Gabe Ozoani

Engineer, Aerospace Engineering

This conversation is closed.

Extraordinary wealth of pastors in developing countries and the congregation that support them.

Bishop David Oyedepo is the richest pastor in Nigeria. He has amassed a wealth of over $150 million dollars. He has numerous business ventures (which he obviously encourages his "faithful" members to patronise) including a recently launched airline. He adornes himself in expensive watches and clothes and has more than one private jet. Many other "men-of-god" are in the same ball park (in terms of wealth).
This isn't only peculiar to developing countries as there are quite a few "millionaire" pastors in the west also.
Are the people who support these "representatives of God" brainwashed?
Are they providing this financial support to these men and their "empires" with the hope that the "investment" will one day pay off?
Could they be victims of a discrete form mass hypnotism?
Or could this be a aspect of Christianity that comes natural to the believer?

This is an epidemic that has plagued not only developing countries where the populace are searching for hope and prosperity, but also the developed world.

In this time of austerity are these institutions simply a drug to help soothe hopelessness?

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    Mar 25 2012: Never forget people like Mother Teresa. There are those that walk the talk, in various areas of life, but they are few and far between.
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      Mar 25 2012: well said.
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      Mar 25 2012: Mother Teresa's legacy is a myth. The way people speak of her, compared to the way she carried herself, hits at the heart of this thread, especially the brainwashing question.
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        Mar 25 2012: Her beliefs were not mine. But she lived what she believed and above all, gave herself to the poor and disenfranchised. Is this not true? Please give me an example of what you speak?
      • Comment deleted

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        Mar 26 2012: Hi Shallow,

        I think you should check this out;

        http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1655720,00.html

        this is what I find most impressive about M.T. she had her doubts about God and her faith and yet, she still did what she did........from my perspective this comes to show that one does not need god to be a moral person.
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          Mar 26 2012: Thank you for the link.

          I'll continue to view Mother Teresa's 'worship of suffering' (from the article, "I want to ... drink ONLY [her emphasis] from His chalice of pain."), whether she truly believed it or simply practiced it, as having immoral consequences and topped with a touch of insanity.

          And I certainly agree that one does not need god to be moral person.
      • Mar 26 2012: Since your link about Mother Theresa was deleted, I have posted a different one. I hope that people will take the time to not only watch it, but the following two parts as well, since it is broken into three.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WQ0i3nCx60
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          Mar 26 2012: Thank you for linking it. I thought about posting it instead, but chose the deleted video in pursuit of a single-video summary.

          Can anyone explain why the video I linked was deleted?
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        Mar 26 2012: I agree with just about everything you said.

        In the religious circle I honest think their is a big gap between what a person professes to believe and what they actually believe but then again, I am not them so I can't know for sure. but I do understand what you were saying.

        Also your video may have been deleted depending on the content of the video. I had one earlier that I thought was relevant to the topic but it turned out to have material that was too honest, too blunt and could come off as offensive to some believers, so I'd go over the video a couple of times before posting it.
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      Mar 26 2012: Hi Lynn,

      very true, we should not forget people like Mother Teresa but then again, how many people try to spread the same message like M.T. and yet come out to be hypocrites?

      Are there very good people in Religion? of course but I can honestly say that there will not be another person like M.T. (in regards to the christian faith) for a very long time and the reason is because no one is the western world really knows what, as M.T. would say, "compassion in action" really is.
  • Apr 5 2012: For as long as fools exist, they will be fooled in one form or another.
  • Mar 27 2012: We have spoken on this topic before here on TED.

    I will repeat what I wrote before.

    In scripture, not a single leader in the early Christian congregation got rich from their fellow brothers and sisters in the faith.

    Jesus himself said, you received free, give free.

    Tithing is not scriptural for Christians....a 1/10 of harvest/animals was to be given to help support the Levites in the Israelite nation, but it is NOT a requirement for Christians. We are to give from the heart, as the apostle Paul states.

    That people looking for some kind of hope, willingly make a human rich.....well, they are adults, and should know better. If you study scriptures you would know you are being had. People are followers of men.....true Christians follow the Bible, and follow their exemplar, Jesus Christ.

