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News Flash: Jesus Is Not Your Boyfriend

And church does not exist to entertain you …

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‘I exploit you, still you love me … I tell you one and one makes three.”

That’s a line from Living Color’s 1988 hit ‘Cult of Personality.’ And it’s been ringing in my ears for the last few weeks as media outlets from all over the world have been covering the saga of Mica Miller – the wife of pastor John-Paul “JP” Miller of the Solid Rock at Market Common church in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Miller’s supposed suicide – and the search for elusive answers pertaining to it – has exposed a lot of things.

Among them?

  • Lingering questions related to the investigation into her death.
  • Allegations of abuse and harassment against JP Miller.
  • Questions regarding the church’s finances and the integrity of its “missions.”
  • Other scandals involving Miller and his family.

One hugely important thing people aren’t discussing? Whether churches like Miller’s – which engage in what some might view as a dolled up, dumbed-down, Scripturally-adjacent, personality-driven version of the Christian faith – are deserving of greater scrutiny.

Allow me to clarify: I’m not knocking anybody’s church (or synagogue, mosque, temple, etc.). And speaking specifically to those who practice the Christian faith, I’m not necessarily saying mega-churches, non-denominational churches or churches led by charismatic leaders (many of whom amass considerable wealth and power from their pulpits) are intrinsically bad things.

They’re not.

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Like a hammer, gun, gas pedal or a computer keyboard … it’s all in how you use it. “Things” – even pulpits – are amoral. How humans permit ourselves (and ideally, our creator) to flow through us is what determines morality. Or rather manifests our lack of morality in relation to God’s.

But when the “thing” people are using is the cross … and faith in the cross … it gets a little bit tricky.

Playing with bodies? Okay … as long as consenting adults are involved. Playing with minds? I mean … who hasn’t? But playing with souls? Toying with another human being’s eternal destiny? Yeah, that’s different. A lot different. In fact, there’s a Bible verse about millstones and the depths of the sea which comes to mind … not to mention a few scenes from the Indiana Jones’ movies.

While our media outlet is actively seeking truth in response to a litany of unanswered questions about “pastor” JP Miller, it has already become abundantly clear – from leaked messages and videos, sermon excerpts and statements from friends and family – that the man is a textbook narcissist. A master manipulator. A definitional false prophet.

Is he other things? Worse things? We don’t know yet …

It’s also clear JP Miller is not reflective of every mega-church/ non-denominational church pastor … or (hopefully) even a small percentage of them. He’s certainly given these pastors – and organized Christianity – a bad name, but I don’t want to over-extrapolate in assailing him. Or paint with too broad a brush in calling him out. Or proclaim hysterically and hyperbolically that he is the author of some groundbreaking or even record-setting new hypocrisy.

He isn’t … in fact, another Bible verse comes to mind there.

Miller’s fall from grace is instructive, however, in that it informs us of the dangers inherent in belonging to cults of personality. Which are not churches.

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RELATED | COURT RECORDS PROVIDE DETAILS OF PASTOR’S ASSAULT CASE

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Religion can and should involve and evoke emotion, but it is not emotion. It can inspire and even entertain, but that’s not it’s job. We can have fun worshipping – and we should absolutely derive joy from it – but that is not what it is there for. Religion and worship are about instilling knowledge, understanding, enlightenment, peace, forgiveness, love, compassion, fellowship … all things that can be emotional, but which must remain rooted in the abiding truth of doctrinal purity if they are to have any meaning.

Let me say it more simply: Either religion is moored in the foundational wisdom of its author – or its not. And if it’s not … it’s not church. It’s something else.

When we remove core theological guardrails – when people’s interpretations of centuries-old truths begin eclipsing what the Scriptures actually say – we are treading into the dangerous realm of relativism. Even worse, we become susceptible to false prophets like JP Miller who may be masters at creating “mountaintop” experiences – but who are utterly incapable of truly understanding God and discerning God’s will for their own lives and the lives of their congregants.

Does such theological hijacking happen in certain kinds of churches more often than others? Yes. Which is why it is so important to worship at a church that’s actually built on the solid rock … not the viper-filled, shifting sands of P.T. Barnum-style carnivals.

Church is not there to entertain you – in fact, it’s not about you at all. And anyone who tells you different is lying to you. Or trying to get you to fill a collections plate. Church is there for you to praise your creator, give thanks to your creator, confess your shortcomings to your creator, seek forgiveness from your creator and better understand what your creator seeks of you moving forward. It is about your creator, in other words – and what you can do for him and for those around you.

If you want emotion, entertainment or inspiration … watch a true crime documentary. Go to a rock concert. Find a girlfriend or boyfriend.

Because guess what: Jesus … is not your boyfriend. And luckily for you, neither are the legions of creepy, shape-shifting, doctrine-distorting pastors preaching one set of rules for themselves and another for the flocks they supposedly “shepherd.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and eight children.

