Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel

Article excerpt

Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel BY KATE BOWLER OXFORD, 352 PAGES, $34-95

He took your place in poverty, so you could take His place in prosperity!" "If you have an abundance of faith in your spiritual account, you can enjoy plenty of everything-wealth, health, good relationships, peace, success!" "Name it and claim it!"

Such is the good news proclaimed by the preachers of the American prosperity gospel. While scorned by mainstream Christians, the healthand-wealth gospel brand continues to spread, boasting over one million American adherents and many more millions abroad.

Weaving historical research with first-person narrative, Kate Bowler, an assistant professor of American religion at Duke Divinity School, traces the emergence of the American prosperity gospel from its late nineteenth-century roots in metaphysical mesmerists and itinerant healers, through its growth in the post-Second World War Pentecostal revivals, to its megachurch flowering today.

The early history of this movement reads like a case study in Nietzschean "will to power" psychology. Victorian America's fascination with the power of mind over matter provides the anthropological foundation for the movement. …

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