October 23, 2014

Let’s Discuss: The Legacy of Paul Crouch and TBN

Paul_Crouch_Dead_TBN

After having written this, I have to chuckle. Just to clarify: these are my words, not John MacArthur’s

* * *

I must admit, I didn’t pay much attention when I heard that Paul Crouch of Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) had died on Nov. 30. I have dismissed TBN and the world of televangelism for so long that anything which happens in that world barely crosses my radar.

I consider the vast majority of what takes place in that realm as sub-Christian and unworthy of serious discussion. Instead of Micah 6:8’s clear description of what the Lord requires of us — to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God — the world of Christian televangelism has always appeared to me to be about doing rapaciously, loving money, and walking proudly in the spotlight.

I can barely stand to watch any preaching on TV (I don’t think the medium lends itself to true Christian communication), much less the carnival barkers who call themselves preachers on a network like TBN. When I think of how many dollars have been given to support these empires –er, ministries — many millions of them by folks who could ill afford to contribute, texts like Jesus’ denunciation of those who “devour widows’ houses” come immediately to mind. When you add horrible theology and over-the-top tackiness of presentation to the constant, dishonest, and predatory appeals for money that transparently take advantage of people’s pain and suffering, gullibility and religious sensitivities, you end up with a mix that makes Tetzel look like a Desert Father.

The news reports of Paul Crouch’s death mention not only his media empire (84 satellite channels and over 18,000 television and cable affiliates around the world), but also the scandals that have dogged the Crouch family and TBN in recent years, such as this one, which Christianity Today reported in 2012.

The usual suspects have paid their tributes. Today, I would like for us to discuss the legacy left by this man and the business of televangelism on the Christian faith in the U.S. and around the world. I’ve done my best to ignore it over the years, but it is clear that millions of people tune in and find something they think is worth watching. I believe these “ministries” have also led many, many people to flee into the post-evangelical/charismatic wilderness if not out of the faith altogether, in addition to trapping multitudes in bondage to theologies of glory that cannot save or show us the real Jesus.

TBN will broadcast a special celebration of Dr. Paul Crouch’s life and legacy Sunday, December 8th.

I won’t be watching.

Comments

  1. Patrick Kyle says:

    A semi prominent theologian of my acquaintance remarked after one of his several appearances on the network, that the studios of TBN were decorated in the style of “Early French Bordello.”

    • Jazziscoolithink says:

      I had to look that up, but it’s a great joke.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I used to have to drive past TBN HQ on the way to work each morning.

      SO GAUDY, LIBERACE WOULD BE EMBARRASSED.

      • HUG said,
        “I used to have to drive past TBN HQ on the way to work each morning.”

        I don’t know why, but I find that very, very funny.

        I can picture you driving past their Death Star base of operations everyday.

        I used to have to drive by about three funeral homes every day to one of my jobs.

        It started out just one, but the area I lived in grew and grew, more businesses sprung up, to the point we got 2 to 3 more funeral homes.

        I hated that job too… that was the one where I was being harassed by one boss, that I spoke of over at the Wartburg Watch blog. It was sad to have to drive past 3 – 4 funeral homes to get to that job.

    • TBN Studios: the horror of what happens when straight people decorate interiors.

      • Brianthedad says:

        I don’t care who you are. That there is funny!

      • Well, I must be the only one here who regularly watches TBN – as in daily. For many years now.

        TBN actually RE-decorated many of their studios about, oh, four years ago? Five?

        They pretty much got rid of the “French whore house” look someone mentioned to these… well…

        TBN’s current stage decor for two or three of their most used studios resemble a Dave Letterman or Johnny Carson late night talk show look, with fake, small sized city scapes in the background.

        One set – maybe the Dallas one? (It’s the one they use most of the time when that Cross guy is on, the one with the cross that has the wheel on it) – and it’s not French whorehouse but it is still ugly, it has an ugly, green, wall to wall carpeting.

        Their New York studio looks like an old movie house/theater stage.

  2. I won’t be watching either. I once heard TBN described as the “Heresy of the Month Club.”

  3. Travis Sibley, aka BigLove says:

    I lost all appreciation and respect for televangelists many years ago. They are just scum of the earth from my experience. Is a shame that so many preachers aspire to be among them, to revel in the Christian “superstar” spotlight.

    If anything, I fear the likes of Crouch have done far more to harm the faith than do it any good.

    Maybe I am wrong but I can find absolutely nothing to commend Crouch on.

  4. When I was in a very deep depression some years back I keep TBN on all the time. It helped me to hang on. Some people need a constant stream of hope. That is one thing that TBN does well.

    • I don’t care for television ministry myself (or television at all for that matter.). But you bring up a great point Paul. The television minister is ALWAYS available to offer hope or simply to keep you company. Sadly the real body of the Christ is too busy to simply sit with the depressed, elderly, or otherwise isolated.

      I hope things have turned around for you brother.

      • ‘…often too busy’ I meant to say. I’m not quite that cynical.

      • @ Steve H. I agree with what you said.

        I began watching TBN years ago for some of the same reasons Paul listed.

        Not ALL of the shows on TBN are dreck.

        But… I went into TBN viewing already knowing that WOF was bogus and that most of the TV preachers are con artists out for a buck.

        So I generally made it a point NOT to watch Binny Hinn, Jesse DuPlantis, Rod Parsley, and the other, real over the top money grubbing con artists on that network (they also appear on “Day Star” network). Sometimes I did watch the obvious money grubbers, but only for a laugh. I knew better than to take them seriously, even at my lowest point.

