[b]"A CRYING SHAME: CHARLATANS in the HOUSE"[/b]
-by J. Lee Grady (-Charisma Magazine).
Churches and ministries are employing bizarre gimmicks to raise
money. What has happened to our discernment?
Youve probably heard it on Christian television before. An
evangelist opens his Bible, reads a Scripture and then suggests
that you send an odd amount of money to keep your favorite
program on the air for another month.
He begs. He pleads. He cries. And then he tells you that if you
hurry and give right now, while God is stirring the waters, the
Holy Spirit will reward you in an extra-special way.
Ive heard different amounts suggestedsuch as $64.11, or $72.14,
or $53.24, to correlate with some obscure Old Testament Scripture
reference. The implication is that if you write a check for this
magical amount, God will release some kind of special blessing on
you, such as the salvation of loved ones or the quick sale of a house.
To the untrained ear this may sound like a formula for blessing.
Actually it is more akin to superstitionor worse, witchcraft. Its
not even remotely biblical, but those of us in the charismatic
movement are so used to tolerating such shenanigans that we
think this is standard procedure for fundraising.
Some ministers who raise money for Christian television stations
have succumbed to the infamous debt reduction tactic. It goes
like this: God says that if you will give a $1,000 sacrificial offering
right now (God always seems to be in crisis mode in these
situations), you will supernaturally get out of debt! The miracle
anointing is here! You can release it by writing that check! And we
take credit cards, too!
Talk about voodoo economics. This kind of manipulation is actually
against the law in Canada. The U.S. government allows American
evangelists to get away with it, but that doesnt mean its right. It
is a spiritualized form of arm-twisting.
And believe it or not, it is getting more blatant and bizarre.
A widely traveled minister recently gave a message about what he
called the Boaz anointing at a prominent church in Florida. He
then invited anyone who wanted this new blessing to come to the
altar, where gullible souls were encouraged to deposit a check for
$1,500 in the basket. Apparently the Boaz anointing can be yours
if you can afford this hefty price.
At another church in my city of Orlando, a self-proclaimed prophet
said that he would have a personal word of blessing to pronounce
over any person who could give $1,000 in the offering. Thats right
he was selling personal prophecies.Those who actually gave the
amount (yes, some people actually fell for this charlatan) stood up
to receive words.
I want to rip my shirt in half and throw dust on my head.
Why should we be surprised that the church in America is making
such a weak impact on society when we are allowing greedy
impostors to pollute our pulpits? They are no different than the
sons of Eli, who took the peoples offerings by force so that they
could spend it on their own selfish wants (see 1 Sam.2:12-16).
They have fallen into the error of the sorcerer Simon, who offered
to buy the power of the Holy Spirit so that he could impress
people (see Acts 8:18-20).
And what happens to the people who buy into this craziness? Ive
heard some suggest that God will bless anyone who gives, even
if they give to a crook. Thats hogwash. Seed must be sown in
good ground if its going to produce. Those who use manipulation,
strong-arm tactics or Scripture-twisting to get money, or who sell
the anointing of God so they can buy clothes and houses are not
going to release any form of blessing.
In fact, they just might release cursesof poverty, bankruptcy,
fraud and confusion. Such dark forces actually follow ministries
that have given themselves over to this spirit of financial
manipulation. The Bible actually says that charlatansthose who
follow the error of Balaamwill face a harsh judgment in the
black darkness of hell (Jude 11,13).
What can you do about this? You dont have to stop giving. God
loves a cheerful giver, but He does not want us to give under
compulsion. Nor does He want us to reward the modern sons of Eli.
Speak out. Confront those who misuse the Bible to dig for money.
Change the channel. Get up and walk out. Give to ministries that
focus on meeting real needs and maintain ethical accounting
standards. This financial foolishness will end when all of us take a stand.
[Charisma Online is a service of Charisma magazine and Strang
Communications, copyright 2006].
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon