For years, Angel Food Ministries sold nearly 600,000 boxes of discounted food per month to families through a nationwide network of churches. But in December, more than two months after it shut down, founders Joe and Linda Wingo were indicted for fraud. Prosecutors say the couple used ministry money to buy cars, jewelry, and a private jet. (CT's previous coverage)
"God is just as concerned with the means as he is with the end. Scripture routinely talks about the importance of our heart. How we go about doing something is deeply important to the ends that it is accomplishing."
Daniel Akin, president, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
"Motive is critical in sustaining any ministry. While a ministry with ill motives may do 'good' for a time, they are sure to collapse in time because there is a lack of integrity at their core."
Carlos Campo, president, Regent University
"I have seen that God can hit home runs with the broken bats of bad motives. But motives are monumental. Paul gives people a warning against using 'godliness' as a means to financial gain, and calls greed flat-out idolatry."
Paul Helbig, teaching pastor, Grace Fellowship United Methodist Church
"If someone gives all his money away to the poor in order to earn his own salvation, the poor get the money but he doesn't get the salvation. His motives are all screwed up, but good can be accomplished in the world through people acting with wrong motives."
Douglas Wilson, minister, Christ Church
"Having mixed motives isn't necessarily bad, nor is making a profit. Just don't call it a ministry. No matter how much good you do in a ministry, to make more money than a middle-class salary is to invite scandal."
John Stackhouse, professor of theology and culture, Regent College
"It's certainly possible to separate motives from ministry. Individuals often come up with 'vocabularies of motive' to justify their behavior. These stories don't necessarily reflect actual motivations. We don't always know why we do what we do."
John Schmalzbauer, professor of religious studies, Missouri State University
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Previous topics for Under Discussion include the relationship between the same-sex marriage debate and pro-life advocacy, trademarking church names and logos, the liturgical calendar, pastors and marriage for cohabitating couples, church disruptions, politicians and infidelity, politicians and religious persecution, faith healing and legal protection, pastors' housing allowances, sacred spaces, stinginess, TSA screening, and Christmas carols with questionable theology.
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