Jesus and His Apostles Didn't Need a Private Jet to Spread the Gospel and Neither Does Creflo Dollar
Hey, Christians — If you’re looking for ways to tithe outside of your usual Sunday morning ten percent, here’s a great cause: You can donate to “Pastor” Creflo Dollar (yes, his real name) who is apparently asking 200,000 people to contribute $300 so that he can purchase a $65 million Gulfstream G650 private jet.
No, this is not a joke. It should be. But, it’s not.
Now, this story first surfaced a few days ago and I decided to wait a little while to see how the whole thing would unfold. As you might imagine, there was a considerable amount of brutal backlash from the public, and not just from Christians, who basically lambasted the guy for even thinking it would be acceptable to ask for something like this. I mean, you know it’s bad when even the general public, including the non-religious demographic, is mercilessly excoriating Mr. Dollar for such an utterly deranged request. Even the nonbelievers recognize that no pastor needs a $65 million airplane to effectively “share the Good News and the Gospel worldwide,” as his ministry argued on their donation campaign website. Hilariously, they tried to defend their request by noting that Mr. Dollar’s current plane, which was built in 1984, is no longer mechanically safe, citing a recent situation involving landing gear failure.
I am this close to bashing my head against a wall.
Anyway, while I was waiting for further developments in the story, Creflo’s ministry decided to yank the donation page from their website, saying that Mr. Dollar would just “fly commercial” for now. Oh, the horror! This poor man will be standing in lines and waiting at baggage claims like the rest of us lowly peasants. Dear God, he might even lose his luggage! And he won’t have champagne or wine. Quick! Someone write this man a check! Now! Before he has to fly Delta!
Interestingly, the whole donation campaign was simply “put on hold.” (Daily Mail has a screenshot of the original donation page.) Then, a spokesperson for Creflo’s ministry said, “There is no campaign [now.] It’s a moot point. The ministry will now focus on spreading the Gospel.”
Yeah, spreading the Gospel without a luxurious private plane that even Donald Trump might consider too expensive. It’s also been reported that Mr. Dollar owns two Rolls-Royces, a million-dollar home in Atlanta, a $2.5 million home in New Jersey and a $2.5 million home in Manhattan. Apparently he sold the latter in 2012 for $3.75 million. Good grief.
I’m not sure what’s more terrifying: The fact this so-called "pastor" asked for money for a private plane or that some people actually listen to crooked televangelist swindlers like Mr. Dollar and even give money to them. You could feed a dozen African villages for a hundred years with that kind of money. But all of these naive, foolish and blind followers would rather help their leader buy a new jet. This is beyond pathetic. Beyond reprehensible. Beyond sanity and rationality. It’s borderline heretical.
On second thought, the most terrifying aspect here might actually be Mr. Dollar’s horrifically warped theology — a theology that, apparently, says it’s ok to con 200,000 of your sycophants into throwing their money down the toilet. I mean, that’s essentially what this is: a con job. It’s a wealthy “minister” shamelessly preying on the emotions of his flock all in the name of “spreading the Gospel.” Does this guy even have a conscience? Can we even call him a “pastor?” In case you’re unaware, Mr. Dollar has long been known for his controversial teachings regarding prosperity theology — what many people often refer to as “health & wealth gospel” or “prosperity gospel” or “the gospel of success.” This blasphemous ideology essentially posits that it is God’s will for Christians to be financially wealthy and that, with enough faith, every believer can reap the benefits of material wealth and live a life free of problems, stress, worry and burdens.
This couldn’t be further from the teachings of Jesus. In fact, Jesus was dirt poor for his entire earthly life. Carpentry wasn’t exactly the most lucrative business 2,000 years ago and the Son of God spent much of his time hanging out with poor fishermen, sick people and lots of sinners. This doesn’t exactly sound like a guy worried about his bank account or 401(k). Heretics like Creflo Dollar and Joel Osteen tend to skip right over passages where Jesus says things like, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on Earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” — Matthew 6:19-21 (New American Standard)
I’m not one to begrudge anyone their wealth, but I’d say we should denounce heresies like this at every opportunity. Jesus never promised anyone an easy life or truckloads of cash. In fact, He said, “In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (NAS) One translation even says, “…you will have trouble and suffering…” The Christian life isn’t about acquiring wealth. It’s about following Jesus. Remember his words in Matthew 6:24 — “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (New English Translation)
The bigger picture here is that Mr. Dollar, blinded by his false theology, seems convinced that he deserves and even needs a $65 million private jet so that he can “spread the Gospel.” What’s hilariously ironic is that the very Gospel Mr. Dollar claims he believes in was first spread throughout the world by a handful of ordinary guys commissioned by Jesus himself to, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation”
I’ll have to consult the original Greek, but I’m fairly certain that Peter, Paul, Andrew, Thomas, Phillip, Matthew, Bartholomew, James, Simon, Matthias and John didn’t have access to Gulfstream jets or Rolls-Royce luxury vehicles. They took the teachings of Jesus to the literal ends of the Earth — places like Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey and Greece, Syria, Carthage in North Africa, Persia, Ethiopia — all without the aid of modern technology. Even after their brutal executions, the Gospel taught by these disciples continued to spread like wildfire, despite being declared an illegal religion for many years.
I sympathize with Creflo’s need to transport food and other provisions to poor villages on distant continents. I get it. I really do. But I’ve watched dozens of missions teams, many led by my own father, take tons of supplies to third world countries all while flying coach on commercial airlines.
To be clear: I’m sure that, as a person, Mr. Dollar is a great guy. And I know that we can’t all agree on some of the deeper tenets of Christian theology and what makes someone an authentic leader of the Christian faith. But, I would venture to say that most of us should be able to come to a mutual consensus that any pastor, preacher, or minister who asks for $65 million to purchase a private jet for himself should be condemned, rebuked and denounced in the strongest terms possible.
Can’t we all just agree on that?
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