The Greatest That Never Was

800px-Josh_Gibson_HOF_PlaqueFor the purist of baseball, there are a few known facts which seem to be a consensus. The first is that Babe Ruth is the greatest player that ever was and possibly will ever be. Even people who were on steroids couldn’t reach the larger than life stature of the Great Bambino. Go back into a similar time frame and is another legend, but unfortunately, we will never know what will come of the greatest slugger in the Negro Leagues, Josh Gibson. Gibson often called the black Babe Ruth never got his chance to play in the MLB. It leaves a giant question of how good he could have been. It’s up there with such debates what would have happened if Ichiro would have played his whole career in the US? What if Prior and Wood would have not been hit by the injury bug? What if Dwight Gooden didn’t have a substance abuse problem? What if JR Richard didn’t have that stroke? Baseball if full of what if’s and the list could go on. However, the only legend which comes close to the Babe is that of Josh Gibson. He was rumored to have hit almost 800 home runs in his career. The only player who may have been better than Gibson during his time was Stachel Paige. Paige who many believe could have been one of the greatest if not the greatest pitcher of all-time but did not get his break until his 40’s. These two could have changed baseball’s history had they had the opportunity to play even by the age of 30. They will remain one of baseball’s biggest what if’s and go down as potentially the greatest ball players who never were.

Now we can sit around and fantasize about what could have been, but we will never know. When we look back it is another example of how stupid segregation was. It also serves as an example of how many today go about their day’s with unfulfilled potential. Within each of us is a God-given calling. Some of us have a grander calling in the eyes of man, but in the eyes of God, we are all equal. For some, they are held down by what their circumstances, for other we don’t have this hurdle. While many of us are only held down by ourselves. Our dreams are often within our reach but because we fear the unknown we don’t chase them. This is a terrible tragedy because as Christians we should all strive to be the best at one thing that is love. We all have different callings, but no one has ever been held back in their true calling because of love. We can’t afford to be held back by ourselves because life already throws us enough hurdles. We would never know who the Gibson’s or Paige’s of the world were if they would have one day thought that they couldn’t do what they do. While their potential may have never been fulfilled on the big stage they would have dreamed their impact remained. They may have never reached the Major Leagues in their prime of even at all, but think about the legacy they may have left behind. How many people saw them and want to be like them. How many people watched and were inspired to be better because of them. One of the things which often is forgotten is the impact of being the one who opens the door for the future.

During the Civil Rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr. never was able to see the world change as he dreamed. Nor did in the journey of the Israelites did Moses ever see the promise land. In our society, we need not only Moses’s, but we need Joshua’s as well. Not everyone will get that golden stage like Jackie Robinson did some of us will be legends in the shadows like Gibson. Just because we are not on the street we want to be on doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter. While Josh Gibson might not have played in the Major Leagues his legacy was in the hearts of a number of great baseball players.

For those of you who don’t know Josh Gibson died at the age of 35 in 1947. Four months later Jackie Robinson made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers and the rest was history.

“One of the things that was disappointing and disheartening to a lot of the black players at the time was that Jack was not the best player. The best was Josh Gibson. I think that’s one of the reasons why Josh died so early – he was heartbroken.” –Larry Doby

When I look at the story of Josh Gibson I have to wonder what he could have done and historians will forever think the same thing. He left his mark and left a legacy, but for many, that legacy could have been much greater if it were not for selfishness, greed, and racism. Still today people are struggling due to circumstances they cannot control. This is major because we first have to examine how we can make our world better by tearing down prejudicial barriers, but also shows why we need to invest. This my friends are why it is so important to invest in humanity. Support people who may not have everything which you have. One major hurdle was the reason the world never truly knew the legacy of Josh Gibson. How many people are being held back because they don’t have the means to clear a hurdle. You never know what that investment could turn into. Peace and Blessings Always My Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

Partisan Jesus? The Man, The Myth, The Imagination

keep-calm-and-trust-in-god-54One of the more troubling developments which is going on in out society today is this concept that our politics dictate our religion. News flash people Jesus was not this partisan buff. Let me make something clear Jesus is not a Republican. Jesus is not a Democrat. Jesus is not a Socialist. Jesus never joined the Tea Party. Jesus is not a communist. Jesus is not a Libertarian. Jesus does not lean to the Left or Right. Jesus is Jesus, Jesus is God, God is God, and to minimize God to partisan lines is heretical and despicable. It’s getting really ridiculous how our society is skewing so much. However, for some reason in America today we have this messed up reality that our politics drive our faith. Lo to you my brothers and sisters you need to stop this mentality right now. Faith should drive your politics and no this is not a call to bring faith into politics like some of you may be thinking. We cannot impede our objectivity because of politics.

