Of Growth
And Strength

The Goddess of Success

In America Unbeleivers and Christians alike worship the “Goddess of Success” like nowhere else on earth. In this article I will attempt for those who have an ear to hear when and where and how the church came into this adulterous, idolatrous worship of the Goddess of Success.

In the mid-1970’s when I was in Bible school, we were taught that people in the ministry try over and over again with failed work after failed work until they finally get it right and their Church flourishes. The text for this thought was 1Corinthians 3:10–17 which we will examine shortly. Although this experimentation on congregations was not heralded as God’s best or God’s plan it was described as a young preacher practicing their craft on various congregations until they find their feet in God.  This concept of experimental ministry is not one that this school invented instead it is the conventional wisdom of a great many bible schools concerning their students when they first graduate.

What I would suggest to you is that the supposition that it is good and normal for a young pastor is to go out and practice and experiment on one congregation after another; leaving a trail of wreckage in his wake is utterly false. Nowhere did Christ or the apostles speak of such a thing. Paul did not advise Timothy to try and try again to do the work of the ministry until you find something that works for you.

Far from it Paul exhorts with the strongest possible language

1Corinthians 3:10-11 For I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For (no) other foundation can a man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

When Paul says “take heed” how you build, he is not saying, “pay attention”  he is given a word of caution, a word of warning to those that would add to and embroider the work that he and the apostles had begun. 

Paul then tells us here that no other foundation can be laid than Jesus Christ.  Many has taken this merely as Paul giving a suggestion in a fatherly fashion.  This is not at all the case the case – for in verse 12-13 Paul says:

1 Corinthians 3:12-13 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.

So we see that there is not only the issue of building another foundation than Jesus Christ but that there is building on it with wood hay and stubble – in other words something quick and dirty, something that we can make a quick show of  -- and Paul is says of this that the fellowships and congregations that are built in this manner will be utterly destroyed

1 Corinthians 3:14-15 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

It is a grave thing when a person builds a church on a foundation of themselves  or on the foundation of a ministry or a denomination for all this shall be utterly destroyed by fire – these people will be destroyed for they are not founded on Christ and Christ alone. If a Pastor or teacher rightly build on Christ imparting Gold silver and precious stones – their work shall survive and they shall receive a just reward. But for the evil and corrupt pastors and teachers not only are those that they declared to be saved not and they shall be destroyed but the fire that burns up the congregation shall be unleashed also upon them and if there is anything in them of Christ gold silver and precious stone that shall be saved if they only have wood hay and stubble nothing shall survive.

We are familiar with Christ speaking of himself as the stone that “the builders rejected has become the chief ” We are familiar with Paul speaking of Christ being the “cornerstone.”  But as to the meaning of this to the church of this hour seems to be at a complete loss. For in this day everyman builds what is good in their own eyes.  And everyman leads their church or denomination as they see fit, doing virtually anything that comes into their mind and it is all declared to be good, right and of Christ. 

1 Corinthians 3:17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. 

Paul ends this passage with a final warning – we could call this a promise of God, one that needs not to be confessed by carnal men to make it come to pass. As a matter of a fact what promise of God in scripture needed men to confess and profess it so that God could perform it? Can you find a single chapter or verse to bolster this earth and carnal supposition? No because this is a doctrine and tradition of men.

Instead here we find a promise of God for all that would build another foundation other than Christ himself, that would see to do a quick work to show and display to men with wood hay and stubble and that promise is if any man defile the temple of God HIM shall God destroy. And that temple is the klessia to as man y as God will call and Ek-Klesia – the out called of the called. 

With the words of Paul now fresh in our minds let us revisit the issue of those that are practicing and experimenting on fellowships and congregations.  What has been postulated is that these young preachers and teachers are trying to find their feet spiritually and so we have been told that it is God’s design that these men go forth and after failing with one congregation they then move on to another group and then to another group until they eventually get it right.

I want you to see first that in Gospels and Epistles that only those who had something solid in God were sent forth, that the Gospel and the work of God is not some hit or miss game and that pass or fail all is good. There are lives on the line, and souls receiving either eternal life or eternal death.  We have come to treat these things so lightly, we act as if we have no responsibility and that there are no consequences for any corrupt actions or teachings we have done past or present.

Preachers some time pray before they speak that God would filter their words and block anything that they say that is not right. This is not a prayer of humility, this is the using God as a cover incase anything goes wrong. And by the same token many believe that God and the Holy Spirit run a clean-up service and take care of all the wreckage and damage that they do in the ministry.