    God does not need our money.........obviously preachers do............How sad :(
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      Apr 8 2012: God does not need our money.........obviously preachers do............How sad :(
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        Apr 9 2012: It IS sad, because we're not simply discussing "need", we're talking about "greed"......"Extraordinary wealth". It seems reasonable for a religious leader to sustain him/herself. It is not at all reasonable to live a life of luxury, while many members of that church are starving. There's a big difference between "need" and "greed".
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    Mar 25 2012: Hi Gabe
    This phenomenum is common to many aspects of life. Look at professional football, or motor racing, or what have you. It's really just a matter of getting a large number of people to buy what you're selling, be it God, or movies or anything else. We are all gullible in some ways.
    Whether this behaviour is compatible with Christianity can only be judged on a case by case basis.
    Jesus certainly had quite a bit to say on the subject :-
    Matthew 6:19 (NIV)
    “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
    Matthew 19:21 (NIV)
    Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
    Luke 12:34 (NIV)
    For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
    Matthew 8:20 (NIV)
    Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
    Matthew 19:23-24 (NIV)
    Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. [24] Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

    I have a good friend who is an African pastor. He raises a lot of money & every penny is ploughed into his people. He is trying to bring modest prosperity to his people both spiritually, morally, & yes, financially. You will probably never hear of him, or the hundreds like him, but please don't judge him by the excesses of others.

    :-)
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      Mar 25 2012: Peter,

      I agree.

      It is a shame that people (such as your friend) dont get the publicity they deserve.
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        Mar 27 2012: It's better if they don't,it can trap a good man of God into temptation if his congregation explodes,it starts with needing a bigger hall as there is not enough room and can skyrocket out of control,before they know it the good man is gone consumed by the machine.
        • Apr 8 2012: I'm replying here since there is no reply button on your other comment.

          Wish I had a podcast or link to a brief visual presentation. But, nevertheless, here is a clear and consice explanation to the prophecy on Messiah's arrival as described in Daniel.

          http://www.watchtower.org/e/bh/appendix_02.htm

          If you google the prophecy, you will find that many faiths agree on this prophecy's fulfillment.

          As far as Jesus's second coming. That one requires some additional reading. I don't know how much you are willing to read....
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      Mar 25 2012: Peter,
      One glitch in your argument is that "professional football, or motor racing, or what have you", usually does NOT promote the player or the sport as spiritual/religious "holier than thow" guides and leaders of humankind.

      Football players and race car drivers generally DO NOT bless starving people and advise them NOT to use birth control because it is a sin. Football players and race car drivers generally DO NOT ask poor starving people for more money to support their already wealthy life style.

      The catholic church is one of the largest, richest entities in our world, and they are preying on people.....that's right "preying", rather than praying.

      Years ago, I stayed with some lovely, genuinely giving benedictin nuns in Mexico. I learned that of the 127 bishops in that country, only a handful of them were actually helping the people. The rest were/are living in luxury. The nuns teach and minister to the people in poor villages with no financial support from the church, while the bishops are living a life of wealth. This happens in many areas of our world, and it is, as you say Gabe, an epidemic. Thankfully, more people in our world are seeing the truth regarding this issue and have often stopped supporting it.

      So, yes Peter, the bible contains all those lovely, noble quotes, and because the leaders of the church are not paying attention to the verses in the bible, or the teachings of JC, it makes them even MORE hypocritical.

      I totally agree with Lynn...there are some who walk the talk, and they are few and far between.
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        Mar 26 2012: Hi Colleen.
        I totally agree with you on the Roman Catholic thing. I'm sure that there are lots of folks within it who are doing a good job, but the organisation itself is an affront to Christianity.
        I know many who absolutely worship their football teams with a fervour that puts me to shame, while at the same time there are many nominal Christians. We're a mixed bunch we humans.

        :-)
      • Apr 4 2012: I agree about the football players and birth control, But I would say The church generally holds the stance of abstinence before marriage, (the original birth control) The whole no condoms thing is, to my best understanding, a Catholic thing. Although there are many Catholic Christians, I disagree with much of the Catholic structure, and emphasis on works based salvation over Grace. (that isn't biblical and the opposite of Jesus teaching) It is a bummer that Christians get all lumped in together defiling the name of Christ to kind people like you and so many others. But I guess that is what happens when we sinners do things. This African pastor may or may not be a True Biblical Christian. But if he is laying up treasure for himself at the expense of his congregation he is no different that the war lords, that is evil, and God WILL deal with him. (it's just hard to be patient sometimes right?) Ultimately God knows his heart and motives.
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          Apr 4 2012: Hi Ramon,
          I do not lump all christians together, which is why, in my comment, I mentioned the kind, lovely, giving Benedictine nuns, AND the bishops, who are living a life of luxury. This is not an isolated situation...unfortunately, it plays out in many parts of our world.

