Friday, April 28, 2017

Deceivers and their Deceived

Within the past few days, I've seen three news stories about deceptive false teachers that had eye-popping numbers. Much could be said about these wolves, but here I want to consider the deceived, those who pack stadiums and cut the checks to support these charlatan ministries.

First: yesterday the offices of uber-heretic Benny Hinn were raided by the IRS (makes sense, long time coming) and USPS (suspected mail fraud perhaps?). When the IRS is through, we may get a peek into just how much money pours in for Hinn every year. Conservative estimates have been in the $100 million range, though it is likely significantly higher. Whatever the actual number turns out to be, it's a gargantuan amount of revenue flowing from deceived to deceiver.

Second: Robert Morris, famous for his "blessed life" version of the damnable prosperity gospel, appears to be encountering significant shortfalls, which would be absolutely hilarious when you consider what he teaches. But forget about the possible losses for a second and look at how much revenue this den of robbers takes in annually - about $147 million. That's... a lot. A thousand times more than my church's annual budget.

Third: Kong Hee, the self-appointed apostle of City Harvest Church of Singapore, had his sentence reduced from 8 years to 3.5 years, and his co-conspirators received similar reductions. Their crime? They had diverted at least $50 million Singapore (~$35 million US) to promote the music career of Kong Hee's wife in an attempt to conquer the media/entertainment mountains of the Seven Mountain Mandate. To have $35 million to use on a side project (largely consisting of the pastor's wife living extravagantly in LA and making awful music videos), you can imagine how much they must be raking in.

Three staggering examples of the extreme amounts of money these wolves have amassed. That cash comes from somewhere - despite the ludicrous miracle-working claims of Hinn and Hee, they can't make money materialize out of nothing. No, there are millions of people willingly forking over their hard-earned money to these charlatans. Why? Why would someone write check after check after check to these grifters? How can they be so deceived?

The unpleasant answer: they give them so much money because they want to. They are deceived because they want to be. They look at what these charlatans promise, and in their hearts they think, "I want that." Whether they are promising God as a means to superpowers and health and wealth like Hinn, or God as the Blessed Life Vending Machine where you put in your dollar and get back a hundred like Morris, or promising God will make you the miracle-working super-soldier who will conquer the world and gather the wealth of nations like Kong Hee, they are promising what the unregenerate, sinful heart wants.

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. (2 Timothy 3:2-5)
The vast majority of people giving to these wolves are not Christians being duped, but the unregenerate pursuing what the unregenerate heart craves. These wolves, and many others like them, promise all the pleasure and riches and fame the sinful heart desires, with just enough of a God talk veneer to make it look respectable. And the masses go after it, because it is ultimately what they want. They are not the duped innocent but willing participants.

What do we do about it? Keep reading in 2 Timothy and the answer is clear - know, believe, and proclaim the scriptures. In the face of such ungodliness, especially that claiming to be part of the church, we have this charge: Preach the word. In the gospel alone is the power of salvation.

Examples like these show us the depth of our sinful human depravity. Only the word of God can overcome our sinfulness, open our eyes from willful blindness, and bring us to life.