A rant about Happy Shiny Salesman Preachers

Because sometimes I need a good morning rant.

Here's the scoop, with a tasty sprinkle of sarcasm:

If you wanted to promote yourself, sell your books, sell your brand of feel good -God wants you to be rich religion what do you do?

Here are my suggestions....but apparently the most "unfluential" pastors motivational speakers out there have already discovered these strategies on their own.

First,  appeal to people's basic greed.
In our natural hearts we have an insatiable lust for more.  More wealth, more prosperity, more success, more health....more fame.   Promise people that their wildest dreams with come true if they come to Jesus and they will come, by the thousands.  They will enthusiastically embrace the incarnate God of the universe as their own personal VLT token.

Next,  paint God as  a giant vending machine.  God the great idol giver!  Forget crushing your idols.  God wants nothing more than to serve you up your idols on a silver platter.  Is it status you want?....just ask.  Is it health you desire?..just demand it.  Is it riches you crave?...just put a coin in the slot...chant a few times and cha-ching.  Or at least that's what the smiling guy standing on the stage is thinking.  Cha-ching all the way home to the mega mansion.

Assure people that they deserve it.  This will seductively play into their natural religious and moral pride.  Sell them a vaguely Christian version of karma.  Everyone wants to feel in control of their own destiny.   If they send their money to the guy on tv , do some good deeds, and smile a lot...God will owe them whatever their sinfilled, corrupt little heart desires.   You deserve it after all.  Don't worry about anyone else....just show the world by example how an "abundant and victorious" life should be lived.  After all Jesus hung on that cross so you could have a Bentley...and a mansion on the hill.  You will win others to Christ purely by their jealousy of your money.  Inform them  that all they need to do is chant the holy name of Jesus, live by a basic code of ethics, and they could be this "blessed too".    That was God's ultimate plan all along....he wants you to be a shiny, happy, chipper, positive thinking, self made man.  Kind of like Jesus...oh wait...scrap that.

If you really want to get fancy, start selling people a generational version of God karma.  You are rich and "blessed " today because your great great great grand-daddy was a good guy who smiled at people a lot. Or  even better, God is going to "bless you with riches" today because your great great great grand-daddy was treated unjustly...and now God owes you some retribution payments. You deserve it!  The moral of the story is be nice, do nice things and your great grand daughter will thank you for it when money falls from the sky.  On the flip side if people are starving and suffering....they must deserve it too.  They should try harder to win God's "favor".  Seriously folks, people blindly soak this stuff up.  If you refer only casually to biblical references taken totally out of context they will never know you just made it up.

Lastly, Give daily tidbits of advice on how to live their best live now.   Keeping them addicted to ill informed anecdotes and advice about nutrition, health, finances, and  the power of positive thinking will help everyone feel like a king's kid.  Assure them that they have the power to make themselves good people.  They should impress God enough that he'll open up the coffers of heaven....or at least they'll open up their wallets to buy more of what your selling.

Whatever you do don't let people find out that  "God doesn’t get things done through spiritual pick-me-ups, but through death and resurrection." 

Self improvement advice is so much more palatable than preaching uncomfortable things like death to self, cross carrying, and sacrifice.  It certainly won't win you a spot on Goodmorning America or a page in Forbes magazine.  

If you don't sell Jesus along with an appealing inheritance reward package what are you left with?  Just Jesus.    After all, leading people to a life of humble repentance and  surrender, accurately teaching people the Word of God, ministering to the hurting with the truth that Jesus is sufficient...that Jesus is the reward...just doesn't quite have the same level of pizzaz and stage sparkle.  I suppose you could try adding some jazz hands and a little tap dance to the end of your biblical exegesis just to give it more stage appeal.  

Preaching that the sacrificial, radical grace giving, bloody, God glorifying, gospel of Jesus Christ is central and sufficient  for both salvation as well as sanctification just wouldn't do.   

Using the Bible as more than a feel good recipe for moral and successful living probably wouldn't sell very well either.  

 Preaching about the reality of our wretched totally depraved condition before a holy God just doesn't make people feel like the winner's they know they are.   Preparing congregations for suffering, loss and trials ....well they would rather hear 3 simple steps to make all their problems disappear.  

If you don't deceptively scratch their itching ears and tell them what they want to hear, who will? I'm sure satan doesn't already have that one covered.

A little something to think about.
Do we know to the depths of our spirits the all satisfying depth, breadth and beauty of the true gospel of Jesus Christ?  Or are we being charmed by something else?


Shannon said...

Yep. That's my kind of rant! Hey do you read Sit a Spell? She did a great post the other day and I thought you might like it. http://allthingshendrick.blogspot.com/2011/09/response-to-mark-driscolls-poverty.html

Carla said...

Thanks for the link! What an interesting discussion in the comment section of the Hendrick blog! I've spent a whole evening reading it all like a total nerd. I am a pretty regular reader of the Heartline bunch. Love them!

I think a lot of readers/commenters jumped to the conclusion, based only on that one story, that Mark Driscoll is part of the "prosperity gospel" mega rich, fame loving pastors...based on his whole body of work and life, I wouldn't put him in that camp at all. Although she really did make some good points in her response..and i do think that most people don't need to be reminded to enjoy the graciousness of their Father (most people do that by default). "poverty theology" can be just as misguided, works based, and idol filled as the "prosperity theology".

Marcy said...

My husband preached on Rev 14 (yesterday) which is all about hell (I was in children's church, so didn't get to hear it all). So he said something like "on this Thanksgiving day you may find it strange to have me talk on REv.14. Well, here it talks about Hell." He went on to talk about it and then say two things he's thankful about in this passage. That there is a hell, it is certain...and thankful that he's not going there. He said "Also, if you don't know Jesus yet, I'm glad you are here so I can tell you how to stay out of hell." I am paraphrasing what he told me. I thought it was a very good Thanksgiving sermon and one for the books. LOL!

Btw. I'm not certain I am making sense because I should be in bed...g'night

Carla said...

Not your typical thanksgiving sermon indeed :) But What greater thing do we have to be thankful for than God's incredible love and mercy?!...to those of us who were his enemies by nature and choice. Makes all the gifts and blessings received by his hand pale in comparison to what we have been so generously given in Christ.

Jobina said...

I love it! My ladies Bible study group is studying Romans and just finished the first chapter. No health and wealth gospel in there!