Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 72 ratings
ISBN-13: 978-0199827695
ISBN-10: 9780199827695
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The most controversial aspect of the so-called prosperity gospel is “its radical claim to transform invisible faith into financial rewards.” Poverty and illness are signs of spiritual malaise, for God wants us to be wealthy, healthy, and live to our full potential in victory here on earth. Preached by Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, and others, the prosperity gospel teaches that Jesus’ death and resurrection overcame not only sin and death but also poverty and disease. Believers, therefore, may claim wealth and health as part of their divine inheritance. Bowler argues the allure is actually optimism, not financial success. The message of the prosperity gospel channels America’s can-do spirit and its belief that the future can be changed for the better through hard work. Her book is an important account of an audacious contemporary religious phenomenon, albeit one that scandalizes many. It also serves as an invitation to reflect upon the relationship of religion and money. --Christopher McConnell

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"Blessed is beautifully written and extremely entertaining, yet not at the expense of its subjects. Bowler analyses them with academic rigor and as an insider-outsider-a Christian who does not claim the prosperity gospel-yet she exudes compassion, even for easy targets like disgraced televangelists. Her sources are varied and vast, with two appendices clearly laying out intensive research. Recently re-released in paperback, Blessed a must-read for all students of religion and American culture, from college undergraduates to journalists to academics. Read it now!" -- Brendan J. Payne, North Greenville University


"[A] magnificent study."--Heath W. Carter, Journal of Cultural Economy


"Highly entertaining...and deeply human."--David F. Ruccio, Journal of Cultural Economy


"Very readable and engaging...Blessed is the best history of the development of the prosperity gospel written to date. It is an important addition to the library of pastors or scholars who regularly encounter the prosperity gospel in their ministry."--Southwestern Journal of Theology


"Bowler shows how the prosperity gospel movement has drawn from multiple denominational, racial, ethnic, and even secular subtraditions. She identifies both the dazzling diversity and the common understandings that have given the prosperity gospel coherence"
--Christian Century


"Bowler's respect for her subjects and her ability to locate them in the larger American religious narrative mean that serious scholars dismiss the prosperity gospel at their own peril. Bowler shows us that its deep roots and vibrant future, even after the recent recession, place it solidly in the category of religious movements to watch." --Church History


"Marvelous this is a stunningly empathetic book. By pushing far beyond caricature, Bowler has produced a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the prosperity gospel and how it is, even now, remaking the American religious landscape." --The Christian Century


"An important account of an audacious contemporary religious phenomenon." --Booklist


"[A] riveting historical account." --Publishers Weekly


"The 'prosperity gospel' is as much despised by its detractors as it is embraced by its millions of adherents. Yet until Kate Bowler's Blessed, no one has attempted a balanced, informative, inquisitive survey. Her book is a metaphorical godsend for those with an outsider's curiosity about one of the fastest growing religious movements in contemporary America and a literal one for those inside." -- Mark A. Noll, author of Protestantism: A Very Short Introduction


"Though often maligned and misunderstood, Bowler's comprehensive and exciting examination of the prosperity gospel demonstrates the ways 'health and wealth' has been a staple of American Protestant life since the 19th century. Blessed provides a thorough and nuanced account of the phenomenon, as it skillfully examines varying attitudes toward prosperity which emerged across racial, regional, and denominational lines. This is a grand contribution to the field of American religious history." -- Jonathan L. Walton, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Professor of Religion and Society, Harvard University


"This book propels Kate Bowler into the first rank of younger historians of religion in America. The author's keen ear, her perceptive insights, and her command of history make this a remarkable and unforgettable book-and her conclusion that the 'prosperity gospel consecrated America's culture of optimism' rings very true." -- Randall Balmer, author of Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America


"Blessed is worthwhile reading for what it is-a history of the prosperity gospel and not a theology of the prosperity movement. I've benefited from time spent working through it and would recommend it to those seeking to learn about this topic." --The Gospel Coalition


"Blessed is a good history of the rise and flourishing of the gospel." --The Blade


"...[A]n unprecedented historical examination of health and wealth as spiritual subjects in American Christianity by tracing the rise, development, and transformation of the prosperity gospel in the United States." --Religious Studies Review



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Reviewed in the United States on April 23, 2016
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Top international reviews

Mum of 4
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 10, 2018
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Fran Ugo
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 21, 2018
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jshack73
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent survey
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 10, 2018
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Brad Sumner
5.0 out of 5 stars Hashtag Blessed
Reviewed in Canada on June 22, 2018
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Ken Penner
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read
Reviewed in Canada on June 22, 2013
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Sharath Chandra Kogila
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent scholary work on prosperity gospel origins and the growth
Reviewed in India on September 13, 2017
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Doug Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Dont's throw stones! We all share some of the values of the Pentecostal and Prosperity Gospel.
Reviewed in Canada on January 30, 2017
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in Canada on May 17, 2018
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Terence J Christie
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast delivery
Reviewed in Canada on February 5, 2019
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A friend
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but perhaps a little cynical?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 3, 2016
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