Prosperity Gospel is Spiritually Bankrupt

Here is a Spiritual Conundrum submitted to Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life by a reader named Richard Neer:

Hi Lee,

What is your position on Prosperity Gospel? I find the notion ridiculous, if not downright absurd! The premise that tithing promises health and wealth seems quite far-fetched. It does not promote spiritual growth. In fact, the only growth I see it promoting is the personal pocketbooks of the pastors and/or preachers behind the pulpit. Though I can understand and agree that donations to church groups and organizations can be fulfilling for some and even, to a degree, necessary for the continued existence of an organization (non-profit, in theory!), the in-your-face over-the-top request below is one I can’t fathom how anyone can actually make with a straight face, much less be absolutely serious about.

This current CNN article just shocks me and makes me wonder, “Is humanity so hopelessly lost, or are people just that ignorant these days?”

http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/13/living/creflo-dollar-jet-feat/index.html

Thanks for the good question, Richard. Short version: I agree with you 100%!

Prosperity Gospel

Prosperity Gospel

How Prosperity Gospel even qualifies as a religious teaching is beyond me. Yes, Prosperity Gospel preachers talk about God, the Bible, and other religious subjects. But the goal of this “Gospel” has nothing to do with love for God or love for the neighbor. Instead, it’s all about gaining worldly wealth and success for oneself.

That, to me, is not religion. It is a spiritually bankrupt substitute for religion.

However, despite its spiritual bankruptcy, it does serve a use for some people as a stepping stone toward something better—which, I believe, is why God allows it to exist.

First, what is Prosperity Gospel?

For more on the spiritual bankruptcy of Prosperity Gospel, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Current Events, Money and Business

“The World is Going to Hell in a Handbasket!”

“O tempora, o mores!”

Marcus Tullius Cicero growled these famous words to the Roman senate in the first century BC to decry the deterioration of civilized society. “Oh the times!” he lamented. “Oh the standards!”

Today, over two thousand years later, the world is still going to hell in a handbasket.

The evidence is all around us. There are wars and insurgencies everywhere. Every day political corruption is exposed in one place or another, and disgraced politicians scuttle off to exile, prison, or death. Traditional marriage is breaking down. The divorce rate is soaring. And what’s the matter with kids today?

For more on the end of society as we know it, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Science, Philosophy, and History

What if My Partner and I Have Different Religious Beliefs? Can Interfaith Marriage Work?

Here is a Spiritual Conundrum submitted to Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life by an anonymous reader:

Hi Lee,

I love reading all of your articles, they’re incredibly easy to relate to. I personally am not religious but I do believe in God and believe I have a personal relationship with God and don’t necessarily believe following an organized religion is for me. However, my boyfriend is currently finding his faith which I have been nothing but supportive about – but he feels it is imperative to be on the exact same page spiritually and have the same religious beliefs. I personally believe our core values are the same and we both are great people – I don’t believe going to church every Sunday makes one individual any better than the next. I even go to church with him because I appreciate the rich culture and history of the experience, but that’s more how I see it. I tried to explain to him that if we’re both open minded and respectful then that’s all that matters. I’m willing to go to church but he needs to be understanding that I may not have the same outlook on it. I come from a Muslim background but wasn’t raised so. My dad doesn’t believe in God and my mom does but more abstractly than holy books explain. However both of them have a “to each his own” perspective and never influenced me in the matter and let me make my own decisions. Therefore, it’s hard for me to associate with a religion when I come from a different background and I believe all religions are great and holy so why not just continue living a good life and not associate with any of them? Do you think this relationship is doomed? How do I approach a situation like this? I feel pressured to change my beliefs and abide to his in fear of losing him but I believe God made us each individually and I know He sees nothing wrong with me not being religious as long as I do good and live my life compassionately and tolerantly.

Thanks so much for the help, any insight is greatly appreciated.

Glad you enjoy the articles. Thanks! And your question is a great one!

In fact, here is another Spiritual Conundrum submitted on the very same day by a reader named Confused:

I’m in love with and dating a non-Christian, and I myself am a Christian. I would not ever turn my back on my beliefs as that is turning away from God, but I don’t ever want to force him to make a change he does not want to make. Yet I feel like we are so far apart spiritually when we are so close in every other way. What do I do?

A century or two ago, most people lived in places where almost everyone around them was the same religion. Today, we live in a global society where people commonly meet—and fall in love with—others who come from different religious backgrounds. This creates challenges that only a few of our great-grandparents had to face.

I wish I could just say, “No problem! Go for it!” But as both of you—and many others—have already discovered, it’s more complicated than that.

