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Has the so-called prosperity gospel turned its followers into some of the most willing participants—and hence, victims—of the current financial crisis?
David Van Biema, "Maybe We Should Blame God for the Subprime Mess," Time magazine, October 3, 2008

It is not just those enamored with the prosperity gospel who have pursued health, wealth, and happiness as if they were divine rights and signs of God's blessing. Or who have avoided adversity and poverty as if they were curses. But God's ways are more mysterious than we perceive.

God so governs the universe by his secret providence that while nothing happens apart from God's decree, his hand remains largely hidden from us. What could be more natural than the changing seasons? Yet there remains such unevenness and diversity that every year, month, and day is seen to be governed by a new providence of God.

Church father Basil the Great said that fortune and chance are pagan terms, and ones the godly should not use. But even though all things are ordained by God's plan, for us they seem fortuitous—their order, reason, end, and necessity seem accidental. Yet in our hearts it nonetheless should remain fixed that nothing will take place that the Lord has not previously foreseen.

Nothing will more effectively preserve us in a straight and undeviating course in this economy than a firm persuasion that all events are in the hand of God, and that he is as merciful as he is mighty. This should lead us to gratitude in prosperity, patience in adversity, and a wonderful security respecting the future.

Prone to blame God in adversity and praise ourselves in prosperity, we murmur against God if he does not grant us quiet nests. We imagine that adversity can only come from Satan—as ...

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To commemorate the 500th birthday of John Calvin in 2009, Christianity Today published a bimonthly column adapted and paraphrased from Institutes of the Christian Religion. It was ghostwritten by Michael Horton, professor of theology and apologetics at Westminster Seminary California, and editor-in-chief of Modern Reformation magazine.
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