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Not bluffing

Moody board chairman and top author Jerry B. Jenkins is among Christians who have taken up tournament poker. Is evangelical opposition to it about to fold?

Not bluffing

Inset photo: Jerry B. Jenkins (Photo illustration: Krieg Barrie; Jenkins: Handout)

Brian O’Mahoney/The Courier-News/Sun-Times Media

CHALLENGED: MacDonald preaching.

Writing 180 books over four decades keeps a man busy. Jerry B. Jenkins, co-author of the best-selling Left Behind novels and one of today’s busiest Christian authors, has sold over 70 million copies of his novels and nonfiction works. He has also co-authored several children’s adventure series and helped Billy Graham, Bill Gaither, and Luis Palau write autobiographies. A former vice president of publishing at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Jenkins now volunteers as chairman of the school’s board of trustees.

In recent years, Jenkins has also enjoyed playing poker, sometimes with friends in the privacy of his home, and sometimes in casino poker tournaments that require buy-ins of hundreds of dollars.

WORLD came across Jenkins’ name on GlobalPokerIndex.com, a website that compiles poker tournament results submitted by casinos and creates public profiles of players who cash in. When I called Jenkins to ask if the Global Poker Index profile was of him, he confirmed that it was.

“I don’t play for what I would consider significant amounts of money. And I wouldn’t gamble, either. I mean, I don’t play slots,” he said. “I consider poker a skill game.”

According to the Global Poker Index data, Jenkins has won $8,065 at two casinos, including $4,580 at Commerce Casino near Los Angeles during the 2008 California State Poker Championship, where the buy-in was $1,500 (plus an $80 fee to the casino). He also had poker tournament winnings from 2010 and 2012 at Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Ind., a 30-minute drive from downtown Chicago. Global Poker Index does not list tournament losses, said Alexandre Dreyfus, the CEO of Zokay Entertainment, which operates the index. 

Jenkins claims his wins and losses have been about even overall: “I’m just a recreational player. … It’s not something I make money at or lose money at, really. … I realize that people have issue with it.”

The admission from Jenkins comes after the board of trustees he chairs established, in August, a new Moody employee policy that permits gambling, tobacco use, and the consumption of alcohol while off duty. Brian Regnerus, a spokesman for the school, said, “No Board member’s personal preference or activity had any impact on the decision to review the previous employee standards.”

Under the old policy, employees were supposed to eschew such activities even in private. The policy change came after a year of study and reflected a desire “to require no more and no less than what the Bible requires,” while leaving other issues to an individual’s conscience, said spokesman Regnerus. Both the policy change and Jenkins’ poker hobby suggest that—as toward smoking and drinking—evangelical attitudes may be softening toward a formerly frowned-upon or forbidden activity.

As an unpaid trustee, Jenkins is not required to submit to Moody’s employee guidelines. But Jenkins said the school expects trustees to be professing Christians and to “exhibit the biblical characteristics of an elder.”

Rules for Moody’s students are much stricter: They are not permitted to smoke, drink, or gamble, according to the school’s “Student Life Guide,” even while at home on Christmas and summer breaks. The school has 3,800 students, including distance learners and those on campuses in Chicago, Michigan, and Washington state. Asked whether Jenkins’ hobby might send a mixed message to students, Regnerus said the school expected students to recognize matters of Christian liberty, while abiding by rules meant to accommodate families and churches with stricter convictions.

“Moody is aware that Jerry Jenkins participates in poker, which is not prohibited in Scripture,” Regnerus said. He added the school does not have an official position that would clarify whether it considers poker to be gambling.

Jenkins began playing poker less than 10 years ago, and said that within the past year he had decided to play in Hammond no longer: “It’s too close to Chicago. I serve on the board of Moody, so I wouldn’t want to cause any embarrassment to anybody if they had a problem with that. … I live in Colorado, so if I play it’s outside the Midwest.”

