Posts Tagged ‘prosperity gospel’

Prosperity Gospel-Preachers and Hip Hop Artists: Is There a Common Impact on Urban Communities?

Thursday, April 8th, 2010 by Antipas Harris

As a musician and theologian, lover of all styles of music and proponent of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I have been thinking a lot about the impact of music and sermons on urban communities. There seems to be an ideological comparison between the popularized message of “Kingdom Success” by materialistic (or prosperity) measures that many of today’s top-ranking celebrity preachers teach and the message of materialism (or prosperity) advanced by most of today’s top-ranking Hip Hop artists (i.e., Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, P-Diddy, Young Jeezy and Lil Wayne). There is no wonder that urban communities are falling apart! The rappers and the preachers are not helping like they should. Albeit a provocative comment, rappers will admit that they are about the “cake,” or “that green stuff.” However, many of the preachers would deny that their message is of similar ideological categories as the Hip Hop artists.

Yet, I argue that a message about “Kingdom Success” that is in any way associated with glitz, glamor, and lavish living is a subscription to an erroneous Christianized version of the same message of materialism perpetuated among Hip Hop artists. Pastors that subscribe to a highly materialistic (or the prosperity) gospel are often blinded by the money-oriented lens through which they see the world. They sanctify that lens as they tend to theologize their conclusions through strange scriptural proof-texting. An increased number of contemporary pastors seem to judge their message differently than the Hip Hop artists based on the medium through which the message is presented rather than the message itself. Using the Bible and preaching materialism rather than rapping it with profanity does not make the message better. In fact, it convolutes the message that Jesus intends. Careful analysis of the messages of both rap songs about money and sermons about prosperity seem to render similar conclusions that success is defined by lavish living and material assets—both venues that promote this practical conclusion promote unhealthy individualism and erroneous measures for holistic success by a barometer of materialistic measures. One wonders if the message of materialism highly propagated through the aforementioned mediums have assisted in people’s poor financial choices.

It should be appalling that the gospel of prosperity emphasizes material gain over holistic transformation and promotes self-interests that trumps community building. The Bible is full of passages and teachings that emphasize the need for holistic transformation rather than material prosperity as litmus test for “right standing with God” or “Kingdom Success.” Also, the Bible promotes a Christianity of community and community building with several metaphors, images and concepts that promote community rather than self-interest (i.e. “the Body of Christ,” “the Household of God,” and “they had all things in common,” “the Church”). When are we going to get back to an authentic Biblical understanding of Church? Of will we ever? If so, what would it look like? How would it change our communities?