Wednesday, September 26, 2007

God for sale

I always seem to get stuck in arguments about ministers who use their religious influence for personal gain. My debating mates are always quick to point out passages that support “honoring” those who preach the Word of God. But when I go through the Bible, I can’t seem to find any circumstances where Jesus or His apostles lived luxurious and comfortable lives as they spread the Gospel. You can make the argument that Paul was pretty well off. Of course, that period came and went once he was converted. What endowments they did receive for themselves were actually used to advance the Gospel moreso than their own individual needs.

So whenever I hear somebody on TV claim that they received “a Word from the Lord”, I immediately start to cringe. Chances are, it won’t be much longer after that when they’ll inform the viewer that this word can be theirs for a “love offering” of no less than $29.95 + S&H. Oddly, not many people ask these pimps one of the most burning questions I can think of: If this is a “Word from the Lord”, why sell it? With the emergence of all those internets out there, I’m sure that there are just as many web pages where you can openly and freely share the Word as those where you can sell it.

Besides, last I checked, whenever the apostles had a Word from God, they recorded it and sent it all throughout the world freely. We call those little recordings “Epistles”. Essentially, these epistles became the "open source" way of ministering.

In a related note, I recently received an email that pokes fun at how many of the profits prophets hustle folks from the pulpit. At first, it gave me a pretty good chuckle. But when I think about how all freakishly deceptive most of these cats are and how easily they've infilitrated the pulpit, the joke really isn't all that funny. Anyway, here's the parody song from the email; sung to the tune of "Amazing Grace". Enjoy:

A big disgrace in Surround Sound
And Mega-sized big screens,
The lavish church is worth the cost
‘Long as we pay the lien.

T’was T.D. Jakes who learned to steer
And rip off mindless sheep
How quickly did that cash appear
When they were all deceived

Get comfy in your cushioned pew
Sit back, put up your feet
The ushers will just swipe your card
And print you a receipt

This Sunday features C’refalo
And then it’s Joel Osteen
And if the love seeds lack too much
Trust Benny Hinn to sing.

These pimps will live ten thousand years
When all of us are done
They’ll no less rob our bank accounts
Than when they first begun.

Those pimped disgraces do not share
The Word, as must be taught
The Word they claim God gave to them
Can only be store bought.

I really wish this was only humor.

- ACL

13 "Insiders" spoke their mind. Join in...:

HeiressChild said...

i'm sorry andre; i keep trying not to write a book, but what i say just tends to be long. i definitely understand what you're saying here, and i agree. there are too many people period, not just on t.v., who make a lot to be about finances. it is a disgrace that this happens. they're not getting away with anything. My sheep know My voice and another voice they will not follow. therfore, regardless of who is asking what, i don't have to give.

i also think people are distracted too much by all of this instead of focusing more on their own personal relationship with God and how to live right in this perverted world. the Bible specifically tells us to beware of false prophets who come pretending to be sheep/shepherds. the wheat and tares grow together and God does the separating. it may seem like they're getting away with it, but the key word is seem.

personally, i'm not moved by them because they can't make me give, regardless of what they say. i haven't seen one perfect pastor/minister, so i take what's for me, and what's not for me, i let it go. good title--they may be selling/pimping their god, but GOD is not for sale.

beachgirl said...

Hi Andre,
One of the reasons I no longer go to church is I was on The Vestry.. The infighting for power and money just made me sick.. The investment counselor for the church had made them a consistent 20% return for their funds by playing it safe at their request. This one month the stock market went nuts, and they only had a 10 % return. They tore her a new ass and really chewed her out. And she was dying of cancer.
She died a month later. Lets just say I quit the Vestry. I don't like confrontation and that really made me sick.
TV evangelists are just that. They are entertainers after your money. Even growing up I noticed that the church was always asking for large sums of money. They just can't get enough. They really are a business.
Now I am religious. I just would prefer to go to the beach and pray while the sun is coming up. I have read the bible from cover to cover. And any fanatic can and will read what they want into any passage. As is our right. To interpret it how we wish.

I agree with Sylvia. GOD is not for sale.

Have an awesome day.

Carol

HeiressChild said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HeiressChild said...

I have read the bible from cover to cover. And any fanatic can and will read what they want into any passage. As is our right. To interpret it how we wish.

carol, i think part of the problem we have in the world now is that people do feel it's their right to read what they want into any passage--to do their own interpretation. i believe it's definitely not our right to interpret the Bible in our own natural minds and as we wish. that's partly why people are living any kind of way. The Holy Spirit is the interpreter, but we have to have the Holy Spirit first, and then allow Him to teach us and interpret.

beachgirl said...

Hi Sylvia,
I wasn't talking about you or I as fanatics girlfriend. I meant the Jim Jone's and David Koresh's of the world. Some of the television evangelists are a tad out there. I have been in a Catholic church when the priest said "if the man cheated on his wife it was the wifes job to forgive him." I do believe that goes against one of the commandments.
Like I said, personal choice.

HeiressChild said...

oh ok carol, i understand what you're saying by personal choice. you're saying it's their personal choice they made, even though it's not a correct personal choice. got'cha. their own personal interpretation, but a wrong one at that. understand. thanx. we're just using up all your space andre carrying on conversation. where are you? come out, come out, wherever you are.

Saved Sinner said...

This dyamnic is nothing new to me. Many of these churches operate under the same guise: beautiful buildings, congregations that are full of excitement and ministers with feel good material. No sound doctrine to be found anywhere.

Joanne said...

