The Con Artists and their Scams - How can you tell?

The ancient word for "Con Artists" is "False Prophets". Their scams are the false doctrines that they preach to trick people to give of their money and time to enrich these false prophets. The Bible warn us in many places about them. We are to discern and judge any prophecy or doctrine that claimed to be of or from God. They play on our desires and greed and are extremely successful.

One such popular doctrine is the "Prosperity Gospel". It is an extreme distortion of the word of faith. It is so easy to misuse the promises of God and to make God our genie to get all the nice things of life that we desire. The Prosperity God  财神爷  has been worshiped by the Chinese, especially on New Year Days, for many years. Be sure that this Prosperity God is only worshiped and liked because of the money he can give. He is actually a slave to those that worship him. It is an economic transaction of exchanges between worship and blessings (usually of money). The gospel of Jesus Christ, in a Chinese culture like mine, has the natural tendency to become the prosperity gospel with Jesus as the prosperity god that was told to me by an European friend.

Here is a good message shared with me on the Prosperity Gospel The Prosperity Gospel Message by Dr Paul Choo.  It gives a good summary of the main teaching of the prosperity gospels. Some quotes from the sermon include ... (See Prosperity Gospel - Learning from GLCC Dr Paul Choo)
  • "This is not Christianity. This is not the gospel. This is a scam. Period. Using the name of God.
  • Let's not go to the other extreme .... James 2:5, abundant life is not a fat wallet. The right place is God. ....Don't reduce God to an idol to give money.
  • 1Tim 6:17-19 God give us wealth to do good and share ....bless others. ...."
While I don't fully agree with all he said, it is worth listening to someone with a different view. So enjoy and reflect on the sermon and form your own conclusions.

Older writings on this topic of "false prophets" are equally applicable and useful for identify today's Con Artist misusing the Name of God. Of course, they won't be called Con Artist, but are addressed as Apostle, Prophet, Pastor, Evangelist or some other pious title. They are in our gospel community and use the name of God and Jesus Christ. That is why it is very deceptive. Here is a good book "Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices" by Thomas Brooks. It was written about 400 years ago! There is a chapter on false prophets that I summarize with the mind-map below:

The pattern is quite clear:
  1. Appeal to your desire (actually greed or lust). Tell you what you like to hear.
  2. Scorn and despite those true teachers. These true teachers will prevent them from deceiving you. So they will say that their doctrines are either wrong, or out-dated or ineffective.  Times have changed and the true teachings are no longer relevant. 
  3. Ignore the real Truth. Take text out of context. Give a 'modern' interpretation of the Biblical text. Their authority is still and must be base on the Bible but their interpretation and extension are wrong. Imitation must look like the real thing in order to cheat it.  
  4. Have their own Persuasive Story and Doctrine to replace the truth to win you over. Get testimonies to show and prove that their doctrines are right and effective. 
  5. The true motive is actually to make money out of you and enslave you to work their cause, oops, their scams.

Lim Liat (C) 1 Dec 2012

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post! I love the way you use mind maps to break down the subjects.