prosperity theology Wiki(cont.)
It was during the Healing Revivals of the 1950s that prosperity theology first came to prominence in the United States, although commentators have linked the origins of its theology to the New Thought movement which began in the 1800s. The prosperity teaching later figured prominently in the Word of Faith movement and 1980s televangelism. In the 1990s and 2000s, it was adopted by influential leaders in the Charismatic Movement and promoted by Christian missionaries throughout the world, sometimes leading to the establishment of mega-churches. Prominent leaders in the development of prosperity theology include E. W. Kenyon, Oral Roberts, A. A. Allen, Robert Tilton, T. L. Osborn, Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, and Kenneth Hagin.
Churches in which the prosperity gospel is taught are often non-denominational and usually directed by a sole pastor or leader, although some have developed multi-church networks that bear similarities to denominations. Such churches typically set aside extended time to teach about giving and request donations from the congregation, encouraging positive speech and faith. Prosperity churches often teach about financial responsibility, though some journalists and academics have criticized their advice in this area as misleading.
Prosperity theology has been criticized as heresy by leaders in the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, as well as other Christian denominations. These leaders maintain that it is irresponsible, promotes idolatry, and is contrary to scripture. Some critics have proposed that prosperity theology cultivates authoritarian organizations, with the leaders controlling the lives of the adherents. The doctrine has also become popular in South Korea; academics have attributed some of its success to its parallels with the traditional shamanistic culture. Prosperity theology has drawn followers from the American middle class and poor, and has been likened to the cargo cult phenomenon, traditional African religion, and black liberation theology.
Recent U.S. history
The Neo-Pentecostal movement has been characterized in part by an emphasis on prosperity theology, which gained greater acceptance within charismatic Christianity during the late 1990s. By 2006, three of the four largest congregations in the United States were teaching prosperity theology, and Joel Osteen has been credited with spreading it outside of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movement through his books, which have sold over 4 million copies. Bruce Wilkinson’s The Prayer of Jabez also sold millions of copies and invited readers to seek prosperity.
By the 2000s, adherents of prosperity theology in the United States were most common in the Sun Belt. In the late 2000s, proponents claimed that tens of millions of Christians had accepted prosperity theology. A 2006 poll by Time reported that 17 percent of Christians in America said they identified with the movement. There is no official governing body for the movement, though many ministries are unofficially linked.
In 2007, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley opened a probe into the finances of six televangelism ministries that promoted prosperity theology: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Creflo Dollar Ministries, Benny Hinn Ministries, Bishop Eddie Long Ministries, Joyce Meyer Ministries, and Paula White Ministries. In January 2011, Grassley concluded his investigation stating that he believed self-regulation by religious organizations was preferable to government action. Only the ministries led by Meyer and Hinn cooperated fully with Grassley’s investigation.