Seen on a supermarket shelf yesterday – HK$80-90 breakfast cereal with the brand name ‘Ezekial 4:9’…
The Old Testament lines on the front say: “Take also unto thee Wheat and Barley and Beans and Lentils and Millet and Spelt and put them in one vessel and make bread of it…”
Sadly, the cereal pack isn’t big enough to include the rest of the verse, which, we find, continues by telling you to “bake it with dung that cometh out of man” and eat it (the bread, that is) for 390 days within sight of people besieging you. Yum!
Those with an interest in Biblical wonders will be pleased to learn that Hong Kong is about to receive a visit from noted preacher Andrew Wommack. Some of Donald Trump’s evangelical Christian supporters signed up to his ‘Declaration of Dependence’, pledging to disobey man-made laws on abortion and same-sex marriage. And here he is chatting with one of his buddies about the ethical and practical challenges of imposing a backward Bronze Age desert tribe’s (supposed) customary laws in present-day USA…
He also does faith healing, saw his own son raised from the dead, and believes physical and psychological illness is the result of not having heard and obeyed God’s Word. This concept applies to wealth as well as health: if you are not prosperous, it’s because you have given Satan control of your life. Among miracles Wommack has personally experienced (beyond resurrection of his son), he kept his car running without gas for a week.
Bringing dead kids back to life plus free gas might inspire impoverished trailer-dwellers far away. But will it sell in Hong Kong?
Many of its proponents justify this ‘prosperity theology’ on the belief that Jesus and his disciples were, despite their popular image, actually quite rich. They had the means to travel around without ever having to go to work, and the gospels (apparently) suggest that they owned real-estate. It is common knowledge that a few of our local property moguls, and some Singaporean and Malaysian tycoons, are into churches of this type – though I have no idea whether any are connected with Wommack’s ministry.
You can see why American mega-preachers would like to bear witness among wealthy Asians, though Wommack seems a bit of an amateur in gathering donations compared with some of his peers. For Hong Kong’s rich or avaricious, meanwhile, ‘prosperity theology’ offers peace of mind. It teaches that God rewards the faithful in cash or kind – in this world – solely for their acceptance and obedience to Him, not on the grounds of ‘works’. Dating from the Reformation, ‘works’ is now Protestant-speak for being nice or generous to others. These people are quite insistent about the irrelevance of ‘works’.