John Oliver is right: If you follow the 'prosperity gospel,' you're doing Christianity wrong

Jesus Christ isn't your hedge fund manager

John Oliver
(Image credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

The Bible, Christianity's principal sacred text, contains four gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — written several decades after the death of Jesus Christ. There are also a handful of gnostic gospels, including those attributed to Thomas, Mary, and Judas, that the early Christian patriarchs didn't include in the canonical New Testament. There is no "prosperity gospel."

Prosperity theology — the teaching that financial rewards will accrue to those who keep faith with God — isn't a "gospel" in the traditional sense, in that it doesn't recount the life and teachings of Jesus. And it isn't a gospel in the looser sense, either. Properly understood, the prosperity gospel is a form of ecclesiastical fundraising — tax-free in the U.S., as John Oliver recently pointed out — and incidentally a way to bilk the poor, take food from the hungry, and help augment the number of homeless.

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