WORLD NEWS ITEMS THAT MAY HAVE IMPACT ON CHRISTIAN LIVING Collated with editorial comments by B. Michael Bigg (MB)

PAULA White, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn ... names synonymous with the ‘name it and claim it’ or ‘blab it and grab it’ doctrine (also known as ‘health and wealth’ or the ‘prosperity gospel’). Well finally it seems that the world has enough of their lies, deception and theft.

On November 9, 2007, the CBS News website reported,

Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is investigating six prominent televangelist ministries for possible financial misconduct.

Letters were sent Monday to the ministries demanding that financial statements and records be turned over to the committee by December 6th.

According to Grassley’s office, the Iowa Republican is trying to determine whether or not these ministries are improperly using their tax-exempt status as churches to shield lavish lifestyles.

The six ministries identified as being under investigation by the committee are led by: Paula White, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn. Three of the six—Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar—also sit on the Board of Regents for the Oral Roberts University.[1]

And though most of the ministries responded with an atypical “open book” type response, expressed their willingness to comply with the request and the like compliance with the law, “Benny Hinn’s spokesperson, Ronn Torossian, said the ministry is in the process of determining the best course of action in response to the Senate investigation”.[2]

Interestingly though, “Paula White is also expressing concern about precedents that could be set by turning over the requested information”[3] ... but if ANY ministry is operating ‘above board’ and with integrity, there would be no such concern.

Tampa Bay Online (Tampa Bay’s The Tampa Tribune newspaper’s website) notes the following points of inquiry by Senator Grassley, in his letter to Paula White Ministries and her Without Walls International Church,

• A detailed explanation of the compensation paid to the Whites, as well as cash and non-cash gifts, housing allowances and personal use of assets. • A detailed list of any expenses paid for by their church or ministries toward the purchases and monthly maintenance of their residences on Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa, and in New York, San Antonio and Malibu, California. • Credit card statements for expenses paid by the Whites’ tax-exempt entity, including a list of all expense account items such as clothing and cosmetic surgery. • A list of all domestic and overseas bank accounts and investments belonging to their organizations. • A list of all vehicles purchased, leased or maintained by their tax-exempt organizations. • Copies of flight records of any aircraft leased or owned by their ministries, as well as flight itineraries for both the Whites. • A copy of the bill of sale, type of payment used and an explanation of the reported tax-exempt purchase of a Bentley convertible as a gift for Bishop T.D. Jakes. • A detailed accounting of $871,000 worth of items reportedly sold to the church since 2005 by two of the private businesses owned by the Whites, and an explanation as to who determined that the church would purchase these items. • An explanation of who determines how the funds of Without Walls and Paula White Ministries are spent, copies of all board minutes and whether any of the decisions, both operational and financial, are subject to oversight by an elected or appointed body. [4]

The Tampa Tribune article also notes that they have “detailed problems at Without Walls, one of the largest independent nondenominational churches in the nation. Detractors said the Whites borrowed $170,000 from an elderly widow and failed to keep promises to care for her or pay it back. A young woman who said she was promised a house for winning a church essay contest did not get it, though the church repeatedly publicised the award ceremony.

The Whites have since repaid the widow and secured a house for the young woman. After inquiries from the Tribune, the church published an audit of its 2005 and 2006 finances on its website. It states that the church took in $39.9 million in 2006 and itemises some of its spending. It does not break down how much was spent on specific ministries or on salaries for its top staff.”[5]

Copies of Senator Grassley’s letters to all six ministries can be read on the Tambo Bay Online website [6]. The article also includes statements from Ministry Watch, Christianity Today magazine and Charisma magazine.

Rodney Pitzer, of a North Carolina-based donor advocacy organisation called Ministrywatch.com, said some ministries are purposefully designed to make their leaders wealthy. He said he hopes the Senate inquiry will encourage religious organisations to “start cleaning house”.

“Some of these nonprofits really know how to work the system,” he said. “They may be in compliance with the law, but they’re certainly not in compliance with the heart and the spirit of the law”.

The pressure to change the laws will have to come from donors rather than the government, said Ted Olsen, managing editor for news and online journalism at Christianity Today.

But the ministries targeted by Grassley are in a subgroup of the Christian evangelical movement that Olsen calls the “health-and-wealth crowd”. They preach the prosperity Gospel, a teaching that promises material rewards for those who give to the church.

“There’s little fear of donor backlash when your donors see opulence as a sign of God’s blessing,” he said.

Even a national Christian publication that has given favourable coverage to ministries such as Without Walls is taking a harder look.

