I have felt marginalized by religion in my life. As a child, my family passed the pulpit from father to son. As an adult, I struggled to climb ministry's version of a corporate ladder. But despite feeling excluded, I found my way.
From the prosperity gospel that tells you that wealth is yours to create to new age promises that you can create your own perfect health, the implication is that we human beings are the power source. We must look like morons to God.
Every Sunday, millions of American Christians attend a megachurch that preaches a "prosperity gospel" of health, wealth and happiness. But in this era of supersized banks and corporations, prosperity megachurches have become just another organization that assumes it is too big to fail.
In a continent where many churches are growing by emphasizing both the material and spiritual benefits of faith, Segun Ilori and Tedius Makwari represent different faces of a religious movement that can evoke both spiritual revival and disillusionment.
During the 1992 civil unrest in Los Angeles, the Rev. Dr. Cecil "Chip" Murray became a household name as the city's most visible and effective peacemaker. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with him to discuss the impact and legacy of the riots for South Los Angeles.
The temptation at a moment like this is twofold. Unable to see our way forward, we can give into despair. We can also succumb to optimism -- to the false hope that, against the odds, we will triumph as a nation or as the human race.
The point is not that Televangelists are scoundrels, or that many Christian pastors are hypocrites, but that these grand ministry failures represent examples of what many mainstream churches have, in desperation, come to believe is relevant.
What began as a humorous look at a troubling phenomenon took a serious turn when the U.S. economy tanked in 2008. Prosperity preaching wasn't just something to report on; it was a personal attack on Zacharias' faith.
I believe that in evolution itself we can find what God wants. Even as we wreak havoc on the ecosystem, produce more babies than we can feed, and go to war against one another, the call echoes forth: keep life alive.
What if the consensus about the prosperity Gospel is wrong? What if it actually hastens development, fosters upward social mobility, and makes great strides in establishing a middle class in impoverished nations?
The error of the protagonist of the Parable of the Fool was not only to imagine that his life and security could be found in affluence, but that his things actually belonged to him, that he actually owned them.