CGI’s Bill Watson: Pastor or Warlock?
The Church of God International has published an astounding sermon by Bill Watson on their website. The message is titled, The Prayer of Imprecation. For those who may be unfamiliar with the term, a prayer of imprecation is an appeal to God to take down somebody or some organization (a part of Bill’s own adequate definition of the term). In other words, it is the equivalent of calling down a curse on someone or something – the opposite of requesting that someone or something be blessed. Hence, the thesis of Bill’s message is that not only is such a prayer appropriate, but he strongly implies that it may be time for Christians to start hurling curses at “wicked” folks.
Pastor Watson looks at the condition of the United States and the rest of the world and says that Christians should be imploring God to “stop the madness.” In the message, he talks about human trafficking and asks if it wouldn’t be appropriate for Christians to begin calling down curses on those who engage in the practice or cover it up. Likewise, he goes on to point out that the legalization of abortion has resulted in the “murder” of millions of babies and asks if we might not be justified in calling down God’s curse on Planned Parenthood. In a similar vein, Watson decries what he sees as the spread of Marxism within the United States; and we are left with the distinct impression that he would like to include the Democratic Party in this mix! Mr. Watson went on to decry the folks who are encroaching on our freedoms and are seeking to advance a globalist agenda. Finally, he concludes his message by offering his listeners several candidates for their consideration (like the United Nations, and the IMF).
Now, while many of us would readily agree with Bill’s consternation at the horrible state of affairs within the United States (and the world at large), I am left to wonder why he didn’t acknowledge the vehicle which Christ gave his followers to address such distress. You remember – the little recitation that most folks refer to as the Lord’s Prayer? Didn’t Christ instruct his followers to pray after this manner: “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven!” (Matthew 6:10)
To be fair, the pastor does give a passing reference to one of the numerous scriptures which absolutely forbid Christians from engaging in this kind of witchcraft. More specifically, he tells us that he is aware of what Paul wrote to Roman Christians on the subject. Hence, I think it’s probably appropriate to directly confront that scripture in this review. Paul wrote: “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.” (Romans 12:14) He went on to say: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:19-21) Mr. Watson tells us that he is aware of this, but he goes on to suggest that we wouldn’t be taking the action – that we’d be asking God to take action. And, if that reasoning sounds a little dubious to you, it did to me as well!
I was also wondering about a few pertinent remarks by Jesus Christ which did not appear in his message. I’m thinking about passages like this one from the gospel of Matthew: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you…” (Matthew 5:38-44) OR this one from the gospel according to Luke: “But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.” (Luke 6:27-33)
Unfortunately, however, Mr. Watson ignored all of those scriptures and went straight to the book of Psalms to offer numerous instances of imprecatory prayers offered by King David. And, as we know, these prayers were offered to God when David was feeling threatened or persecuted by his enemies – or in some instances, when he was feeling angry or bitter toward them. In other words, none of these prayers are probably appropriate models for Christians to follow!
From there, Mr. Watson highlighted the really tuff statements that Christ made about the religious leaders of his day (the scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees) – calling them hypocrites and children of the Devil. Likewise, the pastor pointed out that the Apostle Paul twice stated in his letter to the saints of Galatia that anyone who preached a heretical gospel should be accursed. Unfortunately, Mr. Watson doesn’t appear to see any difference in calling someone out for false preaching and asking God to curse them. Many of us, however, do see a clear distinction between the two practices.
Mr. Watson asks whether his audience might see a need for imprecation. Indeed, he suggests that it may become our duty as Christians to someday offer an imprecatory prayer. He continued: “I’m just saying: Are we bold? Are we brave? Are we courageous? If God’s church doesn’t change, you’re gonna get stepped on.” Really, Mr. Watson? When hasn’t the Church been stepped on? You asked whether or not it might ever be appropriate for God’s people to offer a prayer of imprecation. I’ve got an answer for you: NEVER!