In a previous post, I spoke of a new website called PrayerMarket.com in which users traded prayers for reward money. Basically, I thought the whole idea was reprehensible. I’m not alone; other bloggers who were directly contacted by the site’s founder have pretty much agreed with that sentiment:
- “PrayerMarket–Pay for Pray? Um, No” (on Equus Nom Veritas)
- “Pay for Prayer? Not on my Blogs!” (on Faith of the Fathers)
- “Prayermarket.com” (on The Orthodox Pathway)
The first two are Catholic websites and both used a term that’s new to me, but the concept it describes isn’t. The word is simony: the act of exchanging money for spiritual goods. The origin of the story is Simon the Sorcerer, which is described in Acts 8:9-25. The crux of the sin is found in verses 18-19:
Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
Offering money to obtain the gifts of God, rightfully obtained solely by God’s grace is not a sign of a penitent heart. The apostle Peter told Simon that his heart wasn’t right before God, and commanded the sorcerer to repent (verse 21-22).
Someone suggested Steve Colbert do a story on it. Not a bad suggestion; there is much to be mocked.
John Wilson, founder of the site, has agreed to an interview with me. I will reprint the interview below in Q&A format, with some further comments from me. Read the rest of this entry