There are various renditions of the fairy tale Stone Soup. This is the way my great grandmother told it to me. A vagrant shows up at a widow’s home, asking for food. She says that she has none. He tells her that he can produce the most delicious soup, from a magical stone.
The widow allows the stranger into her home.. He convinces her to heat water in a pot. The man drops the stone in. As the water begins to boil, he mention various vegetables, that would improve the soup’s taste. As he names them; onions, carrots radishes, peas, corn etc., the woman unwittingly produces the items from her cupboard.
One by one the widow adds them the ingredients to the pot. Soon the couple enjoy a tasty meal. After the traveler leaves, the widow tells her friends how she made a delicious soup from a rock. She is oblivious to the fact that she had eaten plain old fashioned vegetable soup. And the ingredients came from her own kitchen.
The prosperity gospel message works on the same principle. Preachers extract money from church folk in various ways, and then say they are rich because of a blessing from the Lord.
I was in a church where the pastor told us that God wanted us all rich, but he, our leader had to get his first. While we all waited on a supernatural blessing, our pastor was setting his own blessing in motion.
We were taught to tithe,(give 10% of our income to the church). And told,that God could not bless us if we did not give our 10%. As an incentive, a rule was put in place where those in church leadership positions could be sat down if they did not tithe.
Within the year we were taught that we must tithe on our gross income and not the net. We then were told the importance of giving offerings. And told that our offering should be equal to our tithe or greater. Super Sunday was the next con put into effect. Every other month we were asked to bring an offering that was above our tithes and regular month;y offerings.
Also five times a year we were expected to give big money to our pastor. We gave to him in March for Founders Day, and June for Fathers Day because he was our spiritual father. In October we were told to give to him for clergy/pastor appreciation day.
Each November a preacher came and asked members to give as much as $1,000 each for the pastor’s birthday. In December we were told to remember him at Christmas. As much as $20,000 was raised in any one of these services. It went on for 10 years until the pastor died. (He was also receiving a monthly salary).
In this church we were encouraged to sow a seed of money at the altar, while ministers were preaching. I assumed that whomever was preaching that day received the cash, but I was wrong. When my son did his trial sermon, I saw people lay what I perceived to be several hundred dollars on the altar.
I was surprised when my son said he only received 2 checks that had been written out to him. I inquired of the church office, and was told that all cash at the altar went to the pastor, to be used at his discretion.
One Sunday the pastor read from the Old testament where a first fruit offering was given to the priests. We were told that whenever we received a raise on our job, that we must bring the first week, or months salary to church and give it to the pastor.
In the Old Testament the Israelites took care of the priests basic needs so the priests could take care of the house of the Lord. A pastor in our modern times is not a Levitical priest. And if he or she gets a salary, the members are taking care of him. And first fruits are not a necessity.
Take away Super Sunday, first fruits, the money at the altar, plus the thousands that were asked for specifically throughout the year. I realized if the pastor lived only on his salary, there is no way he would have had the same lifestyle. Also had members not been told to tithe on gross income and give an offering greater than the tithe, there is no doubt the church finances would have been much less.
Systematically, the man in Stone Soup named one vegetable after another, thus adding ingredients and flavor to the soup. Likewise, in prosperity churches, numerous methods are added over time so that money in the pastor’s pockets is increased.
The widow in Stone Soup thought a magic rock made the meal, when it came out of her own cupboard. Those who attend prosperity churches, believe God is blessing their pastor, when the money comes from their own pockets. And even when this scam is exposed, people ignore truth and continue to throw their money away.