        Some of them, even the WOFs, are, IMHO, a mixed bag. I found some of Joyce Meyer’s teaching okay, some of it not.

        I enjoyed watching Greg Laurie, David Jeremiah, and up until recently, Charles Stanley and a few more. Those guys have programs on TBN.

    • Paul, I had a dark season of the same many years ago, but my comfort programming was The Jim and Tammy Bakker show, always on in the wee hours. Jim ended each night with “God really loves you, He really does!”

    • I’m glad that someone who has found benefit from this ministry had courage to say so. My initial reaction to the negativity here was, “Internet Monk readership isn’t its target demographic.” I’m sure that for all the wrong that they’ve done, they’ve provided great peace and comfort to a subset of folks, just as Internet Monk does to another subset.

    • What exactly does TBN do that gives hope?

      • Not hope but perhaps comfort. 1 Corinthians 1:3-4

      • I was not raised in a family that attended church. My mother was a believer and although she told me a bit about Jesus, I had no real exposure to Christian preaching until I watched the 700 Club in 1974. Pat Robertson and Ben Kinchloe helped me to understand who Jesus was and what his life was all about. I made a commitment to follow Jesus back then and have not turned back. So I am very thankful for the role Christian TV programming played in my life.

        Those were the early days of Christian TV. I think there were some good people who were called by God to this type of ministry. However, as with so many things, power and greed corrupt and TBN is truly an example of that. Now it seems there are more charlatans on air than good men & women. Very unfortunate.

        The Bible says, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?”

        I needed that TV preacher.

      • @Miguel
        If you are deeply depressed, are already a Christian, you need warm and fuzzy preaching where the preacher on TV reminds you repeatedly that God loves you.

        The sort of preaching some Christians abhor, the Joel Osteen school of preaching where it’s perky, upbeat does not harp on YOU ARE A HELL BOUND SINNER!!, because it comes from preachers that present an uplifting message, as opposed to a constant screaming of “you are a sinner repent repent repent.”

        Yeah, I was already a Christian living in obedience to Christ. Sin and repenting was not my struggle or issue. Christ already dealt with my sin at the cross.

        I needed to hear that God loved me, because when you are deeply depressed (bordering on suicidal), reading the Bible is impossible, you cannot concentrate on the text, if you do read it, you wonder if the bits about God loving you really includes you or if it means everyone else, and you need reassurance that yes, Jesus loves you, he does not hate your guts, and you are just as loved by Him as is anyone else.

  5. flatrocker says:

    The magic million dollar question (and our counselors are standing by now to take your phone pledge): Why is TBN so popular? What is it in their message that resonates with so many?

    This discussion becomes more meaningful in understanding what drives so many people to this “type of ministry” – as opposed to just dismissing it with a wave of the hand as some sort of inferior aberration.

    As a people, what are we looking for and how does TBN tap into this need?

    • One huge aspect of TBN’s attraction has to be that it’s on TV. TV has become the background and structure for our lives and our plug-in friend. My kids know other teenagers who CANNOT sleep without the TV on and will get up in the middle of the night to turn it back on if it’s been turned off. where else would we turn for comfort or help than to the Light of our living room (and dining room, bedroom, den, bathroom, garage, etc.)?

      • flatrocker says:

        Damaris,
        OK if TV is the cultural hook, how then does TBN command a sustaining presence with its viewers (other than as a sleeping aid)? TV programming comes and goes, but TBN continues to survive (and thrive?). Why?

        • It’s the cult of personality. I read once that in a highly individualistic, culturally pluralistic society such as ours there is a strong tendency to focus on personalities and to exalt leaders. If we are not part of a strong social group that holds people together, do not possess a dominant set of shared ideas or values that unite people in our thinking, then we are left to fend for ourselves. Often the final destination is attraction to a “big man”, in TBNs case lots of personalities, who claim to know the way.

          Sprinkle in generous portions of sow the seed to fill your need, and well there you have it.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            If we are not part of a strong social group that holds people together, do not possess a dominant set of shared ideas or values that unite people in our thinking, then we are left to fend for ourselves. Often the final destination is attraction to a “big man”, in TBNs case lots of personalities, who claim to know the way.

            “Just like Fuehrerprinzip, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”
            or (in Christianese)
            “Who is like unto The Beast?”

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        And now we have thousand-channel cable and Internet livestreams…

      • There’s some truth in that, Damaris. It reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where Jerry and George are pitching their “show about nothing” to the TV executive. When the exec asks why anyone would watch such a show, Jerry responds “because it’s ON TV!”.

        For a significant swath of the Christian community, “because it’s on CHRISTIAN TV!” is reason enough.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Jimbo, this ties in to the whole Christianese Bubble, parallel Christian(TM) pop culture, consolation/booby prizes so you can have pop culture without Heathen(TM) contamination, and “Just like Fill-in-the-Blank, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”

          Slacktivist snarked about how Left Behind became a bestseller — not only a consolation prize for those forbidden to read Heathen(TM) technothrillers (I won’t compare it to SF, though they are often paralleled), but something You Must Read and Support To Show You’re A Christian(TM).

          • Brianthedad says:

            Ditto. I got a lot of suspicious looks when my wife and I decided we weren’t going to see The Passion of the Christ with many of our church friends. There was a big push, local churches renting buses, renting out theaters, etc. Here in the South it was considered a civic-religious duty. The quizzical looks I got when my answer to why I wasn’t going was: well, I read the book, I know how it ends. Ha!

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Oh, yeah. All the hoopla around “Passion”.

