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Prosperity Gospel Roots


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48 minutes ago, CV75 said:

I construe “always the will of God” to mean His first priority and that all others are only appendages to that (to borrow a phrase!).  This is highlighted when financial success is seen as a sign of divine favor while sickness and poverty are curses to be broken by faith in the Lord’s atonement. I'm sure there are other signs and other curses but calling it "prosperity gospel" is to emphasize the first priority.

On the other hand, the restored gospel offers a view where the Lord walks with us when and while all mortal endeavors fail (and they do, otherwise you could take it with you). The curse of the fallen world is already broken, just realized in different ways for different people at different times, and most often in the afterlife. Whatever we do is to put God’s work and glory, the exaltation of His children through the merits of His Son, first. What we do take with us is intelligence, and if by His covenant, all the richer.

"Always" and "first priority" are not synonymous.  Something can always be the will of God without it being his first priority.

The restored gospel also promises riches if we desire them for the right reasons and have a hope in Christ.  Am I wrong?  If you think I am trying to limit the restored gospel to financial prosperity teachings, you are misunderstanding me.  All I am saying is that it exists in the gospel.  I am wondering if we are the first known church to teach such things in modern times.   

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12 hours ago, pogi said:

"Always" and "first priority" are not synonymous.  Something can always be the will of God without it being his first priority.

The restored gospel also promises riches if we desire them for the right reasons and have a hope in Christ.  Am I wrong?  If you think I am trying to limit the restored gospel to financial prosperity teachings, you are misunderstanding me.  All I am saying is that it exists in the gospel.  I am wondering if we are the first known church to teach such things in modern times.   

Something that is only sometimes His will cannot be His 1st priority.

I do not think you are trying to limit the restored gospel, but rather trying to find traces of what we now call the prosperity gospel in Joseph Smith's teachings. I think that has been established in the context that the prosperity gospel is incomplete and Joseph's teachings offer a much fuller treatment of God's will and correct doctrine and application. Virtues of a "less-than-a-fulness" need to be viewed beside the greater virtues of a fulness.

The riches (Jacob 2: 18-19) are conditionally promised, and their timing is not guaranteed for this life: "And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches..." But yes, our  efforts in the flesh will be focused on charitable work and building the kingdom. The Lord told Joseph not to labor in temporal matters as a strength, which I take to include the counsel that there would be no strength or grace attending his efforts or their outcome (D&C 24:9). So the promise for riches needs to be looked at very closely and beside other promises.

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On 11/8/2023 at 12:56 PM, pogi said:

In another thread the topic of prosperity gospel has come up.  I have argued that Joseph Smith and the restoration movement fits neatly under the umbrella of prosperity gospel.   The interesting thing is that I can't find any contemporary evidence of prosperity gospel being taught or practiced during the time of Joseph Smith.  The earliest roots that I can find in the limited research I have done comes from the New Thought Movement of the late 19th century (1880's).  E. William Kenyon is credited with popularizing this movement.  It emphasizes the power of the mind, speech, and the atonement in bringing health and wealth through healings.  Similar to D&C 82, they view faith as capable of "binding" God's word into legal guarantees.    It wasn't until the mid 20th century that prosperity gospel began to take shape and become popular in the US, but it seems to me that the core tenants have long existed, perhaps yet unrecognized/realized by historians, in the LDS church.

The core tenants being:

  • God is bound by laws of faith.  Do this and you will receive this blessing...  Blessings are the result of an inviolable contract between God and man.  Believers must fulfill their end of the contract to receive God's promises.  D&C 82:10
  • God wants you to be financially prosperous. 
  • God blesses the righteous with prosperity.
  • Prosperity is a sign of divine favor.
  • Health is a blessing of righteous living and faith healings are possible through the atonement. 
  • Physical and spiritual realities are seen as inseparable. 
  • Focus on positive view of the spirit and body.
  • The atonement can alleviate sickness, poverty, and spiritual corruption.
  • Paying money donations/tithing brings forth financial blessings.
  • Strong emphasis on the importance of giving to receive.

My question is this - was Joseph Smith's teachings/revelations revolutionary for his time?  Could he be considered one of the earliest fathers of prosperity gospel?  Or, is there evidence of contemporary teachings/practices that match those core tenants mentioned above? 

 

For what it is worth, I always held to an idea that was based in LDS scripture and teachings that if I tithed and was generous with my means I would be blessed and I viewed it to mean materially and in other ways. In fact my patriarchal blessing said if I was generous with my roldly means it would return to me many fold.  And I believed my financial success in life was tied to my tithes and offerings and that that portion of my patriarchal blessing was being fulfilled.  At least this is how I felt when I was a beleiver.

