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TBN and the Root of All EvilWritten by Jacob Prasch
by Jackie Alnor
"Greed"Ã‚ " ” one of the seven deadly sins. The dictionary calls it: "An excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves, especially with respect to material wealth." :"(http://www.dictionary.com/cgi-bin/dict.pl?term=greed)":
The last days' Church of Laodicea is marked as one full of greed and avarice. The church that Jesus is going to spew out of His mouth is rich in this world's goods. Jesus tells this church: " . . you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'-- and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked -- " (Rev. 3:17).
It's only been very recently that the accumulation of wealth has been interpreted as God's blessing on His people. One of the first preachers to popularize this notion in the 1960s was the Reverend Ike. :"(In the "letters to the editor" section of the January, 1999, issue of Charisma Magazine, Reverend Ike wrote in complaining of being villainized in an article written about a false prophet, Bernard Jordan. "My 'incessant financial appeals' are probably mid-range compared to the incessant financial appeals of every other church, minister, TV evangelists and those advertising products and events in Charisma.")": When he first burst on the scene he was immediately recognized as a religious phony. No Bible believing Christian took him seriously.
But now the proverbial frog in the pot is boiling away and the church is oblivious to the many scripture warnings against worldliness. The paradigm shift that has occurred is that of the church marrying the world and sharing its values. This new Laodicean church is indistinguishable from the world -- the only difference is she attaches the name of "Christ" to all her worldly pursuits.
The church is warned over and over again in the epistles against the love of money, which Paul called, "The root of all evil." :"(1 Ti. 6:10)": The apostle John warned:
"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world." :"(1 Jn. 2:15-16)":
And James, the Lord's brother, speaks out strongly to us against worldliness:
"Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." :"(Jas. 4:4)":
When these verses are quoted to Paul and Jan Crouch, President and founders of the Trinity Broadcasting Network, and their insiders, the reaction is scorn and ridicule. They don't deal with the verses, but paint the opposition as people who think it's holy and desirable to be poor, something nobody is implying. In doing so they are actually ridiculing the ones who penned those verses.
Paul Crouch posed this question to his once favored fund-raiser: "We're supposed to be poor, aren't we, John Avanzini? We're supposed to have nothing. We're supposed to not have any wealth. We're supposed to be as poor as Job's turkey. Being poor is being godly in some people's minds. We're not to have wealth. Jesus, after all, Jesus was poor. We will have John explode that myth later tonight." :"(4/10/1992 Praise-a-Thon)":
God's Word gives us the balance -- contentment. Jesus told some soldiers to "be content with your wages." :"(Lk. 3:14)": Paul told Timothy, "having food and clothing, with these we shall be content." :"(1 Ti. 6:8)": He also said that, "I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content." :"(Phi. 4:11)":
And the writer of Hebrews lets us know that God will supply our needs, not our greeds: "Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'" :"(Heb. 13:5)":
Throughout scripture it has been shown again and again that when God's people, Israel, accumulated wealth and lived in prosperity they turned their back on God and brought about His wrath on themselves. History repeats itself as is seen prophetically in the last of the seven churches in the book of Revelation. One writer of Proverbs recognized the needed balance: "Two things I request of You, (Deprive me not before I die). Remove falsehood and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches-- Feed me with the food allotted to me; Lest I be full and deny You, And say, "Who is the Lord?" Or lest I be poor and steal, And profane the name of my God." :"(Proverbs 30:7-9)":
The ultimate personification of greed and the accumulation of wealth in a religious sense is seen very graphically in the Mother Harlot, Mystery Babylon at her destruction in the 18th chapter of Revelation. After the removal of the restrainer at the beginning of the Great Tribulation, this one world "church" really comes into her own. She gains favor with the world and lives luxuriously, selling her merchandise of "gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet, every kind of citron wood, every kind of object of ivory, every kind of object of most precious wood, bronze, iron, and marble and cinnamon and incense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and bodies and souls of men." :"(Rev. 18:12-13)": When judgment comes and they lose it all in one day she cries and howls over the loss of her wealth because she has made wealth her god -- that which she lives for.
