The Elephant Room: Is doctrinal unity possible?

There is much chatter on various blogs, and some you tube clips, about the Elephant Room discussions, which are far too long to feature here (why do reformist critics, in particular, have to take so long to demonstrate their point, making it harder for us to add a balanced perspective?).

Anyway, they talk about some of the ideas shared during this event, some positive, some negative, but here’s an opening to discuss what you think of the possibility of leaders and congregations from different persuations being able to work together on doctrine, on the purpose of our existence and on a unified mandate to preach the gospel to a fallen world.

There was an emphasis on US ministries in this event, which kind of limits the scope. There have to be more ministries with influence and doctrinal savvy than this small group, but the idea has possibilities.

A secondary challenge
Bishop Jakes was invited to be part of Elephant Room discussions, and has been roundly criticised on the blogisphere for modalist beliefs, which, it is claimed, he refuted.

The challenge: To explain the doctrine of the Trinity in simple layman terms everyone can understand.

Game on!


154 thoughts on “The Elephant Room: Is doctrinal unity possible?

  1. While I try to duck from Steve’s constant barrage of “you’re ex-C3 now reformed so you’re not credible”, I’ve followed this since October when Thabiti Anyabwile fired off a warning shot about where this meeting could go.

    Besides the fact that T.D.Jakes WOF/prosperity teaching was not touched on, these men (Driscoll and Macdonald) were hardly qualified to address the topic of modalism.

    Perhaps they should have invited James White as a guest.

    His question would have been “Sir, did the Son, as a divine Person, distict from the Father as a divine Person, exist prior to the birth of the messiah in Bethlehem” – simple question, simple answer.

    So now we have ongoing fall-out with black brother opposing black brother (and I’m not talking about T.D.Jakes here), and suddenly James Macdonald is out of his depth, the “elephant, one bite at a time” being too hard to swallow.

    The most telling comments?

    From Thabiti Anyabwile “I also want my non-African-American brothers to realize the harmful dynamic of pitting one African American against another. When two white brothers disagree publicly over a theological issue, there’s likely not a community ‘back home’ trying to decide which brother is ‘black’ and therefore which brother to follow. Historically, some white leaders have intentionally played one African American leader against another with the aim of dividing and weakening the community. That’s a history well-known and a strategy much hated in African-American communities. So, when a conflict between two African American religious leaders takes place publicly, care must be taken not to walk into this troubled narrative and trap.”

    From Phil Johnson “If you’re an old white guy with any hint of Reformed theology in your confessional statement and you don’t think T. D. Jakes’s equivocations at Elephant Room 2 were sufficient to erase decades of concern about his Oneness leanings and his relentless proclamation of a false Prosperity Gospel—then you must be a racist. … If on the other hand you are a young black man with Reformed convictions—or any black person who just has a keen interest in doctrinal and biblical accuracy—you are a sellout and a reproach to your own community.”

  2. As Ps Voddie Baucham (an African American) said yesterday in discussion with James White on the Dividing Line broadcast – “the body is being divided over this issue, and the body is being divided over one man who is one of the most poisonous influences in the church today. The WOF movement, the prosperity doctrine is a poison, it is a cancer, it is destroying people, it is desroying lives, it is another gospel, it is to be condemned and it was not even addressed in this whole process”.

    http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=4971

  3. How interesting is that! And spooky!

    I mean, for a starters, I’m a product of the WoF movement, and, like many, many of my good friends and contemporaries, my life is very far from ruined. What a slap in the chops that is. Well, here’s the other chop, Vonnie. Take a swipe, old son, of it makes you feel better, cos you sure as hell need something to fix your prejudiced agst!

    In fact I believe I have led an enhanced life and I am very blessed holistically. I am a Christ-glorifying believer, who has enjoyed being a servant of Christ, and going where I believe he has sent me to do his will, and he has always been there to bless and keep and encourage my family, friends, churches and the people I have been bless to minister with and to. Ditto for Christians and ministers I have known for years in the same boat. Ruined? You have got to be kidding.

    I have moved on from some of the influences of early days, but I cannot say that WoF has been harmful in the way Voddie Baucham seems to consider it. I think he is as guilty of spreading fear as anyone.

    Secondly, who started the race tensions. It wasn’t this event, for sure. No, it just highlighted what is already in existence. It shone a light on some prejudice which is inherent in or more of the communities who have cried ‘offended’. James White seems to be pouring oil on the flames. “They didn’t invite me so I’ll gatecrash anyway, and preach to the converted who listen to my radio show!”

    This is just a US internal dispute which highlights the existent race tensions in churches. There needs to be some healing, that’s for sure. I think this dispute should be sorted out between the said US ministries before it infects the Body. They should have dealt with this long ago.

    Sometimes controversy is good for exposing hypocrisy, and the comments of the reformist ministries demonstrate it amply. Friction sharpens the two-edged sword.

    I don’t say that to be in any way controversial with you, margot, or because you are a reformist. It goes farther than this and far deeper than our little theological spat.

    Mine is simply the observation any neutral observer would have to make at this juncture.

    Just to qualify, I am not even a big Jakes fan. But he doesn’t deserve any of this flack. He is being used as a scapegoat for several prejudices which demonstrate the immaturity of the US Church.

    As Paul would say, ” I could not address you as Grown-ups!”

  4. ”The challenge: To explain the doctrine of the Trinity in simple layman terms everyone can understand.”

    How do you think Adam would have described God, whom he walked with in the cool of the day? In a Trinitarian way?

  5. margot,
    ‘James White on the Dividing Line broadcast’

    You have got to be kidding me! 😀

    I nearly fell off my seat when I read that! Hilarious! No really, form a distance that is so ironically funny. Or it would be if it wasn’t highlighting so much infantile tension.

  6. There is a goodly amount of smug, finger-pointing arrogance from all sides in any heated doctrinal debate, especially when egos get puffed up because it’s all across the web and TV cameras are trained on each talking head.

    To say that we have captured, with our tiny human capacity, the infinite grandeur of God and his person as displayed through the limitations of a book, is beyond Babel’s best attempts to reach up to him.

    I’m not suggesting that we don’t have these discussions, but the volume of hot air, wasted time capturing the argument and division created is lamentable. Paul counselled Timothy and others to avoid arguments that led no where and wasted valuable energies from the prime task of displaying and preaching the Kingdom of God.

  7. Anyway, the pre-incarnate Jesus was the Logos (Word) and not the son until he came to earth. Debate over 🙂

  8. Steve, Steve, Steve, – how far you are falling, when you can’t address things clearly and theologically, you just shoot the messenger.

    I certainly don’t expect you to have the qualifications to address modalism (as James White does along with Islam, Mormonism, JW’s) – by the way you can access a debate he had in Brisbane last year with a oneness pastor.

    @ Zeibart – this is not going away anytime soon.

    In fact, in one sense, though the Elephant Room 2 exposed the broader evangelical community to T.D. Jakes “charm” (and he is charming), ironically, it has brought the issue of his false teaching to the forefront, so many people have now been indirectly warned of T.D.Jakes prosperity heresies.

    Especially good since the wider community know him more for his teaching than for his, yet to be clearly addressed, modalism…

  9. Why d you say I am shooting the messenger, margot? I am addressing what I see as racial hypocrisy in the US Church, which I do not see in other nations. The ironically named White, who is obviously a bright cooky, has waded into the debate and latched unto the race issue as if it is the main point, and misses the level of immaturity the debate throws up an which he has made himself and his contemporaries a part of.

    From a blog post you put up, please try to grasp the condescension and hypocrisy of the following:

    Thabiti Anyabwile wrote an outstanding, compassionate, faithful, pastoral post warning of the collateral damage that was likely to result from MacDonald &Co. going through with an ER2 that included T. D. Jakes: “This kind of invitation undermines that long, hard battle many of us have been waging in a community often neglected by many of our peers. And because we’ve often been attempting to introduce African-American Christians to the wider Evangelical and Reformed world as an alternative to the heresy and blasphemy so commonplace in some African-American churches and on popular television outlets, the invitation of Jakes to perform in ‘our circles’ simply feels like a swift tug of the rug from beneath our feet and our efforts to bring health to a sick church. […] This isn’t on the scale of Piper inviting Warren. This is more akin to Augustine inviting Muhammad.”

    That is outstanding and compassionate? To whom? Thabiti Anyabwile and his friends?

    I am able to look at this dispute from a relatively unaffected corner and see a person so caught up in his prejudice that he can’t hear what he is saying, and peers so boxed in by their own preconceived notions of what is right or wrong that they don’t have the ears to hear religious intolerance for another group of Christian brothers by one of their own.

    Charismatic Christian brothers who are getting on with the job of preaching the gospel and winning people to Christ, but from a different standpoint to Anyabwile, clearly, which he doesn’t like, because he is a reformist, are being ridiculed and compared to Muslims. It is astonishing condescension and bigotry.

    Margot, I told you some time ago on one of these threads that one of the greatest threats to the effectivess of Christianity is the divide between reformed and non-reformed, and here we have the beginnings of an explosion, detonated by reformed dogmatism, which, if it is not stopped will reproduce the anger of the past, only this time it will spill over into the racial divide which is existent in the US, and which has never been properly addressed, and allowed to simmer under the surface.

    What these African-American reformed preachers are saying cannot help unless they resolve to work with their Christian brothers, no matter what they understand of the Trinity, towards a unity of purpose and spirit.

  10. ”He would have had to be like a Father to him, wouldn’t he?”

    I would think so, but on a far higher level that our human experience perceives. My point was, did Adam have a revelation of Son and Spirit? Was that even necessary for him to commune with God? Gen 3:22 refers to ‘us’, so was God talking to Jesus, the Word, the angels, all of the above? We can’t be absolutely sure, but since Jesus is called the Word by John in reference to his position at creation, it may well be a conversation between the Father and the Logos.

  11. ”@ Zeibart – this is not going away anytime soon. ”

    That it isn’t does not mean we have to engage.

  12. ”So you say the Son is not eternal, zeibart?”

    Jesus declared himself to have been with the Father before his incarnation, so he is eternal, but as to his part of the Trinity being a son from eternity past to eternity future is not altogether clear. He was the Word of God bringing into being the created universe, and God declared him to be his son after he began his earthly ministry. Joining the dots and saying he has been the Son throughout is too simplistic and neatly boxed for me.

