"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
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.