Generally thought of as “Christian TV” or “Christian Televangelism,” there is in Christendom today, a brand of quasi pop-religiosity permeating the body of Christ like a malignancy. And that it truly is.
A friend who we will call “Paris” once quipped that the initials “TBN” (the chosen moniker of the immemorial Trinity Broadcast Network) would be more appropriately dubbed the “Totally Blasphemous Network.” And although the jest was offered in a hyperbolic sense, over the years this Examiner has come to see bits of truth behind the wit.
The deeper one delves into the teachings of the Holy Bible, that is, the more one progresses in one’s “walk” with the Almighty, the more one also becomes disenchanted with the sort of shallow, what’s-in-it-for-me, gnostic, extra-biblical, stripe of preaching one witnesses on religious television (and, which sadly also filters on down to the local pulpit).
Although the context is quite different – seeing as the verses were describing Jewish apostates in the days leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Herodian Temple in A.D. 70 – the Bible describes the sort of content persistently aired on these broadcast networks.
The scripture rebukes the purveyors, people within the faith community, with pronouncements like:
“…lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy… trucebreakers, false accusers… despisers of those that are good… Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. Ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth… these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.”
(Excerpts from 2 Timothy 3:2-8)
What makes the snake-oil salesmen in Jesus TV land especially dangerous is that their false teaching draws the huddled masses into their false light in the same manner in which the insect is drawn into the bug zapper.
Not unlike the irresistible ultraviolent lamp that leads the mosquito to its doom, the accouterments of Christian televangelism are always gloriously adorned. The sets are ornate, the rhetoric flowery and intriguing. But at the end of the day the path they lay is still in the opposite direction of God’s truth – which is found only in his complete, inerrant, revealed word, and through his created order.
Over the years, the false teaching on the airwaves has spread through a faith which, when left as a religion, pure and undefiled (James 1:27) is the only one that deals rationally with every aspect of the human condition. In the process it has become almost a self-parody highlighted by moments of the merely jejune, to over the top, no-wonder- unbelievers-think-Christians-are-buffoons travesties.
Exempli gratia; amongst the more risible was Sal Polichetti’s late 1970s American Roman Catholic pop band “Sonseed” seen in this link in their viral YouTube video “Jesus Is My Friend” which declares Christ to be “…like Mountie, he always gets his man, and he’ll zap you anyway he can – ZAP!”
The point is not simply to bust on the Christian-reggae, Donny Osmond wannabe, or on heresy hunter-killers like TBN’s Paul and (his pink-wig wearing wife) Jan Crouch, but to underscore the type of absurdities that are all too commonly advanced under the banner of the Savior of the world.
Christianity remains in crisis. Fortunately the Bible describes a theology of dominion, not the escapist, gloom and doom defeatism espoused by clergymen everywhere today.
Perhaps the saddest thing is that this generation is missing out on impacting the world in a significant and meaningful manner. Which is not to say that the misled are headed for eternal damnation. One cannot and should not ever make such a judgment, nor is that the case here.
It does however mean that the blessing of being a genuine blessing to others is something many will never realize until they change their minds and hearts by turning away from the false light of bug zapper Christianity.