Opinion: Heavenly minded, financially empowered
October 4th, 2010
11:50 AM ET

Opinion: Heavenly minded, financially empowered

Editors note: Bishop T.D. Jakes is a best-selling author and senior pastor of a 30,000-member church, The Potter's House.

As a faith leader, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, I've always had one foot in both the practical and the spiritual worlds. Prayer is good, but you also have to be able to manage your checkbook.

As our nation went through the early stages of the recession, I can remember the rapid decline of the housing market. During the slide, I was concerned to hear voices from academia, finance and government give the lion's share of the blame to the minority consumer for defaulting on loans for homes that they could not afford.

The conversation went as far as to suggest that church pastors contributed to the housing demise because they encouraged their parishioners to purchase homes.

What we must realize is that it was not wrong for people to want a new home or car. But it was wrong for financial institutions to prey on those desires with unbalanced financial solutions.

Read the full story

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Faith • Leaders • Poverty

soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Iqbal khan

    Prayer is good when our actions are correct otherwise....check..
    Cost of War in Iraq & Afghanistan

    October 23, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  2. Nonimus

    Where do these "Bishops" get their ti.tle from?

    October 4, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
  3. Reality

    The topic is on economics so for those new members out there:

    The Economics and Sometimes Greed of Religions – 101

    The Baptizer drew crowds and charged for the "dunking". The historical Jesus saw a good thing and continued dunking and preaching the good word but added "healing" as an added charge to include free room and board. Sure was better than being a poor peasant but he got a bit too zealous and they nailed him to a tree. But still no greed there.

    Paul picked up the money scent on the road to Da-mascus. He added some letters and a prophecy of the imminent second coming for a fee for salvation and "Gentilized" the good word to the "big buck" world. i.e. Paul was the first media evangelist!!! And he and the other Apostles forgot to pay their Roman taxes and the legendary actions by the Romans made them martyrs for future greed. Paul was guilty of minor greed?

    Along comes Constantine. He saw the growing rich Christian community and recognized a new tax base so he set them "free". Major greed on his part!!

    The Holy Roman "Empirers"/Popes/Kings/Queens/Evangelists et al continued the money grab selling access to JC and heaven resulting in some of today's richest organizations on the globe i.e. the Christian churches (including the Mormon Church) and related aristocracies. Obvious greed!!!

    An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

    "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

    Judaism – Because the foundations are so mythical, it is impossible to be historical about greed in said religion. The historical King Herod and his off-springs were with the assistance of Rome, however, were a very greedy bunch.

    Hinduism and Buddhism- A Google search will take you to many instances of greed in the leadership of said religions even though like other religions greed is a major sin and disorder.

    October 4, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
    • Mike

      If Paul had all this money what did he use it for? Where did it go?

      If they were discipline by the Romans why did Paul just go to prison instead of crucified
      why did John get burned alive and exiled instead of crucified
      Why did James get thrown off the temple by Jews instead of crucified

      The only problem I have with your "historical" comments are history itself.

      October 5, 2010 at 9:14 am |
    • Reality


      Your update on the history of Paul awaits you in contemporary books such as "In Search of Paul" by Professors Crossan and Reed and "Rabbi Paul" by Professor Bruce Chilton.

      From these references:

      Paul (as was Peter) was rounded up along with many Christians in Nero's purge of the cult using the great fire of Rome as the pretext for the executions. No special death wishes granted. It was a group execution.

      With respect to Paul's "unchristian", prudish comments about women, Professor Bruce Chilton, a contemporary historic Jesus and Paul exegete says it best:

      "He (Paul) feared the turn-on of women's voices as much as the sight of their hair and skin..... At one point he even suggests that the sight of female hair might distract any angel in church attendance (1 Cor. 11:10)."

      With respect to the martyrdom of the James and John, simply legends if you dare look outside the box of the Catholic "Encyclopedia".

      October 5, 2010 at 10:21 am |
    • Mike

      Here we go again... Crossan is a fraud who has been debunked time and time again. Why would I reference his books more then I would rely on OJ for given details of who the real killer is?

