iliveinayellowsub asked a question:
How can we “gently rebuke” our brothers and sisters who believe in and propogate prosperity doctrine? Because honestly, my first reaction is anger and a desperate need to shut them down 😦
Hey dear friend, this is a really, really tough one. Prosperity Theology is one of the most painful iterations of the Christian religion I’ve ever seen, and it’s always psychologically abusive in the long run.
The thing is, attempting to challenge anyone’s beliefs is a dicey, dangerous endeavor that requires an extremely fine balance of love and truth. It’s terribly difficult and will certainly go wrong. Here are a few thoughts about it:
1) Before challenging someone’s harmful belief, get to know why they believe what they do.
There is a concept called The Deep Story in which if you ask someone about their beliefs, they will tell you a deeper story about what led them there. And every single time, if you listen with an open mind, it’s easy to see that if you had the same upbringing, same trauma, same family and friends, same community, and same circumstances as this other person, you might have come to believe exactly as they do.
Because we are much quicker to speak than ever before—social media, globalization, polarization, all that stuff—we are a bit slower to listen these days. In the last ten years, especially, much of our language has revolved around lectures and imperative commands, so that we’re always (consciously or not) trying to force other people into seeing “my point of view, which is obviously the best point of view.” We are always carving other people into our image.
If you pause to listen instead of lecture, you’ll find that many, many harmful beliefs are based on the premise that I am doing good for the world. Almost no one thinks, “I’m the bad guy” or “I’m defective and trying to hurt people.”
The best thing you can do is really get to know why. Why have they fallen into this cult-like belief system? What does it do for them? How is it working out? And what is good about their beliefs that you can affirm on a common ground?