            Including all the from-the-pulpit calls on how to use it as a Witnessing Tool(TM). Fortunately, every Christian who went into it as a prep to ambush-Witness those Heathens in the theater ended up getting poleaxed by the film’s INTENSITY.

            That’s assuming there were ANY Heathens(TM) in the theater. One now-defunct blog related how his local multiplex screening “Passion” had to issue a “NO group ticket sales” policy because churches (usually Evangelical) completely bought out screening after screening after screening. Theater had to keep turning customers away (screening after screening sold out in advance) while all the church buses kept pulling up singing “Hallelujah!!!!!”

    • Simple – it fits the current American dream. It’s divinely-sanctioned unbridled self-centered materialism. What’s not to like about a god who exists only to make your life complete, you bank account full, and your children perfect. Just follow these 3 easy steps (and ‘send your donation to keep this ministry spreading hope throughout the world’) and it’s yours.

      To me the saddest parts is that there are probably many non-believers who think this is authentic Christianity (not to mention those caught up in it).

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        What’s not to like about a god who exists only to make your life complete, you bank account full, and your children perfect.

        Until you lose your job and/or the biopsy comes back positive.

    • Four things off the top of my head:

      1) There really are people who leave the TV on 24/7. It can be crap, it can be C-SPAN, it doesn’t matter.

      2) Think of the secluded: Widows, disabled, those who can’t drive or get out, those who don’t go to church but think watching a sermon on TV is the same thing. They look for a connection and they find it on TV. When a smiling man on TV says “Remember, God loves you and so do I!” when the phone never rings and no one visits, it’s a big deal.

      3) We let a lot of crap pass though in the name of the little good. Sure, the evil hucksters on TBN are aplenty, but they also run Billy Graham sermons, the Jesus Film, and good guys like Charles Stanley and David Jeremiah. Even the weekends have Gaithers on for the older crowd, and 30-year-old Superbook reruns aren’t exactly swimming in Prosperity Gospel. People look past the weird to support them on what they like.

      4) TBN gets a lot of funding from $50-100 gifts. That’s including people who watch them talk about their global outreach and remember watching a Christmas special where the actual good news was the theme. Not everyone who threw their cash at TBN thought they were getting 100x money back, some just liked seeing God talked about positively on TV. Again, see #4

      One of the more depressing memories of being in a small Central American country was walking into the grocery store where TBN was playing on the TVs, and later finding a number of pastors who wished they could be in the US for an upcoming conference with Creflo Dollar. TBN’s tentacles are everywhere, yet I am thankful that God will separate the weeds from the wheat in the end. It’s sad that they grow together so often.

      • Good thoughts, Justin. Thanks.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        1) There really are people who leave the TV on 24/7. It can be crap, it can be C-SPAN, it doesn’t matter.

        When I first got cable in 1984, I first tuned to MTV and left it on but got sick of MTV within a couple days. (Twisted Sister every ten minutes does that to you.) I ended up using the 24-hour Gene Scott channel for background, but I never stooped so low as to go to TBN. Now Gene Scott was definitely WEIRD. (And he seemed to have a feud on with Televangelists like Jim & Tammy & Crouch; very colorful and vocal about it.)

  6. I don’t think TV is necessarily “a priori” in conflict with the message of Christ. I’m thinking Archbishop Sheen and the made-for-TV “Jesus of Nazareth” by Franco Zefferelli.

    • David Cornwell says:

      Bishop Sheen was one of the few who knew how to do it. If I remember correctly he usually made use of an old fashion blackboard and chalk. His messages were simple, gospel filled, and to the point. And he had the personality to carry it.

      Few are so gifted.

  7. Steve Newell says:

    Based on what little I have been seen on TBN is that they follow a “theology of glory” not the a “theology of the cross” to use a Martin Luther term.

    • From the Friendly Atheist:

      “As legacies go, Crouch undoubtedly leaves a troubling one — but don’t expect most other Christians to call him on it.”

      I’d like to call Mr. FA on this one: BS.

      Funny thing about the Friendly Atheist: If he thinks Evangelical Christians have been looking the other way for these past decades, he’s intentionally not paid attention. Did he not see the (far overreaching) “Strange Fire” conference 2 months ago that was started because John MacArthur subjected his bed-ridden self to TBN for too long? The articles on the TBN meltdown on Christianity Today? World Magazine’s frequent reporting on their problems? The books and seminars that earned Hank Hanegraff death threats?

      It’s a cute narrative to say that Evangelicalism kept quiet for the past 40 years. The truth is: for some Christian TV is part of their life and guys like Benny Hinn and Paul Crouch are up there with Augustine and CS Lewis. For most, however, TBN is that weird channel in the upper-UHF range that seemed to be from another planet.

  8. And here’s a big long list of links compiled by his enemies. Did you know one of his guests discovered a cure for cancer? http://www.apostasywatch.com/Wolves/WolfReports/PaulCrouchTBN/tabid/88/Default.aspx

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      A cure made of suntan lotion and beef flavoring for $5000 a pop.

      Fourteen years for Fraud plus Witness Tampering.

      • Obviously a government cover-up.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          That’s what THEY Want You To Think, Sheeple.

          The Dwarfs are for The Dwarfs, and Won’t Be Taken Inb.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            P.S. And in this context, the Conspiracy isn’t the Gubmint. It’s The Medical Establishment(TM) and Big Pharma(TM), “charging millions of dollars to stretch cancer patients’ lives out maybe a week of agony so Establishment doctors can drive new Beemers.” This was the Party Line of the old Prevention Magazine my grandmother subscribed to in the Seventies (and which would now be called “alternative medicine”); every article had some Conspiracy Theory against the Medical Establishment suppressing the REAL 100% cure for Fill-in-the-Blank. Only thing I could compare it to at the time was the editorials in Guns & Ammo.

