Home > Charismatic > Prosperity Gospel Born in the USA

Prosperity Gospel Born in the USA

My eyes were intently scanning, and perhaps my heart coveting, the piles of books at the Christian book fair in Kyiv, Ukraine. As I perused the merchandise, my eyes stopped, focused, and involuntarily rolled upward. There it was: Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now, translated into Russian, lying on the table in front of me. This was another reminder that although the modern prosperity gospel originated in the United States, its preachers have exported this deadly virus around the world to places such as Latin America, Africa, Asia, and even Eastern Europe.

This article will briefly trace the origins of the prosperity gospel and suggest some reasons as to why it has prospered in the United States.

Rooted in New Thought

The prosperity gospel is built on a quasi-Christian heresy, popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the United States, known as New Thought. This philosophy teaches that the key to health and wealth acquisition is thinking, visualizing, and speaking the right words. Norman Vincent Peale (1898–1993), pastor of Marble Collegiate Church in New York City, popularized New Thought ideas and techniques in America through his book The Power of Positive Thinking (1952). Ralph Waldo Trine (1866–1958), however, was the most prolific purveyor of New Thought. In both works, one can discern some of the key recurring elements of the prosperity gospel: speaking the right words, invoking a universal law of success with words, and having faith in oneself.

The ideas of New Thought influenced, among others, E. W. Kenyon (1867–1948), an evangelist, pastor, and founder of Bethel Bible Institute. His approach to theology is the basis for one of the prosperity gospel’s most distinctive features—speaking the right words to bring about a new reality; what you confess, you possess. Kenyon served as a link to the popular prosperity preachers that formed the foundation of the modern prosperity gospel movement.

For example, in the late 1940s, Oral Roberts burst onto the religious scene with his ministry of alleged healing and financial prosperity. In the 1980s, his television show was one of the most popular religious programs in the country. While Roberts certainly captured national attention and spread prosperity theology, most recognize Kenneth E. Hagin (1917–2003) as the most prominent evangelist of the prosperity gospel as well the father of the Word of Faith movement. More than any other factor, the Word of Faith movement was the vehicle responsible for spreading prosperity teaching across the United States in the late 20th century.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

  1. June 15, 2015 at 6:20 am

    Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.

  2. Truth2Freedom
    June 15, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    Reblogged this on Truth2Freedom's Blog.

  3. June 15, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    Thank you for this post. It is important to know the roots of the false “prosperity gospel” so that we can avoid churches that are now systematically slipping into it today.

    Our family had been attending a non-denominational, Bible-based Christian church that grew from a small group into a mega-church. Recently, our long-time pastor made statements about giving to the ministry and being “rewarded.” If we were not “rewarded,” then we could ask for our money back! What???

    This was the “strike two” of the “three strikes you’re out” problems that we had seen within the ministry. Sad and tragic shame.

    We now attend a newly formed church with 100 members that is authentic, Bible-based, and strong on sound doctrine! Such a breath of fresh air!

    • June 17, 2015 at 1:58 am

      Welcome to my blog. Thank you for visiting, reading, and taking the time to comment.

      I agree. We need to know the roots of all false doctrine. This will help us counter it in our ministries.

      I am thankful that you were able to find a church with sound doctrine.

      Blessings to you and your family.

  4. June 18, 2015 at 2:17 am

    It’s sad to see that the Prosperity Gospel is everywhere…including Africa and Asia.

    • June 18, 2015 at 6:21 am

      It truly is sad that the masses are worshiping a god of their own image. It is blatant idolatry.

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