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3 hours ago, CV75 said:

Something that is only sometimes His will cannot be His 1st priority.

That fact doesn't change anything.  My point still stands.  It does not logically follow from this that something that is always God's will is his first priority. 

3 hours ago, CV75 said:

I do not think you are trying to limit the restored gospel, but rather trying to find traces of what we now call the prosperity gospel in Joseph Smith's teachings. I think that has been established in the context that the prosperity gospel is incomplete and Joseph's teachings offer a much fuller treatment of God's will and correct doctrine and application. Virtues of a "less-than-a-fulness" need to be viewed beside the greater virtues of a fulness.

This thread is not about comparing completeness or incompleteness or to discuss the greater virtues of either faith.  The purpose of this thread is historical.  It is to discuss the core tenants found in prosperity gospel that I listed above and try to map their earliest known origins in religion and discover their earliest known roots.  They may very well have separate and distinct etiologies with no known influence on the other, but I thought it would be a really interesting research project to look into the history of teachings of temporal prosperity in religion - time periods they arose and research their potential influences.  With the limited research that I have done, it seems that Joseph Smith is mostly overlooked in historical discussions on this subject, and I was curious if there might be others that are overlooked.  It seems that Joseph was kind of a trail blazer in this regard, unless there were other contemporaries of Joseph that I don't know about.  I was curious to see if anybody had any further insights.  

3 hours ago, CV75 said:

The riches (Jacob 2: 18-19) are conditionally promised, and their timing is not guaranteed for this life:

The purpose and function of the riches mentioned in the passage would be to serve in mortality - feed the hungry, etc. 

3 hours ago, CV75 said:

"And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches..." But yes, our  efforts in the flesh will be focused on charitable work and building the kingdom. The Lord told Joseph not to labor in temporal matters as a strength, which I take to include the counsel that there would be no strength or grace attending his efforts or their outcome (D&C 24:9). So the promise for riches needs to be looked at very closely and beside other promises.

The private counsel to Joseph in D&C 24:9 doesn't negate the general promise in Jacob 2.   

Edited by pogi
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12 minutes ago, pogi said:

That fact doesn't change anything.  My point still stands.  It does not logically follow from this that something that is always God's is his first priority. 

This thread is not about comparing completeness or incompleteness or to discuss the greater virtues of either faith.  The purpose of this thread is historical.  It is to discuss the core tenants found in prosperity gospel that I listed above and try to map their earliest known origins in religion and discover their earliest known roots.  They may very well have separate and distinct etiologies with no known influence on the other, but I thought it would be a really interesting research project to look into the history of teachings of temporal prosperity in religion - time periods they arose and research their potential influences.  With the limited research that I have done, it seems that Joseph Smith is mostly overlooked in historical discussions on this subject, and I was curious if there might be others that are overlooked.  It seems that Joseph was kind of a trail blazer in this regard, unless there were other contemporaries of Joseph that I don't know about.  I was curious to see if anybody had any further insights.  

The purpose and function of the riches mentioned in the passage would be to serve in mortality - feed the hungry, etc. 

The private counsel to Joseph in D&C 24:9 doesn't negate the general promise in Jacob 2.   

What are some of God's parallel (first) priorities for which there is no exception in time or eternity?

Re: Jacob 2, general principle means there are exceptions, not uniformity in specific circumstances. For example, those who seek the well-being of others in mortality may never obtain riches in mortality, but definitely later. Thus Joseph Smith's private counsel.

I think your project is intetesting.

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20 minutes ago, Teancum said:

For what it is worth, I always held to an idea that was based in LDS scripture and teachings that if I tithed and was generous with my means I would be blessed and I viewed it to mean materially and in other ways. In fact my patriarchal blessing said if I was generous with my roldly means it would return to me many fold.  And I believed my financial success in life was tied to my tithes and offerings and that that portion of my patriarchal blessing was being fulfilled.  At least this is how I felt when I was a beleiver.

I am starting a little research project on temporal blessing for obedience being taught in the church.   It is not surprising to me that you viewed it this way.  I t is how I always viewed things too.  It is how we were raised and taught.  I am just starting my research, but it seems that there is an abundance of teachings on the subject.   

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58 minutes ago, Teancum said:

For what it is worth, I always held to an idea that was based in LDS scripture and teachings that if I tithed and was generous with my means I would be blessed and I viewed it to mean materially and in other ways. In fact my patriarchal blessing said if I was generous with my roldly means it would return to me many fold.  And I believed my financial success in life was tied to my tithes and offerings and that that portion of my patriarchal blessing was being fulfilled.  At least this is how I felt when I was a beleiver.

Maybe this perspective is tied to having always (or almost always) been blessed with financial success?