Besides writing books, Jenkins owns Jenkins Entertainment, a filmmaking enterprise, and the Christian Writers Guild, a group that provides conferences, critiques, and long-distance writing courses for aspiring authors (I’m a former student). According to director Janice Mitchell, the Guild currently has 550 members.

Jenkins, 64, declined to state his income on the record, but said he is a “high-income person” and has enjoyed a few “pretty flush years with the Left Behind series. … You can do the math. I’ve sold 70 million books. So to break even making $8,000 playing poker, it’s kind of pocket change for me.” He gives most of his income away, he said.

Jenkins’ latest book, I, Saul, an adult thriller that delves into the life of the biblical Paul, went on sale in August. His co-author, James MacDonald, is the senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel, a church with seven campuses in the Chicago suburbs. Beyond co-writing a novel, Jenkins said he and MacDonald have also played poker together in the past, although MacDonald no longer plays.

In a sermon in November 2012, MacDonald told his congregation he began playing poker with friends several years ago, sometimes in his basement and sometimes “in public places.” When the Harvest elder board informed him some people in the church were offended by his practice, MacDonald said he wrestled over the subject for a period of time before deciding to give up poker both in public and in private.

“Up until June 2012, Pastor James played Texas Hold ’em poker with friends and on the rarest of occasions in a casino, but stopped at the request of our current elder board chairman,” said Harvest spokeswoman Sharon Kostal in a statement to WORLD. “He considers recreational games for very small amounts of money to be a matter of Christian liberty. However, he has publicly committed to having given up his personal liberty in this matter, in view of the increasingly public nature of his pastoral ministry.”

Jenkins’ son Dallas, a filmmaker who joined Harvest’s staff as media director in 2010, once told Christian novelist C.J. Darlington in an interview about his participation in tournament poker. In an email to me, Dallas called poker his “hobby” but declined to discuss it.

“Because poker is a game of skill, Dallas has studied and practiced and managed to do quite well,” said Jenkins. He identified a Global Poker Index profile belonging to Dallas that listed his lifetime earnings at $57,396, including $30,725 won during a single Los Angeles tournament in 2007. He did not speak of his son’s losses but said Dallas had been “profitable.”

Jenkins said many evangelicals have relaxed opposition to poker: “Easily half the people I play with in home games are fellow believers.” He said his entire family plays poker, and he sometimes plays at Golden Gates Casino in Black Hawk, Colo., where his youngest son, Michael, works as a dealer. The novelist said he doesn’t hide his identity: “I am known where I play, and people know I am a Christian. I share my faith. I sign and give away books.”

Jenkins declined to say how often he plays in homes or publicly, and how much money he typically spends. His own practice, Jenkins said, might not be relevant to others, and “might not be healthy to someone with an addiction or money problem. … No hobby should become an obsession.” 

Of course, the Bible has no explicit “Thou shalt not play poker” commandment. Poker is not the same as playing the slot machines: It does involve skill (although the cards are dealt randomly). Players bet chips and win them by forming the best five-card hand possible, and attempt to mislead opponents into believing their hand is better or worse than it really is. Experienced players learn to read the subtle eye movements or nervous facial expressions of opponents who may be bluffing. Although it’s not necessary to play for money, high stakes heighten suspense. (Disclosure: I once played for Skittles and have played bingo for dimes.) 

Some evangelicals see no problem in playing for small amounts of cash. Others have tended to avoid poker because of its association with gambling. From the Westminster Larger Catechism in the 1640s (which criticizes “wasteful gaming” in its question 142) to the present, many have seen gambling as a violation of the 8th commandment, “You shalt not steal”—but debates about what is wasteful, what is gambling, and what is stealing have also raged. Does a particular game create hardship to losers and their families? What is the motivation involved? What is moralism and what contributes to human flourishing or diminishing?

Asked whether it was a problem that some poker players lose so others can win, Jenkins said the same dynamic was true of sports like basketball and softball. “I would respectfully challenge anyone to find biblical justification for prohibiting playing poker for money (in moderation at amounts they can afford) while allowing spending the same amounts to play golf or engage in fantasy sports leagues,” Jenkins said in an emailed response to follow-up questions.

