A Glimpse of How Creflo Dollar Twisted the Bible in Nairobi

Renowned American preacher, Dr Creflo Dollar, recently concluded his three day speaking engagement in Nairobi. He had been invited to the country by Deliverance Church Kenya, under Bishop Mark Kariuki. Dollar spoke on various topics, the most publicized being “Love, Sex and Relationships”. Now, many things have been said about Dollar’s visit. A brief scan through my Facebook Timeline is enough to reveal that people’s views on him have not been unanimous.

Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero greets Dr Creflo Dollar outside County Hall, Nairobi. Kenya (Photo credit: creflodollarblog.com)

Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero greets Dr Creflo Dollar outside County Hall, Nairobi. Kenya (Photo credit: creflodollarblog.com)

There are those who are avid followers of his program on TBN and their libraries are stocked with Dollar’s books. They celebrated the visit and even expressed a lot of excitement over finally getting a chance to see the much admired man of God “in the flesh.” Others, however, have not been so kind to Dollar’s visit. Numerous posts have sprung up in the form of tweets, Facebook status updates and notes, blogs and memes… warning people to stay away and avoid this “false teacher.”

The latter posts have often been followed by a heated comment section, with some people expressing genuine confusion, wondering what is wrong with Dollar’s teaching. I don’t need to go deep into this, you have probably already come across a few. In this post, I simply wanted to highlight something about the way Dollar used the Bible in one of his sermons in Nairobi recently. It was a sermon on “Love, Sex and Relationships” and you can catch the whole thing on YouTube.

I will only use the first 20 minutes to highlight a pattern that recurs in the whole 60 minutes of the sermon. Dollar begins by reading Genesis 2 and afterwards attempts to show how this passage is God’s blueprint for a healthy marriage. 

He has some great points. In fact, most of his points are good, and I agree with him. For instance, Dollar believes and teaches that:

  1. “A proper, suitable, fit help for a man, according to the blueprint, is a WOMAN. A cow, a bird, or even another man would not be a proper, suitable, fit help for him.” God is for opposite-sex marriage, not same-sex marriage.
  2. “A man is calculative, a woman is intuitive. God designed them that way. A woman is made a lot smarter than a man, she’s got a built in system that lets her seize quickly about things that are going on.” While this is not a point that is explicitly taught in the Bible, it is one that can be generally observed in life, and I agree with it to the extent that it is not being taught authoritatively.
  3. “Listen up men, it is important that you communicate with your wife. It is important that you communicate the vision for your house, what you plan on doing with the money…” That is also a no brainer. Communication is essential to the success of any relationship.

But then there are some things Dollar says that make you go, “Well, I am not so sure about that.” For example, when he says things like:

  1. “One of the reasons God made a woman is because of the two trees He put in the garden. God wanted man to discover and eat from the tree of life so that we would live forever. He gave the woman enough intuition to know they needed to go to the center of the garden, because without her, the man was just foolishly wandering around the garden.” Well, I am not so sure that’s why (or even one of the whys) God put the woman in the garden.
  2. “Adam was not talking to his woman. Had he been talking to her enough, she would have known about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She would have known that they were not supposed to touch that tree. But instead, Adam allowed somebody else to come in and talk to his partner and mislead her.” Well, I am not so sure about that either. Because I remember clearly in Genesis 3 the woman telling the serpent: “God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” Eve definitely knew about the tree.

So, what is the problem? Why the apparent mixture of things that are in the Bible and things that are obviously opposed to the Bible? If you listen to the first 20 minutes of the sermon from which I picked the above examples, you will realise that all those five points are delivered in an intermixed way. The questionable points are justifications for the good points and vice versa.

For example, Dollar uses the argument that Adam did not tell Eve about the tree, to show why it is important for men to communicate with their wives. The END (communication) is good, and noble even, but the MEANS to that end is simply anti-biblical.

At another point in the 20 minutes, Dollar is teaching on love and submission in marriage. This is what he says:

“By nature, men are naturally submissive… But God wants men to take on the role of loving. Women naturally know how to love. But God says, men I want you to love your wife as Christ loves the church. Women I want you to submit. Instead of you doing what’s easy and natural to do, [God] says I challenge you know. You who is easy to submit, I want you to love, and you who is hard in submitting, I want you to submit. And when we do that, we begin to grow together. When you come together in marriage, there is an elimination of weakness.”

That is another classic example of anti-biblical MEANS leading to a biblical END. Submission and love are commended and commanded by God. The BIble actually teaches that husbands should love their wives as Christ loves the church. It also teaches that wives should submit to their husbands. These ENDS are biblical. But how does Dollar make his case? By appealing to some sociological research stereotype – that men are naturally submissive and women are naturally loving – and then putting some strange motives in God’s mind: that God wants to pit these two together and mix things up.

Do you find any problem with this kind of teaching? Or are you willing to late false and anti-biblical reasoning slide since the goal is a noble one? Do you care HOW we get to holiness or is it just a matter of opinion as long as the END is justified?