  13. All you care (harp on about) is that these African American pastors are Reformed???

    You are way out of YOUR depth on these issues Steve.

    Sadly it seems, though you are yet to say it, you would rather have T.D.Jakes in your church?

  14. @ Zeibart – Steve put the post up because he can’t engage over on Lance’s blog (he’s banned) where’s it been posted and I’m sure he knew I’ve been posting links there.

    So, you think that it won’t have fallout here in Australia? I’m going to suggest it will, around April.

  15. Margot, we need a who’s who in the zoo to get around some of the nuances that are familiar to folks who have been here longer than me. A Signposts02 cheese and wine at your place? 😉

  16. If only Thabiti Anyabwile lived up to his won standards:

    How can you ay I am out my depth, margot. Are you joining the ranks of the condescending simply because you consider a person with a non-reformed background to be inferior?

    I notice you always ail to respond to my comments with your own, rather producing cut’n’paste from reformists which often do not address the issues I raise with you, only skirt the issue or raise another unrelated issue.

    1. Do you think Thabiti Anyabwile should stick to his own standards, in which he declares that he should determine to work with his Christian brethren from across the board to glorify Christ, or has he stepped over the mark by condemning the charismatics in his city to second-tier Christians as if they were Muslims.

    2. Since this is essentially a reformist issue, in which reformist leaders in the US condemn charismatics, why should I not voice my dismay and raise the issues I have?

    This is now out in the wider domain, and, along with modalism, which most ordinary people with basic lifestyle issues to deal with don’t have a clue about, the reformed doctrinaires are being examined for the way in which they handle the situation, which, so far, for some, apart from those who were directly involved in the event, has been nothing short of shocking for an outsider to witness.

    As I have said, it is essentially nothing to do with you personally, since there are bigger issues at stake than our personal interaction, but you put up the quotes and blog entries on this thread for us to examine and comment on, which we have.

  17. Ummm Steve – you put up the post, I didn’t. You should have added a disclaimer that “Margot can’t post” because of her reformed bias.

    If I turn this around, I could say you are as guilty, as you claim me to be, in that my view is inferior to yours. Quite frankly, all I’m guilty of is leaving one section of Christianity and joining another!

    Now here’s some more of a “biased unloving” Voddie Baucham ….

    “Here’s one of the things that happens. And this is the great irony: it’s almost cult like. On the one hand you can say to a person, ‘You can’t say that because you don’t understand the black community and the black experience.’

    Well, then somebody like myself, or Anthony Carter, or somebody like us, comes out and says, ‘Oh, actually, I agree that there are these problems with T.D. Jakes.’ Then the immediate response is ‘Well, you’re just a sell out. You’re just an Uncle Tom. You’re just trying to curry favour with white people. And the bottom line is that you’re not really black.’

    And, so, that’s what the cults do. [They say:] ‘If you can’t answer my question, it’s because you’re ignorant. If you can answer my question, then I’ll find another way around.’ And that’s why I say it’s Ethnic Gnosticism.

    Baucham went on to explain how cultural filters prevented some in the black community from calling out gross sin, criminal behaviour, and even heresy. Alluding to the claims of James MacDonald, who said that he did not press Jakes further because ‘the issue was not as essential, or because the relationship was not ready’, Baucham then continued:

    “And so, open sin being tolerated in the name of Ethnic Gnosticism, it’s got to be dragged out into the light. If people do things that are racist, they need to be called on it, because it’s sin. But if people do things that are, you know, other areas of sin, they need to be called out on that as well.

    And we can’t say that because of our fear of being accused of the sin of racism, when that’s not our motivation, that we’ll refuse to call out other things. That’s just wrong. That’s just wrong.

    And the idea that our relationship has to be at a certain place before you can call that out, that’s just, that’s just not Bible. And it’s not loving the brother. If you love someone, you have to confront them in their sin. You have to confront them in their error. That’s the height of love.”

  18. margot, I haven’t been following any Elephant Room discussion over at Gripesocks. I won’t be bothering to check your comments either.

    So, have you thought of a response to my questions?

  19. Margot, Baucham again illustrates my point. He is so focused on his own insecurity as an African-American that he can’t see that he is digging his own pot-holes on the way to reconciliation.

    It’s not just about being a reformist. It’s about being insecure in his own self-worth and value as a human being and child of God.

    The reformist issue only highlights the problem. That is why I say to you, for the third time, it is not about you, or our differences. There is a greater issue here, which is unresolved, and which Baucham’s peers, yes from the reformist movements, are increasing by making it an issue of dogma, and not of prejudice and insecurity.

    It is taking me a while to work this out fully, but I am fairly new to the whole saga. It is, as zeibart says, gathering momentum, and is affecting many lives in the US, but it is, so far confined to the US.

    You rather threateningly said it will cross over to Australia in April, presumably meaning when John Piper is there, but I don;t see that, because the issue of racism in the Church is not as deeply entrenched in the Australian church, if it is there at all.

    Which is my other point.

    This is an issue mostly confined to the US. They have serious problems to address. Attacking the charismatic community, as Baucham clearly and publicly is, will not help anyone.

    Did you watch the you tube clip? What do make of what he said. Is he following his own pledge?

  20. Steve,

    “I am able to look at this dispute from a relatively unaffected corner […]”

    Snork!

    “Charismatic Christian brothers who are getting on with the job of preaching the gospel and winning people to Christ […]”

    Yes, just as Jesus said: “Go therefore and make faithful tithers of all the nations”. “Brothers” indeed.

    “It is astonishing condescension and bigotry.”

    That’s right Steve – you are in a “relatively unaffected corner”, but anyone who doesn’t agree with you is a condescending bigot.

    Your neurons just don’t synapse very well at all, do they?

  21. By the way, margot, I always welcome your contribution. You shouldn’t take things so personally.

    I also expect others may want to come in on the discussion and some will agree some won’t. That’s what makes a blog tick.

    These issues, on the face of it, wouldn’t normally be things I’d consider, since it is well out of my stream, but it is relevant to this blog.

    As I said, I am not a Jakes fan (did you miss that earlier?), but he does have a huge following amongst the charismatics ad Pentecostals, even though he’s not what i would consider a pure WoF minister. I don’t really know where he got that tag. Most WoF folk would find his preaching fatalistic. ‘God might put something on you to teach you a lesson!’ Not WoF. More Rick Warren. Closer to Calvin, actually. He is a prosperity preacher, but more Pentecostal holiness than charismatic faith. Not m cup of tea, but he comes up with some genuinely thought-prvoking insights between fatalistic outbursts and is a powerful communicator.

    So, I think blasting the charismatic African-American churches for being charismatic is out of order at this level, and uncalled for.

    He seems like a very nice person and is probably a great teacher in reformed circles, but he is letting his daks show here unfortunately.

  22. Ano flacking away again like a Red Barron out of time. Oh sorry, that should be flaking, shouldn’t it?

    LOL. Talk about snip a sentence here and another there to make a point so totally removed from the original is positively Watchtower! Charles Taze Russell would be beaming to see such artistry if he weren’t stuck in the lower vaults of doomdom.

    Tell me, Ano, do you think Ps Baucham is living up to his own standards of working together with his brethren from the rest of the Body no matter what?

    Is it not condescending (I address an expert in this)… is it not condescending of him to liken fellow African-American Christians from charismatic circles to Muslims?

    Is it not a form of bigotry to attempt to wrest charismatics from their beloved brethren in their joyful churches over into his reformed institutions where they will be trained to become as bigoted as he is about their former brothers and sisters over the road?

    Lord help us! They can’t see it can they?

    Whatever happened to not building on another man’s work?

  23. Steve,

    “As I said, I am not a Jakes fan (did you miss that earlier?), but he does have a huge following amongst the charismatics and Pentecostals […]”

    The result is what matters: this is called “success-worshipping”. It is idolatry. What happened to Israel when David took a census of his fighting men?

    “Not my cup of tea, but he comes up with some genuinely thought-provoking insights between fatalistic outbursts and is a powerful communicator.”

    The charisma of the preacher is what matters, rather than the power of the Holy Spirit: this is called “man-centred”. It is also idolatry.

    “He seems like a very nice person […]”.

    The perceived character of the man is what matters, rather than the revealed character of Christ: once again, “man-centred”.

    “[…] he is letting his daks show here unfortunately.”

    Not true. The emperor has no clothes at all.

  24. Steve,

    “Ano flacking away again like a Red Baron out of time.”

    I copped some flack the other day: someone threw a press agent at me…

    😉

  25. He seems like a very nice person and is probably a great teacher in reformed circles, but he is letting his daks show here unfortunately.

    Ano, that reference was to Baucham! 😀

  26. The heading of this article was ‘Is doctrinal unity possible?’

    I think: No.

    Obviously not.

    Millenia have passed and it has not been achieved. The only time it will be achieved will be at Christ’s return.

    Unity in Christ exists regardless. Recognising Christ in one another, and forgetting the labels can help us know it. And looking at our differences with humility, rather than an attitude of superiority; trusting in His work in one another, rather than our own.

  27. I’ll tell you one thing. The reformists don’t have a clue how to win souls. But why would they? Let’s face it. They think God does it all and we have nothing to do with anything, even though we’re his children!

    So they have completely stuffed up their own opportunity to fire the very questions at Jakes they wanted to in the first session he attended.

    Premature interrogation!

    They didn’t realise the first rule of evangelism. You build a relationship first. You don’t cook a frozen chicken. You thaw it out first!

    Now they’ve criticised their own team for not doing what they didn’t set themselves up to do in the first place, after their own team had quietly and calmly set up the opportunity with jakes on their own terms in their own compound and he willingly showed up, knowing he must face the tough issues eventually.

    ‘You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em!’

    Instead of allowing the team to take it steadily to build a relationship with Jakes the first time around, so the big issues could be faced if they could get him there again, they blabbed their disgust all over the web and sabotaged their own team’s advantage…

    …just like they do in towns and cities up and down the country, where humble yet enthusiastic charismatic, theologically challenged young Christian pastors have planted churches and, over ten or twenty years of hard graft, sacrificial loving, and hours of prayer, have built a great little congregation of a few hundred people, learned far more about the gospel, people and theology along the way through practice in the field than anyone ever learns in seminary, and along comes one of Bauchan’s apprentices, sent out to infect the same church and its faithful members with his theologically opposing reformed message aimed directly at those settled Christians to drag them out of their familiar surroundings into foreign territory to become an enemy to their friends.