Every situation is unique. For some couples, having different religious beliefs may be no problem at all. For others, it may indeed doom the relationship.

An interfaith wedding ceremony - Christian / Jewish

An interfaith wedding ceremony

(Image courtesy of: The Wedding Yentas)

I can offer some thoughts that may help those who are facing this issue to get some handle on it. But in the end, it is a very personal decision. I can’t tell you what to do. Only you are in your shoes, and only you can decide whether or how to continue in a relationship in which the two of you do not share the same religious beliefs.

That said, let’s take a closer look.

For more on partners with different religious beliefs, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Sex, Marriage, Relationships

God is Love . . . And That Makes All the Difference in the World

God is love - 1 John 4:8

God is love

God is love.

A nice sentiment. It’s the sort of thing those dreamy-eyed Christians say.

But it’s not very practical.

Or is it?

Consider this: God created the universe.

Now does the idea that God is love sound a little more practical?

In case it still seems dreamy-eyed, let’s tease it out with a little thought experiment.

For more on God is love, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God

Kindness and Caring in Business

Business and industry has gotten a reputation in some quarters as being a heartless, soulless behemoth whose only interest is in racking up money and profits for the people at the top.

But even if that reputation may be partially deserved, there’s much more to commerce than that.

Yasir Moore being helped at Target

Yasir Moore being helped at Target

Business and industry is also where many millions of ordinary people serve their communities day in and day out, stitching together with their mind, their hands, and yes, their hearts, the fabric of human society.

It would be impossible to list the billions of daily transactions and services we engage in for one another in the course of our daily work. The cashier ringing up your groceries, the mechanic fixing your car, the waiter or waitress bringing you your morning eggs and coffee at the diner, the pharmacist putting together your prescription . . . these and countless other activities that we do in the course of our business and employment are what keep us going each day.

Most of the time we don’t even think about it. Vast amounts of daily labor and service just seems to happen so that we can have food to eat, clothing to wear, a place to live, and a few of the enjoyments of life.

We may not even notice what a vital role commerce plays in elevating our lives until we see businesses and employees going above and beyond the call of duty to do exceptional things for the people they serve.

Let’s look at a few recent, heart-warming examples.

For more on kindness and caring in business, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Money and Business

Homosexuality, the Bible, and Christianity

Three Spiritual Conundrums have recently been submitted to Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life on the subject of homosexuality. First, from QuestioningMale:

PLEASE shed some light on Homosexuality.

I am a CHRISTIAN – never been abused, molested, etc. who has attended church ever since I was born. I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior as a child and have been a Christian for many, many years.

I have also been gay for as LONG as I can remember.

I need some help on this. I have recently met a man, and I truly, truly care for him…

HELP me with this!

Some theological responses I read say that Homosexuality is mistranslated in the Bible and of course we know the opposite.

Thanks for your help…

Then from Cianna200:

Hello Lee, I am Cianna I’m an ex Christian and a Wiccan. I have a question. What do you believe about homosexuality? I am not gay but would like to know. I read a website about someone who claimed to speak to Jesus and he said “People choose to be gay. Homosexuality is because of bad karma and being gay is not okay. It is unnatural and not a creation of God.” I understand that Jesus did not condemn homosexuality in the bible and gay people who had near death experiences were not told that their homosexuality is wrong. Many Christians condemn homosexuality because of a few bible passages while other Christians have a problem with anti gay views. I must say I am a biromantic person and I am made to feel ashamed of it because what if Jesus really said that. Is homosexuality really something unhealthy and abnormal?

And then from Dennis Cobb:

Why do you feel homosexuality is alright with God? Clearly, we should love them, not agree with their lifestyle.

God Bless You

Thanks, QuestioningMale, Cianna200, Dennis Cobb, for your questions.

I am far from an expert on homosexuality.

However, I’ve read enough and experienced enough to know that there is a lot of prejudicial, uninformed thinking that leads to a lot of sloppy Biblical and theological scholarship on this issue. And that causes a lot of needless pain and suffering for many people.

What I can offer is the results of my own thinking on this issue developed over many years, based on:

  • my knowledge and study of the Bible
  • my knowledge and study of the writings of my favorite theologian, Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772)
  • my general reading and study on homosexuality and related issues, and
  • my experience of gays and lesbians among my friends and acquaintances and in the culture generally.

If that interests you, then settle in and get comfortable, because this is going to take some time! Along the way, I hope I’ll provide satisfactory answers to the questions in these three Spiritual Conundrums.

For more on the homosexuality, the Bible, and Christianity, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Sex, Marriage, Relationships

What does Emanuel Swedenborg Say about Homosexuality?

