Sunday, October 5, 2014

A questionable monetary message.

Other than my recent posts on the wars in the Middle East, I generally have abstained from any religious commentary in terms of religious messages themselves.  This blog isn't a forum for that.

However, I just can't help myself on this one.

This morning, I turned on the television and found a televangelist on whose message basically was that if you gave him money (no matter how much you might be hurting yourself) God was going to reward you with more money.

I know that there's a certain group of folks who believe this, but that message just isn't there in the Gospels.  Indeed, while I can't claim to be an expert, that message isn't in any of the three major monotheistic religions.

That definitely isn't the message of Christianity.  Far from it.  At best, a person might receive such a blessing, but Christianity's message is you reward is in the next world, not in this one, although aid in this one isn't impossible.  But take the lives of the Saints.  None of the Apostles got rich and died wealthy. Quite the contrary. They lived poor and died by violence.  Or take the Roman Martyrology, those saints whom Catholics remember at Mass at least in part. A long list of men and women whose ends were brutal.

I don't know why this offended me sufficiently to post about it here, but it does.  I've seen this guy on television before, and his message is always "send me money" and God will send you more. I don't know what the guy does with this money, but a message always focused on the concept that God is some sort of reverse bank where you give money and get more in return is pretty far from the Christian Gospel.


Rich said...

That's the message of "prosperity theology" that most mega-churches are always preaching.

The way I've always taken that sort of message is that God wants you to be prosperous, so if you are pious enough you will be prosperous and healthy. But if you aren't prosperous, then you obviously aren't pious enough and therefore deserve to be punished by being poor and sick.

Or, put another way, good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people.

That way of thinking rubs me the wrong way. I've also been around people that go to those "mega-churches" and they rub me the wrong way too.

Pat and Marcus said...

I don't know anything about mega-churches, but I do know that the Christian message is not a monetary one. Christ chased the money changers out of the Temple, after all.

There's not really much room for doubt that the Christian message, for its entire history, has really been more of a comfort to the poor, assuming that they lived a Christian life, rather than the rich. And the message is also focused on the next world, not on this one. That's not to say that Christians have ever found it wrong to seek redress for a concern in this world, but there's no guaranty that the answer to suffering isn't that worldly suffering in this world will be redressed in the next.

The concept that the poor were suffering due to their (or their parents) sinful conduct and the rich were being rewarded for their virtue was one that was sometimes common in ancient Judaism, but not consistently so. After all, in the Book of Job, he was deprived of all his worldly goods as a test, and God's answers as to the reason for it probably wouldn't be satisfactory to a lot of people expecting a secular reward for virtuous conduct. But for Christians, if you listen to the Christian Gospel, the concept that you'll be rewarded with riches in this life definitely isn't there.