This 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.