“I don’t think the Republican party is a party full of the almighty God nor is the Democratic party. They both have weaknesses … And I’m not inextricably bound to either party.”

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Jesus is Not a Republican…Nor is He Part of Any Party

I start with this one because one of the biggest lies which people in this nation believe is that the Republican party is the party of God. I mean the grand ole’ party is the party of family values right? They are pro-life and wouldn’t dare to back down to any challenge pertaining to God. I mean the party bathes in the evangelical American image. However, like every other party in the US and the world, in general, they are fatally flawed. Humans are flawed in general so granted it a double edged sword. We can look at a number of reasons why God is not a Republican, but you can make the argument for all parties. As a Christian we are best suited to remain neutral. We should not be swayed by one candidate saying they believe vs. the other. What if that candidate say they are Christian, but don’t live by the Gospel. It’s counter productive. We can have a candidate for example who says they are pro-life, but then completely reject the lives in need who are homeless, refugees, etc. The GOP is often pro-defense, pro-guns(don’t take this out of context), and pro-death penalty often.

Now Democrats I’m not going to let you off here because you also do not live by the Gospel. However, you can be a Christian and be a Democrat like you can be Christian and be a Republican. However, you can not let these labels dictate how you live. Democrats are human and they have flaws. For example, the Democrats often lose a lot of Christians because of their pro-choice stance. If you’re a Christian you should see abortion as murder, but at the same time there should be a little budge in some extreme circumstances. Democrats too have flaws. I could go on and on and point to a number of these parties flaws, but guess what it doesn’t matter because God is control and God is God. The Bible doesn’t speak politics folks. Now I focus on the two major parties, but don’t think this means your political party aligns more. Politics are of the world and are created by man, man is flawed, and thus politics is flawed.

Stop Saying Jesus was a Socialist…He Wasn’t

I give this it’s own section because this heretical idea is catching steam. Around 25% of American believe this asinine concept. I get some of the connections, but Jesus Christ was not a socialist. Stop with the memes, stop with trying to connect the dots, it’s just not true. Every political party will reflect some aspect of God because we were made in His image. So yes, there will be some connections, but this does not mean that they were this, that, or the other. Socialism is a government controlled institution. Jesus did not need to make people equal or force people to be equal because we are already equal in His eyes. There is freedom in God, in socialism, there is a bit of a removal of freedom. God gave us free will and what this does it allows us to have a choice. While don’t get me wrong one powerful aspect of socialism is it advocates for it’s fellow man, but this is not the kind which Jesus advocated form. Socialism involuntarily removes money from one person and give it to another. There is a vast list on why Jesus was not a socialist so please stop with this reference.

Wrapping Up

Listen, I am not knocking politics, but it’s flawed we are a society far too wrapped up in it. I’m tired of hearing people say God is this, Jesus is that, you’re not Christian if you. Political ideology has not place to dictate our faith. It’s become an idol for many of us. God is God that’s the bottom-line. God supersedes politics. Christians can side with certain political issues, but they need to remain neutral. If you chose to affiliate with a party you better be prepared to be a maverick because no political system today truly honor’s the greatness of our God. In the grand scheme of things politics does not matter. Our devotion to God should come above any political system. Let’s fix this issue as Christians folks. Start by turning off the news and do your research. It begins with discernment of what God was about. It’s getting in the scripture and studying the Bible, learn about what the Bible really says.  Stop getting sways by the words of others. Stop supporting candidates which do not further the Kingdom of God. Peace and blessings always by brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

Two Fold Issue Here: Why Are We Letting Circumstances Drive Our Faith?

