The intuitive plausibility of commercializing faith and the exclusive mutuality with which the Church and the doctrines of trade and commerce have carried on so far calls for immediate interventional discourse as the thin line between the Church and the world gets thinner.
The simple principle by which commerce works everywhere is hinged on what is called “Exclusive Value”.
This principle in simple term describes the perceived worth of goods and services within the users world or “customers” in relationship with the seller’s price tag to meet the ascribed value. It works in tandem with the customer’s psychic space or domain.
A very good example will be the popular LCD TV, which ousted the CRT TV.
The first series came out in 1998 for $15,000 each and became very popular by 2005 thereabout still being sold for about $5,000. Now the same LCD TV is now selling for few hundreds of dollars in the market, and trust me the manufacturers are still maintaining some profit margin.
Why did some people pay $15,000 or $5,000 for that product you may ask in retrospection? The answer is the psychic domain of consumers’ value or worth attached to the good.
Consumers essentially pay the price of the value or worth they attach to a product.
That becomes the crux of my piece today.
If you bring the doctrines of Commerce and the implied value-price system into how our faith houses are operated and the manner the “Church” goes about the business of faith then you will be convinced that what we have now is commercial franchising of the an exclusive article we did not manufacture.
We never manufactured faith or religion in itself in the first place, so why do we sell it and much more merchandise the gospel on the excuse of salvation of souls? It will not be extreme in my reasoning to charge some people for Plagiarism.
The dictionaries commonly define Plagiarism as wrongful appropriation, close imitation or purloining and publication of another author’s language, thoughts, ideas or expressions, and the representation of such as one’s original work. I will resist dwelling on this because of the attendant problems of nebulous boundaries.
Two of America’s biggest TV Preachers in the last few years had made comments about their “big business markets” that keeps giving. T.D Jakes said “the increasing size of our markets call for the participation of so many players to deliver products that are well demanded for”.
He went further to say “the markets are very ripe and the supply for the needs of the people is paramount in a preachers mind” He is very right. Joel Osteen who had sold more merchandise than any Preacher ever said, “I simply supply what is demanded in simple methods and ways”. These guys are laughing to the banks on daily basis.
They sell books, tapes, CD’s video coverage, paraphernalia, and own Media empires within the scope of “reaching the lost world”.
In Africa, especially Nigeria, the major Preachers now own a substantial percentage of Real Estate, Media houses, Publishing empires, and the recent vogue is to own universities that are not only exorbitant but also discriminatory in its admission policies.
A very prominent one among them said recently that he has worked tirelessly over the years to put in place structures for financial prosperity beyond his immediate generation.
Will it be wrong for anybody in whatever profession to build business empire for financial gain? The answer is NO. What is wrong here is not a desire to build wealth but the cover up that such “businesses” provide for their lifestyle is preposterous.
Their high flying lifestyle and their rapacious predatory subterfuge does not tally with the figures that can be attributable to the business they claim. The big perfidy and the pietistic public exhibition of their persons has become a big business, and the exclusive value placed on it by the gullible and unsuspecting masses jack up the price of their lies and deceit. It is unfortunate how much we pay for lies! Let me avoid this digression at this point.
When Jesus Christ was on this earth, everything that came out of his mouth was not only original but also eternal in its value. The Pharisees and Sadducees, two blocks of religious literates, had never had it said anywhere. What they have misread in the scriptures was openly made clear and unambiguous. It was a new day and a new revelation of God in its motive and intent for mankind.
However, what we spend so much money on in the name of tapes, CDs, VCDs, books and others are paraphrased editions of the original author.
How I wish people would read the original word by themselves to be free from the dissonance of predators. No wonder the few who have taken the challenge to understudy the master through His words have little library of earthly books that represent God from the perspective of wrong motives and error of emphasis.
Do I disagree with writing and selling of books or am I suggesting that people should not read books on their religion? NO. I am only advising that so many items that are being sold to them in duplicates, triplicates and quadruplicates should raise a question on logicality.
Why would you hear the same word in church service, then buy the CD and VCD and later sold the book and much later watch the drama sold and later buy the workbook. In this scenario, you have paid six times for the same item without knowing.
How many of us would love to have six of the same product at the same time at a price that is over-bloated and exploitative? If no, then there is a force that propels or intimidates you to do such outside of your discretion.
The issue I am raising here is motive versus discretion – the motive behind the product and the discretion behind the purchase.
Most of the Christians I know have an average of ten books or CD’s per same title or discourse. Some have tens of books on financial empowerment all in different catchy titles but conclusively teaching the same thing, but unfortunately wrong messages of inspiration.
Many of my people take pride in the array of materials in their possession from certain Preachers, but they never boast of understanding of scriptures.
What could be the motive behind the bulk of merchandise that is displayed in our Church’s bookstore by our “father in the Lord” except greed? Materials are recycled more than 5 times over under different names, and newer editions of same every year, what else could be behind that other than avarice? Doesn’t their lifestyle and cupid presence with its externalities drive the point home? Go to their several mansions and guesthouses to see what is driving them.
Take a look at their arrays of automobiles, a look at their businesses, a look at the sole control of the ministry, the other empires of wealth to approve my contention.
A Pastor I know who has been preaching Christ for over 30 years never sold an article of his messages ever. He believed it is not his original work and should not be sold because then salvation will not be free but selective to those who can afford it.
Messages preached are recorded and given to those who will like to hear it again for free. CDs and others are sent to people who request for it without charging the people for it.
He has partners who are willing to support such ministry and they give selflessly for that. One of his tutored ministers who separated from him 7 years ago is now living big with the big boys. He sells everything including prayers and anointing.
The above Pastor is a typical example of how ministers should use offerings and other contributions for the pursuit of salvation and well being of the people.
Remember what Jesus did with the multitude that buys and sells in the Temple in His days on earth. He drove them all out, but with another touch that never was seen with Him, they were flogged out, thoroughly beaten with a whip of cords (koboko).
Look back at the articles these guys were selling and you will realize it was not electronics or cars; it was all temple usable materials.
The animals are needed for sacrifice, the coins are needed for temple taxes and the doves, an emblem of the Holy Spirit, were sold at very exorbitant prices. Jesus drove them out anyway even with the fact that the articles are relevant but the motive of profiteering in devotion was wrong. Was Jesus interested in the physical building, as some people will like to believe? No! Twice He had to do it because it is a wrong practice and an abuse of the privilege of faith.
My appeal here is for us all to use the power of reasoning and understanding in our discretion at patronizing the commerciality of our faith in the hands of those who are infernally committed to profiteering at the expense of the unsuspecting.
This is what I am convinced of, that many of us will be guilty as accomplice in destroying other people’s lives.
What do I mean? We are the ones who put overrated value at the articles of their merchandise, we are the one that pays heavily for their lifestyles, we are the ones that encourage them into heresies of conduct and finally carve a niche for their vainglory.
May be these Hirelings are victims of our distorted value system in Christianity?
Olumide Goodness Adeyinka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org