out in the open

Well I have felt a little reluctant to say much more, the comments are coming pretty quickly, many hits are happening on my blog, and so its kind of doing its own thing, but then there is more that has come to light concerning this whole matter involving the XFBA and XFMP. First off it was good to have Jevon Blake and Mr. Alexander “the brother. This is great, its the first time we’ve had them comment so its good to know they’re reading. Unfortunately, very little is actually being responded to. Though Blake has offered to personally return the money to those who have had a hard time getting a hold of them (he even gave them his cell phone number — 330.313.7259 and 330.209.9373), it was also nice that Mr. Alexander said something about the non-banquet, though there was nothing said about why the media wasn’t there for the “media launch party.”

A number of random thoughts still on the table:

Answers to questions we continue to bring up should not involve the same old rhetoric (that most in support of this league seem to use), “believe it will work,” “have faith in unseen things,” “satan is attacking.” I am pretty sure I’m not satan, at least my Liscense doesn’t indicate that I am, and my faith community would probably argue that I am an alright guy who seeks to follow Jesus.

This being said, there is a fundamental issue that arises when Christian leadership defaults to this kind of talk when posed with questions about his/her actions. None of us are above reproach, and if we, as Christian leaders, are questioned we should never say that those questions are “a lack of faith” or “from satan.” If we do this we shut down those who have come to us as listeners (a major role for anyone in Christian leadership is listening humbling). If we are a community of Jesus followers, than we have to answer openly to one another. Jesus and the Apostles never approached questions this way. In Fact in Acts 17:11 the Beroeans are commended for looking into the things Paul was telling them to find out if it was true. Blindly believing is something Jesus (and Paul) never expected from anyone, anytime he gave a message, or asked people to follow him, it was based on the assumption that the things he said, the things he did, and the miracles he performed were all true and trustworthy. People believed because of all these things, not just because he told them to believe.

There has been too much secrecy surrounding this whole thing. Players that have contacted me are afraid to have their names known because they fear they may lose their chance to play. Leaders putting fear into people like this is not Jesus-like at all. Even in the non-christian buisness world, people are allowed to air their opinions without the fear of losing one’s job – much less a Christian one. This is why blogs, editorial pages, and other user created sources of information have done so well as of late and this is why groups have staff meetings. Remember these players are staff, and without them their is no league. People want to be heard, and deserve to be heard as God’s created beings and this should be without fear.

There still has been no reply or even comment on my letter I sent to the main XFBA email. This only shows secrecy is still a top priority for the leaders. Secrecy alone does not mean anything is afoul, but it raises many questions and puts to burden of proff on those holding the secrets. An interesting article about Creflo Dollar’s own secrecy concerning his finances has a similar tone to the one we’re facing. We are still waiting on some more straight forward answers. Please read Chase’s comment for more thoughts on this.

“Faith alone” is no buisness principle, or at least not for the successful ones. This is something that everyone needs to be aware of. As Alexander said, “Even if this was a scam, which it isn’t, God being as awesome as he is, will make it work out in your favor because you believe.” This is not Christian buisness, just because it uses Christian vocabulary. God doesn’t honor people who are dishonest, in fact God is always on the side of the oppressed which means he is always against the one oppressing (scammers oppress). Now I am not trying to go back to the beginning and call this whole thing a scam, I am not saying that at all. What I am saying is that this kind of theology undergirding this buisness is a scam. Its not true. It uses Christian Rhetoric to get people to think its doing something good because they have “faith.” Let’s face it, many evil doers have had “faith” in the past. For instance many slaveholders said and believed that they had faith, did that nullify all the of evils that they committed against their fellow brothers and sisters? NO. God is for the oppressed. God is a God of justice and he will not honor an organization that counters his own ideals.

