By Ron Halbrook
Many media ministers suffer from money mania. God warns that all kinds of evil will follow this malady:
They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim. 6:9-10).
Lust for money opens the door to unethical means and ungodly methods of obtaining money. Witness the spectacle of Oral Roberts claiming a 900-foot-tall Jesus appeared and later that God threatened to kill Oral if people did not send him an extra $8 million. The love of money unleases other inordinate desires. Witness Jim Bakker’s sexual escapade and his wife’s drug addiction. Grabbing big bucks often sets off a power struggle. The media ministers’ soap opera includes stories of slush funds and hush money, extortion and blackmail, threats and counter-threats.
The abuse of money, power, and sex is not new in the American religious scene. Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944) or “Sister Aimee” was a noted Pentecostal “healer” who promoted magnetic fund raising schemes, built the $1.5 million Angelus Temple in Los Angeles in 1923, and established the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel in 1927. Her ministry was marked by sensationalism, power struggles, and a sexual scandal in 1926. She died of an overdose of barbiturates. Billy James Hargis of Tulsa, Oklahoma was a fire-eating “fundamentalist” preacher often in the news until his sexual encounters with males and females were exposed. The Worldwide Church of God was rocked in the mid-1970s by charges and counter-charges over money, sex, and power involving both the founder, Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986), and his son, Garner Ted.
All men are subject to the temptations and dangers associated with lust for mammon, yet Jesus especially condemned the hypocrisy of professed religious leaders who hurt the cause of truth by their covetousness (Matt. 6:24; Mk. 12:40). False teachers are especially susceptible to such sins. At the root of every false doctrine is the appeal of worldly and ungodly principles, mixed with enough truth to increase its lure, which explains the great crowds and large sums of money often associated with error (1 Jn. 2:15-17; 4:5-6). Sin and error are debilitating – they “increase unto more ungodliness” and “wax worse and worse” (2 Tim. 2:16; 3:13).
Let’s compare and contrast what the Bible says with what we see today:
|What The Bible Says||What We See Today|
|1. Men Destitute of the Truth Think Religion Is a Way of Gain (1 Tim. 6:5).||1. Media Minister’s Message: Send money, more money, & much more money!|
|2. Peter Told One Who Tried to Get the Blessings With Money: “thy money perish with thee” (Acts 8:20).||2. Oral Roberts Says All Who Send Him $$$: “Come into Agreement with Me” to Get From God All the “Money,” “Health,” & “Spiritual Power” They Need.|
|3. No New Testament Apostle or Preacher Amassed a Vast Financial Empire or lived in a Palatial Mansion, But They Made Every Sacrifice to Spread the Gospel (2 Cor. 11:23-33).||3. Many Media Ministers Amass a Vast Financial Empire & Live in Palatial Mansions (some own several).|
|4. Preachers Drew the Lost by Preaching the Gospel of Christ, Not by Attaching Entertainment, Schools & Medical Services to the Church (Rom. 1:16; 1 Tim. 3:15-16).||4. Robert Schuller, Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Oral Roberts & Jerry Falwell Mix Entertainment, School & Medical Services with the Gospel & the Church.|
|5. God Taught Christians to Give for the Work of the Local Church on the First Day of the Week – As Each Prospers, No Certain Amount (1 Cor. 16:1-2; 2 Cor. 9:7).||5. False Religions Take Up $$$ Almost Every Time They Gather – Some Require Added 10 percent Levy & Keep Records on Member’s Giving.|
|6. God Promised the Age of Miracles Would End When All Revelation Needed to Complete the Bible was Finished (1 Cor. 13:8-13).||6. Roberts, Bakker, Swaggart, Pat Robertson, Kenneth Copeland, James Robison, Ken Hagin, et. al. Claim Miracles Did Not End When The Bible Was Finished.|
|7. Bible Preachers Said Sinners Are Saved by Grace When They Believe the Gospel, Repent of Sins, Confess Christ & Are Baptized (Mk. 16:16; Rom. 10:10; Acts 2:38).||7. False Teachers from Oral Roberts to Jerry Falwell Say Sinners Are Saved When They Believe & Pray for Jesus to Come Into the Heart.|
The church of Christ is still preaching and practicing just what you can read in your Bible. We are interested in your soul not your money!
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 21, p. 651
November 5, 1987