Thursday, September 28, 2006

Indulgences by any other name are still indulgences

The gang at CJIL -- aka The Miracle Channel -- are at it again.

No sooner do they finally give into months, even years, of CRTC demands that they institute a code of ethics on how they will comport themselves during fundraising broadcasts (which run about four to six times per year) than they just go back to business as usual and violate their own rules -- rules which, supposedly, are even tougher than the guidelines the federal regulators have for religious broadcasters.

As usual, Tim Thibault of Under The Son Ministries has the blow by blow.

What's truly infuriating about this is that it's a scam practiced not only by evangelical Christians, but even some mainline churches, albeit in a different format. Consider, for example, the corrupt system of papal indulgences during the Middle Ages that led to the Protestant Reformation. Anyone who studied it in high school as part of a World Religions Course will remember the infamous phrase: "As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from Purgatory springs." It took nearly four decades after Luther, at the Council of Trent, for the Roman Catholic Church to admit it was wrong and outlawed the practice -- on paper.

Yet even today, we still see Catholic parishes encouraging people to donate money to ask for blessings from God, via the intercession of a favourite saint or someone they're trying to promote to the sainthood, or to pray that a soul of a dead relative will rise to Heaven. I'm pretty sure it's the same in other churches. This goes against basic Biblical teachings, which teaches that it is through God, and God alone, that all blessings flow; and it is God alone who decides who goes to Heaven or Hell, no matter how much the saints try to persuade or even bully the Almighty.

These days when I pray, I don't ask for the "intercession" of an intermediary, I go right to the source; just as the Bible commands us to. And I certainly don't put money in the collection plate to get something from God ... I do it to finance the daily needs of the church's staff.

What's more important for me, however, is to have some kind of assurance that monies donated, even in good faith and not as an attempt to extort something from God, is going back into the ministry and not into something else; whether it be donating to a political party, even if it's from the draw ministry staff receives, or supporting one's high flying lifestyle. Having read the comments sections of The Miracle Channel Review, there are some pretty stunning although currently unsubstantiated rumours between what TMC preaches and what it actually practices.

It's little secret that TMC believes that Stephen Harper is God's Annointed Servant (TM) and that it was "God's will" that Canadians elected him. What I'd like to know is whether they believe blessings are for Conservative supporters only. And what Harper will do to intercede on their behalf when the CRTC finally goes beyond the "determination" stage and actually sanctions TMC for consistently breaking the rules.

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