The gospel in America has been hijacked, replaced with another gospel, a gospel of greed.
When news broke regarding Creflo Dollar’s plea for Christians (namely those who follow him) to donate to the purchase of a 65-million dollar jet, it not only raised eyebrows, it settled within the hearts and minds of the faith’s leading accusers that Christianity has become nothing but an ends to gaining great wealth at the expense of its followers. And they would be right, to a degree.
The prosperity “gospel” doctrine that was birthed in the late 60’s by only a relative few such as the Rev. Ike, and the late Robert Schuller, gained a notable following within the Charismatic movement and eventually the leading founders of Christian Television, namely Trinity Broadcasting Network began to take up the cause, as well as the offering plate to the tune of millions by those who heard the promise that if one gave ’til it hurt’ God would reward that giving by hundreds, if not millions in return. The church was offering better odds than any house in Vegas. All because preachers took to the airwaves declaring that God wanted his people to be rich, not comfortable financially – but rich. Today, the prosperity “gospel” has become the single most learned doctrine second only to the doctrine of salvation by faith alone followed by the doctrines of water baptism and sanctification.
Yet, things are beginning to turn when it comes to the proponents of the gospel of greed, and one where many are beginning to question this creeping lie that many have not only bought into (literally) but has cost them their life savings as well. Several factors are coming into play as what I believe is the reason why many within the church are turning a deaf ear to this false gospel, namely two things – the persecution of Christians across the world where men, women and children are literally being slaughtered by radical Muslims (namely ISIS), and the state of the economy. These two combined are enough to bring about a radical change away from this doctrine of devils, and instead, bring about a more responsible attitude toward proper sound doctrine and the rejection of the false. But this gospel of greed is not going down without a fight.
Today, we can still see, even among the best of preachers who have the best of intentions the seduction of greed. I have always stated that a man can be used of God, reach the world for Christ and still be off in his theology all because he has bought into the lie which says ‘much is good’ as it relates to money and the attaining of wealth. I see that in popular television ministries now, preachers who, three or five years ago stood on sound doctrine and railed against the prosperity lie that has dominated the modern church in America and other parts of the world, that they too have become seduced by the desire for riches. The truth is, when a ministry becomes popular, the money always follows the popularity, this is why it must be understood that popularity nor the gaining of wealth is to always be attributed to the goodness of God, but instead it might very well be a tempting tactic by Satan himself to lure that preacher and his ministry away from the truth. This is what I believe is currently happening with several popular Pentecostal ministries who have consistently been preaching the cross, but because of their resurgence among the church world, they too are becoming seduced by the spirit of greed. And the fact is, it shows in their attitude and their pleas for financial help.
Let me dispel a myth that many within the church world has taken as fact; no where are we required to support someone’s calling to reach the world for Christ. Allow me to expand on that thought. If God has truly called someone to ministry, he himself will bring about the finances to support that particular minister and his call to wherever he is led. That is not to say Christians cannot, nor should not support the gospel and missionaries and preachers, what I’m saying is, the Christian is not called, nor required to support someone’s ego in their attempt to build an empire. Yet that is exactly what has happened with many a popular minister who gains a following, they have to ‘feed the machine’ to keep it going all under the guise of ‘reaching the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ’. Did the apostle Paul demand payment? He could have, he even states so in his own letters, but he chose to labor with his own hands. Yet what always occurs is the church relinquishes their responsibilities to go into all the world and preach the gospel, and instead, they elevate a man or woman who is charismatic in nature and then funnels large amounts of cash toward that person, and what happens is always the same, the man (or woman) sees the financial rewards of their good service and begins to build his personal empire to such a degree that now a child is now born, and that child needs to eat, and that child needs to grow, and eat, and grow, and eat. It’s a pattern every popular preacher has fallen into – every one of them. And whose to blame? We are. Because we funded it.
Let me clarify that God does use men and women to reach the world, the problem is, too many in the church think only one or two particular ministers have the ‘touch’ on their life and yet the reality is God has many who is being raised up in these last days who will not fall into the trap of empire building, and instead, they will work on a shoe string budget to reach the world, not building a global television ministry (which is actually a flawed concept which only truly works in the U.S., but will deny their own fleshly desires, the image of power, the mansions, the flashy cars, the quality of life that only those who have the financial means can bring, and instead, will trod with the poor, will reach into the villages and under-dwellings to reach the lost. This is why I believe that the day is coming where God is going to once again move the church back to its original purpose where everyone will play the part, not one or two popular people, but where the entire body will reach the globe for Christ before the end comes.
Unfortunately though this message of financial accountability is being resisted by the powers that be, why? Because the marketing and exploitation of the message of the cross makes money – lots of it. From merchandise found in the many conferences across the country, to the local campmeeting gathering, the commercialization of Christianity becomes the central focus and not the gospel, it’s the merger of the prosperity gospel and the gospel of the cross. The problem? It will never work.
The tactic Satan has desired to do, entice believers to satisfy their own lust instead of denying themselves, is when the cross is matched up against the almighty dollar, the cross will fade from view each and every time. This is why God desires us not to seek after wealth or riches, but instead, seek after those things he has for us which are far more valuable than gold. In Revelation 3:14-22, we read of Johns account of seven churches, one in particular was named the church in Laodicea. The Laodicean church was one which as John described, was adorned with great wealth and much success when it came to stature. Many often read the passages which indicate that the Laodiceans who were materially wealthy, was focused on physical wealth, which was true, but what the word seems to indicate is that the Laeodiceans were actually spiritually wealthy in knowledge of the word. In other words, they had a vast spiritual wealth of knowledge of the gospel which made them complacent in not only their attitude toward the things of God, but in living. This is why the apostle Paul had great concern for the Laodiceans spiritual welfare.
In his the letter, Christ used a metaphor of himself standing at the door and knocking on the minds and hearts of the Laodiceans. The image of Christ standing outside and knocking may also imply that the Laodiceans have locked him out of their church! The Laodiceans were powerless, yet had the power of the gospel. The Laodiceans were wealthy but spiritually poor. The Laodiceans were boasting of their works, yet Jesus condemned them for being lukewarm. I believe that if there was ever a church which reflects the spiritual as well as physical nature of the Laodiceans it is in fact the American church today. We have made Christ and the cross a message that is no longer desired nor wanted. We relish in “things” which do not matter in the scope of things which point to eternity. We boast of our good works, actually, the church in America has adopted a works based theology instead of faith alone. All of this points to one thing – apostasy.
It’s interesting to note that in around 60 A.D., a great earthquake leveled Laodicea and all of its great vasts of wealth. The truth is, there is a crisis within the church in America, a crisis of ideologue. The exploitation of believers through manipulation by preachers continues, yet the church is going to have to challenge the current status and break away from the lie which many have bought into which says God wants us all rich and wealthy. The fact is, the ideologue that I speak of is the American Dream. This myth has caused more chaos within the American church than anything the Word of Faith proponents would or could ever present. This doctrine of devils, this gospel of greed and its continuing exploitation of the gospel where men beg for donations, manipulate believers into giving is a direct influence by this spirit, and this spirit is not of God, but a demonic spirit – a spirit of greed.
Until we wake up and realize that we’re being hoodwinked by clever con men in their designer suits, weak believers and gullible Christians will continue to be drawn in by the reward of wealth and great riches and the only thing which they will receive is a bounced check when they give their final first fruits to a player on T.V.