FAITH PROMISE GIVING
Faith Promise was a fund raising invention of Oswald J. Smith in Toronto long ago. He was a Canadian pastor and evangelist who enthusiastically supported world missions. He pastored congregations in Chicago, Los Angeles and Toronto. He is best known as the founding pastor of The Peoples Church, a large congregation in greater Toronto.
His vision there was to raise up a church that would have as its primary core value, the spreading of the news of the gospel around the world. Nothing is wrong with seeking to support missions.
I am told he had a huge cash register, and he would have someone ring up the pledges as they came in. His church was exalted for having an enormous missions budget, and this fact was said to justify the Faith Promise giving plan.
No one ever went to the Word of God to examine the forward look in giving. So, we will do that just now. Oswald J. Smith's greatest offense was that he developed a giving machine which spread around the world like a Satanic virus, a plan which could NOT be justified by the Word of God. Hubris and vain glory was the driving force of Faith Promise from day one. Faith Promise, aside from being a violation of direct biblical teaching, promotes in many pastors a tragic boasting and self-exaltation.
Let us see what the Apostle Paul taught about giving in the Lord's Church:
Corinthians 8:11 Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness
to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.
12 For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.
Verse 11- Paul teaches us to give out of what you HAVE, not what you imagine you will have. Faith Promise is a crap shoot-- it is the device of evil preachers who need another tool to put the sheep in bondage.
What follows the bondage of the pledge, the vow, is this:
Psalms 50:14 Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:
Psalms 116:18 I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people,
Verse 12- A willing mind in Faith Promise extortion is defined as a willingness to sell ones destiny to a fat faced greedy preacher, not the will of God. No man knows what the blessing of the coming year will be. It may be "deep poverty" in Macedonia (same chapter), or it may be such severe poverty in Jerusalem that you are on the receiving end. One of the hallmarks of Faith Promise is that it is promoted in churches where the preacher takes little of no interest in the poverty of the people in front of him. Everyone is defined as a giver, and a receiver is in Bangladesh as a missionary, or the receiver is the blimp preacher. His reward for serving up the insipid pabulum he offers every Sunday is to have more than anyone else in the assembly. His notion of "double honor" is spelled out in Big Macs and his big belly. These boys are mean as second skimmings.
Here is the other standard Paul gives which is precisely the same doctrine, only in another setting:
1 Corinthians 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the
saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.
2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
"...as God hath prospered HIM" This implies it is none of the preacher's or elders' damned business. Every man looks back over the week and decides what he wants to give based on what God gave him. This is NOT legal tithing. This is the liberty of Christian responsibility. Paul is not soliciting, he is letting the saints decide what is their "reasonable service" to God the Holy Ghost.
All Paul gives in admonition is this:
2 Corinthians 9:6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly
shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
G4255 proaireomai (1) proaireomai pro-ahee-reh'-om-ahee from 4253 and 138; to choose for oneself before another thing (prefer), i.e. (by implication) to propose (intend):--purpose.
A giver is not cheerful who is coerced by Faith Promise-- he is made to feel pressure of the other saints who are making their pledge, sometimes before all saints. The giver is not invited to "purpose," which means to take stock of what he has in hand. Rather, he is invited to feel guilt if he does not gamble and go beyond reason in his pledge.
Nowhere in the Word of God, Old Testament or New Testament, are givers invited to gamble on the future. Even tithing was based on the abundance of the harvest THIS LAST YEAR, not next year.
3:9 Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine
10 So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.
Matthew 5:42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
3:10 And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then?
11 He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.
Perhaps what Jesus meant is to pledge to give the cold brother a coat in six months, not right now. That would be the Faith Promise plan.
Ephesians 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
You work, and then you give out of the proceeds of your labor.
John 3:17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and
shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in
18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
You cannot "see" the need of the brother in six months. You see today, and you give today, as you determine in your own heart. The whole issue here is this-- Does any church leader, especially a pastor who is NEVER told to raise funds in the Bible, called to promote more giving? No Bible text supports that notion. Paul did not tell anyone he discipled how to raise funds and gather the cash in for bigger and better anything.
