Idol Chatter

Since “The Secret” has made quite a splash on the new age-prosperity front (don’t miss the Saturday Night Live skit making fun of Oprah’s “Secret” fixation it from last weekend), why not let the Gospels show you how to make a fortune too?

Meet Russ Whitney, a self-made man who went from working for five dollars an hour at a slaughterhouse to multi-millionaire status almost literally overnight. He is also known as the “Real Estate Evangelist”–not only because he travels around preaching the gospel of how to get rich quick for upwards of $54,000 in seminar costs (at a place he calls “Millionaire U”), but also because the Bible helped him do it.

The New York Times article “Russ Whitney Wants You to Be Rich” explains: “Whitney says he reads [the Bible] ‘for wisdom and forgiveness’ for 15 minutes every morning after his workout. Without the Bible, he asked me, ‘how would you know not to steal?’ Without the Bible, he said, ‘I’d be doing a whole lot of not looking in the mirror.'”

But his Bible journey hasn’t been all about forgiveness, and there were some passages that worried him (but then his Baptist preacher helped him out of that conundrum):

“[Whitney] seems to have hesitated in his faith only once, when he read in Matthew, Mark and Luke that ‘it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.’ Whitney could understand the words only as they appeared: It seemed the Bible frowned on wealth-building almost as much as upon stealing. ‘I was trying to figure that out,’ he remembered, when his Baptist preacher intervened to explain, no, no–certain passages of the Bible must not be taken literally. A rich man must try harder to get into heaven, it’s true, but the preacher told him, ‘God wants you to be successful.'”

Lucky for the preacher, Whitney is now one of this Baptist church’s biggest contributors.

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