Just the other day I was reading an article on how 14% of Christians have left their church following the election. I find this troubling not because their actions were unjustified, but rather because it becomes yet another example of people who are letting their faith be driven by their circumstances. While I understand there were quite a few evangelical ministers who misused the pulpit to advocate for the sitting president we are seeing a nation become divided over politics. This yet another example of how the enemy is becoming more powerful in our nation. The risk of leaving their community is that finding another church which feels like home is hard. I have to wonder how many of these people found another community to join following this decision? While there is nothing wrong with changing churches because there may be biblically based disputes, but to give up on one’s faith over a politician is troubling. It opens the question how strong is the faith of those in America. Further troubling is the growing number of pastors abusing their authority to advocate for a candidate who does not live by the gospel. There was nothing which indicated the man the advocated for was living by the gospel. Nor were their actions ethical. There are two sides to this issue which really trouble me and the church needs to address this sooner than later.

Listen I know a lot of people who look at the separation of church and state as an enemy to faith, but when taken in the proper context it’s there to protect the church from oppression. It prevents state-sponsored churches. However, far too many people in this nation have no idea what this concept is about. They continue to skew everything it is about. Even worse there are pastors using the pulpit to advocate for politicians. This is 100% unethical. They have the right to advocate for a candidate, but not on the pulpit. Don’t get me wrong here speaking about politics on the pulpit and advocating are two different things. A pastor is well within his rights to speak on political issues, especially if it violates the core of our beliefs. However, speaking about advocating for a candidate is flat out wrong. Unless the other candidate is a major threat to our belief, our way of life, or anything which could alter the faith that’s one thing. However, many of them advocated for the one who was divisive, sexist, misogynistic, racist and living far from the gospel. They let politics interfere with good judgment. I am blessed to have a minister who leads my church with a nonpartisan mentality on the pulpit. Every minister should be politically neutral on the pulpit. While I can not blame these people for leaving their community I have to say my friend this is dangerous. You can not make change by backing down. It’s extraordinarily dangerous to leave your community without a backup plan.

Politics aside for a moment, Americans are particularly vulnerable to letting circumstances drive their faith. I am here to give you a stern warning this is wrong, dead wrong. Circumstances are just that circumstances. While a person who I do not support and many Americans do not support is in charge we have to push on past this. We have to be the change we seek. We have to unite rather than divide. We have to not only make the changes in our communities, but in our churches, schools, homes, and where ever we go. Don’t get me wrong if you are one of the 14% who left and did so because of biblical and theological concerns that’s fine. However, I provide another stern warning if it was by circumstances I am telling you, my friend, the enemy is winning. He is rejoicing right now that you have put a fork in your connection to God. I get it maybe that bridge which connected you to that community has been burned. However, in these time we have to stick together. We have to remain united in community. If you can’t find a church immediately get some friends together and worship. Follow a bible based and respectable digital community. However, times are changing and we need the church to rise. We can not lay down and let the enemy win.

This is the time for the church to be the church. Politics has not place leading theology. If you are in ministry and have concerns about a candidate and I mean legitimate issues please air them out. Russell Moore recently appropriately aired out concerns which were biblically based and he faced criticism. We need more ministers like Dr. Moore to rise up and appropriately use the pulpit to forward the body of Christ. We face divide right now folks and we as the church have to be the church. We have to help the sick, poor, and weary. We have to change the world for Christ. Peace and Blessings Always my brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

Make Disciples Not Converts

Have you ever been walking through the park and see a squirrel? Often as you approach this person they are often frightened that they will scurry off into the closest safe spot they see. We don’t mean to frighten this poor little animal, but their instinct knows that someone out there might. Due to our disproportionate size, we become intimidating. It’s not that the squirrel has something against you, it’s just trying to live. Live their life like they have gone about many times before. However, we can become this way to others around us. We as Christians walk around with this larger than life appearance because we know the truth, the power of God, and walk with the creator. We often forget that not long before we made that conversion, we were saved, we were likely the same way. We too were obviously not squirrels, but we are small and weak in spirit. We were empty and did not know about the great power which we now experience. Somewhere along the line someone who walked in the larger manner reached out to you and gained your trust. As a Christian, we are all given a calling to share this truth which we have. However, most of us do this the wrong way. Evangelism is not easy, but it’s a must. Not everyone is going to be taken away and swept off their feet by you walking up to them and saying “HEY YOU, GO TO CHURCH!” First and foremost, this takes away so much from the process. Far too often this person’s spirit will scatter off much like that squirrel in the park. Likewise, it’s best not to call them out by their sin because they will deem you judgmental and a hypocrite. There is a way to get all to that wonderful finish line which we are all marching towards, but it takes time and patience. Patience that could take a lifetime.

