How to respond to reductionist appeals to Philippians 1:18

When defending orthodoxy and exposing huckster preachers like those in the Word of Faith movement, who exploit gullible christians for personal financial gain (often by selling books or pushing the “plant a seed” line as typical in the prosperity gospel movement), how does one address a reductionist response like: “as long as they preach Jesus (Philippians 1) then you should rejoice like Paul did”.

I can’t help but wonder what can be legitimately justified with Philippians 1, and where one draws the line?

You have answered your own question (bold is mine) above.

Philipians 1.
15. Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will;
17. the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.
18. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice,

I can’t help but wonder what can be legitimately justified with Philippians 1, and where one draws the line?

I don’t think Paul was trying to justify those who proclaim Christ for selfish ambition. Paul decided to rejoice and believe that Christ is being proclaimed eventhough the body of Christ is not perfect.
He didn’t try to draw any line.

Regarding financial gain by selling books, in my opinion, any book writer deserve financial gain out of his work, just like any other job. If one do not like the book, he can choose not to buy them

Regarding pushing “plant a seed” in prosperity gospel movements, well, I suppose Paul’s epistle has answered that too. Some are genuine, some aren’t, and in all we rejoice. If one do not like the message of that particular church, he can go to other church.

My opinion about “how God view money”: I think God do not care as much as we do regarding “money matters”. God owns all, money is irrelevant for Him. Salvation of the person is what concerns Him. But money is relative. If I am used to live with $1000, then $5000 is a lot. But if I am used to $20,000 life style, $5000 is poverty and considered as suffering. Everyone has their own measure about things. God knows our deepest hearts. And money/cash is not His measure. Our happiness and prosperity is not about financial matters too.

If one look for financial gain, and he/she falls for “plant a seed” pushed by a pastor who also look for the same thing, then they have found each other (a match!;)), and God can call people even in this manner too, says Paul’s epistle. I know it’s sounds rather “non-orthodox” way thinking. Such is St. Paul :smiley:

well, that response was rather unexpected.

the church’s history is filled with opposition to any kind of heresy, regardless of whether it is preached for personal gain or not.

furthermore, i question whether these people preach christ at all, so i’m not sure Paul’s words are admissible as a defense in the Word of Faith context. christ said that its easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter Gods kingdom, and much is said in the scriptures regarding the opressed, weak, poor, and the widow, that we should help them and not exploit them.

lastly, the church’s message was always sacrifice, and according to thomas aquinas, the greatest miracle of all is that the message of sacrifice and loss to the point of significant personal injury as a means to enter the beatific vision, was able at all to change the face of the world. by contrast, WoF preaches no sacrifice at all - its all about material gain.

i don’t mean to attack or offend you, but i find your response above to be lacking. in the face of the overwhelming biblical evidence to plead the cause of the oppressed, the church’s constant tradition to fight heresy, and the obvious problems with preaching material prosperity, i will need to continue searching for a systematized answer to my question.

Well, the verse talked Paul’s rejoicing for the fact that Christ being proclaimed, regardless the proclaimer’s motive, he decided to rejoice.

Proclaiming Christ is not heresy.

furthermore, i question whether these people preach christ at all,

I do not know which church you’re refering to, but the op is about phil1:18. So long Christ is proclaimed, St Paul decided to rejoice because of it.

so i’m not sure Paul’s words are admissible as a defense in the Word of Faith context.

Paul is the one apostle who say “When sin abounds, grace much more abounds”
Many of his thoughts based on this. This is not heresy, rather, God’s grace can’t be defeated by our sins

Romans 5
20.* The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
21.* so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 6
1.* What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?
2.* May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?

christ said that its easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter Gods kingdom, and much is said in the scriptures regarding the opressed, weak, poor, and the widow, that we should help them and not exploit them.

I’m not sure whether Philipians1 imply “immorality”, I really think Paul is trying to teach us to rejoice anyway.

Exploitation is immorality. Heresy is wrong teaching. We do need to address them. But how do we address people’s inner motive, especially if they proclaim Christ?

My last post tried to explain that we can’t judge people’s inner motive. God knows and search our hearts and He will give to them what they want. Jesus say “Whatever you desire, you shall receive them”

lastly, the church’s message was always sacrifice, and according to thomas aquinas, the greatest miracle of all is that the message of sacrifice and loss to the point of significant personal injury as a means to enter the beatific vision, was able at all to change the face of the world. by contrast, WoF preaches no sacrifice at all - its all about material gain.

