Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Gospel Of Bo Sanchez And Why 'Christians' Turn To Him

If you happen to be a Filipino and a social media habitue at that, you'd definitely agree the name Bo Sanchez is big and popular. In fact many people diligently follow his series of posts on facebook and get excited for his next - and his legions of followers love to share them on social media.  It's hard to not like the person. His name alone rings out positivity, optimism and good vibes - the very stuff that titillate almost everyone. His quotes are too powerful to ignore that many take them as source of encouragement - either to drive them to work harder so that they become rich and get wealthier like there is no limit - or to get them convinced that investing in stock market is one surefire way to becoming millionaires - and foremost from his tips is how to achieve a healthy body and healthy relationships. So, who would not like to take his words and share them with friends?

Bo Sanchez is a professional self-help speaker and confidently eloquent. He knows what his audience wants to hear - and that's easily understandable why he has millions of adoring fans. Few would argue that Bo Sanchez is the Joel Osteen of the Philippines - as both men identify themselves to be "ministers of hope" - to the poor, the downtrodden, the weak, and those with low self-esteem - except for one significant dissimilarity: Bo is a proud Catholic and lay minister for that matter, as opposed to Joel who professes to be a born-again believer and pastor to arguably the largest megachurch in America.

Now, what is wrong with being a fan of these two guys if it is the message they bring that gives 'hope' to the hopeless and 'healing' to the infirm? Ain't this what the world needs amid all the troubles that encumber us? There is absolutely nothing wrong with the message if it all points to the Lord Jesus Christ and the truth of His word. For non-believers such as Filipino Catholics, we can see the spontaneity of this sort of admiration and their getting drawn to the message of Bo Sanchez. But how about born-again believers who have developed fondness for this man for his feel-good message and ultimately get convinced it is God's plan for them to be rich and truly happy here on earth? Is it because they are just staking their claim to their Father's wealth as co-heirs to everything that was promised to them? If so, how about that?

Peddling prosperity-only message

In the Evangelical community, Joel Osteen is discerned to be a false teacher who has built for himself and his family an empire at the expense of the millions of gullible followers that took on his bait of prosperity on earth with an assurance that they could live their best life now. He and his wife make up a power couple in both the Evangelical and secular communities. They are the darlings of media and adored by Oprah - simply because - their faces alone beckon 'hope and optimism' - the one you don't expect to get in another half century of your existence - from the true preachers of the gospel. So the next time you see people get on a stampede on  any given Sunday to hear them speak at Lakewood church, it is because people are increasingly growing in desperation to hear their trademark message of promotion, healthy relationships, taking back what's rightfully yours, and discovering God's plan to send you to places you've never been (maybe cruising the Pacific, climbing atop Table Mountain or maybe scaling the frozen Niagara?). It's all sky is the limit, because "your Father is a big God who takes pleasure in smothering you with his blessings".

Bo Sanchez, on the other hand was a name raised from obscurity but gained cultic following only in recent years for his similar brand of gospel through his books and sermons. He has expanded his clout internationally targeting Filipino communities around the world through seminars and conferences that carry a monotone message on ways to unlocking prosperity, perfect health, healthy marriage, and tips on keeping a fat bank account, and all the positives you can ever imagine. So, it's not surprising at all that millions of Filipino Catholics (and non-Catholics alike) adore Bo Sanchez for the inspiration he has given them.

These two pretty much stick to their guns: always speak of the positives and never give chance on the negatives - and that's easily obvious why they both have maintained great following through the years and exponentially thriving. Speaking of the negatives, the topic of sin and being accountable for it - is a strange commodity frowned upon by their target audiences, not for its stressful and depressing effect, but because they were a departure from their usual fodder, hence do not feature in any of their sermons. Anything that does not help to ease up the burdens of the weary (such as guilt from sin)  - is a "deviation from their calling" - so they contend that they stay in their lane: to proclaim only what helps, eases and alleviates - and not to rebuke, admonish and condemn. But on the contrary, while the scriptures convey of God's everlasting love and mercy to man, it also condemns the unrepentant, the unbelieving and all other sorts of sin. The good news is: a person is free to take the path whichever he wishes. After all, at some point, he has heard the truth.

