and foreclosures?

This article is thought provoking, without question.

Foreclosures: Did God Want You to Get That Mortgage?

Has the so-called Prosperity Gospel turned its followers into some of the most willing participants — and hence, victims — of the current financial crisis? That's what a scholar of the fast-growing brand of pentecostal Christianity believes. While researching a book on black televangelism, says Jonathan Walton, a religion professor at the University of California Riverside, he realized that Prosperity's central promise — that God would "make a way" for poor people to enjoy the better things in life — had developed an additional, toxic expression during sub-prime boom. Walton says that this encouraged congregants who got dicey mortgages to believe "God caused the bank to ignore my credit score and blessed me with my first house." The results, he says, "were disastrous, because they pretty much turned parishioners into prey for greedy brokers."

Others think he may be right. Says Anthea Butler, an expert in pentecostalism at the University of Rochester in New York state, "The pastor's not gonna say 'go down to Wachovia and get a loan' but I have heard, 'even if you have a poor credit rating God can still bless you — if you put some faith out there [that is, make a big donation to the church], you'll get that house, or that car or that apartment.'" Adds J. Lee Grady, editor of the magazine Charisma, "It definitely goes on, that a preacher might say, 'if you give this offering, God will give you a house. And if they did get the house, people did think that it was an answer to prayer, when in fact it was really bad banking policy." If so, the situation offers a look at how an native-born faith built partially on American econoic optimism entered into a toxic symbiosis with a pathological market.

Although a type of Pentecostalism, Prosperity theology adds a distinctive layer of supernatural positive thinking. Adherents will reap rewards if they prove their faith to God by contributing heavily to their churches, remaining mentally and verbally upbeat, and concentrating on divine promises of worldly bounty supposedly strewn throughout the bible. Critics call it a thinly disguised pastor-enrichment scam. Other experts, like Walton, note that for all its faults, it can empower people who have been taught to see themselves as financially or even culturally useless to feel they are "worthy of having more and doing more and being more." In some cases the philosophy has matured with its practitioners, encouraging good financial habits and entrepreneurship.

But Walton suggests that a decade's worth of ever-easier credit acted like drug in Prosperity's bloodstream. "The economic boom 90's and financial over-extensions of the new millennium contributed to the success of the prosperity message," he wrote recently. And not positively. "Narratives of how 'God blessed me with my first house despite my credit' were common. Sermons declaring 'it's your season to overflow' supplanted messages of economic sobriety," and "little attention was paid to.. the dangers of using one's home equity as an ATM to subsidize cars, clothes and vacations."

With the bubble burst, Walton and Butler assume that prosperity congregants have taken a disproportionate hit, and are curious as to how their churches will respond. Butler thinks that some of the flashier ministries will shrink along with their congregants' fortunes. Says Walton, "You would think that the current economic conditions would undercut their theology." But he predicts they will perservere, since God's earthly largesse is just as attractive when one is behind the economic eight ball.

A recently posted testimony by a congregant at the Brownsville Assembly of God near Pensacola, Fla., seems to confirm his intuition. Brownsville is not even a classic Prosperity congregation — it relies more on the anointing of its pastors than on scriptural promises of God. But the believer's note to his minister illustrates how magical thinking can prevail even after the mortgage blade has dropped. "Last Sunday," it read, "You said if anyone needed a miracle to come up. So I did. I was receiving foreclosure papers, so I asked you to anoint a picture of my home and you did and your wife joined with you in prayer as I cried. I went home feeling something good was going to happen. On Friday the 5th of September I got a phone call from my mortgage company and they came up with a new payment for the next 3 months of only $200. My mortgage is usually $1020. Praise God for his Mercy & Grace."

And pray that the credit market doesn't tighten any further.
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Old 10-03-2008, 04:50 PM   #2
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Default Re: "Prosperity Gospel" and foreclosures?

There are some um... inaccuracies in the article about prosperity gospel that If no one minds, I would like to clarify.

