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The prosperity gospel, defined: Why Joel Osteen believes that prayer could make you wealthy –



The lengthy, unusual historical past of a quintessentially American theology.
Within the wake of Tropical Hurricane Harvey, which has resulted within the deaths of no less than 46 folks, few narratives have captured the general public creativeness — or anger — like that of Joel Osteen and his Lakewood Church, one of the vital biggest megachurches within the nation. Osteen’s seeming hesitation in opening the church as a refuge for evacuees provoked an intense social media backlash.
Lakewood’s representatives handle that the church was once opened as quickly because it was once protected and possible to take action. However whether or not the backlash was once based or now not, it displays the profoundly ambiguous emotions American citizens of various faiths have about wildly rich preachers like Osteen — whose internet value is estimated at over $50 million — and in regards to the “prosperity gospel” he preaches.
As Laura Turner notes in an very good piece for BuzzFeed, no theological custom is as rife for accusations of hypocrisy because the “prosperity gospel,” a distinctively American theological custom. Whilst it’s fashionable amongst many evangelical Protestants, it’s been condemned through many others. However to a lot of its critics, particularly for the reason that election of Donald Trump, this custom has come to constitute the worst of the conflation of American-style capitalism, faith, and Republican celebration politics.
The prosperity gospel is an umbrella time period for a bunch of concepts — fashionable amongst charismatic preachers within the evangelical custom — that equate Christian religion with subject matter, and in particular monetary, luck. It has a protracted historical past in American tradition, with figures like Osteen and Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, glamorous, flashily-dressed televangelists whose Disneyland-meets-Bethlehem Christian theme park, Heritage USA, was once as soon as the third-most-visited website in The us.
A 2006 Occasions ballot discovered that 17 p.c of American Christians establish explicitly with the motion, whilst 31 p.c espouse the concept “in case you give your cash to God God will bless you with extra money.” A complete 61 p.c accept as true with the extra normal concept that “God desires folks to be wealthy.”
Its roots, despite the fact that, don’t simply lie in explicitly Christian custom. If truth be told, it’s imaginable to track the origins of the American prosperity gospel to the custom of New Concept, a nineteenth-century religious motion well liked by decidedly unorthodox thinkers like Ralph Waldo Emerson and William James. Practitioners of New Concept, now not all of whom recognized as Christian, in most cases held the divinity of the person human being and the concern of thoughts over topic. In different phrases, if it is advisable accurately channel your psychological power, it is advisable harness its subject matter effects. New Concept, sometimes called the “thoughts remedy,” took many bureaucracy: from hobby within the occult to splinter-Christian denominations like Christian Science to the improvement of the “speaking remedy” on the root of psychotherapy.
The upshot of New Concept, despite the fact that, was once the quintessentially American concept that the person was once chargeable for his or her personal happiness, well being, and scenario in existence, and that making use of psychological power in the precise path was once enough to remedy any ills.
Thus, New Concept philosopher Ralph Waldo Trine (to not be puzzled with Ralph Waldo Emerson) may just exhort his readers to “See your self in a wealthy situation. Verify that you are going to sooner than lengthy be in a wealthy situation.”
Along with influencing Christian actions just like the prosperity gospel, New Concept has additionally made its approach into many “secular” sides of American existence, together with the custom of positive-thinking self-help represented through books like The Secret, which was once written through an Australian however won recognition when promoted through Oprah.
A 2d strand within the building of the American prosperity gospel was once the valorization of the “Protestant paintings ethic.”
Written in 1905, Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism traced what he noticed because the particularly Protestant way to hard work as integral to the improvement of capitalism and industrialization.
In Weber’s ancient research, Protestant Calvinists — who in most cases imagine within the concept of “predestination,” or that God has selected some folks to be stored and others damned — felt the want to justify their very own sense of themselves because the stored. They appeared each for outward indicators of God’s choose (i.e., thru subject matter luck) and for methods to specific inward distinctive feature (i.e., thru laborious paintings). Whilst the accuracy of Weber’s research continues to be debated through students, it however tells us so much about cultural attitudes on the time Weber wrote it.
Via 1905, no less than, the concept operating laborious and receiving subject matter, monetary praise for that paintings was once integral to a definite strand of Protestant Christianity had entered the general public awareness. Consistent with a fresh Dutch learn about, that perspective nonetheless holds true as of late: Protestants and voters of predominately Protestant nations have a tendency to conflate hard work with private pleasure greater than the ones of different non secular traditions.
A last strand of the improvement of the prosperity gospel was once the improvement of charismatic Pentecostal church buildings in The us. An umbrella time period for a decentralized staff of church buildings — comprising over 700 denominations — Pentecostal church buildings are characterised through an emphasis on what’s referred to as “religious presents” (or charisms, from which the time period “charismatic” is drawn). A worshipful Christian would possibly revel in, for instance, the present of therapeutic, or would possibly all of sudden get started talking “in tongues.” This practice of worship supposed that, for a believer, the concept God would manifest Himself to the devoted in concrete, miraculous techniques within the right here and now was once extra prevalent than it could be in, say, a mainline Episcopalian church. As well as, the decentralized nature of those church buildings additionally supposed that particular leaders, a lot of whom practiced religion therapeutic or an identical practices, had a in particular sturdy impact on their congregations and may just building up person private followings.
