The Pen

H.B. Charles Dishonors the Poor

Pastor H.B. Charles of Shiloh Church in Jacksonville, Florida is a sought after preacher on the evangelical speaking circuit and a featured contributor to LifeWay Sunday School publications. His 10th Anniversary as pastor of Shiloh Church is to be specially recognized during Sunday services on November 11th. This special recognition follows a black-tie banquet that was held in his honor this Friday. The banquet was advertised on the church’s website as follows:

On Friday, November 9th, join us for a black-tie banquet in honor of Pastor Charles and family, Please visit the Eventbrite page regarding purchasing a table, ticket or ad space in the commemorative souvenir booklet.

Tickets to this church event could be purchased for $50. Tables were available for purchase as well. A reserved table could be purchased for $450; the price of a “VIP” table was $500.

The existence of this expensive price list begs the question, “Who is a VIP in the body of the local church?” To answer this question, we should turn to the Bible:

My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called? (James 2:1-7)

Shiloh church clearly showed favor to those who could afford a $500 “VIP” table to a black-tie event. This event was clearly intended for the rich to the exclusion of the poor. “VIP” and “reserve” seating aside, a $50 per person ticket cost was clearly cost prohibitive to families of limited means. Access to their pastor’s celebration was limited to the wealthy. So, too, was the advertising space made available in the commemorative program. Those who could not attend were encouraged to buy an ad or greeting.

If you are unable to attend- you can show your support by buying an ad or greeting in the Commemorative 10th Anniversary Program Booklet.

At Shiloh Baptist church, it costs money to greet the pastor. The sale of ad space at a church event calls to mind the words of of the Lord Jesus as he cleansed the money changers from the temple:

Take these things away; stop making my Father’s house a place a business.

The most important person, the VIP, in the local church is the Holy Spirit. He provides gifting to each member of the body, no matter his wealth level, to serve the other members of the body. At Shiloh, the poor were despised to honor a wealthy pastor. H.B. Charles, Jr is an example of the deplorable celebrity culture that has developed in American evangelicalism. Charles teaches thousands of Christians through his lectures and publications yet his local church, which he is responsible to shepherd, would draw the strongest condemnation from the Apostle James and his brother the Lord Jesus. Why is this man touted before America’s Christian masses?

Plain and simple, he is good at making money and drawing money in that market. Charles is arguably a businessman in the family business more so than a pastor. According to his bio at Shiloh church:

At the age of eleven, H.B. began his public ministry at the Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist Church, under the watchful eyes of his father and the other pastoral leaders of the congregation...In June of 1989, the Lord called Dr. Charles, Sr. from labor to refreshment, leaving a personal and ministerial void in H.B.’s life. But the Lord used this dramatic time to further H.B.’s growth in grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus. And on November 5, 1990, Mount Sinai ended a year-long pastoral search by selecting H.B. to succeed his father. At the time, H.B. was a seventeen-year-old senior at Los Angeles High School.

As a 17 years of age, Charles was appointed the pastor of his father’s church. Charles became an “elder” before he graduated high school and then went to Bible college. Unfortunately, this type of nepotism is not rare in certain Christian circles, especially those who recognize “first families” and “VIPs.”

When considering the overall toxicity of celebrity preaching culture and the evangelical preaching circuit, Christians would he wise to turn their eyes to Charles’ business partners and ask themselves why they partner with such a man in “gospel” endeavors?

Pictured above are the men of “Together for the Gospel”. Among their number are Matt Chandler, Ron Burns (Thabiti Anyabwile), and Mark Dever. Christians should ask themselves if it really is “the gospel” that draws these men together.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Seth Dunn

Masters of Divinity in Christian Apologetics, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Member of the Evangelical Theological Society Certified Public Accountant