When it comes to stories of long-time advocates of certain extra-biblical doctrines suddenly making a shift, let’s just say I am guardedly optimistic. I wouldn’t quite call it skeptical, but it nudges close enough to skepticism wherein it could readily be mistaken for it.
It’s not that I don’t believe men can change; it is a demonstrable fact that they can, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and I have known individuals who went from being one hair-trigger away from exploding into violence, to the gentlest, most docile teddy bears you’ve ever seen. Men can change, men do change, but change is more than some verbal acknowledgment of one’s wrongdoing, it is the cessation of doing that which you knew was wrong.
Once I was an innocent lad, but being in ministry for over thirty years has changed that. I know, shocker, life in ministry has jaded me, and those of you who know the history of the ministry I now helm can readily attest to the fact that my guarded optimism or outright skepticism is warranted.
Don’t get me wrong; I never grew disillusioned with God, or with the average believer. I grew disillusioned with the less than godly practices of backbiting, backstabbing, sabotaging, undermining, positioning and politicking carried out by the leadership.
I came into ministry believing it was a brotherhood, and quickly realized it was more like a blood sport. From attempted coups to forced mergers, to takeovers as ruthless as any corporate takeover those of the world engage in, I realized early on that some men were more concerned with building their kingdoms, than furthering the kingdom of God.
It was also early on that I decided I would never play along. I promised myself I would never become some ruthless, cunning vampire whose sole purpose was to get an ever-increasing slice of the pie, even if it meant climbing over my fellow brothers and sisters to do it. That’s not what ministry is supposed to be about, and I think somewhere along the way we’ve lost sight of that.
I started this post talking about something else, and somewhere along the way, we took a hard left. It happens, and I know it happens for a reason.
Recently a clip of a well-known prosperity preacher denouncing the prosperity gospel has been making the rounds. The hopeful side of me wants to believe this is sincere and motivated by a new understanding of the gospel. The skeptical side of me goes back to the tried and true saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and if anyone could sniff out the impending implosion of the prosperity gospel, it would be this individual.
Perhaps there was a true change of heart, and I hope it is so. Then again, perhaps he was the first rat to feel the ship sinking and decided to push the eject button. It’s sad that I could view this newfound change of heart as nothing more than a new multi-layered scheme, but then again, I’ve been in ministry over thirty years, and I’ve seen it all.
My problem is that I have a good memory, and I remember the green prosperity handkerchiefs, the holy water from Ukraine, the holy oil from Israel, the packets of seeds, the bragging about getting an old woman to give her last five dollars. Names like Robert Tilton, Paul Crouch, Mike Murdock, Jesse Duplantis, Kenneth Copeland, and yes, the Benny Hinn are still fresh on my mind, as is their willful twisting of God’s Word.
I remember all the heartache such men have caused, the wounds they inflicted on the sheep, the disillusionment they wrought on the innocent, when they ten thousand fold return never materialized, and they lost their homes, and their marriages, and had to rebuild their lives from nothing.
It’s one thing to say you’ve had a change of heart, it’s another to do as Zacchaeus, and not only give half of your possessions to the poor but if you’ve defrauded anyone give it back fourfold.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.