Religious Sleight of Hand Tricks | Eastern North Carolina Now

    From the early times of the Christian faith there have been charlatans. Simon the Magician is the first cited in the New Testament. He knew the art of magic and turned it toward people seeking Christ. The Disciples were mad and wanted Jesus to call down lightning to destroy him. They got a surprise when Jesus refused, but said (instead), "God can use even Satan to accomplish his purposes!"

    Before Jesus were the Pharisees and Priests getting rich off religious entertainment. Their best money-makers were Tithes and Temple Money. Bringing your "first fruits of the crop in the amount of 10%" was God's command. "Bring all the tithes into the Temple" was the simple command written in the Old Testament. Someone had to supervise the giving so the Priests were glad to do so! The Altar Table was the place to put them so, again, the Priests were glad to take it each evening to the back where they lived

    and dine like Royalty! They were pleasingly plump / well clothes from the best cloth brought in / telling the people if it were good enough of not. Meanwhile the people perished from hunger and not enough clothes to keep warm in the cold of a desert night in the Holy Land.

    Temple Money was their best idea. They decreed through the Pharisees that street money was not pure enough to come into the Holy of Holies inside. They started setting up tables on the front porch of the Temple so people could exchange---"for a small fee"---their street money for the "pure stuff." In addition, you could now use your new Temple Money to buy a dove or other sacrifice to enter the Temple and kill it at the Altar. Priests enjoyed that fresh meat in a day of no refrigeration and the only preservation was massive amounts of salt!

    Jesus made his pilgrimage to Jerusalem --- as good Jews did --- for the special time of Passover. After his triumphal entrance on the back of a donkey he came to the Temple and got "madder than Hell!" He took a whip and went after those charlatans of religion making money hand over fist. He beat the Hell out of them and scattered their animals and money all over the place. His words were, "You have turned my Father's House into a den of thieves!"

    That was the second they seriously plotted to put him on a cross with Roman soldiers and Pontius Pilot attending to the "justice" for a rebel raising Cain with a cane. Jesus was doing more than making trouble; he was interfering with the process of getting rich off fear and criticism. They knew that if they kept the Jews feeling guilty, they would have to keep coming back with more gifts to buy God's favor.

    They killed him in pain and agony of the greatest kind for their day. In our day the electric chair has been put aside as "cruel and unusual punishment." Some demented executioners have omitted the hair shaving and salt solution to really make a criminal suffer with cooking like a wiener on a stick instead of a heart-stopping serious jolt throughout his body and brain to send him to Eternity --- and scramble the brains which both work off small electrical discharges. In their world of "get even" it was better to fry a criminal slowly with much screaming and squiggling!

    Torture is nothing new to evil men. We used it at Abu Garib and Guantanamo on Middle Eastern fighters we captured and flew to the black holes where no news cameras could see. We all know the report from Congress which clearly cited our cruel and unusual ways which are totally against the Geneva Accords signed by us before WWII was ended. It made it a crime punishable by death to torture prisoners of war.

    What would Jesus say to the Southern Baptist Convention's new Pharisee leaders?

    Paraphrase of Matthew 23:1-36

    The Pattersonites and Presslerites control the SBC so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice. They make many rules and narrow theologies, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not live personal lives under them.

    They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their designer ties bright and their expensive tailored suits sharp, and they love the place of honor at all Pastor's Conferences. They love being recognized and called "Dr." by their subservient masses. But you are all the same as Baptists: you have one master, Jesus, and one Father who is God in heaven. Neither be called President or Vice-President, for you have one master, the Christ... But woe to you, dictators to Baptists, hypocrites! Because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who follow you to go in.

    You go on glorious and expensive overseas mission trips to make a single proselyte and then corrupt him. You make all kinds of Resolutions and use Robert's Rules of Order in any way to get your way. You don't care what promises you make or public statements as long as you sound politically correct. Your sermons are slick and designed to please men. You neglect the Gospels and the ideas of God's love and forgiveness, replacing them with legalisms and judgmentalism to make sinful men feel worse.

    You blind guides, straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel! Woe to you dictator pastors! You are like dishes and cups cleaned only on the outside while the inside is full of rotting food and disease. First cleanse the inside and the outside will clean itself. You take statements out of context from Baptist forefathers and act as if they applaud your mindless theology. You say you would love what the forefathers died for, but you take away the freedoms for which they would give their life. They went to jail and endured punishment so we could live in a land of freedom of religion and conscience. You would have been in the mobs which booed them and threw them in prison. You would have shot them rather than listen to their cries for freedom of individual churches and believers.

