Christian Celebrities Trashing the Gospel

The timing was impeccable really. I had just finished watching a television segment about the lavish demands of the super rich celebs and entertainers on a current affairs show. It focused on the bizarre and ridiculous demands celebrities make for the honour of having them in your presence.

The story said this in part: “According to Hollywood reporter Blair Late stars get whatever they desire when they’re on tour. ‘Once you hit a certain caliber of celebrity, you’re given everything you want,’ Mr Late said. ‘Each promoter at the venue has to agree with a contract between the artist and the team of the artist of what they require in the dressing room’.”

Here are some of the remarkable demands being made:
-Jon Bon Jovi’s band have once reportedly asked for a personal wardrobe supervisor to look after their leather pants and cowboy hats.
-Motley Crue has asked for a 12-foot-long boa constrictor.
-Marilyn Manson once asked for a bald hooker with no teeth and Eminem demanded a fully stocked Koi pond.
-Beyonce requires 600 Euros worth of titanium straws to drink her water.
-Courtney and Kim Kardasian requested that the journalist, staff and assistants treat them as royalty and refer to them with fake pseudonym names.
-Madonna also makes crazy demands when she goes on tour. She needs a room backstage for her 200 person entourage and 20 international phone lines for them to make calls. She also requests for white and pink roses with their stems cut down to exactly six inches.
-One of the most bizarre tour requests was made by singer Mariah Carey who demanded special bendy straws to sip from her crystal champagne. She also wanted puppies and kittens in a crate in her room backstage.

I was flabbergasted and outraged after seeing that segment. Who in the world do these boneheads think they are? They seem to think they have transcended us mere humans, and live in another exalted solar system. They consider themselves to be gods and goddesses to whom we all must bow.

But back to the impeccable timing bit: Just as soon as I finished watching this story I found a piece elsewhere speaking about other big cheese celebrities – albeit Christian ones. The story told of some of our mega-preachers and tele-evangelists, and what they are charging for people to hear them. Yep, you read that right. Preachers of the gospel are charging people to hear them share the gospel – or at least their anaemic version of it.

These hot dog Christian celebs think they can actually charge people to hear them talk about Jesus and the gospel. Never mind that they are usually proclaiming another Jesus and another gospel. But they have the gall and the arrogance to actually make people pay for the privilege of hearing them.

Just imagine if Jesus or Paul or Peter or John or Luther or Whitefield or Wesley or Finney actually charged people to hear the gospel. Well, today’s hucksters are doing just that. They are an utter disgrace and complete shams. They are living the lifestyles of the rich and famous and are actually getting gullible and undiscerning believers to pay them for this.

Consider just one of these shysters. Would you like to hear Joel Osteen? No probs: you can see him at the North Charleston Coliseum, North Charleston SC on Friday, Aug 16, 7:30PM. You can get your tickets through preferred Seating: “Upfront pricing for your convenience. No processing fees. All tickets listed are backed by our 100% Guarantee. Price Range: $45 to $167.”

Maybe you live in Canada. That’s fine – you can see him there as well at Air Canada Centre, Toronto ON on Friday, Sept 6, 7:30PM: “Upfront pricing for your convenience. No processing fees. All tickets listed are backed by our 100% Guarantee. Price Range: $128 to $224.”

Wow, just imagine – for only 224 clams you can get a front row seat to see your favourite rock star, I mean movie star, I mean “preacher”. Who would want a lousy seat out in the boonies for $128? We all want to be in the front row so we can see those shining teeth and slick hairdo.

After all, that is what Christianity is all about today, isn’t it? It is about celebrities. It is about being entertained. It is about going to rock concert-like events for an encounter with a demi-god. Then you can tell all your friends: “Hey, for only $224 I got to be ten feet away from Joel”. You can talk about that for months to come – the highlight of your Christian calendar.

The site where I learned about this said: “Well it’s official; there is now a cover charge to hear the word of God imposed by Joel Osteen. For those that are just so star struck with his watered down message can now pay a fee to look directly up his nose, to the tune of $147.

