Acton Institute Powerblog

#1 Theological Export: Gospel of Prosperity

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This article from The Christian Post relates the warnings of Martin Oca༚, professor at the Baptist Seminary of South Peru, about the increasing attraction of prosperity theology in Latin America. According to Oca༚, prosperity theology (PT) teaches that,

material prosperity is the greatest evidence of God’s blessing. However…such prosperity is not for everyone but rather for those who are faithful to God and keep His spiritual laws.

He also says PT teaches that material prosperity is given to Christians so they can enjoy it on earth, since one has to accustom oneself on earth to a lifestyle that will be eternal and even greater in heaven.

Oca༚ also cites the origin of PT in the U.S., and contends that it is being exported to Latin America after it “emerged in society and politics unhindered and promoted by evangelical ministries in the United States.”

Signs of prosperity theology have emerged elsewhere, including Africa. Is the gospel of prosperity going to be the theological legacy of North American churches? There is mounting evidence that if it not to be the case, we will have to clean up the root causes of this false gospel in our own backyard.

Jesus’ words to the church in Laodicea seem appropriate (Rev. 2:14-22 NIV)—

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.