In my opinion, many people think evangelism is trying the be Billy Graham in the middle of the streets and trying to preach. The only issue with this is there is only one Billy Graham. There is no shame in being the guy who gets only a handful of people to convert in their life. Evangelism in my view is not about quantity, but quality. As we are all brothers and sisters, the most important thing you can do for this person you want to convert is loved them. Love them as much as you can without breaking the law. If you don’t they will become that squirrel. Love them to your best ability and make them a friend. It’s much easier to build a rapport and evangelize with a true friend than the random stranger sitting across from you at Starbucks. If you think you’re that gifted feel free to give that dice a roll, but often you’re going to fall flat on your face. I don’t stand alone in this belief though. Many people share a similar mentality that you should make friends before you attempt to convert. When you take the time to befriend this person you are already creating the example. In all your friendships, you should be the living example of what Christians should be. Immediately people will begin to see that you’re different but in a good way. Not only this, but you’re giving them a blueprint to model. The great thing about becoming friends with this person is over time they are more likely to breakdown because they trust you. Now let me make this clear before I go too much farther, don’t make friends with someone who you may not get along with because you want to convert them. Back on point here, having a friend you are trying to make a believer is wonderful because you not only will be there if they have questions, they will also be there once they go through. If they continue to refuse all you can do is pray. When it comes to 21st-century evangelism you can’t jam the Bible down someone’s throat and expect that to make them believe. One they will likely choke and two you have lost their trust. Try forcing something on that squirrel and they will likely maul your face. So, we need to stop this whole concept that the most impactful way is to find strangers and convert them.

The big issue with random evangelism is that you have to wonder the quality of the convert you’re bringing in. Are you making a convert on a path towards religiousness or are you making one on the path to discipleship? People often mirror the examples they have if they think Christianity is about getting people to church then they are missing out on about 99% of Christianity. This is a life long journey and a walk with Christ to become more like Christ. Eventually, along the chain of stranger conversion oriented mentality comes the ignorant believer. When we have, the ignorant believer comes the skewing of doctrine, bad theology, and simply bad Christians. When we bring someone to church we must be in it for the long haul. When you chose to evangelize, you’re taking a huge risk because you’re in one manner taking responsibility for one’s spiritual formation.

Again, you’re not Billy Graham my friend you’re not going to get a mass revival following. We should have a sense of reality when we are choosing to evangelize. It’s not enough to show a squirrel where the acorns are, eventually those acorns are going to be gone. What happens when that rush of the acorns is gone. Not only do we have to bring them to the acorns, but show them the best trees, show them show the climb them, and how to be the squirrel they are meant to be. Ok, maybe I should stop with the squirrel reference here. The point of this all is though we have to focus on the quality of the convert we are bringing in. If we evangelize wrong we are not only at risk of losing this person, but we are at risk of leading down a darker path. I tell you all this, but I will be quite honest with you I am terrible at this evangelism process. If numbers are the measure of a quality evangelist then I am terrible I think I might have led to two, three at best who would seek relation with God. You have to stick with these people. The number does not matter the quality does. Keep that in mind. Peace and Blessings always my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Freedom Only When Convenient

THE NEW YOUAfter a few days off folks, I am back. I have been quite busy with seminary and am finding new ways the Holy Spirit is filling me to do great things. The Lord is truly at work in our world, but so is the enemy. One of the things which I have continued to see as a disturbing trend is the censoring of religion. One of the wonderful things about our nation is this concept of convenience based freedoms. For example, it’s very convenient to commend a cop for doing his job when someone has just broken into your house, but when they are pulling you over on the side of the road very few are thanking the system for working. Likewise, we have this gift of not only freedom of speech, but also freedom of religion. While it’s nothing new that atheist and other anti-religious organizations are trying to tear down all things which we believe and hold dear they seem to forget the system which we reside in. Now I am not attacking all atheist here some of them kind hearted people, but that’s the thing about the nation we live in. People should be able to freely express their beliefs whether that is in God or not. We live in a nation where people can worship the “force” and proclaim to be Jedi’s. So as ridiculous as that is many nations do not have this freedom. We live in a nation with such ability to do as we please. However, I find that far too often we are easily offended. Far too often we get consumed with what we want and forget the issue. Separation of church and state is still a prominent debate and yet so few people who are in the debate have the slightest clue what they are talking about.