          I have no patience for any religious leaders who are "laying up treasure for himself", as you insightfully express, ESPECIALLY when people in the congragation are starving. You are absolutely right Ramon...it is "no different than the war lords"!

          I'm more interested in dealing with these folks here and now, rather than waiting for god to deal with them. It's time that the global community stop being patient with, and making excuses for these folks, who are building extraordinary wealth for themselves at the expence of the starving, destitute people in the congregations that support them.

          It's time for the excuses like "this phenomenum is common to many aspects of life"...."be patient...God knows his heart"... to stop. These are religious, spiritual leaders and guides to thousands of people, whose life style is contradicting what they teach.

          If there is a god, he/she/it gave us a brain and the ability to use it for a reason. Just as some of the wealthy pastors in our world have used their brain to build their own wealth, we have the ability to change that dynamic with our own brains, logical thought processes and actions. Making excuses, or being patient with them is not going to change anything.
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    Apr 21 2012: May all pastors be as rich as they would imagine !
    Same for everyone too :-)
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    Apr 19 2012: Don't pastors belong to certain denominations?

    Are you saying that this one guy opened up a church, without any kind of permission from the powers that be in his particular denomination? And is fleecing people?

    Under whose authority does he do this?

    You have to get to the root of the problem. No one employee of any institution has the authority to become wealthy using resources from that institution and damaging it's image....if they do, they do it with the consent of those in charge.
    I think this is what Mary is getting at.

    So, who is stepping up to expose the powers that be "behind this pastor, and religious leaders?".

    How can you not see the connection?
  • Apr 16 2012: In this time of austerity are these institutions simply a drug to help soothe hopelessness?

    I will answer no......I had not answered this before.

    Surely Gabe there must be some good groups of faithful men and women in the country where you are from, or the country where you reside.

    What have you learned thus far from this conversation? Are you planning to take any kind of action, or start educating people with what you have learned here?
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      Apr 16 2012: Mary,
      There are good people everywhere, however, in these trying times, even "good people" tend to do unusual things.I still believe that the primary reason why these "men-of-god" are obscenely wealthy is the hope of a better tomorrow their congregation craves and will pay any sum to attain. It is a simple business transaction.
      "Do you want a good job? Do you want to prosper? Do you want the "fruit of the womb"? Do you want to graduate with good grades? Do you want a good husband/wife?..... then buy my dvd. Buy my books. Make a monetary pledge to my church and you will have all this and MUCH more." This is the venom that these men spit.
      Regarding effecting a change Mary, it is not that simple. Religious beliefs can not be reconciled with logic. People believe passionately in their pastors, rabis, imams, priests etc, and that is why when these leaders err, there is little or no condemnation on their actions.
      I don't believe you can educate an individual out of their religion (maybe the casual church goer could be derailed with education and logic) but the staunch "believer" has his beliefs tattooed in the inner walls of his heart.

      The responses have been great and well appreciated.
      • Apr 17 2012: OK, so you think people buy into the "choose Christ and he will bless you with all you want"
        mentality?
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          Apr 17 2012: Not all people but a good number do.
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          Apr 19 2012: For what it's worth, there is no reasoning with some people. Read around the site and you will discover that some TEDsters think they are always right, and always want to have the last word.

          Move on, some people dislike pearls.

          Your contribution has been valuable, not only to me, but to others also.
      • Apr 17 2012: We can use logic to refute false religious beliefs

        It is the reason I walked out of the church I belonged to 25 years ago and have not looked back.
        Someone took the time to teach me the biblical truth.

        I understand your concern. I will end with saying that many true Christians are fearless in exposing false religion. And, we always have a choice.

        If you are a person of faith, then of course you know God is watching,

        If all you want is to stop these religious leaders from fleecing people, then there are alot of individuals ready and willing to expose these ministers. They do it all the time, with hidden camera interviews on national tv here in America.

        Either way, I have enjoyed this conversation.