Tournament poker opponents would point out that while Jenkins may be able to afford the money he risks at poker, his opponents may not be able to. Barrett Duke, vice president of public policy and research at the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, says gambling is different from other forms of entertainment: “You are basically trying to win other people’s money, and risking the money that the Lord has entrusted to you. Plus, you’re also engaging in activity that has destroyed millions of lives.” (Duke believes poker qualifies as gambling because “the turn of the card determines who wins.”)

According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, 2 to 3 percent of U.S. adults are “problem gamblers” whose habits are disrupting their lives, such as by causing loss of sleep or financial issues. The National Association of Evangelicals and the Southern Baptist Convention officially oppose gambling, and last year opposed a bill that would have expanded online poker. In a 1997 resolution the SBC called on Christians to “exercise their influence by refusing to participate in any form of gambling or its promotion.”

“A few friends gathered around a table, playing for a few dollars over the course of a few hours isn’t the kinds of gambling we’re certainly most concerned about,” Duke said. “But even that poses a certain level of risk for people who maybe enjoy that small thrill of a win and decide to test their luck at other forms of gambling.”

Jenkins says poker is a social hobby and home games have given him opportunities to meet new people and pray with or counsel them. One family he met during a home poker game later came to live with Jenkins and his wife Dianna for several weeks after their home burned during last year’s wildfires. The wife in that family was recently baptized, he said: “Frankly, were it not for poker, we would hardly ever rub shoulders with unsaved people.”


Growing pains

Thousands of kids and adults crowded the Boomers baseball stadium in Schaumburg, Ill., on Sept. 21, but no one was watching baseball. Instead, they had gathered to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Harvest Bible Chapel, a church with an attendance of around 13,000 at seven campuses in Chicago and its suburbs and nearly 100 church plants worldwide through Harvest Bible Fellowship.

Congregants took their children to inflatable funhouses set up for the event and sat in the grandstand with nachos, soft drinks, and fries as they waited for a band to begin playing modern worship songs like “10,000 Reasons.”

After they sang, James MacDonald, senior pastor of Harvest, took to the stage and spoke of the lordship of Jesus Christ: “He took your sin, your regret, your failure, your disappointment.” Like his imposing figure, MacDonald’s preaching style is big and bold: He shouts for emphasis, and listeners often feel challenged. His audience long ago expanded beyond Chicago through the church’s Walk in the Word radio ministry, broadcast throughout the United States.

But as MacDonald and Harvest celebrate 25 years of ministry, they face a barrage of criticism from former elders, pastors, and staff who say the church leadership has operated in recent years with too little transparency and accountability.

Megachurches often have naysayers, but the situation at Harvest is unusual because of the large number of former elders who have spoken publicly, mainly on a blog called The Elephant’s Debt, run by two former Harvest attendees. By early October, at least a dozen former elders, pastors, or staff members, including the former elder board chairman, had added their names or written statements to the website to affirm their concerns about Harvest. Among the allegations are that the church has run a “puppet elder board” and left a trail of broken relationships.

The dissent has grown louder since June, when three Harvest elders resigned after fellow elders dismissed their claim that a “culture of fear and intimidation” and a lack of transparency existed at the church. The current elder board consists of 32 men, including James MacDonald and two staff members.

The three elders—Daniel Marquardt, Scott Phelps, and Barry Slabaugh—complain that although the full elder board is responsible for approving the church budget, they don’t actually have access to a detailed, line-item budget, and are not allowed to know MacDonald’s salary, expense accounts, or income from honorariums or book royalties. 

“When we asked for a line-item budget … we were denied and rebuked. And we were told that even making such a request could get you removed from the elder board,” Phelps told me, adding it reflected a larger problem of the elders having little input into decisions made by executive staff.

