Friday, March 25, 2016

The Name of Jesus Christ, Part 4:
A Tale of Two Carpenters

The worst fear that I have about this people is that they will get rich in this country, forget God and his people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty, and all manner of persecution, and be true. But my greater fear for them is that they cannot stand wealth; and yet they have to be tried with riches. 

—Quoted in Brigham Young: The Man and His Work
Preston Nibley, [1936], 128

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

At first it may seem this post is about Brigham Young.

But it’s not.

Rather, I intend to use Brigham Young’s life as an illustration of an important principle regarding the name of Jesus Christ. Therefore, I’ll present some facts from President Young’s life that I hope we’ll find instructive.

Before I do so, I’ll reiterate my eternal gratitude for Brigham Young’s success at holding a large body of the church together after Joseph Smith’s death, relocating the Saints to the Great Basin, contributing to the growth of the church, keeping the scriptures in publication, and providing the foundation from which I became aware of the restoration of the gospel. Whatever his failings, they are between him and God. I offer only gratitude for Brigham Young’s life and accomplishments.

And, so with that foundation, let’s look at a brief sketch of Brigham Young’s life. Remember, this outline is in no way complete; we’re merely hitting the highlights.


Brigham was born June 1, 1801, in Whitingham, Vermont, the ninth of eleven children. His mother died when he was young, and Brigham apprenticed to a cabinet maker at age sixteen. After seven years of apprenticeship, he struck out on his own, got married, and built a carpenter shop and mill.

Brigham worked for 16 years as a carpenter and cabinetmaker at a time when the trade didn’t make much money, necessitating daily struggle to provide for his family. Brigham was no exception in the profession, and he spent many years quite poor, earning a subsistence living by his daily work.

His fortunes didn’t improve when he joined the church in 1832. A zealous and devoted convert, Brigham attended every meeting he could, often to the detriment of his labors. He traveled and served missions, leaving his family destitute. His devotion, faith and sacrifice are notable. His economic success is not.

Rise to Power 

Brigham Young was called as one of the original Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1835 and became president of the quorum in 1840, while on a mission in England.

Joseph Smith, and his appointed successor Hyrum Smith, both died June 27, 1844, leaving the LDS church without a president. Various men laid claim to lead the church, culminating in the August 8, 1844 vote in which Brigham prevailed—securing the right of the Quorum of the Twelve to lead the church in the absence of a First Presidency.

As president of the quorum, Brigham consolidated power, subordinating the Seventy, the Nauvoo High Council, and most of the high priests under the authority of the twelve. He presided over the exodus from Nauvoo, famously leading the saints to the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. He then returned to Winter Quarters, Iowa that same year, encountering other companies of traveling saints on his way.

During these travels, he became increasingly alarmed that other apostles felt at liberty to alter Brigham’s instructions as the need arose, so that by the time Brigham arrived in Winter Quarters, he was determined to further consolidate power so his word could never be challenged.

After strenuous campaigning, and over the objections of some of the twelve, Brigham held a vote and got himself elected president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at Winter Quarters in December 1847. His original intent that the twelve be caretakers of the church morphed into an absolute consolidation of power under himself.

Power Unlimited

Brigham Young became not only church president, but also territorial governor before Utah was a territory. Known for his fiery, autocratic rule as governor, Brigham Young consolidated control of both church and state into one man with absolute authority over both. When Utah did become a U.S. territory, Brigham’s appointment to a 4-year term as governor became official.

Though the term was prescribed as 4 years, Brigham insisted he would never relinquish the office of governor unless God commanded it. His refusal to step down resulted in his holding the office for seven years, until the President of the United States actually sent the U. S. Army to Utah to put down the “Mormon Rebellion,” pry Brigham Young from office, and install his successor.

