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Southern Religion

How do you explain away $130 million?

Why would a church spend $130 million for renovations?

A Fort Worth Star-Telegram story says Robert Jeffress, senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Dallas, offered this explanation:

“If [Dallas Cowboys owner] Jerry Jones can spend $1.5 billion to build a temple to the god of sports 13 miles away, we can build a spiritual oasis in the heart of Dallas.”

So, it’s OK for the church to spend an outrageous amount since a professional football team spent an even more outrageous amount.

On the First Baptist web site, Jeffress puts it this way:

“God has placed our church in the heart of America’s fastest growing city, adjacent to the nationally-acclaimed arts district, which includes some of the most architecturally stunning buildings in America. I believe the most beautiful and magnificent building in downtown Dallas should be a worship center that reflects the splendor and majesty of the great God we serve.”

So the building has to be the nicest in the neighborhood. After all, it’s a reflection on God.

And on a web site describing the church’s plan, Jeffress has this to say:

“As I look around downtown Dallas, I see spectacular temples of commerce, of culture and of government – many new, some restored to former glory, and all intended to stand for generations. The Kingdom of God needs a home to equal them – a spiritual oasis in the middle of downtown.”

Downtown Dallas may very well be a spiritual desert, but will an audaciously ornate church building look like cool water to thirsty souls?

And finally, this description of the proposed renovations in a story on the church web site:

“Plans revealed glass corridors allowing light to infiltrate campus, new educational spaces each designed to met the needs of specific age groups, a roof top garden and an outdoor grassy fountain plaza sure to draw in the downtown community with it’s beauty, and a worship center, high and lifted up in the center of it all.”

Interesting choice of words — “high and lifted up.” Sound familiar? It’s in the Bible, Isaiah 6:1. Isaiah describes seeing “the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up.”

Isaiah’s reaction to his vision of God is humility. He is “undone” because he is a man “of unclean lips.” Renovations to the tune of $130 million hardly seems humble.

All in all, which is more bothersome – the church spending that much to renovate its building or the reasoning behind it?

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November 6, 2009 - Posted by | Churches, Cultural

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