Oh, Lordy: First Baptist's Jeffress Preaching About Quakes? I Think I'll Head Out of Town.

Categories: Get Off My Lawn

SHZ_GetOffMyLawn_TitleImageV2.jpg
I'm really worried about what the Reverend Robert Jeffress is going to say at Dallas First Baptist Church Sunday about the quake in Japan. I live within a three-mile radius of First Baptist, and I'm afraid I won't be far enough away.

The ad for his sermon that appeared here on Unfair Park yesterday cited a passage in the Bible, Nahum 1:2-8. I looked it up. It's all about how God punishes the unbelievers: "His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet. He rebukes the sea and dries it up; he makes all the rivers run dry. Bashan and Carmel wither and the blossoms of Lebanon fade. The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away. The earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it."

Sounds pretty bad.

But I'm not talking about Japan. I fear it's going to happen to Dallas, because of First Baptist.

Thumbnail image for strummer album.jpg
Earthquake theology may be interesting, but we find this Joe Strummer album to be much more entertaining.
Jeffress sees it the opposite way. He will say Sunday, I am sure, that God did the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor disasters to Japan because the Japanese aren't First Baptist-style Baptists. But I say we're in for the Really Big One here, because a lot of people here are.

Oh, I know he's crazy. But it's bad crazy. Very bad.

Who believes God is mad at the Japanese for not being Baptists? They're not even supposed to be Baptists. You know who the Baptist God is really going to come after? People who are supposed to be Baptists, but instead they have turned into heretics.

Hmm? Toes starting to feel a little toasty? Yeah, you know what I'm talking about.
The Prosperity Doctrine. A lot of people have forgotten that this most popular, pervasive and pernicious of all modern Christian heresies got a big part of its start right here at First Baptist Church of Dallas under famed preacher and head pastor W.A. Criswell.

He preached it often and preached it hard. Give 10 percent of everything you've got to First Baptist. Wait. Sooner or later that big slot machine in the sky will come up all clover and make you rich.

On July 20, 1980, Criswell preached a sermon called, "The Condition of Financial Prosperity," in which he asked, "Do you believe this Word of God or not? Do you?

"God says those two always go together: 'You bless my name, and be faithful to my commandments, and I'll not forget you; I'll take care of you, I'll bless you, I'll prosper you.' Do you believe that?"

Heck, no. How would that even work? I join First Baptist, pay 10 percent of my income, and God "takes care of me?" He makes me rich? No, I never once heard any of that in one whole heck of a lot of church-going and church-school that I grew up in.

My dad was an Episcopal minister. I was always taught that the more you believe in God, the poorer you are.

God pays me? What do I do, bill him? Because ... uh ... frankly, I mean I only bring it up because we happen to be on this topic already, but if that's truly the case, I think he many be a little bit behind on his payments.

Can I foreclose? Turn him over to a collection agency? Is there a way to get the district attorney involved?

Well, you see what I mean. This is all just terrifically bad karma, indeed, like standing out in an electrical storm screaming, "Come and get me!" People usually only do that when they've been drinking, not in church.

I am not the only one to worry about this. Hardly. This idea that you can outplay God's hand is one of the oldest heresies in Christendom. It's also a fairly serious modern concern. I refer you to a fascinating article that appeared in the Atlantic magazine two years ago called, "Did Christianity Cause the Crash," suggesting that prosperity doctrine thinking is one of the things that may have cause the whole nation to go haywire. That, and Charlie Sheen.

But think about that. What better exemplar of Criswell's message could there be than Mr. Sheen? Put that in your crack pipe and smoke it.

So let's say Jeffress is right. The Baptist God spends his time going around crushing babies and drowning old people because they're not following his instructions. The Japanese would have to be low on his list. They can claim they never got the memo.

But what about us? In particular, what about First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas? What about me, three miles away from it? The minute I finish here I'm going to start Googling lightning rods.


