Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Creflo Dollar, Luxury Jets, and Life on Mars

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

If you scroll through those religious channels on your television, you'll have the disappointing experience of finding quite a few "Word of Faith" heretics (I was into that movement myself for a while, years ago) but precious little in the way of solid biblical teaching. One of the more notorious of those blab-it-n-grab-it preachers is Creflo Dollar. He made big news when he said he wanted a $65,000,000 USD Gulfstream G650 jet. Naturally, there was a huge outcry, and the campaign was shut down.

Here's the part that nobody else will tell you, it's been our secret, but now it's time to let you in on it.

God put a burr under my saddle by giving me a direct revelation. He spoke to me, saying, "You have two of those jets at The Question Evolution Project. Give him one, and watch me bless you!" Well, we do have a second one that we're not even using, it's on an airstrip at our secret second headquarters, near the velociraptor pens. I called up Creflo and told him to come over and get it. That's why his request was taken down.

Okay, now we wait for the stalker trolls to spread that story, then head them off at the pass —

"Head them off at the pass? I hate that cliché, Cowboy Bob!"

Never mind about that now. (But there are people who think I make money doing this, and ignore how I say I have a real job. I even have to work overtime to pay health insurance). After all this fun, (which was unfortunately too late for April 1), I have something a mite more serious to discuss.

Dollar lashed back at critics, saying that he has a right to dream big. It's true, anyone has the "right" to dream big dreams, but not to try to obligate God to give you whatever you want, whenever you want it. Something else he said caught my ear like a stray stone kicked up by a galloping horse's hoof. He said that if they discover life on Mars, they'll need to hear the gospel. He's going to have to "believe God" for a billion dollar space shuttle so that he can preach the gospel to them on Mars — but what he preaches is not the real gospel anyway.

Creflo Dollar wanted a luxury private jet. After an outcry, he pulled his request, but then lashed out at his critics, including a "dream big" idea that if there's life on Mars, he'll want to go there and preach the gospel. Ain't happening.
Cranky Alien image courtesy of Why?Outreach
I reckon that he doesn't know his Bible very well. Although I don't personally believe that there's intelligent life elsewhere in the universe (despite the faith of SETI enthusiasts) because of theological reasons, there's something that Dollar seems to be forgetting: Jesus redeemed people, and there's not one word in the Word about saving other life forms. He is the last Adam (1 Cor. 15:4), not the last Martian. Further, the saving work of Jesus is done. He is seated at the right hand of God the Father (Col. 3:1, Heb. 7:25, Matt. 26:64). 

You may want to check out the podcast from "Fighting for the Faith", "Creflo's 65 Million Dollar Theological Tantrum". While the whole thing is interesting, the Creflo Dollar part is near the beginning.

So, the Word of Faith heretic is lacking in some basic Bible knowledge. Unfortunately, too many people are deceived by Dollar, and others like him. Some of us want to urge Christians to be familiar with their Bibles, have a good doctrinal basis, rely on its authority, and be willing to whip out their Bibles so they can see the Scripture twisting that is going on. I hope and pray you're with us.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Different Worlds of Ministry

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

Some pastors of more traditional churches consider Web and parachurch ministries (especially creation science ministries) to be unimportant, or even harmful. There are people who consider these ministries extremely helpful, and feel no need to attend a church. Is there a balance between the two views? Yes.

The traditional concept of "going to a church building" is not exactly biblical. There is no concept of attending First Church morning for Sunday School, the main service, and Wednesday night prayer meeting (with the occasional potluck supper). The early church met in homes, catacombs, or wherever they could, especially during times of persecution (like many church groups in atheist-run or Mohammedan-run countries). However, free societies have church buildings and regular meeting times. Although not supported by Scripture, there is nothing essentially wrong with that long-standing concept, either.

Likewise, there is no biblical support for parachurch ministries, but no prohibition against them. Some mainstream churches resent parachurch ministries (whether on the Web or elsewhere) because they feel that people's loyalties are divided. (I heard someone who had a parachurch ministry express dislike for the word "parachurch" because it sounded too much like "parasite".) Another concern that churches have about outside organizations is that many (if not most) are fully independent, and have no accountability to a church.

Some churches are doing what they're supposed to do: Minister to the saints through teaching sound doctrine, meeting their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, sharing the gospel message to the lost, and other concerns. Overall, mainstream churches are failing. Part of the reason is that they seem to be more like religious social clubs than actually ministries. Many are perceived as being interested more in money than people, and that adds fuel to the resentment fire of those churches toward outside ministries.

Of course, it is easy to find parachurch groups that do act like parasites, preaching lame or even false doctrines, emphasizing how you need to give them money (often through misquoting Scripture and "guaranteeing" financial blessings if you pay up), and other matters of dishonesty. Some of those teaching false, liberal, and feel good doctrines are doing rather well, even financially. If mainstream churches had been doing their jobs by teaching sound doctrine (including discernment), and if many people weren't intellectually and spiritually lazy, perhaps people wouldn't be falling for religious-oriented scams.

It has been said that the Web is an extremely powerful tool for evangelism as well as good teaching. A drawback to this is that people can spend all their time on the Web and forget about the assembly of believers (Heb. 10:25) and being ready to give an account for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15) in real world face-to-face encounters

But no church can teach every area. Web organizations and ministries often focus on specific areas. I have an online creation science ministry where I write some original articles, and also direct people to other biblical creation science ministries. There are ministries that specialize in eschatology (there are many views), cults and heresies, specific cults, false teachings, apologetics, doctrinal questions, basic biblical teachings, and much more. I have learned a great deal from podcasts and articles from parachurch ministries, some of which I support financially.

Unfortunately, there are churches who not only resent parachurch ministries (often from a loss of revenue standpoint), but also see them as unimportant. This may come from personal experience ("I don't have people asking me about creation science and evolution, or challenging me to give evidence for my faith") as well as personal biases. In the issue of origins, a pastor may not discuss the relevance of Genesis because he does not want to be "labeled", thinks it's unimportant, or something else. The big debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham was seen by an estimated 15 million people online (tickets to attend the debate at the Creation Museum sold out within minutes), and this debate seems to have intensified.

When (not "if") people want answers, many will saddle up and head for the Web. There are many trails to ride, and it is easy to encounter spiritual bandits who will give false or incorrect information to a seeker. Internet atheists are notoriously dishonest, often incorrectly seeming like they have reason on their side. People on the Web can be blunt, rude, and profane, saying things that they would never dare say to someone's face; it's easy for people like this to become keyboard warriors, hiding behind their anonymity. My point here is that people act differently online, and it's a different world in many ways. But also, with all the information available, there are deceivers.

If a Christian is taught sound doctrine, critical thinking, and discernment in a local church as well as from good parachurch ministries, he or she is less likely to fall for deceptive tactics. The same criteria apply to a Christian in a false brick and mortar church, or when a cultist comes knocking at their doors.

People will use the Web for information, that's the way of today's world. They cannot get all the information they want from a local church; many want it now (and usually free), no time or finances to order books at the moment. A biblically-driven local church can harness the power of the Web to help equip people for Christian living, doctrine, evangelism, and more. Although the two can appear in competition, real churches should use the Web, not shun or resent it. Also, even strapping on the feedbag with good teachings on the Web is not a valid reason to ignore gathering with believers, whether a church on a corner, rented space, home church, or something else.