Thursday, October 05, 2006

Gospel and Wealth. . .???

Take a moment to listen to the National Public Radio report on African American megachurches and the "prosperity gospel." I think you will find it worth your time:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4779412

Time magazine's cover story last week asked the question, "Does God Want You to Be Rich?" (September 18, 2006, http://
www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1533448,00.html).

The role of the church in validating our materialistic culture, as over against those prophetic churches that challenge congregants to be involved in changing communities, provides an extremely provocative contrast.

What do you think?

9 comments:

Greg said...

Amen Larry! I'm relatively new to your blog. You challenge me in making my faith have feet and and hands. Thank you. The prosperity gospel is oh so seductive and tempting but ultimately leaves one empty and bereft of passion and life, I think!

Ryan Fowler said...

Really interesting. Thanks for sharing these links. This is a really difficult and touchy issue to confront. It's easier to find ways to justify our materialistic nature than it is to confront the idea that what we have isn't our own. And it's definitely not just a problem in African-American megachurches. It seems to be part of the ridiculous American ideal, that God wants us to be rich.

John Greenan said...

I hate to be critical, but if God wants me to be rich, then he's got a whole lot of work to do.

Anonymous said...

What is the defination of "rich?" One could argue that it is people with material resources who have the power to change communities.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,you are so right and if enough people with the resources did what you suggest we wouldn't be having the conversation! Of course, they simply do not. So, here we are.

Thanks for the links, Larry.

Ryan Fowler said...

Well, people with "riches" can do a lot of good for communities, no doubt. But I would argue that it is not the "material resources" that actually change the community - it's the people themselves. People change communities, not money. A lot of noble people with good intentions and deep pocket books have put lots of money into programs and services that have failed because they did not take into account the people they are trying to help. On the other hand, people with little to no resources have made huge impacts on communities because they put people first. From my perspective, it has nothing to do with money, and a whole lot to do with people. A properity gospel says that it has a lot to do with money.

Ann said...

I believe that God has provided enough resources in the world for everyone to be fed, clothed, housed and healthy. The problem, as I see it, is that the resources are controlled by too few people who feel that they have earned the right to keep what they have. I believe that God's gifts to us may or may not include wealth, but whatever gifts we are given it is to be used in meeting the needs of people. Paul wrote to the Ephesians about the importance of doing something useful with one's own hands, in order to have something to share with those in need. People like Bono, and Bill Gates have found ways to use their wealth to benefit people. Others, like Mother Teresa, who lived her life among the poorest, used her particular gifts to benefit people. I don't believe, however, that God makes anyone wealthy (prosperous) in order for him/her to build bigger barns.

Anonymous said...

If God wanted us to be wealthy, then why would he have provided Jesus as our model? I'm no Bible scholar, but I am pretty certain that Jesus wasn't wealthy.

Ben

Becky said...

I've been recommending a book to almost everybody lately. I just read it, and want to read it again. I underlined about 100 things in this book that I plan to continue chewing on, and I've already seen changes in my life because of what I read.
It's called "Living With Less: The Upside of Downsizing Your Life" by Mark Tabb. The book ties in a lot of Biblical references that I had never looked at in this particular way before. The book is about taking the focus off material gain, power, self-promotion, and putting it on relationships, generosity, contentment. Just figured if anyone wants to study about this sort of thing, then you'd love this book. In fact, I almost wish it were required reading for every Christian!