I will tell you of a truth that when these young men are going out and experimenting on congregations it is not his inexperience or poor speaking skills that these men are trying to overcome. What is really happening is that this preacher is compromising and building over and over again a better mousetrap until he finds a “winning” combination of flesh enticing teachings, music, and church atmosphere that will entertain and tickle the ears of his hearers.  And thereby making his hearers "natural" church experience something that is greater in value than the time and money they are required to put in belonging to that particular Church.

What they have really learned is not from the Holy Spirit or Christ but from the god of this world, and that is how to conduct a successful business in the entertainment field. think of Rush Limbaugh -- I cite him not because he is a born-again or a spirit-filled Christian or that he even implies that he is one,  I cite him because he unabashedly admits his business is entertainment and that his goal is to have the biggest audience possible, and to make as much money as possible. But far be it for a Pastor or preacher to admit that they have one and the same goals.

Today in the Church most of the best Preachers and Teachers are Christian entertainment professionals. The best style themselves Christian comedians and entertainers. The best are Christian celebrities with a gaggle of star-struck groupies that follow their every engagement and hang on their every word.

These are Christian pop idols, they are promotional machines that build up and boast their own names and their ministry’s name. Since image is everything (Bible thumpers read that as: They are beholden by the lust of the eyes) these ministries spare no expense to create the right atmosphere of the church, with the finest seating, the finest carpeting, the finest altar, platform and podium, the finest sound systems with real time technicians running their sound boards, Hollywood stage lighting, Hollywood chorography in the choir and other staged events. All of this is wood hay and stubble. All of this shall be destroyed and all of this defiles the temple of God. This love and praise of corrupt mammon this love of the world this love of the things of the world and this shamefaced seeking of the praise and adoration of men.

Let us not move on to the content of the current madness, the Anti-Gospel of success that is preached across the land.

One of the men who pioneered the prosperity Gospel was Dr. Robert Schuler of the Crystal Cathedral in California – Since the early 1960’s he has been unabashedly preaching what he terms the Gospel of the Power of Positive Thinking. – The other man that was a central figure in pioneering this message of  “positive thinking” and “positive confession” was Dr. Norman Vincent Peale.  As near as I can tell he was the first  one to preach this message. He began preaching it in the marble collegiate Cathedral in New York City back in the 1940’s. What you need to know is that this message was not unique to these two preachers, it was originally penned, by several unsaved businessmen in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, I am speaking of Dale Carnegie author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” and Napoleon Hill author of “Think and Grow Rich.”

How I ran into all this was in the late 1980’s God put me in a place that I became a hardcore salesman for a national marketing corporation. I those days we had three hours of sales training a day, we attended marketing training seminars, we were required to read motivational books, listen to motivational tapes, and watch motivational videos. The materials recounted hundreds of testimonies of the unsaved and how that when they followed the principles set forth by Dale Carnegie and Napoleon Hill they had come into great wealth. This was not a con game where some man is selling snake oil and giving you a list of pretend product users – the testimonies was from a variable who’s who of the captains of industry many names being household names.

With no mention of God, salvation Christ or scripture who or what do you suppose was bringing these corrupt, unregenerate men into all this great wealth – if you answer anything other than the devil the god of this world you are utterly deceived.

Matthew 4:8-9 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;  And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

When it says “and sheweth Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them – the glory of them was their wealth and opulence. The devil was not offering Christ a bunch of poverty stricken, plague infested kingdoms.

Luke 4:5-8 And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

On this high mountain the devil gave Christ a vision of the most wealthy and powerful kingdoms on earth – what he said was if you really want to go and do this Gospel thing if you had the money and power of these earthly kingdoms preaching the Gospel to the whole world would be a piece of cake. You could buy all the finest preachers and missionaries money could buy, and have the world at your beck and call to boot.

How is it that Christ called accepting the friendship of the kingdoms of this world, and the covetousness of their wealth and opulence Not Serving the Lord?

How is it that Christ and the Apostles warned that those who had the love of money could not be Christ’s disciple and that the friendship of the world would make one enemies with God.

The servant is not above the master. If Christ rejected the riches, the opulence, and the friendship of the world, how then can we possibly believe we are following in his footsteps and accept, covet, pray for, and seek after that which He rejected?