Lee Grady, editor of Charisma magazine, is now calling for financial reform in Christian evangelical circles. He is bothered that some ministries are giving “all of us a bad name because money has been misused”.

“This is an awkward time for the church,” Grady said. “I believe God is putting his finger on some problems and demanding that we set our house in order. If we don’t correct these problems ourselves, then the government may have to step in and do it. And that will be unfortunate.”[7]

In the light of a number of “christian” magazines’ support (which at times seems to border on complicity), one is glad to finally see a change ... hopefully it will be for the better ... and won’t be a quick splash in the pan.

The St Louis Post-Dispatch’s St Louis Today website[8], notes that the letter to Joyce Meyer Ministries includes many requests which “track information about the ministry revealed by the Post-Dispatch in a 2003 series”.[9] Specific inquiries to Meyer include:

• A “detailed accounting” of all her and her husband’s expense-account items, including clothing and cosmetic surgery. • Information about any overseas bank accounts and deposits made outside the U.S. after international evangelical crusades. • The tax-exempt purpose of items purchased for her ministry’s headquarters, such as a $23,000 marble-topped commode, a $30,000 conference table and an $11,219 French clock. • A detailed accounting of total monthly expenses for upkeep on the Meyers’ personal residence, and any vacation homes, from 2004 to the present. • An explanation of any personal use of the ministries’ tax-exempt assets, including “jets, employees, facilities,” from 2004 to the present. • An explanation for how personal gifts from donors, such as money or jewellery, are handled and reported to the IRS.[10]

Only time will show how this inquiry will play out.

In CETF 42, CWM reported Danny Nalliah’s 11 August 2007 “prophetic” statement in the document headed Prophetic Word Regarding Federal Election 2007, which included,

The Lord told me to spend some personal time with Prime Minister John Howard and to prophetically prepare Federal Treasurer Peter Costello as the future prime minister of Australia. … I will boldly declare that Prime Minister John Howard will be re-elected in the November election (if the Body of Christ unites in prayer and action) and pass the leadership onto Peter Costello sometime after.

Talk about “jinxing” an election ... not only did Mr Nalliah’s prophecy fail to come true, with Mr Howard and the coalition parties losing the election, but Mr Howard also lost his seat in his own electorate.

Makes one wonder whether this is all coincidence, or if God is making a point.

The question to ask is, did “the Body of Christ” NOT unite “in prayer and action” concerning the election, or is Mr Nalliah’s prophecy a product of his own imagination?

As we “prophetically” suggested in CETF 42, “a man who honours a homosexual paedophile won’t hear anything from God”.

On Danny Nalliah’s Catch-the-Fire website’s blog, Prime Minister elect, Kevin Rudd, and the newly elected Labor government were congratulated [11].

Below the congratulatory entry is a response by “Maria”,

This is the only comment your website makes regarding the outstanding support for the Labor government which must, by shear statistics, have included many Christian voters. Yet still you include so-called prophetic words on Howard and Costello being God’s chosen. What understanding do you have on why your prophecy has been so spectacularly disproved? If the answer you give is that Christians did not do their duty in getting behind the prophecy by voting for the Liberals, then how could it have been a God-given prophecy at all —since prophecy by definition is a truth from God about the future which is NOT dependent on man’s doing![12]

On 29 November Danny Nalliah posted the article, “Election 2007—Did I get it wrong?”[13] on his website. In it he recounts,

After ministering to the people of God on Saturday night, I struggled to fall asleep in my motel room in Albany, Western Australia, as I was all alone, in tears and feeling very sad for most of the night. I kept asking the Lord, “DID I GET IT WRONG???”

Around 5am on Sunday morning, I begin to hear the voice of God say, “Why are you so downcast, rise up and fight. The word you received was from Me. Did not I confirm it through many of My servants? I promised My children, through my servant Moses, that they would enter the promise land when they left Egypt. However, they rebelled against Me and My servant, consequently spending 40 years wandering in the wilderness. During this time My servant Moses went through much ridicule and mocking from My own people, with many saying that they should have stayed back in Egypt”. (Read Numbers 14:1-5)

At this point I said, “Lord, why is it when the Body of Christ comes together to pray for rain, You answer our prayers so quickly?” The words from the Lord came to me, “For My people are united when they pray for rain”. At this moment I felt so prompted to read the prophetic word from the Lord regarding the election that I released on 11th August 2007.

As I begin reading the prophetic word from the Lord, I was greatly stirred in my spirit to read the following words that I had stated, “I will boldly declare that PM John Howard will be re-elected in the Nov election – ‘IF THE BODY OF CHRIST UNITES IN PRAYER AND ACTION.’

