Only a day or so ago I put a post on facebook that said;
“some of the stuff shown on certain ‘Christian’ tv shows makes me sick. Manipulative, exploitative, junk preying on broken people.”
71 replies and 30 thumbs up later, I thought I would add some detail to my comment.
There I was, chilling out on the sofa when I thought I would flick through the religious channels section on sky. I was frankly appalled but in a way that went deeper and further than before.
One station has a show with a bloke who has a desk covered in “prosperity handkerchiefs.” If I hadn’t been so angry it would have been amusing to note that they were green. They were offering a ‘point of contact’ for his miracle working anointing that would ensure prosperity financially and physically to all who had one. The offer was followed by testimonies of people with new cars or debts paid off. A bit of research later and I find out that this so called “pastor” mainly works amongst the poor black communities of the southern United States. What a thieving, manipulating crook. Before you tell me that we aren’t to judge people etc etc…I will tell you categorically that a major role of discernment is to test for heresy and false teaching. And before you tell me to remember the verse “let he who is without sin cast the first stone” I will state now that the wrong application of verses such as these has allowed countless charlatans, heretics, crooks and thieves to continue to ply their evil, criminal trade and harm thousands of people. In any case, I’m prepared to take the flack, argue the case and stick my head above the parapet on this issue (and a number of others). I fear the consequences for not speaking out more than the consequences of staying silent. A post on some of these verses will follow in due course.
The next guy I saw on TV was a convicted fraudster who was peddling his thievery amongst the same sort of poor demographic. His purely manipulative drivel made me feel sick. If I had been in a church and seen that happening I would have been tempted to storm the pulpit, grab him round the neck and chuck him out onto the street. He is nothing short of a crook. He deserves to be banged up. Give it a year or three and he probably will be.
And so it continues, day after day, night after night. Ridiculous rhetoric, manipulative words, hyper spiritual jargon, false promises of hope thats mostly centred around money and barely a word about Jesus.
I’ve seen it all before of course. There’s one guy who waffles on endlessly about ‘becoming a better you’ and refuses to say that Jesus is the only way or hardly ever even mention his name. All he will promise is wealth, fulfillment of ambition and health. Of course, buying his latest book will help you achieve your potential just that bit quicker. Its amazing and utterly tragic how some people are praying for a white mercedes and simultaneously a family of believers in Africa are praying for rain to be able to drink some water.
These so called teachers are wolves in sheeps clothing. They peddle a message to itching ears. I’m convinced that you could sit in some of their so called churches for years and never understand fully what the cross of Jesus and the resurrection was all about. Frankly, they probably dont care…the important thing is whether you have your standing order form set up.
So what of Christian TV? No doubt there is some cracking stuff being broadcast. Theres some great teaching and content. I myself have been on once or twice for an interview about evangelism and mission and its been worthwhile judging by the response. Some of my friends have also been on Christian TV and some tell me that people have come to Christ as a result. All of that is great!
I need however to say it as I see it. Those of you who know me will I hope recognise that I try to be a man who gives the benefit of the doubt. I prefer to believe the best first and I’m certainly not a cynic. I’m not given to public displays of anger or making inflammatory statements for the sake of it. On this issue amongst a few I feel a need to speak out. The content I have seen disgusts me and I believe is an offence to the Kingdom and brings our mission into disrepute. Nearly every industry I can think of has some kind of standards applied to it. Sadly that doesn’t apply to Christian media. For this reason, I think we all need to consider our response. Perhaps its time to buy some air time and demonstrate something different? Perhaps we need to be just a little bit more vocal and use our blogs, columns and pulpit time to warn people? Perhaps we need to name and shame in order to protect the followers of Jesus who are most vulnerable to the thieving and manipulation?
I am not saying that God doesn’t bless us and sometimes with more than what we need. I’m not saying that we can’t know healing and blessing in this life as well as the next. I am speaking against the peddlers of false unbalanced messages who use their teaching to extract money from the poor and rich and dangle spiritual carrots in front of people to line their own pockets and fund their own lives of excess. Shame on them.
We have used to many excuses and applied incorrect interpretation of certain verses to stay quiet. I’ll be taking time to look into these issues more in the months ahead and hopefully, God willing, point to truth and not lies, blessing and not thieving.
Woe to you preachers of false hope and peddlers of manipulative, damaging garbage. Woe to you.