Not for love of money, but of Humanity. "Greater is he who works for the good of all, then he who works for the good of himself only" ~ Matthew 25:40: "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'"- (NIV). I live in Singapore where the Emperor must not be disturbed.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Prosperity gospel: A Ponzi scheme of Biblical Proportion?

Prosperity Gospel: A Ponzi scheme of Biblical Proportion?
Disclaimer, the following information is based upon my understanding from the reading of Biblical texts and accounts in my free time, and it is accurate to the extent of my understanding. All objections, if any, should also be posted under the post of the same title on my blog accessible
here, anyone reading this post/ a copy of this post, should also check for updates/ objections at the same blog address so any disagreements/ errors of interpretation observed by other readers in respect of this article can be quickly highlighted. This article is written in the spirit of promoting better and more holistic Bible interpretation. Thank you for your kind understanding.

Kong Hee's ' Kong Hee 30,60 100 fold return.mp4' sermon is I believe, is a misrepresentation of: Matthew 13:8: "Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." Matthew 13:23: "But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.""

Despite both verses giving the same account, I shall discuss verses 18- 23 as it is Jesus's repeat explanation of the 'Parable of the Sower' .
(Mark4:2-8 is another version of 'Parable of the Sower').Matthew13 in all established versions/ languages may be accessed from here. Like any exegesis, the Holy Bible should be taken in its totality however due to space constraint, only Verses 18- 23 from the New International Version are appended as follows:

18"Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. 22The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. 23But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."
This paragraph, and several internal equivalents can with little effort but careful reading lead to the necessary exegesis of the passage.
'Sower' being the equivalent of the Church, or anyone understanding the "message about the kingdom" and speaking about it; 'seed'/ 'the word' being 'message about the kingdom'; 'ground'/ 'soil' understood as the 'heart' of the person being informed (and in accordance- its corresponding state, as described by surfaces such as 'path'/ 'rocky places'/ 'thorns'/ 'good soil'); 'fruitful'/ 'crop' (and its corresponding quantities- 30, 60, 100) being the degree of response of individual's 'heart'; or, from the perspective of the 'sower' the degree to which the individual from receiving the 'message about the kingdom' understands and continues spreading the 'message about the kingdom'.
The multiples of "hundred, sixty or thirty times" in the context of these verses thus clearly refers specifically and only to the ability of an individual who 'understands the message' to 'sow' the 'message about the kingdom'- it does NOT reflect nor promise any particular return or reward for such 'understanding'.
It is not to my knowledge anywhere else in the Holy Bible that there exist any reference to the multiples '30, 60, 100x' as a measure of any form of 'reward' from God.

By way of logic, anyone not anyone not adequately "learned in the 'message about the kingdom'" ought to have no business spreading it. The office bears of the Church, whose qualities are defined here also ought ensure that.

Pastor Kong Hee's inappropriate application of the terms 'thirty, sixty, a hundred' are thus inappropriate and a misrepresentation bible verse; an audience adduced to believing in promises of up to 100x returns, aggravated by the use of inappropriate examples portrayed during sermons- of an individual being rewarded on stage with cash in the currency to the Singapore dollar no less, amounting to 100x of what he first gave, are ought to be misled into parting with large sums of money in the misplaced faith of subsequent significant gain. [pls see bottom for real life analogy]

This undesirable situation has in effect a similar outcome as that of a 'Ponzi scheme', defined by the Merriam-Webster Online dictionary as: "an investment swindle in which some early investors are paid off with money put up by later ones in order to encourage more and bigger risks- Etymology: Charles Ponzi †1949 American (Ital.-born) swindler"

Given to the fact the Biblical multiples of "30, 60, 100x" specifically refer to none other then one's ability to spread the 'message about the kingdom', NOT God's promised response in financial terms, the problem of having to keep up the semblance of prosperity amongst the congregation is ought become increasingly difficult and costly.
The ultimate collapse of such a 'church', not to mention the fallout effects upon society, are then expected to be as great as the very blasphemy it was so concocted to be.

1 Timothy 3:1-13 (NIV) refers to the qualities expected of Church Overseers and Deacons.

A Poor Saviour Kong Hee.mp4 : another toxic dose of heretical teachings of the 'prosperity gospel'.

An analogy for the a/m scenario [and it's real life similarities] I think, would be:
Mr P starts a 'Charity' 'tuition agency (TA)' [church] proclaiming to provide free tuition for needy kids [Charity]. For which the TA is granted 'Charity status/ tax exemption' by the relevant agencies [COC].
P hires 10 teachers and each is able to teach for 100hrs/ month (25hrs/week).
To the donors to his 'charity', P makes 2 unfounded (and quite ridiculous) claims:
1) His is the best TA/ charity in Singapore since his teachers yield 100times return: i.e. 1 teacher teaching 100hrs/ month equals 100x return according to P- as such, P's is the most deserving charity in Singapore- bast and most effective.
2) P also makes other unfounded claims, such as that students whose parents donate a minimum sum of $1000/mth- would receive tuition based upon MOE's latest examination question bank with the guaranteed result of all A's in the PSLE examinations.
Mean while, the TA invest most of its donations in other 'investments'- property/ otherwise, purported to enhance the 'productivity' of the said TA.

If 'P' isn't a criminal, then what is?


Please note that this post has also been posted to the following forums/ locations, requesting feedback:
SG forum 26Mar: Ponzi scheme.
HWZ forum:
'26Mar: CHC read bible>often'
'CHC pay$310M': 26Mar am, 26Mar pm, 29Mar, (this thread has been deleted)
4April2010 (Re: CHC $300million Suntec investment thread got trashed?) (this thread has been deleted by admin)
14June2010:  The 10% tithe's - How do You Ask Members!
7April2010 (Re: Megachurches' tax status bears scrutiny !!!)
CNA forum: '27Mar: Ponzi scheme'
ST Discussn Board:
'29Mar: Lines are blurred' (thread closed to discussion)
7April2010 (Megachurches 'forced' to go commercial )

No comments:

Post a Comment