Jesus looks just like me
Nice story about the prosperity gospel on CNN.com--nice in that it give Emory's Luke Timothy Johnson plenty fo whacks at pointing out how ridiculous the prosperity gospel is!
Consider this from a prosperity gospel proponent:
But the Rev. C. Thomas Anderson, senior pastor of the Living Word Bible Church in Mesa, Arizona, preaches a version of the Christmas story that says baby Jesus wasn't so poor after all.
Anderson says Jesus couldn't have been poor because he received lucrative gifts -- gold, frankincense and myrrh -- at birth. Jesus had to be wealthy because the Roman soldiers who crucified him gambled for his expensive undergarments. Even Jesus' parents, Mary and Joseph, lived and traveled in style, he says.
"Mary and Joseph took a Cadillac to get to Bethlehem because the finest transportation of their day was a donkey," says Anderson. "Poor people ate their donkey. Only the wealthy used it as transportation."
Really? Poor people ate their donkey? And since when do you have to be rich to receive gifts?
The prosperity gospel is just another way of defanging the message of Jesus: The poor enjoy God's favor; wealth is often an obstacle to the reign of God; leave everything and follow me. Not a single gospel account presents Jesus as belonging to a privileged class. And no matter what his class, the life and death he chose placed him among the poor and powerless of the world.
I'm not saying I'm any better at living the message of Jesus than Rev. Anderson, but at least I'm not pretending God wants me to enjoy a middle class lifestyle, much less rewarding me with one--at the expense of the world's 2 billion-plus poor.