A few months ago, I was given a free copy of "Will Jesus Buy Me a Double-Wide?", by the author, Karen Spears Zacharias, for participation in a Haiti relief effort. I mention this for two reasons: first, a new law says that bloggers who review a complimentary book must disclose that they didn't pay for it; in this case, it's worth adding that Ms. Zacharias didn't ask me to review the book.
Reason #2 why I mention that the book was a free gift is that, frankly, I most likely wouldn't have read it otherwise. After all, it's about the damage done by the teaching known as the Prosperity Gospel. These days, it seems that we are bombarded with people telling us they are against things. Everyone from Beck to Maher to Limbaugh to Olbermann tells us constantly why they are against something. So this book's main point is that there is one more thing to be against? No, thanks. I'm good.
But when it comes to this book, throw all of that kind of reasoning out. "Double Wide" is wonderful, and is nothing like I imagined it. If I would have skipped it, it would have been my loss.
Rather than lay out an extended theological manifesto, Zacharias simply tells stories of individuals, one per chapter. Real people, living out their lives while influenced, in varying degrees from one end of the spectrum to the other, by the Prosperity/Word of Faith/name-it-claim-it teaching.
Because Luke 6:44 says we are to judge a teaching by its fruit, we are compelled to see how this teaching plays out, and Double Wide offers us a chance to do exactly that.
In one chapter, we see a godly woman's body get ravaged by cancer, an apparent conflict with the word of faith belief that good health is ours if we stay true to God. In another chapter, we see a woman who starts a business, only to see the business blossom; she becomes a millionaire, then proceeds to use her wealth to help orphans in the Ukraine. The former story is simultaneously heartbreaking and uplifting, while the latter episode demonstrates what I believe to be more theologically correct: God does in fact bless some people with more wealth than they need, but with the purpose of blessing those who have less. The term I like for this is "The Gospel of Generosity".
If this were a sermon rather than a book review, I could lay out the Gospel of Generosity theology very nicely, with several supporting verses. Zacharias could do the same, but she wisely chooses to tell stories. As many post-2000 authors from John Eldredge (Epic) to Donald Miller (A Million Miles in a Thousand Years) have pointed out, God lays out His truth to us in story form. It's a much more readable, graspable, and ultimately more powerful way to deliver a truth to a reader. And Zacharias does it masterfully.
More than anything I have read this year, I highly recommend this book. You'll be glad you read it.
On the outside chance that the author see this: Thanks for the book, Karen.