      Cor 1:10 iy was a phrase that they Corithians could understand.. to long to explain here but luckily for you you have google to easily pull up 15 commentaries that none of them mention the above.

      If Paul was "feared the turn-on of women's voices" explain Showing results for priscilla and aquila. Search instead for Priscilla and Aquila and all of the women Paul mention at the end of his letters?

      Luckily I have this now saved for you.

      Scholars and secular people on Crossan (since we are using wikipedia)

      Luke Timothy Johnson[28] of the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, in his 1996 book The Real Jesus, voiced concerns with the seminar's work. He criticized the techniques of the Seminar, believing them to be far more limited for historical reconstruction than seminar members believe. Their conclusions were "already determined ahead of time," Johnson says, which "is not responsible, or even critical scholarship. It is a self-indulgent charade."

      Dale Allison of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, in his 1999 book Jesus of Nazareth: Millenarian Prophet, cited what he felt were problems with the work of (particularly) John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg, arguing that their conclusions were at least in part predetermined by their theological positions. He also pointed out the limitations of their presumptions and methodology. Allison argued that despite the conclusions of the seminar, Jesus was a prophetic figure focused to a large extent on apocalyptic thinking.[13]

      Daniel L. Akin, writing in the Journal of the Southern Baptist Convention, called the work of the Jesus Seminar "destructive criticism".[29] Craig Blomberg notes that if the Jesus Seminar’s findings are to be believed then “it requires the assumption that someone, about a generation removed from the events in question, radically transformed the authentic information about Jesus that was circulating at that time, superimposed a body of material four times as large, fabricated almost entirely out of whole cloth, while the church suffered sufficient collective amnesia to accept the transformation as legitimate.”

      John P. Meier points out that in the past the quest for the historical Jesus has often been motivated more by a desire to produce an alternate christology than a true historical search; as an example, he points out that the stated motivation of one of the Jesus Seminar members was to overthrow the "mistake called Christianity."[20]

      Scholars who have expressed concerns with the work of the Jesus Seminar include Richard Hays,[14] Birger A. Pearson,[15] Ben Witherington,[16] Gregory A. Boyd,[17] N.T. Wright,[18] William Lane Craig,[19] Craig A. Evans,[20] Craig Blomberg,[12] Darrell Bock,[12] and Edwin Yamauchi.[12

      The Seminar places much value on the criterion of dissimilarity. For the Seminar, a saying will only be held as authentic if it does not match the beliefs of Judaism or those held by the early Christians.[22] Critics such as Gregory Boyd have noted that the effect of this is that the Jesus of the Seminar shows no continuity with his Jewish context nor his disciples.[23] J. Ed Komoszewski and co-authors state that the Jesus Seminar's "Criteria for In/Authenticity" create "an eccentric Jesus who learned nothing from his own culture and made no impact on his followers".[24] Others ask rhetorically, "why would such a Jesus be crucified?"[25] The same criticism has been made by Craig Evans.[20]

      The voting system has been criticized by, among others, NT Wright, who says '... I cannot understand how, if a majority ... thought a saying authentic or probably authentic, the "weighted average" turned out to be "probably inauthentic

      October 5, 2010 at 1:06 pm |
    • Reality


      One more time. Wikipedia is only a backup source of information. Remember contemporary historians to include Professors Crossan, Reed, Borg, Fredriksen, Wright, Brown et al use critical search methods when determining what really happened for example in first century AD/CE i.e. are there any eye-witness accounts, the time and location of the account, the archeological records and are there attestations of said accounts. To do this, they read and exhaustively an-alyze texts from the time period/location and all the archeology/anthropology from the same time period/location.

      Once again, just some of the texts reveiwed and exhaustively analyzed by the likes of Professors Crossan, Reed, Borg, Fredriksen, Wright, Brown et al and the conclusions thereof:

      . Historical Jesus Theories, earlychristianwritings.com/theories.htm – the names of many of the contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the ti-tles of their over 100 books on the subject.

