imageLet me say off the bat that I am not a fan, at all, of most of the ministries that were under investigation.  Many of them promote a health and wealth gospel which is contrary to what the Bible teaches.

I also think that many of the pastors involved are overpaid and budgets are too lavish.  However, I also think that it is none of the federal government’s business, and so I’m glad that Senator Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA)  investigation into six different churches/ministries has come to an end.

If the people who attend or who give to these churches are not happy with the fiscal practices of these congregations they can vote with their feet and/or wallets.  With Senator Grassley being a lifelong Baptist I was surprised when he started this investigation back in 2007.  Would he have liked his church being investigated?

Somehow, I doubt it.

HT: Iowa Freedom Report

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  1. I agree with you on all points. It never fails to amaze me that people don’t see the danger of restricting the religious freedom of others whether it be goofballs like Grassley was investigating or Muslims or ….

  2. While I don’t really agree with the ministries Grassley investigated, I don’t see any disconnect between the bible and health and wealth. I don’t really understand why people attack it as being out of step with the bible, when health and wealth are threaded throughout the bible.

    I’ll explain, at least on the wealth side:

    – God first gave Adam dominion over the earth, and even told him where gold was, and God called the gold good. (See Genesis 2)
    – Abraham was very rich (Gen. 13:2). As was Isaac. Joseph was also a man of wealth.
    – The children of Israel left the land of Egypt with silver and gold (Psalm 105:37)
    – The blessings in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 all included wealth on the condition of obedience to the law.
    – David and Solomon were ridiculously wealthy, as was Job.
    – The wise men brought Jesus gold, frankincense and myrrh as gifts. I’m not saying Jesus was wealthy per se’, but his ministry was financed. (Luke 8:1-3). It was financed well enough that Judas would pilfer from the bag and it wasn’t really noticed. The roman soldiers threw dice for his clothes, so they had to be rather nice. They couldn’t have been rags. I find it interesting also that at the anointing of Bethany (John 12, Mark 14) a woman poured a very costly flask of oil on him for his burial, and it was the disciples that rebuked her for “waste”, saying the money could’ve been given to the poor. That sounds like a lot of Jesus’ disciples today, when they say it’s a waste fora minister to have a nice car, private jet, etc. Look, I think if it creates a stumbling block for others to hear the gospel, then maybe they shouldn’t do it, but I again, this is a tremendous story, one that Jesus said would be told wherever the gospel was preached in the world as a memorial to her.
    – The Bible talks about Jesus becoming poor so that we might be made rich. (2 Cor. 8:9) The context is offerings for the poor saints and Jerusalem. In the next chapter, Paul says we should have all sufficiency in all things and be able to give generously to every good work. (ch. 9, vs. 8)
    – Revelation speaks of the nation bringing their wealth to the New Jerusalem (ch. 21)

    And if you think I’m just taking a televangelist’s interpretation of these scriptures, this is mostly a message taught by Wayne Grudem in his systematic theology course on iTunes (Bible Interpretation, I believe Pt. 4), who is hardly a wild-eyed, cotton-spitting, TV-preaching “charismaniac”.

    Now if you say “health and wealth” gospel is not biblical, I hope you mean the excesses, which are completely out of control and yes, heretical. But preaching that God wants you to have a bit of wealth I believe is part of us “taking dominion”. Wealth is relative to where you live, of course, but it would seem that the bible definition is not being dependent on anyone else and having enough to bless your neighbor with. God isn’t against wealth so much as he’s against covetousness, which is idolatry. I’m also not saying that wealth is guaranteed, there will be poor among us, and we may be tried with poverty at times in our lives, but I think God wants to help us get out of that situation that would oppress us.The church needs to get out of this Gnostic, Manichean idea that material and body is bad. God cares these things, he created them, and I don’t believe it is for the devil and his crowd.

    But I totally agree, the government has no business poking their nose in the affairs of these ministries, even if they are out in left field. Sorry for the rant.

  3. You could say that I come out of the same “family” or ideological/theological milieu as most of the ministries investigated. I’ve even given money to one or two of them at one time. So I don’t think their “health and wealth” gospel is wrong exactly, I do believe God wants his people blessed financially and in health. However, most of them do a poor job being stewards of their blessings and that can give people the wrong impression. There are just too many other good works out there to give to. But that’s our choice and responsibility as believers to follow which heavenly causes God wants us to invest in, not the government’s.

    It might have been worthwhile if this investigation had turned up evidence of criminal wrongdoing. As it is, Grassley just wasted 3 years and countless taxpayer dollars just to make a point.

  4. Good points. Concerning the “health and wealth” gospel, here’s my take. I believe that Jesus wants folks healthy, but getting healing is not as easy as some of these ministers would claim. For instance, if you’re paralyzed and spend your whole life in a wheelchair, it would take a miracle from God to heal you, and it seems there is very little power in the Church today. Do I believe that God could do it? Yes. But as weak as the Church is, how is the person ever supposed to find healing? It’s seems to be a lot easier to get healing when your condition is less serious.

    Having said that, I do think it is biblical to pray for healing. The Bible shows many examples in the NT of prayer for the sick. At the same time, if healing doesn’t come for a person, they should never feel guilty or condemned, as if it’s just their fault. And no one should ever look down on someone who’s sick either.

    Concerning wealth, I have a different take on that. I don’t believe that God promises wealth to anybody. I do believe that He promises to meet a person’s needs, and to prosper them as He sees fit, but that’s entirely different from giving them wealth per se. I see no examples where the NT saints are promised or encouraged to seek wealth. In fact, it seems to be the opposite. There are many warnings about seeking wealth and uncertain riches throughout the Bible. I think wealth is a lot like a spouse–Paul says that if you’re not married, you shouldn’t seek one. If God brings you one, great. But otherwise, you should try to be content living a fulfilled single life. Similarly, if God brings you wealth, great–I just don’t think that you should actively seek it. I believe that actively seeking wealth is equivalent to serving Mammon.

    These are just my opinions, of course.

    1. 2 Corinthians 9:8 speaks of having all sufficiency in all things and being able abound unto every good work. That means all of your needs met, and being able to meet the needs of others. If that isn’t wealth, I don’t know what is. But you’re right, I think our focus should not be on getting wealth, but putting first the kingdom of God.

      1. Thanks for bringing up that verse. However, I don’t think 2 Corinthians 9:8 implies a lot of the stuff that many televangelists preach. It doesn’t mean that God will necessarily make you a millionaire, give you a 10,000-square-foot house, etc. It does promise that He will do a good job of taking care of you (financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc.), which could happen even if your lifestyle may seem a bit modest compared with the lifestyles of the rich and famous. 🙂

        As you said, our focus should be on putting the kingdom of God first and depending entirely on HIm, and letting Him fill in the details.

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