Budget details are important for the church, given its $56.8 million debt—the result of a 2005-2007 construction campaign that went awry and doubled in costs, and of a defaulted loan at the church’s campus in Crystal Lake, Ill. The church said it plans to pay off the debt by 2020. However, the church’s most recent financial statement indicates that total contributions dropped 14 percent between 2011 and 2012, to $45.4 million.

The rebukes have gotten worse for Phelps and Slabaugh, who had remained Harvest members after resigning from the board: In September, the remaining elders announced church discipline against the two men in a video played at Harvest’s seven campuses and posted to the church website for several days. In it, they censured and excommunicated Phelps and Slabaugh, apparently for their part in signing a letter, along with six other former elders, that was critical of James MacDonald. Harvest declined to comment when I asked for details about the excommunication.

The letter, sent to the Harvest elder board, has not been publicly released. But several of the former elders who signed it told me they want MacDonald to take a sabbatical from his position in order to focus on character and spiritual growth. They said they stand behind the integrity of Phelps and Slabaugh.

The present Harvest elder board dismisses the notion of a sabbatical. “Pastor James MacDonald is a man under the full authority of our elder board. We remain highly confident in his leadership,” Harvest elder Randy Williams told me in a statement he read over the phone. The church declined to arrange a phone interview with MacDonald.

In a sermon he preached in November 2012, MacDonald admitted he had struggled with verbal outbursts of anger that have damaged relationships. “I’m too intense, for sure. Can anyone honestly say that that completely shocks them?” he said, eliciting laughter. At the time he made efforts to reconcile broken relationships, at the request of the elder board. This September the current elders said they were “completely satisfied with Pastor James’ growth in grace.”

The church has also taken steps toward financial transparency, by posting financial statements and a debt reduction plan online. In late September, the church became accredited by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

Harvest has restructured its elder board twice in the past four years. The first change came in 2009 when the board transitioned from a model of about 8-10 men to a larger one that eventually grew to around 30 individuals. The second change occurred this year, around April, when the church created an “elder leadership team” consisting of about eight elders, including MacDonald and the assistant senior pastor. 

Marquardt, Phelps, and Slabaugh had complained the board rearrangement violated the church constitution. Asked about the elder leadership team, Harvest told me in a statement it had been functioning on a “trial” basis and would “likely be adopted permanently in some measure, including the needed change to our constitution.”

According to a proposed change to the church’s constitution that Harvest announced in September, the team will have “final authority in all matters relating to the church including compensation, buying or selling property and accountability of Senior Staff.”

Daniel James Devine

Daniel James Devine

Daniel is managing editor of WORLD Magazine and lives in Indiana. Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanJamDevine.

Comments

  • beep523
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:26 pm

    The day after I read this article, I clicked on the World Challenge (David Wilkerson) devotion for the day. It addresses this very issue. You can read the devotion here: http://sermons.worldchallenge.org/en/node/25407?src=devo-emailI was heart sick when I read this article. It is little wonder the western church is so powerless. If Mr. Jenkins truly knows Jesus, he has left his first love. If Jesus was standing in front of him, I doubt he would offer his reasoning for taking up a habit that brings no honor to Jesus. Worse yet, Mr. Jenkins is infecting countless numbers of on-fire young people through his influence as Moody chairman and he is thus further destroying God's work.

  • usefull
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:26 pm

    I recently completed reading a book on J. Frank Norris titled the "The Shooting Salvationist".  Very good read.  I came away with the distinct impression that J. Frank Norris built a big church in Texas early in the 20th century by a real love for people in his congregation and a natural gift.  But, he had no love for the unsaved people around him the minute they opposed him.  That included almost everyone in politics in the city.  It lead to his fatal shooting of an unarmed man in his office, "because he felt threatened".    J. Frank Norris built a tremendous church, piloted a Bible college and did many other good things.  But, he sent an unsaved husband and father to an early grave with very little show of remorse.         I fear that Jerry Jenkins (and Moody) have fallen into the same spiritual dichotomy, seeing the unsaved as unworthy of our being the "best" example we could be of Christ likeness in front of them.   Most troubling is the flippant dismissal of the fact that this gambling goes beyond the pale of traditional Christian grace and witness.