    Why, oh why, doesn’t Bauchan, who admitted to this callous approach to sheep stealing, send his apprentices out to plant their own churches instead of poisoning the well of some hard working guy and his wife who will soon be experiencing the pastor’s worse nightmare of a church split, sleepless nights, broken hearts and lost hopes, their children hurt and bewildered by the callous approach of other so-called Christian leaders, and the pain and suffering which comes with all of this.

    It’s a totally godless approach, and deserves the contempt he will give it on the Day!

  28. RP, you’re right; doctrinal unity will be all but impossible to achieve across a globally connected population. BUT, Paul went to considerable lengths to commend his doctrinal points to the churches he set up and not let interlopers come in to twist his preached truth.

    I believe today that we need to have the courage to call out error, warn those in error to recant or face disfellowship. This would be a very painful matter (for both parties – Paul shed tears for the mistakes and errors creeping into his believing communities), and not to be taken lightly at all. Love, however, has the highest aim in sight – to not permit the glory of Jesus to be smudged, trampled on or besmirched in any way. He tackled these issues head on, but with compassion and humility.

  29. “The reformists don’t have a clue how to win souls.”

    George Whitfield and Jonathon Edwards, to name just a few, probably enjoying wonderful fellowship with many right in the heavenly trealms 🙂

  30. I’m sorry, that wasn’t Baucham who was sending his people out into charismatic areas, but Anyabwile, and he is the one who made the pledge to honour all of his brethren in Christ.

    The concept remains however, and an opportunity lost, unless Jakes is much bigger than anyone could imagine and pays a return visit to the Elephant Room.

    But why should he? He has now been given the high ground regardless of what anyone says about his doctrine.

  31. I should add, that the act of disfellowshipping should never come from any place other than intimate knowledge and connection with the problem. It’s all too easy to throw stones and build barriers across the TV studio, internet and media channels which is simply man-made pride, fear and defensiveness.

  32. You’re right about Whitfield and Edwards at least, margot! Were they reformists or calvinists? I think there’s a difference isn’t there?

    But I still think the Elephant Room critics stuffed up.

    Sometimes it’s best to take a deep breath rather than react. Slow to anger, quick to forgive. Isn’t that the way?

  33. “But why should he? He has now been given the high ground regardless of what anyone says about his doctrine.”

    Exactly and therein lies the problem.

    Are you aware that during the ER2, people attending the event, whether live or at satellite churches streaming in, were given a number they could use to text questions to participants. The code access was switched off when T.D. Jakes was on the platform……why?

    Lots of questions, not many answers.

  34. margot,
    Exactly and therein lies the problem.

    Yes, but when building unity across the Body you have to take enormous risks.

    Someone is going to have their nose put out of joint before you can come up smelling roses!

  35. “RP, you’re right; doctrinal unity will be all but impossible to achieve across a globally connected population. BUT, Paul went to considerable lengths to commend his doctrinal points to the churches he set up and not let interlopers come in to twist his preached truth.”

    Yes, he did, and that’s important. But no one will ever reach agreement on which version of the truth is twisted or not.

    Plus Paul was protecting doctrines he received directly from Christ, whereas we are often protecting interpretations of translations and various traditions that have intervened since.

    Intellectual knowledge and understanding is important but can sometimes veer into pride, just as there can be inverted snobbery in the other direction, where intellectual knowledge is demeaned and scorned. It’s important to discuss doctrine from a position of humility.

    People use doctrine as a way of determining whether Christ is in another person or not. Sometimes, that could be valid. Other times, someone might know Christ but still not understand doctrine rightly.

    Anything I say from this point will be interpreted as my version of doctrine, and refuted by others from their version of doctrine.

    Our actions towards one another might be a truer evidence of Christ in our lives, rather than our arguments about doctrinal issues. Yet neither our behaviour nor our arguments save us.

  36. Bravo for Jakes being invited. Bravo on Jakes accepting the invitation. Hope they had dinner afterwards and talked about their kids n stuff like that too.

  37. Can’t wait for the next couple of Elephant Rooms. Tentatively called why I love Rob Bell, John Spong and the Pope.

  38. The challenge: To explain the doctrine of the Trinity in simple layman terms everyone can understand.

    I dont think anyone can simply and clearly explain the doctrine of the trinity for the layman. In a sense that is part of its purpose – it cannot be explained, it is a mystery. It is a mathematical contradiction that stops our minds from thinking if we try to contemplate it. And that is a good thing because our minds cannot conceive of the entire nature of God. Especially not with our limited languages which constrain our thinking.

    The history of the doctrine of the trinity has always been contentious. Many bishops at the Council of Nicene did not agree with it, but it was pushed though by the political skill of Constantine. Nevertheless many council members expressed regret after the decision was made.

    So I cant understand why people make the doctrine of the trinity some sort of watershed for determining if you are a heretic or not. Does it really matter if God came in three manifestations rather than three persons? The point is we cant fully understand what either of those things mean, so it dosent really matter which we believe.

    The blogs which go on about Jake’s so called modalism are very strange. They seem to think his alleged doctrinal transgressions are worse than his actual sins. He is an outright health-wealth blab-it and grab-it scammer. Preying on the poorer black communities.

    That is what they should be concentrating on – not this angels-on-a-pinhead crap.

  39. How about trying to explain the Christian faith so it makes sense. Here’s one attempt, courtesy Urban Dictionary:

    “The belief that a cosmic Jewish zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree”

  40. You’re dead right, Wazza. Definite prosperity scammer (as in the only one getting prosperous is TD Jakes).

    I’m sure other scam merchants like Kenneth Copeland are Trinitarian as well.

    Why the importance of his Trinitarian beliefs when Catholics will always be seen as ‘unsaved’ by this mob?

  41. “The blogs which go on about Jake’s so called modalism are very strange. They seem to think his alleged doctrinal transgressions are worse than his actual sins. He is an outright health-wealth blab-it and grab-it scammer. Preying on the poorer black communities. ”

    Yes, I agree.

    But they would also say that when prosperity churches get Jakes to preach, it shows they are after money and don’t care about the dubious modalist theology; which is a swipe at both their focus on money and their dodgy teaching all in one – money is more important that theology.

  42. The prosperity doctrine may be debatable, but what people like Jakes and Dollar and the like do in some of the poorest communities is raise aspirational hopes for people who might otherwise remain indefinitely on welfare, and youth who would otherwise enter a spiral of crime and violence, considered hopeless by those who are wealthy, the untouchables of a nation geared to ambition and financial and social elevation.

    And they don’t only focus on prosperity. That is what critics show in their YouTube snippets of ‘evidence’. They cover a far broader range of issues. They preach for people to be able to overcome their lot in life. Precious few other people do this much for them. And many have been able to drag themselves up to a more dignified life.

    I agree with wazza on the vanity of the focus being on doctrine of the Trinity when it should be on other issues if any. But let’s not lose sight of the reason men like these have such a huge following. They preach hope to poor people, ad deliverance to suppressed. Their peaceful revolution of faith is gradually bringing people out of despair, violence, crime and hatred.

  43. ”Hey guys, theology is bullshit, It’s for people without the intellectual capacity to understand science.”

    LOL it’s vacuous statements like that which make all those really intellectual scientists (and their fans such as David) do constant u-turns as their theories are shown to be either unsupportable or subsequently discredited. You need more faith reading Hawkins than the bible, most of which is 100% verifiable history (the remainder being prophecy yet to be fulfilled).

    But thanks for making me smile.

  44. ”The prosperity doctrine may be debatable, but what people like Jakes and Dollar and the like do in some of the poorest communities is raise aspirational hopes for people who might otherwise remain indefinitely on welfare”

    Steve, be prepared to go down in a blaze of glory on this. You can’t honestly say that placing tantalising material false doctrines in front of the poor is a creditable activity worthy of commendation. The gospel is sufficient to provide real hope and fire in the bellies of these folk, not the idea that ‘sowing’ into a preacher’s ministry will bring the removal of their poverty – especially in the USA where that message is most ripe. No, it’s criminal, and talking of which, hasn’t Dollar been investigated for tax irregularities?

    They couldn’t preach their message in, say, the Congo and be driving a Mercedes to the meeting, but somehow no-one questions it in the US (or West in general).

  45. Wow, Steve takes Creflo Dollar and TD Jakes and their shameless self aggrandisement (How God blessed me by giving me your money or You need more treasure) and their anti-gospel message and turns them into Martin Luther King.

    I do believe the message of We Shall Overcome predated the Prosperity Movement.

  46. I live in a predominantly Afro-Brit Christian area in one of the poorest areas of London, and there are more Audis, Mercedes and BMWs per capita than I ever saw in Sydney, Perth or Melbourne. So please stop trying to decry the message when it is obviously having a positive affect on so many.

  47. Zeibart, I’ve said this before. Prosperity teachers are big on tithing to get the blessing of God, but will kick and squeal when the government asks for their taxes.

    It’s quite a lucrative business in the US because ministries don’t pay tax which is why individuals like Meyer have been investigated.

  48. I suppose the stats that show that Pentecostal Christianity is the poorest of all religions is wrong as well.

    (Including the Fat Cats)

  49. ”So please stop trying to decry the message when it is obviously having a positive affect on so many.”

    So, Steve, you know that the blessing of God has poured forth upon the generous folks of Brixton, Lambeth etc to give them an income to support expensive German cars? I can suggest several alternative income streams that would be more likely to provide the wealth you see (but I don’t want to appear cynical).

    If these Merc-driving folk were indeed Christians, perhaps they would be spending their money trying to help alleviate the obvious poverty in their neighbourhood rather than flash some bling rims around town. But, I see your point – if these cars were the product of prosperity gospel pyramid sales, then you have to display the goods to show others how blessed you are. There is no purpose to a wealth-creation gospel if there’s no material gain to show how ‘faithful’ you’ve been.

    Come off it, Steve, the Titanic had fewer holes in it than your support for this ‘gospel’.

  50. I was just stirring you up! LOL! Well it could be cheap European imported second hand cars! 😉 Who knows, but I see them up and down Tottenham Hale and wonder. Most of us use the bus or tube.