      2. Early Christian Writings, earlychristianwritings.com/
      – a list of early Christian doc-uments to include the year of publication–

      30-60 CE Passion Narrative
      40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q
      50-60 1 Thessalonians
      50-60 Philippians
      50-60 Galatians
      50-60 1 Corinthians
      50-60 2 Corinthians
      50-60 Romans
      50-60 Philemon
      50-80 Colossians
      50-90 Signs Gospel
      50-95 Book of Hebrews
      50-120 Didache
      50-140 Gospel of Thomas
      50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel
      50-200 Sophia of Jesus Christ
      65-80 Gospel of Mark
      70-100 Epistle of James
      70-120 Egerton Gospel
      70-160 Gospel of Peter
      70-160 Secret Mark
      70-200 Fayyum Fragment
      70-200 Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
      73-200 Mara Bar Serapion
      80-100 2 Thessalonians
      80-100 Ephesians
      80-100 Gospel of Matthew
      80-110 1 Peter
      80-120 Epistle of Barnabas
      80-130 Gospel of Luke
      80-130 Acts of the Apostles
      80-140 1 Clement
      80-150 Gospel of the Egyptians
      80-150 Gospel of the Hebrews
      80-250 Christian Sibyllines
      90-95 Apocalypse of John
      90-120 Gospel of John
      90-120 1 John
      90-120 2 John
      90-120 3 John
      90-120 Epistle of Jude
      93 Flavius Josephus
      100-150 1 Timothy
      100-150 2 Timothy
      100-150 T-itus
      100-150 Apocalypse of Peter
      100-150 Secret Book of James
      100-150 Preaching of Peter
      100-160 Gospel of the Ebionites
      100-160 Gospel of the Nazoreans
      100-160 Shepherd of Hermas
      100-160 2 Peter

      3. Historical Jesus Studies, faithfutures.org/HJstudies.html,
      – "an extensive and constantly expanding literature on historical research into the person and cultural context of Jesus of Nazareth"

      4. Jesus Database, faithfutures.org/JDB/intro.html–"The JESUS DATABASE is an online annotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings of Jesus that have survived from the first three centuries of the Common Era. It includes both canonical and extra-canonical materials, and is not limited to the traditions found within the Christian New Testament."

      5. Josephus on Jesus mtio.com/articles/bissar24.htm

      6. The Jesus Seminar, mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/seminar.html#Criteria

      7. Writing the New Testament- mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/testament.html

      8. Health and Healing in the Land of Israel By Joe Zias

      9. Economics in First Century Palestine, K.C. Hanson and D. E. Oakman, Palestine in the Time of Jesus, Fortress Press, 1998.

      10. 7. The Gnostic Jesus
      (Part One in a Two-Part Series on Ancient and Modern Gnosticism)
      by Douglas Groothuis: equip.org/free/DG040-1.htm

      11. The interpretation of the Bible in the Church, Pontifical Biblical Commission
      Presented on March 18, 1994

      12. The Jesus Database- newer site:

      13. Jesus Database with the example of Supper and Eucharist:

      14. Josephus on Jesus by Paul Maier:

      15. The Journal of Higher Criticism with links to articles on the Historical Jesus:

      16. The Greek New Testament: laparola.net/greco/

      17. Diseases in the Bible:

      18. Religion on Line (6000 articles on the history of religion, churches, theologies,
      theologians, ethics, etc.

      19. The Jesus Seminarians and their search for NT authenticity:

      20. The New Testament Gateway – Internet NT ntgateway.com/

      21. Writing the New Testament- existing copies, oral tradition etc.

      22. The Search for the Historic Jesus by the Jesus Seminarians:

      23. Jesus Decoded by Msgr. Francis J. Maniscalco (Da Vinci Code review)jesusdecoded.com/introduction.php

      24. JD Crossan's scriptural references for his book the Historical Jesus separated into time periods: faithfutures.org/Jesus/Crossan1.rtf

      25. JD Crossan's conclusions about the authencity of most of the NT based on the above plus the conclusions of other NT exegetes in the last 200 years:


      26. Common Sayings from Thomas's Gospel and the Q Gospel: faithfutures.org/Jesus/Crossan3.rtf

      27. Early Jewish Writings- Josephus and his books by t-itle with the complete translated work in English :earlyjewishwritings.com/josephus.html

      28. Luke and Josephus- was there a connection?

      29. NT and beyond time line:

      30. St. Paul's Time line with discussion of important events:

      31. See http://www.amazon.com for a list of JD Crossan's books and those of the other Jesus Seminarians: Reviews of said books are included and selected pages can now be viewed on Amazon. Some books can be found on-line at Google Books.