    Many Baptists are saying we have deserted our heritage of freedom in recent years, but you call them "skunks" and "liberals" to anyone who doesn't know what being free and Baptist means. The hottest fires of Hell wait for those who do not live in love and allow their brothers in the faith to be free. Anyone who claims to serve a God of love, but cannot love his brother, who is different or uses different words, is a liar and a hypocrite destined for God's harshest judgment. - Rev. Gene Scarborough,     Pastor, Turkey Branch Baptist Church

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( May 30th, 2015 @ 8:27 am )
The past is always with us and merits our review. It tells us how mankind has progressed at times and then gone backward with regression. The SBC was progressing in an incredible way until the "Battle for the Bible" took place. It happened the very national convention when Baptist Tel Net was the main focus.

Using new satellite technology Baptists intended to share the Gospel to any household on this earth which had a c-band dish to get it. Instead that Convention in Houston, TX, turned into the disaster of the century for them and totally distracted them from their main purpose --- Gospel sharing!

The next 20 years were nothing but plotting and scheming for control on both sides. Now Pat Robertson owns the transponder and pumps his brand of religion and politics. I am sure Satan rejoiced over the mess and GOD DOES NOT BLESS A MESS!
( May 30th, 2015 @ 7:07 am )
No criticism, I was just hoping we had turned the page on the past and moved to a more positive and affirmative discussion of how CBF was providing a framework for those disaffected by the SBC takeover.
( May 30th, 2015 @ 6:32 am )
Tony Bobby --- "UNCLE" ---what does that mean, buddy???

If you are criticizing me for the analysis of the article, it "speaks the truth in love" as the Bible directs. I tried to deal with the bullies and self-centered arrogant pastors of NC who took it over as I was the Pastor of the small Turkey Branch rural church in Nash County.

My main work was Minister's Life Representative for Eastern NC. My territory covered from Durham down to Wilmington and all points east. The Baptist Battle was intense in NC. By hook or crook the same things happened here as on the national scene.

This battle between REGRESSION AND PROGRESS is in every single denomination from Methodist to Church of Christ, Presbyterian --- it matters not. People do not tolerate rapid change well. If it is a real moral issue, the Bible gives us 10 Commandments. Otherwise, you can cope and keep your integrity.
( May 29th, 2015 @ 9:11 pm )
UNCLE, for a second there, I though we were on the right track.
( May 29th, 2015 @ 8:15 pm )
Take it from a SBC preacher's kid who preached to his teddy bears "just like his daddy did," the strength of the Southern Baptist Convention was they majored on Missions and Evangelism and minored on Theological nitpicking. The folks who took over were megachurch control freaks who had --- still do have --- a "my way or the highway" stance.

Like Charles Stanley who is in your town, he became pastor of a 50% keep / 50% send to missionaries church and within a year they gave next to nothing to missions. They were so busy building a new building and buying buses to go to all the other church communities of Atlanta to get their numbers up. They bought primetime WTBS exposure to promote themselves over sending missionaries and starting new churches in the growing Atlanta metro area.