        If you want to read some of the articles we use to expose religious lies worldwide in 236 lands and in over 400 languages, I invite you to visit our site:

        www.watchtower.org

        If what you want is to read our journals:

        www.jw.org

        If you want to see how we are being persecuted for exposing religious lies and standing up for scriptural truth and God's kingdom you can watch some news footage:

        www.jw-media.org

        Be Well,
        Mary
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          Apr 18 2012: Dear Mary M,
          With all due respect, this discussion is not about "exposing false religion". The discussion topic is..."Extraordinary wealth of pastors...".

          What you have provided above are promotional materials for the religious group called Jehovah's Witnesses.
      • Apr 19 2012: You know what Colleen, with all due respect....but you are mistaken. I don't think you have done your research.

        If you had read my comment TO Gabe, based on HIS reply to me, you would understand that it has everything to do with "the extraordinary wealth of pastors".

        Why don't any of the Jehovah's Witness pastors enjoy such wealth?

        Because they follow Bible principles. One such principle states that christians are under no obligation to pay tithe.

        Christians meeting at the Jehovah's Witness place of worship give from the heart what they can and when they can, anonimously....and it goes directly to help print Bibles and Bible literature and build places of worship, in addition to pay electricity and water.........and not into a man's private bank account.

        Jehovah's Witnesses do NOT have a PAID clergy.....Everyone volunteers........EVERYONE

        From the individuals who build the kingdom halls, to the men who prepare the talks given at the places of worship, they do it FREE.

        They don't charge any fee to give wedding talks, or to use the church for weddings, or to give a funeral talk, or to perform a baptism.....it is all done in love and free of charge.

        Jehovah's Witnesses are actually doing something about Gabe's dilenma in Nigeria also. Over 330,00 individuals go there door to door, and tell the over 165 millionNigerians to get out of these religions and churches which are fleecing them. Whether they then decide to become a Jehovah's Witness or not, who knows, maybe? But education is essential in tackling these problems.

        Now, next time you think I'm off topic, well, tell the authorities, and let them do their job, because with all due respect Colleen, this is not the first time you have said that to me in a conversation. But I am asking you kindly to please let it be the last time.

        Sending a smile your way. And thanking you in advance for your kindness as always.
        Mary
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          Apr 19 2012: Thanks for the smile Mary:>)
          I read the whole thread of comments and the information on the links you provided very carefully Mary. What you have provided above are promotional materials for the religious group called Jehovah's Witnesses. There is nothing in there about wealth of pastors. If you think/feel it is beneficial...so be it.

          I am very glad to hear that none of the Jehovah's Witness pastors are wealthy. I agree...education is essential in tackling these challenges.

          Mary, this is the first time I've said ANYTHING to you about promoting the Jehova's Witnesses, and I'm very sure I have NOT said anything in the past, because I've never seen that from you before.
      • Apr 19 2012: Colleen, now I know there is lack of comprehension, I wasn't referring to you telling me about JW's before, I was referring to telling me I am off topic.

        And let me come back and show you how there is information on all three links.........like everything else Colleen, you have to look for it.........they prefer to let people know personally and the information is always presented in a respectful way to make people think and then act according to their personal understanding.

        JW's do not want people to follow them. They want people to search for the scriptural truth and live in peace and harmony internally........clean conscience, helping others in practical ways, loving others, taking personal interest in others......maintaining a simple life, free from materialism.

        Let me find the info.....it will take me a while, because I'm off to appts. and to deal with my elderly parents............have a beautiful day Colleen. I'll email you privately.

        Mary

        (and for what it's worth, my intent was not to give promotion to Jehovah's Witnesses, but to the ideas, and ways they go about educating people.........truly Colleen, they do a phenomenal job of opening the eyes of understanding in sincere people who are searching to serve God in an honest way).............of course, they do not claim to be the only ones who will be "saved" as other religions do.......that is also on their site.....they are very balanced in their view of life...that of course is my personal opinion. It is neither here or there......and it is off topic. =P
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          Apr 19 2012: Mary,
          I generally have NOT been percieved to have "lack of comprehension". In fact, my cognitive skills are pretty good:>)

          Honestly Mary, I prefer NOT to get a personal e-mail about Jehovah's Witnesses. I have enough of them visiting my home way too often...thanks anyway.
      • Apr 19 2012: Have it your way Colleen, if you think you can you can, and if you think you can't you are absolutely right.....I of course knew this......