As governor, Brigham was the de-facto king of the “kingdom,” using gospel loyalty to exert absolute dictatorial control over the legislature—a fact he freely admitted:

I am accused by our honorable judges who have left this Territory last fall of entering into the Legislative Hall and there dictating them. That is an objection that will be raised and will be presented to President Fillmore; that I entered into the Halls of Legislature and there dictate them. I do dictate and I never expect to see the day while I am Governor amongst this people that I don’t do it, and I want it published abroad for it is what I believe in, and it is what you believe in. ...I want these Gentlemen to realize, to be fully sensible of, is simply this; that when they meet here in a legislative capacity, not to forget that they are Elders in Israel, Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, that they are Saints of the Most High God, and I hope and pray that a feeling to the contrary of this may never arise in the bosom of anyone of these men. (Complete Discourses of Brigham Young, Vol. 1, p. 476-7)
During his tenure as governor, Brigham Young introduced the controversial teaching of blood atonement, paving the way for, among other atrocities, the Mountain Meadows Massacre. To put it succinctly, Brigham taught that it was not only allowed, but actually required, to kill those who committed certain sins. He instituted a program of “Home Teaching” to remind the membership, by inquisitorial questions, that their conduct was being watched by the church and that unfaithfulness to the kingdom could result in dire consequences.

Brigham Young’s power extended even to control over life and death—a fact he used to intimidate his enemies. In a church conference, while complaining of a non-Mormon federal judge appointed in Utah, he said, “It is true, as it is said in the Report of these officers, if I had crooked my little finger, he would have been used up, but I did not bend it.” He went on to caution “apostates, or men who never have made any profession of religion, had better be careful how they come here, lest I should bend my little finger.” He made it clear he could have his enemies dispatched with the smallest of gestures.

Unlike the Book of Mormon prophets, Brigham refused to step down from his church office, and kept it until death, thus setting the president-for-life pattern that persists in the LDS church to this day—resulting in very elderly men bearing the heavy burdens of church government in their declining years.


Brigham Young accumulated fabulous wealth during his tenure as church president. His extensive holdings included many houses, lands, factories, mining, farming, manufacturing, railroad, banking, and retail interests. His wealth allowed him to establish a private school for his children and the Lion House for his wives, and live like a king with servants, body guards, and assistants.

According to historian Leonard J. Arrington:

Brigham Young and other church authorities, when need required it, drew on the tithing resources of the church, and at a later date repaid part or all of the obligation in money, property, or services. No interest seems to have been paid for the use of these funds.... This ability to draw, almost at will, on church as well as his own funds, was a great advantage to Brigham Young and was certainly one of the reasons for his worldly success. (The Settlement of the Brigham Young Estate, 1877-1879, Reprinted from the Pacific Historical Review, vol. 21, no. 1, Feb. 1952, p.7-8)
Brigham didn’t have any problem with taking or borrowing tithing funds for personal uses. This created considerable difficulty after his death, as the church and Brigham’s many heirs tried to sort out who owned what. Though Brigham attempted at times to repay his debts to the tithing office by simply writing out a bill for “services rendered,” it was finally determined after his death that he owed the church over a million dollars, with the rest of his estate being divided among his heirs. Not satisfied, some of the heirs sued the church and gained additional concessions.

The best estimates place the value of Young’s estate at the time of his death around $1.6 million. Depending on the method used to calculate the value of the estate today, it comes in between $34 million and $3.2 billion in 2014 dollars. Regardless of how it’s calculated, it’s safe to say Brigham Young died an extremely wealthy man.


Brigham Young took his first plural wife in 1842, when he was 41 years old. She was 20.

When he was 42, he married 3 more women, including a 19- and 15-year-old.

When he was 43, he added 15 more wives, 3 of whom were teenagers. That’s an average of more than one marriage per month, though the average is misleading. In actuality he married 2 in one day, then a week later married on 3 consecutive days, with the rest sprinkled throughout the year (including another double-header.)

