New Apostolic Reformation preacher Cindy Jacobs of Generals International recently spoke at the King of Kings Worship Center in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. Right Wing Watch brought attention to her controversial comments about Jews during the event, but I'd also like to bring attention to the rest of the event's content. Jacobs spent her sermon promoting prosperity theology and making tone-deaf comments about racial and ethnic groups, as she has done in the past.
"I'm a seer, really," Jacobs told the audience as she delivered prophesies to the congregants. Jacobs told one young man that he wanted to help people and prevent suffering, and delivered a prophesy to another congregant about their church getting a bigger facility. At the 25:05 mark, however, she expressed her desire to give a prophesy to some Asian congregants. "I want to prophesy over an Asian couple," she said. "I love these Asians. I may be part Asian. Of course, my hashtag is #whitechocolate, so I think I'm part black. I don't know."
Awkward, I thought.
At the 29:44 mark, she bragged about how she converted a Mongolian man to Christianity by name-dropping a famous Mongolian actor.
"I was just eating at the Monocle Restaurant. You know what that is in Washington D.C.? Anybody been to the Monocle? It's where a lot of the Congress people go, and a guy came up to me ... I looked at his name tag, and I said, 'Oh, are you a Mongolian?'. He goes 'yes!' 'cause nobody ever pegs him for Mongolian, and I said, 'I've been in Mongolia ... By the way, I know like the top movie star in Mongolia named Anwar.' And he said, 'You know Anwar?' I mean, he's like famous, like the president will pay a million dollars to have a picture with this guy, you know. I go 'Yeah!'. And he said, 'Did you know he was in Marco Polo?'. I said, 'Not only do I know that, but I prophesied over him in Mongolia that he would go to Hollywood and that Hollywood was going to look for him and that he was going to open the door for other Mongolians, and I'm the one that made the contact in Hollywood so he would make that film.' He is freaking out right in the Monocle.
And I said, 'And not only that, why am I here talking to you when I talk to presidents all over the world, and I was in Mongolia? Now I'm talking to you, Mongolian. God loves you." And I just started witnessing salvation to him, and he goes, 'My wife watches Joel Olsteen!' I go, 'And I'm telling you what, then you need to receive Jesus!'"
I found her story puzzling. I could find no Mongolian actor by the name of "Anwar" during a Google search. Neither the 2007 Marco Polo film nor the 2014 Marco Polo series featured a man named "Anwar" among its cast members. Did I misspell the actor's name?
Jacobs proceeded to promote the prosperity gospel, telling the audience that Christians can reach a "state of blessing" if they believe God's word and donate to charity. Christians can enjoy "abundance" in every aspect of their lives, including their financial lives, she argued, urging listeners to abandon "poverty mentality".
"Poverty in the church should be an exception, not the rule, because we are the ones that are the change agents of society," Jacobs said at the 40:37 mark. She stressed the importance of money for her ministry at the 44:26 mark.
"I have learned to both abase and abound, but I much prefer abounding. I don't have to have those things to follow Jesus, but in order to do my job description in the Earth, I need money so I can do the works I'm supposed to do. You understand this?"As reported by Right Wing Watch, Jacobs had unsettling things to say about money and Jews. After quoting Bible passages suggesting that born-again Christians are the spiritual heirs of Judaism, Jacobs argued that the Holy Spirits empowers Christians more than Jews. At the 41:57 mark, she claimed that Christians could convert Jews by gathering wealth, thereby making the Jews jealous and demonstrating that God has rewarded them for obedience.
I was stunned. Jacobs was not only promoting stereotypes about Jews as money-lovers, but making rash assumptions about Jewish culture. Somehow, I don't think promoting Jewish stereotypes and adopting condescending attitudes toward Jewish culture will earn her any new Jewish converts. I would like to remind Cindy Jacobs that people of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds are not feathers in one's cap, not storytelling elements, and especially not walking stereotypes."What the Jews have, we have. However, we have more when we’re in Christ because the Holy Spirit is inside us, empowering us to do the good works we’re called to do ... I want to say to you that one of the things I believe that’s going to bring a great harvest of Jews is the Christians becoming so profoundly wealthy ... that it’s going to make them jealous. The wealth and the riches that we’re able to obtain is going to make them jealous. Do you think our poverty is going to make a Jew jealous? Come off it! No, we are meant to prosper. Why? Because they understand, in their culture, that obedience to God brings blessing. We're called to live a blessed life, not a cursed life."
Jacobs shared a childhood story of how her family lived in a tar paper house and the soles of her father's shoes had holes, despite his fervent piety. This story seemed to contradict everything she'd preached about obedience to God resulting in material abundance. Soon thereafter, Jacobs told listeners a crass story about how God wanted her to have $600 leather shoes at the 45:53 mark.
"One day I was in Hong Kong ... and somebody said, 'I want to buy you a pair of shoes for your birthday. I said 'Okay. I know what I need. I want some black patent leather flats, okay? If my feet get tired, I want to have these black patent leather flats.' So we went shopping, and we got home, and I didn't know what the exchange rate was, you know. She said, 'I want to buy you these,' and she chose them. So I go back to the hotel, and I looked, and those were $600 shoes. I was like [gasps]. I mean, I'd never had $600 shoes before.
Actually, this poverty thing came in and said, 'I'd better sell those shoes and give that money to the poor.' And the Lord said, 'That's scarcity thinking! Don't you think I can give you what I want to give you and help you feed the poor too? You think I have a limited budget? Come on! We're not of this world!'
And then the Lord said to me, "Your daddy died when he was 49. Don't you think I saw your daddy's shoes and don't you know I knew he couldn't buy you shoes? Wow. Don't you think I want to give good gifts to my children? If I want to buy you a pair of $600 shoes, you'd better wear those shoes!'"Why the Almighty couldn't provide Jacobs and her loved ones with shoes when she was a child was unclear. For that matter, why her God, who supposedly wants to give "good gifts" to his earthly children, allows poverty to afflict anyone was unclear.
At the 50:09 mark, Jacobs speculated that poverty exists because Christians have a "poor church". God expects Christians to address poverty in their communities, she explained.
"Maybe there's a reason there's so many people poor, because we have a poor church and we're not doing our job! ... There's a problem with food poverty, systemic poverty. Children in America go to bed hungry, no food in their bellies, and there's a church in America? What is wrong with that picture? That makes me upset. It should make you upset! I hope to upset you! Prophets kind of do that."Why Jacob's desire to lift people out of poverty was admirable, a sound blueprint for ending poverty has no room for prosperity theology nonsense. Furthermore, her statements do not paint a picture of a compassionate, reassuring God. If the Creator can provide Jacobs with overpriced shoes, why can't he feed "children in America [who] go to bed hungry"? Many people cultivate faith in their God, but they remain poor.
Jacobs may hope to draw people to her version of Christianity by promising prosperity in exchange for piety, but these promises are empty. Prosperity theology might sound seductive to people who have suffered hardship, but they will soon discover that religiosity does not bring wealth.