As far as the salvation of players go, this has a potential to be wonderful so long as those players are pointed in the direction of a community of faith that disciples and forms people into Christ-followers. I praise God that people can find God through various works of humanity. On the other hand, the salvation of souls does not mean that everything else that is done from that organization or person is okay. Shall we be reminded of Jimmy Bakker or Jimmy Swaggert, many people were saved by their ministries, but the law did not change and they were convicted of major crimes. Some of their followers stayed as Christians but many fell away because of the crimes of those men. This is because our salvation and the salvation of others is so closely tied to the way we actually live out our lives. Jesus never expected any of his followers to do something he had not done himself, he physically showed them how to love the poor, powerless and the widows. His life, as he lived it out on a daily basis was the salvation of humankind because it directed people to the reality of God’s power and kingdom at hand. His resurrection sealed this deal. If Jesus would have come and been a slouch his whole time on earth, and then died only to be raised a slouch, then our faith would be vastly different than the one given to us in our Bible. Because he was not this way must live like the Jesus of the Bible and no other version.

Jesus may forgive us for our wrong doings, but the law may not.
From “O Brother Where Art Thou”

Ulysses Everett McGill: That’s not the issue Delmar. Even if that did put you square with the Lord, the State of Mississippi’s a little more hard-nosed.

And about what Renee said, Salvation is good even if there are never any paychecks? I’d run that one past the players and see how that goes over. Salvation doesn’t put food on the tables and diapers on the young ones. The Lord seems more concerned about this than you do becasue he told us to pray “give us our daily bread” and the league being in a prime position to offer the answer to this prayer will be held accountable to God to do so.

Its good that its been pointed out to us a number of times that Mr. Heard is not God, this has been a big question up in the air for all of us. –We are trying to dig up credibility here, comments like this really don’t do much for that.

There are some issues that have arisen out of this whole money order deal. Assuming that what we’ve heard is really true, then the league plans on paying with money orders? How is this not a huge red flag for everyone? First: Banks only allow money orders to be made in small amounts (usually under $2500 per visit), because it would be really easy to committ fraud otherwise. The bank is to contact the IRS for anything that seems questionable on this issue. This small amount in no way would account for the salaries they promise the players. Secondly, the players are signed up as “independant contractors” so that the leauge doesn’t have to pay taxes on the, the players pay there own. There’s nothing wrong with this, taxes on a $60,000 salary is around $15,000 so that’s a lot to save for but not uncalled for. The trouble is, that the XFBA is the only source of income for these “independant contractors” according to the law, an independant contractor must have multiple sources of income or else he or she is not independent but employeed. This will not create trouble for the players but is bound to get the IRS on the backs of the XFBA real fast.

Plenty of people build buisness, good ones in fact, without faith rhetoric. As a rule of thumb as soon as faith becomes the major reason to invest or be invovled in a company I’d check out. I’ve never heard Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or The Trump tell their investors to have “faith.” And there are many good Christian organizations that show their faith by how well they do buisness and treat others. These are the kinds of buisnesses that stay on the up and up.

Finally for a company to say “have faith” that this is going to work out, is misuse of the Scriptures. Any time Jesus or the bible ever talks of having “faith” its always directed directly at Jesus or God – not anyone else, not another ministry, not a buisness, not even a miracle! We are only ever asked to believe in the trustworthiness and love of God and his son, nothing else.

I say all this because we want those of you involved to think critically and wisely about how much more effort you put forth in this. Not one promise has been fulfilled yet by the league, and when questioned they make no good answer. Use wisdom and love as guiding principles – if things seem like they are motivated out of love and are wise – and they seem to be right on with Jesus’ ethics then stick in there. I’d just like to see people not lose jobs, families, health, and even their faith (or idea of Christians) if this thing blows. Also know that if it doesn’t work out, they will say its because we didn’t have enough faith. Don’t buy that as an excuse to let them out of their responsibility both to the Lord and to the Law. Its time for them to come out in the open.

Here is more info concerning xzuberant on my blog:
Update 1
Update 2
Update 3
Update 4
Update 5
Update 6
Update 7
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Wess

...is the William R. Rogers Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC., PhD in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, served as a "released minister" at Camas Friends Church, and father of three. He enjoys sketchnoting, sharing conversation over coffee with a friend, listening to vinyl and writing creative nonfiction.