    I meet Afro-British believers everywhere. They include a huge body of Pentecostal believers and would consider Bones doctrine so liberal they’d have to preach the gospel to try to get him saved, and wonder why folk like you are so keen to pull down your brothers and sisters for their doctrine of hard work, giving mentality, desire to bless others and full-gospel approach to life.

    And they are bold with the gospel, not ashamed to discuss the Word with anyone, and always ready to praise God, burst into worship, or give God the glory for something good.

    Now you infer that the good people here could only possibly be reaching their aspirations through criminal activities. That is cynical.

    I can tell you this, these precious people are one of the reasons Christianity is beginning to revive in London. Churches are experiencing increase. There are key influences.

    Holy Trinity Brompton is one, with the Alpha Course reaping a harvest. Kensington Temple (Elim) is powering across the city, and has a huge Nigerian congregation, Hillsong, of course, is thriving through worship. The African churches, mostly Pentecostal, but now, in this area, including all evangelical denominations, and even Anglicans, with churches Pastored by African vicars with African congregations. The African Anglicans are the most evangelical of all, apart from the Sydney Anglicans, and have a large following here.

    The Africans wonder why the British are so backslidden or reserved in their faith. Why they don’t go to church any more. They see a nation in need of the gospel. They see people who have deserted Jesus.

    These are faith people, who love the faith message. You criticise and demonise the preachers who bring hope, and surmise that those who get out of poverty into prosperity could only do so through illegal means. It couldn’t possibly be because these people are good givers, hard workers, open hearted to Jesus, and they love God and are blessed by Him because they know how to give him glory.

    Bones thinks this message of hope caused the GFC. Now you think crime pays better than faith! LOL! 😀

  51. Bones thinks this message of hope caused the GFC. Now you think crime pays better than faith! LOL!

    lol at you Steve. It’s obvious that your tenuous defence of skullduggery by your fellow pastors is limited to misrepresenting the arguments of others.

    Why do yoiu keep bringing Evangelical Churches in to back up your argument? I would be very surprised if any of them, (as most of them read their Bibles) would see prosperity teaching as anything other than the cynical manipulations of greedy pastors. The pastors are pasteuring themselves on their sheep.

  52. John Stott in the Cross of Christ

    The Biblical vision of suffering service has been largely eclipsed in our day by the unbiblical ‘prosperity doctrine’ (which guarantees personal success) and triumphalist notions of mission (which employ military metaphors that do not comfortably fit the humble image of the suffering servant). By contrast, Paul dared to write in Corinthians, ‘so then, death is at work but life is at work in you’. (2 Cor 4:12) The Cross lies at the heart of mission.

  53. Try again

    Without the typing error

    John Stott in the Cross of Christ

    The Biblical vision of suffering service has been largely eclipsed in our day by the unbiblical ‘prosperity doctrine’ (which guarantees personal success) and triumphalist notions of mission (which employ military metaphors that do not comfortably fit the humble image of the suffering servant). By contrast, Paul dared to write in Corinthians, ‘so then, death is at work in us but life is at work in you’. (2 Cor 4:12) The Cross lies at the heart of mission.

    p336f

  54. I’ll say it again. I think it’s fantastic that Driscoll and Jakes can be in the same room. And be civil and nice, and non-hateful and all that.

    So many people these days like to think they are John the Baptist, Paul, and a few OT prophets all rolled into one.
    Except they have better stuff to eat than locusts, have nicer clothes, and are so busy bashing everyone that they don’t have time to pray.

  55. Bones. I am telling you that Jakes is very popular amongst the Afro-Brit community, which is very Christian, and not only the Pentecostals.

    Jakes has a huge, multi-million dollar project on the go for the poor areas of his city right now. A development involving an investment of $123 million which will bring jobs, low cost housing, a school, recreation areas and other benefits to his local community.

    That, to me, speaks of the power of wealth distribution in a poor district. You can’t do things on this scale without influence, finance and the ability to drive the projects. He is a self-made entrepreneurial businessman who started from the bottom and worked his way up until he doesn’t need an income from the church. He has made smart choices and is reaping the benefits. Others have also benefitted along the way. Your view is purely cynicism.

  56. Out of interest. Have any of those here who oppose prosperity teaching ever considered the millions reaped by publishers of the Bible? Have you ever considered where the profits go?

    Thomas Nelson seems to put back quite a lot into missions projects. Where the vast majority of profits go is unclear on their website, and I don’t hear anyone asking. I would like to know if they retain the vast majority of the profit they make from publishing the Lord’s Book or release it into the community to bring relief to the poor and help build the church.

    Or are they a prosperity organisation.

    Zondervan is a subsidiary of News Corp. I could not say where they are financially, whether they are solely a profit making prosperity organisation, or use the wealth from the Lord’s Note Book to redestribute into the community.

    From News Corp website:
    http://www.newscorp.com/operations/books.html

    HarperCollins is one of the world’s pre-eminent English-language book publishers, headquartered in New York.

    The house of Mark Twain, the Brontë sisters, Thackeray, Dickens, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Maurice Sendak, and Shel Silverstein was founded in 1817 by the brothers James & John Harper. News Corp. formed its global book group with its 1990 acquisition of British publisher William Collins & Sons. Founded in 1819, William Collins & Sons published a range of Bibles, atlases, dictionaries, and reissued classics, expanding over the years to include legendary authors such as H. G. Wells, Agatha Christie, J. R. R. Tolkien, and C. S. Lewis.

    HarperCollins has publishing groups in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia/New Zealand, and India. Consistently at the forefront of innovation and technological advancement, HarperCollins was the first publisher to digitize its content and create a global digital warehouse to protect the rights of its authors.

    HarperCollins Publishers
    Australia
    Canada
    Children’s Books
    India
    New Zealand
    United States
    United Kingdom
    Zondervan

    Does anyone here consider it good or bad to be this profitable with the Word of God?

  57. Bones,
    It’s obvious that your tenuous defence of skullduggery by your fellow pastors is limited to misrepresenting the arguments of others.

    In fact I was responding to your claim that prosperity doctrine caused the financial crisis, and zeibart’s hinted assumption that North London Afro-Brits could only drive a decent car if they were involved in criminal activities.

    I think I did well to refrain from anything stronger than a measured refutation accompanied with a LOL! 🙂

  58. That’s a reasonable question, Steve.

    Has anyone ever wondered why they keep bringing out new English translations of the bible, study bibles, and so forth, when there are probably already hundreds of English versions? Is it only because they feel it matters that much to correct the translation, or add new comments re theology?

    Maybe it has more to do with the publishing industry, and the bible being a best seller. It’s big business.

    Are there as many non-English versions being produced for poor countries?

    *******

    I don’t think its good or bad to be profitable with publishing the Bible. It depends on the circumstances. If your business is publishing, you have to be profitable to stay in business.

    But many bibles are given away for free, by groups like Gideons and so forth, or are funded by believers.

    I don’t see how the example of a secular organisation profiting from selling bibles supports ‘prosperity doctrine’. They are producing a product and selling it at a market price, as a business. It is what businesses always do, and they are not a church. They are not telling people they have to give money so that God will answer their prayers/bless their business, or whatever.

  59. In fact I was responding to your claim that prosperity doctrine caused the financial crisis, and zeibart’s hinted assumption that North London Afro-Brits could only drive a decent car if they were involved in criminal activities.

    I think I did well to refrain from anything stronger than a measured refutation accompanied with a LOL!

    I didn’t get that from what Zeibart wrote. More that there are legitamate ways of getting wealthy Steve. Like hard work, wise investments even endowments and Lotto winnings. Not ripping people off by pimping the Gospel.

    For the third time I will repost what I wrote in the Prosperity and GFC Thread

    I think it’s fair to say prosperity teachers had a low, maybe insignificant, impact OVER ALL.

  60. And I’m all for finding common ground as Christians. My brother’s a Catholic priest, a Trinitarian and a man who clearly loves God. Yet will be seen as unsaved no doubt by members of the Elephant Room.

    If only there could be a mature discussion with the great Christian traditions.

  61. That’s not my brother btw. John Riccardo is very fine Catholic priest. I’ve even used his messages in Pentecostal churches!!

  62. I think as Bones said, we should probably define Prosperity teaching/theology/doctrine.

    And then even if you decide that you disagree with prosperity doctrine as you define it, at least realize that maybe you can be a sincere Christian who loves God, who does a lot of good things – but needs modification to one of your doctrines.

    We seem to always want to paint someone as all bad because of one thing.

  63. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth”

    But what does that mean in all practicality?

    I know plenty of anti-prosperity doctrine people who have pretty large treasure stores.

    Do you think there’s a chance that what really bugs some people about all this is that they hate the fact that while they work hard, there’s a minister out there with more money? Is it really righteous anger, or concern for the poor getting ripped off, or jealousy.

    Just askin.

    btw, could it be that the only thing everyone as agreed on was that it was sad that Steve Jobs died and that he was one clever Dude?

    PS Should I go buy an iPad? Or, you know, claim and confess for one…? 🙂

  64. Yeah, I know SM. Jesus was just joshin.

    Just another one of those things that Jesus talks about and we don’t listen to.

    Unless you’re poor or a Num or a monk. Come to think of it St Francis of Assissi took Jesus more seriously than most modern believers.

    But he was Catholic.

    Too bad for him, hey.

    Now show me those anti-gay verses again. Those I can take seriously.

  65. @Steve,

    “You can’t do things on this scale without influence, finance and the ability to drive the projects.”

    No, and it’s doubtless also true that eight months wages wouldn’t be enough to give multitudes of people so much as even a single bite of food.

    Did you know that His ways are not our ways, and that His thoughts are not our thoughts?

  66. RP, business is business. News Corp is a business out to make a profit. Profiting from God’s Word seems controversial to me, but I’ll accept the premise that business is business even with the Bible.

    I understand that Jakes has made his money mostly from business entrepreneurialism, including selling some highly successful books, some of which are best sellers. Do you feel the same about his business? Do you know how much he is channelling back into the poor areas of his city compared to Zondervan? I don’t, but preparing multimillion dollar projects to lift the area seems to be a positive move in the right direction.

  67. I know several highly successful businessmen who live in nice houses in good areas, who have made a huge contribution both to their nation, community and to the Church, and are incredibly generous towards charities, usually chairing a specific charity they are involved in because of their business and entrepreneurial acumen.

