Matthew 7:15 (NIV) “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

Matthew 24:11: (NIV) “…and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”

2 Timothy 2:23 - 25 (NIV) - 23Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. 24 A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. 25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Invasion of the Prosperity Gospel in Evangelical Churches: Right Here at Celebration Church in Jacksonville

"But I will promise you this: if you start to tithe, God WILL bless you financially like never before. I will promise you that, and I will say this: every time I have talked about tithing we ALWAYS do get testimonies guess what: 'I gave my first tithe and the following Monday'....or the following Wednesday, or the following Friday, within the first week, there is some type of blessing, raise, refund, sign from God."  Stovall Weems
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We all expect Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland to preach a false prosperity gospel message. How many of us getting ready for church on Sunday run the channels and see these clowns on TV misrepresenting the Christian faith - telling people if they will send money God will give it back? That God can't bless them UNLESS they send money? We expect the likes of Peter Popoff to give us false promises concerning giving money and receiving blessings from God.

But sadly, now many of those who laugh on Sunday mornings at Benny Hinn on TV drive Sunday morning to their churches only to find that the same teaching has now worked its way into their own local church! Some pastors will misuse the bible, will abuse their congregations and completely misrepresent the Bible and will present atypical testimonies of nameless givers who receive financial rewards based on the size of their gift to the pastor's church.

Here in Jacksonville, this is going on right in the largest and fastest growing evangelical church in the city, Celebration Church. And the large numbers of young Christians who attend this hipster church are being misled by their pastor, Stovall Weems, and Robert Morris who Weems invited to speak at Celebration last month.

I want to call on Stovall Weems and the lay leaders of Celebration Church to denounce the false prosperity gospel that has been entered their church.

Please, Stovall, renounce this nonsense. Is your church that desperate to raise revenues that it would resort to this? Have you become that greedy? Admit that this teaching hurts Christians financially, that it is spiritually abusive - and ultimately when the young Christians who are buying your nonsense now wake up and realize they've been lied to, they may very well leave the faith altogether.

Lay leaders at Celebration: confront this issue head-on with Stovall. You know what you saw last week from Robert Morris, and his phony-baloney teaching is NOT what your church is about in this community - or is it? Your church is better than that, and you need to do a much better job of screening the speakers that you bring to Jacksonville.

In the video below you will see four clips that demonstrate what I'm talking about. The first one is Stovall Weems himself promising that if the church members will tithe, God will financially bless them. In the next three, Robert Morris gives three stories of people from his church that gave large gifts to the church, only to have God "miraculously" return the money to them.

Morris' implication from the three testimonials he recites is clear - it is no implication at all - it is a direct claim: if you give at or over the 10% level (to your church, of course), God will miraculously bless you financially.

If Robert Morris were selling a product on TV, he probably could be sued by the Federal Trade Commission for false advertising. An advertiser can not give non-typical consumer testimonials of the benefits of a product that are not typical of the average consumer - unless they put up a disclaimer that gives the ACTUAL results that can be expected. Since 2009, the FTC has ruled that not even a "Results not typical" disclaimer on the screen would be sufficient consumer protection from outlandish claims in atypical testimonials.

But of course, this is the wacky world of modern evangelicalism, where just about any financial claim can be made to get the peeps to fork over more money - with very little accountability and transparency on how it will be spent. We see Kenneth Copeland do it - but now we see pastors in large evangelical mega churches doing the same thing. The Bible continues to be used by professional religious men to build religious empires and enrich themselves and their family members, by using lies and deception mixed in with Jesus Christ to trick those who desperately want - that desperately need - God to bless them.

It is what Martin Luther fought against 500 years ago: religious hucksters trying to peddle their religion to make a buck and build an empire with phony and false promises. They were called "indulgences" in Luther's day.

But this deception is back with a vengeance in 21st century Christianity - complete with slick marketing and social media to promote it - and there is no Martin Luther around to stop it. Perhaps no one cares anymore - we just let the gullible be the gullible.

But maybe the lay leaders at Celebration can do something about it at their church. I hope they will.

21 comments:

Mark said...

These modern day "churches" have little resemblance to the early church.
Once the preacher gets bit by the tithing bug, that's all he can see...and preach...green. It infects the entire congregation.
I always say, the only ones who prosper from tithing are the preachers and their families. It's a giant pyramid scheme and those at the bottom are made to feel guilty if they don't buy into the system.

Anonymous said...

