Prosperity gospel

(also see “Obedience” and “Tithing”)

 

* The prosperity gospel refers to the idea that if you keep the Lord’s commandments you will prosper in the land. This is a doctrine that is frequently repeated in the Book of Mormon.

Pros of Mormonism from the perspective of the
Believer
Nonbeliever
The so-called “prosperity gospel” is part of the comforting promise that God will look out for us. All blessings are based on obedience and have specific laws that must be obeyed to obtain them. The notion that If we keep the commandments we will prosper in the land is taught over and over again in the Book of Mormon and discussed in the Bible. This is a great comfort for many believing Mormons. It is usually not interpreted to mean that obedience to the commandments automatically brings great wealth, but rather that if you obey God then he will provide for you. Believing Mormons know that trials and tribulations will come, but the idea of prospering in the land is frequently a source of hope for believing Mormons that not only will everything work out in the end, but that they will eventually reach a comfortable existence.
— N/A —
 
Cons of Mormonism from the perspective of the
Believer
Nonbeliever
The faithful who do not prosper and flunk out of the “prosperity gospel” can be left depressed and questioning their worthiness in God’s eyes. This can lead to needless guilt, anxiety, and shame.
 
The believer might agree with some of the points in red in the nonbelieving section. I can’t remember how I felt as a believer so I can’t comment with much confidence about this.
To many nonbelievers, it seems that the prosperity gospel sets up a culture that over-values financial success and decreases the ability of the successful to feel empathy. Because Mormonism teaches that the obedient will be blessed, there is an implication that some who are not doing well financially have not been righteous enough to be blessed by the Lord. I have personally seen members who are doing well financially preach to the poor and destitute in condescending and patronizing ways because of this.
 
Based on the logic of the prosperity gospel, it follows that some rich Mormons might consciously or subconsciously feel spiritually superior to destitute Mormons because of their wealth. It is true that the church values humility and frequently cautions the rich about pride, but it seems that the prosperity gospel nonetheless can make humility a difficult quality to cultivate for the wealthy.
 
Along the same lines, it seems that Mormons generally place great esteem and respect for wealth that carries over to spiritual deference. From my experience in the church and of most people I have talked to, stake leadership, general authorities, and frequently Bishops are often relatively more wealthy than the average member. It often seems that those who are not financially successful have less chance of holding high positions in LDS leadership. This can foster a sense of inequality and detachment for members of a congregation who are not and will never be well-off.

 

Comments relating to your lived experience with Mormonism are welcome. Although it can be difficult to distinguish at times, please focus on how the church helps and harms rather than it being true vs untrue.

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