Those 3 strands collided during the 20th century, because the prosperity gospel got here into being. It began — just like the “paintings ethic” Max Weber described — so to justify why, right through the Gilded Age, some folks had been wealthy and others deficient. (One early prosperity gospel proponent, Baptist preacher Russell H. Conwell, instructed his mostly-destitute congregation in 1915: “I say you would like to be wealthy; you haven’t any proper to be deficient.”) As an alternative of blaming structural inequality, Conwell and the ones like him blamed the perceived disasters of the person.
All the way through the 20th century, proponents of this in particular American mix of theology envisaged God as a type of banker, meting out cash to the deserving, with Jesus as a style trade govt. Either one of those characterizations had been, now and then, literal: In 1936, New Concept mystic and founding father of the Team spirit Church Charles Fillmore rewrote Psalm 23 to learn, “The Lord is my banker/my credit score is just right”; in 1925, promoting govt Bruce Bowler wrote The Guy No one Is aware of to argue that Jesus was once the primary nice capitalist. The literal cash quote reads, “Some day … anyone will write a e-book about Jesus. Each businessman will learn it and ship it to his companions and his salesmen. For it’s going to inform the tale of the founder of recent trade.”
But it was once in Pentecostal church buildings — with their focal point on fast religious presents and the ability of God to confer choose (and wellness) straight away — that the prosperity gospel as we realize it as of late took cling. The “Phrase of Religion” motion — a Pentecostal model of New Concept that noticed fine confirmation as central to monetary and subject matter luck — turned into extra outstanding. Figures like Kenneth Hagin, his protégé Kenneth Copeland, Oral Roberts, and, after all, Osteen himself constructed up person followings: followings that incessantly grew on account of cross-promotion (one thing non secular historian Kate Bowler issues out in her very good Blessed, a historical past of the prosperity gospel motion). One preacher would possibly, for instance, function some other at his convention, or hawk his cassette tapes.
Central to the prosperity gospel was once the theory of tithing, or giving cash to the church, preferably one’s “first end result” — or preliminary profits. This cash, many prosperity gospel preachers promised, was once an funding. Via appearing religion, parishioners may have a “hundredfold” go back on their funding, a connection with a verse within the Gospel of Mark about those that endure for Christ receiving a hundredfold what they’ve misplaced. Thus may just Ken Copeland write in his Rules of Prosperity, “Do you need a hundredfold go back in your cash? Give and let God multiply it again to you. No financial institution on the planet provides this sort of go back! Reward the Lord!” On this mentality, tithing is a financially accountable factor to do. It’s a display of religion and a shrewd funding alike, a bet on the concept God acts within the right here and now to praise the ones with each religion and a sufficiently evolved paintings ethic.
The prosperity gospel tended to ebb and go with the flow based on wider cultural traits — it flourished within the postwar increase of the Fifties, and however (unsurprisingly) within the no much less ostentatious ‘80s, when large hair and large cash alike had been in. But in spite of the catastrophic fall of one of the maximum outstanding proponents of the gospel — Jim Bakker, for instance, spent years in jail for fraud — the motion has continued smartly into the prevailing day. In all probability no much less unsurprisingly, two of its main proponents — Paula White and Wayne T. Jackson — had been a few of the six religion leaders invited to wish with Donald Trump at his inauguration.
Unquestionably Trump is, in some sense, a made from that mentality. In a fresh op-ed in The New York Occasions, theology professor Anthea Butler argued that Donald Trump and Joel Osteen had been “mirrors” of each other:
Each revel in monumental toughen amongst evangelicals, but they lack a command of biblical scripture. Each are a few of the 1 p.c … Mr. Trump’s and Mr. Osteen’s manufacturers are rooted in luck, now not Scripture. Believers in prosperity like winners. Hurricanes and catastrophic floods don’t give you the successful narratives an important to stay adherents chained to prosperity gospel considering. For this reason it’s simple for each males to factor platitudes devoid of empathy right through herbal failures.
It’s tough to mention that the prosperity gospel itself ended in Donald Trump’s inauguration. Once more, simplest 17 p.c of American Christians establish with it explicitly. It’s way more true, on the other hand, to mention that the similar cultural forces that ended in the prosperity gospel’s proliferation in The us — individualism, an affinity for ostentatious and charismatic leaders, the Protestant paintings ethic, and a cultural obsession with the ability of “fine considering” — form how we, as a country, method politics.
What’s our collective way to well being care, in any case, if now not rooted in a visceral sense that the unfortunate are chargeable for their very own misfortune? What’s our willingness to vote a person like Trump into administrative center however a collective cultural praise for individuals who emblem themselves as a hit?
In any case, Trump will have embraced New Concept greater than someone learned: seeing himself within the White Area, asserting himself within the White Area, sooner than someone else noticed it coming.
He’s gotten his funding again a hundredfold.
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The Friend Who Sticks Closer than a Brother




