How have millions of American Christians come to measure spiritual progress in terms of their financial status and physical well-being? How has the movement variously called Word of Faith, Health and Wealth, Name It and Claim It, or simply prosperity gospel come to dominate much of our contemporary religious landscape? Kate Bowler's Blessed is the first book to fully explore the origins, unifying themes, and major figures of a burgeoning movement that now claims millions of followers in America. Bowler traces the roots of the prosperity gospel: from the touring mesmerists, metaphysical sages, pentecostal healers, business oracles, and princely prophets of the early 20th century; through mid-century positive thinkers like Norman Vincent Peale and revivalists like Oral Roberts and Kenneth Hagin; to today's hugely successful prosperity preachers. Bowler focuses on such contemporary figures as Creflo Dollar, pastor of Atlanta's 30,000-member World Changers Church International; Joel Osteen, known as "the smiling preacher", with a weekly audience of seven million; T. D. Jakes, named by Time magazine one of America's most influential new religious leaders; Joyce Meyer, evangelist and women's empowerment guru; and many others. At almost any moment, day or night, the American public can tune in to these preachers - on TV, radio, podcasts, and in their megachurches - to hear the message that God desires to bless them with wealth and health. Bowler offers an interpretive framework for scholars and general listeners alike to understand the diverse expressions of Christian abundance as a cohesive movement bound by shared understandings and common goals.
©2013 Oxford University Press (P)2014 Audible Inc.
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"Great research, fascinating information"
Kate Bowler untangles the roots of the prosperity gospel in an entertaining and informative way. She handles the topic without bias. Well done indeed. If you want to learn more about the movement , its roots and current place in American Christianity today, this book is a must read.
"Good book, very candid"
Right to the point, and I a few laughs based on the authors comments which were refreshingly honest.
"A necessary history that helped me better understand a large part of the global church and influence of this popular theology."
Every time I'd tell people that I was reading a history of the American prosperity gospel they'd begin to ask questions and share stories. And they always asked something like "well, what does she say? Does she say it's bad?" To which I would have to respond "Well, SHE doesn't really say it's bad. She just lays out the history and the facts on the message, the different expressions of it and a bit of the stories the main characters and then let's you decide!" That's one of the things I appreciated about it - It wasn't judgemental or bitter, yet it did describe some of the more troubling events and expressions of the last 50 years.
I really enjoyed this book and felt like I was taking an extremely interesting history class that ended with me thinking about my own faith and religious history in a fresh way. Thank you Kate Bowler!
If you are curious as to what to expect - I got the audiobook after reading Kate Bowler's New York Times article called Death, the Prosperity Gospel and Me - take a look at it and then get the book if you want more!
"Entertaining and thorough"
The church historian in me enjoyed it but the theologian in me longed for some assessment of the movement's claims. She drops her volume at the end of sentences which makes it hard to hear and tedious to replay to get clarity but all in all solid research and a timely topic.
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