    These are Christian men, people who don’t just look at improvement on a small scale, but have the ability and influence to bring nation and city building projects into being, from conception to completion.

    They’re the sort of people to fly into a trouble spot where the poor are wretched and talk to government officials about how to restructure and bring lasting change. They do exist. They are at work around us today. Their wealth does not have them. They make it work for the kingdom and they are brilliant people.

    This is bringing kingdom principles into poor areas and producing change. I believe that is as much what Jesus was talking about when he said store up treasures in heaven as having no way of bringing change.

    In fact poverty vows are completely the opposite. They deny the empowering grace placed in a man to influence change. They eliminate liberality of soul. They place the focus on the individual’s piety rather than on the grace of God existent in them to produce change for those who nothing and are powerless until equipped by those with the visionary skills and grace to bring about recovery.

  68. I guess it coms down to what kind of talent the Master of the House has given you to work with, and whether you multiply it or bury it in the sand.

  69. “I understand that Jakes has made his money mostly from business entrepreneurialism […]”.

    Ah yes, a member of that amazing new age breed: the polymath pastor. They’re not just pastors any more, are they? They’re “Presidents”, “CEOs”, “leaders”, “motivational speakers”, “business coaches”, “authors”, even “entertainers” (I kid you not, there is a pastor actually described as such on the web).

    Lets face it: if your skills fit on an A4 page, you’re just not trying hard enough, are you? What are we to make then, of that pathetic plebeian, poor old Paul? He was “the chief of sinners” and “the least of the apostles” – someone who obviously missed out on God’s best for his life. I mean, come on – how much cachet is conferred by labouring as a tent maker? Maybe he would have done better if he’d had someone like Joel Osteen to emulate, or perhaps he could have used an image consultant. Perhaps he should have prayed over his tents and marketed them as being “anointed”, or maybe he could have charged for the epistles he wrote – there was an absolute motza waiting to be made, if only he’d been a little smarter.

  70. “In fact poverty vows are completely the opposite.”

    We all know what poverty vows are: they are a straw man, and a pathetically poor one at that.

  71. I guess it coms down to what kind of talent the Master of the House has given you to work with, and whether you multiply it or bury it in the sand

    Or give it to your pastor.

    Of course what Jesus was saying here is about giving to the Church isn’t it. No He wasn’t.

    As per usual you scout around the issue not wanting to comment on the actual ethics or theology of the prosperity doctrine.

    Ronald McDonald’s House does a great job for the community. But their capital is not based on dishonesty although you could argue their food put them there.

    You seem keen to put every rich person into the prosperity teaching camp to try and justify a teaching which has no historical or apostolic basis, contradicts scripture and is a byproduct of a me centred Western society.

  72. Well, no, Ano, if you’ve been following he conversation, Bones brought up poverty vows when he raised the examples of nuns, monks and Francis of Assisi. If it is a strawman it s not mine.

    Are you saying church leaders shouldn’t be entrepreneurial, or have business acumen, or have excellent administrative skills, or a background in successful leadership of some kind?

    Are you saying they shouldn’t have visionary skills, financial wisdom or executive level management ability?

  73. What it boils down to is this: there is one true Gospel, and there are many false gospels – of which the prosperity gospel is one.

    Anyone who defends a false gospel – including the prosperity gospel – can only do so because they simply do not understand what the true Gospel is.

  74. Bones. Where did I say anything about the talent being about giving to the church? I didn’t. I didn’t even imply it. You shifted the argument to suit your own.

    The talent is given to each to be utilised to build the Master’s Household, which is the kingdom.

    And you keep on attributing things to me which are not either true or a part of the discussion. You are completely ignoring some relevant facts.

    The people I refer to are involved in churches which teach prosperity, and are living it out amongst the community.

    You seem to think they do not exist.

    You have a warped idea of what prosperity teaching is.

    Study the talents and see what Jesus is saying.

  75. “Are you saying church leaders shouldn’t be entrepreneurial, or have business acumen, or have excellent administrative skills, or a background in successful leadership of some kind?

    Are you saying they shouldn’t have visionary skills, financial wisdom or executive level management ability?”

    What they should have – and what they are so clearly lacking – is the Holy Spirit.

  76. “What it boils down to, Ano, is that you are critical of things you have no understanding of.”

    Did God reveal that to you, or is that your own idea?

  77. Steve you should be in politics.

    Do you not think that there are successful business people in Anglican, Catholic, Reformed churches who have excellent administrative, visionary, financial and executive management skills.

    That has nothing to do with it.

    Their capital did not come sponging off their own people.

  78. Christian business men and women who work hard and apply ethical means of generating wealth so that they can be generous towards their poorer fellow believer are exactly what the Kingdom of God is about. Notice they can do many excellent and God-glorifying activities without a church involved, if necessary.

    But that has no connection with the prosperity gospel, which is an entirely different concept. To extract money from fellow believers under the guise that they will be blessed back 100-fold (or such like), especially using tithing as a means to gain finances for the church coffers, is not scripturally supportable.

  79. ”I live in a predominantly Afro-Brit Christian area in one of the poorest areas of London, and there are more Audis, Mercedes and BMWs per capita than I ever saw in Sydney, Perth or Melbourne. So please stop trying to decry the message when it is obviously having a positive affect on so many.”

    Pity you have run out of ideas Steve and resort to ‘stirring up”. Your comment above, which I assume is the stirring comment, looks pretty reasonable to me and is a fair snapshot of Tottenham Court Road, or wherever you reside. I wasn’t being derogatory, merely linking your car observation (which I assumed was genuine and comes across that way) with the prosperity doctrine you seem to defend in respect of your local community. I have no doubt that expensive cars being driven by all creeds and colours are bought by both fair means and foul, but if they are owned by those gaining wealth from the donations of others on the back of prosperity preaching, then they will be under God’s judgement, not mine.

  80. In the spirit of the Elephant Room, perhaps each poster who contributes here should fess up to an aspect of their belief structure which is, shall we say, less than Westminster Confession orthodox, but still scripturally tenable in their eyes (a la Jakes). It might be quite illuminating and stretch the boundaries of fellowship to find out what we all hold to.

    Before that there should be a list of salvation ‘essentials’ that all agree to as an initial start point. Perhaps those with posting rights could put up the barest statement of required faith to be counted as a child of God and worthy of being resurrected before moving into such waters.

  81. Actually Bones, I was seriously asking. “Storing up treasures”. It could be argued by some that lots of western Christians with a house worth hundreds of thousands and and bank account with tens or hundreds of thousands cash has a store of treasures on earth, and there are plenty of them around who don’t like “prosperity” theology.

    “the prosperity gospel, which is an entirely different concept. To extract money from fellow believers under the guise that they will be blessed back 100-fold (or such like)”

    See here’s the point. If that is an example of “prosperity teaching”, I’d say that Steve doesn’t tell people to give, and promise they will get back 100 fold. I think you’re picking the worst examples.

    The discussion is probably fruitless because we’re all arguing past each other. So, if it will help I’ll gladly say that I don’t believe in “prosperity theology” given the way it seems to be defined here.

  82. Bones, I obviously don’t think we need to become nuns and priests. But – the ones I know aren’t really living a poor lifestyle at all!! They have nice places to live, cars, life time support. Doing pretty well actually.

    I also have no problem with Francis of Assisi. I’ve said that before too. The irony is Bones, that you are probably living high on the hog in beautiful Australia and I gave up the sunshine and comforts of home. So, you barking up the wrong tree.

    And if you want to swap assets…..let’s do it!

    Like I’ve said, i can live out of a suitcase, buy cars as cheaply as possible, eat cheaply, and probably can live on what you spend on dining out, while you play John the Baptist on your computer in the leafy suburbs somewhere…

    Tis funny. Personally, the people I know who rant and rave against prosperity are living it up on Daddies or their spouses money.
    Very ironic. Maybe they can afford to be critical?

  83. Man, there are so many angry people around here. It’s like Hillsong, C3, and other charismatic churches can do no good at all.

  84. Taboo words, or red rag words – Hillsong, C3, charismatic, prosperity, mega church, success… any others?

  85. SM, maybe I should have quoted the whole of Matthew 6:19-21

    “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust
    destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

    We are doing that SM. I have a feeling that those of us in the West will have some explaining to do when we see Him face to face.

    Me included.

    Got your excuses ready.

  86. Taboo words, or red rag words – Hillsong, C3, charismatic, prosperity, mega church, success… any others?

    Emergent, gay, lesbian, scientific evidence, liberal, evolution, doubt, rational.

  87. “Got your excuses ready.”

    Don’t need any Bud. I have no treasure, and I’m not interested in it.

    “Emergent, gay, lesbian, scientific evidence, liberal, evolution, doubt, rational.”

    Good one.

  88. Btw, there’s an interesting article in Charisma Today by Lee Grady
    about Avoiding the Holy Spirit Smackdown” re slain in the spirit etc.

    Interesting perspective from an insider,

  89. ”Man, there are so many angry people around here.”

    Please don’t include me in that statement SM.. I’m as happy as Larry (without all the trappings of the material world, but I do love where I live).

    1 Tim 6:6-7 speaks of godliness and contentment in our financial circumstances as great gain. Paul was peaceful with much and in lack. If I heard Jesus say, as he did to the rich young ruler, to sell all I had and follow him, I hope that I would obey. If I didn’t, the world would still have a vice-like grip on my heart.

  90. Zeibart

    1 Tim 6: 6,7 need to be remembered, but also vss 8,9 and 10.

    Actually, I hardly know anyone who cold easily sell everything they have- regardless of their thoughts on “prosperity”.

  91. SM, and when verses 8. 9. and 10 are written because the gospel is being exploited for financial gain, how tragic is that?

    I do believe we could sell all quite easily if we were committed, I don’t think Jesus’s words here are any more than a test to see whether he or mammon had the supremacy in the man’s heart, but it could be taken literally I suppose.

  92. Let’s not forget verse 5: people who have been robbed of the truth and think that godliness is a means to financial gain.

    Sums it all up.

  93. Bones, your version of the prosperity gospel is ugly and perverted. It looks for the worse in people not the best. It makes merchandise of good intentions and dashes hopes.

    Somewhere in your thinking you believe that all teaching on God’s people being blessed or prospering is wicked, evil and dangerous.

