Friday, June 19, 2015

Encountering Prosperity Theology in Latin America

As a young Christian in a majority Roman Catholic country, I was always very excited when I met other young men and women who professed to be evangelical Christians. During my teen years, I spent a few months with some I considered Christians, people who were always eager to talk about religion and faith. When one of them learned I was a diabetic, his question left me perplexed: “So, what is it that you do?” He was asking what sin I’d committed that caused my diabetes. He then proceeded to explain how I could go to their church and their pastor would pray for me so I’d be healed.

Of that group of young friends, most—if not all—have fallen away from the faith. But the theology that fed that conversation isn’t only alive, it’s booming. In an article I wrote about the state of the church in Latin America, I argued prosperity theology is king in Latin America:
While prosperity teachers are highly influential in the United States and other places, they’re particularly popular in Latin America. In fact, the charismatic, Word-of-faith, prosperity form of Christianity is, by and large, the only form of Protestantism people know. In our region, a non-Catholic churchgoer is almost guaranteed to belong to a church that falls somewhere on the spectrum of this movement.

In Latin America, prosperity theology is not just a system of belief, but the culture in which we live. Most well-known Spanish-speaking Christian artists have backgrounds in prosperity theology. TV shows and movies promote a culture of consumerism and so do the “Christian” television channels. Books written and sold advocate this theology. And of course, the works of many false teachers from the United States have been translated into Spanish.

Formerly, you had to do evangelism mainly among Catholics, showing them how the true gospel is so much better than works-based attempts at salvation. But more and more evangelism has turned into an effort to preach the gospel to those who subscribe to some kind of prosperity gospel, showing them how Jesus is so much better than the riches of this world.
This remains true today, but how did we get here? Is there hope sound doctrine will expose the false teaching of prosperity teachers in Latin America? Keep reading

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