I grew up poor, though my parents always paid a full tithe after they were active (and after they were active our financial stability did get better, but still plenty of lean years).  My own experience has been a lot of lean times as well, despite always paying a full tithing and being generous.  For this reason I've never connected financial success and paying tithing.  My personal experiences didn't ever warrant that connection I guess.

For someone who has always paid tithings and offerings and also always been blessed with material wealth and financial success, that connection between the two seem automatic (and for some, that might actually be how God is giving the blessings, since He blesses us all differently).  For me it never did though and He has made me no promises that He would. 

But being taken care of despite financial instability, now that I've seen many times over and have a huge testimony of.  That's where I've seen miracles happen.  But not so much financial success in life being tied to tithes and offerings.  I haven't seen that personally and was never taught to interpret those promises in that way (probably because that interpretation didn't work with my parents or grandparents personal experiences either).

Edited by bluebell
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1 hour ago, bluebell said:

But being taken care of despite financial instability, now that I've seen many times over and have a huge testimony of.  That's where I've seen miracles happen. 

This is similar to how I have viewed blessings associated with health.  It’s not always health issues God blesses us with, but other factors that can lead to feelings of peace.

Peace is one of the greatest blessings and I think God tries to get us there in ways that work for us and that is not always the ways we think will work for us.

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2 hours ago, bluebell said:

Maybe this perspective is tied to having always (or almost always) been blessed with financial success?

Perhaps.

2 hours ago, bluebell said:

I grew up poor, though my parents always paid a full tithe after they were active (and after they were active our financial stability did get better, but still plenty of lean years).  My own experience has been a lot of lean times as well, despite always paying a full tithing and being generous.  For this reason I've never connected financial success and paying tithing.  My personal experiences didn't ever warrant that connection I guess.

For someone who has always paid tithings and offerings and also always been blessed with material wealth and financial success, that connection between the two seem automatic (and for some, that might actually be how God is giving the blessings, since He blesses us all differently).  For me it never did though and He has made me no promises that He would. 

But being taken care of despite financial instability, now that I've seen many times over and have a huge testimony of.  That's where I've seen miracles happen.  But not so much financial success in life being tied to tithes and offerings.  I haven't seen that personally and was never taught to interpret those promises in that way (probably because that interpretation didn't work with my parents or grandparents personal experiences either).

Well my now long history has not been peppered with a perpetual trajectory of wealth and such.  I come from an average middle class family.  From 10 to 19 I lived in Sandy Utah.  My parent bought their first home in 1970 when I was 10.  Paid $16,000.  It was a modest two bedroom spit level home.  My dad immediately started work on finishing the basement because there were three of us boys.  My older brother got the downstairs room and my younger brother and I shared a room for quite a few years.  My dad worked in financing for automobile dealerships and when I went on my mission in 1979 he made around $25k to $30k per year.  His deal for his older teens was he would pay for college or a mission but not both.  I opted for the mission.   After my mission I was married within 9 months of my mission, had child 1 a year later, child 2 23 months after that, and child 3 22 months after that.  I had not college education. I tried restaurant work, dairy farming, welding and finally at 25 decided to go to school for accounting. I was 29 when I started what is now a 35 year career. There were pretty lean times and I can remember when a $25 tithing check was harder to pay than a $2000 tithing check.  But from 29 til now my income has risen and in fact the years after I stopped paying tithing have been better $$ wise than it was when I paid.  That is likely a function of where I am at in my career.  But yes as an active member I viewed my success as a blessing for tithing and other contributions of my earthly means.  And when I was at a lower income level I viewed my college success (top of my accounting class) and my success on passing the CPA exam the first time (all four parts which was rare) and landing a god job as tied to tithing as well.

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1 hour ago, Calm said:

This is similar to how I have viewed blessings associated with health.  It’s not always health issues God blesses us with, but other factors that can lead to feelings of peace.

Peace is one of the greatest blessings and I think God tries to get us there in ways that work for us and that is not always the ways we think will work for us.

This is the "providence gospel"...

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47 minutes ago, Teancum said:

Perhaps.