        See, I was going to send you an email about extraordinary wealth of pastors.....you choose to believe it is something else....nothing I can do about that.

        Don't bother answering this comment.
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          Apr 19 2012: I agree Mary...if we think we can...we can, and if we think we can't...we are absolutely right. I don't know what that has to do with the topic...it's an important message anyway:>)

          If you have information about "extraordinary wealth of pastors", you don't need to send it to me by e-mail...I'm sure it would be welcome on this comment thread:>)
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    Apr 7 2012: Colleen,
    What I don't know is if these pastors believe what they are preaching, or are intentionally taking advantage of gullible people. I do know that at the prayer meeting on Thursday, the people there do believe in an eternal torment and were praying that their loved ones get saved (accepting Jesus as their Lord and savior). It is sad that they don't know what accepting Jesus as Lord and savior means. How you can believe that your loved ones are eternally damned and claim to follow Jesus is a mystery to me. Jesus warned people to beware of their own evil nature. And religion claims that he preached of a God that would torment non-believers for eternity. It is that very teaching that has caused people to become non-believers.
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      Apr 7 2012: Roy,
      We never know what another person's thought/feeling process is, unless they choose to tell us. If pastors/ministers/priests are in a position to be religious/spiritual leaders, they are generally educated individuals and have the capacity to think. If they are not conscious of what they are doing (stealing for their own financial gain) they apparently haven't explored themselves and their own "work" or leadership abilities, so in my perception, it does not let them off the hook of responsibility.

      I believe people are becoming "non-believers" because with our own growth, learning and evolution, more people are beginning to think for themselves, rather than be led by manipulated dogma. People are becoming less and less willing to follow a "leader" who contradicts his/herself. The wealth of many religious/spiritual leaders is only one of the contradictions people in our world are becoming more aware of, and that's a good thing. Change starts with awareness.
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    Apr 6 2012: Gabe,
    People ARE being brainwashed by Christian rhetoric. I just came from a Christian prayer group. They are studying a book about discipleship and teaching the message of Jesus. The book doesn't focus on what benefits will come to the true believer, but on the teaching that not accepting Jesus will result in eternal torment in hell. How does this represent a teacher that preached love and forgiveness? They don't truly know where the idea came from, and yet they preach it as if it is the message that Jesus would have preached. Jesus never condemned anyone. He even forgave them that nailed him to the cross. So how did the church come to preach such a message?

    I am a Christian because I believe in love and forgiveness. And having had spiritual experiences, I understand their value. But I hold no allegiance to the preaching of hell as a means to convert someone to Christianity. Yet such teaching is very profitable because bad news travels fast and fear gets people's attention.

    When Orson Welles broadcasted "The War of the Worlds" on CBS radio, October 30, 1938, there were thousands of people out fighting martians that didn't exist. Once you get someone to believe something, if it is perceived as a threat, they will act on it with full vigor. Most holy wars are started in this fashion. The threat of hell is perceived as the ultimate threat, and therefore, gets people acting on it. They will pay the price if they believe that it will redeem them from pain later on.

    The idea of hell fire originates in ancient Egypt. It isn't found in the book of Genesis because it isn't supposed to be there. But over time, it got dragged back into the belief system of corrupt churches and is now an accepted belief. I can trace it from ancient Egypt to the modern church, and it is twisted road it follows. Until the belief is weaned from the Christian church, many will fall victim to it and will not learn what "Christ" truly means.
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      Apr 6 2012: Roy,
      We know that religions often manipulate some of the original teachings, and I agree with you that the teachings regarding heaven and hell create fear and "get people's attention". I agree that many people accept the threat of hell, and this may be a factor that contributes to the wealth of some pastors. I agree with your comment..."They will pay the price if they believe that it will redeem them from pain later on". You suggest that people are trying to buy their way into heaven and out of hell? Good point!
    • Apr 7 2012: These people continue to teach these lies because, people take refuge in them.

      It has always been like this.....it is not new.

      “We have made a lie our refuge and in falsehood we have concealed ourselves.”—ISAIAH 28:15.

      Christendom claims to have a special relationship with God.