As the Pulpit goes, so goes the pew. The Pastor was trusted and made the changes and the people had ONLY 2 choices---leave or consent to the changes. About half left / those who stayed trusted their pastor totally and had no clue about SBC traditions. It soon became a "cult of the personality" which it still is until today. Stanley came from a pentecostal and Independent background and his theology was appealing, but his knowledge of the SBC was NIL!
( May 29th, 2015 @ 6:50 pm )
Thanks for a more positive post. I have done some basic research on the CBF, which is HQ right here in Decatur, Ga. I think they provide a viable alternative to the SBC. I notice that they refrain from issuing proclamations regarding politics, candidates etc. I include this from their website.
Why does CBF exist?
“CBF is a renewal movement among Baptist Christians. CBF exists because of the belief in historic Baptist principles of soul freedom, Bible freedom, church freedom and religious freedom. Soul freedom is the belief in priesthood of the believer and the affirmation that every person has the freedom and responsibility to relate directly to God without the imposition of creed or control of clergy or government.
Bible freedom is the belief in the authority of scripture, which under the Lordship of Christ, is central to the life of individuals and churches. Every Christian has the freedom and right to interpret and apply scripture under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Church freedom is the belief in the autonomy of every local church as free, under the Lordship of Christ, to determine their membership and leadership, to order their worship and work, to ordain whomever they perceive as gifted for ministry, and to participate as they deem appropriate in the larger body of Christ.
Religious freedom is the belief in freedom of, for and from religion, as well as separation of church and state.
CBF’s other core values include biblically-based Global Missions, the resource model of discovering and providing resources to empower churches and individuals to their mission and calling, a commitment to justice and reconciliation, a belief in lifelong learning and ministry for both laity and clergy, trustworthiness and effectiveness.”
I could not quibble with any of this statement of purpose.
We agree more than you realize or give me credit for. All I was saying is that all viewpoints should be open for discussion and action. The freedom of association of any group is dependent on the group having core beliefs. If they do not have that, they will splinter into other groups. Religions are the proof of that. Why rail against a group because they do not espouse your viewpoint. Just move to group that is more in line with your thinking.
I cannot begin to argue scripture or ecclesiastical doctrine with you (if that is what we are arguing about, I defer to you) but I do believe that it is up to the individual to make that determination for themselves. That was confirmed in their statement above.
It is my hope that they continue to grow and prosper in their efforts to bring more people into the fellowship. There is room for all viewpoints.
( May 29th, 2015 @ 5:22 pm )
OUR solution is the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship which does what the old SBC did = work together on missions with a spirit of love --- and stop the theological nitpicking! The sad conclusion is that most organizations can become only so diverse before someone wants to take the money and run the real contributors off!

Check out the mega churches of Atlanta and see if you don't see BS at many corners posing as "We love Jesus only and serve others." If you can find one not paying their Christian entertainer pastor less than 6 figures---let me know!!!
( May 29th, 2015 @ 4:14 pm )
Trusting and naïve is the point. That is why we were born with the freedom of choice. Lying is lying regardless if it is inside or outside. Blind faith in another human being is asking to be misled. You have assumed that shepherd knows all and the sheep know nothing. You are not giving people enough credit to make up their own minds. Regardless of what you are selling, someone has to buy it before it they can be fooled. I have no doubt that there are charlatans selling all manner of false theories. The individual has to decide what they believe.
What is your solution to the SBC dilemma? In the free exchange of ideas, don’t they have a right to run their organization any way they choose?
( May 29th, 2015 @ 3:48 pm )
You have missed the point totally, good friend Bobby Tony --- this issue of lying inside religion is a spiritual and ethical matter! If you take trusting and naive folks and tell them the tootsie roll is chocolate when it came from a cow pasture---are you telling truth of selling shit???
( May 29th, 2015 @ 2:09 pm )
When my local store stops carrying the brand I like, I just switch stores but sometimes, if I am feeling particularly brave, I just try the new brand and see if I like it. That is how I learned to like and eat Escargot. Even though they served in a curled shell, as a naïve layman, I enjoyed it until a “professional food expert” told me it was just French for snails. I still like them but have been unable to find any that are simply labeled as “SNAILS”. Regardless of how they are packaged, labeled or presented on the shelf, it is the “Escargot” that I enjoy. The rest is just packaging. Generally, there are many varieties on the same shelf within the same store. If I don’t like the product, I just leave it on the shelf.
However, we may agree on one thing:
( May 29th, 2015 @ 1:10 pm )
If you think Jesus was kidding with the Moneychangers on the Temple steps---you are seeing his words simply applied to the current Southern Baptist BS, my friend . . .
( May 29th, 2015 @ 1:07 pm )
What do you call a NC Baptist State Convention that put in a new Financial Policy which returns gifts to any church that ministers to homosexuals or has a female Pastor? They are trying to control through harsh measures the same as NC politics is going after homosexual marriages and anything "not Abject super-Conservative."

From Democracy to Hierarchy over some 20 years it happened, my friend. From airport meetings of megachurch pastors with egos out the wazoo we now have King Pastors rather than Servant Pastors. Southeastern Seminary is teaching it as did the megas of the southern urban growing areas. From those of us who averaged about $30-40K of total income to 6-digit fancy executives you now have Charles Stanley at FBC Atlanta and the pastors of Jacksonville / Dallas / Memphis / etc.

The change is more dramatic than you think in your layman's naive view, brother Bobby Tony. I bet you have no clue how much the new SBC hates women / destroys separation of church and state / pays the execs who now run their institutions and agencies as their "spoils of war."

Read once more the words of Matthew 23 from Jesus --- simply updated to the year 2000 to today . . .
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