"Don't be culturally competitive while remaining spiritually bankrupt."
This is a quote that popped up in my Twitter feed as I watched the series premiere of "Thicker than Water" a reality show that documents the prosperous yet problem-filled lives of the Tankards. The quote was attributed to Rev. William Curtis, pastor of Mt. Ararat Baptist Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania but I don't think the tweet came as a response to the show although it came at just the right time.
If the name Tankard sounds familiar it is because you probably own some of Ben Tankard's music. He's been called "the Quincy Jones of gospel music" specializing primarily in instrumental arrangements as well as producing other gospel artists. On "Thicker than Water" he is the father to a blended family of five children he likens to "The Black Brady Bunch," a husband to a wife who is in love with money as much as he is, the pastor of the Destiny Center Church located in Murfeesboro, Tennessee, and an overall braggart about his wealth. Tankard is a true rags to riches story and isn't afraid to tell it. Having experienced poverty at a young age and also homelessness when an injury threatened his promising NBA career, Tankard seems determined never to taste the bitter gall of poverty. As he says, "I've been poor, now I'm rich. Trust me, rich is better." But it seems that riches have become the god of him and his wife-Jewel-and this is shown most clearly within the first five minutes of the show:
"The first time that I realized that God wanted us to be rich, I was a senior in college and I saw this phenomenal man and woman of God standing up and preaching the word of God and honey, wasn't nothing broke about them! I said, "Oh Lord, this is the Jesus that I know." Jewel Tankard"You are supposed to dominate in life and certainly be a millionaire." Ben Tankard"We serve a God who is all about the bling in heaven. There's no ghetto section of heaven." Ben Tankard"If I had to take a vow of poverty I would have never gotten saved." Jewel Tankard
Tankard is a prosperity gospel preacher in the truest sense, telling his congregation they are meant to dominate and be millionaires. He also teaches this millionaire philosophy to his children and seems to be more interested in making them materially rich rather than spiritually rich. But all that glitters isn't gold for the Tankards and the first show reveals some hints of the spiritual bankruptcy that is looming over the large family.
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