    No matter what I have said to demonstrate incidences where people’s best intentions are not personal riches or fame but the extension of the kingdom of God you have continued your onslaught of anger against things which I have never stood for, taught or coveted.

    In vain I have tried to share with you what I see as good in people you have chosen to crush with your words and dismiss as irrelevant to God’s will and purposes. You see no good at all in Jakes. He is a monster to you. He has no compassion, grace or gifting. He has no desire to bring hope to people or show them how to drag themselves off the floor into God’s sufficiency for their lives.

    Everything has depressingly come back to tithing error, or excess, or self-serving bad examples.

    You have said nothing about any good thing I have located, even for Jakes, who is pioneering a $123,000,000 building project to raise the dignity of poor people in his community, providing jibs, housing, facilities a school and infrastructure which will improve the lifestyle of hundreds of people presently suffering. You said nothing. You didn’t even bother to research it. You bypassed this initiative and continued to slate Jakes and other preachers who simply know how to make money work for good, and have no insecurity about using it for the kingdom, and are not afraid of the challenge of handling larger resources, packages, talents opportunities when they are presented, because they kn ow their mission, and their mission is kingdom building which involves nation building.

    You insult the people I have presented as examples men and women who do believe in the balanced teaching on prosperity and have the knowhow, resources, time, will and desire to assist people who are struggling to get up, because they can see in a few minutes what we, who are not so entrepreneurially wired could not see in a lifetime. They are the people who can organise huge teams to go into a place and bring dynamic change. They exist. They are Christians. Many I know are Pentecostals. Most understand and live by principles of the bible which include prosperity.

    Like Ano, you don;t have a clue what I am actually talking about when I discuss the merits of prosperity. Zeibart has at least grasped it. So has SM. The majority of Australians live in it and half of them don’t know it. They have never seen poverty or lack. Wazza knows what I’m talking about, but he’s been blessed to be brought out of it by faithful, loving parents, as many of us can testify to.

    As someone said, there are many people criticising prosperity teaching who are living in it and do so from the comfort of their own prosperous lifestyle n a wonderfully prosperous nation, instead of waking up every day and being thankful to God for their own wellbeing, prosperity and the grace God as poured out on them to be allowed to live in such a free and wealthy nation.

    Maybe I’ll look into producing something of what a balanced outlook is towards what God says about his people prospering, and being blessed, and having heir needs met, and not even having to worry about being looked after, and being contented whether they are abounding or abased, sometimes suffering, other times living the abundant life Jesus promised, and being filled with Him, all at the same time, with persecutions!!! 😀

  94. Bones,
    Sums it all up.

    Well, no it doesn’t. It doesn’t sum anything up except that there are people in this world who are interested only in making their own fortune for themselves and give nothing to others.

    That doesn’t characterise the people who I have brought before you, who have dedicated their lives to helping others, and who just happen to be good at using money to resource projects which bring about improvement to society.

    I understand your dismay at some of them who also like to live in nice houses and drive nice cars, but that is a side issue if they are bringing joy and blessing with hope and encouragement to thousands of others through their gifts and abilities.

  95. Bones, some final thoughts.

    Adam and Eve had everything they wanted. There were many rich men in the Old Testament. God promised physical, financial blessings often. We read often about those who were blessed financially. It’s all there.

    The bible speaks about not trusting in riches, about the evil of not sharing resources. In certain situations, people gave away all they had – but they were very few. Jesus didn’t tell everyone to give away everything they had, and neither did Paul. Often the rich in Jesus day got that way through wrong methods – hence they were despised by the people too. (tax-collecters etc)

    It’s NORMAL for humans to be happier rather than sad if they increase financially. Most governments welcome it. iow Prosperity is a good thing! – unless it turns our hearts from God, and unless we enjoy it and ignore the poor in our midst.

    Unfortunately certain sections of Christianity glamorized poverty. Too many Christians of different races and cultures believe that poverty and their state in life was unchangeable and the will of God, I believe that was and is error.

    Among those who talk about prosperity, some have gone too far the other way. But that’s a matter of degree. What you consider having too much will be different to mine, or your Uncles or whatever. Some Christians probably think it’s wrong to have air-conditioning in a church, where others think it’s crazy to not have it.
    It’s all relative.

    I think tithing is a good idea. I hate preachers telling people they will be cursed if they don’t.
    I believe it’s good and okay to give – to the poor, to the red cross, to your local church, and it’s great to “shout” people when you go out. In short, to have a “giving” mentality. I think it’s great to give, just because you love people. If you love God, people and are filled with the Holy Spirit, giving will be natural. And you do it without expecting return. But I also think it’s definitely okay to give, and believe that God will bless you in return.

    I dislike as much as you a preacher telling people that if they give 1000 dollars now, that they will pray a special blessing that God will return in 100 fold by the end of the year. (Yes, I’ve seen that.)

    But, in the end, there was no gun at their heads. Some people are charlatans, others are just overboard. But there will always be exaggerations. But, sometimes people need to see an exaggerated form of something in order to get out of their worldview.

    I think drinking alcohol is okay. But sometimes Christians wanting to prove their freedom in Christ start drinking like a fish.

    I really think you have looked at all the worst examples.

    If the prosperity teaching in Africa means that some people don’t work and just expect money to fall out of the sky, or hustle people for money, then it’s a bad thing. But if it means that people give, work, have a dream, then you will see Christians rising in standard of living in decades.

    As a general principle, I believe that a Christian can give and believe that God will bless their job, career and business AS THEY DILLIGENTLY go about what God has called them to do.

    Instead of attacking prosperity people, do a word search on prosper, increase, abundance, in the Bible.

    And yes, if Jakes influence means that more blacks in the US wear 3 piece suits and drive nicer cars, thats better than if he started to marry and ordain gays in his church. If you disagree with that statement and their is a theological gulf between us that I’m not interested in narrowing. Peace.

  96. The reason many of us attack prosperity teaching is that we’ve sat in the sermons where people have been told to give so they can get; we’ve heard people told that this offering could be the one that God blesses with their hearts desire; we’ve sat there and been told that our finances can’t be blessed unless we tithe.

    My ex-church used to not teach these things – and it was charismatic – and then, it changed and did teach all these things, even getting in guest speakers from C3OF to reinforce the message. The senior pastor would sit at the front saying Amen to everything.

    This is the prosperity doctrine we’ve been taught. This is the doctrine that people object to, and that hurts people we know. It is manipulative and abusive.

    It may not be taught in every Pente church – and that would be a relief. However, it is widespread. Maybe not in your experience, SM, but certainly in mine. To the point where people whispered, if they disagreed with it.

    New Testament giving is about giving freely, cheerfully and generously. Out of love. Nobody objects to this teaching. Refuting ‘prosperity doctrine’ isn’t about stopping one’s giving. Neither is it about making a poverty vow. We’ve got examples of wealthy people in scripture who were a blessing to those around them and an important part of their community.

  97. Steve,

    “[Bones has] said nothing about any good thing I have located, even for Jakes, who is pioneering a $123,000,000 building project to raise the dignity of poor people in his community, providing jobs, housing, facilities a school and infrastructure which will improve the lifestyle of hundreds of people presently suffering.”

    Ah yes, that good old standby, “righteous acts”. I know what a righteous act worth is in God’s sight, Steve. Surely you must know also? Man judges by the external appearance, God looks at the heart. Stop judging by mere appearances and make a right judgement.

    I don’t care if Jakes feeds every hungry person in the world: if he preaches a different gospel, he will be condemned in the judgement. A man is not saved by good works, he is saved by faith in Christ – and he has no faith who fleeces God’s faithful to line his own pockets.

    “Somewhere in [Bones’] thinking [he] believe[s] that all teaching on God’s people being blessed or prospering is wicked, evil and dangerous.”

    Make no mistake, the prosperity doctrine is indeed wicked, evil and dangerous. Those who receive it will find themselves sorely disappointed, at best. Those who preach it will be judged most severely.

  98. “So you don’t think God ever says that his people will be blessed or prosper?”

    Are you assuming that Jakes is one of His people? Because I certainly don’t.

  99. Jesus: ‘I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich!’ (Rev 2:9)

    Poverty or prosperity – it’s all a matter of perspective….His.

  100. In other words, someone can find a cure for every disease known and save the world, but if she doesn’t have the right neurological belief formation she’ll be condemned to eternal punishment.

    It doesn’t matter what you do, it’s what you believe that counts.

    [moderated comment]

    David, please don’t use obscene language on threads I author.

  101. ”… and their is a theological gulf between us…”

    Should have been “THEN THERE is ”

    Man, I used to be able to communicate in English before the internet came around….

  102. RP, yeah I understand. And like I said, I have too.

    But I’ve heard so many silly things in church that I’ve lost count.

    Been through “double tithing”, if you don’t dance in the next song you’re not liberated, if you don’t come out during the next verse of this song it will be too late, leg lengthening, no need to worry about the environment cos we won’t be here in 20 years (said in 1980), Stan Deyo, microphones in hell, people going to heaven and hearing that there will be no year 2000″.

    Now that would be an interesting post here one time – crazy things you heard or saw in church.

    Believe it or not, I’ve even seen a woman screaming and making weird moves….”giving birth to a new ministry”.

    Yeah, I’ve seen the worst of prosperity teachers. Worst was the one who told people that they would be blessed 100 fold by the end of the year under a special anointing
    and were encouraged with testimonies of people who did so and were blessed with 5 bathroom houses.

    Extreme examples don’t determine my theology though.
    Otherwise I wouldn’t believe in anything.

  103. SOME THOUGHTS ON UNITY FROM FRANK VIOLA

    http://frankviola.org/2011/05/06/rethinking-christian-unity/

    Rethinking Christian Unity

    Rachel Held Evans kindly asked me to participate in her “Rally to Restore Unity.”

    What follows is my contribution.

    One of my favorite stories is about the great evangelist D.L. Moody when he attended an “Exclusive” Plymouth Brethren convention.

    The conference hosts had put up a large banner in the conference room which read, JESUS ONLY.

    After one of the sessions ended, someone left the door open. While the conference attendees were sleeping, a wind blew into the doorway and knocked part of the banner down. The following morning, when everyone walked into the conference room, the sign read, US ONLY. The part of the banner that had the letters JES had been torn down.

    A Divine rebuke with a hint of humor sprinkled in.