Maybe its time to Leave Thomas Jefferson Alone

220px-reproduction-of-the-1805-rembrandt-peale-painting-of-thomas-jefferson-new-york-historical-society_1Jefferson seems to be the center of this whole debate because Christians want him on their side and Athiest the same. Well, news flash he was likely neither. Jefferson was definitely not an Athiest he did believe in God. However, Jefferson was not a major fan of organized religion. Nonetheless, Jefferson has been credited to be a believer in Biblical teachings. He was a rationalist and essentially would cherry pick the Bible and take away portions he could not rationalize. While he did criticize organized religion, that didn’t mean he didn’t believe in Christian doctrine. He had a faith battle. He like all of us should, questioned his faith and looked at why he believes what he believes. So let’s clear the air here none of us know what his belief was. You can’t say for certain so stop trying to label him.

He is credited with coming up with the concept but Jefferson is painted at this anti-church, Athiest who is against the church from influencing everything around us. This is far from the truth. For those of you who do not like to skew history to prove an argument Thomas Jefferson, yes, was for separation of church and state, but this was not because he was against the church. Often times this mentality was to protect the church. When this nation was founded they were surrounded sought religious freedom from state-controlled religion.  What this means is that if you were not x, y, or z then you were breaking the law. For example, in early America, if you were Baptist you were breaking the law because you were not Anglican like the rest of the commonwealth. Thomas Jefferson was by no measure the most religious man in the world, but he without a question believed in God. He would be what many call spiritual, but not religious these days. Jefferson believed in the freedom of ideologies to allow us to choose. He didn’t fight for this to block one group from the other, but to allow all ideas a platform to stand on. If people eventually struck it down essentially it would die out.

“Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.  What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.” –Thomas Jefferson

The quote above is by Jefferson but these are not the words of an Athiest. This is the facts of people who claim to be Christians. This is no different than a lot of other ideologies. His critique of Christians holds some Biblical backing. When I read this quote I can only think of the parallels to the Bible. For example, Matthew 7:5,

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. 

People have acted as hypocrites for many years Christian and non-Christian. Every group of people have hypocrites. If you are reading this, friend, you are a hypocrite. All of us are hypocrites. It’s irrational to think otherwise. Not to mention plenty of ministers have said similar things. For example, Father Brennan Manning the author of the Raggamuffin Gospel.

“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

Thomas Jefferson may not have been a devout Christian, but he was a defender of the faith, and all faiths to be honest. Any quote you read about Jefferson speaking out about faith is because of religious intolerance not because of an underlying unbelief. Take the quote below.

“In 1769, I became a member of the legislature by the choice of the county in which I live, & continued in that until it was closed by the revolution. I made one effort in that body for the permission of the emancipation of slaves, which was rejected: and indeed, during the regal government, nothing liberal could expect success. Our minds were circumscribed within narrow limits by an habitual belief that it was our duty to be subordinate to the mother country in all matters of government, to direct all our labors in subservience to her interests, and even to observe a bigoted intolerance for all religions but hers.” -Thomas Jefferson

Funny thing is this is a defense of the free practice. As a nation compose of hundred of different sects of Christianity alone why should you not be free to practice as a Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Episcopalian, Born Again, or whatever else there is. Especially within in Christian belief why are we not uniting here, we have the same core belief we just go about our business differently. See back before Jefferson was President he ensured our rights to practice freely. He believed that all those denominations should have a chance to spread their views.

I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment or free exercise of religion, but from that also which reserves to the states the powers not delegated to the United States. Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise or to assume authority in religious discipline has been delegated to the General Government. It must then rest with the states, as far as it can be in any human authority.” –Thomas Jefferson

So yes, Thomas Jefferson believed in separation of church and state. However, people often take his words out of context. The matter goes two ways, the government should not interfere with free religious practice. Jefferson says that public schools should not favor one ideology of the other not to say one is invalid, but to allow people the ability to cognitively think and choose. People on both sides of this issue are completely misguided.

 Who are we Hurting?