I think to us will be given a portion of revelation. Nobody receive perfect divine revelation. Besides in several occasions in the Bible, God says “I desire compassion, NOT sacrifice” (Isiah 43:23, Mat 9:13, Heb 10:8)

i don’t mean to attack or offend you, but i find your response above to be lacking. in the face of the overwhelming biblical evidence to plead the cause of the oppressed, the church’s constant tradition to fight heresy, and the obvious problems with preaching material prosperity, i will need to continue searching for a systematized answer to my question.

The Word of Faith movement is both heretical and immoral.

I get that you obviously agree with Paul, and I should too. So I guess I’m left with having to make the case that they are not preaching Jesus. Apart from that I guess I must agree with you that Paul is correct.

Just so you know where I’m coming from: I’m ex-protestant, and the Word of Faith movement is really a thorn in our flesh. They take sola scriptura to its logical conclusion. You can take any Bible verse out of context and build a theology around it, or emphasise the verses you like to the neglect of other passages.

They preach health and wealth through seed faith, in a very literal fashion (usually the “seed” is your money that you must “sow” by giving to their ministries, with the promise that God will reward you in that you will harvest a hundred-fold etc). Its actually odd… we believe Jesus came to save us from our sins, but they preach that Jesus died so that you can have material blessing. And that is why I deny that they preach Jesus.

We must ask what it “means” to preach “Jesus”. If belief in Jesus stems from the want of material gain, then that is simply not preaching “Jesus”.

I think to us will be given a portion of revelation. Nobody receive perfect divine revelation. Besides in several occasions in the Bible, God says “I desire compassion, NOT sacrifice” (Isiah 43:23, Mat 9:13, Heb 10:8)

jesus said that those who seek their life will lose it, but those who lose it for his sake will retain it. so what I meant with “sacrifice” is “personal sacrifice”, giving up the pleasures of the world. that has largely been the christian message of personal sacrifice and not hoarding up riches on this world where moth and rust destroys. I didn’t mean to imply sacrifice in terms of slaughtering an animal. :wink:

My feeling is this:

Note that in verse 17, Paul says this:

“17. the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.”

I’m not sure how relevant this bolded part is to the wider context, but it seems to me that Paul is addressing a specific occurrence here: that of certain people acting selfishly in order to shake Paul up.

This reminds me of the secret history of communist agents from Russia, in the previous century, becoming Catholic priests in order to cause scandal from within. The motive was to shake our Faith in order to destroy us.

If, in Paul’s time, there were those who were preaching the true Christ, but doing so very obviously for selfish gain, in order to try to discredit Christianity in the eyes of the new Faithful, then that’s an entirely different question than that of what WoF is doing, who actually teach heresy, and so can be distinguished from the true Faith.

If, however, a man enters the Church, becomes a Priest, preaches true, sound doctrine and at the same time leads a clearly sinful life, that’s destructive to the true Faith. It seems to me that what Paul is doing here is saying he will not be defeated, his Faith will not be shaken. He will rejoice in the pronouncement of truth, even in the face of their immorality, because when it comes to universal, ultimate truth… that’s bigger than one man’s sin, and the power of Grace can take those seeds of truth planted by the sinful preacher, and cause it to blossom into great Faith.

But that’s a different matter than the preaching of heresy.

Well, if you read the book of acts, where St. Peter rebuke to death a couple (Ananias & Sapphira) who did not gave the proceed of the sale of their land in full, but keep some for themselves, then you may know that all ministry need funding :wink:

No ministry is perfect. No church is prefect. Nobody is perfect.
It depends where we direct our attention to I guess.

We must ask what it “means” to preach “Jesus”. If belief in Jesus stems from the want of material gain, then that is simply not preaching “Jesus”.

All ministry need some fund. This is reality of this world.
Even our church too. You shouldn’t direct your attention to negative views towards denominational division whose ministry is finding each others faults.