Leading by example: practices often sidestepped and overlooked in church

Sometimes, it is upsetting to see churches doing very little to nurture their congregants with spiritual food to bring them into spiritual maturity and discernment. What mostly occupy our time in church do not contribute in our spiritual growth. Congregants even spend longer time debating what menu to prepare on their thanksgiving day, family day, couple's day; what game to be played on sports day; practicing all day their special number to ensure success on anniversary. But mind you, all this time only John 3:16 and John 11:35 remain in their arsenal. They are not even taught the things written in Matthew 24 and have no clue whatsoever about the things to come written in Revelation - because the pastor promises it's difficult to understand so the flock goes on to lap on formula till they find themselves writhing in spiritual diarrhea.

I heard a story from a colleague who once attended a worship service in a church close to where he lives, and had a front row seat to a cringe-worthy sermon from a female pastor who said that "there must be something wrong with your faith if you remain poor despite having access to the throne of grace". Needless to say, roughly a third of those in attendance shrank in their seats for playing part of her own statistics of those who either fell short in the faith department - or became recipient of a curse for not surrendering their full tithes to church coffer. Now, that is a really disturbing concern within the body of Christ. Seriously, that's just some insanely flawed theology driven by man's hedonistic desire to obtain anything and everything for his own satisfaction - and we are talking here of Christians - not some atheists or capitalists.

Few years ago, after I rededicated my life to the Lord Jesus Christ, I had a privilege to enroll in a discipleship class where church members such as pastors, elders and even new believers from different local churches can be your classmates. One night after class, our class president (who was a preacher and elder) drove the five of us to a certain place where we initially thought we were in for a treat (I already had in mind what to order). But to our surprise, we were herded to a dark room where powerpoint presentation of some sort greeted us. (He then suggested "God gave us the privilege to act out on our faith because faith without action is dead. And it is God's plan to prosper us if we act out on our faith." Really?) We were then given forms to fill out and compelled to register in some networking business at his behest. Sure, he footed the registration fee as we were automatically registered to be his downline, but there is nothing worse than feeling violated for being put in a situation where we could not refuse. That moment we were like sheep awaiting slaughter. It was a travesty knowing we were better off as messenger of the gospel rather than some aloe vera salesman aiming to exceed his quota so that he could qualify for unrealistic perks promised to him.  But it didn't take long for one of us to muster a nerve, and called a spade a spade. And what used to be a great camaraderie had never been the same again - thanks to a distorted concept of prosperity.

These kind of stuff being taught in church and exemplified by many including elders are only one of many reasons why a lot of Christians gravitate toward the lure of earthly prosperity. That being said, they develop a thought pattern that Christians are not only guaranteed pompous welcome to the pearly gates but also a life of abundance and happiness on earth. Personally, this enlightens me a bit why a lot of Christians are into online networking slash pyramiding on facebook - it's because they thought the sky is the limit if they work out on their faith. And the strange thing is, you're grasping for any hint if this certain brother or sister is still the same person you meet at church for they sound very different on facebook. They would even taunt their critics and shrug off counsel from other Christians - all for prosperity's sake. You will even see how worldly their  goals have become by misusing the verse Jeremiah 29:11 as caption beside pictures of their colleagues waving bundles of cash. Meanwhile, their pastors are into prolonged  slumber for fear their precious sheep cum online entrepreneur might quit his/her ministry if admonished.

