Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

The Gospel of Great News!

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

The Gospel of Great News!

Article excerpt

How was your Christmas? Did you experience God's endless bounty in this, the greatest nation in the world? Did you gather around the tree in the morning and open all the gifts that Jesus had brought the night before, landing on the rooftop with his eight tiny disciples (or was it 12?), and squeezing down the chimney with his bag of brand-name products made at the North Pole, or at the very least, northern China?


Or am I thinking of Santa Claus? You know, the mythical figure based on Nicholas of Myra, a man of considerable inherited wealth who gave money to the needy. Not much is known of him, except that he probably did not dress in red, did not have Cheeks like roses and a nose like a cherry, nor did he have a little round belly that shook when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly. These attributes are what marketing people call "value added" characteristics when something--or someone--is in drastic need of an update.

Take Jesus, for example. As far as we know Jesus went around almost barefoot, a little thin, and spent a lot of time with poor people. I mean, please. Doesn't sound like Son of God material to me. That's why, in this season of getting, it might be better to look at a gospel message that's more appropriate for our current cultural context.

I refer to the new, and much improved, Prosperity Gospel. It's the New Testament with a modern makeover, and it's spreading like wildfire. (Oops. Sorry, California. Sore subject. How about ... um ... selling like hotcakes?)

And who better to explain this new phenomenon than Dr. Norman Robertson---or, if you prefer his formal title, best-selling author and renowned speaker who thinks that Christians should be rich and, judging by the pinstripe suit and flashy tie in his promotional photos, he practices what he preaches.

For the past 20 years, Robertson has been using his books, CDs, and lectures to debunk what he calls the myth of the "poor Jesus." You know that one: the babe of low estate, born in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and, let's be honest, he didn't dress much better when he got older. Not really the kind of role model you want for today's fashion-conscious Christians. Robertson claims that scripture itself challenges our assumptions of Jesus' humble beginnings.

In Matthew 2:11, Robertson points out, regional monarchs bestowed expensive gifts on the baby Jesus. …

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