I searched in youtube “The Word of Faith movement”,
I found a video about a guy who speaks against all prosperity churches.
My opinion about this video and similar videos:
One can’t preach Christ by saying “This is the worng Christ”.
He basically say “This church teach wrong doctrine, that church
is also wrong, this ministry heresy, that ministry perversion”
Such video has no content on its own.
It quotea others ministry and say “that’s wrong”
It doesn’t teach you “the right teaching” either.
it is flaunting condemnations left and right, it gets your faith weaken instead of being fed, you’ll get hungrier (spiritually) after watching it…
I do not know about the other churches in the video, but
he himself (the critic) obviously doesn’t preach Christ. :shrug:

jesus said that those who seek their life will lose it, but those who lose it for his sake will retain it. so what I meant with “sacrifice” is “personal sacrifice”, giving up the pleasures of the world. that has largely been the christian message of personal sacrifice and not hoarding up riches on this world where moth and rust destroys. I didn’t mean to imply sacrifice in terms of slaughtering an animal. :wink:

The message “I desire compassion/ mercy not sacrifice” not necessarily refer to animal slaughtering only. It has wider message that guide our worship oriented towards “compassion/mercy” and not “sacrifice focus”. The reason of this is because our human sacrifice is not enough to pay all of our sins. Since we can’t pay our debts, therefore we should be merciful towards one another: “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sins against us”

Sacrificial worship is oriented towards “The law” (we try to pay our own sins, try to be pure, puritanism, unforgiving towards self a& others, worry about imperfections)
Mercy/ Compassion is orented towards forgiving one another, love one another. (we no longer try to pay our sins, rather we forgive others because we have been forgiven).

Amen to this! :thumbsup:

But that’s a different matter than the preaching of heresy.

As long as a man preach Christ who die on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, that’s should be good enogh for me :cool:

… then you may know that all ministry need funding

All ministry need some fund. This is reality of this world.

you are addressing a strawman. i’m not denying that ministries need funds. i am talking about a very, very blatant problem in the way WoF preachers enrich themselves by misleading masses of people.

it seems you’re not yet familiar with this way of getting money from people, nor where the money really goes (hint: not for charity or ministry) so it may be of use to you to watch a good secular critique of the WoF movement, John Oliver having released a good critique of it recently:

youtube.com/watch?v=7y1xJAVZxXg

I have watched the video.

I find John Oliver very humourous. He is a comedian. :shrug:

Go back to “plant a seed”. It’s a way these church get the people exercise their faith.
Something like what John Oliver discovered, it could be an accurate representation of the church operational. However, take it with a grain of salt. Church ministry is not handle by the pastor himself. Sometimes they use professional to handle their financial matters, because pastors usually trying to focus on the sermons, teaching, writing books, and so on. They do not know how to handle so much fund, so they use professional or at least his church followers who know how. When “plant a seed” began, it may started with the pastors idea, but then it becomes as what John Oliver showed because of the operational day to day that is under a finance proffesional turn it into money making machine. It could be related to the pastor, it could happen that the pastor do not know anything about it. Sure it is something that the church has to deal with. Catholic church also has scandal with the church bank. Some people take advantage of the church, it doesn’t mean the whole church is a rotten apple.
And even if there are some rotten apples, it doesn’t mean the whole basket of apples are rotten.
When sin abounds, God’s grace much more abounds. :wink:

I won’t let people’s imperfections weaken my faith.
Jesus calls sinners, so the church full of sinners.
Glitches of operation, scandals, these are humans.
We try to focus on Christ and rejoice as St Paul did.
If St. Paul didn’t do this, he would have done with the church then.
If you read St. Paul epistles, he knew that the people were far from perfect.
Jesus also many times rebuked His diciples for unbeliving Him.
Yet here we are today still trying to persevere in faith and rejoice in our suffering :smiley:

Because they are not preaching Christ, but a different Jesus than the actual one. They are preaching a different gospel. And St. Paul made clear his views about those who do so.

They were not sentenced to death for not giving the full amount of money to the Apostles. They were sentenced to death for lying to the Apostles, who hold the authority of God. So lying to them is just like lying to God.

St. Peter even says that the proceeds and land were theirs to choose as they see fit to use or give. But lying and saying they gave the whole proceeds was evil.

Yes.
I was only stressing the fact that churches needs fund, even at St. Peters time.

I think John Oliver’s video is just not enough to judge whether a church preach christ/ different gospel/ different Jesus.

Yes. St Paul did so. But he did it carefully I guess, not like John Oliver’s way.
Heresy is a serious condemnation.

FOR VEXWEB AND FRANCISCA

Well, let me muscle my way in here a bit.

I usually agree with francisca but I think the problem is that she is not aware of the Word movement.

Putting aside the bible altogether, I just want to say this. I would have to agree with the person who said that the Word of Faith movement preachers are preaching a different Christ.

