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April 2, 2008 / beidson

The Grassley Six: A Trumpet of Warning to the Rest of Us

Perhaps the last place you would expect to find a biblical example of stewardshipgrassley-six.jpg would be in the Senate, but in light of the recent investigation into million-dollar mega-ministries, this is a great place to see such an example.  Here we discover the troubling truth about financial infidelity in so-called churches, and the reassuring truth of the faithful governing stewardship of our legislators.

Based on reports of possible financial misconduct, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, began an inquiry last year into six popular televangelist ministries concerning their financial integrity.  The question is, Are these ministries using their tax-exempt status as churches for the personal affluence of their frontline leaders?  The six televangelists, known as “The Grassley Six,” are Paula White, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn.

The issue at hand is greater than whether or not the ministries should be able to keep certain financial records out of the government’s hands.  Perhaps this action would indeed set a precedent for greater oversight of church finances by the government, which we most certainly ought to resist.  But the question remains, What prompted Sen. Grassley to start this investigation in the first place?  Might it possibly be the fact that the leaders of these ministries live more like CEOs of large corporations than pastors of churches, and do so under the pretense of being non-profit organizations, when it is quite apparent that somebody is in fact profiting?  It’s hard to justify a non-profit status when you’re commuting in expensive cars and private jets.

The real issue here is stewardship, on the part of the ministries and the government.  If churches expect to be sheltered from taxes because of their non-profit nature, then they must certainly play by the rules and refuse “profits” as defined by the IRS.  And as an institution put into place by God (Romans 13) we should expect the government to be faithful in governing civil matters, especially when illegal conduct is suspected.  In this sense, these ministries have been unfaithful to those who have given to them, as well as to the government, whose laws they have ignored.  And Sen. Grassley, along with other government officials and agencies, have only done what we have asked them to do: faithfully execute the laws that have been put into place. 

And of course, we have not even considered the faithlessness of these “pastors” who have heaped up riches for themselves at the expense of their givers, all in the name of gospel health and wealth.  It would seem that they have not adequately taught their own people how to gain God’s favor to the extent that they have, since most of their people do not drive luxury vehicles, fly in private jets, and come home to estates larger than some congregants’ entire neighborhoods.  Is this really the best use of money?  Of course it isn’t, and Jesus Christ will judge them on the last day for their duplicitous hearts and double-minded ways.

But there is a warning to all of us here: we are not so far from the love of money as we may think.  And what’s more, if Scripture does not get our attention, then God has assured that someone else will, even if it is the IRS.  You reap what you sow, and in this case, the Grassley Six is reaping a harvest of trouble because they have sown the seed of greed.  They are guilty of manipulating laws to their advantage, as well as preaching a false gospel that most certainly will not produce any fruit, though perhaps the Lord may do so in spite of their selfish preaching.

Something is amiss when the gospel becomes a means to gain, and not a call to give.  And rich Christians aren’t the only ones who ought to heed Scripture’s warnings against pursuing riches.  We are all prone to chase after the dollar.  And of course, it is not sinful to be wealthy.  But when you begin to think that your life consists in the abundance of your possessions, and that faith will get you an abundance of possessions, you have seriously steered off the path of biblical faith onto the path of covetousness, which leads to hell. 

And we are no different than the Grassley Six in this regard.  We are not justified because we are middle class rather than affluent.  And greed is not the exlusive vice of money-hungry preachers.  We may fall into this temptation as well, and if we do not listen to the voice of God regarding this matter, our churches may be hearing from Sen. Grassley too.

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Read 7 reasons pastors ought not teach people to pursue wealth:

http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/TasteAndSee/ByDate/2007/1993/

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