While scanning through Paul Marshall's book Their Blood Cries Out, I came across this excellent quote. It shows the poisonous nature of the therapeutic gospel and prosperity gospel in times of suffering. Marshall here sounds very similar to David Wells, and helps explain why so many American Christians are apathetic to global persecution today.
Clearly, a positive outlook can have value in dealing with most of our ordinary day-to-day frustrations. But if God is always supposed to provide relief, then suffering Christians seem to make God appear untrustworthy and the product unreliable. Why hasn't Christianity "worked" for the Sudanese the way it does in America? How can the prayers of suffering Christians in Vietnam remain unanswered?
Historically, the heart of the evangelical gospel has been "Christ died for your sins," not the modern preoccupation "Christ died for your problems." If religious teaching becomes a promise of psychological benefits, then a seemingly logical conclusion is that suffering stems from a lack of faith...
But what does this mean for those who struggle against adversity, persecution, and poverty? If obedience is the key to the future, then they must somehow have failed, somehow have fallen short of God's best, somehow been disobedient. What does it say of the apostle Paul, writing letters from a prison cell, not to mention Jesus, who was markedly "unsuccessful." He found himself betrayed, abandoned, and hung on a cross.
These are not the only tendencies in evangelicalism. But they are the dominant ones. They are the themes that dominate the best-seller lists, the magazines, the TV shows, and all-too-many of the churches. The result is a faith that has its eyes turned resolutely inward.
Self-absorption is clearly not the only reason western evangelicals remain unconcerned about their persecuted counterparts across the sea. But it certainly contributes to the apathy. (pp. 155-56)