Christ did NOT die on the cross to make us rich. Those preachers on the Word network all (well, not all 100% of them, some are not really WOF) seem like shysters (?) to me. They’re selling oil, pieces of lines and other things. They want you to “plant a seed”. I wish I had some of those seeds, I’d plant them in my backyard! LOL.

I never read anywhere in the New Testament where Jesus was concerned about being rich. Although He doesn’t mind if we are and use our money wisely. Unless I’m mistaken, He was concerned with how we lived our life, having the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us, and getting us to heaven. He seemed to speak a lot about hell (at least 25% of all He said) and not about making money.

So how are they preaching Christ? THEY AREN’T! I NEVER hear a word being said about the Good News.

Another thing I’d like to add is that I heard a convert from the WOF on Marcus Grody, The Journey Home, EWTN, say that some of those members would like to leave their church but they’re afraid to; they must be so entrenched, I think it’s a cult more than christianity.

Oh. And what about the harm they cause when a person prays and believes that they’ve ALREADY RECEIVED their request and then they don’t really get it? Might this leave them wondering and doubting God altogether? And not only for monetary gain, but also for healings.

I’d put forth some of these arguments and maybe not even get into biblical explanations. I’m not watching the youtube video but I can understand that francisca would think it funny. Unfortunately, it’s no laughing matter.

There’s a guy with a funny hairdo and mustache that likes to plant these seeds: I mean, would you buy a used car from this guy? And he’s talking about GOD!

zz912 is right. They’re preaching a different gospel. So where is the line drawn? When you get away from: sinful man - need for salvation - God’s plan of redemption - Jesus’ life - His death on the cross - His resurrection - our acceptance as disciples.

A bible scripture did come to mind:

“Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”
Mathew 7:22.23

What about the 1st letter of Timothy? It refutes false teachings.

I do believe the line in the sand is very clear.

God bless you

You’re right. I do not know anything about WOF. I am not living in US.

From what I got from youtube (besides John Oliver’s video), was a general opposition against “prosperity churches” movement.
(because it was clips of many different churches being lumped up as “prosperity churches” and the person who made the video is against all these churches. So I really do not know whether all prosperity churches doesn’t preach christ.

From what I know prosperity of a church is not a measure of whether they’re after prosperity only and doesn’t preach christ. Our catholic church is very prosper btw :wink:

The bible do mentioned that there are shepherds that fattens the calf for slaughter house, they do not love the sheeps they tend. It’s a terrible thing to think that such churches exist.

If the churches doesn’t preach christ at all, then they are robbers, Jesus said
John 10
1.* "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber.
2.* "But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep.
7.* So Jesus said to them again, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.
9.* "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

Exercising our faith “consider what we ask already received” is Jesus teaching btw.
Mark 11
24.* "Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.

Hello francisca, Sorry it took so long to reply to above.

In a previous post you had said:

**If one look for financial gain, and he/she falls for “plant a seed” pushed by a pastor who also look for the same thing, then they have found each other (a match!), and God can call people even in this manner too, says Paul’s epistle. I know it’s sounds rather “non-orthodox” way thinking. Such is St. Paul **

You say the offerer and the seeker have found each other and God could work in this manner too.

I’d have to agree with your premise that God can work in all environments which goes to my belief that one is not saved because of the doctrines they believe in but because they believe in Jesus - and we’re always in agreement on this.

These Word of Faith churches do mention Christ in their sermons. That’s the part I don’t like. I think they’re adjusting what they know to be correct in order to attract gullible people. And this is their big sin. They are misleading those who go to these churches. They cause damage to them and to christianity in general by not preaching the correct gospel the of the Lord as He meant it. I’d say that these preachers fall into your number one up there for John 10. You’re always so smart and biblically based.

Now I hesitate to get into Mark 11:24 because it’ll open up a whole new can of worms (problems). I’ll only say that it means that we pray and get what we ask but only if we pray in the will of God. And after that it gets complicated.

The catholic church is prosperous, as you say. (although my parish isn’t!) but this is not what is meant by a “prosperity church”. What it means is that it TEACHES prosperity and that you must, or should -if you belive- that you must be prosperous and healthy. Big problem for those who aren’t! It can work to take your faith away.

As you correctly say, this does not mean that Jesus does not want us to be prosperous. He wants the best for us if we can use our gifts properly. But this is not His goal for us. His goal for us are all the things I’m sure you know about. A good life - in the spiritual sense - and getting to heaven.

