The Prosperity Gospel: Dangerous and Different

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Ian McKay
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The Prosperity Gospel: Dangerous and Different

Post by Ian McKay » Fri Jul 27, 2018 8:39 am

The Prosperity Gospel: Dangerous and Different

An article with this title was published on 18 July in La Civilta Cattolica, a journal that has become in effect a mouthpiece for the Pope. Its contents are routinely checked and approved by the Vatican.

The authors criticise some of the teachings, emphases, values and practices that have originated among the evangelical churches and preachers of the USA, and have become popular in Central America, South America, Africa and Asia. These “dangerous and different” ideas are also found in the ministry of the Hales Brethren.

I have stopped calling them the Exclusive Brethren, because they are not even the largest branch of the Exclusive Brethren, and I have never called them the Plymouth Brethren because they are only a tiny fragment of the Plymouth Brethren, despite their claim to be the Plymouth Brethren.

You can read the whole article in the English Edition at https://laciviltacattolica.com/the-pros ... different/ but it is very long.

One of the ideas that the authors criticise is American exceptionalism, the idea that God has specially blessed the American people because of their faith, and given them prosperity and military power to serve as God’s agents for good. “God’s chosen people” comes to mind. This same idea occurs many times in Hales Brethren ministry. Leaders from J. T. Jr to B. D. Hales have often praised US foreign policy, including even the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Another idea that the authors object to is the idea that if you have faith and donate generously to the preachers, God will reward you materially. Preachers like Oral Roberts, Pat Robertson, Benny Hinn, Robert Tilton, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer have made themselves very wealthy by pushing this idea.

One of the side effects of this teaching is that people are respected in proportion to their material prosperity, or disrespected in proportion to their poverty. Many ex-Brethren have described this phenomenon in an extreme form among the Hales Brethren.

Another side-effect is that compassion for the poor, weak and vulnerable takes second place to striving for our own success. “Those who are not prosperous have been lacking in faith. God helps those who help themselves.”

The article finishes with quotations from Pope Francis, who since the beginning of his ministry has warned against this pseudo-gospel, which ends up being concerned with efficacy, success, quantifiable results and good statistics. The Church ends up being run like a business in a misleading way that keeps people away from the mystery of faith.

abishag
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Re: The Prosperity Gospel: Dangerous and Different

Post by abishag » Sat Jul 28, 2018 10:14 pm

Ah Brother Ian - you are in darkness my friend! As ah write this to you dear brother in the hope that you will see the light- there is a brand new Cadillac gleaming at me from the driveway given me by God. All ah had to do was tithe my faith - sending money ah didn't have to the great visionary at the head of our church and the Lord would bestow blessings like we had never seen before. Wish for a Cadillac and the Lord will give you one. Wish for a Lear Jet - and the Lord will provide. Pastor Bruce said - "Believe!" and ah did. "Give me your credit card information and salvation is yours" he said - 'and ah did.'

Now I am praying to the Lord to get rid of my debt and Pastor Bruce says I need to attend a business seminar to find the divine secret to his success. Ah told him that my credit cards are maxxed out and he said "Pray! Pray you and you'll get there."

What you need Brother Ian - is faith like me. You too can have a mansion - on earth - as well as the heavenly one awaiting you. Just like Pastor Bruce.

Ian McKay
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Re: The Prosperity Gospel: Dangerous and Different

Post by Ian McKay » Mon Jul 30, 2018 12:54 pm

Well, Mr/Ms Abishag, when I was in primary school I used to pray for a bicycle, but I have never prayed for anything material since then apart from our daily bread, because somehow it seems too much like casting a magic spell. Maybe that is why I don’t yet have a Lear jet. The ancient religions of Babylon, Assyria, Persia and Egypt had prayers that were similarly like magic incantations. The Prosperity Gospel seems hardly more enlightened. When the Brethren pray for their critics and opponents to be “removed” it seems to me morally on an even lower level, on a par with black witchcraft.

By contrast, it feels entirely appropriate to pray for wisdom, understanding, peace, forgiveness, reconciliation or courage. Or maybe wit.

The Questioner
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Re: The Prosperity Gospel: Dangerous and Different

Post by The Questioner » Wed Aug 01, 2018 6:05 pm

It is interesting when people pray for particular weather, or give thanks for particular weather, or express a view that they have been blessed because it is sunny they day they want a picnic, as if they were the sole focus of divine providence. They seem to miss the fact that someone else's need might be quite different and more important in the scheme of things.

Praying for the fruits of the spirit, as implied in Ian's post, can be of universal benefit.

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Balaam's Ass
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Re: The Prosperity Gospel: Dangerous and Different

Post by Balaam's Ass » Fri Aug 03, 2018 3:48 am

I proved the existence of God the other night, beyond doubt. Mr and Mrs D in our local meeting used to get down on their knees before leaving the house and pray for a parking space outside the shop they were to visit - "and God never let us down once!" (Mrs D was short of breath and couldn't walk too far).

But the other night when I went to visit my daughter, I didn't even think to pray for a space but when I got there, there was one space - yes one left! - right outside her apartment.

QED

Ian McKay
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Re: The Prosperity Gospel: Dangerous and Different

Post by Ian McKay » Fri Aug 03, 2018 5:13 pm

When I was visiting my younger brother in hospital I met a couple there who told me they had prayed for a parking space, and then found one just outside the building. I naively inquired, “Shouldn’t you have been praying for the chap who didn’t get a space because you had taken it?” They laughed, realising the incongruity or praying for a personal favour at the expense of someone else.

But I have observed a lot worse than that. Some Brethren pray for someone else’s downfall, and rejoice at someone else’s death.

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