Paying for the Gospel

Simony is the sin of paying for sacraments and holy offices or for influence or positions in the hierarchy of a church, or other forms of trafficking for money in “spiritual things”.

This term is derived from the name of Simon Magus, who appears in the Acts of the Apostles 8:9-24, who offered the disciples of Jesus, Peter and John, payment so that anyone on whom he would place his hands upon would receive the power of the Holy Spirit.

“But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.

“Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)  Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.

“But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.” (Acts 8:9-24)

“The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord among us?  None evil can come upon us.”  (Micah 3:11)

“Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness.” (2 Peter 2:15)

“Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.” (Jude 1:11)

“And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.”  (2 Pet 2:3)

“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Tim 6:10)

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matt 6:24)

“Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.” (Proverbs 23:23)

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Tim 3:16)

“Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.”  (Matt 10:8)

“Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple?  And they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?   Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.  But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.   For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!”   (1  Cor 9:13-16)

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.  Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.  For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.  Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:  For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:  In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.

“But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.  Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;  And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:  Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.  Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;  Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

“And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.  And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”  (Col 3:1-17)

Where Dollars Meet Divinity

The magazine “Christian Retailing: Serving the $4.6 billion Christian Products Industry.”

Just name a church, any church, and there’s a likelihood there is a store that goes with it. Christianity is huge business, from the selling of the Christmas spirit and the $2 billion Bible and book trade to the thriving market for Christian pop music and religious gifts. Apparel is the latest wrinkle in New Testament merchandising, with the recent advent of companies such as God’s Gear Gospel Wear, Living Epistles and Exodus. In a 2001 survey done by the Christian Booksellers Association, 34 percent of adults said they had shopped in a store that specializes in Christian products in the past six months.

From the website: Faithnomics – A Retailers Guide to Faith Driven Consumers: “Despite the challenges retailers face in today’s penny-pinching marketplace, recent research shows that there’s an economically powerful sub-segment of the Christian population – Faith Driven Consumers – that is willing to spend most of its budget with brands that are faith-compatible and willing to align their operations with a biblical worldview.  While today 71 percent of Americans self-identify as Christian, there is a rapidly emerging and economically powerful subset, known as Faith Driven Consumers, currently untapped by American retailers.  These Faith Driven Consumers spend $1.75 trillion annually and constitute 15 percent of the American population—one out of every seven people. They total 46 million people and are equivalent in size to the US Hispanic population – yet spend 75 percent more annually.”

While the Bible has been recreated and repackaged innumerable times, publishers of the newest editions are using some distinctly unique formats to capture the attention of readers.  “In general, Bible publishers have always been creative, but now they are scrambling to meet a culture where people are moving away from print reading,” said Paul Gutjahr, an associate professor of English and adjunct associate professor in religious studies at Indiana University.

Secular as well as traditional religious Bible publishers are getting in on the act. Dozens of different versions of the Bible come out each year for various niches: the outdoorsman, the married couple, business leaders. There are electronic Bibles available for the Kindle, iPods and handheld devices. There are graphic novel and comic book interpretations. There’s even a new chronological version of the Bible coming out this fall.  It’s difficult to capture how many different versions of the Bible are sold each year. But the Book Industry Study Group estimates that Bibles, testaments, hymnals and prayer books were a $795.2 million market in 2007.

Experts say Bible sales tend to rise in times of war and economic crisis. And the Book Industry Study Group says a Bible publishing boom is indeed underway. The market size has grown steadily over the past several years and is expected to jump in the coming years. The group estimates the market will reach $823.5 million this year — growth other publishing categories might covet.

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