    US ONLY was the message the Exclusive Plymouth Brethren were unwittingly sending to the world.

    I have often said that sectarianism, elitism, and exclusiveness are like body odor. Everyone else can smell it except those who have it.

    One of the hallmarks of Jesus’ character is His radical inclusivity. When Jesus walked this earth, He despised the spirit of separatism, elitism, and self-righteousness (Mark 9:38-40). And He still does today (Hebrews 13:8, NKJV).

    Augustine’s famous line still holds true: “In essential, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

    These essentials of the faith embody what C. S. Lewis called Mere Christianity—“the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times.” (An earlier version of the same idea was put forth by Vincent of Lerins: “Christianity is what has been held always, everywhere, and by all.”)

    In this post, I’d like to make a few observations about the “non-essentials.”

    To put it in a sentence: If the perfect interpretation of the Bible were the standard for Christian fellowship, then I would have had to disfellowship myself twenty years ago! I’m still learning, thank God, and my interpretations of Scripture are maturing. None of us has a corner on the truth. And if a person thinks they do, they’re deluded. In the words of Paul, “We know in part” (1 Cor. 13:9).

    I have to wonder what will happen when Jesus returns. I can imagine all the Christians who specialized in “perfect doctrine” passing out after they discover who made it into the kingdom. Angels will be running around all over the place with smelling salts to wake them up!

    The church of Jesus Christ is one. But we are called to maintain and guard the unity of that oneness (Eph. 4:2–3).

    Let me rehearse a true story on this score.

    Many years ago, I watched two very different groups of Christians meet together to express their oneness in Christ. One group was charismatic; the other wasn’t. After a few joint meetings, the sparks began to fly.

    I could rant on about the war-story details, but I’ll spare you. Let me just say that a few months after we merged together, we witnessed a church split. And our strained efforts at preemptive peacemaking and spiritual finessing couldn’t prevent it.

    Yet with our garments still smoking, those of us who remained together came to an agreement. An agreement that would change my life. It was this: that all of us lay down our view of spiritual gifts at the foot of the cross. So we did.

    Each one of us agreed to drop whatever we thought or experienced about the working of the Holy Spirit. We died to it completely. We gave it up. And we asked the Lord to teach us all over again as little children (Matt. 18:3).

    From that point on, our entire focus shifted from what we thought we knew about the Holy Spirit to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. We resolved to strip down to Christ alone, and we set our eyes exclusively on Him. After about a year, something miraculous occurred. There rose up—out of death, out of the grave in the newness of life—the gifts of the Spirit. But they didn’t look like anything we had seen in the Pentecostal/charismatic movement. And they certainly didn’t look like anything in the Church of Christ tradition. (All things look different in resurrection.)

    Those of us who remained and committed to toughing out the storm were “built together.” And I experienced something I had only read about in the Bible—I saw two very diverse groups of Christians love one another through their differences. The result was what Paul declared in 1 Corinthians 1:10.

    This experience, while bloody at first, proved to me in living color that the unity of the faith is more than a pious ideal. Healthy church life is nonsectarian, nonelitist, and nonexclusive. It may involve much long-suffering, forbearance, and dying a thousand deaths. But that’s exactly what Paul said the price would be for preserving the unity of the Spirit: With all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:2–3, NKJV).

  104. “What if Jakes ordains celibate gays? Is that OK?
    Can he marry two gay people of opposite sex?

    You asking me?

  105. A celibate gay? You mean someone who claims to feel attracted at times to their own sex, but who doesn’t entertain lustful thoughts towards their own sex, or have sex with anyone?

    “marry gay people of the opposite sex”? So, a man who claims to be homosexual, a woman who claims to be lesbian who don’t want to have sex with each other? Why would they get married?

  106. Ano Domino,
    “So you don’t think God ever says that his people will be blessed or prosper?” Are you assuming that Jakes is one of His people? Because I certainly don’t.

    The answer you gave avoids the issue and has absolutely nothing to do with the question. Forget Jakes for a moment.

    Do you think God ever says that his people will be blessed or prosper? In this life, I mean, because we know we are set to be blessed and prosper when we go to be with Him.

  107. My apologies to everyone. In reviewing the site Jakes purchased for a new community project I realised I had got my figures mixed up. Egg on face to me! It was 231 acres of land they purchased, and the price is not readily available.

    However the project remains to produce housing, a school, and other facilities for the poorer community of Dallas, so the cost will be in the millions, but I do not have the figures.

    Please forgive my error.

    The best reference, amongst many, is from the Trinity Foundation because it is a ministry watch site run by a former TV evangelist who took vows of poverty and has set out to expose ministries which are excessive financially. The verdict on Jakes by this ministry is positive, and they have been able to corroborate, as far as I can make out, that Jake’s ministry’s financial accountability is sound, although they would prefer that Jakes also took the same vows, but that is a side issue.

    http://www.trinityfi.org/press/tdjakes01.html

  108. SM, your examples made me laugh.

    Well, the things I mentioned are what most of us object to re prosperity theology. It certainly doesn’t mean we agree with poverty theology though.

    Sometimes when people defend prosperity theology, they fear that without it, people won’t give. In other words, they think that without a carrot and stick approach, people won’t give. Giving has to be about self interest.

    That’s one of the problems with prosperity theology of that kind.

    True NT giving is about a renewed heart, Christ in us, love and compassion. All these things will cause us to give. So there is no need to fear a dearth of giving if a community is growing in Christ. Though perhaps the giving might go in less predictable directions, or in less predictable quantities. Church budgets would be done using common sense (historic giving records) and faith. The standard of church surroundings would possibly be less sustainable, but the relational giving may well improve.

    NT giving is also about Jubilee, forgiving debts. That’s profound. Jubilee never happened, as far as I’m aware, although the OT described what it should be.

  109. let’s go back to the title of this article. Forgetting about who is right and wrong etc.

    “Is doctrinal unity possible?”

  110. “It certainly doesn’t mean we agree with poverty theology though”.

    So where does one suppose to sit? Not too much not too little, just enough? Possibly the most selfish of all are the ‘just enough’ crowd. Whilst they may give, albeit in very limited measures, their focus is more on just enough for themselves. These people have a strong conviction about what they consider to be fair and attempt to impose their standards on everyone else. The problem is there can never be agreement/unity about what is enough.

    There seems to be generally 3 prevailing mentalities amongst christians.

    1. Poverty – where somehow a connection has been made between poverty and humility, thinking it’s more pious to be poor. Well no doubt you can be poor and humble, but you can also be rich and humble …rich and humble is better.

    2. Needs – this is the land of ‘just enough’, wilderness living. A place of my needs should be your needs. No possible agreement, no peace, and no real financial muscle.

    3. Abundance – a kingdom mentality – having more than enough to give on every occasion by His grace. Where we look beyond our needs to the needs of others. An attitude, there I say it, of prospering on purpose. (His purpose).

    Prov 3:6 “In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success”

    I’m for success, I want my kids to be blessed and successful, I believe my Dad in heaven wants me to be successful …what’s the alternative? It’s not about the house we live in or the car we drive, it’s about His purpose being worked out in us and through us. It takes resources to expand the kingdom and help the needy – lots! I hope my mind is being transformed daily so I don’t limit what God can do through me with small-minded miserly thinking.

    I am not arguing for ‘prosperity theology’, as it’s understood by many on this thread, but at the same time I do believe God wants us to prosper. The question is what does it mean to prosper according to the bible? You may have some good definitions to offer and I hope you do. In no particular order I offer the following non technical yet biblically based definitions that have helped me.

    • Success along the way
    • Fewer your needs
    • Secure in your source of supply
    • Able to give generously on all occasions
    • Living in the kingdom of God – righteousness, peace, joy.
    • Freedom to choose

  111. “Abundance – a kingdom mentality.”

    Abundance is not a “kingdom mentality”. In this context it is nothing more than spiritualised greed and worldliness.

    “I believe my Dad in heaven wants me to be successful”

    Well you’re sadly mistaken, aren’t you? He doesn’t want you to be successful. He wants you to be free – free from sin, free from the entanglements of this world, free to become like Him – and so to become a vessel of honour, filled with the Holy Spirit and able to minister in God’s power and to serve in all humility, just as Jesus did.

    Stop listening to the tripe that is preached from so many pulpits, and start hearkening instead to the Holy Spirit. And read your Bible – it’s all in there, you know.

  112. Ano, you make many sweeping declarations, which sound impressive, and often serve them up as a rebuke, but you seldom put any meat to your generalisations.

    How do you define freedom at grass roots level for the person who has no job, no money, no skills and no no way to ay their rent, let alone enter a mortgage arrangement (unless through a sub-prime arrangement)?

    What advice will you be giving them, in practical, every day terms, which will assist them out of their dependence on meagre government handouts? How will a father of two small children with a wife who has a serious debilitating illness enter into this freedom stream you are advocating, and how will he be able to enter into a place where he is able to provide for his own family?

    You get the drift, don’t you. You can come up with your own similar examples of how to lift the poor from their plight without advocating success, abundance, blessing, or prosperity as a means.

  113. Further, Ano, how do you contextualise the very first psalm?

    Psalms 1
    1* ¶ Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
    2* But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.
    3* He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.

    Prosper – tsalach

    1) (Qal) to rush
    2) to advance, prosper, make progress, succeed, be profitable
    2a) (Qal) to prosper
    2b) (Hiphil)
    2b1) to make prosperous, bring to successful issue, cause to
    prosper
    2b2) to show or experience prosperity, prosper

    Or Jesus’ words as Shepherd:

    John 10
    9* “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
    10* “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
    11* “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

    Abundantly – perissos
    1) exceeding some number or measure or rank or need
    1a) over and above, more than is necessary, superadded
    1a1) exceeding abundantly, supremely
    1a2) something further, more, much more than all, more plainly
    1b) superior, extraordinary, surpassing, uncommon
    1b1) pre-eminence, superiority, advantage, more eminent,
    more remarkable, more excellent

    Are these two passages not talking of how the Shepherd leads his sheep into green pastures and still waters as in Psalms 23, which is the greatest indication of how God cares for the sheep of his pasture?

    Goodness, this is good. The more I meditate on this, the more I am reminded of the goodness, kindness and provision of the Shepherd!

