Sunday, May 20, 2012

“What goes around, comes around,” they say.  But usually not like this.

Chuck O’Neal, the Beaverton, Oregon, pastor who has recently gained notoriety for suing a former parishioner for libel, has found himself on the receiving end of a law suit—for the very same reason.   And while the defendants in O’Neal’s law suit have drawn considerable sympathy for being dragged into court by the pastor of a large church—presumably benefitting from the resources and good name of his congregation—O’Neal the defendant faces a significantly more formidable legal foe: The Vatican.

Pope Benedict XVI, acting through the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops,  has filed a $1 million law suit against Pastor O’Neal for defaming the Pontiff, the papacy as an institution, and the Roman Catholic Church as an ecclesiastical organization, in comments he made to his congregation in a series of sermons preached at Beaverton Grace Bible Church in April, 2005, following the death of Pope John Paul II.   Particularly damning (no pun intended) were comments O’Neal made in an e-mail to a group of pastors, elders and layman just prior to these sermons: 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Tithe or You're Dead

Though evangelicals generally eschew the euphemistic notion of a departed believer “spinning in his grave,” it’s hard not to imagine the posthumous subterranean pirouettes currently being executed by one Adrian Pierce Rogers, who went to his reward in 2005.  The twice-elected president of the Southern Baptist convention, known to most American evangelicals through his TV and radio ministries, served as senior pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in suburban Memphis, Tennessee, for more than three decades.   And while he was no stranger to theological controversy, Pastor Rogers has been spectacularly eclipsed in that department by his successor, 54-year-old Steve Gaines, whose latest pronouncement on Christian giving has raised a few eyebrows—though apparently, not nearly enough.

Pastor Steve Gaines of Bellevue Baptist Church
may need to call another press conference to explain
why his parishioners have been dropping dead
During Bellevue’s annual “Prove the Tithe Sunday” service, Pastor Gaines preached from Acts 5, a text containing one of the most dramatic incidents of the New Testament church: the judgment and sudden deaths of Ananias and Sapphira.  In a feat of eisegesis worthy of the Trinity Broadcasting Network, however, Steve Gaines, who holds a Ph.D. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, declared this passage to be about tithing: