The inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States is a little more than two weeks away. Late last month, we reported on the six clergy slated to offer prayers at the ceremony. One of them is the Rev. Paula White, best known as a prosperity gospel preacher. Writing in the Washington Post, Michael Horton, a theology professor at Westminster Seminary California, explains why her invitation bothers him as an evangelical.
Donald Trump’s upcoming inauguration will include Paula White and possibly other members of his inner circle, Darrell Scott, “Apostle” Wayne T. Jackson and Mark Burns. They’re all televangelists who hail from the “prosperity gospel” camp. They advocate a brand of Pentecostal Christianity known as Word of Faith.
Inaugurations are always curious rituals of American civil religion. It would not be surprising to see a non-Christian religious leader participating. But what’s problematic for me as an evangelical is how Trump’s ceremony is helping to mainstream this heretical movement.
This is not a “branch” of Pentecostalism, or a development of evangelical thought, according to Horton: “It’s another religion.”
Like her mentor, T. D. Jakes, White adheres closely to the Word of Faith teachings. Besides throwing out doctrines like the Trinity and confusing ourselves with God, the movement teaches that Jesus went to the cross not to bring forgiveness of our sins but to get us out of financial debt, not to reconcile us to God but to give us the power to claim our prosperity, not to remove the curse of death, injustice and bondage to ourselves but to give us our best life now. White says emphatically that Jesus is “not the only begotten Son of God,” just the first. We’re all divine and have the power to speak worlds into existence.
This “new religion” should bother evangelicals, Horton argues, because it is rapidly becoming the “new civil religion” of America. Acknowledging that the First Amendment guarantees that there should be no doctrinal litmus test for a President of the USA, Horton nevertheless says that mainstreaming the “prosperity gospel” should be a huge problem for evangelicals – whose label is derived from that very gospel word.
Read more here. Do you agree that positive thinking and the prosperity gospel are becoming the American civil religion?
Featured image via paulawhite.org