When he was 44, Brigham Young added 21 more wives, 2 of whom were teenagers. Taken on the average, that would be nearly 2 new wives per month. But again, averages don’t tell the story. In actuality, he married 20 women during a single one-month period, with the record being 5 weddings for Brigham in a single day—February 3, 1846—which, I would imagine, complicated the wedding night considerably. Being that their ages were 55, 42, 41, 36, and 18, I suppose we can only speculate who the lucky girl was.

When he was 45, he married only one additional wife. She was 16.

In his 60’s, Brigham Young married 5 more wives, 3 of whom were in their early 20’s.

All told, Brigham Young had 55 wives, 9 of whom were teenagers on their wedding day, and 20 of whom were in their 20’s. Twenty-nine of the 55 wives were young enough to be his daughters or grand daughters when they married him. He didn’t earn the moniker, “Breed’em Young” for nothing.

In fairness, not all of Brigham’s marriages were conjugal, though it’s nearly impossible to determine with certainty which were and which were not. As far as historical records can determine, Brigham had 56-59 children by sixteen women, though it’s impossible to know for sure. According to the New York Times: “It is doubtful if Young knew, when he died, how many children he had, or where they all lived.” Nor could he account for all his wives, as he was divorced from ten.

The Carpenter’s Plight

Courtesy of Bare Record of Truth Blog
Brigham Young, carpenter and cabinetmaker, reached a pinnacle few man have surmounted in the history of the world. He conquered the trifecta of the natural man—with unlimited access to power, money and sex, virtually unchallenged by any foe but death.

Though despots, rulers, kings and popes have ever lusted for such circumstances as Brigham enjoyed, few have matched the magnitude of his attainments.

Men have amassed fortunes, no doubt. The lust for wealth is the most easily indulged.

Men have amassed power, even over life and death. But such power has generally come at the expense of security, with ambitious underlings seeking to overthrow the ruler. Those who maintain power through murder generally lose power in the same way.

And men have amassed harems, though seldom has such sexual promiscuity been socially acceptable and religiously encouraged as a sign of holiness. Few men can brag from the pulpit about their sexual virility with younger women as a point of religious approval.

No, Brigham’s achievement is almost without equal in the history of the world. He held membership in a very exclusive club indeed.

How Did He Get There?

And so we come to the most troubling question: How did the penniless, no-account cabinetmaker ascend and conquer the peak of all worldly lusts? What changed the trajectory of Brigham Young’s life from daily struggle, hard labor, and poverty, to wealth, power, luxury and indulgence?

Unfortunately, you and I know the answer.

Identity theft.

Brigham borrowed someone else’s name, and by doing so, gained obedience, money, power, and women. By convincing others of his unique standing and authority, as Christ’s true and only authorized representative, he could demand practically anything, upon threat of eternal damnation. Brigham held the keys, you see. You would be wise to submit to him.

“Nice soul you got there. It would be a real shame if something happened to it…” You get the drift.

The pinnacle of religious control always involves claims of keys. Heres the Papal seal of the Roman Catholic Church. Note the crossed keys, representing the Popes keys of the kingdom, and godlike ability to offer salvation or inflict damnation. Do you also notice the gold and silver, the silk and scarlet, the fine-twined linen? 
And I also saw gold, and silver, and silks, and scarlets, and fine-twined linen, and all manner of precious clothing; and I saw many harlots. (2 Nephi 13:7)
It seems the keys of the kingdom also fit the locks of the treasury, the brothel, and the halls of power. 

It is said that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I don’t blame Brigham. Really, I don’t. I would have done much worse than he did. Again, the point is not to bash Brigham Young, but rather to evaluate the effects of claiming Christ’s name as a means of controlling others. Christ never intended His name to be used as a means of control. Said he,

No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge...D&C 121:41-42)
When you can convince others that you speak for the Lord, that you cannot lead them astray, and that they must obey you or be damned, there’s truly no limit to what you can gain—all in the name of Jesus Christ.

The Other Carpenter

The title of this piece refers to two carpenters. One is Brigham Young, who ascended from humble beginnings to conquer the world. The other is the carpenter whose name Brigham borrowed.

