Pentecost and Prosperity: Between Sharing of Possessions and Accumulation of Personal Wealth
Daniela C. Augustine
The present work will explore the correlations between the prosperity gospel and the neoliberal assertions of 18th and 19th century economic theory that have produced the contemporary "market society" with its all-commodifying logic. It will further focus on the effects of both the prosperity message and economic neoliberalism within the context of the post-Communist Eastern European countries in their transition from planned communitarian to capitalist economy. The text will discuss the consequences of the substitution of collectivism with individualism and of the emphasis on production with the preeminence of consumerism. In view of the above, the work will contrast the Prosperity Gospel with the Pentecost model of communal economics and its underlying spirituality as following the pattern of God's generous redemptive self-sharing with humanity and the rest of creation.
Risky Careers and Spirit-Guided Prosperity: How Prosperity Theology is Uniquely Suited to the Uncertain Work Lives of Christians in Advanced Capitalism
Drawing on a "lived religion" approach that ignores doctrinal pronouncements and apologetic corrections, this paper suggests that the rise and operation of various forms of prosperity theology represent an intriguing adaptation of Christian belief and practice to a globalized, capitalistic economic atmosphere that combines the demand for individual labor with the instability of reliably achieving personal wealth. Ulrich Beck's description of the "individualization and the self-culture" as well as Hannah Arendt's analysis of "the private and public realm" offer heuristic frameworks for constructing an understanding of how "prosperity theology" works in the context of macro-historical patterns that constrain micro-negotiated forms of everyday life, particularly in response to uncertain career paths and risk-oriented work ambitions. Observations and interviews of Christians at the Oasis Christian Center working in the Hollywood entertainment industry provide an opportunity to illustrate profound connections between worship, theology, economics, and the everyday life of today's urban American participants in the prosperity movement.
Stop Worrying and Start Sowing! A Phenomenological Account of the Ethics of "Divine Investment"
Jonathan L. Walton
In 2009, in the middle of the worst financial collapse in the United States since the Great Depression, Pastor Jerry Savelle offered a straight-forward message to the thousands attending the Southwest Believers' Convention: "This is not your Recession. God is our source of supply." In fact, this was the common theme of the weeklong event. Rather than adjust one's theology (namely, one's pattern of financial giving) to the economic realities of the Recession era, persons were encouraged to remain diligent to the Word of Faith principle of sowing and reaping. The purpose of this paper is to offer an account of how and why prosperity preachers appeal to pre-established theological tenets and to consider the potential (though imbalanced) efficacy of this approach for both church leaders and lay members. This paper will also reveal the corollary relationship between such religious rationalizations and neo-liberal economic policies that cultivated the conditions for the Great Recession to take place.
Pentecostal Paradigms of National Economic Prosperity in Africa
The most existential task facing Africans is economic development. For Christians, this raises the urgent question: what are the African Pentecostal churches' understandings and teachings on the continent's economic predicament? This paper examines the aspects of the social teachings of African Pentecostal Churches relating to national economic prosperity. I have identified six basic theological paradigms or models that frame the discourse on Africa's economic development among theologians and pastors. These are prophetic, nationalist, priestly, transformational, spiritualist, and developmental. I provide a comparative analysis of each of the paradigms and the alternative solutions they represent. Even though each of them considers poverty as the primary economic problem, each also traces its basic causes to different sources. While the proponents of these paradigms differ in the solution they seek, all believe that the conquering of poverty and take-off of economic development will be important for the flourishing of humanity in Africa.
The Prosperity Gospel among Filipino Catholic Charismatics
Katharine L. Wiegele
In the Philippines, charismatic Catholics dominate the Christian Renewal movement. El Shaddai is the largest of the Catholic charismatic groups in the country today. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, this paper explores the discursive transformations that make El Shaddai's prosperity theology appealing to its Roman Catholic adherents. Through its prosperity theology, El Shaddai reframes the deterministic class-based cultural models implied in development, liberationist, leftist, and other progressive discourses that define the average El Shaddai member as "one of the oppressed." Thus spiritual renewal is accompanied by a sort of socio-economic renewal of the self within society. This change takes shape through a reassessment of personal conditions of poverty and is made visible by new narratives of life trajectories and aspirations as well as an orientation toward individual rather than societal transformation. This new model of the self within society is also expressed in specific aspects of lifestyle and in modified participation in and understandings of mainstream Roman Catholicism.
A Typology of the Prosperity Theology: A Religious Economy of Global Renewal or a Renewal Economics?
The prosperity gospel phenomenon is far from homogeneous. This paper explores the movement's diversity by presenting a typology of seven forms of theological rationalization, in each case sorting out the socio-historical and cultural factors underlying such constructs and then probing their economic implications and consequences. On the one hand, it will be shown that the various theological positions situate the global Renewal movement on trajectories of socio-economic upward mobility; on the other hand, however, the precise economic mechanisms that enable such mobility are not easily correlated to theological types, meaning that the verdict should remain open on whether or not global Renewal and prosperity will generate new theoretical proposals in the field of economics.