Far too often I feel like this is a matter of who cries the loudest. It’s because you are selfish and want to get what you want. Let’s be honest it has nothing to do with but what you think. This is wrong to the core. As a Christian, we should not become offended when someone says they don’t believe or even attack our belief. Your faith should be much strong than some misguided soul’s words. However, to the atheist out there who is it really hurting that there is a cross on a building or a Bible verse somewhere. Is it really hurting you? Is it going to kill you?  This whole debate is really idiotic. The whole thing is you can’t say this name or the next is dumb. Historically speaking to the non-believers out there, there is only one rational debate you can have. Jesus Christ was a real person and plenty of evidence supports that the only thing you can deny is His divinity. Which is foolish because what you have to lose vs. what you can gain is really unbalanced. I’m not going to make this a debate of faith right now. However, we have to stop censoring facts because they are facts which other people disagree with. Facts should be facts bottom line.

Wrapping Up

This whole issue is often blown out of proportions. For those of you who are Christians, you should know that our God is greater than any opposition any person can every muster up. The whole matter of separation of church and state is often blow out of proportions because people want to tailor facts to fit their reality. Thomas Jefferson is one of the most skewed figures in American history. He lies at the center of this debate, but we don’t know the true faith of Jefferson. However, his quotes do live on. I can say for certain there is not a single Jefferson quote which shows he hated Christians or was an atheist. While he was critical of some aspects of organized religion he was an advocate for the free practice of faith. Many times the separation of church and state is to protect the church. We need to stop being so easily offended by what people say. Let Hugh Freeze post Bible verses on his Twitter, and let’s be grateful for the freedoms we do have. Peace and Blessings to you Always my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Homer the Heretic and Televangelism Could What You Watch Be Damaging Your Theology?

DISCLAIMER: (THIS IS NOT A POST BASHING TELEVANGELIST, BUT THE ACTIONS OF A SELECT FEW. IT’S DESIGNED TO GET YOU TO DO YOUR HOMEWORK ON WHO YOU CHOSE AS A TEACHER. THERE ARE MANY GREAT TELEVANGELIST DON’T LET THE BAD APPLES RUIN YOU. HOWEVER, SOME ARE LET’S NOT LET THEM RUIN OUR SOULS.)

heretic666For those of you who are followers of this blog you know, I am an avid Simpsons fan, I love watching the show, let’s face it, it’s downright entertaining. Now no one in their right mind is going to the iconic show for theological advice nor are they going to most mainstream television shows. While in many of these shows we can connect the dots to theological value, we must be careful about the sources of information we receive. One of the biggest risks many Americans run is falling victim to following a heretic. One of the more religious-themed episodes of the Simpsons is an episode called Homer the Heretic. Rather than going to church on Sunday’s, Homer decides to spend his time loathing around the house, watching football, and skewing his theology. Homer was comfortable in his environment because that’s what the enemy wants you to believe. Many of us like Homer wouldn’t mind sleeping in and skipping a Sunday or two, but there is major risk in doing so. Homer was comfortable but by the end of the episode, he felt the fires. In fact, The Simpson residence caught fire and Homer’s life is on the line. He was saved by the volunteer fire department and was flung to safety by his neighborino Ned Flanders. Homer’s life was spared by the power of God sending these folks to his residence to save him. Homer’s actions were heretical and he is much like many of us. We are all like this in many ways. Heresy from Homer Simpson is excusable because he’s a fictional character. However, many of us like the messages of said televangelist, and unlike Homer Simpson who will never have to meet our God and account for his actions these ministers will.

pastor_thumbJames 3:1 provides a stark warning to those who become teachers that they will be judged in a harsher light. Not only are they responsible for the theology of themselves, but they are also in charge of the theology of hundreds to thousands of others. Between TD Jakes, Joel Osteen, and Creflo Dollar they reach about a quarter million people on a weekly basis between the three of them. Now do not get me wrong sometimes their message can be compelling and their message can have theological value, but we should be critically examining any message which we hear a decipher whether or not it is in accordance with the gospel.