Again I heard the voice of the Lord, “For My people were not united in prayer and action for this election. If they were, they would have experienced spiritual revival under My freedom reigning in this nation, but now My people have chosen another way. They have not voted for My will, but for self gain and personal change”. [14]

Later, though talking about elected officials and the passing of legislation, Mr Nalliah has the audacity to say, “It’s not about how much prosperity and success we experience on earth by compromising the WORD of God. It is about standing your ground for the Righteousness, Justice and Truth of the WORD of God”.[15]

Mr Nalliah’s “prophetic” word may have been “confirmed through many ... servants”, but that is NOT the criteria of evaluating prophecy. Mr Nalliah’s prophecy wasn’t confirmed by “coming to pass”! Now Mr Nalliah and his apologists can raise the ‘escape clause’ that the Christians of Australia didn’t pray enough all they want; the fact of the matter is that a PROPHECY from GOD does come to pass.

If Mr Nalliah had indeed heard from God, I suspect that God might have rather said, “The Christians of Australia are not politically united (not that they ever are, as is exemplified by having two church going Christian men leading political parties who are against each other), and though Australia might do well to have John Howard re-elected, I am going to give the people of Australia the leader they want ... I am going to give them the change they want”.

Prophecy doesn’t catch God unawares; God knows the end from the beginning (cf. Isaiah 46:10)... but even that doesn’t seem obvious enough for Danny Nalliah’s continued supporters.

Worse still, the Mr Nalliah’s prophetic failings have further empowered the atheist and anti- Christian alike. Blogs, and independent news websites alike, have published it for their readers to well note. Neither God, the church nor the Gospel of Jesus Christ are served by such false claims and ridicule. Ichabod the glory has departed

Included in Danny’s letter’s were statements attempting to minimise the effects of criticism against him, including,

Of course, I’m well aware that there will always be some people who will not agree with whatever I say, and I uphold your right to do so. However, the Lord has developed broad shoulders in me to cop quite a bit of flak. If I couldn’t stand tall through the fiery storm of accusation, criticism and persecution, I would not be able to do what I have been doing for the advancement of the Kingdom of God across our nation of Australia.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in Heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matthew 5:10-12).[16]

No Mr Nalliah, you are not “persecuted for righteousness” sake ... you are exposed for being a false prophet. There is a big difference!

Footnotes

1 Laura Strickler, CBS News, Senate Panel Probes 6 Top Televangelists. WWW page. , 6 Nov 2007, cited 9 Nov 2007.

2 ibid

3 ibid

4 Michelle Bearden & Baird Helgeson, The Tampa Tribune, Without Walls Finances Face Senator’s Scrutiny. WWW page. , 6 Nov 2007, cited 9 Nov 2007.

5 ibid

6 Sen. Grassley letter to... • Without Walls International Church: http://media.tbo.com/tbo/pdfs/110507white.pdf • World Healing Center Church, Inc.: http://media.tbo.com/tbo/pdfs/110507hinn.pdf • New Birth Missionary Baptist Church: http://media.tbo.com/tbo/pdfs/110507long.pdf • World Changers Church International: http://media.tbo.com/tbo/pdfs/110507dollar.pdf • Joyce Meyer Ministries: http://media.tbo.com/tbo/pdfs/110507meyer.pdf • Kenneth Copeland Ministries: http://media.tbo.com/tbo/pdfs/110507copeland.pdf

7 Michelle Bearden & Baird Helgeson, The Tampa Tribune, Without Walls Finances Face Senator’s Scrutiny. WWW page. , 6 Nov 2007, cited 9 Nov 2007.

8 http://www.stltoday.com/joycemeyer.

9 Deirdre Shesgreen, St. Louis Today, Joyce Meyer Ministries is a target of GOP senator’s probe. WWW page. , 6 Nov 2007, cited 9 Nov 2007.

10 ibid

11 Catch-the-Fire, We Congratulate Kevin Rudd & the Labor Government on Winning the Election. WWW page. , 27 Nov 2007, cited 3 Dec 2007.

12 Catch-the-Fire, 1 Response to We Congratulate Kevin Rudd & the Labor Government on Winning the Election. WWW page. , 28 Nov 2007, cited 3 Dec 2007.

13 Danny Nalliah, Election 2007—Did I get it wrong? WWW page. , 29 Nov 2007, cited 3 Dec 2007.

14 ibid

15 ibid

16 ibid

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