A Kenotic Theology of Empowerment and Abundance: Liberating Prosperity Theologies for Ordinary Human Flourishing


Edward Y. Suh

Publication Date



Prosperity theologies have been widely critiqued for their seemingly deficient theological nuance and irresponsible embrace of consumerist ideals. Yet, prosperity theologies continue to be among the fastest-growing movements around the world and are particularly well-embraced by the poor. Is it possible that the poor are finding something genuinely life-giving in prosperity theologies that its critics have overlooked?

This study examines this possibility by exploring the ways that prosperity theologies are empowering people to overcome their internal narratives of victimization so they can pursue flourishing lives. Expanding on these liberative elements in prosperity theologies then reveals the profound contributions this movement can make to the contemporary theological study of human flourishing in the immanent frame.

To develop these arguments, this study engages the following key tasks:

First, it seeks to articulate alternative theological supports and ministry practices for prosperity theologies to give them broader credibility in the theological arena.

Second, it argues that the liberative elements of prosperity theologies center on its embrace of a comprehensive materiality of salvation and on its effectiveness in empowering people to overcome their internal narratives of victimization.

Third, it establishes that these empowering dimensions of prosperity theologies find strong points of resonance with contemporary research in the behavioral sciences making the value of these prosperity theologies for a “this-worldly” view of human flourishing quite significant.

Fourth, it points the way to the maturing of prosperity theologies by holding a tension between hunger for breakthroughs and contentment in limitations.

And fifth, it proposes that a kenotic model of the goodness of God undergirds prosperity theologies and can be constructively expanded to include the empowering (intrapersonal), hospitable (interpersonal), and liberative (systemic) dimensions of overcoming victimizations.

The radical affirmation that eschatological shalom is now within the reach of faith leads us to a theology of empowerment and abundance. This consists of a full endorsement of empowerment as a legitimate task of theology, a recognition that we live from the super-abundance of God towards us, and an appreciation for the ways that living for shalom changes the way we apply our faith in this life.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Theology (PhD in Theology)

First Advisor

Kärkkäinen, Veli-Matti

Document Type





Incarnation, Faith movement (Hagin), God, Wealth, Success, Pentecostalism


Missions and World Christianity


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