Hope this has helped you.

God bless you
Fran


I usually agree with francisca but I think the problem is that she is not aware of the Word [of faith] movement.

understandable. I would agree not to criticize something you’re unfamiliar with, but I would also add not to defend something one is not familiar with.

Anyhow, I’ve been familiar with the WoF movement since childhood. And they operate the same way today that they have for more than the 20 years of exposure that I’ve had to it. preaching christ is one thing, but preaching a gospel that says you should be rich and healthy if you believe in God, and then dressing up that gospel with Biblical lingo, does not qualify as “preaching Christ”

I think I have my answer to my original question on Philippians 1:18 - when someone condones the WoF movement saying I should rejoice because they preach Christ, then I will just deny that they preach Christ.

Perfect conclusion on your part. Your second paragraph says it all. How could they rejoice when Christ is not being preached? Also nice to take the time to explain the difference to them.

(I would agree that you should’t defend something you’re not familiar with but of course sometimes we THINK we are).

I spoke about drawing the line in the sand in a previous post, maybe on page 1.

Different churches could interpret the sciprtures a bit differently but we could still agree that they are preaching the gospel. But here’s the catch:

What is the gospel?? And therein is where you could say that they are preaching a different Christ. There are scriptures for this, I think I mentioned the one about persons saying “Lord Lord, we preached and healed in your name” and He’ll say that He knew them not. Mathew 7:21-23

So what is the gospel? I’m sure you know that gospel means “good news”. And what is the good news?

That you could be rich? That you could never be sick? NO. That is not the good news.

The good news is that God had planned for our salvation from the beginning of time and Jesus is that salvation.

The good news is that in our wretchedness we have a savior.

The good news is that through Jesus, the Christ, we have the opportunity, if taken, to be with Him forever.

The good news is that we could depend on Him to be saved because He died for the redemption of our sins.

Now you could veere off this a bit. Calvin said God chooses who will be saved (nonsense). Baptists believe once saved, always saved, catholics believe you have to go to confession for forgiveness. Okay. But we fundamentally believe all that stuff I said up there. So it is not your doctrine that saves you (thank God!). Of course, many in the WOF movement are saved too because they could have their faith in Christ - I’m more upset with the preachers who are deceiving them.

I’d also say that all christian churches believe in healings. They do happen every day. But the HEALINGS cannot be the gospel – Jesus healed to glorify God and show that He was the messiah. check out: Mathew 9:2-7

But I’d say that the WOF gospel is so far off the fundamental points that it is very disturbing. The idea that Jesus died to make us rich and healthy is preposterous.

And there is your line in the sand that you could always refer to.

Check out 1 Corinthians, chapter 15
and what about 1 Corinthians 2:2 and on. “for I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

I mean, the whole point is THE CROSS and RESURRECTION.

God bless you

What is the gospel??

exactly

The good news is that God had planned for our salvation from the beginning of time and Jesus is that salvation.

salvation in the context of the gospel (good news) is unfortunately also a term that requires to be nuanced. i have a friend who is so deep into this stuff, and we’ve had so many talks about it, it makes my head spin.

people in the WoF movement are so confused, they often think that the reason Jesus died for us is to bless us - often with the emphasis on material and/or bodily blessing.

Now I believe that salvation IS a blessing, but “blessing” is such a broad term that it can technically include material and bodily (health) blessings even though the proper way of understanding salvation is deliverance from slavery to sin (as the israelites were slaves in egypt, egypt being symbolic for sin). and that is the problem: secondary meanings and where we put the emphasis.

when i discuss these matters i would try to emphasise that the ultimate reason why Jesus died was to save us from sin and death, not for material gain or health issues. my friend then responds with “yeah but the material and health benefit is included”. add to this the fact that people in the late 20th and now in the 21st century love focusing on the positive things rather than the negative. its considered negative to focus on the sin and death, and positive to focus on the material blessing and health blessing (pop psychology). you know, “don’t focus on the sin you’re struggling with, focus on God and He will sort out the sin” that kind of nonsense :rolleyes:

anyhow, it’s hard at this stage to point to how selfless the early christians were, who were often martyrs, because evangelicals and WoF people are rarely steeped in church history that falls outside the scope of the New Testament itself. so its hard to show from history that christians died for their beliefs, instead of using their beliefs as ways to enrich themselves. and the new testament, although it has some martyrs in, is not replete with such examples.

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