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Friday, March 07, 2008

A Christian blog worth reading - from an unlikely source



Over the years many Christians have looked down their noses at Charisma magazine. Some complain that its too gossipy, others that it's simply one big advertisement. Although some may consider the magazine an unlikely source to generate a blog worth reading, I continue to be impressed and challenged by the "Fire In My Bones" blog written by author J. Lee Grady, Charisma's editor.

Grady is seemingly on a personal mission to grab the American church by the lapel and slap it. I think he's succeeding. His latest column shares a meeting the late Kenneth Hagin had in 2003 with various preachers in which he attempted to correct their overemphasis and outright false teachings on giving and propsperity:

4. The “hundredfold return” is not a biblical concept. Hagin did the math and figured out that if this bizarre notion were true, “we would have Christians walking around with not billions or trillions of dollars, but quadrillions of dollars!” He rejected the popular teaching that a believer should claim a specific monetary payback rate....

Hagin condemned other hairbrained gimmicks designed to trick audiences into emptying their wallets. He was especially incensed when a preacher told his radio listeners that he would take their prayer requests to Jesus’ empty tomb in Jerusalem and pray over them there—if donors included a special love gift. “What that radio preacher really wanted was more people to send in offerings,” Hagin wrote.

Thanks to the recent resurgence in bizarre donation schemes promoted by American charismatics, the prosperity gospel is back under the nation’s microscope. It’s time to revisit Hagin’s concerns and find a biblical balance.

Hagin told his followers: “Overemphasizing or adding to what the Bible actually teaches invariably does more harm than good.” If the man who pioneered the modern concept of biblical prosperity blew the whistle on his own movement, wouldn’t it make sense for us to listen to his admonition?

In his previous post, Grady had discussed the call to holiness being put forth by noted pastor Larry Stockstill:
Stockstill became alarmed about the anemic condition of American churches in 2006, when he had to step in and help bring discipline to Ted Haggard, the Colorado pastor who was removed as senior leader of New Life Church because of a moral failure. Stockstill offered correction and oversight to Haggard and his family and helped the leaders of New Life pick up the pieces after the scandal. Many observers praised Stockstill for his level-headed leadership and compassionate but strict adherence to biblical principles during the crisis.

What Stockstill learned during that painful process became the basis of a new book, The Remnant: Restoring Integrity to American Ministry. He hopes the message will trigger a movement of holiness and integrity in the American church, which has suffered a long string of embarrassing sexual and financial failures since Haggard’s fall 15 months ago.

“We look like a sleaze bucket in the eyes of the nation,” says the 54-year-old pastor, who has avoided the national spotlight during most of his 33 years in ministry. Once a missionary in Africa, Stockstill has focused most of his ministry on church planting and missions. Bethany has helped start more than 17,000 churches worldwide since 2000.

Stockstill says the level of dysfunction among American ministers concerns him because their unhealthiness is then passed down to their congregations.


This is all a good corrective to some of what's flying at us over the Christian airwaves.

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