I thought this was interesting because my initial reaction is to say, “that’s ridiculous. Any preacher who owns a private jet and a penthouse overlooking Central Park is clearly a sinner!” To say the least, he’s obviously prideful, vain, materialistic. I could go on, right?
Well, I could, but I would be in danger of calling some pretty harsh judgement upon myself in the process. I don’t know anything about these people or their standing with the Lord, which is why I wouldn’t say those things.
So, is it doctrinally possible to be wealthy AND righteous?
It’s the…Eye of the Needle, It’s the Thrill of the Wealth
Bad song adaptations aside, the New Testament definitely says:
“24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but based on the camels and needles I’ve seen, I would say it’s impossible for a camel to go through the eye of a needle and, thus, “a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” But, I would be wrong.
Why? Well, it turns out the “the eye of a needle” may refer to a gate in Jerusalem called the Needle’s Eye. Camels, loaded down with goods, could not walk through this gate, as they were too tall. It being kind of a pain to unload your camel, go through the gate, and reload, camels were taught to essentially, kneel down and shuffle through the gate that way. Once through, they could stand and walk normally.
Get the symbolism here? A rich man (symbolized by the camel), would need to kneel (i.e., humble himself before God) in order for him to be able to get into the kindgom of God. Jesus is saying that’s a very hard thing for rich people to do.
Hard, but not impossible.
Book of Mormon Stories
Another reason why it’s wrong to condemn wealth is found in the Book of Mormon. Based on a very unscientific search, there are 34 instances in the Book of Mormon where the Lord promises the people that if they are righteous, they will prosper in the land. That alone validates the premise of the “Prosperity Gospel” that the Lord can bless you with material wealth.
What’s interesting is what people typically do with the wealth.
Why do you think the Lord has to tell the people in the Book of Mormon that if they will be righteous they will prosper in the land 34 times? It’s because they’re not righteous. They keep getting prideful, falling, being humbled, getting blessed with prosperity, getting prideful, etc. ad infinitum. Mormons call it the Nephite pride cycle.
So, this validates the Lord’s assertion in the New Testament that it’s very difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
Are You Saying You Approve of These Preachers?
Actually, no. I agree that being rich isn’t inherently bad and I agree that wealthy people can enter the kingdom of God. However, these preachers are getting rich by preaching, something Mormons call priestcraft. Priestcraft is summarily condemned in the Book of Mormon. In fact, Alma maintains that priestcraft “would prove [The Nephites’] entire destruction”, which it later does.
What are your thoughts on this?