Thursday, November 02, 2006
Give to God! Act Now And Get These Ginsu Knives 100% Free!
A while back, I wrote about my experience with Bishop and Con Man Dennis Leonard (and I would feel comfortable throwing “race baiter” in that mix, too, but it just didn’t flow). The Denver Post has a few articles on Leonard’s mega-church, The Heritage Christian Center, that spills a little light on the ministry of a man who encourages his flock to tithe in return for God’s blessings. That’s right, give 10% of your income and get that new car you’ve been drooling over.
I can’t imagine a more objectionable reading of Christian theology than this--the idea that tithing is actually an investment that will bring later material fortune is really missing the point, isn’t it?
First, if a Christian is looking for a good investment, try one of the broad-based market funds. The return is unlikely to be Hillary-playing-the-futures-market spectacular, but there is a reasonable expectation of steady long term return. Second, if a Christian is looking to honor God, then the money given isn’t for ultimately selfish reasons.
That is, the giving is a way of helping the church continue good works in the community and helping the needy. In fact, that is why I’ve always considered giving both of time and money to charities as being another way to honor God--it is giving with no expectation of return only in the hopes of spreading the blessings that I have recieved.
True giving is something that is done with no expectation of a quid pro quo.
Giving to the Heritage Christian Center is something that is done when one’s brain has turned to the off position, though.
The church--any church--does not exist to exault its pastor, feed egos, or make its leadership rich. It exists to spread the word of God, give believers a place of fellowship and learning with like minds, and to help the needy in the community. What Bishop Leonard preaches is a complete twisting of the teachings of Jesus (who hardly promised wealth or an easy road to his followers) into some spiritual Ponzi scheme.
Just be sure to get in on the bottom floor so that you, too, can get the best loot available, and know that you can’t win if you don’t ante up.
I would never encourage a Christian to not give, but giving should be done with both the heart and the head. With that in mind, here are my own personal rules for giving (whether it is to a church or to a charity.
I can’t imagine that I would ever find a moment where I gave money to Heritage Christian Center; I simply don’t trust a huckster like Leonard (who mindlessly insults me and then pushes for 10% of my income) to actually use the money for a good cause. For that matter, I realize that most of the money that is given probably goes to the upkeep on the Biggie-Sized church and the electric bill for the oversized neon “Sinners Welcome” sign.
We all ultimately do what our conscience dictates and mine has loudly encouraged me to find other outlets for my charitable giving.
(More links about Heritage Christian Center can be found in the extended entry.)
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