  • Viet Vet
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:26 pm

    Jerry Jenkins attempt to rationalize his gambling  is ill advised and sounds elitist.  Using his argument I could go to prostitutes because I can afford it and I get a chance to minister to them.  While sexual morality is specfically forbidden, neither going to prostitutes nor gambling sets the positive example we are told to be, the light of the world.

  • sharron
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:26 pm

    I too find this disappointing. Not much thought given to a weaker brother

  • liderinnova
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:26 pm

    It is so easy to jump into conclusions whether or not biblically based. Not passing judgement is a clear and sound command for all believers. If Jenkins play poker as recreation or not is his business with God. However, I have a hard time understanding how a board sets different moral and behavioral standars from those applied to its students. That really sounds hypocritical and double standard. We should not live what we do not believe. The consistency is called integrity.

  • Janice G's picture
    Janice G
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:26 pm

    God knows the heart of the matter so I will not pronounce judgement upon something in another's life about which I have only partial knowledge. I will illustrate from my own life a bit of experience I have had along these lines. When I was a girl my really close friend and I played a lot of card games because that was what her family enjoyed. Occasionally she would engage me in a game of poker. I did not really enjoy the game and only now thinking back on it I think it was because of the bluffing. It felt like being deceptive and perhaps I was not good at it either (one tends to like what they are good at). I suppose we would have played it more if I had liked it. I preferred other games. As a grown and married woman, my friend and her husband would host penny poker games in their home. They thoroughly enjoyed doing that. We did not live near each other as adults so I was never invited to participate and based on my past experience with poker I would not have attended had I been invited. As my friend moved up to a management position within a large corporate environment she was basically told she had to end the penny poker games because it would be a reflection on the integrity of the business. So that is as far as I got in knowing the ramifications of penny poker. I did attend a BINGO game with this friend while we were on vacation and also went to a casino and did the penny slot machine with pennies she or my other friend provided. That machine was about the dumbest thing I have ever done. I did not play for long and have no desire to do so again. We also played a Hearts machine which required some skill and it was more fun and I could see if someone was so inclined that they might get addicted. I still have no desire to repeat that though. It is valuable to have had these experiences in the one sense that it expands the number of people I would be able to have an opening conversation with about their interests to be able to reach them for Christ. If the people who are spending big bucks on gambling have their lives turned around for God's good purposes then perhaps the pocket change of Jenkins and family is being spent for a better good than the average person may not recognize. God will have to be the judge on this (along with any of the folks who are reached and have their lives turned around by the Jenkins family).

  • Joanna and Steve
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:26 pm

    Mr Jenkins has missed something very important as a Christian.  The money he is using to gamble/play poker (a game of lying or deceiving the other players) is God's money not his!!!  As Christians we are to abide by Roman's 12:2 -  2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing
    of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and
    perfect, will of God.  Compromising is not what Christians are called to do, yes we all sin.  But if we lead someone astray with our actions, 1 Corinthians 8:9 - But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 
    I have seen what social drinking does to families, it has torn them apart.  So why does Mr. Jenkins feel social poker playing be okay?

  • ruralnebr
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:26 pm

    A friend recently posted a picture of a roomful of eastern European orphans, precious, eager children.  They face lives of desperation.....or I am considering the plight of millions of homeless, where $1500 can build a sturdy home for them.....and then we have Mr. Jenkins....comfortably playing poker (or whatever).....while the world perishes (and I am speaking strictly in a physical sense, not even touching the spiritual needs).  We sponsor a child thru Compassion.....and I am sure he does worthwhile acts of giving too.  But this all just comes off as SO FREAKING SELFISH....and of course the firestorm of controversy this will ignite....I guess that makes it news.  blech.  Bad taste in my mouth.