Also from humble beginnings, this second carpenter descended below all things to conquer sin and death. He died penniless, nearly friendless, and seemingly powerless. Yet, He was the mightiest of all. He lived what he taught.

But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

—Matthew 23:11-12

PS: Literally, moments after I finished this post, I received an email ad for the following book by the wife of the current president of the Quorum of the Twelve. Given the discussion of keys in this post, and the prosperity gospel in the last post, this book may be very pertinent to the discussion. This author is the same person who taught "prosperity tithing" in January. 

So I went to Deseret Book’s website to check the book out. In an extremely ironic combination of topic and computer algorithm, the following illustration appeared directly below the book.

Almost 3 days later, it's still there. Someone needs to alert the good folks at Deseret Book.

Update 14 April, 2016: Nineteen days later, and the Jesus statue is still on sale at Deseret Book, with its head still covered by a sale medallion. Seriously, people?

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Name of Jesus Christ, Part 3:
Gospel of Giving and Getting

And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? 
—Luke 6:46

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

Prosperity Theology

Now that we’ve discussed using the name of Jesus Christ in praying and teaching, it’s time to delve a little deeper into one of the most popular misuses of His name. 

Known as “Prosperity Theology,” this popular Christian belief system teaches a very different gospel than what Christ taught. Here it is in a nutshell, from Wikipedia:
Prosperity theology (sometimes referred to as the prosperity gospel, the health and wealth gospel, or the gospel of success) is a religious belief among some Christians that financial blessing is the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations (possibly to Christian ministries) will increase one’s material wealth.

Based on non-traditional interpretations of the Bible, often with emphasis on the Book of Malachi, the doctrine views the Bible as a contract between God and humans: if humans have faith in God, he will deliver his promises of security and prosperity. Confessing these promises to be true is perceived as an act of faith, which God will honor.
The doctrine emphasizes the importance of personal empowerment, proposing that it is God’s will for his people to be happy. The atonement (reconciliation with God) is interpreted to include the alleviation of sickness and poverty, which are viewed as curses to be broken by faith. This is believed to be achieved through donations of money, visualization, and positive confession, and is often taught in mechanical and contractual terms.
Prosperity churches place a strong emphasis on the importance of giving…church leaders often claim a specific blessing can be exchanged for the money being donated to their ministry…
Congregants in prosperity churches are encouraged to speak positive statements about aspects of their lives that they wish to see improved. These statements, known as positive confessions, (distinct from confessions of sin) are said to miraculously change aspects of people’s lives if spoken with faith. Prosperity churches also encourage people to “live without limits” and cultivate optimism about their lives.
There are so many scriptural problems with these ideas, I can’t even take the space to begin to outline them all. So I’ll summarize by noting that Christ, the most righteous of all, was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. To know him is to follow His path, including the absolute requirements of righteousness, sacrifice, patience, suffering, a broken heart, and a contrite spirit. The gifts and promises offered by our Lord have little to do with this world.
My kingdom is not of this world. (John 18:36) 
In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
The Prosperity Gospel has jettisoned the old-school teachings of sacrifice, repentance, patience, righteousness, and working out your salvation with fear and trembling. The new ideas are much more palatable: It’s all yours for the taking, and you just have to step up and claim your blessings. Or better yet, buy them with money. The dominant idea is that Christ’s gospel is about health, wealth, prosperity and comfort, rather than the dismay of sin, separation from God, the horror of hell, and desperate need for repentance. 

No, siree. This new gospel is one of ease and comfort. You deserve it all, and you deserve it now! Doesn’t it sound appealing?

There’s no need to become something; you already are something. There’s no need to seek what you already have. There’s no need to change; you’re just fine as you are. In fact, you’re much better than fine, once you discover “who you are in Christ!” The “old covenant” is done away! Jesus is in you and you have a “new covenant” with God! He is bound by this covenant, and all that’s required of you is to confess it and believe it. So ask whatever you desire! Even confession is changed into a positive statement of the blessings you expect to receive in your Christian lifestyle. Forget all that negative stuff about sin and dismay!

