Friday, 13 August 2010

Controversies of Organised Religion: The 'pass it on for a blessing' email scandal

Disclaimer: My views in this series of articles around the controversies or organised religion seek to shed light on the issues that I have seen, heard about or experienced in my 29 year relationship with a variety of traditional and modern churches in Africa and the Western world. These are not the view of the church I currently attend and I have no formal qualification that makes me an authority. That however probably makes me the best person to talk about the issues as its the 'congregation members' many a time are the ones who are on the receiving end of the negative results of organised religion, so here goes! 
Oh and please feel free to comment and set me straight if I am wrong or support me if you agree or just share a different take on the issue at hand.
The cost of organised religion
Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 
Ephesians 2 vs.9

Remember the 'pass this on to 10 people and return it to me if I am your friend and your wish will come true' emails? Well it is with great sadness that I can confidently say that that insanity has infiltrated the church and now its emails that say things like, 'send to 20 people for a blessing to be bestowed upon you' or 'if you love Jesus / if you are not ashamed of being a Christian you will forward this email to a zillion people'...yes I said it, insanity! Absolute madness! There is no biblical foundation for such threats, yes threats that if you do not perform some act then somehow you will miss out on the blessings and favour of God! Outrageous I say and with good reason, its not biblical or true!

The bible says that there is nothing, not one thing we can do to earn salvation from God. My understanding of salvation is that it is the grace of God, His mercies, His protection, His blessings and a promise of eternal life with Him. God does not ask us to prove our love for Him before He dispenses His gifts nor does He require 'works' in exchange for them. So I am going to go out on a limb here and say that these emails are not only annoying, and untrue, they are also against biblical teaching of how God operates and therefore how we should operate as his ambassadors and children on earth.

Now this is not a lecture from a holier than tho Christian who has arrived anywhere, no. It is more a declaration of independence for all Christians out there who battle with guilt when they don't want to forward these emails. Who don't wholly agree but they got the email form a maturer Christian and feel intimidated to question its merits or simply thing hey these are great it gets us sharing, praying and contacting one another. Whether you like them or not, they are in principle wrong. NO EMAIL FORWARDING will manipulate God into sending you a blessing! IT is either you live right and obey his word and his blessings flow through the normal course of you being his child or you don't and you get zip! God is not a genie and 'Christian email forwarding' is not his lamp whereby by hitting the forward button the lamp is rubbed and Jesus jumps out and gives you your blessing of choice. That is exactly what this system suggests which is wrong and not biblical.

So next time you receive an email that requires you to earn a blessing or earn prayers of the saints 
by forwarding, do two things

1. Write respectfully to the person who sent it to you and explain that sending it on is bordering on witchcraft (manipulating people into doing something they would not naturally do, in this case working for the blessing or prayer)
2. Delete it guilt free! (If it is a good message and you want to share it, delete the bottom section that induces people to 'work for a gift from God, and then pass it on with a clear conscious).
Image courtesy of the internet for thought...


  1. Oh, I couldn't agree more with you on this one. I detest those emails! :) Thanks for posting this--and welcome to the HCB network. We love photographers, and I look forward to seeing you around the network. I hope you find it as encouraging and inspiring as I have.

  2. How are random emails unaffiliated with any particular brand of Christianity - or even religion - at all a blemish upon "organized" religion?

    And has there ever been "disorganized" religion?

  3. pastormack thank you for your questions.

    Firstly I believe that these emails are not something that comes for a particular denomination but from people who call themselves Christians and I say this because I and people I spoke to before posting this article have received such emails from a variety of sources.

    They are a blemish on Christianity because they teach by their very nature that you need to do something to prove your commitment to Christ or that you are not ashamed to be a Christian, or to earn a blessing or whatever the case may be which is not in any way biblical which sends the wrong message the the many non-believers who also receive these emails. We can not barter with God or earn his favour and that is the impression on gets when they receive an email that talks of victory and breakthrough in an area of their life BUT they will only receive this if they pass the message on.

    Secondly, you asked why I call this series of articles 'organised religion'. No, I do not mean to suggest that there was ever disorganised religion. What this phrase refers to is the architecture of the modern religious world rather than individual denominations. Why you may ask? Because as a Christian I believe that the church is the body of Christ and any church (regardless of denomination) that preaches Christ and keeps the focus of its ministry on biblical teaching is sound. I do also however acknowledge that within all churches there is a built in measure of man made or designed standards / principles / ideals that are not always sound. In addition to that there are things that take place is the global 'religious' world that are not church specific and are not sound biblical teaching and that is what I call 'organised religion'.



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