Well my now long history has not been peppered with a perpetual trajectory of wealth and such.  I come from an average middle class family.  From 10 to 19 I lived in Sandy Utah.  My parent bought their first home in 1970 when I was 10.  Paid $16,000.  It was a modest two bedroom spit level home.  My dad immediately started work on finishing the basement because there were three of us boys.  My older brother got the downstairs room and my younger brother and I shared a room for quite a few years.  My dad worked in financing for automobile dealerships and when I went on my mission in 1979 he made around $25k to $30k per year.  His deal for his older teens was he would pay for college or a mission but not both.  I opted for the mission.   After my mission I was married within 9 months of my mission, had child 1 a year later, child 2 23 months after that, and child 3 22 months after that.  I had not college education. I tried restaurant work, dairy farming, welding and finally at 25 decided to go to school for accounting. I was 29 when I started what is now a 35 year career. There were pretty lean times and I can remember when a $25 tithing check was harder to pay than a $2000 tithing check.  But from 29 til now my income has risen and in fact the years after I stopped paying tithing have been better $$ wise than it was when I paid.  That is likely a function of where I am at in my career.  But yes as an active member I viewed my success as a blessing for tithing and other contributions of my earthly means.  And when I was at a lower income level I viewed my college success (top of my accounting class) and my success on passing the CPA exam the first time (all four parts which was rare) and landing a god job as tied to tithing as well.

We're probably around the same age. 😊

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20 hours ago, Teancum said:

For what it is worth, I always held to an idea that was based in LDS scripture and teachings that if I tithed and was generous with my means I would be blessed and I viewed it to mean materially and in other ways. In fact my patriarchal blessing said if I was generous with my roldly means it would return to me many fold.  And I believed my financial success in life was tied to my tithes and offerings and that that portion of my patriarchal blessing was being fulfilled.  At least this is how I felt when I was a beleiver.

Interesting. My patriarchal blessing also mentioned being blessed from paying tithing...but when it mentions blessings it says that my family/I would be blessed "far beyond the world of finances" and continues for a while to describe blessings that can be tied to financial prosperity...but also can easily be applied to simply having enough to help others and fulfill my goals. I think because of the wording I've never felt that I was guaranteed a large financial nest egg. When I was in my 20's and decidedly not financially well off, I felt those blessings just as much as I do now. I felt more blessed in being able to fulfill my big goals by having the means to do so, even when my budget was tight. And now that we're financially well-off than most in our community, I feel a tug and responsibility to give to those in need more due to the blessing and other scriptures.

 

With luv,

BD 

Edited by BlueDreams
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5 hours ago, Rain said:

. I kept reading how blessings are not always financial, but again and again in conference talks the examples were financial. It was pretty frustrating.

It is easy to imagine concrete financial improvements in life that follow paying tithing are a result of it.  Much harder to make other connections, so given they will want to show reasons why we can trust blessings will follow, it makes sense why they are financial ones.  Unfortunate, but reasonable.

For example, we were about to get kicked out of BYU housing due to my husband having graduated, he no longer had a job as a TA, and none of his applications for jobs over the past year had yielded a positive result.  We decided he would pay tithing on his last paycheck immediately rather than waiting (it wasn’t a huge leap of faith or anything as we knew our families would both take us in or help out, we went in panic mode…or at least I wasn’t and my husband was hiding it well if he was).  A job offer came through a few days later.  We went hmmmm…..

Otoh, I never really connected until now paying tithing with my husband getting a job here in Utah out of the blue (they came asking him, not him them) shortly after we learned my daughter couldn’t get the insulin pump until she was 18 in Canada (even though I have always thought of it as a great blessing…at least in some ways as I really miss Canada).  She had a needle phobia plus her blood sugar levels were quite high no matter how hard we tried getting them down.   As soon as we hit Utah and got her a new diabetes doctor, she was on a pump, fully paid for by insurance.  And her sugars normalized and have been ever since, which astonishes her doctor given her other problems.  I was also off the killer drugs that were my only option in Canada to sleep longer than 30 minutes a day and on the drug I am still on 20 years later as soon as I saw a specialist here in Utah.  We have been so blessed medically speaking by moving to Utah from Canada (not complaining about Canada except in these areas as we got excellent health care there in every other way, they were just more cautious in these two areas at the time…rightly so in the case of the drug I use due to the number of overdoses).  But who knows…maybe the decades of paying tithing led to that UVU job and it was not tithing, but my husband being a great match with the department, that got him that first job.  Or neither…or both.

We also got $50 in an envelope on the “porch” left once after paying tithing.  My guess is that is a direct result of our faith in paying tithing as the bishop or someone else saw how little it was and decided to help.  :) 

Edited by Calm
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On 11/8/2023 at 10:56 AM, pogi said:

My question is this - was Joseph Smith's teachings/revelations revolutionary for his time?  Could he be considered one of the earliest fathers of prosperity gospel? 

I think the prosperity gospel goes way way back to when the Vulcans visited the ancient Israelites and greeted them with their "Live long and prosper" hand gesture.

I'm kidding of course, but this is where Leonard Nimoy (who is Jewish) got his Vulcan salutation for the Star Trek series.  The text at the top of the image below comes from the last half of Proverbs 3:16, "Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour."   Sounds like "live long and prosper" to me.

c24bec2277b3af2b67b7faf23f6cb4e0.jpg

 

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