Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel

Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel

How have millions of American Christians come to measure spiritual progress in terms of their financial status and physical well-being? How has the movement variously called Word of Faith, Health and Wealth, Name It and Claim It, or simply prosperity gospel come to dominate much of our contemporary religious landscape?
Kate Bowler's Blessed is the first book to fully explore the origins, unifying themes, and major figures of a burgeoning movement that now claims millions of followers in America. Bowler traces the roots of the prosperity gospel: from the touring mesmerists, metaphysical sages, pentecostal healers, business oracles, and princely prophets of the early 20th century; through mid-century positive thinkers like Norman Vincent Peale and revivalists like Oral Roberts and Kenneth Hagin; to today's hugely successful prosperity preachers. Bowler focuses on such contemporary figures as Creflo Dollar, pastor of Atlanta's 30,000-member World Changers Church International; Joel Osteen, known as "the smiling preacher," with a weekly audience of seven million; T. D. Jakes, named by Time magazine one of America's most influential new religious leaders; Joyce Meyer, evangelist and women's empowerment guru; and many others. At almost any moment, day or night, the American public can tune in to these preachers-on TV, radio, podcasts, and in their megachurches-to hear the message that God desires to bless them with wealth and health. Bowler offers an interpretive framework for scholars and general readers alike to understand the diverse expressions of Christian abundance as a cohesive movement bound by shared understandings and common goals.

Title:Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780199827695
Format Type:

About Kate Bowler

Kate Bowler is an assistant professor of the history of Christianity in North America at Duke Divinity School.


    Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel Reviews

  • Mark Jr.

    I'd had this book on my wishlist for a while; it seemed like the prosperity gospel was as popular as it was egregiously wrong—and it was increasing in both respects. It seemed so impossible to take ...

  • Melora

    Okay, that's enough. After listening for about five hours (the full audio book is ten hours long), I'm calling it quits. The author mentions in her beginning "thank yous" that this book began life as ...

  • Kristina Davis

    An interesting academic study into the theological underpinnings of the prosperity gospel. The author does a wonderful job tracing the history of the movement from its earliest beginnings to the Joel ...

  • Mark

    This is a fascinating look at the roots and major influences shaping the so-called prosperity gospel. The best known current practitioners are Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes and Joyce Meyer, and the oversimp...

  • Jamie Howison

    A fascinating look into the world of the prosperity churches, by a solid young scholar.Okay... I like this book a whole lot. After two readings I find I'm still learning about this facet of the modern...

  • Mark

    Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel by Kate Bowler is a scholarly yet highly-readable work which deserves to be read slowly and carefully. In this book Bowler unravels the “intertwi...

  • Matthew

    I confess, I felt genuinely sad reading this book. Kate Bowler, professor at Duke Divinity School, outlines the history of this very American religion. Many of the TV preachers (really, motivational s...

  • Lisa

    Beautiful, funny and affectionate writing—a great example of what a historian can do when targeting a popular audience. I’m still not totally sure about the “so what” and wish there was more d...

  • Laura Robinson

    You will recognize your thinking in this book, I guarantee it. Bowler does an admirably charitable overview of the so-called prosperity gospel, drawing attention to the ways in which its theology infl...

  • BHodges

    An interesting look at a massive element of American religious culture that few scholars have undertaken to examine. Bowler combines secondary research with her own ethnographic research, which accoun...