So, it seems that some of the other sites in the Bloggernacle have already sidebarred something about this little article from the New York Times about the Prosperity Gospel. A few lines from that article:
“God knows where the money is, and he knows how to get the money to you,” preached Mrs. Copeland, dressed in a crisp pants ensemble like those worn by C.E.O.’s.
Stephen Biellier, a long-distance trucker from Mount Vernon, Mo., said he and his wife, Millie, came to the convention praying that this would be “the overcoming year.” They are $102,000 in debt, and the bank has cut off their credit line, Mrs. Biellier said.
They say the Copelands rescued them from financial failure 23 years ago, when they bought their first truck at 22 percent interest and had to rebuild the engine twice in a year.
Around that time, Mrs. Biellier first saw Mr. Copeland on television and began sending him 50 cents a week.
Others who bought trucks from the same dealer in Joplin that year went under, the Bielliers said, but they did not.
“We would have failed if Copeland hadn’t been praying for us every day,” Mrs. Biellier said.
While the very concept of a prosperity gospel (which involves sending money to the pastor in order to…gain money back in blessings?) seems insane, it’s probably the idea that people like the Copelands seem to be making this scheme work, yet don’t seem too keen on giving back that wealth that is most interesting.
The Book of Mormon foretells this. In fact, the various “pride cycles” in the Book of Mormon can be essentially summarized as a process by which righteous living does net you economic blessings (so the Copelands and others seem to be right about that much at least) [Does this bother you? TT of Faith Promoting Rumor agreed a while back; even we kinda addressed it], but which also leads to complacency, pride, an unwillingness to freely donate to those less fortunate, and then spiritual hardheartedness (and I’m thinking we can also see this with the various prosperity gospel pastors).
What are some notable scriptures in the Book of Mormon that we can relate? Let’s look at Alma 4: 1-12. Actually, I’ll hone in even closer, on verse 8, 9, and 10.
8 For they saw and beheld with great sorrow that the people of the church began to be lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and to set their ahearts upon riches and upon the vain things of the world, that they began to be scornful, one towards another, and they began to persecute those that did bnot believe according to their own will and pleasure.10 And thus ended the eighth year of the reign of the judges; and the wickedness of the church was a great astumbling-block to those who did not belong to the church; and thus the church began to fail in its progress.
What’s this? So it seems that the pride that comes about from this gospel-prosperity is written to exceed the pride of those even outside the church. This pride also led believing members, who probably felt themselves assured of their righteousness, to persecute those who did not believe. As a result, this wickedness from within the church was a turnoff to those outside the church.
OK, so I actually admit…this topic may have been a ruse. I don’t know or care much about Kenneth Copeland. I do know that he is not setting a good or admirable example for nonbelievers, and as a result he is tarnishing the Christian brand.
But what I got from this scripture wasn’t about them. It was about us. It wasn’t about their megachurch. It was about our church. Tylee85 didn’t need to pull up Korihor to find a suitable example. Others have suspected it.
When I think about things that don’t invite me to continue a conversation, Alma 4 actually hits it rather well. And yet too often I see members whose prides, whether its their pride in their material possessions or their pride in the gospel they have, serve as stumbling-block. Sometimes, I think members read so much about the material kind of pride that they forget that pride can be ideological too. It can lead to persecuting those who “do not believe according to their will and pleasure.”
But how do we avoid this, whatever our wills and pleasures are? The scriptures (and reality) aren’t so promising, with an almost reliable fall into pride (remember: the scriptures really don’t end on a happy note as to the fate of the Nephites.) It’s like we can’t (or shouldn’t) handle prosperity, yet we still attract it. It’s a lesson we keep failing, after which we whiz through our remedial courses, come to this lesson and fail it again.