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11 comments

Matthew 6:24 May 16, 2024 at 11:05 am

“I’m not necessarily saying mega-churches, non-denominational churches or churches led by charismatic leaders (many of whom amass considerable wealth and power from their pulpits) are intrinsically bad things.”

They are, though.

No amount of soup kitchens in your local community or shoe boxes full of school supplies shipped to poor countries justifies a pastor owning a mansion.

Prosperity gospel is an affront to God.

Reply
E Prioleau Alexander Top fan May 16, 2024 at 11:34 am

Brilliant take, Will.

Reply
JustSomeGuy Top fan May 16, 2024 at 11:53 am

Preach!

Reply
Dum Spiro Spero Top fan May 16, 2024 at 12:03 pm

Excellent piece, good insights and well-expressed and written. I would hope that you would continue in this vein with a column explaining why certain religious groups and followers of Jesus Christ are so taken with Donald Trump, a man who hardly exemplifies, lives, or embodies the Christian spirit or Christian virtues.

Reply
J Doe May 16, 2024 at 12:31 pm

Exactly!

Reply
J Doe May 16, 2024 at 12:33 pm

Newspring and Redemption are both sweating as their congregants read this and feel the familiar.

Reply
Mark May 16, 2024 at 1:35 pm

Do you think Living Color would license that song to the Trump Campaign for rallies?

If you don’t want to be scammed by faux Christian evangelists, just follow a few simple rules.
1. If the organization pays its leader hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, they don’t need your money.
2. If their leader drives around in a car that costs twice as much as you make in a year, they don’t need your money.
3. If their leader has a private jet, they don’t need your money.
4. If their leader has a million-dollar home, they don’t need your money.

As the old saying goes, “Show me a rich preacher and I will show you a conman.”

But the Franklin Grahams, Benny Hins, Joel Osteens, etc etc. of the world are just the tip of a very ugly iceberg. They exist because the evangelical churches have lost their way. They no longer follow the teachings of Christ. They seek a path to cheap easy salvation, where you can even be a cruel heartless monster, as long as you say you believe in Christ. You can turn away strangers, spit on the poor, watch the starving starve, and turn your back on those in need of food and shelter, while you accumulate as much worldly treasure as you can get your hands on, as long as now and then you darken a church door and say I am born again. I accept Christ as my savior. Then wash, rinse, repeat.

You can fool others and even fool yourself into thinking you are a really good person and a pious man or woman, but you can’t fool God.

Reply
AC Top fan May 16, 2024 at 7:18 pm

JDoe you are exactly right. New spring, Grace, elevation , thrive, the sanctuary, love story are all exactly like this place, a cult, Redemtion was a sham set up to con people out of their money.

Reply
SubZeroIQ May 19, 2024 at 5:40 pm

“Playing with bodies? Okay … as long as consenting adults are involved. Playing with minds? I mean … who hasn’t? But playing with souls? Toying with another human being’s eternal destiny? Yeah, that’s different. A lot different.”
First, there is no scientific or doctrinal difference between the mind and the soul.
And, frankly, Western so-called Christianity lost its way and its moorings when it not only condoned, but also glorified what Jesus Christ unequivocally called adultery.
And Saint James’ epistle explained that if you break one Commandment you break them all.
I was impressed, FITS, that you even knew Bible verses to paraphrase. But why did you skip “he who looks at woman to lust for her in his heart has committed adultery” when you photograph skin for clicks?
You are responsible for eight young minds. Make sure they do not one day come to think of you as you think of JP Miller.
God bless nonetheless.

Reply
just me May 20, 2024 at 10:04 am

Good take. How convenient that society calls out(or use to) the transgender movement, homosexuality and all other sexual perversion all the while turning a blind eye to adultery, fornication, lust, greed, drunkenness, pursuit of wealth and everything else that is normal in society now.

Reply
guest May 19, 2024 at 5:44 pm

“Playing with bodies? Okay … as long as consenting adults are involved. Playing with minds? I mean … who hasn’t? But playing with souls? Toying with another human being’s eternal destiny? Yeah, that’s different. A lot different.”
First, there is no scientific or doctrinal difference between the mind and the soul.
And, frankly, Western so-called Christianity lost its way and its moorings when it not only condoned, but also glorified what Jesus Christ unequivocally called adultery.
And Saint James’ epistle explained that if you break one Commandment you break them all.
I was impressed, FITS, that you even knew Bible verses to paraphrase. But why did you skip “he who looks at woman to lust for her in his heart has committed adultery” when you photograph skin for clicks?
You are responsible for eight young minds. Make sure they do not one day come to think of you as you think of JP Miller.
God bless nonetheless.

Reply

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