Dog! We are in the wrong business! Just checked out Roberts newest house. He is moving right on up:

http://www.tad.org/datasearch/re.cfm?Account=%28%2F%210LJ%2D02KPP%20

Heard Ed Young sold his house and gave all the money to FC. Looks like he had enough leftover to buy this nice property.

http://www.dallascad.org/AcctDetailRes.aspx?ID=00000352312000000

Both of them are a really nice size!

Anonymous said...

This is not about tithing. This is about religion being FALSE. Period. This is proof of it. Period.

Anonymous said...

Dog, If i read you right over the years you do agree w/ the basic principle of God requiring a "tithe" but really it is just a regularly performed small "sacrifice/token" in order to say Thank You for how you Have (past/present/future) blessed me. No Expectations. Just worshipful gratitude! Just look today- even the "homeless person" fares better than some 3rd world countries.
Whats Sick is this "greasing the skid / primeing the pump" teaching like we obligate God Almighty to anything.
The church we recently joined after leaving a "biggy" has a pastor who preaches straight up gratitude and thankfulness. "Now go and tell others..." It is amazing how it attracts familys, encourages dads, comforts wives, and causes kids to Want to be involve. We just keep growing (2 services) and now have to ask folks to consider attending the early service to "make room". All in Celebrations "backyard". KEEP THE LIGHTS AND SHOW We'll keep JESUS!

Anonymous said...

Carry over from last blog (same topic)...
PogWo4life... I got a question. Dog got up in it on your church so you just yell back nonsense? Slow down, breath and answer one simple question so we all know where you and yours are coming from. THIS WEEK how many people did you share Jesus (not invite to church) JESUS with?

Anonymous said...

"If Robert Morris were selling a product on TV, he probably could be sued by the Federal Trade Commission for false advertising."

LOL!! Only funny because it's so true. And yet not funny, as well.

I would LOVE to know how much money that church wasted on that ghastly "musical." But - there is no accountability. If churches are going to behave like government agencies and be funded by them visa-vis tax-free status, we should be able to file FOI requests on them and get info on how they waste their, excuse me, their congregation's money.

You won't hear any of these money grabbers speaking out against the impending war in Syria. They only think of THEMSELVES and paying no taxes.

Mark said...

Ed Young didn't buy his previous million-dollar lake-side house, the church did, so him saying he gave all the money to the church is a bit misleading and self-serving. The church also bought his new home.

When he says he doesn't make a million dollars a year "pastoring" Fellowship Church, don't believe him. He's playing mental gymnastics to justify his not being truthful. The church pays over $40,000 per year just in taxes on his crib.

Mark said...

This is an interesting infographic about mega churches.
http://www.onlinechristiancolleges.com/megachurches/

Anonymous said...

After studying this issue for last seven years when confronted by Russell Kelly that I was wrong, it drove me to study the Torah more intently about this and about what is expected to lay at the feet of elders. First of all, Paul never reiterates this principle to churches themselves and actually there are those who still tithe to the Temple (Acts chapter 5,21, and 25 support this). So this is actually a perverting the Scriptures to the assemblies themselves. Second, of all, Paul says to Timothy for those who have widows to take care of them first, before giving and this would not be New Law by Paul either. One reason why is that most often a Jewish famer had harvest sent to market in separate place from food for his family. That food to market would be tithed. If you take Malachi 3 and the Torah requirements very literally it cannot be applied as a commandment to the local church nor should it be taught "a blessing" if you are shirking your responsibilities in your family. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for such teaching (Matthew 14).

Anonymous said...

After studying this issue for last seven years when confronted by Russell Kelly that I was wrong, it drove me to study the Torah more intently about this and about what is expected to lay at the feet of elders. First of all, Paul never reiterates this principle to churches themselves and actually there are those who still tithe to the Temple (Acts chapter 5,21, and 25 support this). So this is actually a perverting the Scriptures to the assemblies themselves. Second, of all, Paul says to Timothy for those who have widows to take care of them first, before giving and this would not be New Law by Paul either. One reason why is that most often a Jewish famer had harvest sent to market in separate place from food for his family. That food to market would be tithed. If you take Malachi 3 and the Torah requirements very literally it cannot be applied as a commandment to the local church nor should it be taught "a blessing" if you are shirking your responsibilities in your family. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for such teaching (Matthew 14).

Anonymous said...

anon 12:09 you are correct. The Bible never teaches tithing in the NT. God only required it of the Jews and then that was done away by His Cross.

Paul said...

you will know a tree by its fruit. It's really not rocket science. False teachers are easy to spot when you hold them to God's Word. The problem is that pew sitters don't know their Bibles thus the reason this nonsense continues to exists.

pogWo4life said...

