Health, Wealth & Happiness: Has the Prosperity Gospel Overshadowed the Gospel of Christ?

You heard it here first: Dave Jones and Russell Woodbridge are two of sharpest knives in the drawer. Jones is associate professor of ethics at SEBTS whose expertise is in the field of financial ethics. Woodbridge is a former vice-president for Salomon Brothers AG in Frankfurt, Germany, and former associate professor of theology and church history at SEBTS. He now lives and works in Eastern Europe.

Jones and Woodbridge have teamed up to write Health, Wealth & Happiness:Has the Prosperity Gospel Overshadowed the Gospel of Christ? (Kregel, 2011), a biblical-theological critique of the health and wealth movement. The authors point out that, “Despite its departure from the historic Christian message, the prosperity gospel continues to grow exponentially around the globe” (p. 18). The prosperity movement “has an appealing but fatal message: accept God and he will bless you-because you deserve it” (p. 16). Prosperity gospelers do indeed prosper financially from their own teaching, but often deceive their crowds by removing Christ and the cross from the gospel, promising American-style prosperity in its place. In response to this phenomenon, Jones and Woodbridge deliver a deft and even-handed critique of the prosperity gospel’s teachings and effects.

The first three chapters give a historical and theological critique of the prosperity gospel. These chapters examine the foundations of this movement (chapter 1), the teachings of the prosperity gospel (chapter 2), and the faulty theology of some of this movement’s most well-known teachers (chapter 3), including modern figures such as Creflo Dollar, T.D. Jakes, Joyce Meyer, and Joel Osteen. The second part of the book offers a biblical and theological corrective to the movement’s emphases and teachings. Thus, it focuses on the prosperity gospel movement’s foci and errors, including suffering (chapter 4), wealth and poverty (chapter 5), and giving (chapter 6). Jones and Woodbridge have done pastors, teachers, and laypeople a great service by delivering a pointed critique grounded in Christian Scripture and communicated with grace and clarity. This is a timely and appropriate book.

If you are a prospective seminary student , allow me to invite you to study with David Jones at Southeastern. He holds a PhD from SEBTS in the field of financial ethics. He is associate professor of Christian ethics, coordinator of the ThM program at SEBTS, and the author of more than a dozen articles and books that cover a wide range of moral issues.