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Publisher's Summary

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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  • Jonathan Barlow
  • 25-02-2015

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Paul
  • 16-01-2018

Engrossing History of the Prosperity Gospel

BLESSED traces the Prosperity Gospel from its earliest roots. Kate Bowler not only wrote a very thorough account but she was also easy to follow and listen to in the Audible version. One thing that amazed me is how the prosperity message has seeped into so many facets of today's church. Tracing links to New Thought philosophy and showing how these ideas were adapted over time, the book peels back the facelift that prosperity teachers keep inventing.

Bowler's tone is not cynical or looking down on her subject, but gently questioning, wanting to see the best and going to where the facts lead. This made her account compelling and engrossing in the way her research unfolded.

There are a few minor glitches, like her surprise about one church calling its drug and alcohol ministry "Celebrate Recovery" while one click of on-line research would reveal that Celebrate Recovery is a national ministry with several hundred chapters that was launched by Saddleback Church more than a decade ago.

This history of the Prosperity movement a must read for pastors, church history lovers, and those who wish to understand the pros and cons of the Prosperity Gospel.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Ben
  • 14-04-2016

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!

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  • D. R. WATKINS Jr.
  • 31-03-2015

Good book, very candid

Right to the point, and I a few laughs based on the authors comments which were refreshingly honest.

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  • Karen Mack
  • 20-06-2018

For Brave and Thoughtful individuals

If you think the prosperity gospel is far removed from your faith, this book will challenge that thinking. For those committed to the prosperity gospel this book provides its history as well as its strengths and weaknesses. This is not a “feel good” treatise or a self help book. It is a book that will prompt deep reflection, honestly and hopefully a more mature faith.

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  • Kim
  • 01-09-2017

great book

this book was very good. a thorough look at this movement. the information provided insight into the thought and beliefs of this movement.

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  • TKC
  • 28-04-2017

Thorough and balanced scholarly review of the prosperity gospel

In addition to being well researched and thoroughly read what I appreciate about this book is that Dr. Bowler tries to stay balanced and fairly unbiased in her arguments OK. This is not an attack manual on the prosperity gospel but a detailed history on how the prosperity gospel grew out of the Pentecostal movement and developed into its own segment of the Christian faith. The book is very well written and references a wealth of literature that will give you insight to the key figures historical account and analyses that have previously been done on the topic.no matter how you feel about the prosperity theology I think this book would be of value to you as in a give you insights into how to develop what a lot of the believe sign and how followers of the theology do you Christianity through the lens of the prosperity gospel.

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  • Michele
  • 12-04-2016

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.