Saturday, April 18, 2009


Well, well, it's Easter season. God's people are rejoicing in the risen Savior, meditating on the awesome mystery of his finished work that conquered sin, death, and hell, and provided his followers with a glimpse of the new heavens and new earth in his own risen state.

Jesus' resurrection and subsequent appearances restored and reassured his disciples in their faith, challenged and corrected their inadequate conceptions of who he is and what he came to do, thrilled their hearts and initiated a process of awakening and renewal that climaxed when Jesus ascended into heaven and then poured out the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, empowering the newly born church to boldly proclaim the Good News of Christ the Messiah, Savior of the world.

This is what Easter is about, right?

It's about Jesus, raised from the dead. It's about...
"the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord..."
Romans 1.1-4
Of all the events in Scripture that are about Jesus, and not about me, the Easter story of Christ's resurrection and appearances has to be at the top of the list. The entire focus is on Jesus.

But wait. A new book has unlocked the secrets of the resurrection accounts! PATH OF MIRACLES: The Seven Life-Changing Principles that Lead to Purpose and Fulfillment, by Samuel Rodriguez, tells readers that the real significance of the resurrection lies in seven principles that show us how to unlock the power within us so that we might achieve a happy, successful life. Read for yourself...
Prepare yourself; your life is about to change.

You are about to discover the way to a life full of accomplishment, achievement, and attainment, of realization, reward, and prosperity. Of healthy and happy relationships, and lasting love. Of satisfying work and success on the job. Of building wealth and financial freedom.

Right now.

This book will show you how. I will be your guide.

...God has a marathon of miracles waiting for you to enjoy right now, in this lifetime, and the seven simple principles in this book will show you how to unlock the power within you, and secure those treasures, right here, right now.

...The seven principles in this book activate heaven so we can live heaven right here. We can experience heaven here on Earth.
This is such transparently awful theology, such impossibly bad exegesis and use of Scripture, such an indefensibly cruel collection of undeliverable promises to the hungry and hurting among us that one might be tempted just to laugh it off as the pitiful sideshow of some insignificant snake-oil salesman.

However, the book's author is the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), America's largest Hispanic Christian organization, and was identified by the Wall Street Journal as one of four Latino leaders who are most influential in our nation's politics. The organization recently entered into a strategic partnership with Liberty University. The book's forward was written by respected evangelical leader, Jim Wallis. A blurb on the back flap was written by the chairman of the Board of Trustees for Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a leading evangelical institution.

Evangelicalism has a "prosperity Gospel" problem. When an evangelical author who heads an evangelical organization, who is praised by leading evangelicals, writes a book that promotes said "Gospel" with such flagrant disregard for the Bible and such in-your-face enthusiasm, can there be any meaning left to the word "evangelical"?

Most certainly NOT recommended for your Easter season reading.


AZ said...

Can we expect anything but bad theology and shocking misconduct from contemporary leaders anymore? Is it surprising that bad theology comes from high up in contemporary evangelicalism? Not any longer.

What I need help understanding is whether it is the "high up" or the "contemporary" or the "evangelicalism" that is causing so much error.

Michael Mercer said...

I think Rodriguez tipped his hand on the first page of his book, where he writes, "Rick Warren talks about purpose, Joel Osteen talks about the end picture. I'm the guy in the middle. I'm the guy describing the road. I'm the one here to teach you the process."

Apparently, he aspires to be as well-known and influential as the authors he mentions. I feel sad for the Hispanic community, if this is what passes for theological leadership among them.

AZ said...

Thanks, Mike.

I hope my first comment didn't sound too unkind. I didn't intend to imply that all contemporary leaders misbehave and propagate bad theology. I only meant that shameful things crop up far too often.

A few weeks ago, you had a post about pastor-as-CEO, and how they put themselves in a position to rule the organization and manage its resources, but not to be held served, supervised or held accountable. Maybe that helps explain. Somebody needs to sit Pastor Rodriguez down and get him to reconsider his vocation.

And, congregations that have a really good pastor need to be remember how blessed they are.

Steve Martin said...

Evangelicalism is in bed with the culture.

They have let those who do not care one wit about the Church, re-define the church.

Comfort (being at ease), coolness, success...that's what it's all about.

It's quite easy to throw out the altar and add a rock band.

Toss the vestments for Hawaiian shirts.

It's easy! And it's fun!

It's enough to make me want to puke.