  9. It’s too easy to point out the obvious. French bordello set (nice). Porter Wagoner clothing. TBN – I affectionately call it the big hair channel. The station that brought us Benny Hinn and his interpretation of the Godhead as 9 persons. TD Jakes and his denial of a Trinitarian Godhead. Paula White and her perspective that we should all be getting cosmetic surgery/enhancements. People donating money they probably don’t need to be donating, all the while hoping their donation of $21.12, because Mike Murdoch told them Hezekiah 21:12 came to mind and that’s what they should give that amount, pays off as if God is nothing more than the pit boss at Harrah’s Casino. Jan Crouch and her tale of when her pet chicken died and she prayed and it was resurrected. And don’t forget Mr. Crouch himself with his disdain for theology, doctrine, and of course damning those to hell that dare critique his ministry.

    Perhaps at one time the intentions were good? To broadcast the gospel around the world. Sounds noble and quite ambitious. Obviously something went seriously astray. Way too much me, very little God, rarely does one hear such words as cross, sin, repentance. I’ll concede encouragement can be heard occasionally to keep believing and trusting God. Which can be a very good reminder when enduring a difficult circumstance. And I’ll also concede they donate monies to various charitable causes.

    But so much of the theology is just plain bogus and heretical. And can mess a person up to put it simply. Case in point, several years ago a close friend of mine died unexpectedly. My friend’s spouse was a fairly faithful viewer of TBN, and very much bought into the teaching being broadcast. I watched this person struggle for several years as an attempt was made to reconcile the death of their spouse with their beliefs. A person who had believed in God, Christ, etc. their entire life, and yet was about to walk away because they had concluded it must all be BS as their spouse shouldn’t have died per their religious beliefs. Ultimately though, they decided that since they had spent their whole life as a very active believer, they might as well keep on keeping on. I’m still not convinced they ever reached reconciliation. But rather reached the point where they decided there’s nothing I can do about what happened, so it’s time to move on. It was very sad to watch.

    Televangelism and its legacy? Sigh……….

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Jan Crouch and her tale of when her pet chicken died and she prayed and it was resurrected.

      God resurrected Jan Crouch’s pet chicken.
      My mother remains dead (lung cancer, 1975).
      My father remains dead (mesothelioma, 1994).
      The original Internet Monk remains dead (cancer, two-three years ago).
      Guess we know who God’s Speshul Pets really are.

      • Well, they just weren’t the Chicken Messiah, Lord and Savior of all Poultry Kind.
        (But in seriousness, I do not mean to poke fun at any of your losses. This kind of garbage is a finger in the eye of the rest of us.)

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Make that a MIDDLE finger (as in the one Paul Crouch screencap) in the eye of the rest of us.

      • Well you can’t prove it didn’t happen! Why must you be so negative?

        : )

        For more avian madness, see the “deception in the church” link above, where Binny Hinn (on TBN) assures his audience that Adam must have been able to fly, because God gave him dominion over the birds of the air.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          And they call ME weird…

          Benny Hinn is in a pocket universe all by himself.
          Don’t know what he’s using for reality, and I’m not sure I want to find out.

          And judging from all the Christianese buzzwords, whoever does that “deception in the church” website sounds like he has his own problems.

          • HUG said,
            “And judging from all the Christianese buzzwords, whoever does that “deception in the church” website sounds like he has his own problems.”

            Tell me about it. Some of the guys running discernment websites, or ministry watch sites, are hate-filled or weird crackpots.

            I’ve been to one or two where they list almost every single Christian to ever live.

            Ole Anthony, (however his name is spelled), he’s one of them. Some Dallas paper wrote a big old expose on him a few years ago, a copy is online. According to that paper, he is a cult leader, but secular media approach him all the time to quote him on misbehaving tele-evangelists.

            So, you have to be discerning even when visiting Christian “discernment” site, some of the people running them are total loons, flakes, and crackpots.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Daisy, I used to listen to Art Bell (and his successors) on late-night radio for my weirdness fix. Gave it up when they went “All Conspiracy, All The Time”.

            Ever read the book Kooks: A Guide to the Outer Limits of Human Belief by Donna Kossy? A real hoot. Book has special sections for “Conspiracy” and “Religion”, and “loons, flakes, and crackpots” doesn’t even begin to describe some of them.

          • No, I’ve never read that book.

            I had an online friend who was totally into conspiracy stories. She actually believed in them. She believed 9/11 was an “inside job.”

            At first I thought she was kidding, and I made some jokes and kidded around. I found out she was serious when she got angry that I wasn’t taking her or the theories seriously.

            She and another woman I was online friends with at the same forum were into other conspiracy theories, too, like rants against “big pharma.”

            But you just have to love the “Christian” discernment sites that list, as being heretics or wolves in sheeps’ clothing, every single Christian to ever live, except for themselves.

            I’ve been to some sites like this that are so bad, their list of “heretics” so insanely long, I was surprised not to find Jesus Christ or Apostle Paul or Moses on the lists.

      • HUG, if this makes the story any easier to accept or not be upset by. I’ve heard Jann Crouch tell that story, and it’s been aired several times over on TBN.

        Crouch mentions the event happened when she was a little girl. She was probably under ten years old when the event supposedly occurred. She said it was a pet chicken, I think the chicken got hit by a car?, she brought it inside her home, said she annointed it with Crisco, IIRC, and prayed over the chicken.