  • HolySmoke
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:26 pm

    " $8,000 playing poker, it's kind of pocket change for me." So, it's mine. I can do with it what I want. It's not the Lord's.

  • Midwest preacher
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:26 pm

    Over my years growing up and as an adult it has been my happy privilege to associate with people who take the idea of "not working ill to one's neighbor" as not only a pretty saying but a pathway.  In any issue of recreational participation we look at whether there is an industry that needs to be boycotted and whether the overall tendency of a product or pass time is good or bad.  As to what the Bible says our agile minds can quickly deduce that Jesus never said looking at a picture or video of a woman was adultery He only said looking at a woman to lust after her was adultery (there were no videos then).  See how that works?  And you can apply it to almost anything you think you want to do or you can follow Christ's way and evaluate unnecessary activities based on possible harm to others.  

  • Hans's picture
    Hans
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:26 pm

    Neil, while I won't comment on smoking or gambling, it is worth pointing out that we can say that drinking alcohol can and should be done to the glory of God because Christ commands that it be done in remembrance of him, not to mention numerous other times where wine is specifically given as an expression of the blessing of God or the good of man. If you choose not to drink, that is certainly your prerogative as a Christian, but it also everyone's responsibility as Christians to not bind the consciences of others on matters not clearly discernible from Scripture.

  • Pjoywes's picture
    Pjoywes
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:26 pm

    I feel uncomfortable with this. Whether or not as a matter of personal liberty in Christ some Christians could morally engage in such activity is one thing, and a matter of debate. Allowing or condoning these practices among those who are supposed to show the highest example -- Jenkins, the Moody board of trustees, Moody faculty and students -- is different. I thought it significant that both his sons are into it too, one even working in a casino. This is no small hobby for this family.

  • socialworker
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:26 pm

    Maybe the loving thing to do between Christians is to keep asking each other; How does that activity glorify God?  How is that activity allowing you to be salt and light?  Maybe Jenkins has the chance to reflect Christ to gamblers that other Christians don't get a chance to get close to.  Don't know.  I was surprised to read in the biography of Bonhoeffer that he smoked.   Of course that was before anyone knew (for sure) the dangers.

  • Neil Evans's picture
    Neil Evans
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:26 pm

    I am curious how drinking alcohol, gambling, and smoking, or any other potentially addictive behaviors would be "to the glory of God," as in "whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (1Cor 10:31)   While lawful, how are they helpful, and how do they build up?  (1Cor 10:23)  I guess I have never heard or seen a listing of the spiritually beneficial effects of behaviors like drinking, gambling and smoking. I do understand that abstaining from these behaviors for legalistic reasons is of no spiritual benefit, but I do not understand why some Christians demand the right to participate in behaviors that have such clearly tragic personal and cultural consequences.

  • Lydia Alleman
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:26 pm

    It is unfortunate that Christians are quick to condemn things that God does not.. I am sick and tired of being lectured about the evils of alcohol, gambling, smoking, etc. Just because some people get addicted does not give one the authority to condemn an activity for all Christians. I'm thankful that WORLD has taken a balanced approach to this issue.

  • Anonymous (not verified)
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:26 pm

    Funny how  things go in circles...seemed avoiding these activities used to be a litmus test for proving your level of spiritual commitment...now it seems participating in these in these activities is the litmus test for your level of freedom...I think the issues of alcohol, smoking and gambling will always be dicey since they can become the objects of addiction.I think we can all agree any addiction would be grounds for questioning someones leadership ability....

  • Midwest preacher
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:26 pm

    Corruption hardly ever comes in with a rush, usually it trickles in and undermines the foundations of an individual or and institution.  The problem with gambling is clear, you are taking from people money that many of them cannot afford to lose.  Are you betting?  Is there a chance you could lose even though it involves skill?  Wow, the human brain is never more agile than when it is trying to justify something we just really want to do. The casino industry has destroyed lives and sucked the money out of many impoverished areas how can we support it?   

