The Problem With Prosperity Pulpits
In many major metropolitan areas, there are landmarks that stand in stark contrast to their surroundings. These buildings take on the visage of mansions surrounded by shacks and they generally prominently feature the name of God on the Marquee as though God Himself is a cosigner to the display of wealth contained within the walls of worship. Joel Osteen and Creflo Dollar are just two of the most visible Wolves of Faith Street, but there are many more of these cathedrals and many more of these Pastors who practice pimping the parishioners. Osteen recently purchased a mulitmillion dollar mansion in a gated community which might be fine if he didn’t live in a city that is one of the most active in the business of Human Trafficking in the nation and also if the price tag wasn’t in the 10 million and up range. Sure, you may say, well he preaches and teaches the Word of God, so he surely deserves to have what he wishes. Except that that position isn’t necessarily supported by the Word that he supposedly teaches. For example, Paul, the apostle who is largely responsible for 2/3 of the New Testament canon, says that you are not to become a stumbling block for your brother, regardless of your own personal justification for your actions. Then you glance over some of his sermons that you see on TV, and you see more self help guru than Spiritually or Biblically based Pastor. Much more Oprah and Deepak Chopra than Martin Luther King or R.C. Sproul.
Then there is the curious case of Creflo Dollar, the Atlanta, Georgia based Faith Leader who rather infamously asked his congregation for donations toward at 65 million dollar jet, and then blasted his haters via public sermon, declaring that if he wanted to “believe God” for a 65 million dollar jet that no one could stop him. Dollar, never one to miss an opportunity for the theatrical, then said essentially if people went to Mars and needed the Gospel, then he needed a billion dollar rocket to go to Mars and spread said Gospel. But at what point is that even practical? At what point is the American obsession with these Pastors and preachers who are no more than charlatans with platforms even healthy? Atlanta is a city with a large rich/poor divide, yet here is a Pastor of one of the largest churches in the city begging his congregation for 65 million dollars for a jet with nothing to check his conscious. How is this even a proper mindset for someone who professes to be a Christian, let alone one who is called to be held accountable at a higher standard? TD Jakes was once asked about his finances and his response was to not worry about him, but about those with much smaller congregations who fleece their people. While that might be a valid assertion on the surface, underneath something more insidious and sinister hides. It’s a statement of don’t worry about me, mine is justifiable and legitimate, what is not legitimate is the Pastor of smaller church who drives a Benz on the backs of his followers. That’s not in fidelity with Scripture, as the above mentioned paraphrasing of Paul’s words clearly communicates, if Pastors are not to be stumbling blocks, then it doesn't matter the relative wealth and size of any congregation, what matters is public perception. This is the problem with the Prosperity Pulpit, it’s the assumption that because these men have large followings, have large bank accounts, that this justifies them to display wealth and have it excused because they are Pastors. There is a danger in having any leader of Faith and assumably conviction, who uses such flimsy justifiction as to why they are not accountable for their displays of wealth and or prosperity. The problem with the Prosperity Pulpit is that when it is compared with the words of the Jesus whom these people are supposed to be servants of, it’s day and night. “Again, I say, it is easier for a camel to enter the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” “Sell everything you have and give it to the poor, then you will lack nothing” “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.”