What do Joel Osteen, TD Jakes, Creflo Dollar, Bill Hybels,  and Brian McLaren all have in common besides being mega-church pastors? They never attended a seminary. Now many of you may be wondering what the issue is but if you are part of a major denominational body then your pastor has gone through at a minimum of a year in some of the intensive seminary program, most usually go through around three years if they are attending full-time. What seminary does is it challenges one’s faith. It is formative. I am currently going through seminary and one of the thing that pains me are these minister who takes short cuts. In the United States, there should be no reason why a senior pastor should not have seminary training. I understand other nations where it may not be available, but in the US there are 189 accredited seminaries. Let’s take some examples for instance if TD Jakes would have attended seminary there would be no debate on his view of the Trinity.

creflo-dollarNot to mention there is a large amount of greed among many of these ministers. I would argue Creflo Dollar is the worst. For example, he was born Michael Smith, so right off the bat, I would argue he’s not even trying to hide it. I think among the televangelist Mr. Dollar may be the most dangerous one to follow. He is a man clearly not living by the gospel. He makes millions of dollars, and he is known for a number of controversial claims such as “God want’s him to have a private jet.” Not just a private jet, but one paid for by the church. He is known for living a lavish lifestyle. His teachings are blasphemous. His teachings are absolutely heretical. He’s a strong advocate of the prosperity theology. Let me make one thing clear that God does not once every promise our life on this planet will be perfect. Everything in the Bible points to living modestly and giving. Dollar owns a million dollar home, drives two Rolls-Royces, and yes has his precious private jet. He receives an F in terms of financial transparency by Ministry Watch. In 2010, Dollar and a number of prominent televangelists were investigated for receiving profit.

paula-whiteThere are plenty of televangelist without formal seminary training Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, and Paula White to name a few more. A few of those names may be familiar the last one is the twice divorced, three times married, and active Donald Trump supporting televangelist Paula White. White, I’m sure you might have guessed it never attended seminary. Joyce Meyer may have a “degree”, but it is from an unaccredited school in Tampa. So likewise has had no formal seminary training. Copeland is notoriously known for having a “fake degree.”

350px-joel_osteen_preachingIf you want to know why seminary is so important, watch the interview between Joel Osteen and Larry King. Osteen put out a wide array of I don’t know to some basic questions. He was unable to explain why Christianity is the one true faith. While some of the messages Osteen puts out on a week to week basis have some value, he’s more of a spiritual motivational speaker. I understand he doesn’t take a salary from the church and much of his millions come from his books, but he has such a massive following and his teachings are generally theologically weak or lacking in doctrine. For example, he refuses to preach on hell. Well, I hate to point it out, but it’s a real place and all believers need to know about it. It’s a destination for everyone if they are not careful. If we didn’t need to know about it then it would not be in the Bible. His message is almost the same every week about how Great God is and how someone he knows triumphed because of God or being a member of Lakewood. It’s a watered down Gospel.

Let me make a few things clear. Christianity is all about forgiveness and people through God overcoming their shortcomings. These folks are humans and make mistakes like the rest of us. I am not saying ridicule them or tear them down. No they need our love and our prayer. These people need God just like the rest of us. However, is a minister one should not bring such things to the pulpit. God is not a tool to get rich. The pulpit is not place for greed, skewed doctrine, and heresy. We have all been there though. How many times do we buy things we don’t need, want something more. They faced temptation just like us. Like these individuals we should always be praying for our ministers and church leaders because they have such a daunting task. We are all called to ministry in some form but pastors are called to lead a flock. They are simply humans like the rest of us. They have issues, they have sin. While some things can be work out internally. Others really should lead to a soul search and a re-connection with God. Out theology our faith is far too important to place it in the hands of one who may be corrupted. It’s far too important to place it in the hands of a false teach.
Now I am not proclaiming seminary to be a catch all and the cure to all of the bad theology out there. Many prominent leaders in the church have gone without the seminary, for example, Charles Spurgeon, but Spurgeon didn’t skewer the Gospel. While he may have not had the luxury of attending seminary his message stuck to what was in the Bible and many prominent televangelists have moved from this. Likewise, not every televangelist is a heretic there are plenty of mega-churches who do great things in the name of God. Additionally, many televangelists have the proper training. This is not a post to bash televangelist because there are many outstanding ministers who go this route, but before you follow some of them check into their background and make sure it aligns with God. In these times we cannot run the risk of following a false teacher. Our lives are on the line. Peace and blessings always by brothers and sisters in Christ.