  114. Ano

    You really don’t deserve a reply – you just shoot from the hip and worship your opinion rather than reflecting on whats written. The air of spiritual superiority that you project is nothing but a front for insecurity. If you want to be respected then start to display the fruits of the Holy Spirit in your communications.

    I walk and serve a God that loves me, whose mercy towards me is new every morning, who makes me lie down in green pastures, protects me and guides me, satisfies my desires with good things (Ps 103) a God that is so committed to me that nothing can separate me from His love, who paid the ultimate price for my salvation. I tell you that makes me a prosperous man.

    Rom 8:22 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

  115. I walk and serve a God that loves me, whose mercy towards me is new every morning, who makes me lie down in green pastures, protects me and guides me, satisfies my desires with good things (Ps 103) a God that is so committed to me that nothing can separate me from His love, who paid the ultimate price for my salvation. I tell you that makes me a prosperous man.

    We can all identify with that, Peter.

    Now tell me, Peter.

    Did you have to do anything to receive God’s love, mercy, protection, guidance, salvation and prosperity?

    Or is that not because of His wonderful grace.

  116. Peter, you say, ‘It takes resources to expand the kingdom and help the needy – lots!’ I beg to differ. It takes relationships. Too often church growth, and the concomitant push for income, hides behind the perceived need for a bigger building, better sound and lights, chilled out coffee area, and more paid staff to assist in ‘building the Kingdom’, Sadly, I have known churches trying to undertake this course of action and ignore the dire financial need within their congregation (allowing electricity supplies to be cut off when bills can’t be paid, for example). True, meaningful, connected relationships build God’s Kingdom and meet needs.

    Also, by what standards do you measure ‘success’? I hope that if one of your children felt called by God to minister alms to those sifting the city rubbish dump in Mogadishu, you would still think they were ‘successful’.

    I understand you are not advocating prosperity teaching in it’s name-it-and-claim-it form, but God has plans for every one of us; some may be rich, some not so, some poor, some die young, some martyred, some have children, some none, But, ‘Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.’ 3 John v2. I prosper when I am connected to Christ, no matter what my circumstances. We all get a chance to demonstrate Jesus wherever we are and with whatever resources we have. So, it’s not about greater resources really, it’s about me displaying more of the character of Christ in all things

  117. Steve, are you with the teaching that says there will be a great ‘end-time’ transfer of wealth from the world to the church?

  118. Bones

    To answer your question – my foundation is grace. I’m saved by grace through faith, nothing to do with me except freely receiving the gift from God. I am empowered by grace – at the realization of my weakness I discover His grace as my sufficiency – ‘when I am weak I become strong’. I reign in life through the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness through Jesus Christ (Rom 5:17). And I minister by grace with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

    Having said that I don’t subscribe to ‘armchair Christianity’ where my revelation of grace allows me to sit back on my blessed assurance. To me it’s about grace and partnership. Unless I abide in Him and He in me I can do nothing – I need to be proactively engaged in Christ for my benefit and the benefit of others. The implication of the great commission is that I need to initiate the process and be actively involved – go into all the world and make disciples. I do this from acceptance not for acceptance, out of gratitude, and in obedience to a deep sense of His purpose and specific call on my life. Thanks for asking Bones.

  119. Anon, I agreed with your points.

    It takes resources to expand the kingdom and help the needy – lots! I hope my mind is being transformed daily so I don’t limit what God can do through me with small-minded miserly thinking.

    It is a horrible thing to say that because a person is poor and lacking in material resources, they are not capable of serving God. This is the implication of the small-minded thinking that limits power to financial resources.

    It is a good thing to be wealthy, to not be tied to your wealth, and to be generous with it. Some are called to be that way and give that way, in an incredibly generous fashion, according to the love that God places in their hearts.

    Zeibart pointed out that “God has plans for every one of us; some may be rich, some not so, some poor, some die young, some martyred, some have children, some none, But, ‘Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.'”

    Exactly.

    7 And He *summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits; 8 and He instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a mere staff—no bread, no [f]bag, no money in their belt— 9 but [g]to wear sandals; and He added, “Do not put on two [h]tunics.” 10 And He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you [i]leave town. 11 Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust [j]off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them.” 12 They went out and [k]preached that men should repent. 13 And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them.

    And:

    1 When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the [a]mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 2 He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,

    3 “[b]Blessed are the [c]poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

    5 “Blessed are the [d]gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

    6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

    7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

    8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

    9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

    10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

    We who are His, are all rich in Him, regardless of our worldly possessions. So long as we abide in Him, whatever our circumstances, we prosper.

  120. Zeibart

    I understand what you are saying and agree it is all about relationships – love God/love people. It is, as you say, all about developing true, meaningful, connected relationships. I was more looking at the practical side i.e. when a network of relationships receive a common vision (from God) it then takes strategy (hopefully also birthed in God) as to ‘how’ the vision will come about. Then at the planning stage is where resources and timing need to be considered as to ‘when’ the different stages of the vision can be achieved – this is about good stewardship, but at the same time it is totally about faith because most of the resources needed do not exist at the time a vision is conceived.

    I do understand your gripe about investing, for example, in a new sound system when a single mum needs her electricity bill paid. In my experience it’s not either/or – the funding for buildings and equipment is done separately to funding for community aid work. The designated funds must be applied accordingly otherwise you will run into problems with the donor and ATO (where tax relief is available). However, I do agree it would be a shame if a church had state of the art facilities and couldn’t help a member with a genuine need – I certainly don’t recall anytime we haven’t been able to help someone like that.

    “by what standards do you measure ‘success’?” As I mentioned it is about God’s purpose being worked out in us and through us. If a child of mine, as you put it, was called by God to minister alms to those sifting the city rubbish dump in Mogadishu, I would be the proudest dad. And I would encourage them to do it with all their might and look for Godly strategies to not just feed but bring transformation to that community. But, for them to be able to help this community will require partnership with people that can resource the aid that is needed.

    Lastly, you wrote “So, it’s not about greater resources really, it’s about me displaying more of the character of Christ in all things”
    I believe it’s both – the evidence of displaying more of Christ’s character is greater fruitfulness. However, unless we stretch our faith it is possible to limit what God can do through us.

  121. Ravingpente

    I agree – “the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need” It’s not what I’m arguing. To me possession is not ownership, it’s all about stewardship. Those that have much do not have too much and those that have little do not have too little. (Acts 2) We are all in partnership – rich and poor. I’m not saying someone is not validated as a christian minister because they are in poverty.

  122. RP – thanks for the scriptures. Was it to Timothy that Paul said that the rich should be encouraged to be generous, for their money was but a fleeting possession? Even James remonstrated that the rich should not think of themselves more highly because of their wealth; indeed, he said that those poor in the eyes of the world are rich in faith.

    Peter – thank you for replying. I am sure we are pretty much on the same page. Has your last sentence above got one ‘not’ too many? Are you saying that someone is not validated as a minister because they are in poverty?

  123. I may not have been clear – whether rich or poor doesn’t make one more or less a christian minister. Bless you.

  124. It’s interesting to see that sometimes we group into clans, or take sides in an argument, and each company takes a doctrinal stance which reflects their opinion and off we go…into error, generally.

    So one side talks about scripture which reflects austerity, and the other prosperity, and the weight of evidence on both sides is heavy, so we bludgeon one another to a pulp and in our mashed and bloodied states declare the holy ground to be beneath our feet and the other mob to outside of the will of God!

    Blood and mash make for slippery foothold, however, so don’t get too puffed up and risk blowing that trumpet yet, because there’s more to God than meets the eye, and he seems to have both sets of values in the bag, hence the seeming paradoxical content of the Word at times.

    Contentment is the aim, surely. Godliness with contentment. Which great gain.

    Somewhere between frugality and affluence is the route to fulfilment in God, not with personal lack as a goal, or one’s own riches, but flourishing in God’s purposes, call and vocation with the lost, hurting, disenfranchised and poor as our demographic and God’s grace as our resource base.

    Someone mentioned our treasure being where our heart is. Well, surely if the unsaved world is where our heart is, then the treasure of heaven is people, not things. So to reach that treasure, we need the means, which is whatever is at hand at the time.

    Whatever we bring to the table, God can multiply, as witnessed by the disciples when Jesus fed 5,000 with one little boy’s lunch pack of loaves and fishes. Or the woman who had enough meal for last cake to share with her son before they expected to die in the famine, but which Elijah asked for, telling her to keep making cakes and God would multiply the meal.

    The key is faith. Faith in God. The starting point is where we are now. God makes things out of nothing. He is our source. He is our sufficiency. He is our supply.

    Prosperity is that condition of positive hope which takes the insignificant, meagre and insufficient and applies it to the impossible expecting the fulfilment of a promise from God, regardless of what is seen, known or understood as natural fact, or displayed as a hindrance.

    If I have all, I have no need for hope, or for faith. If I lack nothing, I have need of patience, endurance or perseverance. Biblical prosperity can only be realised where need is experienced, whether is it is the need of the giver, or the need of the receiver. Giving is a higher state because it is written that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

    The Psalm actually says, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want”. Therein is my prosperity. The Lord is my Shepherd. he is my prosperity, because he will not allow me to want. He will provide. My part is t trust, to be a good sheep. To praise him for the verdant pastures and still waters.

    So whether I am materially wealthy or poor, I am rich in him. All is His, and all is, by association, mine, of this world and of the world to come.

  125. Peter, I think your point is clearer now, and I agree with you that its about stewardship. I think stewardship implies freedom, but grace working through us in that freedom.

    Re stretching our faith… that’s an interesting thing, too. Just because something is a challenge to our faith doesn’t mean we should take it up. Sometimes, maybe its a challenge because God isn’t giving us the faith for that thing. I think its about learning to hear the Spirit, including through the council of others at times. But I’ve known God to give faith to people for things that they cannot see, and those things have come to pass, things they’ve had no control over at all. I just think its important that our faith comes from Him, and not from us feeling that we have to ‘stretch’ our faith further. If God gives us the faith, and we know it is from Him, then we do need to defend that faith and remain strong in it.

    Children screaming – have to run.

  126. Steve

    “The Psalm actually says, The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want”

    Yes and in other translations it is ‘i have all or everything I need’. It’s saying the same thing – if God, as my shepherd, is the source of my provision, protection and guidance then I shall not want because I have everything I need.

    Great post Steve I really enjoyed reading it.

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