Prosperity and Postcolonial Churches

If the Church were a Monopoly, “prosperity theology” would occupy the “prison” box. The name evokes fraud. And provokes a speech of sanction against a preaching accused of being predatory. The goal would be the wallet of fragile Christians, deceived by miraculous promises. The National Union of Associations for the Defense of Families and the Individual (Unadfi) translated, in 2019, an article from Catholic Herald. The introduction announces the color: “How did these Catholics come to follow a concept contrary to their faith? ” (1). In evangelical Protestant circles, the phenomenon is much more widespread. Beyond that, few Christian circles seem impervious to this offer, mixing spiritual salvation and material success. With the same questions. How? ‘Or’ What ? Why ? Seventy years after the decolonization of the 1950s, the hindsight of history is helping us. The meteoric rise of Christian prosperity repertoires in postcolonial churches in Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa is set in a context. In societies less secularized than in Europe, the call to get out of poverty, and to prosper, invests a religious grammar. The actors of Islam, all the more pro-market and pro-business since their prophet Mohammed was a merchant, understood this well. They integrate in their spiritual offer a robust practical component, intended to make prosperous the believers. Christian side? During the colonial days, the great Churches preached a pietist Christianity, marked by obedience, discipline and contentment. Or even poverty as a model! The rewards would come in the Hereafter. The first president of independent Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta, summed up this colonial compromise this way: “When the whites came to Africa, we had the land and they had the Bible. They taught us to pray with our eyes closed: when we opened them, the whites had the land and we had the Bible. “ Prosperity theologies today express a postcolonial swing back. They also offer a rereading of the theologies inculcated by the colonial European churches. And invite to a holistic salvation, which combines material and spiritual. Crowds from Latin America, Africa or Southeast Asia are no dumber than the Europeans who judge them. If they adhere so massively to the theologies of prosperity, it is because they are not limited to their mistakes. The biblical analogy with the odyssey of the Hebrew people outside Egypt constitutes a mobilizing base. To come out of Egypt – of colonization – is to go through a time of trial, then to appropriate the oppressor’s wealth. In 2006, Pastor Nuno Pedro, of the megachurch Charisma (Le Blanc-Mesnil), preached in front of an audience from Seine-Saint-Denis: “Yes, and first, we go to Africa and we loot everything, we steal everything (ovation)! (…) We spend fifty years, a hundred years looting people, making people miserable, we bring everything back, we get rich because of that, and now that people need to live, we will say: “Ah, no, no, we don’t want you ”? ”


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