Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Letter To My Friends About TBN

by Michael Spencer

Why We Watch. Why We Shouldn't.
Dear friends,
Over the years, many of you have talked with me about the preachers and teachers you watch on TBN, the ironically named Trinity Broadcasting Network. Some of you tell me about the ministries you like, and you assume that I will like them too. You've been a little surprised that I don't like Joyce or T.D. or Jesse or Paul or Rod or Benny, and maybe you've concluded I am too narrow or too Baptist or too Calvinistic. I want you to know that my problem with TBN is more substantial than jealousy.
Some of you know that I worshiped with the charismatics when I was a much younger Christian, and that I am not at all opposed to a lot about charismatic worship. You know that I encourage raising hands, and that I've been seen with mine up in the air a few times. You know that I have tremendous respect for some Pentecostal ministers, particularly Jack Hayford and many of the Vineyard churches, even though I disagree with them on some important doctrinal matters. I love my Pentecostal and charismatic brothers and sisters. So you may be surprised that I view most of the TBN family quite negatively. In fact, I believe many of them are as dangerously cultic as the Mormons or the JWs.
Frequently, many of you will ask me what I think about someone you are watching on TBN, and you have noticed my lack of enthusiasm. Some of you are may be uneasy about what you've seen and heard as well, while others have obviously wondered if I have a lack of love for people who are anointed with the Spirit and obviously gifted with ministries that help people. You clearly wonder why I can't see that God is blessing these ministries, and using them in powerful ways. It's not that you don't see or hear some of what bothers me, it's simply that- on balance- you see and hear mostly things that you agree with. You have possibly concluded that I am too denominational, and not open to what the Holy Spirit is doing through those with whom I might disagree.

I think these are important matters. TBN is the largest religious broadcasting medium in the world. When I was growing up, Billy Graham Crusades appeared on television a couple of times a year. TBN reaches as many people as those Graham Crusades every minute. Years ago, when it was 700 Club, PTL and TBN, I would have laughed out loud to be told that the Paul and Jan's little operation would one day overwhelm every other religious broadcaster on the planet. I would never have believed that Jan's hair would outlast Tammy Faye's mascara, but that is what has happened. To be on TBN is to be at the pinnacle of religious broadcasting success, and to be guaranteed millions- maybe billions- of viewers and potential supporters. To be on TBN is to appear to be approved by God because you are as successful as you can be in the evangelical world.


Buddy King said...

Good article Robert. I used to have a concern about Way of The Master airing on TBN when I first learned of Way of The Master. I saw a response from Ray somewhere, something like - "what better place to share the TRUE gospel." Sometimes I wonder if the ends justifies the means in those cases. Are the TRUE preachers propping up and actually supporting the false ones by being on there. As the article states, Paul Crouch needs them on there to have something for everyone. But then I wouldn't have access to Way of The Master if it wasn't on there ;-)