My Voice Nation Help
33 comments
Texmom
Texmom

Robert, I typically agree with your views of Jeffress (having left the church because of him and his sensationalism and desire for attention), but you're wrong here. I listened to a podcast of the sermon, and he never asserts that Japan "deserved" this disaster because of the sin of Japanese people (he actually goes out of his way to say that such assertions - a la Pat Robertson's Haiti rant - are biblically wrong). The sermon was more about how we cope with disasters if we believe in God. Basically, he uses scripture to make the point that God is the creator of the world, and yes, sometimes he causes natural disasters (see the Old Testament - Genesis, Psalms, Nahum, etc). The point us that we don't know why things happen, but we know God is sovereign and judges all - no one is immune (not even FBCDallasites!).

I like your writing but you jumped to the wrong conclusion here.

Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

I really do like pastor Jeffress,look at him on TV when ,I miss going to the Church I attend.I have started to worry about his messages lately.I hope he is OK mentally and just trying to shock people into taking their Faith serious.I don't know, keeping an open mind.

Myronblakely
Myronblakely

moral judgements regarding prosperity/punishment is a feature, or a bug, of all shame-based religious doctrines, not just Christianity, just look at Japan, japanese shindo priests blessed the Fukiyama rector when it was installed, and they've lied about the dangers ever since, thinking that the country's prosperity was justified against the dangers they ignored, and lied to cover up.

abuckley1970
abuckley1970

Sorry, every time I read about this guy, I hear that god awful six flags song in my head. This is the dance he'll be doing after taking up collection...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

hey...sniff, sniff...what's the burning smell??? oh yeah, it's probably me...LOL

fred
fred

That prosperity doctrine worked pretty well for ol' Dr. Criswell - he lived in a Swiss Avenue mansion full of expensive antiques and he wore diamond stick pins and studs. The church even gave him a new Mercedes...

RS1963
RS1963

My favorite statement from my pastor years ago comes to mind every time I hear this prosperity gospel message about the more you give to the church/pastor, the more you will reap:

"If that's the case, then I (meaning the pastor) should be giving YOU (meaning the congregants) money. Because then it would turn around and I would become rich!"

I once worked with lady who was perpetually in debt, losing her car, getting kicked out of her house (with her husband AND two kids!) and was always going on about how "well, God is going to take care of all this. God will provide. I don't need to pay this debt because it's in God's hands", etc. I always thought "Well, God gave you a brain to earn a living with - maybe THAT was his gift."

Thelisma Partridge
Thelisma Partridge

Jim, why are you getting so worked up over this? You're white and, according to the scriptures of JWP, you're going to hell anyway.

RandyE
RandyE

Ah sunny Jim and the kiddoes. You guys actually ever get off your ass and do anything except trot out the tired 'ol bigotry. Dem white rich people be so stupid and mean. It might make you feel better, but Jeffress, I mean really Jimmy? You so holy.

DallasMan
DallasMan

Jeffress is crazy, but I'll reserve comment until after the sermon is actually preached.

Tad Banyon
Tad Banyon

Someone from the national media should be there in case he does make a bunch of idiotic pronouncements about the events of this week as God's punishment. Someone who can help make a national laughingstock out of him, instead of just a local laughingstock. Of course, people like that only seem to bask in the attention to their own stupidity. Still, astonishingly bad theology deserves a bigger stage.

cp
cp

Why do Christians insist on citing obscure one page "books" of the Old Testament? Just to prove that their god is a vengeful one when it suits them? I was taught that "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believeth in Him will not perish but have everlasting life..."

Well, which is it? Wrathful god who smites his people, or loving god who sacrifices his only son for us heathens? Huh? Which is it?

MattL1
MattL1

Let's not go crazy here, folks. There is a possibility that Jeffress will simply explain the principles of plate tectonics to his congregation.

TimCov
TimCov

What's funny is that Jeffress is already doing spin control on this. I heard a news report on the radio where he is saying to blame anyone but God for this is wrong and a sin. Apparently, he will be going against what that little passage from the Bible says.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

It Wasn't God It was the missing Whales !

