North Carolina pastor, Tim Rogers expresses grief over a personal hero--James Merritt. The good pastor's lament has nothing to do with some of the issues I've raised concerning Dr. Merritt's curious inaction toward a Cross Pointe teaching pastor's (his son, Jonathan) unchecked pro-gay crusade. Rather it seems Rogers' disappointment concerns Dr. Merritt's involvement with a notorious "ponzi scheme." He writes >>>
"...Dr. Merritt seems to be promoting a questionable, already fined, ponzi scheme using the auditorium at Cross Pointe Church. Of course Cross Pointe Church is an autonomous body and that is their business. However, this is certainly not the kind of conference that I am used to seeing Dr. Merritt support and promote... I am not understanding how Dr. Merritt believes this financial scheme helps people better than sound scriptural advice. According to Dr. Merritt’s statement instead of expressing the Gospel...he asks for 30 minutes of their time to sign them up as an employee of his" (//link)
What's going on?
In 2001 and 2002, Dr. James Merritt was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention. At the time, he was pastor of the historic Snellville First Baptist Church. Indeed Merritt was perceived at one time as being the top denominational statesman in the Southern Baptist Convention, a successor, so to speak, to the late but indisputably legendary Dr. Adrian Rogers. But apparently that was another time…another place…and sadly, another Dr. James Merritt.
Today's Dr. Merritt is a confusing fellow. Unlike the Merritt of yesteryear, he caters to the more "emergent-like" crowd at Cross Pointe church. Worship style incorporates secular music as "hooks" for those who have no religious roots. A decidedly "accepting" atmosphere is apparently being promoted; and while such an atmosphere is not necessarily a wrong atmosphere to promote, the kind of acceptance which James Merritt's son, Jonathan Merritt, publicly embraces surely must make Cross Pointe members nervously concerned.
As we've detailed before, Jonathan Merritt, teaching pastor at Cross Pointe, wholeheartedly promotes a lackadaisical reluctance in embracing all things gay. He continues to push his pro-gay agenda, squeezing every opportunity to blast both evangelicals and Southern Baptists for their "homophobic" reactions to homosexuality.* Consequently, many Cross Pointe members have walked away since learning of Merritt's pro-gay message.
However, Dr. Merritt's reservations in dealing with Jonathan's out-of-control media blitz for homosexual acceptance is indicative of only part of the confusion surrounding Dr. Merritt's ministry. As Rogers indicates, Dr. Merritt is apparently ear-deep in Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing, Inc. (FHTM), a Kentucky based firm which bills itself as a "direct selling company that gives people the opportunity to build their own businesses by marketing FHTM's diverse lineup of outstanding products and services."
The problem is, FHTM is continually under investigation as an illegal pyramid scheme. In other words, FHTM is undoubtedly a financial scam. At least one state I found fined FHTM approximately $1,000,000 and required them to change their policies drastically if FHTM continued to operate in the state. In April 2010, Montana's Commissioner of Securities and Insurance, Monica Lindeen, said in her statement: "[FHTM] … agreed today to pay nearly $1 million to settle an allegation by Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Monica Lindeen that the company was operating a pyramid promotional scheme in Montana" (//link).
In addition, ABC did an investigative report** about FHTM and concluded similarly that the Kentucky based business is nothing more than a scam to milk millions from unsuspecting people who think they are going to get rich quick by doing absolutely nothing:
Unfortunately, it looks as if Dr. Merritt is among the top promoters of FHTM and arguably the most celebrated minister on FHTM's recruiting team. With tears, listen to this once great gospel preacher tell how he likes to now share financial wealth with inquirers who express personal needs to him after he preaches a sermon: [yes, the video is now gone due to "copyright infringement" filed by James Merritt. I'm afraid his administrative assistant will be filing "copyright infringement" for quite a spell due to the video's proliferation on the net. Just google "James Merritt FHTM" and see the ubiquitous links. There are good grounds to believe that it most certainly is *not* "copyright infringement" when a) no financial profit is involved; b) no reasonable indication exists one is attempting to steal intellectual/artistic property; and especially c) when a reasonable amount of video snippets are used for educational purposes including critical evaluation which is precisely the reason for its usage here. However, I have no plans to contest it unless Merritt claims I either tampered with the content, or that he didn't say what has been attributed to him in any writings I may have written. That's all.]
Dr. Merritt used his Cross Pointe pulpit to promote what in all likelihood is a financial scam which gives people false hope about getting rich without going to work. Southern Baptists' rising star during the Conservative Resurgence now apparently counsels people with problems to give him 30 minutes of their time so he can make money from recruiting them instead of them giving Jesus their heart. Is more evidence necessary to establish that what Southern Baptists need today is not new and improved programs or sleeker, leaner denominational structure? We don't need more panel discussions about church growth or even church planting. What we need is what Billy Graham preached years ago,
"What the church needs today is a good, old-fashioned, heaven sent, Holy Ghost revival!"
Come back to us, Dr. Merritt, come back!
But unbuckle from your ankles the chains which thoroughly bind. We want a gospel preacher not a get-rich-quick speaker who peddles fairy tales about earthly riches rather than proclaiming streets of gold in heaven. We need someone to stand with us against the homosexualization of our culture not one who caters to it via a young, out-of-control Cross Pointe pastor.
Come back to us, Dr. Merritt...
We love so much of what we've seen in the past.
We now are only confused.
What will you be found doing when our Lord comes?
Recruiting for Him or for FHTM?
Peddling ponzi schemes...
or preaching Jesus?
Forsake such worldly nonsense and get on the road Jesus is on, the road you've so clearly pointed others toward in the past.
With that, I am…
*unfortunately, young Merritt received tacit approval for his crusade from Dr. Al Mohler at the Southern Baptist Convention when Mohler not only affirmed Merritt correctly quoted him saying, "we've lied about the nature of homosexuality…[and] practiced what can only be called a form of homophobia" but made confusing calls for Southern Baptists to "repent of homophobia," calls which set news headlines in blazing motion
**it should be pointed out that ABC may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to investigative journalism. For example, Brian Ross' piece on Exodus International is obviously slanted toward a politically correct agenda. On the FHTM expose, however, there are plenty other media outlets which have come to the same conclusion as did ABC. The viewer may make his or her mind up as to ABC's credibility on FHTM