After a slight delay in posting recently, I’m back with a story that has already been covered by Kwesi over at the blog My Scream. Nevertheless, it’s worth repeating. On October 3, 2008, Time Magazine posted this story on their website:
Has the so-called Prosperity gospel turned its followers into some of the most willing participants — and hence, victims — of the current financial crisis? That’s what a scholar of the fast-growing brand of Pentecostal Christianity believes. While researching a book on black televangelism, says Jonathan Walton, a religion professor at the University of California at Riverside, he realized that Prosperity’s central promise — that God will “make a way” for poor people to enjoy the better things in life — had developed an additional, dangerous expression during the subprime-lending boom. Walton says that this encouraged congregants who got dicey mortgages to believe “God caused the bank to ignore my credit score and blessed me with my first house.” The results, he says, “were disastrous, because they pretty much turned parishioners into prey for greedy brokers.”
I emphasised the last part of that quote because I have seen it with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears. Back in 1997 when I was a faithful servant to Pimp Eddie L. Long, I brought my bills and mortgage note to a “debt burning service”. Eddie whipped us up into a frenzy by saying that “1997 is the year of jubilee and God was going to cancel your debt if you believe Him to do it!”. As a dutiful drone at the time, of course I wanted God to excuse my Visa bill (never mind the fact that I ran it up without asking Him for any guidance) – oh, and my mortgage too.
Needless to say, as I walked away from the smoldering tin can that contained the ashes of my bills, I hoped that when I called my creditors to confirm that I was debt free (as we were instructed to do), that I would hear the magic words: “Thanks for calling sir, but we don’t show that you have a balance”. Like a fool, I called…and I still had the proper balances.
*** As a side note, Eddie Long also whipped us into a frenzy in 1999 by saying that when the computers across the globe went haywire at midnight because of the Y2K debacle, our debts would be wiped out too. That’s another story for another day…moving along…***
Anyway, the next Sunday at church, the congregation was told of a man who was months behind on his mortgage. This man brought his paperwork to the debt burning service and believed that “God would move”. The man later called his mortgage company and they told him that his balance was $0! That’s right, he didn’t owe anything on his mortgage! Hallelujah! Glory to God! Praise G…
Oh, wait – because I had friends who worked in the Finance office, I later learned the rest of the story. The mortgage company foreclosed on the man’s house – because he hadn’t paid his mortgage for a few months. The man didn’t try to work out a plan with the bank because he believed that “God would move” at the behest of Eddie Long. Needless to say, when he called to get his balance he learned that he didn’t have a balance. Maybe he started shouting and praising God and hanging up the phone before he learned the reason why his balance was $0.
I have lamented the danger of the Word of Faith/Name it and claim it heresy of the pulpit pimps (and others) for some time now. Not only is that nonsense in direct opposition to the Word of God, it breeds greed and lust for material wealth among the Body of Christ. It also divides congregations into “haves and have nots”, and lines the pockets of greedy pulpit pimps. The Time article goes on to say:
“The pastor’s not gonna say, ‘Go down to Wachovia and get a loan,’ but I have heard, ‘Even if you have a poor credit rating, God can still bless you — if you put some faith out there [that is, make a big donation to the church], you’ll get that house or that car or that apartment.’ ” Adds J. Lee Grady, editor of the magazine Charisma: “It definitely goes on, that a preacher might say, ‘If you give this offering, God will give you a house.’ And if they did get the house, people did think that it was an answer to prayer, when in fact it was really bad banking policy.”
I have also heard the “go down to the car dealer and lay hands on the car you want”garbage. Gullible people go to the car dealership with no money for a down payment – and a credit score of 430. They end up getting a car loan at 20% interest and they “thank God for blessing” them? Are the words of Proverbs 10:21-22 rendered impotent?
Folks, these pulpit pimps are taking a hit in their wallets, and they don’t like it. No matter how many phone calls you avoid from your creditors, you can expect to sit in the pews under a pimp who still bellows from the pulpit that you should “ignore the current economic downturn because God is still doing something. When the world is experiencing financial trouble – now is the time to sow into God’s economy!”. The article goes on to strike an ominous tone – especially for those who pray that the sheep come to their senses and stop buying into the “just pay God and your troubles will go away heresy”:
With the bubble burst, Walton and Butler assume that Prosperity congregants have taken a disproportionate hit, and they are curious as to how their churches will respond. Butler thinks some of the flashier ministries will shrink along with their congregants’ fortunes. Says Walton: “You would think that the current economic conditions would undercut their theology.” But he predicts they will persevere, since God’s earthly largesse is just as attractive when one is behind the economic eight ball.
The bottom line is this – God is not the problem, greed (prompted by the lascivious pulpit pimp and our selfish desires) is the real problem. We’ve been warned before:
2 Peter 2:1-3 (New American Standard Bible)
1But (A)false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be (B)false teachers (C)among you, who will (D)secretly introduce (E)destructive heresies, even (F)denying the (G)Master who (H)bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.
So, don’t blame God…