Prosperity Gospel Problems

2009 is shaping up to be a very lean year for some Pentecostal adherents of the “Prosperity gospel.”

According to Vancouver Sun religion writer Douglas Todd, the Prosperity gospel’s claim that a strong faith automatically will translate into material abundance induced some who subscribed to it to make risky investments.

Many of those investments have now gone sour in the wake of the international financial crisis.

“With virtually no assets, many financially struggling Christians attracted to the Prosperity gospel of Osteen and others were eager to jump at the subprime loans offered by sleazy brokers,” Todd writes. ”Prominent Pentecostals have admitted that many followers believed God was miraculously answering their prayers when a bank gave them a loan they couldn’t afford.”

Todd notes that it’s not just Pentecostals who fell into the trap of believing that religion ought to deliver unlimited wealth. And, he argues, economic recovery from the international financial crisis will require everyone to resist the greedy impulses that have become so dominant in contemporary society.

Writes Todd, “The simplest way to put one of the spiritual lessons of the economic collapse, however, is simply to make it clear that creating a healthy society has to go much further than asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’”