With all the Church scandals that have shaken the faithful over the past few years, perhaps saying, "I told you so" is being too petty, critical and insensitive. Whether it is pedophile priests in the Catholic Church or ordained ministers who are openly gay, the image of the Christian Church as representing God's kingdom on earth certainly has a significant public relations [PR] problem. The latest scandal, at least for the moment, has to do with The Crystal Cathedral Church in Orange County, CA. It seems that its founding pastor, Rev. Robert Schuller, had misappropriated church funds or used his influence to benefit his family while leaving the church with debt payments that could not satisfy fiduciary obligations to its creditors. As if that weren't enough and adding insult to injury, emails were sent out among church members to send food items for Mrs. Arvella Schuller, who is suffering from pneumonia; as these donated goods will graciously be picked up by awaiting limousines and chauffeurs.
It is certainly nothing wrong with wanting and in many instances needing a new sanctuary or edifice to worship God in, but it is not for His benefit, rather our own. God does not dwell in structures or buildings made with men's hands as though He needs anything [Acts 17: 24b], and this episode might be more than just egregious financial mismanagement but rather as it says in 1 Timothy 6: 9-10: "But those who desire to be rich [and attain it] fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the 'faith' in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." Also, Matthew 13: 22 says: "Now he who received the seed among thorns is he who hears [or teaches??] the word, and the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke out the word, and he becomes unfruitful [from that point onward]."
Although there are doubtless quite a few disenchanted and despondent members who lament this embarrassing and spiritually demoralizing situation, yet what is their level of culpability in the final matter? Were these same parishioners totally blind as to what was going on and left totally in the dark, or as in the case with many of us, chose to look the other way, even when you knew intuitively that 'something' questionable was happening? How many of us 'go along to get along' and don't want to be perceived and labeled as a troublemaker who wants to cause division, when we know or suspect that something is wrong and refuse to ask, discuss, challenge or confront the church leaders about our heartfelt suspicions? When the cat is finally out of the bag then there is all this outrage and righteous indignation, but truth be known, can you say that you are really all that innocent or naïve and there isn't just a little tint of that "stain' of sin on your hands, also? Could it be that the beautiful and elegant Crystal Cathedral was something which should be in a place like Las Vegas or Reno, Nevada and is it possibly reminiscent of a monument to pride like the Tower of Babel or even King Nebuchadnezzar's Golden-headed statue? Lastly, 1 John 3: 21 says: "Beloved, if our conscience [heart] does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God."
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November 5, 2011
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