As Star Trek the Voyage Home Foretold.

Rebuketh
Rebuketh

Best way to handle this is to call on God's wife, Asherah, to tone down the wrath and vengeance and stuff like that. I'm pretty sure she wasn't kind to Nahum.http://news.discovery.com/hist...

Montemalone
Montemalone

Mr. S., There's a way to work that prosperity thing and get all those goddollars.First thing you gotta do is get yourself a church...

Lemonaioli
Lemonaioli

It boggles the mind how so many poor people put faith in something that isn't measurable. I guess they're waiting for their gifts in heaven. Newsflash: the here and now is all we REALLY know. So get up off your butt and work for what you want instead of expecting to be provided for. At the end of your life, will you be glad that you never accomplished much because you waited for the afterlife? Nothing wrong with faith if it makes you stronger as a person but, good golly, do something and do the right thing instead of screwing up to ask for forgiveness.

On a side note, there's nothing wrong with a person of the cloth earning a nice living but it just seems off for them to become ultrawealthy profiting off of others sacrifices.

JimS
JimS

Already there, baby.

Tad Banyon
Tad Banyon

If thats the message, I'll give him a pass. I dont think its anything particularly earth shattering-- what? you mean things happen for reasons we cant understand?! I'm not sure it calls for a poster and a reference to scripture about vengeance and enemies. But whatever, at least he's not going to be pulling a Falwell.

John_McKee
John_McKee

Jefferess is crazy but he is also a vile person full of judgement and hate that uses his position to enrich himself by creating more judgement and hate.

I have heard enough from this vile man to know he has nothing more to offer.

Doubts42
Doubts42

This is why i can't be a christian. Even if god exists why would I want to worship a narcissist with MPD

Grumpy Demo
Grumpy Demo

Not all Christians, there plenty of mainline Churches that believe God judges you on how you love, not who you hate.

Guest
Guest

God is bipolar. (Or bi-winning, if you prefer.)

Gangy
Gangy

more like collection plate tectonics

Mare
Mare

Southern Baptist Convention as a whole are losing members, while FBC is taking on more debt to expand their buildings.... so they are probably THRILLED to get this kind of attention of the speculation variety . Which is why this and the Grinch List debacle don't surprise me at all.

scottindallas
scottindallas

I know what Van Morrison might say, "It ain't why, it ain't why, it ain't why, it just is."

Darryl
Darryl

The Old Testament is so gay.

cp
cp

Okay then, maybe Baptist Christians. I grew up in a devout Southern Baptist household where we went to church and church-related events five, sometimes six days a week. When I got old enough to start questioning things, I started to wonder why we even bothered reading and studying anything at all from the Old Testament. Just seems like such a sharp contradiction from a god who smites out whole cities, heck the whole world, save for one family, asks the most loyal of his followers to kill their kids in his name, casts down plagues and pestilence, ordering Moses to hang people, to the kind and gentle one who sacrifices his own son for all those assholes that he wanted dead for worshiping golden calves.

All I'm saying is, how can you have it both ways? Either you call yourself a Christian and bask in the redemption that Jesus (the son of a great and wonderful benevolent god) offers you and you shut the hell up about god's wrath, or you can't really call yourself a Christian. Because the only book in the New Testament that says anything at all about a mean god destroying people is in the book of Revelations, and even THAT'S in someone else's dream.

MattL1
MattL1

[rimshot] Thank you folks, thank you. Remember to tip your bartenders and waitresses, and try the veal!

G_David
G_David

Whether we believe everything in it or not, I think we read the Old Testament mainly because it's just so kick-ass.

cp
cp

Durrr, being angry at someone and wiping their existence are two different things. I love my dog, and when she chews the lawn furniture, it makes me angry. But I don't bust out my shotgun and blow her away and then try again with another dog.

durrr me no unnerstand
durrr me no unnerstand

Yeah, how could anyone, or anything possibly love someone and yet get angry at them???? That's unpossible!!!!1!!!1!!!

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...