Kate Bowler. Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 352 pages. $34.95.
Kate Bowler, assistant professor of the history of Christianity in the United States at Duke Divinity School, has produced a remarkable book not only for the field of North American religious history, but also for concerned homileticians today. She has four definite writing aims. First, she wishes to introduce readers to a fast-growing 20th century movement that has so far been only vaguely defined and researched. It is known by various names including “Health and Wealth,” “Name It and Claim It,” “Faith or Word of Faith,” or most commonly “Prosperity Gospel.” Second, as a hard-working, critical researcher, she traces the origin and development of the prosperity gospel, starting with the late 19th century roots of the movement, through its flourishing during the Pentecostal revivals of the World War II period, to the final stage of its recent maturity after the 1960’s. Third, to aid the first purpose and using the methods of the second one, Bowler suggests her own definition of the prosperity gospel. She sums up this definition with four key themes—faith, wealth, health, and victory. Fourth, as the ultimate concern of the book, she wants to see how the prosperity gospel movement has been (re-)shaping North American religiosity. As Bowler argues, “[T]he prosperity gospel is a decisive theological, economic, and social force shaping American religion” (9).
Yang, Sunggu, "Kate Bowler. Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel (Book Review)" (2013). Faculty Publications - College of Christian Studies. 251.