Kate Bowler of Duke Divinity School gave an excellent talk on the prosperity gospel movement last night at the Camp House to about 120 people. Her talk was part of the LeRoy Martin Distinguished Lecture Series at UTC, working in cooperation with Theology on Tap of Chattanooga.
In her talk, "The Death and Afterlife of the American Prosperity Gospel," Bowler described the hallmarks of this movement as faith, wealth, health, and victory. The movement is not tied to any particular denomination, she explained, and can include adherents from Baptists, Methodist, Pentecostal groups. According to Bowler, prosperity gospel preachers tell audiences that they can unleash the power of God through acts of faith faith. This divine power requires the willingness and trust of individuals that God can heal their sicknesses, restore broken relationships, enlarge their bank accounts, and give them freedom over the bondage of sin. She argued that this was a type of "hyper-Arminianism" coming out of John Wesley's teaching on Christian perfection that blossomed into the Holiness Movement of the nineteenth century.
If you haven't read Bowler's book, Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel, you should pick up a copy. You might also consider booking her as a speaker. She is an excellent communicator, who employs a witty brand of sarcasm and humor into her talks in a very presentable way.