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The countries of the South and the prosperity gospel

This article is taken from the book May the nations rejoice by John Piper.

There is another ambiguity concerning the tremendous expansion of Christianity which we are witnessing today: the forms of this faith are not all based on what the apostle Paul calls “sound doctrine” (Titus 1: 9; 2 : 1). In this regard, Michael Horton tempers our enthusiasm by noting the following:

In praise of the expansion of Christianity into what should be called the two-third world - expansion extensively highlighted (most notably in recent years in The Next Christendom by Philip Jenkins) - should at least be tempered by the fact that the prosperity gospel is the most explosive version of the phenomenon. (Michael Horton, Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church, Grand Rapids (USA): Baker Academic, 2008, p. 45.)

The prosperity gospel is the fastest growing movement on the African continent.

When I speak of “the prosperity gospel” I am referring to a teaching that emphasizes that God wants believers to be rich and healthy in this world. ignoring or minimizing the dangers of wealth, the Bible's call to be as vigilant as in times of war, and the necessity and utility of suffering.

We have a good illustration of this Gospel of prosperity in the person of one of the main African preachers of this current, who declares: “Many people do not know that God has already planned everything so that his children be rich here on earth. And when I say rich, I mean very, very rich. [...] Let go! It is not a sin to desire to be rich ". (Isaac Phiri and Joe Maxwell, “Gospel Riches,” Christianity Today, 51, # 7, July 2007, p. 23.)

It worries me a lot when a preacher encourages a crowd to donate $ 200 to "open up to the blessing" in a culture where a schoolteacher earns $ 150 a month. Yet over three hundred people come forward to receive the speaker's anointing, and within minutes the Church is pocketing $ 60,000 net of tax.

The scope of this teaching is considerable in Africa. In a 2006 survey, the Pew Institute asked respondents whether God wishes "to grant material prosperity to all believers who have enough faith." Pentecostals said 85% yes in Kenya, 90% in South Africa and 95% in Nigeria.

No wonder: the worst part of the African doctrine of prosperity is an American export. In Africa, television has become the number one educational tool for religion: “People turn it on and assume that the Trinity broadcasting network represents American Christianity and that Americans know it all, so why not listen to what is happening. 'she says ?" And, of course, the prosperity doctrine is not just about North America and Africa. It also comes in its Latin American and Asian forms, and is found in every country in the South, from Seoul to São Paulo.

What about the prosperity gospel?

The first thing to say about the prosperity gospel is that wealthy Westerners are arguably just as guilty of these excesses as poor people in the Global South.The difference is that the poor don't have wealth and want it, while the rich do expect to keep it and get angry if God takes it back. Both long for prosperity. It's just more subtle in the West because we can take prosperity for granted. This is why I spend more time calling on my congregation to live differently than calling the countries of the South to think differently. I am more responsible for the sins committed at home.

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John Piper




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