1. Prosperity Gospel is NOT primarily a teaching for the economically downtrodden or minority class. It's adherents move throughout the social classes.

2. It is NOT based primarily on FINANCIAL prosperity, but on over-all prosperity.
..A. It holds as a teaching that because a person is saved, they should have all the blessings of God.
..B. As a result, when a person is sick, have a disease, struggling in life, or has a financial problem, it is a result of their own sin and lack of faith.
. C. It is not dependent upon how much one gives to the church, rather, it is dependent upon how "faithfully one lives their life... according to what the preacher says.

3. This doctrine is also know as "Word of Faith" teaching... pejoratively, it is call "name it and claim it" or "blab it and grab it." What it means is that if you have enough faith, you can will something into existence because of a belief in God.

4. All Christians BELIEVE that God can and does intervene in man's affairs (immanent God). Thus, that last statement is not necessarily a belief specifically to Prosperity Gospel. I have seen with my own eyes and ears people come up and say, "I don't know why, but I beleive God has told me that you need this check... " and it is exactly the amount needed. The difference between this and prosperity gospel is that we do not believe it is "owed to us" by God.

In essence, prosperity Gospel turns God into an ATM machine with the touch screen reading "Physical healling...Fiscal healing... Social healing...Relational healing." If you just beleive enough, touch the screen and see what pops out of heavens ATM!


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As you all can see, prosperity gospel is not well liked in most of Christianity. We believe it makes a mockery of the Gospel, the teaching of Jesus, and is a self-centered egotistical teaching baptized into Christianity.
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Old 10-03-2008, 05:04 PM   #3
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Default Re: "Prosperity Gospel" and foreclosures?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Preacher View Post
As you all can see, prosperity gospel is not well liked in most of Christianity. We believe it makes a mockery of the Gospel, the teaching of Jesus, and is a self-centered egotistical teaching baptized into Christianity.
I understood that Preacher. I thought the article made its points while walking a very thin line that by necessity had to fall short of condemning Prosperity Gospel; they had to show the possible connection, but not impugn the churches or preachers themselves.
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Old 10-03-2008, 05:24 PM   #4
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Default Re: "Prosperity Gospel" and foreclosures?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mosca View Post
I understood that Preacher. I thought the article made its points while walking a very thin line that by necessity had to fall short of condemning Prosperity Gospel; they had to show the possible connection, but not impugn the churches or preachers themselves.

Sorry...

I don't think i was clear. I was just wanting to give some clarification and further insight...

Unless one is involved intimately with the discussion, sometimes the nuances are missed.

The article, for being a general "let's look at this" is fair. I know your weren't insinuating that this is reflective of christianity as a whole... Like I said. I was just trying to provide some further insight on the doctrine called "Word of Faith".

Again, sorry if I wasn't clear.. or if you took it that I was trying to correct you. That wasn't the intent... it was a fascinating article... and one I hope many that hold to that doctrine read for correction to their belief.

<--- Pepsi !
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Old 10-04-2008, 05:17 PM   #5
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Default Re: "Prosperity Gospel" and foreclosures?

Believe me, I see this kind of thing all the time. Churches buying advertising are strictly CIA with me, and have been for awhile...I've had my fill of "The Lord will pay the bill" and the next thing i know we're into 90 or 120+ and no sign of payment.

God espouses living within your means and fiscal responsibility...it's just as deceitful as cheating to buy things you know you can't pay for, and made doubly worse by blaming God for your failure to pay.

Shame shame shame...
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Old 10-05-2008, 11:08 AM   #6
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Default Re: "Prosperity Gospel" and foreclosures?

Let's also note that the most successful mechanism for promoting homeownership by the poor is the Christian group Habitat for Humanity. They do it right.
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Old 10-05-2008, 01:20 PM   #7
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Default Re: "Prosperity Gospel" and foreclosures?

I wonder what Job would have to say about the prosperity gospel....
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