(LifeSiteNews) — Perhaps a good deal of us have heard the term “prosperity gospel.” It’s very popular, particularly in the United States, with many prosperity gospel preachers acting as pastors for megachurches. Yet what is it and where does it come from?
My guest today is Dr. Thomas Storck, a convert to the Catholic faith and author of the new book The Prosperity Gospel: How Greed and Bad Philosophy Distorted Christ’s Teachings, joins me on this episode of The John-Henry Westen Show to discuss the prosperity gospel’s origins and what the Church really teaches on economic matters.
According to Storck, the prosperity gospel arose from the belief that religion was a private matter and should not have a part in cultural affairs, a result of the rise of Unitarianism and the waning influence of New England Calvinism in the 19th century. Storck further explains that what we now call the prosperity gospel managed to take root because of the lack of a culturally religious milieu like the one that exists in Europe.
Comparing the cultures of America and Europe, Storck tells me “it was a matter of starting over again, and we could start over again in any way we wanted.”
“And that was one of the keys to where the seedbed of the prosperity gospel originated: this idea that we can start over again, we can do whatever we want,” he continues. “And that coupled with the privatization of religion and the privatization of purpose in general, are the two biggest factors, I think, in providing a background for the prosperity gospel.”
Storck, discussing the differences between Catholic thought and the prosperity gospel, notes that while Catholics seek to act as servants of God, the prosperity gospel preaches a gospel where God acts as one’s own servant, something he sees as a consequence of the “privatization of religion” caused by Unitarianism.
“If you privatize religion, a lot of people are going to use it for whatever is most pressing in their lives, which is going to be often financial, or relational, or familial, or something like that, instead of realizing that we submit to God, even with it’s kind of difficult to do it times,” Storck observes.
Later in the episode, we discuss what the Church teaches on economic issues.
The president of the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV) has described assisted suicide as sometimes being the “greatest common good concretely possible” contrary to the Catholic Church’s strenuous condemnation of the practice.
This betrayal of the Catholic faith by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia is not for the first time, with the PAV repeatedly causing scandal under his watch by:
- recently appointing a notorious pro-abortion atheist to the organization
- claiming contraception and artificial insemination are sometimes acceptable
- insisting that priests could accompany people through assisted-suicide, and
- that Italy’s pro-abortion law is a “pillar” of the country’s social life.
SIGN: Pope Francis must remove Abp. Paglia from the Pontifical Academy for Life
“Personally, I would not practice suicide assistance,” Archbishop Paglia told an Italian journalism conference last week, “but I understand that legal mediation may be the greatest common good concretely possible under the conditions we find ourselves in.”
Accepting an anti-life Italian court ruling that specified when assisted-suicide is permitted, the archbishop claimed “it is not to be ruled out that in our society a legal mediation is feasible that would allow assistance to suicide under the conditions specified by Constitutional Court Sentence 242/2019…”
From the outset of his presentation in Perugia, Paglia also undermined the authority of the Catholic Church on matters of faith and morals, stating: “First of all, I would like to clarify that the Catholic Church is not that it has a ready-made, prepackaged package of truths, as if it were a dispenser of truth pills.”
SIGN: Abp. Paglia must be removed from the Pontifical Academy for Life
The PAV issued a statement on Monday trying to clarify the archbishop’s remarks, insisting that Paglia “reiterates his ‘no’ towards euthanasia and assisted suicide, in full adherence to the Magisterium”.
However, far from denouncing Paglia’s words, the PAV unsurprisingly supported its president. Referencing the Italian court ruling which partially decriminalized euthanasia by outlining exceptions to its illegality, the PAV stated it was in the context of this ruling that Paglia had made his comments.
In this precise and specific context, Msgr. Paglia explained that in his opinion a ‘legal mediation’ (certainly not a moral one) in the direction indicated by the Sentence is possible, maintaining the crime and the conditions under which it is decriminalized, as the same Constitutional Court has asked Parliament to legislate.
The PAV’s fudging of the issue was met with consternation from several Catholic commentators, with liturgist Matthew Hazell, who had highlighted Paglia’s original comments, asking “How hard is it for the @PontAcadLife to just say ‘sorry’ for scandalising the faithful? Indeed, how hard is it to actually adhere to the teaching of the Church on life issues? Are you so incapable of reading the signs of the times & interpreting them in the light of the Gospel?”
The Pontifical Academy for Life has tried & failed to explain @monspaglia‘s remarks. Paglia had spoken about the “accompaniment” needed for the dying, saying “in this context, it is not to be ruled out that in our society a legal mediation is feasible …” https://t.co/C3LU601aA2
— Michael Haynes 🇻🇦 (@MLJHaynes) April 24, 2023
Sorry guys, not good enough. Nowhere near good enough.
Archbishop Paglia’s “opinion” on the possibility of “juridical mediation” regarding euthanasia is still contrary to the Catholic faith, as has been explained already. https://t.co/qMATq0UZrL pic.twitter.com/W8s4zLvkj7
— Matthew Hazell (@M_P_Hazell) April 24, 2023
Archbishop Paglia’s comments about assisted suicide being “feasible” are wrong and harmful. It’s the kind of “crack in the wall” that opponents of human life will run with to promote their agenda. The teaching of the Church is clear: Euthanasia is “morally unacceptable.” Period.
— Bishop Thomas Tobin (@ThomasJTobin1) April 24, 2023
SIGN: Abp. Paglia’s presidency of the Pontifical Academy for Life is untenable
It’s vital that the Church and PAV push back against the culture of death, rather than trying to accommodate it and accept a world that where the vulnerable are helped to kill themselves.
Be part of pushing back against the tide and making it clear that there is no room for confusion or betrayal when it comes to the sanctity of human life and the infallibilty of Catholic teaching on the matter.
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Basing the discussion on the papal social encyclicals, particularly Rerum Novarum of Leo XIII and Quadragesimo Anno of Pius XI, Storck notes that the root of economics in the Catholic mind is the quest to provide all goods and services necessary to live a flourishing human life, not simply as a “means of enrichment.” It thus serves as a “middle way” between Marxist communism and socialism on the one hand, and capitalism on the other.
Using the medieval guild system as an example to demonstrate the encyclicals’ points, Storck says, “The whole economic order was subordinated to the idea of justice. That was the overriding idea … Is everyone who is involved in the economic process, including the consumer, are they getting a fair deal? And that is the criterion that is overriding in medieval thinking.”
Storck goes into further detail, expounding upon Quadragesimo Anno’s condemnation of the idea that free competition would result in an admirable social order. While the document does allow for some free competition in a limited sense, Storck quotes it, saying, “Just as unity of human society cannot be built upon class conflict, so the proper order of economic affairs cannot be left to the free play of rugged competition. From this source, as from a polluted spring, have proceeded all the errors of [individualist economics].”
Closing the episode, Storck offers his opinion on what is necessary for Catholics in the modern world: that the “most important thing [for a Catholic] is to be a Catholic.”
“As Catholics, this is what we should primarily be seeking to do, mold our lives as a Catholic according to the whole traditional teaching of the Church that’s been around, and has been tested, and discussed, and is a powerful way of living our life … even in the modern world,” Storck says.
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