What They Believe 7

14 Jun

Prosperity Gospel

What is the Prosperity Doctrine?

The Prosperity Doctrine (also known as the health and wealth gospel, or the prosperity gospel) is nothing but the Word-Faith/Positive Confession movement… applied to finances.

It is the doctrinal belief subscribed to by millions of Christians, centered around the idea that although Christians should keep one eye on Heaven, the good news is that God doesn’t want His people to wait until then to inherit His blessings. God, who loves His followers, doesn’t want those followers to be broke. He wants believers to wear the best clothing, drive the best cars, and have the best of everything in this life, provided they claim these blessing for themselves through positive confessions of faith and the ‘sowing of seeds’ (tithes and offerings).

‘Positive and Negative Confession’ Since, according to this view, what a person says determines what he will receive and what he will become, great significance is attached to the spoken word which, if repeated often enough, will produce enough faith to procure the desired blessing.

On the other hand, the believer who acknowledges the negative is guilty of a self-fulfilling prophecy. In other words he will be sick only if he confesses he is sick, and will be poor if he confesses he is poor. Prosperity teachers instruct believers to start confessing that they already have whatever it is that they want, even though it has not yet become a reality. If a person wants money, he is to confess that he has money even if he is yet poor as the proverbial church mouse. If he wants healing he has to confess that he is already healed even though he may yet be unable to get out of his wheelchair.

Although Prosperity theology is most commonly found in Charismatic and Pentecostal churches, it is certainly not confined to any denomination, but has wormed it’s way, to one extent or another, into a huge number of evangelical churches. Very few of these churches actually seem to have the word prosperity in their Statements of Faith or Mission Statements, however material gain is a key part of their doctrine and they spend an inordinate amount of time talking about it.

While it is understandable that money is of much importance to governments (a whole other topic), the reason to exist for corporations and a major concern to secular society at large, the fact that the accumulation of it is the core doctrine of so many evangelical churches is a cause for great concern. That Christians are being taught that the poor among us are poor because they lack faith, that poverty is of the devil or, even worse, giving you last dollar to a fast talking ‘tele-evangelist’ will guarantee getting 100 fold back.

Certainly this doctrine has much going for it in the realm of marketability. Who doesn’t want, at the very least, a life free of problems and ill health. Financial freedom, prosperity, health and success can seem very enticing indeed. And, what better way could there possibly be to get all these wonderful things we want than by evoking the power of the Living God to obtain them. How easy it is to fall into the age-old trap of seeking to satisfy our own lusts using ‘Biblical’ precepts and finding ways to prove that, in fact, God supports our desires.

Origins of The Prosperity Gospel

In the words of journalist Hanna Rosin

Many of the terms and concepts used by prosperity preachers today date back to Oral Roberts, a poor farmer’s son turned Pentecostal preacher… In the late 1940s, Roberts claimed his Bible flipped open to the Third Epistle of John, verse 2: “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health. Even as thy soul prospereth.” Soon Roberts developed his famous concept of seed faith, still popular today. If people would donate money to his ministry, a “seed” offered to God, he’d say, then God would multiply it a hundredfold. Eventually, Roberts retreated into a life that revolved around private jets and country clubs. [3]

Oral Roberts was soon followed by a parade of slick, silver-tongued, ostentatious preachers on Christian television, not the least of whom were Jimmy Swaggart and Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. However, like most or all heresies, it went underground for a while. Then spurred on by by a host of wolves on TBN, and books such as Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now (reputed to have sold some four million copies), the movement rapidly made its way from “out in left field” into more conservative mainstream churches and denominations.

Progressive Christianity

Progressive Christianity is an open, intelligent and collaborative approach to the Christian tradition and the life and teachings of Jesus that create pathways into an authentic and relevant religious experience.

Do you find more grace in the search for meaning than in absolute certainty, in the questions rather than in the answers?

Do you have religious interests and longings but cannot accept the beliefs and dogmas you associate with Christianity?

Are you repelled by claims that Christianity is the “only way”?

Do you find solace, meaning, or connection to the teachings and the path of Jesus of Nazareth?

Organized religion does not have to be irrelevant, ineffectual, or repressive… provides guiding ideas, networking opportunities, and resources for progressive churches, organizations, small groups, and individuals that long to craft a spiritual life connected to the way of Jesus.

We promote an understanding of Christian practice and teaching that leads to a greater concern for the way people treat each other than for the way people express their beliefs, the acceptance of all people, and a respect for other religious traditions.

We affirm the variety and depth of human experience and the richness of each persons’ search for meaning, and we encourage the use of sound scholarship, critical inquiry, and all intellectual powers to understand the presence of God in human life.

We are opposed to any exclusive dogma that limits the search for truth and free inquiry, and we encourage work that eases the pain, suffering and degradation inherent in many of the structures of society, as well as work that keeps central to the Christian life fair, open, peaceful, and loving treatment of all human beings.

The Beliefs of Progressive Christians

by Laura Gee, Demand Media

Progressive Christian beliefs focus on Christ’s love.

Progressive Christianity is a huge umbrella term under which people with different beliefs about the seemingly supernatural aspects of biblical teachings can gather. In general, though, most progressive Christians agree about the central importance of Christ’s message of love and acceptance.

Progressive Christians

Progressive Christianity is not a denomination and has no formal organization. Instead, progressive Christianity is a way of describing Christians of all backgrounds who share relatively progressive or liberal political beliefs, and feel that these beliefs are informed by their understanding of Christianity. While some denominations, such as Episcopalian, Presbyterian and Lutheran might be considered more progressive than others, there are also progressive Christians in almost every denomination, including Catholic and Baptist.

Teachings of Jesus

Progressive Christians focus on the teachings of Jesus and try to inspire others by following his example. One Bible passage they often refer to is Luke 22:36-40, in which Jesus says that the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, and the second most important is to love your neighbor as you love yourself. Progressive Christians tend to believe that Jesus’ message to love unconditionally was his most important.

Miracles and the Afterlife

Progressive Christian beliefs regarding the parts of the Bible that might seem supernatural are widely divergent. For example, there is no consensus among progressive Christians as to whether the creation story, virgin birth and resurrection are literally true. Progressive Christians are more likely to interpret the Bible metaphorically than are other groups, but this is not universal.

Some progressive Christians believe that the whole Bible, including miraculous stories, is literally true but must be interpreted in a modern context in terms of practice and which biblical teachings are emphasized more. Of course, there are also many people whose viewpoints fall between these two extremes.

Emergent Christianity

Emergent Christianity is one growing interdenominational movement within progressive Christianity, which is occurring at the intersection of Christian thought and postmodern philosophy. The beliefs of Emergent Christians also focus on following the example of Jesus. The primary belief that sets Emergent Christianity apart from other forms is that each person’s beliefs and relationship with God, the Bible and Christian tradition are equally valid. They prefer to avoid formal hierarchy and official statements of belief, instead focusing on communication and the living and changing community of believers.

Social Responsibility

Regardless of their beliefs about the literal truth of Bible stories or the ideal organization of Christian structures, progressive Christians unite around certain perspectives on social issues. Love, tolerance and an open mind toward people of all religions and lifestyles are some of the most common themes. Another is the importance of working toward peace, social justice and assistance to the poor and oppressed. Finally, environmental stewardship of the Earth as God’s creation is considered extremely important.

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Posted by on June 14, 2017 in academics, Bible, church, comparative religions, education, faith, leadership, theology


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