Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Seed time?

I've been wondering about this today.

We have one minister who has admitted to "seeding" his meetings -- putting stuff in place naturally so that it would appear supernatural. The idea behind it really just a variation on a 'classic' Word of Faith teaching: if it happens, people will believe it... and if people will believe it, it will happen. So... the rationale for "seeding" the meetings is that when people saw the gems, they'd think God put them there. Their faith would be built up... and then gems would actually appear.

That's the rationale.

In other circles, they call it "priming the pump." It's the same reason why ministers have someone share a testimony or call out a few "lightning rod" people and pray for them in front of the whole congregation... they want to demonstrate that something is happening, because if people will expect something to happen, it is more likely that it will.

But something specific about "seeding" still bothers me...

Consider this: if the idea of "seeding" could enter the mind of a minister who knows that he will be under scrutiny, couldn't it also occur to someone in the congregation? I know that there were faked healings in many of the churches where healing crusades took place. The same thing that motivates a person to fake a healing could motivate a person to fake any of these other things. So... someone brings a handful of little 'gem chips' with them to the service. Maybe they just "seed" them for themselves to find... or maybe they spread it around...

I vaguely remember an episode of The Brady Bunch that does a good job of illustrating this idea. One of the boys--I'm pretty sure it was the youngest one--wanted to "stretch" himself out so he could get taller. He measures his height against a wall and marks it there. Then he goes and literally "hangs out" on the swingset all day. During the course of the day, three well-meaning family members secretly move the mark down by about half an inch each. So at the end of the day, when he measures himself again, it looks like he has grown a staggering 1.5 inches! Then, one by one, the family members admit to what they have done. There's been no growth afterall.

The moral of the story: if you want to measure your growth, don't measure yourself by something that is so easily moved :)

But back to the "seeding" issue.

So... the minister throws out a few "seed" gemstones. Then another person spreads a few around. Then another... Each of these individuals notice that there are stones present in the meeting which they themselves could not have planted... therefore, it's a miracle after all! Their seed multiplied! Not only is the whole thing validated, but they can feel justified in that they obeyed God and He multiplied the seed sown.

If EVERYONE who "seeded" stuff in these meetings came clean--if they were all 100% honest--would we be forced to conclude, as the Brady's did, that nothing had really happened after all?

I don't have anything personally against the Smiths. And if people really want to comb through carpets for crystal chips, that's their business. Personally, I do not believe that we should be looking for this sort of stuff... but is God capable of doing it? Of course He is. I just tend to think that He does things for a reason, and I've yet to hear of any good reason for this. It certainly isn't a good idea to use this as a measure of your spirituality.... that's a mark that is far too easily moved.


Anonymous said...

Excellent thoughts and observations! Very well spoken and good 'food for thought.'

Anonymous said...

In mulling this over, here are some additional thoughts.

While miracles and signs may follow Christians, the Bible explicitly warns us not to follow after signs and wonders. These things are fleeting and can all too soon be forgotten, though that may be hard to understand.

When Jesus walked the earth, some followed him due to the miracles. But guess what? Many left him afterward. Our walk is not to be about these things- it is supposed to be about a one-on-one relationship with our Creator. If God decides to perform some sign or miracle, that is great. It's just that these things cannot be our focus- they should never consume our walk.

It reminds me of a time in my former ministry in an apostolic church where I held license. I wanted to see God move! I longed to witness things spoken of in the Bible. Those stirred me.

As time went on, my understanding of these changed and I saw how people could lose their focus. I saw how signs/wonders didn't mean a changed life and a born-again individual. I saw how having a focus on these took from our personal walk with God.

I came to realize that what is important is a changed life. Signs and such often do not bring this about. Remember when all the lepers were healed and only one gave thanks to Jesus?

This subject also reminds me of an Old Testament incident where it was expected God would be in the seemingly powerful displays. Yet that is not when He appeared. There is definitely something in the admonition to "be still & know that I am God."