Christian Prosperity Crisis
Researchers point out that one of the main differences between the
financial crash and others — for example, that of Japan in the 1990s — was that it was
households (individuals and families) that became heavily overindebted. This was
not the case in Japan, nor
the Asian crisis of the late 1990s, nor those in
in the early 1990s. There, it was more the actions of companies and governments
that led to these crises. But why in the case of America’s situation, did people
became so easily seduced to take on such huge amounts of debt and to accept the
vain predictions of perpetual prosperity? Responsibility of stewardship was
thrown to the wind and the idea that prosperity and wealth was both eternal and
effortless was the common belief.
It may have to do with another main difference. Namely America’s major religion—a
post-modern, utilitarian aberration of the Biblical Christianity. This may seem
a harsh statement, but I believe that the facts well support it. Most
is the most Christian-professing, major nation in the world. That religious
belief and philosophy had an impact on economies and financial markets is a well
established fact. Why do Chinese households save so much? Could it be that their
Confusion culture is predisposed to such behavior? Max Weber (see The Protestant
Work Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism) and other social economists developed a
framework for such religious/economic connections.
only in North America do we find such a
significant influence of the Prosperity Theology. It is a teaching that will
have played an insidious and contributing (perhaps causal) role in America’s final
slide into financial crisis and decline. We want to examine this connection
further by investigating some of the doctrinal distortions behind this movement
which merges Christianity and money into the eschatological timeline.
Deeply Rooted False Prosperity Beliefs.
While Prosperity Theology tends to be more associated with the charismatic
segment of North American Christianity, it could be said that virtually all of
North American Christianity has been infected with its influences. This
perspective co-exists comfortably with the ideology of the American Dream. For
centuries the “Christian nation” of America has been
a land of opportunity, espousing upward mobility and success for all who seek
Prosperity thinking is therefore subtly imbedded in the psyche of Western
Christians. It is almost considered an entitlement in some circles. Of course,
most will perhaps not swallow the teachings and techniques of the likes of Benny
Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar and Peter Popoff — he of the “divine
transfer” — and many others. After all, some of these more extreme teachers in
this community even go so far as to claim that if you have much faith that you
can “get wealth.” Just send in your seed faith offering and you may get a
“divine wealth transfer” or “100-fold” return.
In this bartering system with God, one is taught to expect that He may choose to
reciprocate your seed offering with a monetary or material blessing of some
kind. It could be a sizable check arriving in your mailbox from a mysterious
source or some other lucky happenstance.
Unfortunately, this erroneous teaching about money promotes the notion that
God runs His kingdom on the principle of monetary and material incentive. How
crass. God manipulates Christians to love Him and to obedience through the
carrot of material wealth and well-being? They confuse the realm of Mammon for
the Kingdom of God.
Theological Wealth Distortions Everywhere
False gospels are deadly, their heresies distorting virtually every doctrine,
world view and eschatological perspective. In like manner, Prosperity Theology
radiates its destruction into many doctrines and perspectives. If its
destructive contributions to America’s recent
demise were already not convincing enough, there is yet more to consider. A sure
sign of all false gospels is their perspective on money.
Every single false teaching or heresy mentioned in the New Testament epistles
was associated with greed or an inordinate affection with money and wealth. This
is evident today as it was then. If anything is different, it is that some of
these heretical perspectives have become much more systemized than they were in
New Testament times.
Though beliefs held by certain Christian sects may appear rooted in scriptural
teaching, it is disturbing to discover how subjective and unfounded these are.
These beliefs simply do not hold up under the scrutiny of all Scripture.
This theology even merits an entry on Wikipedia which points out that this
“somewhat similar (yet strikingly different) belief appears in most "New
Thought" religions, Unity, Religious Science, Divine Science denominations.”
It should seem strange that such commonality is found with these other
Moreover, Prosperity Theology does not even pass the test of common sense. If
the promises of Prosperity Theology were legitimate and observable, then it
should be discovered that its adherents indeed would be wealthier than the
general population. Yet, the opposite is true.
According to the surveys of the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life2,
the average income level of all Christians is less than that of other faiths.
For instance, the percentage of protestant Christians with incomes over $100,000
per annum is 15%. This is less than Muslims (16%), Jews (46%), Buddhists (43%)
and Hindus (43%).