Looking once more at these testimonies contained in Dale Carnegie and Napoleon Hill’s books the testimonies were breathtaking. Many of these were rags to riches stories that directly hinged on these motivational teachings, and acts of confession. We need to call this phenomenon what it is “A faith in that they would succeed” or a “Faith in Success” as if it were a living breathing entity.”  Among their most successful were ungodly men, atheists, and humanists. An example of one of them would be Ted Turner, who at a young age had been called to the fundamentalist missionary, but Ted Turner turned his back on God and completely backslid and then he met up with the Goddess of Success and became Liberal democrat billionaire that hates anything to do with Christ that we know today.  The question must be asked who is pouring this untold wealth and riches on these unregenerate corrupt men and woman? It is none other than the devil the god of this world – it is he who controls the kingdoms of this world and their wealth and opulence.

So after 40 something years ( a little over one generation) some people in the church took notice of what the devil was hoeing around in the garden patch next door.

Enter Dr. Norman Vincent Peale of the Marble Collegiate Church a Dutch Reformed Church located in New York City. He wrote his best seller in 1952 “The Power of Positive Thinking” which sold 20 million copies. On a 1984 Phil Donahue Show, Peale revealed he was a 33rd degree Mason, and said, "It's not necessary for salvation to be born again.” He later said “You have your way to God, I have mine. I found eternal peace in a Shinto shrine". This non-gospel worldly message of Peale’s became a force to be reckoned with when he transformed a dying Dutch Reformed Church built in New York City back in the 1600’s into a 5000-member church. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale predated the tele-evangelists by decades with a national television following, and a magazine with 750,000 subscribers.

In like manner Dr. Robert Schuler is another example of Preacher of a dying breed old line denominational church that with an apparent strong influence of Dale Carnegie’s teachings becoming a highly successful national ministry. In 1954 Dr. Schuler had a church built in the liberal haven of Orange County California. Later on the same grounds Robert Schuler built the Crystal Cathedral -- a monument to his success and influence. And I confess, in my youth I used to listen to both men preach with some regularity.

These men demonstrated to the church and the world that working within dying old-line evangelical denominations of their day that they could with their better mouse trap of the prosperity gospel build super-churches with memberships of thousands in some of the hardest most liberal ground in the U.S. And likewise the disciples of Norman Peale and Robert Schuler have prospered by preaching this same humanist wealth building message, consisting of stories of human hope, stories of worldly financial success, and stories of the triumph of the human spirit.

With that said it should be clear that this is not preaching Christ nor is this at all the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is a Gospel of humanism. It is the Gospel of faith in the faith of man’s soul It is the Gospel of earthly prosperity. Whether there is a direct connection between these evangelical preachers and Oral Roberts in the late 1960’s to early 1970’s or that Roberts got his ideas of what eventually became the prosperity Gospel from Dale Carnegie and Napoleon Hill it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that somewhere someone saw the success and power of those serving the god of this world. What matters is that someone dared to preach that you could be taken with the lust of the eyes, and the love for the things of this world and still be a disciple of Christ.  This was the melding of the power of positive thinking message, the think and grow rich message, and the Faith healing message into a blasphemous mixture that for the last thirty years has been like crack cocaine to believers and non-believers alike.

I can add a bit more of a timeline to all this in the 1950’s during the latter rain revival there was the rise of tent evangelists and these men became utterly corrupt in that they discovered that they could take the real power of God and for the first time in Church history make themselves multi-millionaires with it.  Within a period of 6 years almost every one of these corrupt men were struck dead. For anyone that cares too they can God online and identify these apostates and read what befell them. One of their number was none other than Oral Roberts by the early 1970’s he had become a total has been that no one cared about. He postulated that if in the 1950’s people had been willing to had a preacher 100.00 to 200.00 to stand in a prayer line that people might be convinced that if they just give to a “select man of God” their tithes or offerings that they would receive of their seed faith money 30 fold 60 fold or 100 fold –it was an amazing and brazen scam. And so he published his book called SEED FAITH and it received tepid reviews and was denounced as the money grubbing scheme it was But then something happened tens of thousands of Christians sent into to Oral Roberts HUNDREDS of MILLIONS OF DOLLARS in seed faith money and every ministry and evangelist heads almost twisted off their bodies as they watch the money roll into Oral Roberts. The first that were to utilize this new cash cow was the tele-evangelists in the mid seventies it was told to me that once the tele-evangelists began preaching this the local churches were bled dry. To the hearers they could give their tithes and offerings to the local church or else to could enter their gifts into the Christian lottery with Jim baker, Pat Robertson, or any number of other televangelists and with these they had the chance to strike it rich. And of course to perpetuate this Christian Ponzy scheme all they had to do was spike the call for more money with the tales of a few that hit the jackpot.  And so the Prosperity Gospel gold rush was on. Since its inception a few years after I got saved this blight and rottenness have literally leaven through the whole loaf. It is now preached in all quarters even in churches that don’t even preach salvation. 

