Thursday, December 17, 2009

Parsley Up to His Old Snake Oil Gig

Central Ohio snake oil salesman and embarrassment to Christianity, Rod Parsley, is pulling an Oral Roberts. One day after the death of the grand-daddy of the heretical "prosperity gospel" movement, Parsley was proving that there's no swindle like an old, proven swindle.

According to this report from The Columbus Dispatch, Parsley has gone to the airwaves, telling those who pay attention to him that his personal ministry empire is in financial trouble. It's the worst attack from the devil he's ever encountered, RodPar says.

Now read what Parsley said next:
"I believe as you sow your seed today in faith, God will reward you, I know he will, in a supernatural harvest in the area you need it most..."
When Rod tells his viewers "sow your seed today in faith," he means "send money to my organization." And the promise? In exchange for that, he says, "God will reward a supernatural harvest in the area you need it most..."

This, folks, is "works righteousness," the opposite of Biblical faith in every way. We cannot earn the blessings of God. They are free gifts from a God Who is gracious. That is what the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, teaches. We may block God's blessings from our lives through willful disobedience, careless heedlessness to God, or (are you paying attention, Rod) blasphemy, speaking falsehoods in or misusing God's Name. But we cannot earn God's blessings.

Nor can we give money in order to buy our way out of the hardships and pain that come in life on this planet. Jesus says that God "makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous" (Matthew 5:45). No one is exempt from the possibility of hardship. But God blesses us with His presence, strength, and promises even in the midst of our hardships.

Christians are to give, of course, and sometimes, sacrificially. But we're to do so not in the expectation of reward. We're to do it in gratitude for what God has already done for us, especially what He has already done for us in Jesus Christ on a cross and from an empty tomb. The New Testament book of Ephesians says:
For by grace you have been saved [from sin, death, and the devil] through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
As to Parsley's promise that after giving money to him, donors will be blessed in an area they need it most, God has already covered that. Jesus teaches us, you know, to pray for our daily bread, a petition that calls us to acknowledge that, God already gives all of us what we need.* This is why Martin Luther says of the fourth petition of the Lord's Prayer--"Give us this day our daily bread":
God gives daily bread, even without our prayer, to all people, though sinful, but we ask in this prayer that he will help us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanks.
Parsley's appeal for money is an old scam, designed to leverage money from the pockets of the desperate who need to remember that while the faithful use of our money, first of all for God's purposes and Christ's mission for His people, is a serious matter, we don't give in order to get something from God. We give because we've already gotten the greatest gift of all: new life as a free gift for all who dare to turn from sin and believe in Jesus Christ.

If you happen to be on Rod Parsley's mailing list and he drops you a line promising you special blessings if you send some money his way, how about doing this? Take whatever insert might be in the mailing and scrawl across it, "Dear Rod: No Deal. God has already blessed me in Jesus Christ. Sincerely, A Christian Believer." Then send the return envelope without any cash, but with a promise to pray both that God will guide Parsley and his ministry and that Parsley and his ministry will actually be open to that guidance.

Many ministries are facing tough financial times these days, as are a lot of people. We're coming out of the worst econcomic crisis since the Great Depression. While I definitely believe that the devil is active in our world, the fact that Parsley's ministry is short on cash doesn't mean it's under demonic attack.

Instead of making false, unbiblical promises in exchange for cold, hard cash, Parsley should pray for God's help, then, simply, explain what needs to be done, and finally, be prepared to maintain what is essential in his ministry--probaby a lot less than he thinks is essential--and to cut what God seems to be saying is unnecessary.

Don't expect Parsley to do any of that any time soon. And don't expect him to drop his heretical "prosperity gospel" talk either. That's how he built his empire.

*There is, of course, a human problem with sharing God's bounties with the world, attributable to sin. The earth produces more than enough for all. It's just that some hoard or use too much and cause others to go hungry, naked, or thirsty. This must change! Read Matthew 25:31-46

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