Paul never taught giving if he was the recipient. Paul never asked for giving for his own belly. In this Paul was entirely unlike the modern horse leech who finds so many clever spiritual scams to satisfy his own gluttony. And, even the alleged zeal for missions is seldom based in the love of the preaching of the Gospel-- it is based in a lust to build a fantastic resume so that the next church the guru cons into hireling him will be a really big one.
The fund raising talents of a jack boot go hand in hand with his ability to fill busses with a zillion brats and turn the Lord's assembly into a day care center on Sunday morning. It is all about fame and the hubris of being the key note speaker at the next preacher's camp meeting. He will wow them with his sheep fleecing skills.
I know whereof I speak. I fleeced the sheep to the skin once. I was in Bible college long ago, and being a missionary's kid, I was thought to be some sort of expert in matters on missions. Missionaries' kids tell their stories in the cafeteria, and they may become rather vain about their heritage in Bangladesh or Bolivia, or in my case, in Kenya.
I generally despised the MKs who made use of their heritage to become the center of attention, but one year, during the annual missions conference at BIOLA, my old nature prevailed. There was always a rather challenging giving project presented during the missions conference, and that year it was a Cessna for Missionary Aviation Fellowship.
The Cessna was parked on the quad in front of the school. I guess they brought it in on a truck and maybe even had to remove the wings and then assemble the thing to do it. Missionary Aviation Fellowship needed the plane badly in South America. I had seen MAF at work in Africa helping missionaries get in to areas where roads were almost nonexistent, and I knew they regularly saved lives in medical emergencies, both of the missionary and national Christians.
So, the giving was not coming in too well during the first two days of the missions conference. These were poor college students, and they were being invited to buy a Cessna in two weeks for MAF. The call went out to Steve Van Nattan, resident expert cum hair raising tales, from Africa. And, I rose to the occasion. I gave only one offertory, and Roy McKeuen of Youth For Christ could not have done it better.
I described the missionaries spending weeks stuck in the mud trying to get to some native church, of missionaries dying of malaria because they could not get the drugs in time, or the plane circling and dropping life saving supplies, and of the heroes of MAF who risked their lives diving down on the jungle, pulling up, and almost setting the plane on a postage stamp. And, neighbor, it was all true. I had been there, and I had listened to the drama on the radio net every morning in Africa.
It worked, the kids shelled out in spite of their poverty, and the Cessna was paid for by the end of the missions conference. What a buzz I got later when the bishop in charge of the conference told me that my offertory made the difference.
Now, here is the ugly truth-- it was all in the flesh. I did not pray about it, and I did not give a nickel when the offering plate went by. I had the notion that my part was to fleece the sheep, and that I had done God such generous service with my yarns and blather that I did not need to give out of my own blessings.
[ Let us not assume the MAF is guilty in this process. They do render a great service to missionaries all over the world in jungle and isolated areas. ]
Faith Promise is all about preachers who want to fleece sheep, and it is well known that preachers are often the worst givers in the assembly.
Matthew 6:1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
41:1 Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time
2 The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies.
Proverbs 14:21 He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he.
You cannot consider the poor with a pledge. The poor crop up day after day, and the response cannot be budgeted or planned.
3:2 And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid
daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them
that entered into the temple;
3 Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.
4 And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.
5 And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.
6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.
Peter would be judged harshly by modern jack boot preachers. No silver or gold Peter? Really, you could give something. How about going fishing and sell fish and give the beggar something? Ironically, we see here that there is more to giving than cash. But, in Faith Promise giving I have yet to hear of a preacher asking for pledges of pies and cookies to widows and widowers. Hmmmmmmmmm
Timothy 6:17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded,
nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all
things to enjoy;
18 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;
To whom? When? Ready and willing implies the attitude is there, but the giving situations present themselves along the way. What a fool a Christian would be if he stood in the assembly and said, "I pledge, by faith, to help ten beggars next week." And so it is with Faith Promise-- only a blithering idiot would make such a show of his fool self in the assembly of the saints.
HERE IS TOTALLY UNBIBLICAL BLATHER
"A faith-promise offering is money that God will give through you, which, He might never give to you, if He saw He could not trust you to pass it on to others."