May 8, 2019 – Prosperity and Good Health

Fr. Linsky began with the first Mass reading from Acts 8 about what happened in the very early church after the stoning of Deacon Stephen.

Acts 8:1b New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE) Persecution of the Church. On that day, there broke out a severe persecution[a]of the church in Jerusalem, and all were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.[b]

I think it is always a good idea to consider the footnotes when reading the Bible to get some idea of what Bible scholars are thinking. That is not to even suggest they are always right, but their comments, usually based on original languages and historical, theological, and literary context, are worthy of consideration and may be enlightening. Here is the text for footnotes (a) and (b) found at this LINK.

Fr. Linsky focused attention on the severe persecution, contrasting that with the way prosperity and good health are sometimes today presented as the major benefits of the Christian faith. Such slanting of the Gospel (Good News) is sometimes referred to as prosperity gospel or prosperity theology.

Catholic theology is more aligned with early Church teaching that the Christian faith empowers us to deal with adversity and suffering, offering them as sacrifices, even as we continue to think positively about the true good news we have heard and gifts we have received and the eternal abundant life we have been promised if we persevere.

A few of us have engaged in some online discussion about a couple of articles on the prosperity gospel. First was a blog post by Southern Baptist Convention President Dr. Albert Mohler, JR., Would You Trade Eternal Life for A Ferrari? The False Gospel of Prosperity Theology. You can read his blog post HERE.

I am not up-to-date with typical Southern Baptist theology of today, but what Dr. Mohler writes rings true with what I learned there in the middle of the last century and with what Southern Baptists I know today believe and practice.

The subject of Dr. Mohler’s post was an insightful article published, of all places, in the Financial Times. The article, by Edward Luce, is entitled A preacher for Trump’s America: Joel Osteen and the prosperity gospel. FT articles are usually available only to subscribers, but this one seems to be accessible HERE. It is all about Mr. Luce’s visits to Joel Osteen’s Houston TX Lakewood Church and his interview with Osteen. It’s worth your time (and money) even if you must do a $1.00 trial subscription.

All this made me think about a chart I created a few years ago about Gifts of the Holy Spirit, Fruits of the Holy Spirit, Virtues, and Vices. I have shared it before, but here it is again, all based on Sacred Scripture and the Catechism of the Church.

Here is the blog post in which I first published that chart, October 2010, while in the St. Peter’s RCIA class preparing for Confirmation at Pentecost 2011. Suffice it to say that neither prosperity nor good health shows up on the chart. There are, however, several items related to preparation for and dealing with whatever adversity we may face and with putting love of others ahead of concerns about ourselves.

PS: Special thanks to Steven for sharing his personal experience with prosperity theology and a clear explanation of it.

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