        My Mom died a few years ago after having had cancer and other issues, but I have a soft spot for animals, so when I heard Jann’s chicken story, it did not bother me. If it is true, I think it shows God cares enough to help an 8 year old kid and an injured animal, which I thought was sweet.

    • It all brings to mind one of my favorite books – Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein.

  10. Excellent piece. This is the first truly negative (but truthful) reaction to this man’s death. It takes a certain set of … well you get the idea, to write this and post it. Well done.

  11. Off Topic – Does anyone know of a good liturgical podcast that covers each day in the Advent season with appropriate scriptures, hymns, historical lessons, readings, etc? I feel like I have no connection to “Advent” being a former Baptist/current Evangelical (I guess).

  12. I wonder what God has in store for people like this guy who have grown rich and fat off of the Gospel, all the while sullying it to many people and turning them away from Christ. (I have often found myself wondering this about a lot of pastors…) For their sake, may God be merciful, as to those that they have hurt.

    • As a “pastor”, he had a huge obligation to his flock out there in “TV Land”…….and he was a steward of all the money that got sent in by sad, scared, and often broke people.

      To whom much is given, much will be required. Beyond that, only God knows his soul, but his actions do not paint a picture of Mother Teresa or Michael Spencer!

  13. Brothers and Sisters,

    Must we be so harsh? A brother in the Lord has gone on to be with his Lord. If you didn’t agree with his theology or methodology, that is fine. But, should we mock him and jeer at him? Is this what Jesus would have done?

    I am very disappointed in your callousness. I pray that those who do not agree with your theologies and methodologies will be kinder to you when you pass.

    By the way let me add, I do not really care for TBN or theologies of the Couch family. I do not watch TBN, it is not my style of worship expression.

    Faith – I have faith the the Holy Spirit is at work despite the times we get in the way
    Hope – I hope that many have come to saving faith through what Paul Couch has preached
    Love – I love my brother and his family and pray for the comfort of God to be with those who are mourning his departure to eternity.

    “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”

    • stickmanonymous says:

      I came here to post the same sentiment.

      The type of person that Paul Crouch is alleged to have been makes my teeth itch.

      However, I’m not sure what’s accomplished by saying what’s said here in the tone in which it’s said.

      I enjoy iMonk for many reasons, but I have noticed that some authors take it upon themselves to quite readily enter into judgment of others (I recognise the irony of my saying that), and it’s not clear to me what the purpose of doing so is.

      • I was asked by several why Internet Monk had not commented on Mr. Crouch’s demise. I had not planned on doing a post, but it seemed as though a certain segment of our readers expected us to say something. I tried to keep it as brief as possible, to focus on the whole world of televangelism and not make it personal and about Mr. Crouch in particular, and to give readers the chance to share their opinions.

        Like it or not (and I don’t), TBN has a rather significant influence and for many, represents the face of Christianity.

        • Molly George says:

          How someone could spread the gospel all around the world without money. Equipments need money to buy and maintain. Employees and preachers have to meet their basic needs. Yes, not all the programs you may not like. But majority of them helped millions of people. Some of them were healed; some of them were stopped from killing themselves. Others were SAVED. Others started to have love and compassion for deprived people. Billy Graham and son Franklin all had good results because of TBN. They ask for money to help others. I do not think Paul crouch could spread God’s word without money. You have the freedom not to give, no one forcing you to give. Give only if God lead you to do so. I am not a relative of Paul. I watched him from the early 70’s on. If you are not making money you cannot give to more noble needed programs such as starting hospitals, schools, chruches all require money. Most people complain about preachers asking money do not give a dime for anyone other than to their own!
          I think Paul had a goal to spread the gospel and I think he did that Job as best as he could! Praise the Lord!

      • Rhonda/Stickman – To many TBN represents the only televangelism network is town; at a minimum it’s the largest one on TV. The sad reality is TBN focuses on the now and present by emphasizing those things appealing to the senses. That’s not an indictment or scathing attack on Mr. Crouch, but rather points to what the entire network of televangelists appear to practice. Very rarely does one hear anything about humanity’s sinfulness, the need for repentance, baptism, the cross, the offering of Christ’s very body and blood, the resurrection, and so on. Would you not say these are important things that one would reasonably and routinely expect to hear discussed on a Christian broadcasting station that proudly proclaims itself to be the beacon to the world as it proclaims the gospel? Further their theology simply doesn’t stand the test of almost 2,000 years of Christian thought and tradition. Most of it appears to be made up, on the fly as it were, and unfortunately their use of scripture to support their erroneous teaching is just poor biblical exegesis. Perhaps there are a few pointed barbs that have been expressed in today’s comments, but most seem to be factually based using examples of what was typically taught on TBN as well as the well-publicized lifestyles of its many “anointed prophets”. Have we reached the point in our society where pointing out facts is the equivalence of being judgmental?

        And if we are called to love, the question I pose is do we have an obligation in loving each other to not just wink at our actions and words? If for example, I am engaged in immoral activity on a routine basis would it not be a great example of love to help me see the error of my ways? In TBNs case, if we say nothing and let them continue to spew their theological nonsense, then are we not essentially approving their teaching by our silence? TBN would seemingly have the world believe the pathway to righteousness is found through power, fame, and the almighty dollar, rather than the Almighty Himself. Shouldn’t we be concerned by that? Is it loving to allow people to hear such foolishness and never point out what the real gospel message points to? Or should we just shrug our shoulders dare someone accuse us of being judgmental and allow those whose primary spiritual diet consists of TBN to wander around in ignorant bliss?

