God, Prosperity, and Poverty
AbstractAn influential strain in recent Christian thought (Schneider 2002a) has stressed that material prosperity is a quality for human life sought by God for all people. Clearly, this objective has not been achieved. One of the reasons why the all-enveloping prosperity objective has not been reached is that its pursuit has been undertaken by down-playing God’s equally-important objective of mitigating material poverty. Incompatible with God’s aims, poverty persists. Via Biblical exegetes’ interpretation of Jesus’ sayings, this paper shows that Jesus usually speaks of the necessity to share possessions with the poor when He teaches on wealth. If assistance to the materially poor is as important as achieving prosperity in the Christian framework, implications arise for today. Final sections consider how the poor in First World countries might be identified (using the United States as the example), and how they might be helped to greater prosperity.