My Copy: 9780825429309 (image from bn.com)
It’s not a long read. Not at all. And the title pretty much speaks for itself regarding what the book is about: answering the question of the prosperity gospel as compared to the Bible’s teachings.
It’s not an exhaustive bit of research (A Different Gospel started that one about 20 years ago, and that’s got a ton of things in it that this one couldn’t put in). The authors of Health, Wealth & Happiness are asking an important question, one many Christians or pseudo-Christians should probably confront at some point. They’re asking whether or not the so-called prosperity gospel has any standing with Biblical Christian teachings, and more than that, has that gospel gone far beyond the intent and reach of said Bible?
Health, Wealth, & Happiness doesn’t set out to condemn or slander, but rather pulls out scripture to show where some prosperity preachers may not have things quite right (and uses their words when possible compared to the Bible). This book is a good way to approach the subject because I know plenty of people who will pick up a book written by Joyce Meyer or Joel Osteen or the dozen or so other pastors out there that preach this gospel, and they rarely if ever crack open a Bible.
The book is in two main parts: explaining the basics of the prosperity gospel according to the proponents of it, and then explaining what the scriptures say Christians should do, and what the Bible says about wealth and giving.
I’m using it in my research, and so far, it’s not disappointing me. I’m going back through the book to see what the scriptures are saying and I think they’ve done a good job to start the conversation on what it really means to be a Christian, because everybody I know who professes to be one seems to have a very different view of it (some aligned with prosperity gospel, others fire and brimstone).
I think this book is very necessary for believers and non-believers alike who believe they should further their understanding of Christianity as it seems to be depicted in the mainstream. This book can help clear up some confusions and fallacies that tend to revolve around such teachings.
It’s a very approachable, short text. I would’ve loved more examples of preachers and what exactly some have said and how they use the prosperity gospel (as not all preachers are so alike). I’ve found the topic confusing in most of my life, and just get incensed when I see some of the preachers on t.v. because it just feels dirty.
No wonder I’ve questioned my beliefs for so long–I was raised listening to prosperity preachers; it just took me a while to realize it. And those questions really sour conversation between those who know little about Christianity (or have left it behind in disgust in part because of these teachings) and the true believers who may or may not believe in the prosperity gospel, but have been painted as a traveler just by religious proximity.
Worth checking out if you want to better understand the Bible, or if you wondered why some of the prosperity teachings might’ve left a funny taste in your mouth. Not sure how the book would go with avid believers in the prosperity gospel / word of faith movement / “name it and claim it” gospel (or half dozen other titles I can’t think of right now).
2 thoughts on “Health, Wealth & Happiness: Has the Prosperity Gospel Overshadowed the Gospel of Christ?, by D.W. Jones & R. S. Woodbridge”
Interesting review of a book. Thanks for sharing it here. I’ve never heard of the “name it and claim it” gospel, but now that you write it here I realize that’s what a former acquaintance was all about, brainwashed into only saying and hearing positive thoughts about what she wanted.
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It’s a slangy version of “word of faith” gospel, in that if you say and believe it enough, and have enough faith in Jesus, that you’ll get what you want. You just have to declare it (which is why you have weirdness like Creflo Dollar on national TV saying things like “If I want to ask God for a $65 million plane, you cannot stop me from dreaming!”) Makes God sound like Tinkerbell with humans as Peter Pan trying to believe her back to life.