      ‘Why,’ she boasts, ‘we have tens of thousands of churches and a professional clergy, as well as hundreds of millions of adherents. We also possess the Bible, and we use the name of Jesus in our worship. Surely, we are favored by God!’

      It behooves honesthearted individuals and truth seekers to read a Bible. The Bible's message is clear. God is love.

      I have always appreciated the words of Paul to young Timothy.

      While people are having their ears tickled by false religions, true worshippers of God need to be about doing a specific task, here, read for yourself:

      At 2 Timothy 4: 1-5

      I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is destined to judge the living and the dead, and by his manifestation and his kingdom, 2 preach the word, be at it urgently in favorable season, in troublesome season, reprove, reprimand, exhort, with all long-suffering and [art of] teaching. 3 For there will be a period of time when they will not put up with the healthful teaching, but, in accord with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, whereas they will be turned aside to false stories. 5 You, though, keep your senses in all things, suffer evil, do [the] work of an evangelizer, fully accomplish your ministry.

      As true Christians, we ought to be about accomplishing our ministry....that of declaring the good news of God's kingdom.

      Now, Roy, here is a question for you: Why were YOU at that prayer meeting?

      It is what I said before on this conversation, these churches and ministers exist because people flock to their congregations even though they know that what is being taught are lies.
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        Apr 7 2012: Mary,
        I went the the prayer meeting in hopes that I could get some answers to a friend's problem. It was my first time there and I don't intend to return. I expected something much different than what I found.

        I do not believe that people who go to these churches believe or know that they are being lied to. I believe that they have little knowledge of scripture outside of what they are being taught, which is why they are so gullible.
        • Apr 8 2012: Roy,

          I think you are right that some have little knowledge.

          It is sad to see people lied to.

          From my personal experience, I can say, that many times sincere individuals have disquieting thoughts and an inner voice that says....."this doesn't sound like truth to me" when they are sitting there....and maybe, just maybe, that is motivation enough to go looking.

          Now I have another question for you.

          As far as the Lord's second coming. Are you familiar with the prophecies of the weeks in the book of Daniel that point to the Messiah's coming, and then to the second coming?
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        Apr 8 2012: Mary,
        I am not totally familiar with it, but I have heard of it and know that the time is near for Jesus to return. The end of the Mayan calendar seems to be on the same track. I am hopeful that this year will be a year of spiritual awakening.
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          Apr 8 2012: The book of Daniel speaks very clearly on it but i had to listen to chuck missler before i understood what alot of the churches were talking about when it comes to Daniel.

          I wonder if Mary would give us a link to any audio's or podcasts?
        • Apr 8 2012: Much of the book of Daniel focuses on the theme of world rulership, a subject that is of paramount concern today. The book contains two different threads--one is narrative, and the other is prophetic. Both aspects of his book can build our faith.

          The narrative portion shows us that God will bless and care for those who are integrity keepers. The prophetic portions build faith by providing, in advance, details concerning the rise and fall of world powers from the time of ancient Babylon right down to "the time of the end".

          Daniel also writes about other prophetic time periods, which, when seen in the light of other scriptures help us to identify Christ's presence, or second coming.

          Here is a link to a brief and clear article on Messiah's appearance:

          http://www.watchtower.org/e/bh/appendix_02.htm

          If you would like further information as far as the scriptures and prophecies pointing to the second coming let me know.
  • Apr 4 2012: It is biblical that a pastor receive his living from his work.

    However the ultimate aim is to serve Jesus and bring others salvation through him. Paul gave up his rights so that it would not cause those he served to stumble or fall away. It was an issue for them. Contextually it was common for Greek orators to be paid to speak. Paul states that even THEY would have received pay, and he has also brought them spiritual understanding so how much more should be be able to reap material things from them. BUT again Paul denied himself for the sake of the gospel and the truth of Christ.
    1 Corinthians 9:7-12
    "Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk? 8Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? 9For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? 10Does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. 11If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?
    Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ."

    Jesus talks a TON about material possessions because it is a sure way to separate us from him. He himself had nothing, but gave everything. He was a humble servant, He came for our sake and good not his own. He endured the ultimate pain, suffering and humiliation unto death.

    How this African pastor is walking in the ways of Christ I don't know. Based on what I read it sounds pretty sad. But again I don't know the context. Jesus never said it was bad to be rich, but certainly HE should be our aim not $. God gives us all things.
    • Apr 4 2012: "God gives us all things."