Sorry, I kind of got on a rant. Let’s come back to reality with some C. S. Lewis: 
Of course, I quite agree that the Christian religion is, in the long run, a thing of unspeakable comfort. But it does not begin in comfort; it begins in the dismay I have been describing, and it is no use at all trying to go on to that comfort without first going through that dismay. In religion, as in war and everything else, comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get neither comfort nor truth—only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair. (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

Ya Gotta Give to Get!

At the root of the Prosperity Gospel, you’ll find the idea that you must give to get. Almost universally, when you hear this stuff preached, there’s a donation requested—complete with a website or toll-free number. Of course the money gets called all sorts of things…pledges, covenants, tithes, love offerings, consecrations, ministerial support, vows, faith offerings, buy my book or trinket. (Or any other euphemism you can think of for “pay me to preach!”) Operators are standing by, credit cards are accepted, and yes, they take Paypal. 

Billions of dollars are raked in every year by those who violate the Book of Mormon injunction that ministers must not be paid, but should labor for their own support. (See Alma 1:26, Mosiah 18:24-26, 27:5) The examples are as numerous as they are egregious. 

Allow me to share just one:

James Orsen “Jim” Bakker was a successful televangelist in the 1970s and 1980s. He and his wife Tammy Faye Bakker founded several Christian television shows and the PTL (Praise the Lord…or Pass the Lucre?) Television Network. They also created Heritage USA, a Christian-based 2,500-acre theme park and resort, which rapidly became the third-most successful theme park in the USA. Their massive television audience, satellite distribution system, and 24-hour daily broadcast schedule brought in “donations” of over $1 million per week in its heyday. 

The message then, as now, was that by giving to support the “ministry,” you will buy blessings from God, who is obligated to return to you much more than you give. It’s not about giving for the sake of giving, or even giving to do good. It’s the gospel of giving to get. Because, after all, you cay buy anything in this world with money. So send in your check, and tell God what you want, because good things are coming your way!

With all that cash flow built on the name of Jesus Christ, the Bakkers took 1980’s-era conspicuous consumption to a whole new level—with mansions, cars, jewelry, travel, clothes, toys, and excess just for the sake of excess. Their ostentatious displays of wealth were proof their preaching was true, and they took no shame in showing it off—and defending it all by pulling snippets of scripture out of context, and preaching with passion and charisma.

That's me on the left.
But it all fell apart when sexual scandal and financial mismanagement caught up with the Bakkers. Promises made in return for donations never came to fruition. Heritage USA resort memberships were oversold by double, but never delivered, and the theme park was wiped out by a hurricane. The IRS presented a bill for $6 million in unpaid taxes, and audits found that two sets of books were kept in an attempt to disguise the fraud. In the end, $92 million could not be accounted for, and Jim Bakker, the most successful Christian minister in history, was sentenced to 45 years in federal prison for fraud and conspiracy.

