Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rod Parsley: A Christian?

I read in the Washington Post that presidential candidate John McCain rebuked the Rev. Rod Parsley, a minister that he had initially courted.

Parsley, according to the Post, is part of a nondenominational group of prosperity-gospel churches called "Word of Faith." Parsley endorses the prosperity gospel and owns a million dollar gated home. He preaches violence: "We were built for battle! ... We get off on warfare!" He thinks that the Holy Spirit brought him to Columbus, Ohio, because Ohio is a swing state in national elections. He believes "in the geographic locating abilities of the Holy Spirit," according to the Post.

Parsley may call himself a Christian, but the beliefs named above are not consistent with Jesus' teaching as I understand it. I do believe Jesus preached a prosperity gospel: but NOT prosperity as the world knows it. I don't think Jesus found that it prospered a person to own a 7,000-square foot gated mansion. In fact, I think Jesus found such ownership damaging to a person's happiness and was directing people to find a different kind of treasure, a treasure in heaven, a pearl of greater price, that would lead them to joyfully abandon the opiate (or poison) of excessive materialism. I believe that if Jesus had truly believed our treasure lies in material goods, he would have acquired them. But he didn't.

Second, while as carnal humans we may (or may not) get "off" on warfare, Christianity preaches a transformed self, a new birth, a new spirit. This new self is explicitly a spirit of peace and love. It is not a spirit of war. It is a spirit that a creates a new heart of charity within individuals. It is a spirit that does good to one's enemy.

Parsley has, in my opinion, twisted the gospel to accord with his desires, not submitted himself to the transforming power of the gospel.

As for the "geographic locating abilities of the Holy Spirit," all I can say is that my family is moving to Ohio too.

How we as Quakers and Christians challenge (and love) people like Parsley? Do they do more damage to themselves and their followers or to the rest of us?

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