It was the promise of blessings for donations that rapper T.I. said triggered his now viral smirk, as guest preacher Bishop I.V. Hilliard pressed congregants to give sacrificially two Sundays ago at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.
Speaking on his Apple Podcast “Expeditiously” with fellow rapper Killer Mike last Thursday, T.I. explained his facial expression, noting that Hilliard, pastor emeritus of New Light Christian Center Church in Houston, Texas, “had the nerve to say ‘c’mon y’all. Get your blessings heard.’”
“Are you telling me, I have to give $1,000 for the good Lord almighty to hear my blessings? … that’s probably when I made the face, as he says ‘get your blessings heard,’” said T.I., whose real name is Clifford Joseph Harris Jr. “This is extortion. At this point you’re telling these people they will not be blessed unless they give their money to you. And this is the problem I have with black churches. That was why I had that face.”
The problem is “with all church,” Killer Mike interjected.
T.I. and Killer Mike, whose real name is Michael Santiago Render, are currently two of the nation’s most high-profile and outspoken rappers on social issues. And after watching Hilliard’s presentation along with several other celebrities who showed up at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Stonecrest, Georgia, on Sept. 15, to support an installment of fellow rapper Kanye West’s “Sunday Service,” they both agreed that Hilliard used the Gospel to “con” churchgoers out of their money.
“It’s not that I have a thing against pastors or against preachers, so to speak,” said T.I. “It’s just I’ve been raised in the trenches, and I was taught to peep game You ain’t finna run no game on me. I will not be extorted.”
The prosperity gospel
The prosperity gospel teaches, among other things, that believers have a right to the blessings of health and wealth, and they can obtain these blessings through positive confessions of faith and the “sowing of seeds” through the faithful payments of tithes and offerings.
It’s a teaching that one of its most vociferous proponents, controversial televangelist Benny Hinn, earlier this month renounced as an “offense to the Lord.”
“I think it’s an offense to the Lord, it’s an offense to say give $1,000. I think it’s an offense to the Holy Spirit to place a price on the Gospel. I’m done with it. I will never again ask you to give $1,000 or whatever amount because I think the Holy Ghost is just fed up with it.”
“Did you hear me?” Hinn asked as his audience responded affirmatively in high spirits.
“I think it hurts the Gospel, so I’m making this statement for the first time in my life and frankly, I don’t care what people think about me anymore,” he stated.
T.I. along with his wife and other friends, such as rapper 2 Chainz, whose real name is Tauheed Epps, sat in the front row of the Georgia church, currently led by Jamal Bryant, and cringed as Hilliard ask churchgoers to donate money to the church and get blessed for it.
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In the appeal, Hilliard asked churchgoers to give “over and above” what they previously gave or pledged to give earlier in the service, noting that, “this giving is not going to me, it’s going to the church.”
“Now, I know many of you have already pledged to give and that sort of thing and you might want to give it today and not wait for the two weeks. I’ve already talked to pastor about it so he’s already in agreement with this …,” Hilliard said.
“I just want you to obey God this morning. ‘But we already gave an offering,’” he continued pre-empting expected protestation from congregants.
“I know you have. God knows you have. But I want you to do something special … I’m believing for 20 people to give $1,000 today,” I need a clap right there he pressed the congregants.
Hilliard then told the ones that couldn’t give to help in praying that those who could give, would give.
“If you don’t have $1,000 God ain’t asking you for it. All I’m asking you is to agree that those who do have it will give it,” he said.
“Can we try that again? I don’t really need but 19 ‘cause I’m gonna be one of them,” he said.
Hilliard then continued to press his appeal, noting that he is “so bold” with his teaching because “I know it works.”
“I couldn’t care less about what critics say … listen, I don’t do what I do because of critics. I do what I do because I am called of God to do it. Amen? Now listen, will you agree with me for my 20?” he said to a smattering of applause.
He then asked congregants to commit to give smaller amounts in his appeal before handing over the microphone to Bryant.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair