Prosperity Theology: Gospel or blasphemy?

To many "Prosperity Theology" or "Prosperity Gospel" represents nothing more than praying to God for money. The prosperity doctrine is gaining in popularity thanks to engaging televangelists like Joel Osteen and books and movies like "The Secret."

Believers in this doctrine often preach that those whose finances are bad just haven't had enough faith in God. Those who can't seem to lose weight just aren't praying hard enough and thinking thin thoughts. You can have anything you want if you pray hard enough and believe that you can have it.

But that amounts to blasphemy for many devout followers of God and the Bible. People don't become sick because they lack faith in God. Hard times don't come upon us because we don't believe in God enough or want prosperity enough.

Add to this the fact that the high-profile evangelists are often seen raking in millions of dollars, and you've got a huge problem on your hands. Aren't those evangelists proof that God blesses the faithful with money? Those on the other side say the evangelists are exploiting the weak and vulnerable with this "you can have it all" gospel. People want to believe that their lives can improve, and exploiting religion in this regard is one of the oldest tricks in the book.

Beware: These sketchy teachings go by many different names, including health and wealth theology, prosperity gospel, word of faith, name it and claim it, and many others. Yes, God will bless those who live right and believe, but prosperity theology takes the Bible out of context and misleads believers.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
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