“After a buddy of mine told me about this ‘Preferred Seating’ charge I had to do a little research to confirm if he was just being sarcastic, but low and behold there is an actual charge to get close to Pastor Joel Osteen. There is no need to talk about how many people are flocking to Houston to hear Osteen’s version of the gospel, but I had no idea that many of these people were paying a cover charge just to get closer to him.”

Speaking of such preachers he says this: “All I have really witnessed is a motivational speaker take the stage and spew out a ton of generic sermons designed to seduce the conference goers in an emotional climax. In the same fashion that Marvin Gaye took the stage in 1973 to perform Let’s Get It On, so too are preachers now engaging in performances worthy of cover charges, but entertainers are worthy their compensation.

“Orators of the Word of God should never demand payment for presenting the scriptures, and definitely not impose a preferred seating charge. Imagine if Jesus Christ had a preferred seating charge, then the Paralytic in Matthew 9 would have simply paid to get to the front of the meeting instead of suffering the spectacle of having to be lowered down from a hole in the roof. If Jesus would have charged $147 dollars (not sure of the currency value during his time on earth) then there would be no one referring to himself as a Christian because there would have been nothing exceptional about Jesus.”

Yes I do recall something about this in the gospels. What about Matthew 10:8? “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.” I guess this verse is no longer binding for our rich and famous evangelists and celebrity preachers.

There used to be a major sin in church circles known as simony. You don’t hear much about it nowadays, but we should. The sin of simony has to do with paying money to get spiritual things in general, and the sacraments in particular. The term comes from the actions of Simon Magus whom we read about in Acts 8:9-24.

Simon the Sorcerer wanted to buy the power of the Holy Spirit from Peter and John. Needless to say, they were not very impressed. Said Peter: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin” (vv. 20-23).

Hmmm, what would Peter say to Osteen and so many other greedy Christian superstars today?

Oh, and I thought that the last line of the report on greedy secular celebs was 100 per cent appropriate for our greedy Christian celebs: “As long as people are willing to give these celebrities these things, they’ll keep asking.”

You betcha.

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20 Replies to “Christian Celebrities Trashing the Gospel”

  1. Hi Bill, what price the Word of God? Any preacher who partakes in simony does not have his attention on God, in my humble opinion. If our attention is centred on anything other than God, then we are worshipping idols.

    Matthew Patchon

  2. I agree. But how do you deal with the argument that these preachers often advance:

    “I ask money for the ministry, not for myself. I spend it on various projects for poor and needy. We fund orphanages, Sunday schools, missionary projects and so forth.”

    How do you respond to that?

    Alex Spak

  3. Thanks Alex

    But of course the money is going to themselves, in large part. Do you not see their mansions, the fleet of limos, their private jets, their lifestyles of the rich and famous, and so on? They are living like kings while their flock is struggling to get by.

    And if they do tell you this, the reply is simple: ask them, do they offer complete disclosure of their finances? Most of them of course do not. There is no financial accountability and transparency with most of these guys. That in itself tells you to avoid them like the plague.

    Of course if a ministry is really giving say 90 per cent of their offerings away to really help the poor that is another matter. But hardly any of these are to my knowledge. Demand that they come clean with their finances – otherwise give them the flick.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  4. At a recent Bible study I saw a clip of one of our number pretending to be a motivational speaker. It soon dawned on me that it was a send up of a well known Aussie TV preacher – even down to the huskiness of the voice.

    Sorry but give me a faithful priest/pastor/minister preaching under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit any day to one motivated by TV cameras.

    Wayne Pelling

  5. Dear Bill, These preachers that charge for people to listen to them are phonies. They are not worth knowing.
    Regards, Franklin Wood

  6. How gullible are these people who are prepared to pay such high prices to listen to these so called preachers. It would be much cheaper to go and buy a Bible and start with Matthew 21:12-13.

