I just read an interesting article in Time about how the mortgage bubble served as a boon for Prosperity pastors.
Will an economic downturn affect this particular (in my opinion despicable) branch of Christianity? Have there been previous sects of Christianity or other religions that have tied themselves so firmly to the economy? Is Prosperity a new gospel or a return of something old?
Btw, a lot of “Prosperity Gospelism” is a fundamentalized version of late 1800’s “New Thought/Mind Science”, maybe even with some good ol’ Gnosticism (“We are parts of God & can create our own reality”) thrown in.
That’s only tangentially related to Prosperity theology. Barton’s book, along with Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking inspired a mainstream Protestant idealism which is now best represented by Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral. Prosperity Theology is a Charismatic variation that actually teaches that believing & giving releases a Divine energy that results in material blessings.
Oral Roberts really got the ball rolling on that.
I like Peale & the Schullers, tho I think they are kinda soft on some core issues. Some Prosperity preachers may mean well, but I still avoid them.
I think it will advance the goals of prosperity theology, as Christianity is remarkably good at blaming the adherent for a lack of faith. So as people apply their faith and the economy rebounds they’ll be shown that it works. Obviously it will lose some adherents to cynicism, but it will gain others who hope that by faith they can turn their luck around.