This article is for people who want to know what Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) says on the subject of homosexuality.  If you’re not interested in that, you can safely skip it. For the broader picture, and my reasons for writing these two articles about homosexuality from a Christian perspective, please see the companion article, “Homosexuality, the Bible, and Christianity.”

While many Swedenborgian ministers and laypeople accept homosexuality as equal to heterosexuality, a great deal has been written by conservative Swedenborgian ministers arguing that Swedenborg condemns homosexuality as evil and contrary to God’s will. I am not aware of any article currently in print that considers their arguments point by point. This article is intended to fill that gap.

Writing and publishing these articles is not something that I particularly enjoy doing. It’s just something that must be done to help dispel a large weight of faulty thinking and bad scholarship swirling through our society and our world on the subject of homosexuality.

People’s lives—physical, social, and spiritual—are at stake. Although I would prefer to avoid the subject entirely, I cannot in good conscience stand idly by and say nothing.

For more on Swedenborg and homosexuality, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Sex, Marriage, Relationships

Do Atheists Go to Heaven?

Do atheists go to heaven?

For most atheists, the obvious answer is, “No.”

Ironically, atheists agree with traditional Christians on this point. It’s just that atheists don’t think anyone else goes to heaven, either. And traditional Christians think that atheists go to hell—an idea that atheists reject.

Then again, Christians and atheists can’t even agree on how to define “atheism.”

  • Christians tend to define atheism as a belief that there is no God.
  • Atheists tend to define atheism as a lack of belief in gods.

What strikes me about both of these definitions is that they’re all about belief or lack thereof. And these days belief is seen as something we do with our head, meaning with our intellect.

But Psalm 14 and its variation in Psalm 53 start out:

Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”

Not “in their heads,” but “in their hearts.” Saying in your head that there is no God, as your average present-day atheist does, is very different from saying in your heart that there is no God.

So before we get to whether atheists go to heaven, let’s look more closely at what the Bible means when it talks about believing or not believing in God.

For more on atheists and the afterlife, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God, Science, Philosophy, and History

Louis A. Dole Sermon Archive

I am pleased to announce a new website in honor of my grandfather, the Rev. Louis A. Dole. He was born 130 years ago today on January 30, 1885.

Louis A. Dole Sermon Archive

Sermons by the Rev. Louis A. Dole (1885-1964)

There are already over 80 sermons posted on the site. I am adding more almost every day. These classic sermons, written and delivered more than half a century ago, are full of practical wisdom based on the Bible and the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772).

For the text of the About page from the Louis A. Dole Sermon Archive, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Books and Literature

Is Jesus Christ the Only Way to Heaven?

Is Jesus Christ the only way to heaven?

Yes . . . but it’s not what you’re thinking!

Here’s the deal. According to the Bible, Jesus Christ is God. There’s nothing in the Bible about him being the second Person of a Trinity. That was a purely human invention. (See “‘Christian Beliefs’ that the Bible Doesn’t Teach.”)

Isaiah 44:6 says:

Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.

Guess who the New Testament says is the first and the last?

If you guessed Jesus Christ, you get a gold star!

Just take a look at Revelation 1:17–18; 2:8; and 22:12–13. The context makes it clear that the one who says in Revelation, “I am the first and the last” is none other than the risen and glorified Jesus Christ.

When Philip said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied,” Jesus replied:

Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. (John 14:9)

And in John 10:30, he said plainly, “I and the Father are one.”

The message of the Bible is clear: There is one God, and Jesus Christ is that God. So according to the Bible, all people who believe in God believe in Jesus Christ, even if they do not call God Jesus Christ. There is no other God to believe in. “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.”

In other words, according to the Bible, saying that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven is the same thing as saying that God is the only way to heaven.

Is there any religious person, of any faith, who would really disagree that God is the only way to heaven? Obviously, God, the Creator of the universe, who has all power in heaven and earth, is the only way to heaven. If it weren’t for God, there wouldn’t be a heaven. And if God didn’t give us life and the ability to choose heaven over hell, not a single one of us could go to heaven.

So Christians who think that anywhere from 68% to 99.99% of the world’s population is going to hell because they’re not Christian, or because they’re not the right kind of Christian, are really denying that Jesus Christ is God.

Let’s look at a few of the Bible passages these Christians quote to support the mistaken and non-Biblical idea that only Christians go to heaven.

For more on Jesus Christ and the way to heaven, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God, The Bible Re-Viewed
Lee & Annette Woofenden

Lee & Annette Woofenden

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Earlier Posts
Lee Woofenden speaking at Fryeburg New Church Assembly, Fryeburg, Maine, August 2012

Lee Woofenden speaking at Fryeburg New Church Assembly

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