The Soil of the Prosperity Gospel

Two days after Thanksgiving, Paul Crouch met his Maker. Along with his wife Jan, Crouch established the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) in 1973 and built it into a media empire with 84 satellite channels, more than 18,000 television and cable affiliates, an amusement park, and much more. TBN broadcasts around the clock to every continent except Antarctica, with much of its content promoting the prosperity gospel that made Paul and Jan Crouch so wealthy. This message clearly appeals to many people, which raises the question of how it has taken root in our age.

While the prosperity gospel comes packaged in a number of different forms—Word of Faith, Positive Confession, and so on—the core product is consistent. At its heart is the conviction that human words and faith shape reality. We are empowered to speak life into being, but regrettably few of us are aware of this great privilege. The reason we do not have the financial security, health, and success we want is that we do not call it forth and draw it unto ourselves. Beneath this claim rests a high anthropology, which regards human beings as fundamentally good and ultimately powerful.

One need not look far to see that this message has resonated with a massive audience, both in the United States and abroad. Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer, T. D. Jakes, Benny Hinn—the list of celebrity prosperity preachers is seemingly endless, with many of them broadcasting on TBN. These preachers hawk their television ministries, books, podcasts, CDs, and retreats to hungry consumers eager to find out how they can maximize their potential to live a life of fullness and well-being, to “break out” of the desperation of broken dreams and dashed hopes (as Osteen’s latest book instructs).

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Author: Jonathan Baer

Keywords: Prosperity Gospel, Prosperity, prosperity preacher, prosperity preachers, name it claim it, wealth, riches

Bible reference(s): Genesis 12:2, Genesis 12:3, Genesis 17:20, Genesis 22:17-18, Deuteronomy 28:8, Mark 10:30, Luke 6:38, 2 Corinthians 8:9, Galatians 3:14, James 4:2-3, Hebrews 6:14

Source: “The Soil of the Prosperity Gospel,” 9Marks, January 14, 2014.

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