J.Lee Grady didn't wait for an economic recession to battle the prosperity gospel. He has been fighting it for years.
Grady is the editor of Charisma, the magazine that serves as a gathering tent for Pentecostal and charismatic Christians. Its columns and advertisements feature some of the most prominent names in the movement—and some of the most frequent targets of Grady's criticism.
Other evangelicals have long criticized the teaching that God promises his followers wealth and happiness. But few within the movement have made their calls for repentance so public.
"Martin Luther had to say something, or they were going to keep selling indulgences. Now we have that going on in our midst," Grady told Christianity Today in his Orlando office. "If someone says, 'Send your $100 to be saved,' that is selling indulgences, and there are people doing that on Trinity Broadcasting Network." The TV corporation's fundraising appeals have been among Grady's most frequent targets.
"I don't want to lump all of those people and everything they teach under the umbrella of indulgences," Grady says. "But if they're doing manipulative things to get people to open their wallets, and twisting Scripture just like it was done during medieval times, we ought to challenge that. All we know to do is to get on the housetops and shout for reform."
Many within the charismatic movement are hearing Grady's shouts and applauding.
"Lee gives a corrective word to some of the excesses that none of us want to be identified with," says George O. Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God. "We've always valued the prophetic word, and part of a prophetic word is correction."
In recent years, Grady has attempted to correct some of the movement's most high-profile ...