      32. Father Edward Schillebeeckx's words of wisdom as found in his books.

      33. The books of the following : Professors Marcus Borg, Paula Fredriksen, Elaine Pagels, Karen Armstrong and Bishop NT Wright.

      34. Father Raymond Brown's An Introduction to the New Testament, Doubleday, NY, 1977, 878 pages, with Nihil obstat and Imprimatur.

      35. Luke Timothy Johnson's book The Real Jesus

      October 5, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
  4. Selfish Gene

    No, I blame people for spending more than they make. Pretty simple. The fact that a banker tried to push an 80/20 loan with a balloon payment on me not withstanding. I looked at my earnings, figured what I could afford, and purchased accordingly.
    Personal responsibility. What a concept.

    October 4, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
  5. JohnQuest

    Isn't this rather self serving, the more money the parishioner makes, the more money they are likely to give to the Church, the more money the pastor makes?

    Just an observation.

    October 4, 2010 at 3:04 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "The profession of shaman has many advantages. It offers high status with a safe livelihood free of work in the dreary, sweaty sense. In most societies it offers legal privileges and immunities not granted to other men. But it is hard to see how a man who has been given a mandate from on High to spread tidings of joy to all mankind can be seriously interested in taking up a collection to pay his salary; it causes one to suspect that the shaman is on the moral level of any other con man. But it is a lovely work if you can stomach it."
      [Lazarus Long, _Time enough for Love_, by Robert Heinlein]

      October 4, 2010 at 3:16 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Doc Vestibule, thanks, you made my point eloquently.

      October 4, 2010 at 3:18 pm |
    • NL

      Christians are fond of circular thinking. This is like how they know the Bible is true because, well, the Bible tells them that it is, which is how they know that the Bible is true, and they know this because ...

      October 4, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
    • Mike

      When you are arguing for the authority for any system (empiricism, rationalism, Marxism, etc) of thinking you cannot get around circular argument with presuppositions.
      Christians – God exists
      Rationalist- Who reason is the final authority can only prove the primacy of rationalist using an appeal to reasonable argument.
      empiricism – who believes only in experience and senses can only make an appeal to some type of sense experience
      So the secular critic is just like the Christian in defending authority.
      Paraphrasing John Frame The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God

      October 4, 2010 at 4:08 pm |
    • NL

      You said "So the secular critic is just like the Christian in defending authority." Ah, but Christians do not rely on God as being the authority for everything in their lives. They rely on the authority of reason most of the time. They rely on it when deciding on which home to buy, on what to have for lunch, which stocks to buy, what medical treatments to get, and so on. In most aspects of their lives they rely on the authority of reason to guide their decision making and would be highly skeptical of extraordinary claims made without evidence.

      Christians can be highly skeptical of things like UFOs, ghosts, unicorns, and reincarnation. However, they make a special exception when it comes to God. The secular thinker then criticizes the Christian only for making this obvious exception to their usually logical thinking. Why act rationally only some of the time, and why be skeptical of other supernatural or extraordinary claims while expecting others to automatically accept your own?

      October 4, 2010 at 11:33 pm |
    • Mike

      That is an incorrect defination
      A Christian does see God as being the authority for everything. A Christian does recognize that they can not keep the law and need a savior of Christ to restore them to God. A Christian does see God and His word as the ultimate authority and inerrant.

      Now the question is, does everyone that states they are Christian, a Christian?

      If I said I am police officer, would you not take my claim and compare it to the definition of the job and ti-tle ?

