Strain A Gnat, Swallow A Camel: How the Church has ignored Christian Principles to their peril
Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, August 20, 2015
In 9 Sins the Church Is Okay With, Frank Powell asks “Are we changing the Bible to fit our culture or are we changing our culture to fit the Bible?”
“What if the big sins, you know the ones you try hardest to avoid, aren’t the greatest threat to your joy and the church’s mission?
“Maybe it’s the sins lying underneath, the ones considered normal or acceptable, the ones going undetected, that are affecting the church the most.”
His questions are, of course, spot on.
In fact, one could hardly argue with the evidence which consists of vast, tax-free empires built upon the backs of the faithful by the likes of:
Joel Osteen (USA) Net Worth $40 Million;
Robert Tilton (USA) Net Worth $830 Million;
Benny Hinn (USA) Net Worth $42 Million;
Joyce Meyer (USA) Net Worth $8 Million;
Kenneth Copeland (USA) Net Worth UNKNOWN (has claimed he’s a billionaire, no such public records exist documenting his claim);
Creflo Dollar (USA) Net Worth $27 Million;
Eddie Long (USA) Net Worth $5 Million;
Randy & Paula White (USA) Net Worth $2 Million;
Joseph Prince (Singapore) Net Worth $5 Million;
Chris Okotie (Nigeria) Net Worth $10 Million;
Matthew Ashimolowo of Nigeria Net Worth $10 Million;
T.B. Joshua (Nigeria) Net Worth $15 Million;
T. D. Jakes (USA) Net Worth $18 Million;
Paul (late) & Jan Crouch (USA) Net Worth (estimated TBN $1 Billion+);
Chris Oyakhilome (Nigeria) Net Worth $50 Million;
David Oyedepo (Nigeria) Net worth: $150 Million.
Obviously, their “prosperity gospel” message is working quite well for them.
For others, no so much.
And that’d probably cover Avarice, Hubris, and Boasting – or, if you prefer, Greed, Extravagance, and Pride.
But there again, our nation’s laws actually encourage greed through religion by not taxing churches. In fact, John Oliver recently pointed out that “U.S. tax law allows television preachers to get away with almost anything. We know this from personal experience.”
The 7 Deadly Sins
The “modern” version is:
Envy, Greed, Gluttony, Sloth, Extravagance (later as Lust), and Pride
Considered by scholars to have originated in the writings of Evagrius Ponticus, c.345 CE, an ascetic monk whom studied under Saints Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian & Gregory of Nazianzus, contributed to the work of the Desert Fathers, and wrote in “Capita Cognoscitiva” (Treatise on Various Evil Thoughts) that Gluttony, Prostitution/Fornication, Avarice, Hubris, Sadness/Envy, Wrath, Boasting, Acedia/Dejection comprised a foundational list from which every other sin emerged.
In Praktikos 7, he wrote of Gluttony that, “The thought of gluttony suggests to the monk that he give up his ascetic efforts in short order. It brings to his mind concern for his stomach, for his liver and spleen, the thought of a long illness, scarcity of the commodities of life and finally of his edematous body and the lack of care by the physicians. These things are depicted vividly before his eyes. It frequently brings him to recall certain ones among the brethren who have fallen upon such sufferings. There even comes a time when it persuades those who suffer from such maladies to visit those who are practicing a life of abstinence and to expose their misfortune and relate how these came about as a result of the ascetic life.”
In Praktikos 8, he wrote of Lust that, “The demon of impurity impels one to lust after bodies. It attacks more strenuously those who practice continence, in the hope that they will give up their practice of this virtue, feeling that they gain nothing by it. This demon has a way of bowing the soul down to practices of an impure kind, defiling it, and causing it to speak and hear certain words almost as if the reality were actually present to be seen.”
In Praktikos 9 he wrote of Greed that, “Avarice suggests to the mind a lengthy old age, inability to perform manual labor (at some future date), famines that are sure to come, sickness that will visit us, the pinch of poverty, the great shame that comes from accepting the necessities of life from others.”