    Madge Fahy

  7. Gee, folks, you are all pretty quick to judge. What does the Bible say about that? Perhaps time to open it up and have refresher course. Osteen is not charging people to come hear him speak in his church each weekend. There are also other considerations – do you think anyone gets to use auditoriums like the North Charleston Coliseum and the Air Canada Centre for free? Further, IF Osteen is fortunate enough to have a surplus after these events, do you know what he does with it? Is it our business anyway? He doesn’t answer to us, so let’s not play God for him. There are already far too many trying to undermine our brothers. How about we all support the greater cause and hold one another up in prayer. WWJ have us do?

    Colin McInnes-Smith

  8. Thanks Colin

    We know exactly what Jesus would do: he formed a whip and drove the money changers out of the temple. He would do exactly the same today.

    And of course we are everywhere told in the New Testament to judge, assess, discern and evaluate what those who claim to be his shepherds are doing and saying. Sorry, I prefer to remain loyal to Scripture here instead of being a men-pleaser.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  9. You could go to a motivational speaker and get better quality info than you can get from these “preachers”. It is basically the same thing they are saying just with a few religious words added in to fool the people.

    Ian Nairn

  10. Yeah, the orator effect is definitely used by big names. But motor mouths make me switch channels (on satellite Christian TV). It’s not about words and tongue but actions and truth. However, there are still puzzles like Joyce Myer’s irrefutable life story, but living in oversized houses. I wish they could get that stuff right, it’s quite distracting.

    But on the other hand, we can’t quite use the “take no money” as a directive for all time – which it obviously isn’t.

    Tim Lovett

  11. There is a Biblical system for the support of ministry it includes words like tithe and storehouse, clearly not many know it.

    Greg Sadler

  12. Bill, All of this is so against ‘faith’ it is ridiculous. I have just been reading a book about 70 Great Christians. It is a potted list of people who have made a difference down the ages from Peter and Paul, to Brother Andrew and Corrie Ten Boom. One of the things that came through was that so many of these people never asked anyone for support. They simply trusted God and He provided. The other interesting thing is that they all paid a huge price, sometimes with their life, and they all made a major difference in their world.

    Warwick Murphy

  13. I have, right in my heart, a cost free and totally perfect preacher/teacher. As I learn to focus more on Him and His Word, He’s slowly (yes, I admit, very slowly) transforming the place.

    Anna Cook

  14. Do we not still have open spaces in our cities where those with a calling from God can preach to those who want to hear? I know, legal restrictions have all but choked these opportunities out of existence. But, Bill, I believe you are one of those preachers who, like John Wesley uses what mode of communication is left to him, in your case this site that can reach more people almost for free – by that I mean the charges for internet connection, not your fee, Bill.
    Many blessings
    Ursula Bennett

  15. I took a book out of the library once. (Well, I don’t mean I’ve only taken one book out of the library, just that this is about one book I’ve borrowed.) I found the book very helpful. It was a listing, by topic, of the issues that Jesus addressed and where you could find his words on that subject in scripture. What I found absolutely amazing is that even though pages and pages and pages were dedicated to Jesus and his opinions on money (and the value of not having any), in the writer’s bio, the man was listed as a preacher who has written book after book after book on how to be a rich Christian. No kidding.

    Julia Marks

  16. Thanks guys. See also here for more on this:

    “Fast cars, lavish mansions in swanky neighbourhoods, infidelity and angst-filled episodes are on full display in the prosperous lifestyles of six megachurch pastors featured in a trailer for the new reality show, “Preachers of L.A.,” slated for the Oxygen network this fall.”

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  17. Yea common! awesome!
    So blinded by a wet and useless gospel!
    They gonna have it bad when Jesus comes back – feel sorry for the millions not hearing the truth, some of them, thats all they have ever known!

    ill keep standing with you and other mighty men and women of God to find and preach the truth on the streets and any where else we can!

    Destiny Jones

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