      I really agree with you there. I think if we read and meditate on Matthew 6 24-34 we will come to understand that God himself makes sure we have the basics.....food, clothing, and shelter. The fact that those who are leaders in the churches of christendom are getting rich, and living a materialistic lifestyle will help the truth seeker to identtify the false christians......our Lord said..... "by their fruits you will recognize them....."

      Again, I repeat what I said on March 27 in my comment:

      That people looking for some kind of hope, willingly make a human rich.....well, they are adults, and should know better. If you study scriptures you would know you are being had. People are followers of men.....true Christians follow the Bible, and follow their exemplar, Jesus Christ.

      God does not need our money.........obviously preachers do............How sad :(
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      Apr 4 2012: Ramon,
      I agree it is not bad to be rich, but a pastor/man-of-God/priest (in the Christian faith), has no business WHATSOEVER owning a private jet, expensive watches etc. As a matter of fact, I will go as far as saying they have no business being rich.They should set an example by living a HUMBLE life/lifestyle and not flaunting their riches with wealth "acquired" from their congregation.
      These blood-suckers prey on the hopes and desires of people. This is a legal fraud that must be stopped.
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        Apr 5 2012: Gabe,
        You touched on the heart of the matter. There is nothing wrong with being rich, and it depends on how one uses the riches that is the important piece. Taking from the poor to fill his/her own pockets, and live a life of luxury, is not reasonable. When one is teaching that greed is a sin, and yet living a life of greed, it does not send a very good message.

        We see justifications for wealthy pastors here on this thread...everybody in our society is doing it...they are only men...sinners...just like us...be patient with them...god will take care of them in due time..etc...etc. As long as these and other excuses are used to justify the behavior, the practice will continue.

        Priests in the catholic tradition present themselves as "representatives of god here on earth". They put themselves in a "higher" position than the rest of society. What is the message? If one is in a higher position, greed is ok? Do what we say, not what we do? God wants us to be wealthy even though people in our congregation are often starving? We will pay for this later when god catches up with us? None of these messages are acceptable, reasonable, or appropriate.
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          Apr 5 2012: Well said Colleen. I struggle to understand how a good proportion of people seem to think it is ok to exalt a "man" to a god-like status and give him the privilege to their hard earned possessions.
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          Apr 8 2012: I was once told you are either given knowledge or faith/hope.
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        Apr 6 2012: Thanks Gabe,
        I don't totally understand it either, and apparently there are enough people in our world to support the practice, otherwise it would end! The only reason I can imagine, for people supporting a religion in which this is allowed, is because they are so insecure in themselves, they cannot make a decision that goes against the religion they depend on for their own security and well being?

        If people really think about it and feel the ramifications to so many people, it seems like they would NOT be justifying the practice.
        • Apr 6 2012: Colleen, there is something that is beyond comprehension in all this......it is not limited to people living in poor countries.............I have had conversations with people who attend churches here in the states, and they have told me how their pastor gets up on the stage and tells the members about a wish his wife has of owning a turquoise ring.....and then he tells the audience..........."help me make my wive's dream a reality.........and then the plates are passed around. I ask these people: "why don't you leave that church?".........and they just look at me as if to say............Ah, it's not that bad.............I don't get it either.

          They know they are being taken, and they continue to support these churches and the crooked individuals who run them........It is very sad to see Colleen, that is why I said my comment:

          "That people looking for some kind of hope, willingly make a human rich.....well, they are adults, and should know better" God does not need our money....

          Gabe is not alone. Many honest hearted individuals want to do something. The best thing to do is educate people on how to identify these false leaders. But, it is hard to take the veil off people's eyes......until it's too late and they have to see their minister being taken to jail or spread on the front page of a newspaper for some terrible act of fraud.....etc

          Many times these ministers provide meals at the place of worship, and an active social life.....so the members don't mind paying for these services....it is a complex issue....one that cannot be fully discussed on TED.

          Someone is watching......that at least gives me a bit of hope that one day, they will have to render an account.....
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        Apr 6 2012: Hi Mary,
        I don't agree that "there is something that is beyond comprehension in all this", and I DO agree that ......"it is not limited to people living in poor countries".

