October 9, 2006

Money, It's A Hit

I was watching television with my wife the other night and we happened upon one of the more prominent Christian channels, the Totally Bogus Network, and they were in the midst of one of their (never ending) fund drives. I can generally stand this insanity pretty well and occasionally even get a pretty good chuckle. Just remember the cardinal rule, whenever He is referred to as the Holy Ghost, something is about to bust loose. But this was beyond the ordinary. This was naked greed of a higher order. I wondered if this was even the same religion? Could this be Christianity? Did not Christ chase the moneychangers from the temple?

This is the verse they were milking:

Psalm 66:12 Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.

Of course the refrain was over and over, “into a wealthy place” like a mantra. Nothing about feeding the poor or clothing the naked, nothing about He must increase and we must decrease, nothing about fasting, nothing holy. It was worship all right, but it was not God worship. It was all about seed faith, about sending every last dime to them because God has promised that He will return the favor. They believe that God is bound to the contract, that if you give money, He has to give it back with interest. I read somewhere that if this were really true, and if they truly believed it, they would be giving their money away as fast as they could!

To my mind, this is one of the inherent problems with sola scriptura. They (and it was a conspiracy) were using scripture out of context to further their own greedy agendas. Any bunch of self-ordained folk, with a so-called ministry can interpret the Bible as they see fit or to benefit their own bottom line. And more importantly, they are very good at getting others to buy into their corrupt message. Without tradition and church teaching, and in the wrong hands, scripture can become a very dangerous weapon.

At the same time, I am amazed and humbled by the faith of someone who can step so far out onto the limb and actually send their money. Even if they are following false prophets, some of them are clearly stepping out on faith. May we all be willing to do likewise.

1 comment:

King of Peace said...

In this case, it is good for TBN to use the King James Version as they did. For the New Revised Standard gives it as, "a spacious place," while the Revised English Bible has "a place of plenty," the New American Bible Has "to freedom," the New Jerusalem Bible has "to breathe again," and that translation associated with wealthy people if not wealthy places is in the Book of Common Prayer which gives it as "a place of refreshment."

The Hebrew is larvayah with the "L" being a prefix meaning "to" and the word "ravah." According to the well-respected Brown-Driver-Briggs lexicon (page 924), the root means "to drink one's fill" or "to saturate." This is why it is translated above as a place of abundance or refreshment. Certainly for a desert people, a place saturated with water is a place of refreshment and abundance and maybe even a place where one can become wealthy.

But what matters more is what this text is doing. And in Psalm 66 we are moved from thankfulness for what God has done to coming into the Temple to worship. As the Old Testement scholar Walter Brueggemann has written, "This Psalm shows the move from communal affirmatin to individual appreciation, which is what we always do in biblical faith."

In context this verse they used to justify wealth shows thankfulness for how God brings life out of death. It'll preach, to be sure, but not in the way they used it.