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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5 out of 5 stars
By Jonathan Barlow on 25-02-15

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.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Paul on 16-01-18

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.

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