There is one more aspect that I want to look at in this toxic mixture of the prosperity gospel and this is the church’s long time desire to be accepted and loved by the world.

Since the 1970’s Fundamentalists, Pentecostals, and Charismatics, have attempted to remove the Hollywood stigma that Christians were wimps, squares, and were no fun.

In the 1980’s a cultural revolution of sorts occurred with the rise of the dot-coms and the rise of the Internet – for the first time Geeks suddenly became cool as they became multi-millionaires overnight and they were the guys with all the cool stuff that everyone else wanted to have. So the world suddenly befriended those which they had reviled for the last two generations.

In an odd way Geeks were sort of brothers in arms with Christians because both were treated with equal disdain. And another reason is that a high number of Christians at least in the US are PC users and so comprised at least peripherally this group of computer geeks. Anyway with the coming of the 1980’s and the rise of Geeks as a cultural Icon there has been a concerted effort from Young Fundamentalists, Young Pentecostals and Young Charismatics in general to remove the Hollywood stigma that Christians are wimps, squares, and no fun.

So on the wimp front this has given way to Christian activists with a feisty in your face attitude both in politics and in the local community. And on the square and no fun front this same generation has increasingly are tried to show the world that it is “Hip to Be Saved.” So like the children of Israel that railed and cried for Egypt in the wilderness these have created their own Idols. Christian Rock Idols, Christian Sports Idols, Christian TV Idols, Christian Movie Idols, Christian Business Idols, and Christian Ministry Idols.

In America our national idolatry is success. And nothing breeds the lust for success more than success itself. – Enter the leaven of the power of positive thinking, enter the leaven of think and grow rich, enter the leaven of the prosperity gospel. So out went the old morality, and in came the old immorality, and surprise, surprise in the American Church for a taste of the pottage of success, and for a taste of the forbidden fruit of the love of the things of this world the Fundamentalists Pentecostals and Charismatics have stripped down naked and are dancing before the golden calf.

It kills me to hear that the music and television of the 1960’s that we had been told that led to the breakdown of society and immorality and rebellion of the 1970’s; declared a single generation later (30 years) as wholesome entertainment by none other than Pope Pat Robertson. – Long before Bill Clinton had his infamous tryst with a white house intern and his even more infamous declaration that oral sex was not sex, Fundamentalists Pentecostals and Charismatics had been sold out to the devil by their carnal leadership in their quest for the Goddess of success. Oh to have a church of thousands, oh to have a grandiose building program. Oh to have a televised national ministry. Oh to have a Christian television or radio network.

You might laugh but here at the edge of the world in North Pole, Alaska a “City” of less than 5,000 where I attend a Church with 12-18 people in the last 6 months I have heard all the “Ohs” listed above by the pastor the assistant pastor and a guest Evangelist that was formerly a member of that Church.

I believe what has been happening before our eyes is that God has been giving these ministries and groups up and over their personal vanity and lusts. Just as God gave up and over the tent evangelists in the 1950’s to their own personal vanity and their own lusts, and God gave up and over the backslidden Israelites over to their own vanities and lusts before the nations captivity. I fear today as I write this that the church is locked into[ the same path of destruction.  We can no longer afford to look away from the sin among us, nor can we ignore the sins of our fathers any longer.

Believers must to come to grips with where the loaded Lincoln gospel they are riding in is taking them, and bail out, and try to save as many of their fellow passengers as they can. The Lincoln of going over the cliff of perdition and destruction and none can save it.  Those who have been taken by this drug induced lust for the riches of the world and the love of the world will ride that Lincoln straight to hell.

This is call to those who have not stained their garments to come out from among them and partake not of their sins.

A final note: I believe that the ultimate set up for the Prosperity Gospel what the Fundamentalist movement’s preaching for the last hundred of so years that in heaven we would get mansions (Greek. dwelling places), that we would walk on streets of gold (If gold is the dirt of the kingdom what value is it?), that we would rule angels (Are angels to be our personal slaves?) and rule nations, (Are men and women to be our toys in the next life?) that we would be rich beyond our wildest avarice (Did christ shed his blood for you to have carnal riches in heaven?) And with the pumps having been primed -- all the devil had to do was whisper –“You can have that all here and now.” And 10,000 people that know not the scriptures nor the power of God lined up to get theirs now. And the rest seeing all the hub-bub thought that a revival was taking place and so they got in line to get theirs too.