In an article entitled, A New Kind of Prosperity Gospel, Bruce Epperly writes:
“While there is much to affirm about the relationship of positive thinking, visualization, and heart-felt faith with physical, mental, relational, and spiritual well-being, I believe there are serious problems with both the new age/new thought and Pentecostal understandings of spirituality and prosperity. First, both are highly linear in approach: they assert that right thought or faith alone matters. If you have faith, you will succeed; if you don’t, you will fail in every aspect of your life. Positive thinking ensures success; while negativity leads to disease and failure. Accordingly, both approaches neglect the relational and social nature of life. They believe that regardless of our environment, economic situation, physical condition, mental health, or family of origin, we will succeed if we only have enough faith or affirmative consciousness.”
Apart from agreeing entirely, I particularly appreciate that Epperly’s focus on the social weakness of success-focussed spiritualities. So he continues:
“I believe that Christians are called to affirm a new and more compassionate kind of prosperity gospel, one that affirms the life-transforming power of the faith and positive affirmations, but sees our affirmative faith in the context of many factors, including environment, economics, relationships, opportunity, etc. In contrast to linear causation, I assert that our well-being and suffering are the result of many interdependent factors, including God’s lively vision for us and the impact of the social structure, and not just our own positive thinking, will, or faith. From a pastoral perspective, this is essential: we are not fully responsible for our success, ability to have faith, or current health condition. This encourages both gratitude for the web of relationships that supports our success as well as appropriate responsibility for our failures. The mind or faith are not omnipotent but always relational and contextual, and to some degree limited in power.”
What’s your thoughts on prosperity?