      October 5, 2010 at 9:09 am |
    • NL

      Is a Christian not a Christian if they are skeptical about some things and use their intellect to judge what is best for them when the Bible does not hold the answer? Is God an authority on mortgage rates and prostate cancer? No, then the Christian defers to the authority of the economist and the medical researcher, not the Bible. Even the biggest 'C' Christians out there make dozens of choices like this, choices outside of the authority of the Bible, every day. In other words, they act rationally when it suits them; when the Bible does not have the answer.

      If you were a police officer would you act according to the authority of the Bible, or the authority of the criminal code? You might believe in the Bible's authority, but you know that you will lose your job if you started throwing rocks at perps, right? So, how can a Christian also be a police officer knowing that they will have to enforce laws that they do not agree with?

      October 5, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
    • Mike

      Is God an authority on mortgage rates and prostate cancer? You answered no but the answer is Yes, he is there are clear directions on handling finances, seeking wise counsel and praying for when we need direction
      Would not throw rocks at anyone. If they do not agree with the laws then do not be in that line of employment otherwise Romans 13

      October 5, 2010 at 12:53 pm |
    • peace2all


      Oh my....I truly do not understand how you can say what you say and believe what you believe, especially having your belief's as facts..?

      I am still trying to get over your attempt to use the 'grocery store' story.... Wow..

      However, I do have a program in me that basically says.... sometimes we can learn the most from someone that has polar opposite thinking. So... I am trying to understand you... really I am. Whether it matters to you or not, it does matter to me.

      I do wish you peace...

      October 5, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
    • NL

      How is God an authority on mortgage rates and prostate cancer? The Bible has information on this, or are you copping out and saying that prayer will guide you to the right experts in these fields? Well, plenty of praying Christians still end up trusting their money to poor financial advisors, or their health to miraculous cures that did not materialize. Perhaps the time they spend on prayer could have been put to better use in utilizing their (God-given?) intelligence to make better informed choices, eh?

      October 5, 2010 at 11:49 pm |
    • Mike

      Peace , what was the Grocery story again?

      Was it the bartering example... Again something that has been accepted for ages but one day you come across someone who does not agree so now you are faced with a decision, do I A) let said person go on not believing in math and keep my math belief to myself or B) tell the person about the great revelation of Math attempt to explain the good news to them, thus "pushing my belief on to them" which then negates the entire original comment of keep your beliefs to your self

      October 7, 2010 at 12:59 pm |
    • Mike

      The God of all creation is and has to be the authority over all creation

      Job 38

      October 7, 2010 at 1:03 pm |
    • peace2all


      You are still, even having read your attempt at an analogy again with 'math' and accepted "tangible' factual monetary exchange practices vs. unproven faith based on an unproven unseen no.... evidence of god.

      Maybe it's me... and i am just not getting it. Please keep trying... I really do want to see it through your eyes...


      October 8, 2010 at 1:22 am |
  6. JohnQuest

    peace2all, I agree, I would be very surprised if those same religious leaders believe the garbage they are selling.

    October 4, 2010 at 1:39 pm |
  7. peace2all

    Surely there are currently and have been some dastardly and heinous predatory financial inst-i-tutions. We are all aware of that.

    But, I would assert that quite often religious insti-tutions of all religions have and currently do engage in similar predatory acts.

    What is one's (roi) 'return on investment' in the multi-tude of cases where families have given more than they can afford to their respective religious int-i-tutions.....?

    A free pass to 'paradise'... 'heaven'....?

    I believe that 'some' of these religious leaders are some of the biggest con-artists that have ever lived.


    October 4, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
  8. Frank

    Doesn't Jakes teach that 'prosperity doctrine' heresy? If so, he and his ilk have their share of the blame for the economic mess we are in.

    October 4, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
  9. Doc Vestibule

    "...it was not wrong for people to want a new home or car. But it was wrong for financial inst-itutions to prey on those desires..."
    Just as it is not wrong for people to seek answers to ultimate questions of life, the universe and everything. But it is wrong from religious inst-itutions to prey on those desires.
    Organized religion's invariant overriding goal is to benefit the shamans.

    October 4, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.