Vol.XII No.XII Pg.3
February 1976

"Holy" Hucksters

Dan S. Shipley

In contrasting his work with that of certain false teachers at Corinth, Paul writes that we are not as the many, corrupting the word of God.. . (2 Cor. 2:l7). The Greek word rendered corrupting appears only here in the NT, but has an interesting background. According to W.E. Vine the word primarily signifies to be a retailer, to peddle, to hucksterize (from KAPELOS, an inn-keeper, a petty retailer, especially of wine, a huckster, peddler, in contrast to EMPOROS, a merchant); hence, to get base gain by dealing in anything, and so, more generally, to do anything for sordid personal advantage. (Expository Dictionary of NT Words, Vol. 1, p. 242)

As the huckster would water-down his wine and misrepresent his wares in order to gain more profit, so would these false teachers alter and adulterate the word of God for personal gain or advantage. Paul refers to such hucksters in Titus 1:11 as teaching things which they ought not for filthy lucres sake. Peter refers to the same kind of men as being motivated by covetousness and warns that they with feigned words make merchandise of you... (2 Pet. 2:3). From both definition and Scripture we have depicted here the unscrupulous religious charlatan who pretends to be on Gods side while doing the work of the devil. Such characters are still around and need exposing.

The pitch may differ somewhat from the days of Paul, but be assured that the holy huckster is still alive and apparently doing quite well. For a modest donation he will send you a genuine prayer cloth or bless a sample of your seed crop with assurances of a bountiful harvest. He practically guarantees that by casting your bread upon the water (sending him your money), something good will come your way. Humorous? To some perhaps, but not all laugh. Some respond. To them it is another straw of hope to be grasped... like the terminal cancer victim or the drunkards wife — or the prisoners mother. Unfortunately, their ignorance coupled with their aspirations make them the perfect set-up for exploitation by the huckster. They constitute a ready market for the shyster who will tell them what they want to hear — and herein lies the secret to the hucksters extraordinary success.

Accordingly, the huckster s activities are not confined to audiences of high-powered border radio stations! His services may actually be solicited, even among the educated and sophisticated religionists. Many have no appetite for the pure and undiluted gospel; they prefer that smooth things be spoken by their teachers (Isa. 30:10). Paul wrote of some who would not endure sound doctrine and would heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts (2 Tim. 4:3). Teachers who water-down the gospel or soft-peddle truth for position or financial security are no less hucksters than the prayer-cloth variety! In fact, they are probably more dangerous in their subtleties. Gods people must recognize them for what they are: enemies of truth. As such they do not deserve our fellowship, endorsement or support. Our allegiance must be to truth and to its faithful proclaimers.