I had a colleague years ago who attended a church where you could be healed of your money worries. Needless to say, the queues for this were long, and never seemed to diminish.
I've read stuff about the prosperity gospel and encountered the edges of it in the pressure put on folks from some backgrounds to succeed in their studies and so prove their faithfulness to God. In fact, years ago in a Christian bookshop in Wales I overheard a conversation where a student's first class honours degree was hailed with "What a testimony!". Well maybe, or maybe not...
Anyway it's been a very different experience to talk recently with someone coming from a prosperity gospel background and to discover what a full-on culture of that produces in your life.
The person concerned summed it up under four headings :
What did Jesus die to secure for us? Did Jesus go to the cross to buy us wealth, health and worldly success, or to secure our holiness and fellowship with God?
Salvation by works. Is salvation a free, unmerited gift of God, hard-won for us by the Lord Jesus Christ, or is it something we must fight to obtain, conquering our own sin and failings in order to earn a salvation that we can never be sure of having fully achieved.
Faith and devotion spoiled. Is faith the happy, confident trust of a child of God in his wise and living heavenly Father, or is it a tool that we use to obtain from him the things we really want, like a good job, a nice house, a smart car and a desirable marriage partner.
Corrupted service. Is my Christian service my chance to prove myself by having a wonderful and successful ministry, or is it my opportunity to be involved in my small way in the wonderful things my Heavenly Father is accomplishing?
I want to emphasise that this is not my caricature, but my summary of the unprompted testimony of someone caught up in the prosperity gospel movement and who saw through it.