Campus Location

Abilene Campus (Residential)

Date of Award

5-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Theology, Ministry, Missions (GST)

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Frederick D. Aquino

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Sabrina Danielsen

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Tony Tian-Ren Lin

Abstract

In American megachurch Christianity there lies a paradox in the concept of wealth and blessings; many megachurch leaders take deliberate steps to distance themselves from the defamed and heretical label of prosperity gospel, while simultaneously using many of its theological tenets as foundational to their own theology of wealth, money, and success. This thesis examines the nature of this paradox from both a theological and sociological lens. Through content analysis and case study examples, this thesis assesses the theological tenets of American megachurch prosperity theology as well as the sociological reality of stratification and the ideology that buttresses it. This work shows the paralleled nature of the paradox of prosperity and the American society’s belief in a meritocracy. The thesis explains that American megachurch Christianity’s overt and covert prosperity gospel themes are simply a religiously coded form of the American meritocratic ideology. The results call for religious leaders to identify this reality and work to correct the negative ramifications of it, while concurrently calling for more inquiry into the ways in which the American social stratification structure has become embedded in and maintained by religious systems.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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