You see, Dollar believes (and teaches) that what he has just outlined above is “foundational stuff”. He says it is “God’s blue-print”. But what happens to the Berean who hears Dollar say “Eve did not know about the tree because Adam did not tell her”, and then opens Genesis 3 and realizes “Eve ALWAYS knew about the tree and she even knew it was a command from God.”?

Should such a student simply consider it an oops moment on Dr Dollar’s part? Or is this a pointer to where Dollar’s authority lies when it comes to interpreting the Bible? Is Dollar elevating the Bible over what we consider to be “the most logical explanations” or is he simply reading what is “naturally true” into the Bible? Does it even matter?

Think about it, and respond appropriately.

For the fame of His name,

Cornell

The Problem With God’s Goodness

“Should guilty people be punished?” is too abstract a question.

If someone asked me such a question, I will need more information. What was the nature of the crime? Did the person do it ignorantly? Was he malicious? What damage did his actions do to other people? Has the person owned up to the crime? Is he sorry? All these and more “ramifications” will help me answer the “should guilty people be punished?” question more fairly. These clarifying questions will also help me, as a judge, determine the punishment. Whether it will be a jail term, a cash fine or a rebuke, there will definitely be punishment for the crime.

Because that’s how real life works. Context counts. Life is not just a series of abstract principles with no relation to reality. It is more nuanced than science and philosophy often presents it. 

“Should a rapist be punished?” sounds more concrete.

Let’s say the rapist admits to the crime and says he is proud of what he did. Let’s say the rapist insists that the victim deserved it and life is not fair and he is not going to change. Let’s say that the rapist is certifiably sane and after all that, the judge says he will show mercy to the rapist because he is a “good” judge. Would you have a problem with him? Why?

Photo courtesy nairaland.com

Photo courtesy nairaland.com

Then why do people have a problem with a God who punishes evil in the world? Why do people have a problem with a God who sends people to hell for their sins?

One thing we can all agree on is that people do not have a problem with a God who punishes sin. They would do the same if they were on the judgement seat. What people have a problem with is the “nature” of hell. People have a problem with how long hell will last (forever) and how painful the punishment will be (conscious torment). No wonder many have come up with different interpretations and speculations of what hell will look like.

Some have argued that hell will not be forever. It will be like purgatory, a temporary holding place where people will be punished until the punishment fits the crime. Others, repulsed by the idea of eternal torment, have argued that the people in hell will be annihilated after being punished for some time.

Whether people are extinguished or revived after “going through hell”, one thing is clear, no one is saying that there shouldn’t be a hell. The Bible is too explicit about such a matter, and the fact that we are innately hard-wired for justice makes hell necessary.

So, do you have a problem with a God who sends people to hell or do you have a problem with the type of hell He is sending people to? Is your understanding (or misunderstanding) of hell causing you to be squeamish about worshipping a God who sends people there?

In our attempts to provide “reasonable” answers to the questions surrounding hell, we often overlook a more indicting reality: the Bible teaches that there are people who will not go to hell at all (whatever notion of hell you have). There are people who will not get “any”, let alone their deserved, punishment. The bible teaches that there are rapists and murderers who will go scot free. Those who confess their sin and believe that Jesus took the punishment for them.

Do you have a problem with this? Does the idea of guilty people going unpunished make you squeamish? Do you have a problem with God’s “mercy”? His goodness? You should. Hell (whichever version), makes sense. Heaven doesn’t. “Unpunished criminals” doesn’t make sense.

I find it ironic that many people have walked away from God because they could not worship a God who sends people to hell, they could not worship a judge who punishes criminals — even if the argument for most is that this God gives ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment.

It is ironic because such people don’t seem to have a problem with a God who “loves” and “accepts” and “forgives” all criminals. They walk way from a reasonable God (judge) because his judgement does not work to their advantage. But they don’t mind embracing an unreasonable God (merciful) because His mercy works to their advantage.

Few are willing to admit that there is much more going on in this “merciful judge” kind of God than pure reason or pure science can ever explain. They miss the point because they miss The Gospel.

Do you have a problem with God’s goodness? Maybe you should.

For the fame of His name.

~~~~

Cornell

Challies, Voskamp, and All Us Girls

“It is so easy, being the emotional creatures that we are, to engage a book (or blog, or talk show, or magazine article, etc.), on a purely or even largely emotional level. And that is so dangerous. Emotion itself is not wrong; emotion taking over thought is. We always need to be thinking and evaluating biblically … ” RVD

THE CHRISTIAN PUNDIT

Tim Challies found out the hard way last week that criticizing Ann Voskamp makes you a lot of enemies – fast. So let me start by saying that I have no problem with Ann Voskamp. If you want to read her, please do. I’m an English major, and I understand the draw of a well written book. In fact, Ann Voskamp’s style reminds me of Joan Didion’s in The Year of Magical Thinking – a book also dealing with grief (far from any sort of Christianity), which I found fascinating.

What concerns me about the whole situation is that Tim Challies had to write his review. It’s Reformed evangelicals who read his blog, and he directs his writing to them.

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