Monday, November 16, 2009

Spiritual Chain Letters

I don't know about you, but it seems like I get a lot of email forwarded to me that is just a little lacking. Much of it is in the form of "sky is falling" political gossip. I say gossip, because they always seem to include some truth, but that truth is often marred by accompanying wild claims that are usually can be disproved easily.

But those don't really bother me so much. The one's that bother me, are the ones concerning Christianity. Case in point: I recently received one from someone in my family. It had a host of things which I find objectionable, though I have no doubt that the heart of the "forwarder" was in the right place.

This email contained what is called a Novena. Not being a Roman Catholic, I had to look that up. It is "a devotion consisting of prayer said (most typically) on nine successive days, asking to obtain special graces. These may consist of small prayer books, recitation of the Rosary, or small prayers through the day." Of course, being a Baptist, the first thing that comes to mind is the Biblical injunction in Matthew 6:7 "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking."

I could overlook that part of the email, but it goes on to say:

GOD WANTED ME TO TELL YOU, It shall be well with you this coming year.No matter how much your enemies try this year, they will not succeed..You have been destined to make it and you shall surely achieve all your goals this year. For the remainder of 2009, all your agonies will be diverted and victory and prosperity will be incoming in abundance. Today God has confirmed the end of your sufferings, sorrows and pain because HE that sits on the throne has remembered you. He has taken away the hardships and given you JOY. He will never let you down. I knocked at heaven's door this morning, God asked me.. My child! What can I do for you? And I said, 'Father, please protect and bless the person reading this message.... '

Wow! Where do you begin with something like that? Apparently the creator of the universe personally speaks to the originator of this email. And not only speaks to them, but gives them messages to pass on to the thousands who read their emails. Joseph Smith move over, we got a new cult leader in the making!

But that's not even the worst of it. It is one thing when a self proclaimed prophet claims "thus sayeth the Lord," but when what he says contradicts what the Lord has told us through the Holy Scriptures, then I have a real problem with it. If you read the entire New Testament, I doubt that you will come away with a health and wealth prosperity gospel such as is presented in this email message. 2 Thessalonians 1: 4-5 says: "So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:" and further, 2 Timothy 3:12 "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." again Philippians 1:29 "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;"

And just so we don't finish with a merely a heresy trifecta, the email also turns this novena into a spiritual chain letter, asking you to send out 20 copies within 48 hours, claiming that it has never been broken. Off the top of my head I don't have a verse to combat such superstitious silliness, but I don't doubt that there is one.

One final personal note. This is partially a test to see which of my family members actually read my blog. If you are the one who forwarded the email mentioned above, know that I love you more than you can imagine, and I don't write this to mock you, but for your edification.


Dennis said...

Excellent post!

Anonymous said...

Good response Lee!
"It rains on the just and unjust alike....."