Sylvia and Carol let me first say that I'm enjoying your dialogue. You both bring interesting and well articulated view points to the discussion.

Now, my take:

My husband and I are constantly trying to grow in the Word independent of all the shannigans of many of these so-called ministers. For a while, I think we were so lazy in learning the Word that we'd completely lean on somebody else. But God gives us our own song and the Word on our own terms. That's why when I hear ministers tell me that a breakthrough is on the way I often wondered if this was TRULY God's word or somebody elses. If it was God's Word, why did it have to come to me through somebody else? But now, as we've tried to walk closer to God, our eyes have become more open and our ears more attentive to what God is trying to tell us.

Perhaps the most disturbing part of it all is that many of these ministers fail to be hard hitting enough with the Word. They tell us what we WANT to hear and we're OK with that (See II Timothy 4:3-4. If that doesn't tell the story, nothing will). Basically, we had a personal desire to hear what we wanted to hear, not what we needed to hear. The Bible should NOT just be comfortable. It should be comfortable when it comes to our restoration, but hard hitting when it comes to convicting us and challenging us during hard times. Never do I hear sermons on what to do when your blessings are not there or all used up. All I hear is prosper, prosper, prosper.

Simply stated, many of these big ministers are giving us an emotional fix to make us feel good for the time being while doing long term damage to our hearts and souls. Look out for them.

Great post, brother.

Andre said...

*Sitting back, enjoying the discussion*

My work here is done.

But I'll comment on your posts soon. I've got a little bit of work to catch up. But let me just say that they're all really interesting. Be back soon... :)

HeiressChild said...

this post and everyone's comments have made me understand even more about my own personal relationship with God. i learned very early on some HARD lessons listening to leaders who perverted the Word, especially regarding giving, etc. we even had pastors talking about paying 'vows' on lay-away. i watch very few televangelists, and the ones i do watch, i'm tuned into the word; anything else, i turn them off. i'm so turned off by all the hoopla in the churches, but i also understand from the Bible these things are going to happen.

I agree joanne about ministers saying what people want to hear; i guess that's one way of keeping the big bucks rolling in. being attentive to what God is telling you, as you say, is what's so key in our relationship with Him.

The H.C. said...

Hey Dre,
Great Post! I especially liked the song. Like you said, it sad that it's close to the truth.

Joslyn said...

Okay,

I have been reading this blog and while I agree with the whole televangelist remark, there is something that really bothers my sprirt: People who stop going to church because of ....(Insert reason here)

What if our children held us to the same standard that we hold ministry? You try to guide your children as best as you can and try not to let them see your flaws. If you need to tell a dirty joke, curse someone out, or (insert whatever bad thing you do that you don't want kids to see) then you usually try to do it outside their presence. What if, however, they found out about it and decided that from now on that they were going to disregard every thing that you say because of your flaws? Although you are flawed, you still certainly have some guidance to give, right????


Romans 10: 14-15: How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"

Are we now to believe that God doesn't call ministers to preach and we are to go on our own path without the guidence of a pastor, elder, or bishop?

When do we mature as Christians and learn to take the "Meat" from every situation and stop "throwing the baby and the bath water out?"

If you have a probelm at your job do you try to work it out and find another job or do you stop working all together?

Andre said...

@ Sylv: Predominantly, I think people want to be happy in Christ. The problem is, most people are pretty lazy with making it happen. Joanne was on the money when she pointed that out.

Now, I'm all for pastors providing direction; especially direction that comes from years of formal training (which is why people who receive "honorary" doctrates or degrees from unaccredited schools make me chuckle). But somewhere down the road, we need to learn God for ourselves too.

Not doing so allows for some of these "preach-whores" to move in and pimp the Bible.

@ Carol: I appreciate your candor and with sharing your personal experiences. I certainly won't challenge the feelings that came out of your experience; but I have to at least ask you what moves you are making to be restored. I assure you: you'll run into pimps in the pulpits and -- forgive my 'French' -- assholes in the assembly who will negatively impact your walk in Christ. But I urge you not to get derailed by them.

I would strongly recommend that you read "When Bad Christians Happen to Good People" by Dave Burchett. He's a Bush supporter (which is NEVER good), but he's pretty on point about dealing with wounds inflicted on us by the church.

@ Saved Sinner: They have doctrine. It's just more centered around financial statements than it is the Word.

@ Joanne; You already know I'm with you on this one.

@ HC: Right on.

@ Jos: "Are we now to believe that God doesn't call ministers to preach and we are to go on our own path without the guidence of a pastor, elder, or bishop?"

I won't try to speak for the rest of the world, but I don't think the issue is necessarily about accepting people who are called. Frankly, I'm not in a position to determine who's called and who's not. I think the issue has more to do with the unwavering support these cats get...and how much of it.

There are some people who will go through the fire for a pastor they don't even know. There are others will pardon the greedy antics their leaders pull just because "they loooove their pastor". I don't have a problem with following another person's teachings; most of all following those who have a deep and formal training in the Word. But I often try to weed out the good stuff they produce from the nonsense that can come out of the pulpit. As Heiress once put it: eating the meat and throwing away the bones.

"If you have a probelm at your job do you try to work it out and find another job or do you stop working all together?"

If I didn't have to pay bills, yeah, I would stop working altogther. But it's something I have to do in order to sustain a certain quality of life I want for myself. But fortunately, salvation's a different ball of wax (well, sorta). Church membership is good to have, but not a prerequisite for being saved. It's a good thing too. I'd be screwed.