I’ve watched Paula White on TV for sometime now. One of my hobbies is watching stations like TBN and offering a constant verbal criticism of what the people on-screen are saying or doing. Paula White is particularly entertaining. She is able to talk without breathing for long stretches at a time. She is a “pastor.” Never mind that females have not been pastors in the church for oh, about 1,900 years until now. We know better these days.
There is an entire wing of the ‘church’ in America that bears no resemblance to anything Christian that ever came before it. No liturgy, no creeds, no sacraments, just blather from self-help types who talk only about sowing seeds and endlessly fleece huge flocks of apparent dupes who seem to want to be rich and prosperous like the female pastors they emulate. I don’t get why people would possibly give money to people like Paula White, Ken Copeland or whoever the latest scam artist is, but I guess there’s one born every minute as the saying goes.
These prosperity gospel types are adept at being slaves to whatever the inane pop culture of the moment is turning out for the masses. When I was growing up it was easy to see Jim Baker, Tilton, Tammy Faye and Jan Crouch as absurd leftover from a bygone era. They had silly hairstyles that identified them immediately as religious hucksters and women who were stuck in a timewarp. But these days the modern conmen and women are more schooled in hip ways. I see several young conmen with soul patches, goatees, and hip glasses. They talk hip language and import the same prosperity gospel (prospgosp) concepts from the past, in a context that is more “RELEVANT” to today. They are morphing to milk money from the new generations. And it appears to be working:
As the church gained members and revenue, the pastors changed. Paula built her international television ministry and became a life coach on “The Tyra Banks Show.” Randy talked of performing nuptials for Kid Rock and Pamela Anderson in Michigan (they filed for divorce a month later). He boasted that he wasn’t like “religious” people, posing in 2005 for a cover story in Makes and Models magazine, a publication devoted to exotic cars, motorcycles and scantily clad models. He has tattoos, collects guns and enjoys wine.
At a Sunday service in April, he introduced his former personal trainer – an attractive ex-porn star turned Christian – from the pulpit.
“We’re cutting edge,” he told the Tribune that month. “We do things a little bit differently than what a typical ministry would do.”
Michael Chitwood, whose financial services company devised their compensation package, said he recalled they have taken an annual salary as high as $1.5 million collectively, though most years it’s closer to $600,000.
They were approved to take up to $3 million collectively, said the president of Chitwood & Chitwood of Tennessee.
Perhaps the most complex part of their divorce, being handled by Holland & Knight law firm, will be dividing up the assets, debts and business interests.
The couple’s home on Bayshore Boulevard has an assessed value of $2.22 million. They have a land trust that includes two Tampa houses with assessed values of $144,800 and $257,835. The New York condo is valued at about $3.5 million.
That’s what it’s about, hanging out with B list celebrities and having serious cash to roll with. Sounds sort of like the American dream right? America has totally remade the Church into its own image: democratic, money loving, celebrity worshiping. It’s a joke and so many people have sickened of it, and yet the crowds still flock to hear clowns like Osteen who have nothing to say to the soul, only nice chitchat about success. Perhaps it should not be surprising given that the average American lives a life bombarded by media and rarely if ever stops to think about anything meaningful. If we do stop, say on 9/11, we are told by our President to get back to shopping to keep the economy going.
So, Paula is getting divorced (divorce number 2). In the ancient church, right up until about 1960, divorce was a scandal. In the modern church, it’s just a fact of life that we really don’t even think much about. Kind of an ‘oh well’ like quitting a job or selling a car. And this isn’t just the laity, we are talking about ‘pastors’ like Paula and Randy. Their ‘ministry’ will go on. Anyone who questions if it is ok for twice divorced women and men to be ‘pastoring’ will be called a ‘legalist’ who is ‘judging’ these anointed ones.
Let’s be clear: ministries like “Without Walls” have as much resemblance to what used to be the Church as does that other classically American religion – Mormonism, which is to say a faint one. All previous doctrine and discipline is thrown out the window for whatever the teacher of the moment thinks the Bible says – or that God directly tells them. For Mormons, this meant a rejection of previous church doctrine and discipline. They took wine out of communion, made the eucharist an ‘ordinance,’ rejected infant baptism and the Councils and Creeds of the Church, they also rejected the teaching of the church for centuries on marriage (among other things).
The prospgosp folks have remade the church into a money making racket, built on false revelations, false doctrines, no church discipline and whatever else they dream up. It’s disgusting, but it’s popular.