        As far as callousness, I am sympathetic to the fact someone lost a family member or maybe even a close friend. Certainly may God provide them with comfort during their time of grief. Death always saddens me. The pain, hurt, confusion, and sense of emptiness death causes is oh too very real. Death is a gnawing reminder of the impact of sin in this world. Something I have contributed to more than I want to admit. Nonetheless due to the combination of the significance of TBNs influence as well as the bogus teaching that flourishes on their broadcasts, ultimately I can only hope that many have come to Christ in spite of what Mr. Crouch taught and others on his station continue to teach. I agree that in one way or the other, he has gone on to be with his Lord. I’m just not sure of who his Lord might be or any other of the so called celebrity televangelists who appear on TBN.

        • stickmanonymous says:

          What I understand of modern televangelism is that it is quite revolting in the main, for the exact reasons you describe; it represents a disturbing and erroneous version of Christianity.

          I suppose I’m asking that you consider carefully how a piece could seem to be a personal attack on someone; doing so can undermine an otherwise valid opinion.

          I’m not sure that any comment was needed on Mr. Crouch’s demise in the first place. Comment on the hideousness of televangelism? Certainly.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Rhonda/Stickman – To many TBN represents the only televangelism network is town; at a minimum it’s the largest one on TV.

          And as “the largest one on TV” and broadcast all over the world, to even more TBN IS Christianity.
          TBN IS Christ.

    • Rhonda, I agree with you. I have a devout fundamentalist friend who watches Benny Hinn; I’ve had to walk out of the room when he’s on, but she derives inspiration and comfort from his “miracles.” I deon’t feel the need to enlighten her with everything I know that she doesn’t. She’s had a rough life, and if toward the end of it she looks for peace *not only* in her home church but in the words of televangelists, who am I to tell her she’s on the wrong track? Onbly if she talked about sending themj lots of money would I urge her to look at some other information about them first.

      Our local Christian radio station sets my teeth on edge — except for the few shows which play old favorite hymns. But another dear friend of mine keeps the station on all day, and is cheered and sustained by the preachy messages and syrupy “lessons” which make me want to go anddraw a pentagram or something. My friend is one of the finest Christians I know; she has buried her husband and four of her six children, but still offers a smile and a good word to everyone — not a fake Christianese smile but one from her heart. So if the station’s not to my taste, I’ll just get out my old Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan records and fill myself up on some good healthy rage and indignation, rather than trying to turn my friend to such sentiments.

      Not everyone’s born to be cool and cynical. If TBN meets a felt need for many of our Christian brothers and sisters, then unless it’s telling our fellow Christians to boil kittens or shoot their neighbors, why don’t we just let it alone. As for Mr. Crouch, whom I never heard of before tonight, may he rest in peace and rise in glory — and maybe be offered some Christianity 102 lessons on The Other Side. :-)

  14. When I was in college (in SoCal), I used to gather with a group of friends and we would watch TBN and just have a good laugh. Then, one day, I found myself in the prayer call center. For some reason, we did this as a part of a summer internship. I still don’t understand why, but when you’re an intern, you do what you’re told. My friends and I just kept praying that our phone wouldn’t ring.

  15. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Actually, I’m wondering how long before the power struggle begins over the now-empty Throne of TBN.

    Crouch had SONS plural. Let the Game of Thrones begin — dagger, poison, and Red Wedding.

    • The road to the Throne of TBN goes through this guy:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9SS95q2kpg

    • @ HUG.

      I would assume there is not going to be much of a fight between the two sons.

      One son was booted out about two years ago, Paul Jr.

      The other one, Matt, has been the #2 guy under Paul Sr. ever since Paul Jr was kicked to the curb. Paul Jr. has been working for another, smallish Christian TV network.

      Paul Sr and the mother, Jann, kicked Paul Jr. out.

      Jann is still alive, so I am assuming that everything goes to Matt.

      If you want to know more about why Paul Jr was kicked out (has to do with a family member whistle blower who blew lid off sexual assaults, mis-use of money etc):
      TBN Embroiled in ‘Sordid’ Family Lawsuit

      • Post Script. In my post above I said,
        If you want to know more about why Paul Jr was kicked out (has to do with a family member whistle blower who blew lid off sexual assaults, mis-use of money etc)

        The way I worded it makes it sound like Paul Crouch Jr. was the one doing the money grubbing / sexual antics, but he was not – his daughter was the whistle blower. She was troubled by the dishonesty she saw going on at TBN behind closed doors.

        The daughter claims her uncle Matt Crouch and her grandmother (Jann, the lady with pink hair) were mis using money sent to TBN.

        Another family member (or friend of the family, I forget) claims she was raped as a teen by some TBN employee while on a TBN related task, and Jann Crouch told her to shut up about it.

        The rest of the Crouch family got angry at the daughter for making an issue out of the mis used fundds and so on, and kicked out the entire Paul Jr. family… that is, Paul Jr, the daughter, and I think Jr.’s adult son.

        It looks like Paul Jr. and his family might be the decent ones in the Crouch family, and they paid a price for it.

        Another report says that on at least one occasion (maybe twice), that Matt Crouch exposed his genitals during staff meetings to other people in the room.

        There were also stories online even months before Paul Crouch Sr. died that Jann was having an affair with a 30 something actor who plays Jesus Christ at the TBN owned “Holy Land” experience. I think the actor’s name is Len or Lex?

        I watched a “Live from the Holy Land” special about two years ago, where Jann was walking hand in hand acting all kissy face, lovey with the actor (Len, who again, plays Jesus Christ in the park’s Passion play).

