The International Coalition of Apostolic Leaders has begun selling memberships for $450. Cough up the dough and you can claim official membership in a group that has not existed for two millennia! This attempt to purchase apostleship is not original. Simon the Sorcerer offered Peter money to acquire the ability to perform apostolic miracles. The sin of simony, which refers to the buying or selling of ecclesiastical privileges, is named for him.
As of this writing, my son is flying to a remote part of the Brazilian state of Maranhao for a week of missionary work among an unreached people group consisting of 1.5 million souls who have never heard the gospel. These people live without electricity, plumbing, running water or any of the other conveniences most Americans take for granted. While they speak Portuguese, they neither read nor write. With no televisions, radios, laptops, cell phones, or newspapers, they furnish their own entertainment.
Job was miserable. In the blink of an eye, he lost his fortune, his family, and his fitness, but at least he still had his friends—if that’s the right word for people who are always there for you in a crisis so they can blame you for it. Trying to make sense of Job’s pain by launching the granddaddy of circular arguments, his friends only manage to engender defensiveness.
It can be heartwarming to witness the reactions of toddlers dropped off by their parents in a nursery or a classroom. Often separation anxiety sets in when a child clings to the familiar embrace of a parent. Other times the child scampers off without a second thought. Though Shakespeare’s Juliet views parting as “such sweet sorrow,” a Dan Hicks country song asks, “How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away?”
That eighties Madonna music contains lyrics contradicting scripture should certainly come as no surprise. The glaring flaw in Papa Don’t Preach is that Papa should have supported his daughter’s decision to raise his grandchild from the start. But this is not the only problem. The underlying assumption that lost souls wandering far from God would not benefit from a little preaching is absurdly false. Rebels suffer from a lack of truth, not an overabundance.
The notion that God wants every Christian to enjoy worldly wealth is clearly disputed in the lifestyle and teaching of Jesus. Yet every Sunday in congregations all over America, we hear preachers spew such nonsense without ever doing anything to stop it.