Sunday, 18 April 2010

the New Pharisees

Each Sunday morning, as I prepare for church, I have the TV on in the background. The program is a word of faith ministry, who I listen to just to see what they say, and with what I can disagree. Today's message was more of the usual, about how if we have enough faith we can move mountains, live in prosperity and cast out all sickness and disease. Their, "positive confession" message warns about using any words that would indicate any unfortunate reality in our lives, like debt or illness, but to confess over these things words like, "You are gone! Get out of my life!"

Even the other night in our Bible study, I mentioned that my wife and I are praying for the sale of our house (we feel called, for various reasons, back to Edmonton.) We had just finished a discussion on baptism (this being a Baptist church, I was the only one baptized as an infant) when one member said, jokingly I hope, that perhaps the house wasn't selling is because I was being disobedient in this area. I thought, but didn't say, (as usual I think of what to say afterwards), that there was enough unanswered prayer around that very table to go blaming it on disobedience. Now I agree that sometimes our sin or our disobedience can indeed separate us from God, and if we are being deliberately disobedient, why would we expect God to answer our prayers.

But I think that the word of faith movement goes to far. Because that is the very heart of their message; that our own negative words or even thoughts can prevent God from answering prayer. That if our prayers are not answered, or don't seem to be, that it is automatically becuse we don't have enough faith, or we have unconfessed sin in our lives. What a burden to put on people. Peoples' lives and trust in God have been destroyed by this callous attitude.

So why do I call them pharisees? I am reminded of this statement of Jesus to the pharisees of his own day:
They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. (Matthew 23:4)

Every time I hear their teaching this verse comes to mind.

Take Care

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