Televangelism and Trump


I’ve been very agitated by this election cycle, but I’ve been reluctant to post anything political because A: who cares and B: it may not ultimately be edifying. I’m not actually all that clear as to who bothers to read this blog, but I have a sense that they’re politically diverse, and these conversations are better done in a dynamic and empathetic exchange of ideas (preferably face-to-face) rather than through tacked up screeds.

So I’m not going to lay out any manifestos or arguments, but I am going to recommend, from time-to-time, a few things that I found provocative in ways that deepened, challenged, or expanded my point-of-view in these past few weeks/months.

This CBC interview with Kate Bowler, author of
Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel, is one such item. She paints a historical, theological, and anthropological picture of the prosperity gospel community, and draws a comprehensible throughline from Father Divine to Jim Baker to Joel Osteen.

Divine Lorraine

Kate Bowler does mention how prosperity gospel preachers are being tapped by the Republican presidential nominee, but Chris Lehmann makes a more pointed case for how the prosperity gospel resonates with Trump’s rhetoric and worldview.

Lehmann is reductive in how he treats evangelical Christianity in America — he kind of folds it all under the umbrella of a trending prosperity gospel. In truth, the Reformed strains of evangelicalism have long treated the prosperity gospel with disdain and alarm. This political year, however, I think, should be eye-opening as to what the state of belief actually is in our country. Instead of treating the prosperity gospel as a caricature or artless theological whitewashing, we should be serious about its corrosive ubiquity and spiritual subversiveness.


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