Religious Wealth: Yay or Nay?

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

The holiday season is a time of heightened prayer and church attendance. It's also a time of big spending. Which got us thinking about the intersection of religion and wealth. Currently, six multimillion-dollar ministries, bedazzled with Bentleys and million-dollar homes, are being investigated by the Senate for alleged financial misconduct. Today we'll talk to one pentecostal pastor who defends what's called prosperity gospel, and an evangelical theology professor who views the gospel of wealth as heresy. Should get spicy. So as we all scurry around spending Lord knows how much on gifts and holiday cheer, tell us: what does your faith say about the acquisition — and spending — of wealth?

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Money is not the "root of all evil", Greed, envy and jealousy are the three legs of this evil tripod.

Money is just a way to keep score.

I have my own (politically incorrect) opinion of (those) "church-going" people. And I pray for their souls.

Sent by Harold | 2:18 PM | 12-20-2007

First, the prosperity gospel is heresy because it promotes a man-centered gospel where YOU are the center of the universe and God wants to bless you because you are just fantastic.

The truth is man's "heart is deceitful above all things,And desperately wicked; Who can know it?) Jeremiah 17:9. We have broken all of the one True and Holy God's commandments (lying, stealing, blasphemy, murder- including hating someone, adultery- including lusting after someone in our hearts) and because He is a Just Judge, He requires payment/punishment for our sins: separation from God for an eternity in Hell. He in His love, sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty we all owe (by breaking God's commandments) by dying on the cross and becoming sin!
Our humble response then to this righteous, loving and holy King is to repent of our sins (hate it, turn away from it) and put our faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.

So do you see who's at the center of the Gospel. God! We are dead and can do nothing to earn salvation. To Him be the glory! Seriously think about this and pray to God asking Him forgiveness of your sins, turn away from them and ask Him for repentance and faith to trust in the Way, the Truth, and the Life...Christ, the Messiah.

On another note, I hate that the writer of the intro page to this blog topic used blasphemy: "Lord knows". Here is what the Lord says about any who will use His name in vain:

"You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain." Exodus 20:7

I sometimes have to shut off the programs as well because of blasphemy. I would ask the producers to please take note of that on behalf of its Christian's listeners.

Sent by Daphne | 3:06 PM | 12-20-2007

The bible is very clear. "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." (Matthew 19:24)

Sent by chris | 3:07 PM | 12-20-2007

If there are wealthy people of faith in a house of God, then they should contribute and make that house wealthy. The poor and disenfranchised who visit themselves upon the church should have the care of the church, and there is no limit to how much money men or women of the cloth should have available if it is being used to uplift the poor.

Sent by Jeffrey Gillespie. Portland, Oregon | 3:11 PM | 12-20-2007

I pray this guy will get off the air asap.

Sent by Franny Wilke | 3:13 PM | 12-20-2007

I read Prof. Snider's book while volunteering as a youth minister in England. It had a profound effect on me, a middle class american. Not soon after, I met two homeless women in Oxford. That day, I spent my entire stipend check to buy food and clothing for their children and pay part of their rent. I was exhausted and felt no more connection with God. But it strengthened my friendship with a local vicar and has led to finding other ways, besides complete brokenness, to help others.

Sent by Sarah Zwickle | 3:34 PM | 12-20-2007

I don't think being rich is bad in itself. It's the love of money and not being a good steward of it and helping those less fortunate that makes the problem.

The Bible says the LOVE of money is the root of all evil, not that money, in and of itself, is evil.

Make your money in a good conscience and spend it un-selfishly and I think you're ok.

Sent by karla | 3:37 PM | 12-20-2007

Look at what the earth's resources/environment can sustain and then devide that by the number of people and you'll get a value for how much wealth is too much...

Sent by Jack Arendt | 3:39 PM | 12-20-2007

Is there a need to look critically at how wealth is achieved? If investments or whatever the means of wealth accumulation benefit you at the cost of the economy of another nation or an entire class of peoples who work in order to create bigger profit margins? Would Jesus be a capitalist?

Sent by Julian | 3:51 PM | 12-20-2007

We try to follow the teaching of the Lord in the Book of Mormon: "Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you. But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God. And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good...."
Thank you for discussing this important topic.

Sent by Mary Lee Call | 4:03 PM | 12-20-2007

In Luke 18:18-22, Jesus says to get into Heaven, we must sell everything we own and follow him. This supposed "Bible Preacher" obviously hasn't read all of the Bible.

Sent by Neodyme | 4:16 PM | 12-20-2007

I am an atheist and am far from being wealthy I think this is only an issue of faith when people MAKE it an issue of faith.

When people of faith have the means to provide the tithe for their church in expectation that the church will reach out to the community (ie. the poor) how is the efficacy of this proven? Is there oversight as to how this charity is spent? Soup kitchens/homeless shelters (and the like) run by religious organizations regularly set up shop to proselytize to these helpless and oft times vulnerable individuals. What's to stop said organizations from discriminating based on religious preference?

It's not about money and faith or this prosperity gospel. It's simple greed.

BTW, Warren Buffet was mentioned in the broadcast. He's one of most prominent philanthropists on the planet, he also happens to be an atheist as far as I know.

Thank you for the opportunity to express my view.

Sent by Larro | 4:18 PM | 12-20-2007

Wasn't the "wealth" issue one of the "hot topics" of Jesus' ministry? I don't think any other issue got as much "talk time" than gluttony.

It doesn't seem like Jesus talked much about sin, specific sins anyway. Gluttony was something he really didn't like. As Chris quoted from Matthew, its easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven.

Let's take a look. 30,000 people die of starvation alone, worldwide, everyday. A low estimate would make that number reach approximately 8 million people per year. The United States is about 5% of the world's population, yet we consume 45% of the world's resources.

I think Jesus told that guy that asked him about "How to get into heaven" that he needed to shed all of his belongings and "follow me."

He couldn't do it. Neither can Americans. Including the religious folk.

Good luck to all of us in squeezing through the eye of that needle.

Sent by Matt Smith | 10:00 PM | 12-20-2007

I see very few "poor" televangelists out there. The evangelical movement in the past few decades has intertwined itself in money and power to dominate the republican party and I haven't seen any of the most prominent leaders complaining about the massive shift of wealth in America to a smaller and smaller group while the poor are becoming more numerous.

They may talk the talk, but they don't walk the walk.

Sent by JKB | 10:27 AM | 12-21-2007