Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Prosperity Gospel and Bishop Long

Since I didn't grow up with a religion, it fascinated me in many ways, however ambivalent I am about it as an institution. Sometimes, I found religion is a place people seek comfort and spiritual growth, and sometimes, I watch it with weariness, when the dominant tenor of the sect become material gain, versus spiritual one.  Even the one champions eternal salvation of souls, as the Catholic does, however debatable, warrants less distrust.

I have not heard of Bishop Eddie Long and my grasp of the concept of "Prosperity Gospel" was vague, till the recent lawsuit against Mr. Long.

I don't want to discuss Mr. Long's litigation here.  What I want to address is this brand of Christianity and the lavish life style of Mr. Long.

Last night on NPR I heard a story on Mr. Long and Prosperity Gospel by Barbara Bradley Hagerty.

Long's church and his personal life are manifestations of the "prosperity Gospel" he preaches. Also called "name it and claim it," this style of preaching states that God does not want you to be poor — indeed, Long preaches that Jesus was not poor — and that riches are a sign of God's blessing.

Long himself drives a $350,000 Bentley, bought a $1.1 million home in 2005 and favors gold necklaces and Rolex watches. When the Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked him about the $3 million he received from the church and its charities between 1997 and 2000, Long was defiant.
"We're not just a church; we're an international corporation," he said. "We're not just a bumbling bunch of preachers who can't talk and all we're doing is baptizing babies. I deal with the White House. I deal with Tony Blair. I deal with presidents around the world. I pastor a multimillion-dollar congregation."
His lifestyle as a spiritual leader is questionable and troublesome if not downright deplorable.  His preaching that God wants you to be rich stresses material gain instead of spiritual growth, which is the opposite of what Jesus would have preached.

Mr. Long has not a spiritual house, rather a huge corporation, which he had freely admitted.  To me, his church is not much different from an Amway enterprise.

Ecstasy / 狂喜 / Ekstase
Ecstasy © Matthew Felix Sun

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