Tuesday, November 15, 2011

People in Glass Churches


Today in the news I read the sorry end of a once very rich ministry.  It seems as though the Crystal Cathedral is in Bankruptcy and there are currently two bidders looking to purchase that complex.  Their doctrine went bankrupt a long time ago and what we are seeing in the world now is God pulling the plug on this monstrosity.  What is interesting is that in the end, we see the gospel of prosperity and positive thinking for what it is, nothing but greed.  They blame the recession leading to lower donations and less than expected ticket sales for the various events that go on there, but in reality this is God.  It is God who sustains our churches and it is God who pulled that sustenance from their church.  The church took on too much debt to sustain itself and in the end they make true an oft-ignored proverb.
The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower [is] servant to the lender.  Proverbs 22:7 NKJV
Just how much debt are we talking about?  We are talking about 43 million dollars.  This is money they can not cover despite the fact that they are still taking in over 4 million dollars a year  They have become a slave to the creditor in taking on huge debt for that monstrosity that they built and the loan is now do.  They can not pay and despite fund raising efforts to save the cathedral, it appears imminent to end up in the hands of another. 

In reading the article, a few important things about the leaders of this ministry have come to light, specifically that of Robert A Schuller, its founder.  It seems as though one of the sticking points is his golden parachute.  First of all, his attorney proposed a 6.5 million dollar fund be set aside as part of the bankruptcy to cover intellectual property rights claims that is a growing dispute between the Schullers and the ministry.  Indeed, they are fighting over the scraps of what remains of this ministry.  The judge struck down this proposal for lack of evidence.  Another thing that came to light was that the Schullers are to be payed $290,000.00 per year for the rest of their lives whether they are involved in the church or not.  That is a rather handsome pension.  One of the daughters complained about not receiving the extra money because her father's likeness is still used for fundraising purposes and so apparently he deserves a cut.  So much for it being all about Jesus and the Gospel. 

In the end, the prosperity movement is revealed for what it is, that being nothing more than a childish sense of entitlement.  All the heresies spread by that church were all just a means to collect more money.  I wonder why any of the Schullers are fretting at all, they should just positively think that things will go well, that is if they buy their own lies.  In the meantime, I really do hope they can squeak by on a mere $290,000.00 a year.  I know that times our tough!  All sarcasm aside, to see a church bickering over money like this is disgusting.  Everyone wants their piece of the pie.  Meanwhile, souls are going to Hell and people are starving to death.  To desire a 6.5 million dollar fund to be put aside on top of the $290,000.00 a year the Schullers are making is an offense to the cross.  How many people can be reached for Jesus and fed with that kind of money?  But I am sure the starving lost poor souls are not nearly as important as Robert Schuller's picture being used to raise money. 

The Schullers feel they deserve this money because "they" founded this ministry and it is "them" who are a big part of raising money for it.  With that kind of attitude, I can see why it is failing.  This movement had nothing to do with the work of God, but only the work of man.  It was man who built up the false doctrine and spread this doctrine to many other churches as part of the Church Growth Movement.  it was about turning churches into money-makers.  It was not only adding money changers to the house of God, but turning the house of God into a money changer in and of itself.  The people were promised riches and prosperity for money given to the church.  If their doctrine had any truth to it, all those who have should have been enriched through the recession and make the church only more rich.  In reality, they only became poorer and poorer and as more and as more people caught on to the scam, less and less money came into the church.  If you buy into the core doctrine of positive thinking, if it worked then the church would be solvent.  The failure of the church revealed the failure of their doctrine.  I wonder what all those churches who bought into the Church Growth Movement are thinking now. 

I do not know Robert Schuller's heart and I do not know if he started well and went astray or if greed was his motive all along.  I know that this is where he and his family are now.  I know that somewhere along the line he began to love the money he was making.  That love for money and opulence became an albatross around his ministry's neck and eventually pulled into the bottomless sea of debt if finds itself in now.  They could not handle the burden of self-created debt.  I wonder how those other opulent monstrosities will fair if and when God allows hard times to befall them.  When excess is turned into opulence, you are no longer sowing into the work of God but sowing into the work of man.  You go from being indebted of God who considers the money we give to the less fortunate to be as money loaned to God to being indebted to the world who considers not your God or your faith but only the property you are on to repay what you owe.  You go from serving God to being enslaved by man.  The love of money leads to destruction in your own life and in the lives of those around you.  The love of money rots your heart, corrupts your motives, and destroys your witness.  The sad end is that it is no longer about the Gospel, it is no longer about Jesus, it is no longer about reaching out to others with the Gospel, but it is all about how much money someone will get.  May we never get to where the money means more than the ministry. Mr. Schuller, it was your hour, but the power was darkness.  May your heresy, sprung from the root of all evil, go quietly into the dustpan of history.  
For the love of money is a root of all [kinds of] evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 1 Timothy 6:10 NKJV 

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