        I remember watching them acting so romantic while filming this “Holy Land” special and thinking it seemed very odd, especially since I knew that Jann was married to Paul Croch Sr, and the actor guy had mentioned on previous shows he was married with a kid.

        Then I read online a few years after that incident that supposedly the two were having an affair. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but their behavior together on that show – and it happened on one or two other shows – seems inappropriate and weird.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Our local Alternative Free Paper had an outstanding cash bounty for anyone who could sneak a camera into TBN’s inner sanctum. Rumors abounded of Saddam Palace-level displays of tacky uber-wealth — you know, the solid gold toilet seats and million-dollar velvet Elvis paintings type of stuff like you’d expect from trailer-trash given Paris Hilton’s credit cards.

  16. All the ad hominen attacks – many deserved – are superfluous; there has been palace intrigue for some time, the man is gone, and now all the family knives can come out. I see another Crystal Cathedral-type implosion coming.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      …there has been palace intrigue for some time, the man is gone, and now all the family knives can come out.

      “A cold Iron Throne
      Holds a boy barely grown;
      His throne based on lies,
      YOU WIN OR YOU DIE —
      Game of Thrones!”

      I see another Crystal Cathedral-type implosion coming.

      Or the Shia/Sunni inheritance feud before Mohammed’s body even grew cold.

      Or the Arab/Israeli Wars over whether Isaac or Ishmael is the TRUE Heir of Abraham.

      • On that last line, the conflict is primarily about territory. (Waves of romantic nationalists and refugees displaced another group with land deeds.) Most Israelis and Palestinians are rather secular. Many of the early Jewish settlers were Communists. You could dig up Abraham’s memoirs, and it wouldn’t change anything.

  17. I have never been a fan, I remain amazed that people have sent millions upon millions to TBN and those who appear there. Maybe some were helped by these ministries. I wasn’t, but perhaps others were. I agree that, despite feelings of concern, etc. about those ministries and their leaders, we not “pile on,” and also that we pray for family and others affected by his death. I also admit that often I do not know how God works, even through the likes of TBN. The longer I was in ministry, the more I came to believe that the real miracle is that the church is still here after 2000+ years of scandal, scoundrels, and people like me and all of us.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      The longer I was in ministry, the more I came to believe that the real miracle is that the church is still here after 2000+ years of scandal, scoundrels, and people like me and all of us.

      I believe an archbishop said something similar to Napoleon.

    • Christiane says:

      My godmother, whose family was from the Ukraine, used to collect bottles and cans to raise a few pennies for the missions. One day, while working on the side of a highway, she was struck by a vehicle . . . hit and run . . . and her brain was damaged. For years, there was therapy and rest and hope and she gradually recovered most of her ability to speak but never walked again.

      So it was after her injury that she began sending much larger amounts of money to the televangelists (she was Catholic, go figure) and in her injured mind, she believed she was doing good for the extended work of the Church. Strange thing . . . she had been giving money to CBN for years before the accident, and while she was in hospital, I called them and requested that they send someone to pray for her (she was nearby in a local hospital), but I was told they ‘didn’t do that sort of thing’ . . . and no one ever came and no one acknowledge her in any way from CBN to thank her for the help she had given them. I never told her about this . . . she wouldn’t have understood it.

      Then she began to send larger amounts of money to ALL the televangelists on tv. She wanted to help. And in her good heart, she saw no evil in these people. I read of mansions and luxuries. And I think about my godmother. And all I can do is something she would approve of: I can pray that if it is God’s will to do so, He would show mercy to Paul. Do I want to do this? No.
      But I did it for my godmother’s sake. She saw some good in the televangelists (I don’t know how, but she did) and was blinded to their greed. I prayed for God’s mercy on his soul for HER sake alone. Believe me, it wasn’t easy.

  18. Cedric Klein says:

    Not a big fan, was back in the halcyon days of the early 1980s before the Jim & Tammy scandals which heralded TelevanDammerung. But still…

    “I won’t be watching.”

    Gee, snotty much?

    • Not a fan in any way, shape or form. What can I say?

      • someone in passing says:

        Maybe, in this instance, the old adage of “if you don’t have something nice to say …” might have come into play. Your sentiment (which I actually tend to share) was already abundantly clear without that last parting shot. There is a difference between honest criticism and snarky, cynical put-downs. Many of the comments for this thread run roughshod over the former and veer wildly into the latter.

  19. As usual, I’m late to the party, but your post cries out for some sort of response.

    You are much better when you stick to homilies.

    Perhaps in your next one you could tell us what “Judge not, that you be not judged” means.

    Or perhaps “Love covers a multitude of sins.”

  20. The original post:
    “TBN will broadcast a special celebration of Dr. Paul Crouch’s life and legacy Sunday, December 8th.”

    They already have been doing so.

    They’ve devoted two or three “Praise the Lord” slots to discussing Crouch, and once or twice, they’ve aired a 30 or hour long biopic about him, explaining his childhood a little bit, and adulthood, and how he built TBN.

    When not showing these 30 minute to two hour long programs, they show little commercials with his photo and his birth/death date.

    I grant them a little of it. He was the one who built their network, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for a “Christian” network to make so much ado about the guy, when they claim to be about Jesus.

    In the past, they devoted entire PTLs or other shows, such as Behind The Scenes, to recapping about the family and how they made TBN.

    About two years ago when Paul C’s son, Matt, and DIL had their 30th (or whatever, 20th, 40th, whatever it was) wedding anniversary, they spent an entire PTL (which is like two to three hours long) about them!

