Engaging with the ‘Prosperity Gospel’

11 Feb

Our final guest blogger for this week is Calum Burke. Inspired by the week 6 challenge, Calum has spent the last week engaging with the ‘Prosperity Gospel’, and left the week more challenged than annoyed. Which is a good thing.

IMG_1809I have always struggled with ‘Prosperity Gospel’ as a theology. It is theology that teaches that God wants to prosper us financially on the earth and often leaders within the prosperity wings of the Church encourage their followers to give large amounts of money in order that ‘God may bless them’. I struggle with that idea because it seeks to manipulate people and treats God like some kind of formulaic slot machine who panders to our agenda.

Despite my annoyance with this teaching and those who teach it, this week my challenge has been to find God and listen to him through the teachings of prosperity churches. My first point of call was to listen to talks by Pastor Joel Osteen who leads a Church of forty three thousand people based in Texas and has an online reach of millions. He is regarded by many as one of the most influential men in America.

Surprisingly, I found that some of what Osteen had to say I agreed with and actually found helpful! I was challenged by a little piece of liturgy that he and his Church use before he speaks This is my Bible. I am what it says I am. I have what it says I have. I can do what it says I can do. Today I will be taught the word of God. I boldly confess my mind is alert, my heart is receptive; I’ll never be the same. In Jesus name, God bless you.”

God really challenged me through this statement; he challenged me about my faith and about my expectation of what he can do. Christians that follow this teaching really believe in the power of God today and that he is still in the business of changing lives. I struggle with the kind of change they expect, but they don’t wake up thinking “God what are you not going to do today?”. If I’m honest there are times when I wake up ready to be disappointed by God and this has to change.

Through doing this challenge I believe that God has left me with another, which make take the rest of my life to complete. How can I have the faith of prosperity Christians and still live a life of costly discipleship modeled by Jesus? What would a costly prosperity look like?

Calum Burke is the Youth Director for a group of five Anglican Churches in Southall, West London. Southall is one of the most ethnically diverse areas of the country and home to many Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus.  He is married to Carolyn and together they eat far too much curry. This year he is taking a photo everyday of the year at http://calumburke.tumblr.com and tweets @calumburke.

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One Response to “Engaging with the ‘Prosperity Gospel’”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. What I learned in week six « God 52 - February 12, 2013

    […] us enjoyed a week of being a little more open minded. So on this blog you’ll have read about Calum, who caught something beautiful from prosperity teacher Joel Osteen; Mark, who was forced to […]

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