The phrase “health and wealth gospel” captures the two sides of this phenomenon. It’s this latter promise that has been exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prosperity gospel preachers all over the world claim that Christianity, when well understood and applied, is meant to give you a long life of health and a lot of wealth. I often tell friends in the West that the prosperity gospel in Africa has a slightly different texture and emphasis from what was initially imported from there. Prosperity teachers in the West often teach carefully selected passages of the Bible in ways that are not in line with the original author’s intent. In Africa, prosperity teachers emphasize the “anointed man of God” who has power to deliver you from your poverty through his prayers.
This is a very serious problem in Africa. It has spread like a wild forest fire. I am not sure about the Islamic states in north Africa, but south of the Sahara Desert it has become the most conspicuous form of Christianity. This is because prosperity gospel preachers tend to buy up time on television and radio. They also put up the most magnificent and spacious church buildings, and they live expensive lifestyles. The message coming from them is that if you believe what they believe, you too will soon live like that. This attracts a lot of followers.
The African version of the prosperity gospel tends to promise a solution to every conceivable “lack” in human experience. It not only promises to catapult you out of poverty and into a state of wealth, it also promises to solve your problems with a lack of a marriage partner or a lack of children in marriage.