Keep Away from Christ-mongers, Right?

Benny HinnThis is a follow-up on the last post regarding the Didache. Some of my least favorite people are those that preach primarily for money, power, or fame. What I termed “money-preachers.”

As recorded in the Didache, the Twelve Apostles gave the following direction to believers:

12 Welcome Anyone Coming in the Name of the Lord

12:1 Welcome anyone coming in the name of the Lord. Receive everyone who comes in the name of the Lord, but then, test them and use your discretion.

12:2 If he who comes is a wayfarer, assist him as far as you are able; but he should not remain with you more than two or three days, if need be.

12:3 If he wants to stay with you, and is a craftsman, let him work for his living.

12:4 But if he has no trade, use your judgment in providing for him; for a Christian should not live idle in your midst.

12:5 If he is dissatisfied with this sort of an arrangement, he is a Christ peddler [also translated [“Christ-Monger”]. Watch that you keep away from such people.

The practical effect of much of the talk about whether Mormons or Evangelicals are “true Christians” boils down to how they are received by the side that judges their Christianity suspect.   I like the guidance here. The congregation is directed to include travelers who proclaim their Christianity if they are willing to work.  The text describes no specific theological test, believers are directed to test the preacher’s intent and motive.

From the beginning of Christianity, there was a problem with using the promise of salvation to get people to hand over their money.  Later in history, we can see those that peddled Christ could also get political power and cooperation by proclaiming the Christian cause. Christ-mongers play center role in the more embarrassing chapters of the history of Christianity.  The resignation of the Pope Benedict, partly due to the stress caused by dealing with the graft, money and politics inside the Vatican, shows that the problem is persistent and institutionalized.

I see the profit motive in Christianity as one of the more divisive forces, churches compete for believers for their money and resources.  The power and wealth that hinges on the support of believers is the breeding ground of schism, war, and wholesale swindling.

Mormons try to limit Christ-mongering inside the church by removing nearly all financial incentives for preaching and church service.  But the LDS are certainly not immune to the corrupting influence of affluence.

From the beginning of the movement, Mormons were quick to criticize Evangelicals for “priestcraft.”  I am interested to know how Evangelicals see this issue and how they police themselves.   

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8 thoughts on “Keep Away from Christ-mongers, Right?

  1. First if we can distinguish between prosperity gospel preachers, para-church groups, congregations and a paid ministry it will be easier to discuss.

    People who contribute to a prosperity gospel organization shouldn’t be surprised when the leader prospers.

    The same care in giving to any charity or voluntary organization should be exercised in giving to a para-church group.

    Fiscal transparency, understandable financial goals, an accountable governing body, and the free flow of information are the best method to prevent fraud in a congrigation.

    A paid pastor and staff is perfectly legitimate recognizing the educational requirements and demands of the position.

  2. “What is the LDS definition of “priestcraft”?”
    priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion. (2 Ne 26:29)

    That’s a fair definition of it…..priestcraft is largely a term found in the BoM. It basically entail preaching about God or hold a place of religious authority for some form of worldly gain….money, power, fame, political strategy, etc. Often the message of the gospel becomes distorted as well in the process and can lead to heated contention and divisions as the gospel/faith because based more onto who you listen to then directing one more toward God. Though not explicitly stated, there’s plenty examples in the NT (think Pharisees conspiring against Christ, or the discourse about not being of this or that religious authority). Today it could be seen in a number of televangelists or others where monetary gain is a major part of the discourse….though whether someone is paid or not doesn’t indicate that one is practicing priestcraft. I’ve met plenty of pastors who obviously worked primarily to bring others to Christ and had very little real world gain from it. It’s when the worldly measures takes a disproportionate priority within the goals of the church leaders that the idea of priestcraft comes into play.

  3. Just because we don’t pull paychecks doesn’t mean there aren’t ways that Mormons try to leverage their religious community for financial gain. A bit of this can be OK I think (just like I’m not opposed to a full-time minister receiving a paycheck), but it’s something to be careful about just the same.

    For instance, what do we say about a guy who runs a local car dealership in Provo, Utah who feels no real belief in Mormonism but attends church regularly just to add to his potential customer pool (since his fellow ward members are really good prospects to buy cars from him)?

    Is that “priestcraft?”

  4. Seems, reasonable. i had an LPO who worked for me that started going to a Church when he got his real estate license before retiring. Same basic principal. Everybody agrees…

  5. I am interested to know how Evangelicals see this issue and how they police themselves.

    The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability is one such way Evangelical police themselves. Not all church or organizations belong in their membership, but I think a baseline is to put into practice their “Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship”

    http://www.ecfa.org/content/standards

    I’m highly skeptical of any non-profit organization that is unwilling to practice financial transparency. I think that’s a tell-tale sign of priestcraft.

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