  • June
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:26 pm

    I was very saddened to read this about Jenkins and Moody Bible Institute!  Jenkins' last statement makes me wonder why he only rubs shoulders with the unsaved while playing poker.  There are so many opportunities to touch the lives of the unsaved if you look for them.

  • NancyJ
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:26 pm

    Sickening, both as regards Jerry Jenkins, but far more so as this regards Moody Bible Institute.  We've known other schools slide down the slippery slope, but we had hoped Moody's Board of Directors, paid or volunteer, would be such godly leaders that the school would not loosen its strong standards for the glory of God.

  • Barry Slabaugh
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:26 pm

    Ironic -- the view of the chairman of Moody's Board of Trustees.    Historically, Dwight L Moody (1837-1899), Moody Bible Institute, and Moody Church have all seen gambling not as a liberty, but as a snare -- something to be saved from. 
     "May we go to the homes of the poor drunkards; may we go to the homes and hearts of gamblers, the homes of the fallen, the despised and the outcast, and tell them of Christ and heaven.  O Spirit of God! Come down upon this assembly, and may the Church of God find out who their neighbors are.  And, O God, we pray thee that they may be filled with the Spirit of Christ, and that they may go and tell others the story of the cross.  And, O God, we pray thee that hundreds and thousands in this city may be working to win souls to Christ."  
    (Excerpt from one of Moody's prayers, as recorded in "The Gospel Awakenings, Sermons and Addresses, Prayer Meeting Talks and Bible Readings of the Great Revival Meetings Conducted by Moody and Sankey," pp.721-733. Published in 1885)
    Pastor of Chicago's Moody Church for 33 years, Erwin Lutzer says, "Gambling can capture the heart of anyone...  Many people who thought they would never be snared by this lure are secretly coping with this curse...  Years ago the church took a stand against gambling; today we hear nary a word.  I cannot paint the picture too bleak:  just ask the children whose parents have divorced because of gambling losses; just ask the child whose mother spends a hundred dollars a week on lottery tickets rather than buying clothes or food.  In a word, gambling destroys families."    
    (Erwin Lutzer, Seven Snares of the Enemy: Breaking Free From the Devil's Grip (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2001) p. 46     

  • Anonymous (not verified)
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:26 pm

    It's not forbidden in the Bible. Maybe it isn't the wisest thing (I don't always spend money on wise things either, right now I am drinking a soda I bought for $1 of God's money- is it the wisdom involved or the money involved that is question?). But it is money he has to answer for, not me - so I'm not going to say anything bad about the guy. There are enough actual sins being committed in the church that we need to warn or brothers and sister away from... just my thoughts.

  • Robert P Bryant
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:26 pm

    I'm not sure If my first comment got through so here I go again.As history proves time and time again; "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." We see this even in knowledgeable men (I question his wisdom) like Solomon. We see it repeated a thousand times during the Dark-Ages; especially in the tenth century when popes were kings and the not so holy, Holy Roman emperors ruled  like Jehus' and Caiapahs' and Khans. As (I believe it was) Madison said in Federalist #51 "...if men were angels  no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary..."  But we see in our not so proud human history that whether you be a Pharaoh, a Samson, a Robespierre, pastor of 10,000 congregants, an elder or layman, your human nature like an unbridled donkey cannot be trusted with unlimited power.  That is why even the US, President is powerless when he has the majority of Congress against him. Sadly, history also shows that there are few unselfish leaders like Cincinnatus and G. Washington who will graciously walk away from power but that it usually has to be taken away from them. Can these physicians heal themselves; usually not!Respectfully:Robert Bryant  

  • Dennis Dawn Wright
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:26 pm

     "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

  • Robert P Bryant
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:26 pm

    Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely whether you be a jeroboam or a Solomon.

  • CherylQuilts's picture
    CherylQuilts
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:26 pm

    I find this deeply disappointing.