The Friend Who Sticks Closer than a Brother

Embracing True Friendship: The Friend Who Sticks Closer Than a Brother

Friendship is a valuable asset that enriches our lives by providing companionship, support, and a shoulder to cry on. But have you ever had a buddy who goes above and beyond—someone who remains closer than a brother? In a world where relationships can be fickle, a friend who sticks by us through thick and thin is a rare and priceless gift.

More Than Just Blood Ties

Consider the tie between siblings, which is based on blood and shared history. Consider a buddy who is more than just a family member. “One who has untrustworthy friends soon comes to ruin,” says Proverbs 18:24 (NIV), “but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

This verse describes a friendship that goes beyond basic conditions. It’s a bond founded on trust, loyalty, and real concern for one another.

Continuous Support

Consider a buddy who is present not only during happy times but also during difficult times. This type of friend is unconcerned about changing circumstances or personal gain. They provide their presence, encouragement, and steadfast support.

Jesus expresses the core of such friendship in John 15:13 (NIV): “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. This selfless affection serves as the foundation for a lasting connection.

Journeys Together

Consider a friend you’ve shared many stages of life with—the highs, the lows, and everything in between. This shared experience forges a link that extends beyond surface-level exchanges. The value of companionship is brilliantly captured in Ecclesiastes 4:9–10 (NIV): “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”

A friend who sticks closer than a brother is someone who goes beside us through life’s ups and downs, lending a solid hand and an ear to listen.

A Mirror of God’s Love

As a symbol of God’s love for us, consider the buddy who sticks closer than a brother. God Himself offers an unbroken, unchanging, and everlasting companionship. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” says the Bible in Romans 8:38–39.

God’s love is the ultimate paradigm of true friendship—a love that is not conditional but remains faithful regardless of what happens.

Conclusion: Value true friendship.

A friend who sticks closer to you than a sibling is a treasure to be treasured. This type of friendship is founded on love, trust, and mutual care rather than convenience or shared interests. May we seek to be that sort of friend to others in our lives, just as God offers us His unfailing love.

In a world where relationships can be fleeting, let us create friendships that will endure. Let us be the sort of friends who are present in both joy and sadness, who offer unconditional support, and who mirror God’s unfailing love. We are reminded of the beauty of true friendship, which clings closer than a brother, as we welcome and cherish these unique and valuable ties.

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The Just God




The Just God

The Just God: The Divine Balance of Justice and Mercy

The concept of justice is intertwined with the fabric of human society. We seek justice, responsibility, and reparation for wrongs done. But have you ever pondered a God who is not only just but also perfectly just? The Just God is a lighthouse of truth and righteousness, providing a profound awareness of justice and kindness that transcends human comprehension.

Justice in Pursuit

Consider a world where wrongdoers go unpunished and the disadvantaged have no recourse. The pursuit of justice is a natural human goal that reflects a feeling of rightness and order. And if we as humans value justice, how much more should the Creator of the universe, who is completely just?

According to Deuteronomy 32:4 (NIV), “He is the rock; his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. He is a loyal God who does no wrong, who is straight and just. This verse reveals God’s character, which is characterized by unwavering justice.

Justice and Mercy in Balance

Consider yourself in front of a judge who holds you accountable for every action and decision you make. Imagine that same judge showing mercy and giving you a second opportunity despite the evidence against you. The just God is kind as well as just.

This delicate balance is captured in Psalm 103:10–11 (NIV): “He does not treat us as our sins deserve, nor does He repay us according to our iniquities. For his love for people who fear him is as high as the skies are above the earth. God’s justice is balanced by his unending love and kindness.