In Praktikos 10 he wrote of Sadness that, “Sadness tends to come up at times because of the deprivations of one’s desires. On other occasions it accompanies anger. When it arises from the deprivation of desires it takes place in the following manner. Certain thoughts first drive the soul to the memory of home and parents, or else to that of one’s former life. Now when these thoughts find that the soul offers no resistance but rather follows after them and pours itself out in pleasures that are still only mental in nature, they then seize her and drench her in sadness, with the result that these ideas she was just indulging no longer remain. In fact they cannot be had in reality, either, because of her present way of life. So the miserable soul is now shriveled up in her humiliation to the degree that she poured herself out upon these thoughts of hers.”
In Praktikos 11 he wrote of Anger that, “The most fierce passion is anger. In fact it is defined as a boiling and stirring up of wrath against one who has given injury — or is thought to have done so. It constantly irritates the soul and above all at the time of prayer it seizes the mind and flashes the picture of the offensive person before one’s eyes. Then there comes a time when it persists longer, is transformed into indignation, stirs up alarming experiences by night. This is succeeded by a general debility of the body, malnutrition with its attendant pallor, and the illusion of being attacked by poisonous wild beasts. These four last mentioned consequences following upon indignation may be found to accompany many thoughts.”
In Praktikos 12 he wrote of Acedia that, “The demon of acedia — also called the noonday demon — is the one that causes the most serious trouble of all. He presses his attack upon the monk about the fourth hour and besieges the soul until the eighth hour. First of all he makes it seem that the sun barely moves, if at all, and that the day is fifty hours long. Then he constrains the monk to look constantly out the windows, to walk outside the cell, to gaze carefully at the sun to determine how far it stands from the ninth hour, to look now this way and now that to see if perhaps [one of the brethren appears from his cell]. Then too he instills in the heart of the monk a hatred for the place, a hatred for his very life itself, a hatred for manual labor. He leads him to reflect that charity has departed from among the brethren, that there is no one to give encouragement. Should there be someone at this period who happens to offend him in some way or other, this too the demon uses to contribute further to his hatred. This demon drives him along to desire other sites where he can more easily procure life’s necessities, more readily find work and make a real success of himself. He goes on to suggest that, after all, it is not the place that is the basis of pleasing the Lord. God is to be adored everywhere. He joins to these reflections the memory of his dear ones and of his former way of life. He depicts life stretching out for a long period of time, and brings before the mind’s eye the toil of the ascetic struggle and, as the saying has it, leaves no leaf unturned to induce the monk to forsake his cell and drop out of the fight. No other demon follows close upon the heels of this one (when he is defeated) but only a state of deep peace and inexpressible joy arise out of this struggle.”
In Praktikos 13 he wrote of Vainglory that, “The spirit of vainglory is most subtle and it readily grows up in the souls of those who practice virtue. It leads them to desire to make their struggles known publicly, to hunt after the praise of men. This in turn leads to their illusory healing of women, or to their hearing fancied sounds as the cries of the demons -– crowds of people who touch their clothes. This demon predicts besides that they will attain to the priesthood. It has men knocking at the door, seeking audience with them. If the monk does not willingly yield to their request, he is bound and led away. When in this way he is carried aloft by vain hope, the demon vanishes and the monk is left to be tempted by the demon of pride or of sadness who brings upon him thoughts opposed to his hopes. It also happens at times that a man who a short while before was a holy priest, is led off bound and is handed over to the demon of impurity to be sifted by him.”
In Praktikos 14 he wrote of Pride that, “The demon of pride is the cause of the most damaging fall for the soul. For it induces the monk to deny that God is his helper and to consider that he himself is the cause of virtuous actions. Further, he gets a big head in regard to the brethren, considering them stupid because they do not all have this same opinion of him. Anger and sadness follow on the heels of this demon, and last of all there comes in its train the greatest of maladies – derangement of mind, associated with wild ravings and hallucinations of whole multitudes of demons in the sky.”