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.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s