        I happened to be in Germany years ago and was invited to attend Easter mass with the friends I was staying with. We attended an absolutely beautiful, extravagant production in one of the largest and most beautiful churches in Europe...with 20 priests and bishops attending, the Frankfort symphony and chorus...a LOT of pomp and ceremony....it was really a magnificent show:>)

        After the service, the archive in the basement of the church was opened (only on easter sunday every year) for the parishiners to observe the riches of this particular church. We walked through the entrance, which had 3ft. thick walls, and into the archive, which was several HUGE rooms, covering the space of a city block. There were garments, rings, crowns, staffs, tabernacles, etc., which this church had horded for centuries. It was all made of gold and silver, encrusted with precious stones.....diamonds, rubies, saphires, emeralds, pearls...some the size of my fist. There were probably billions of dollars in wealth in that one place. I actually felt sick to my stomach thinking about all the starving people in our world, when these jewels are stored for people to look at once a year.

        I think it CAN and is being discussed on TED, right here and now! What better place to discuss a global issue, than on a forum that is available to the global community? This is a great place to discuss the issue.

        I agree Mary..."someone is watching"...actually, the global community is watching, and that may be one of the first steps to change. It is time to "render an account" now Mary.
        • Apr 6 2012: When I said "there is something that is beyond comprehension in all this", I was referring to why humans who obviously see all this as wrong..............continue to oooh and aaah at the lavishness of these churches, and continue to fill the pews on Christmas and Easter, and then they walk out complaining at the riches.

          Why not stop participating. Don't you think that when you are against something, the best way to show your disapproval is by not being involved in it's activities......?

          A club is only as strong as it's members.

          Did you know that these are not my ideas? I learned 20 years ago what those seeking the true God must do today to show their disgust at false religion:

          "Get out of her, my people. If you do not want to receive part of her plagues. For her sins have massed together clear up to heaven, and God has called her acts of injustice to mind." Revelations 18:4-5

          I have no faith in humans. I do however have faith in God's word and in our Creator. If he says he will make the world empire of false religions (referred to as Babylon the Great in scripture) pay for their acts of injustice, then you know what? I believe it. For there is only one thing that God cannot do: "he cannot lie" (Titus 1:2)

          I do understand your feelings. I do know people are upset. I do know you want action.

          I have seen sincere people walk out of their church after 30 years of attending it because they had had enough.

          I have seen church doors closed and turned into restaurants, and I have seen dishonest ministers incarcerated and held accountable. But it always seems like too little to late.

          A good way to disarm these churches, is by exposing the truth to the "people". If people are educated and their eyes are opened to the facts, then maybe they will react. That is part of what truth seekers do.......help themselves to facts, and then help others.

          Always happy to interact with you, and feeling your pain.......Mary
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        Apr 6 2012: I don't participate Mary, except to honor my friends request, because I was staying with them. Yes, I agree that the best way "to show your disapproval is by not being involved in it's activities", which is why I left the catholic church 45 years ago.

        I agree...people need to walk out when/if they had enough...church doors need to close when there are dishonest priests/ministers. It's NEVER too little too late...in my humble opinion. The catholic church in my area, is selling all their property to pay victims of sexual molestation. Some of the victims have waited 30, 40, 50 years and finally, the courts are recognizing the abuse, and ordering the church to pay some restitution. I say, better late than never!

        I totally agree..."A good way to disarm these churches, is by exposing the truth to the "people". If people are educated and their eyes are opened to the facts, then maybe they will react. That is part of what truth seekers do.......help themselves to facts, and then help others". Well said Mary.

        That's EXACTLY why it is a good idea to make the facts known, talk about it here on TED with the global community, and hopefully, more people will understand how many people throughout the global community are impacted.

        I'm not really feeling pain Mary. I perfer to spend my energy taking action, rather than spending the energy feeling pain....thanks for your thoughtfullness anyway.
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    Mar 26 2012: In todays society where cell phones, TV, cameras, etc .. tend to make everything much more transparent than just a few years ago it is hard to hide the other you. There are two very powerful forces here ... money and power. Money it has been said is the root of all evil. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Many a well meaning pastor has fell to sex, power, money, and a second life of sin. These are men and men have weaknesses and can be exploited. I do not condem or judge as I am not either worthy or qualified. If I see this occur I withdraw my support as I do not wish to be seen as to support them. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone and all of that. Best of luck. Bob.