Drilling down into comparisons between Christian denominations themselves, the
same non-confirmation is evident. If
one assumes that prosperity teaching is to be most prevalent in evangelical
Pentecostal sects, the falsehood of this teaching is found to be most
fraudulent. The Pentecostal demographic is the poorest of all, with the
exception of Baptists in the Historically Black Tradition.3
48% of Pentecostals have incomes less than $30,000; only 7% greater than
$100,000 per annum. That compares to 31% and 18% in the Christian population
Clearly, the promises of Prosperity Theology are a hoax. Much worse allegations
could be made. It would be considered a financial sham were its promoters to be
seen to be preying on the hopelessness of its congregants. In that sense, it
would not be much different than the consumer credit business. Just which
demographic has historically proven to be the most profitable credit market for
financial institutions … at least up until the GFC? The poor. It is these people
that are made to pay high loan fees and interest rates and tend to run high
balances on their credit cards with exorbitant charges. This gospel is certainly
not “releasing the oppressed” as was Christ’s mission. (Luke 4:18)
Why is it that Christians are so gullible? It may be for the same reason that
the thickest complaint file of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in America is the
category of religiously-associated fraud. When con artists or teachers imply a
relationship with God or make a purported scriptural reference promising
prosperity, the wallets are opened unthinkingly. Charismatic churches time and
again have proven themselves most vulnerable to the flimsiest of Ponzi schemes.
It is simply astounding.
This quote from an op-ed article published just recently in the Russian online
news portal, Pravda, offers a disturbing perspective. The journalist, though
somewhat irreverent and an apologist for the official Russian Orthodox Church,
does make some connections between America’s economic slide and liberal
“First, the population was dumbed down through a politicized and substandard
education system based on pop culture, rather then the classics. Americans know
more about their favorite TV dramas then the drama in DC that directly affects
their lives. They care more for their “right” to choke down a McDonalds burger
or a BurgerKing burger than for their constitutional rights. Then they turn
around and lecture us about our rights and about our “democracy”. Pride blind
the foolish. Then their faith in God was destroyed, until their churches, all
tens of thousands of different “branches and denominations” were for the most
part little more then Sunday circuses and their televangelists and top
protestant mega preachers were more then happy to sell out their souls and
flocks to be on the “winning” side of one pseudo Marxist politician or another.
Their flocks may complain, but when explained that they would be on the
“winning” side, their flocks were ever so quick to reject Christ in hopes for
earthly power. Even our Holy Orthodox churches are scandalously liberalized in
the populist mindset of prosperity and easy money, what Christian might not be
tempted to think that God and country abandoned them should they experience
hardships and trouble during an economic downturn such as the Global Financial
Crisis (GFC)? What Christian would not be inclined to whine to God, as did
Jeremiah: “Will you be to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails?”
(Jeremiah 15:18) Jeremiah figured that since he was walking with God and
answering His calling, that he deserved special treatment. He bargained with
God, saying “I never sat in the company of revelers, never made merry with them;
I sat alone because your hand was on me, and you had filled me with indignation.
Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable?” (Jeremiah
did God respond? He didn’t even acknowledge the complaint. He simply said this:
"If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me.” (verse 19)
doubt, all 12 of the New Testament apostles settled this same issue in a
satisfactory manner. They were doing the Lord’s will and were all blessed with
rich robes and fine foods. Actually, directly to the contrary. 11 of them died
an unnatural death. All of them physically suffered for their beliefs. Was this
just? Said Paul, “Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way:
in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings,
imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity,
understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love
[…]” (2 Corinthians 6:4-6).
Prosperity theology, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosperity_theology, accessed
April 25, 2009.
2. U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, The
Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, February 2008, Table: Income Levels of
Major Religious Traditions, pg. 60.
Ibid, Income Level by Protestant Denominations, pg. 80.
Stanislav Mishin, Op-ed, Pravda Russia,
June 1, 2009
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About the Author:
Wilfred J. Hahn
is a global economist/strategist.
Formerly a top-ranked global analyst, research director for a major Wall Street
investment bank, and chairman of
country’s largest global investment operation, his writings focus on the endtime
roles of money, economics and globalization. He has been quoted around the world
and his writings reproduced in numerous other publications and languages.
His 2002 book The Endtime Money Snare: How to live free accurately
anticipated and prepared its readers for the Global Financial Crisis.
His newest book, Global Financial Apocalypse Prophesied:
Preserving true riches in an age of deception and trouble,
looks further into the future and will be bookstores September 2009.