This week about 3 people....why?

pogWo4life said...

To anonymous

3 last week.


why?

Anonymous said...

If I understand correctly, the Mormons do this differently and so do the Jews. With them, it's more like you are expected to pay your dues and you pay them. I'm assuming that eliminates leaders getting up there like carnies trying to get you to buy something, like salesmen. It's embarrassing really that Protestant churches make emotional speeches to try to guilt you into paying your dues. Why don't Protestant churches have a much more dignified system? I don't know how Catholics handle the money issue, but I think their way is probably more cut and dried also.

Doesn't any institution have rules? If you don't pay the tuition, the school kicks you out, etc.

Lynn123 said...

Do Mormons, Jews, and Catholics stand up there and beg people to give money?

Lynn123 said...

Do other religions get their money this way?

Gary said...

My experience with Baptist/evangelical theology can best be described as a wild Roller Coaster ride: a lot of great psychological, emotional, and spiritual highs and a lot of deep psychological, emotional, and spiritual lows. Why?

In Baptist theology, your Justification and your Sanctification---your essence as a follower of Christ...if you boil it all down...is really dependent on you and your feelings.

Do I feel saved? Do I feel I really repented in my born again experience? Do I feel that I truly had faith when I made a decision for Christ; when I prayed a version of the Sinner's Prayer? If I am really saved, why do I feel at times that my faith is so weak? Maybe I need to do the born again experience again; maybe I need to pray the Sinner's Prayer again, just to be 100% sure that I am saved. I want to know without any doubt that I am saved, and if I do not feel saved, I begin to doubt my salvation.

Baptist/evangelical theology tells me that I will always feel Christ's presence and strength inside me, if I am a true believer. But what if I don't feel him there sometimes? If it is true that I should always be able to hear God speak to me, in an inner voice or feel his inner presence move me/lead me to do his will, what is going on when I don't hear anything or feel anything? Have I committed some unknown sin and he is refusing to hear me? Or is the reason that I don't hear or feel him present within me... is because I'm not really saved!

I was so incredibly happy to find orthodox (confessional) Lutheranism and find out that my feelings have nothing to do with my Justification, my salvation, nor with my Sanctification, my walk with my Savior and Lord! My salvation was accomplished 100% by God.

http://www.lutherwasnotbornagain.com/2013/09/tired-of-baptistevangelical-roller.html



ejrundt said...

Thank you! This makes me even more glad that I do not attend that poor excuse of that church anymore. Now I used to attend in 2007 to 2009 (made one visit each in 2010 & 2013 to look up old friends) which was more tolerable at the time.

Sadly though, I did notice that the sermons did evolve into motivational speeches. Ironically enough, quite a few of my friends departed from that "church".

The last time I visited that "church" was in 2013 and the only think that kept me from walking out of that motivational speech (uh I mean sermon) was looking up a few friends later. Besides that church seems more like a museum and no personality even.

Anonymous said...

I challenge you to look at the outreach Celebration church has accomplished and lives they have changed - then ask the members of those church that gave their money if they would have had it spent any other way. You would hear a resounding NO. Who exactly are you being a 'watchdog' for? I can tell you the member of Celebration church live better, happier lives with Pastor Stovall Weems and his church as part of their lives. If not for you, so be it ... you aren't handing over your money so why 'judge'?

Vickie said...

Stovie lives in The Yacht and Country Club - Queens Harbor in Jax., FL and do not file homestead exemption, so there is another home as well. This country club home was bought for $934,000 in 2011 with HOA fees in the thousands.
Re# 167-127-1310 @ coj.net/propertyappraiserconfirms this fact.

Greed or Blessing? Bless in Greek means " to be happy or blissful - self contained bliss. Bless is a spiritual word. Greed is a selfish and excessive desire for more of something than is needed at the expense of others (wanting more than ones share). It is evil desire to have more. Covetoys,avarice, rapacity... on and on.

This one of the seven deadly sins is alive, well and thriving at Celebration, et al.

"Pure religion that is undefiled before God and The Father is this: " 1) To visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction (suffering), and 2) to keep our hearts unspotted from the world."

A pure heart - following and doing exactly as Jesus did... not looking for every loophole that satan would point out.

Celebration Policy for helping the poor is "ONE TIME" Per "LIFETIME".

Father forgive him and those whom follow him, for they know not what that do. Thank you for revealing that those whom follow you must choose to either "Serve God or Money".

In Jesus' name
Amen