Mrs. Longenecker’s Lamborghini

The local prosperity pastor here in Greenville has a church called “Relentless”

That’s pretty cool. Sounds like either a rock band or one of those gritty Netflix TV series.

Pastor John Gray gave his wife a $200,000 Lamborghini for their anniversary.

You can read about it here. When Mrs Longenecker saw the headline “Greenville Pastor Gives Wife $200,000 Lamborghini” she ran down to check our garage.

Seriously– she wouldn’t be caught dead in a Lamborghini–not even a Lamborghini hearse.

The debate flared up of course. The pastor was attacked for such profligacy. He argued that the super car wasn’t for him. It was a gift and people should mind their own business. Mrs Gray jumped into the fray pointing out that hubby is a hard worker and has earned every penny and that he is super generous to those in need.

At least Pastor Gray collected the cash honestly. That’s more than we can say about the two Catholic nuns who allegedly embezzled half a million dollars and went on spending sprees to Las Vegas.

Catholic priests are supposed, by canon law, to live in “apostolic simplicity” but what does that mean? I’m reminded of G.K.Chesterton’s quip that “a man who eats caviar because he likes it is closer to simplicity than a man who eats grape nuts on principle.” Applied to motor cars you could say, “A man who drives a Lamborghini because he likes it is closer to simplicity than a man who drives an old Fiat on principle.”

I don’t know if Pastor Gray preaches the “prosperity gospel” or not. It’s fashionable and snobbish to look down one’s Pharisaical nose at prosperity preachers, and I know their theology is sub-orthodox, but they do have a point, and that is, if you live the gospel faithfully, you will end up being prosperous.

Here’s what I mean: First of all you have to define “prosperous”. I don’t mean by this word that you will be financially loaded. I mean you will have a blessed and abundant life. That might include financial well being, but not necessarily.

If you think about it, following the gospel will make you prosperous, and some of that abundant life will end up having a financial dimension. If you have faith you will also have a more positive outlook on life. If you have faith you believe things will work out. If you practice your faith you will have a positive self image and therefore you are more likely to succeed in whatever you set out to do, and by “success” I mean first of all, you will be happy and gratified doing what you do.

Furthermore, if you are religious you will develop at least a little self discipline and self criticism. That is part of what it means to repent. People with self discipline and who are self critical are more responsive and more likely to get good jobs and be higher earners or at least to step into rewarding and satisfying jobs.

It gets better: if you are a follower of Jesus Christ you will have values that are not materialistic. That means you will buy what you need and don’t care so much about all the flashy trash that is so expensive and people only buy to make themselves feel better or to impress other people. Believers should get to the point where they live simply. This means they are less likely to be in debt and more likely to save. People who are not in debt and save, end up being more prosperous.

If you follow your Christian faith you should give generously. When you give generously to charities and church your attitude to money changes.  You set better priorities and if your giving pincyes your budget a little, then that might make you work harder, save more and end up being more prosperous.

Finally,  if you belong to a church you are more likely to be making good friends and contact with other people who are also on the path to an abundant life. In other words, you’ll be mixing with other people who have purpose, who have drive, who have solutions to problems and who are building positive lives and careers.

I therefore don’t write off the prosperity preachers completely. I disagree with the extremes of their message, their tendency towards spiritual blackmail and their own extravagant lifestyles.

I criticize the extravagance because not because there is anything wrong with material goods, but because it is a gospel principle to help the poor–and giving money to the poor is not the only way we help them. We also help them by living more simply. Material possessions are not bad in and of themselves. It is our attachment to them which makes them an idol. That is why we should always be examining not only what we have, but how much we love those material things.

This means a simpler life is better.

We should have what we need and be satisfied with that.

That’s why I told Mrs Longenecker she didn’t need a Lamborghini…

…she would just have to be satisfied with the new Ferrari I bought her for Christmas.

2018-12-19T10:09:05+00:00December 19th, 2018|Categories: Blog|5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. THIERRY WERSINGER December 19, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    As long as they are on Michelin I will not canxel my subscription

  2. Laurence McClelland December 19, 2018 at 10:21 pm

    Had you grown up Catholic in the North East many years in a working class or middle class parish you might have memories of a Pastor telling the Parish he needed a new car and naming the make and model or twisting the arm of some car dealer until the dealer held out a set of keys. The topic of what Priest drove came up more than once in my early years. Seems as though when the salaries of Priest rose the expectation became to pay for their own cars.

  3. Martha Darling December 20, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    Where on earth does Pastor Gray get that kind of money?! Is that all from his congregation’s donations?

  4. Christopher Range December 20, 2018 at 4:43 pm

    There have been a few saints here or there who were wealthy, but what distinguished them as saints was that they did not have a disordered attachment to money and their first love to God was clear. I’ve been fascinated for a few years by the story of Saint James Intercisus (James the Mutilated). For years he served in the court of a Persian king who was a fire worshipper. His family was very wealthy because of James’s position in the government. When the old king died, his son took power and was not tolerant of Christians. James was tempted to give in to the new king’s demands to worship in a pagan temple. His faithful wife and mother wrote him a beautiful letter of rebuke in which they made clear their first commitment to God. “Wretch!” they addressed him. “It behooves us not to have any communication with one who has abandoned God to please men, and to secure to himself the perishable things of this life, which will cause him to perish everlastingly.” Receiving this letter from his wife and mother, Saint James Intercisus entered into his repentance through martyrdom, allowing himself to be chopped slowly to bits rather than renounce God for the sake of worldly position and wealth.

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