Contentment and humility is greater than  earthly prosperity

It is disheartening to even imagine Christians who are most visible in church can easily fall into a trap of earthly prosperity - and get entangled unconsciously in greed - while forgetting that the Jesus whom they claim to be their Lord and Savior was a perfect example of contentment and humility. Whatever happened to John's admonition of "being friend with the world is enmity with God"? Has the teachings in church evolved with time to keep the flock laying still in pews? Have church leaders realized that feeding their flock with meat has contributed to their dwindling number so that a revert to their familiar diet comes naturally as the next practical thing to do? Why a lot of our Christian brothers still religiously follow and get comfort from the advice of prosperity preachers such as Bo Sanchez and Joel Osteen? And why not find comfort to the truth of the gospel that whoever wants to be a disciple of Jesus must take up his own cross daily and follow Him? Last time I checked, Jesus did not promise a mansion on earth but in heaven. Why Christians do not pray for contentment and humility just like Agur who only prayed for his daily bread for fear He would forget the Lord if he would be given more than he needs (Proverbs 30:8)?

If a Christian does not see anything hideous with following prosperity preachers rather than following the example of Jesus, then it should be a major concern within the body of Christ. The enemy will have every reason to boast that his ancient tactic - though perennially exposed - is still his favorite weapon against Christians - and we seem to be oblivious it's wreaking havoc in the spirit realm. Besides, prosperity gospel puts on subtle nuances when juxtaposed with a Christian's claim on inheritance of God's favor and blessings (Psalms 5:12). And who would know the difference between what is right and almost right unless he is given discernment?

On the contrary, who might know the difference between a trap (from Satan) and a rightful claim (to God's favor) when both share resemblance with one another? However, a true disciple of Jesus Christ will always be equipped by the Holy Spirit with discernment and heavenly wisdom. Whereas, an undiscerning Christian does not seem to be troubled at all even if he is being gradually led away from the presence of God by his priorities (to obtain earthly prosperity). That's why the pop culture called prosperity gospel is an ever-thriving and classic weapon used by the enemy to keep Christians at bay from the presence of God. And all along, they believe they are in the right path - so long as they are warming the pews on Sundays.

The truly prosperous ones

Having been privileged to listen to 'amazing people' such as Joel and Bo to whom we credit for making our day for their wonderful words, who else would want to hear about people getting burned alive in cages, Christians beheaded en masse, babies cut in two, 12-year old girls being raped by dozens of ISIS men on a daily basis, and fellow Christians being burned alive and hacked to death in their thousands in Nigeria? The world is quickly rotting away before our very eyes, its moral decadence beyond repair, man's compassion for his kind in steep decline, selfishness abounds, people run to and fro to obtain what satisfies them - and so are Christians' spiritual perspective blurred by worldly priorities and therefore being oblivious to the sufferings of the humankind. How many times we Christians dropped to our knees and interceded for our Christian brothers and sisters who are being systematically murdered on a daily basis because of their faith? Or are we just too preoccupied petitioning God to grant us that long overdue promotion so that we could travel to places we've never been and live our best life now?

Clearly, those that are not born-again believers do not comprehend the true meaning of prosperity that Jesus wants us to aim for, but through the help of the Holy Spirit, true born-again believers are equipped with wisdom and understanding to comprehend what true prosperity is all about. The Bible is replete with people who completely grasped the essence of true prosperity: Stephen, Paul and Silas, Peter, James, John the Beloved - and many other early Christians who either got beheaded, sawn in two, fed to lions, among other gruesome methods of death; and even Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They all understood what prosperity meant, and they never blinked in order to obtain it - and we know what these men had to go through! Unfortunately in this age, Christians get in their droves, chasing their earthly dreams in the prosperity gospel their favorite preachers feed them. But when the time of reckoning comes, will we be given a platform to speak in our defense before a holy and righteous God? It's for us Christians to redeem the time. And time is not of abundance.


  1. This is truly an eye-opener. Keep writing... May God Bless you!

  2. Indeed, it's very saddening that more and more Christian brethren have turned away from the true gospel in its purest form in favor of an ear-tickling "gospel". Thank you for dropping by and God bless you.


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