The Redemption of Justice

Consider a debt that you will never be able to repay—a debt of mistakes and wrongs that weigh heavy on your soul. In His perfect justice, the just God provides a solution. God provides a mechanism for justice to be served and redemption to be offered through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” says Romans 3:23–24 (NIV), “and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. This is an example of justice being met via the redemptive act of Christ’s sacrifice.

A Call to Justice

Consider a society in which justice is not simply a notion but a way of life. In our interactions with others, the just God calls us to exemplify justice. Micah 6:8 (NIV) states unequivocally, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. What does the Lord expect of you? Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.”

Living justly entails treating people with fairness, compassion, and respect, as the character of the just God requires.

Finishing: Adoring the Just God

The Just God asks us to comprehend the breadth of His justice—a justice that supports truth, requires accountability, and strikes a balance between mercy and justice. God’s justice and mercy merge in the person of Jesus Christ, offering us redemption and restoration.

May we turn to the just God as our ultimate standard as we traverse a world that frequently grapples with issues of fairness. May we seek His wisdom and counsel in order to live justly and treat others with love and justice. We find not only a paradigm of perfect justice but also an invitation to experience the transformative power of His kindness when we embrace the Just God.

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The Pleasure of Serving Others: A Pathway to Achievement




The Joy of Serving Others: A Pathway to Fulfillment

The Pleasure of Serving Others: A Highway to Contentment

Have you ever ever felt the nice and cozy glow that effects from lending a serving to hand to a stranger, the enjoyment that lasts for days after the act of kindness? That emotion offers a way of the pride of serving to others. The straightforward act of serving to can give us a sense of function and pleasure in contrast to the rest in a society that incessantly pushes us to place our consideration on ourselves.

The Want to Serve

Believe a society the place everybody labored to fortify the lives of people of their instant neighborhood. The need to lend a serving to hand, proportion a load, and supply comfort is on the core of carrier. The instance used to be established through Jesus Himself when he stated, “For even the Son of Guy didn’t come to be served, however to serve, and to provide his lifestyles as a ransom for plenty of.” (NIV, Mark 10:45)

Serving others is extra than just a nice deed; it is a way to emulate the compassion and love that Christ proven for us.

Discovering Pleasure in Selfless Giving

Believe spending time with the aged or going to a neighborhood refuge to hear their stories and cause them to really feel essential. Those tiny acts of kindness won’t appear to be a lot, however they be capable to make any person’s day higher, create relationships, and toughen a sense of group.

A better feeling of pleasure emerges after we set aside our personal issues and be aware of the wishes of others. The Bible admonishes us, “Every of you can use no matter present you’ve gotten won to serve others, as trustworthy stewards of God’s grace in its more than a few paperwork.” (NIV) 1 Peter 4:10 We specific the particular talents God has given us through serving others, and it’s in those deeds of carrier that we discover authentic pleasure.

Have an effect on Unmeasurable

Take into consideration the impact if all of us realized to experience serving to others. If we take a bit spoil from our tense schedules to lend a hand a neighbor, supply a sympathetic ear, or donate cash to a reason we reinforce. Small acts of kindness have the facility to unfold, sparking a sequence response of generosity and optimistic exchange.

In step with the NIV translation of Matthew 25:40, Jesus stated, “Actually I inform you, no matter you probably did for this sort of least of those brothers and sisters of mine, you probably did for me.” No longer simplest can we fortify the lives of other folks we serve, however we additionally perform Jesus’ command to like and deal with the ones round us.

Development Relationships and Connections

Believe the sensation of camaraderie that comes from cooperating with others to reach a shared purpose. Folks come in combination via carrier, growing ties and friendships that differently won’t have took place. It serves as a reminder that we’re all part of a broader group, and that group would possibly take pleasure in the acts we do.

Serving others permits us to peer the arena from many angles and to realize the demanding situations and victories of other folks round us. Our lives are enriched and {our relationships} are deepened through this sensitivity.

Conclusion: Discovering Contentment Via Carrier

Every people has a skill that is able to be opened: the pleasure of serving to others. It serves as a reminder that our lives are meant to be about extra than just our personal pursuits; they’re an opportunity to fortify the lives of others.

Let’s thus embody the pride of serving to others, if it is by means of deeds of kindness, volunteering, or simply being conscious about their wishes. The easy act of serving would possibly supply mild and hope in a global that every so often turns out overwhelming. As we emulate Christ and prolong ourselves in love, we no longer simplest exchange the lives of others but additionally revel in a deep feeling of success and enjoyment that overflows into our personal hearts.

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