While in prison, Jim did something he had never done before in his life. He read the Bible all the way through. He then wrote a book renouncing his prior teachings on prosperity theology. In his book he said that actually reading the Bible made him realize he had taken certain passages out of context and used them as “proof texts” to back up his prosperity teachings. He wrote:
The more I studied the Bible, however, I had to admit that the prosperity message did not line up with the tenor of Scripture. My heart was crushed to think that I led so many people astray. I was appalled that I could have been so wrong…
The Bakkers’ empire and its derivatives yet live on, and there are many willing to preach to you the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture, in exchange for your money. They seek gain and popularity, but not the welfare of Zion. Most of their preaching consists of vainly telling you stories about themselves and their good works, so you will envy, and seek to emulate them. The name of Jesus Christ is, hands down, the most powerful get-rich-quick tool ever wielded by smiling scumbags in expensive suits. 
He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion. (2 Nephi 26:29)
Yes, this really is for sale
Take a look at this list of the book titles written and published by just one such minister of darkness:
  • How to Be Rich & Have Everything You Ever Wanted
  • How to Pay Your Bills Supernaturally
  • Strike It Rich
  • How To Receive & Keep Your Healing
  • God's Miracle Plan For Man
  • Oh Lord I Pray, Send Now Prosperity
  • Fear No Evil
  • How to Kick The Devil Out Of Your Life
  • God's Million-Heirs
Too egregious? Let’s tone it down a bit. How about these from another minister?
  • Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential
  • Good, Better, Blessed: Living with Purpose, Power and Passion
  • It's Your Time: Activate Your Faith, Achieve Your Dreams, and Increase in God's Favor
  • Living in Favor, Abundance and Joy
  • I Declare: 31 Promises to Speak Over Your Life
  • Break Out!: 5 Keys to Go Beyond Your Barriers and Live an Extraordinary Life
  • The Power Of I Am: Two Words That Will Change Your Life Today
Boy, that last title even uses one of the the names of Jesus Christ—I Am.” As in, “I  am making a hell of a lot of money selling a false gospel! (pun intended.)

The author of that last list of books, by the way, draws no salary for preaching. Instead, he lives off his book sales, which have earned him a net worth of around $57 million (as of 2012). He and his family live in a home worth over $10 million. That stuff he preaches must be true, because it sure seems to be working for him!

Prosperity Tithing

Of course, the prosperity gospel hasn’t touched the LDS people, who instead live the Lord’s law of tithing, right? We give because it’s a commandment, not because we expect something in return…don’t we? (Ahem…temple recommend.) Which made it all the more surprising when Wendy Watson Nelson, wife of President Russel M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve, taught the following in an appearance with her husband at BYU Hawaii in January:
When we’re desperate to have more money, we eagerly follow the Lord’s law of finances—which is, of course, tithing! Consider President George Q. Cannon’s approach to tithing when he was an impoverished young man. When his bishop commented on the large amount of tithing poor young George was paying, George said something like: “Oh bishop, I’m not paying tithing on what I make. I’m paying tithing on what I want to make.” And the very next year George earned exactly the amount of money he had paid tithing on the year before!
So let me get this straight…if I pay more tithing, I’ll make more money as a result? Yep, sounds like God’s plan all right. Makes me feel sorry for all those poor suckers who struggle to get by. They must not be paying enough tithing.

Sister Nelson and her husband, on the other hand, are doing just great, living in a million dollar home, and may use your extra tithing to fly first class to Europe

Works Every Time

We humans are a predictable lot. What worked 2,000 years ago still works today, because it’s just as appealing to the natural man now as it was then. Check it out:
3 And he had gone about among the people, preaching to them that which he termed to be the word of God, bearing down against the church; declaring unto the people that every priest and teacher ought to become popular; and they ought not to labor with their hands, but that they ought to be supported by the people. 
 4 And he also testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life. 
 5 And it came to pass that he did teach these things so much that many did believe on his words, even so many that they began to support him and give him money. 
 6 And he began to be lifted up in the pride of his heart, and to wear very costly apparel, yea, and even began to establish a church after the manner of his preaching. (Alma 1:3-6)
There it is. The prosperity gospel. Blessings and money, rejoicing and popularity, ease and salvation for all. 

Courtesy of Nehor, the anti-Christ. 

When Nehor encountered the true word of God, as is too often the case when false beliefs are challenged, he became enraged and added murder to his list of accomplishments. 
 9 Now, because Gideon withstood him with the words of God he was wroth with Gideon, and drew his sword and began to smite him. Now Gideon being stricken with many years, therefore he was not able to withstand his blows, therefore he was slain by the sword. 
 15 And it came to pass that they took him; and his name was Nehor; and they carried him upon the top of the hill Manti, and there he was caused, or rather did acknowledge, between the heavens and the earth, that what he had taught to the people was contrary to the word of God; and there he suffered an ignominious death. 
 16 Nevertheless, this did not put an end to the spreading of priestcraft through the land; for there were many who loved the vain things of the world, and they went forth preaching false doctrines; and this they did for the sake of riches and honor. (Alma 1:9, 15-16)
Oh, Satan loves to trot this “gospel” out as often as possible—because it works every time. Even after Nehor’s death, the teachings lived on, most notably in the city of Ammonihah, which is worth looking up (See “Desolation of Nehors.”)

