Handbook of Research on Development and Religion
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Handbook of Research on Development and Religion

Edited by Matthew Clarke

With eighty percent of the world’s population professing religious faith, religious belief is a common human characteristic. This fascinating and highly unique Handbook brings together state-of-the-art research on incorporating religion into development studies.
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Chapter 11: Name it and claim it: Prosperity Gospel and the global Pentecostal reformation

Matthew Sharpe


Since the 1980s, Prosperity Gospel has been the fastest-growing strand of Pentecostal Christianity. The global growth of Pentecostalism meanwhile, particularly in the developing nations, has been so rapid as to amount to what critics have variously called a ‘restructuring of Christianity’, ‘the fourth great age of Christian expansion’ (Poloma, 2000), or even a ‘reshaping [of] the religion of the 21st century’ (Cox, 1996). Known variously as the Gospel of Heath and Wealth, Word of Faith, Prosperity Theology, Name It and Claim It, Seed-Faith, Abundant Life and ‘Neo-Pentecostalism’, the Prosperity Gospel centres around two key ideas. The first is that God is a benevolent deity who wants believers in His son Jesus Christ to be socio-economically prosperous, as well as healthy in body and soul. Second is the idea that believers can actively claim as a kind of covenanted right this-worldly abundance. The means to do this is through ‘positive confession’ and the power of the spoken word (rhema), coupled with financial offerings or ‘tithes’ to their churches, and unwavering faith that God will provide.

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