Loving the San Francisco Bay Area... Community development, urban ministry, trying to defeat poverty, faith, religion, politics, good music, the quest for the perfect pizza, the Yankees, motorcycles... All in a 'day's life'

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Prosperity preacher Creflo Dollar Comes To the Bay

Creflo Dollar, one of the leading purveyors of the what I believe is a heretical and damaging theology was in Oakland yesterday for what they call the "Change" convention. The article in the Chronicle has a sidebar with the quote from Dollar (yes, that's his real name),

"I don't care what you favorite preaches says. I'm giving you what the Lord says. The Lord says to live life in abundance."

I'm shocked by that statement. I'm incensed that someone as for away from Atlanta would stand in the pulpit and actually discourage people from listing to their own preacher or pastor, setting himself up as speaking the Lord's very own words. The Jesus I know said quotes like, "Whoever wants to save his life will lose it" and "Seek first God's kingdom and righteousness"

This is not the Gospel I know or preach. This is a damaging gospel influenced by all that is bad in the contemporary American culture. I remember, as a young man in the 80's when the 'Word of Faith" movement swept our small southern Assembly of God. I remember how that doctrine turned the church from a outreach church to an inreach church. I watched the congregation focus more on what they had or could get then what the message of the Gospel was and how it changes society. I'm saddened to see that these crooks are turning their focus to the inner city.

In my view, any preacher who tells you that God will bless you if you give, then takes an offering for his own ministry is a manipulator and a crook. God will bless you when you give, but don't use God and me to pad your personal wallet. I'm glad that God blesses and takes care of the innocent. My heart goes out for those who are manipulated by these preachers.

I live in an area where there is phenomenal wealth. We're in the Silicon Valley - surrounded by Google, Sun, Apple - and the people who started those companies. I've seen two things:

- Rich folks aren't always happy. They have everything - but still lack.
- Rich folks who use their wealth to extend the Kingdom of God are some of the coolest people I know. I've watched some people use the money they made in the tech industry do amazing things with their resources. They've used their wealth to change the world.

I'm not against money - and, heck, I like to pay my bills and have nice things as much as the rest. But - I believe, as Jesus said, that if we seek the Kingdom first - everything else would come. I don't want too much money, I might forget God, I don't want too little money, I might get angry... I want enough to care for my family, have a good time every once in a while and serve the Kingdom...

The funny thing is I believe that many church folks, especially pentacostals, are looking for a release from a legalistic religion that doesn't allow for any type of enjoyment or expression. I wonder if part of the attraction to these preachers and events is that they are fun but it's couched in religious jargon? It's not the same old 'woe is me' religion. In our churches the message of grace is sometimes lost. If we preached grace, fiscal discipline and a Kingdom mentality. I think we'd serve our folks better and not be tempted to believe such foolish lies that are contrary to Kingdom values. I want our church to be prosperous - but in God's way and not man's.

"The challenge of this convention is to change the way you think; you are not going to be peaceful and happy in life if you are broke," Dollar, his real name, told the more than 2,500 gathered at the Oakland Convention Center. "Some Christians need to get a life, to enjoy life in abundance and stop taking everything so serious. "Get a boat or a Jet Ski. It's all right to enjoy life."

Prosperity preaching has been around since the 1980s but has reached new levels as ministers build megachurches and gain notoriety through television shows. Though gaining in popularity, prosperity preaching has its critics.

The Rev. J. Alfred Smith, pastor at Oakland's Allen Temple Baptist Church, said he considers himself in a different camp than Dollar. "I preach Gospel to the poor in the East Oakland flatlands," Smith said in a telephone interview. "The tradition in which I stand puts emphasis on justice and peace and endeavoring to rectify the plight of the poor.

"I do not believe the purpose of the church is to make us capitalists."

Read the whole article here.

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