Friday, March 19, 2010

Is T. D. Jakes A Prosperity Preacher?

I have to ask the question. So many people have said that he is. He apparently doesn't think so and has said so in a November 2009 interview with Larry King. A portion of that interview follows. I will say that lately, I have noticed a change in his focus, much more on Jesus and a lot less on prosperity. This is great! But does six months undo years of prosperity preaching?

Interview Excerpt:

KING: We mentioned the fact about Christianity causing the crash. That's a headline from an article in the new edition of "The Atlantic" magazine.

Here's a short part of it. The author writes that: "America's mainstream religious denominations used to teach the faithful that they'd be rewarded in the afterlife. But over the past generation, a different strain of Christian faith has proliferated, one that promises to make believers rich in the here and now. And it's known as the prosperity gospel. Claiming tens of millions of adherents, it fosters risk taking and intense material optimism. It pumped air into the housing bubble and one year into the worst downtown since the Depression, it's still going strong."

We've linked this article to my blog at CNN.com/larryking.

What do you make of that concept?

JAKES: You know, it's a funny thing. I'm old enough to remember when religion focused on the hereafter and that was the total focus. And they were criticized for that. They said that we were so heavenly minded, we were no Earthly good.

There are those that go to extreme views about prosperity. But I thought that the article did not interview the people that it mentioned to get their perspective on it. I was briefly mentioned in the article. And I don't -- I don't consider myself a prosperity preacher. And...

KING: You're not a prosperity gospel? JAKES: No. No. That's not my gospel. My good news is that he rose from the dead.

But I do believe that, to those of us who work with people to encourage them and to give them hope, it's not a negative thing to encourage them to be all that they can be. To say that The Potter's House, for example, focuses on how to make people rich means you don't go there, because if you went to our church, we taught debt management. I wrote an op-ed about unfair practices in banking long before the crash came along. We teach people how to get out of debt. We did encourage people for home ownership. We also encouraged them to go back to school.

KING: Are you offended by the article?

JAKES: Not at all.

KING: No?

JAKES: Not at all.

Check out video of Larry King's Interview with T. D. Jakes



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