Saturday, October 11, 2008

Where does this leave "the Prosperity Gospel"?

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth,
where moth and rust doth consume,
and where thieves break through and steal:
but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor rust doth consume,
and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
for where thy treasure is,
there will thy heart be also.
Matthew 6:19-21 RV
I have been completely enthralled by this last week or so's financial crisis. I have been sick and in bed; I used the time wisely by watching CNBC, Bloomberg, Sky Business etc. ( I have also been trying to write a sermon about Teresa of Avila. I can't find out her feelings on the market economy anywhere)

While watching capitalism spiral into a smug blame game, I am left with a few conflicting emotions, ones that are not easy to reconcile.

The first is I think it is a good thing. Maybe people will work out that money and greed aren't what will make them happy. Maybe they will look for something more worthwhile, like their soul, their spiritual wellbeing. There are many paths on offer, but only one that will truly work:
Jesus saith unto him,
I am the way,
and the truth,
and the life:
no one cometh unto the Father,
but by me.
John 14:6 RV

And unlike a course in meditation, tarot, reiki or whatever, Christianity is free. All you need do is go to your local church.

It is this "free" aspect that has me concerned, and is making this financial crisis have a bit more bite than I would like. We all know church isn't actually free: it requires a tithe; 10% of one's wage is the norm (but probably not reality). In a few years time, I will be a Rector in charge of a parish. My stipend will be paid by my flock. If the crunch is being felt by all of society, my parishioners will be amongst them. While they will have less money, they will have the same bills etc. I imagine a tithe is one of the first to be reduced.

While all this is a concern in terms of my family and I being able to eat etc, it isn't huge, really. The larger concern is that less money will come in to help the less fortunate; and there are going to be far more of them.

What is the Christian response to all this financial mess? I really can't help but feel that it is a good thing. Money should have nothing to do with the Faith; and churches and preachers who prmote a "prosperity gospel" are wrong and are using the faith for all the wrong reasons. Christianity is about mission and spirituality; doing and being, not investing and buying. Hopefully people will see that the secular society has ripped them off, made them focus on goods instead of doing good. The church is making a mistake by following this path, and is totally missing one of Jesus' main points:
And Jesus entered into the temple of God,
and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple,
and overthrew the tables of the money–changers,
and the seats of them that sold the doves;
and he saith unto them,
It is written,
My house shall be called a house of prayer:
but ye make it a den of robbers.
Matthew 21:12-13 RV

The Christian response has to be one of removal from anything to do with capitalism. It really isn't the way we are supposed to be; and this crisis is showing that it isn't the way humanity is supposed to be. There are going to be many hurt and ruined people as a result of a greed false promises. It is the church's job to help these people, show them there is a better way, and one that won't cost them their house.
Jesus said unto them,
I am the bread of life:
he that cometh to me shall not hunger,
and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
John 6:35 RV


Brian R said...

While I agree to some extent with you in theory. It is not much use for those of us who have worked all our lives and are now living on our savings/superannuation. I have never put my faith in money and never had a lot but did put it aside for my retirement. The result will be more elderly people relying on the government pension.

orczy said...

Yeah, I understand that. On that level, this crisis is a bad thing, and many will hurt. However, I don't have a problem with the government helping people in their retirement. In fact, it must be a better way to spend taxes than on say, advertising.

Caron said...

You will appreciate the work of Justin Peters: - Be sure to watch the video there. Peters is an expert on this movement and gave his full length seminar at my church. He comes highly recommended by my pastor, Dr. John MacArthur.

Brooks said...

I agree totally that faith should not be based on money, but disagree with about everything else. Leave capitalism? Look what capitalism does for the world... Sure, it may leave many behind, but think of how many billions of poor, hungry mouths have been fed by the generosity of people in capitalist nations like Australia and the USA. Nations without capitalism like North Korea feel the real hurt, since through collectivism they rely on each other to provide, where in capitalist societies, we rely on ourselves. For the Christian, we know we can't rely on ourselves so we rely on God. Freedom of choice to make money, or not is what God desires.