Nehor’s teachings live on today as well—too often among us—though we have been warned and ought to know better. How we desperately need discernment! It’s easy to see when it’s laid out this way, but much harder to discern when you hear a message that appeals to you and tells you exactly what you want to hear.

Only Two Churches
And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth. (1 Nephi 14:10)
Consider the following, which I quote from another blog:

There are and always have been two churches only…Either you belong to the elect family of Christ, the Church of the Firstborn, or you don't.  All other religions and philosophies are false.

Therefore, based on what Nephi says above, unless we are part of that body of believers whose Father is Christ, and who posses a covenant from Him that they will be His, we belong to the whore of all the earth, a church of abominations.

[This] all-inclusive great church is comprised of all philosophies, all belief systems, all unbelief systems, all rationalizations, all theories and vanities that distract people from repenting and following Christ. These vary from very good things that are uplifting, and possess even great portions of truth, to the degrading and perverse. This all-inclusive church is a “whore” because she is completely indiscriminate and open for all to have her acceptance and affection. She welcomes you. The only requirement being that you have false beliefs.

She will make you rich, or she will make you covet riches.  If she gives them to you it is to corrupt you. If she withholds them from you, it is so you will lust and envy what you do not have.

Look at her list of trade goods, given in the description of her fall by John the Revelator:
And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.  (Rev. 18: 11-13)
The final two on the list are the reason for the other items. The earlier ones lead inevitably to slavery and loss of the souls of men. The devil, who founded her, is not interested in anything other than slavery and the loss of your soul.

The whore does have her allures, doesn't she? How many of us are in her embrace, speaking of love and Jesus and the joy of the Saints, while remaining wretched, poor, foolish and lost? She offers you vanity as a religion. “Vanity” because it is vain, or without any effect to save, i.e., without power. Only a form of godliness, nothing real.

Such powerful deception as is implied in these verses demands our attention. It ought to force us forward to seek and obtain a more sure word of prophecy, so we know our God and covenant directly with Him. It should make us refuse all the imitations, all the deceptions, all those who pretend to speak truth.
(Quoted from this July 8, 2010 blog post by Denver Snuffer, emphasis added)

The gospel of Jesus Christ is not about health, wealth, happiness or power. When rightly pursued, it does lead to joy and peace, but these often arrive patiently packaged in a wrapper of suffering and sacrifice. Prosperity is fleeting, deceptive, and most often, counterproductive to the quest for redemption. Don’t be taken in by those who cannot lead you to Christ, yet freely preach appealing falsehoods in His name. 

Another photo from my mission. Click to enlarge.

Yea, and we may see at the very time when he doth prosper his people, yea, in the increase of their fields, their flocks and their herds, and in gold, and in silver, and in all manner of precious things of every kind and art; sparing their lives, and delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; softening the hearts of their enemies that they should not declare wars against them; yea, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One—yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity.

And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him.

O how foolish, and how vain, and how evil, and devilish, and how quick to do iniquity, and how slow to do good, are the children of men; yea, how quick to hearken unto the words of the evil one, and to set their hearts upon the vain things of the world!

Yea, how quick to be lifted up in pride; yea, how quick to boast, and do all manner of that which is iniquity; and how slow are they to remember the Lord their God, and to give ear unto his counsels, yea, how slow to walk in wisdom’s paths!
—Helaman 12:2-5

Postscript December 23, 2016: The LDS Church's new self-reliance program continues the prosperity theology apace. Here's a screenshot from page 12 of the newly published My Foundation for Self Reliance manual: