Monday, May 9, 2011

"Drug-money or church-money?"

It was a question that was asked in response to the hummers across the street from the house. As most people in Guatemala know, drug-dealers and drug-lords drive nice cars. The father in one host family told a fellow student that if he saw a hummer in the streets of Xela then he should assume it is someone connected with a drug cartel. But in the case of one student, when she asked her host family if the hummers parked across the street were related to the drug trade she was told that no, these vehicles were the result of a different trade. These vehicles were the result of what is perhaps the United States' foulest export, that is, the Prosperity "Gospel." These hummers, parked across the street in Guatemala's second city, filled with impoverished people seeking the Lord, belonged to the children of a mega-church pastor in Xela, a preacher of the Prosperity "Gospel."

This story about the hummers was my third encounter with "Health and Wealth" or "Prosperity Theology" here. The first had been in an unfortunate Easter-Sunday service. The second had been when the daughter of my own host family expressed her distrust of the pastor of the largest Protestant church in Xela. She related that this man had multiple nice cars, multiple houses and body guards. And all this in a developing nation with a staggering rate of malnourished children. And what sickens me is that here in Guatemala these churches are not called "Health and Wealth" or "Prosperity Gospel" or "Word of Faith," they are simply called "Evangelical."

Towards the end of my conversation with this student who had seen the hummers, I joked that instead of asking whether it's drug money when we spot a hummer in Guatemala, maybe we should ask if it's church-money. The money of all the people who can barely buy food but instead give it to their rich pastor thinking that it's a way to secure God's blessing. But the complete totality of blessing for the Christian is found in Christ alone and His work and not in any work of our own. That's why I'm thankful for the Reformed Presbyterian churches I've found down here, preaching a message exactly opposite of those preaching the Prosperity Gospel. As I've reflected on these things I've been reminded of a diatribe by John Piper that I agree whole-heartedly with:


Ed said...

Even in our own country, Matt, the "most successful" churches are ones like Joel Osteen's. It is easy for these sickening men to prey on all the victims of the age.

At least with ole smiley Joel he's not leeching as directly off the very poor, but more usually off of the middle classes.

The end of such shepherds who mislead and devour their sheep is eternal fire. God will repay, do not be disheartened.

"Like people, like priests. I will punish them both for their ways and repay them for their deeds" (Hos. 4:9).

Matt Perkins said...

Thanks for the comment Ed. Amen.