    It was all about their wedding, showed them and their kids when their kids were little. It was all about the Crouch family, nothing about Jesus.

    TBN has a small number of programming that is, IMHO, okay. Not all of it is that Word of Faith, begging for money trash.

    I watch mostly because of the train wreck like nature of it all.

    Except for Binny Hinn and a few others. I absolutely cannot stand Hinn and several other characters on there, so I tend to turn the channel the moment he comes on, or Parsley or Paula White.

  21. It hurts that the TV version is the face of Christianity. It’s impossible for TV to be a meal fellowship. TV Christianity is a bunch of talking heads. The question becomes how can these things be changed? Chaplain Mike has shown quite a lot of grace in his presentation. But we who respond on Internet Monk should be more harsh. TBN does a huge disservice to Christianity. Our Lord appeared and walked in direct opposite to this example. There have to be many, many Christians sending small amounts to support an empire like TBN. Many, many of these Christians should stop sending. This should be our individual way of overturning the money tables that have invaded our fellowship.

  22. Nevertheless, Paul Crouch was our brother in Christ and his family and friends will mourn his passing, Perhaps I should thank God for what good Paul Crouch accomplished that I haven’t accomplished.

  23. Joseph (the original) says:

    WHAT!!!???

    GOD DIDN’T HEAL PAUL CROUCH’S CHRONIC HEART CONDITION???

    AND NONE OF THOSE REGULAR FAITH HEALER GUESTS APPEARING ON THE TBN NETWORK COULDN’T EITHER???

    Wow…

    And all the medical treatment money could buy wasn’t able to keep him healthy either???

    There must be a parable in this somewhere…

    Lord…have mercy… :(

  24. Reading many of the comments on Paul Crouch, it shows what kind of fruit he had sown these last few years and the reaping of the angry disappointed comments.
    Make no mistake they deserve many of these comments because of the incredible erronious teaching that their airwaves put out.
    But I also remember TBN from the 80’s when they would have people like Walter Martin and those like him who would talk about not only cults but discuss error being taught in churches as well as the airwaves of TBN, and to be honest it was not nearly as bad back then as it has become.
    And I remember the wonderful Christian music showcases on TBN including Real Videos featuring CCM and rockier music from Amy Grant, to Mylon Lefevere all the way to Resurrection Band. They would also provide live concert footage of some of these bands. I remember a great show featuring Dion from 1984, and loved it.
    The Crouchs and TBN in later years slid off the beaten theological path badly, but years back they did many good things for the gospel in reaching the world and for those years I will be grateful for that.
    The fact Paul Crouch did do something he believed would bring honor to Jesus, must be recognized. Like many I wish he had those around him to help him stay more on course.
    Too dismiss all the Crouchs have done as worthless and nothing to do with God, even from the beginning, may reflect our feelings toward TBN and ignore what they have done worldwide these last 40 years.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      But I also remember TBN from the 80?s when they would have people like Walter Martin and those like him who would talk about not only cults but discuss error being taught in churches as well as the airwaves of TBN, and to be honest it was not nearly as bad back then as it has become.

      And then Entropy set in over time.

      Ever wonder why Adam & Eve were barred from the Garden before they could eat of the second tree’s fruit after tasting the first?

  25. I always cruise on past TBN on the cable channels. I make it a personal vow to not poison myself with the carnival characters posing as preachers. I avoid televangelists like a zombie horde. Whenever people have ever asked me about the folks on TV, I warn them off of them. I tell them never send a dime to them as so many are nothing but religious entrepreneurs that you can’t tell the real from the fake.
    Fortunately I never bought into the circus of televangelism. Guess Paul Crouch has some explaining to do to someone.

  26. To all comments that are quite negative here – “Judge not or you too will be judged -in the same measure you use it will be measured to you” -Jesus Christ : Bible

    This is not what I said but the Bible.

  27. pat thompson says:

    You can say what you want about Paul Crouch,nobody cares what you think!
    How many people have come to Christ through your ministry?God knew what
    he was doing when he called Paul and Jan into televised evangelism.Because
    he obeyed the Holy Spirit millions of people are saved (including my husband
    and I) not to mention the many,many services they have provided for the needy
    all over the world.All of us are sinful! Every human being starting with Adam has
    failed God.David (a man after God’s own heart ) failed God.The Bible says that
    our rightousness is like filthy rags before a Holy God.Thank God for Jesus!!!
    One who has been forgiven much,loves much.”Rest in peace Paul,I’m sure the
    Lord is very proud of you”!

  28. Jenni Morris says:

    Wow. I think all of you should do a little more research about Paul Crouch and his empire before you start casting accolades at the feet of a man who lived a walk of arrogance and deceit. Scripture tells us plainly that we will know each other by the fruit of our lives. There is a public image and there is a private reality. I am not talking about media propaganda, but hard facts and figures. I am a very proud follower of Jesus Christ and do not write my words lightly. I sin and I am covered by the atoning blood of my Savior. I am not casting judgment blindly. The Crouch’s spent an awful lot of money (donated money to spread the Gospel) covering up their lives of perversion and wealth. The Crouch’s are show people that are expert at what to say and how to present it to maximize the effect of what they expect in return. Don’t argue a fact about God wanting his followers to live healthy and wealthy. There are missionaries world wide that struggle and die every day. The health and wealth mentality is strictly an attitude born out of the United States. There was no excuse for the way the Crouch empire lived and behaved. They have duped millions for decades and I think Paul has an awful lot to answer for. I’m not so sure that it’s Jesus Christ that Mr. Crouch is seeing right now.