Prosperity gospel morphs into a practical-minded prosperity ethic in the Philippines

There is a new “prosperity ethic” emerging in the Philippines, stressing upward mobility and practical skills in attaining wealth, that is eclipsing the older prosperity gospel among charismatics and Pentecostals, write Erron Medina and Jayeel Cornelio in Pneuma (43:1). The prosperity gospel, stressing “health and wealth” based on tithing and faith, has been widespread in charismatic and Pentecostal churches worldwide. In the Philippines, American-based prosperity teachings have been imported through such churches as the Assemblies of God, but have also been spread by indigenous charismatic movements such as El Shaddai. In studying the writings and teachings of two of the most popular Filipino authors and preachers, the evangelical Chinkee Tan and Catholic charismatic Bo Sanchez, the researchers find a noticeable shift away from traditional prosperity gospel themes of tithing and faith to the concepts of “believing right,” “thinking right,” and “doing it right.” Medina and Cornelio write that these teachings emphasize the practical aspects of attaining wealth by espousing upward mobility and drawing on biblical principles.

Eugenio Isabelo Tomas Reyes Sanchez Jr. , known as Bo Sanchez, founder of the Light of Jesus Family (

This change corresponds with the recent economic history of the Philippines. While El Shaddai ministered to the poor with its faith-based message, Sanchez and Tan “have taken the prosperity gospel to the next level by targeting the aspirational middle class with a religious message that banks not only on faith but also on financial management skills.” They write that Sanchez and Tan are “among the ranks of the new prophets of capital, who, while troubled by the harshness of poverty, nevertheless place the burden back on the individual to navigate their lives and economic fortunes…While promising hope in a God who blesses, the prosperity ethic also calls upon individuals to seal their very aspirations by changing their ways.” They conclude that given Sanchez and Tan’s influence in the charismatic world, “their contributions need to be considered seriously in understanding the prosperity gospel not just in the global South but around the world.”