This unified worldly harlot system also produces music and shines a lot of lights and operates in sorcery :"( See Rev. 18:22-23)": in the name of Christ. So when Jan Crouch boasts of having more than a million lights covering the various TBN studios at Christmas-time and Paul Crouch boasts that after the rapture "the antichrist" will pay TBN's electric bill, it's a cause for concern.
TBN insiders repeatedly use a verse in the book of Proverbs as their own slogan for gathering riches for themselves. They say, "the wealth of the wicked is accumulated for the just." And they go about preaching to others to grab hold of it. The actual scripture verse is a proverb, not a promise to Christians. "A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous." :"(Pr. 13:22)": This is not a last days transfer of wealth as they boast, but in context it is an admonition to be wise with the use of our time.
"We have gotten along on pennies and nickels and dimes," Paul Crouch said, lamenting over having to get by on the widow's mites. "Brother John, it's changing. We are realizing that the wealth of this world does really belong to the people of God, the church of God. And we are hearing you and we are changing, but we have to move even faster." :"(Spring 1992 Praise-a-Thon)":
No Pity for the Poor
The problem with TBN's accumulation of wealth is that the bulk of it does not come from wealthy wicked people, but comes from poor widows and children. The Crouches boast of being debt-free while telling their viewers to give to them before they pay their own bills. So while TBN insiders are living luxuriously, the ones who sent in their widow's mites are languishing in debt and can't pay their creditors.
"But thank you for the widow's mite too," acknowledged Crouch to his supporters. "The two dollars and the one dollar and the little children giving their allowances and their piggy banks." :"(Ibid.)":
Studies have shown that it is the poor and needy who give the hardest. Time Magazine reported, in an article entitled, "A New Way of Giving," the percentages of giving per household in America according to annual income. Those making under $10,000 per year gave the largest percentage, an average of 5.2% of their income, verses those making $75,000 to $99.999 per year who averaged 1.6%. :"(Time Magazine, July 24, 2000.)":
Ole Anthony, president of the Trinity Foundation, a televangelism watchdog group out of Dallas, reported similar findings in regards to the field of Christian television supporters. "From our research, it seems this donor pool is an interesting mix," said Anthony. "About 60 percent are elderly women. Another 20 percent are what we call the 'moving pool,' or the 'desperation pool' -- people who are themselves terminally ill or have a loved one who's sick. Among the rest are about 15 percent who are upper middle class who watch these televangelists because they want a justification for their greed." :"(Anthony, Ole, quoted in "As Seen on TV," by Abe Opincar, San Diego Reader, July 29, 1993)":
Targeting the ones who have the least to give, Crouch offered this admonition to compel them to send in their money: "'Well, I'm on the little fixed income. I can't afford' --you can't afford not to do something, to plant something. If you're going to obey the command of Jesus Christ and go into all the world and preach the gospel, the only way many can do that is to send someone else . . . to give so that others can go." :"(4/1/91 Spring Praise-a-Thon)":
And yet the Bible admonishes us to give as we are prospered, not under compulsion: "On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come." :"(1 Co. 16:2)": And again: - "So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver." :"(2 Co. 9:7)":
Certainly even the poor Christian will give to others in more need than themselves because the Spirit of God certainly puts generosity into the hearts of His children. But for a billion-dollar organization to take advantage of the fact that Christians are givers and target the needy as they themselves live in the lap of luxury is an abomination. The Bible declares:
So if the needy give to the rich, rather than receiving the 100-fold return TBN promises to their viewers, they end up deeper into poverty.
In contrast to TBN's willingness to take the last penny from a poor person, the founder of World Challenge ministries, David Wilkerson, wrote this to his supporters: "We pray God will move on those who are able to help, but I want to say to every widow and retired person on a very limited income; please do not feel obligated or pressured. Do not send us any money that you need for food or personal bills. God will meet our needs from those who are able and willing to give. This also goes for single mothers and for any unemployed or poor family. We will send your our message without cost. Just pray for us." :"(Wilkerson, David, Dec. 2000 letter enclosed with his pulpit series.)":
I'll never forget a word of wisdom I learned from the late Walter Martin, author of The Kingdom of the Cults. He said. "You'll know a wolf in sheep's clothing by its diet. A wolf eats sheep."
Once, Avanzini pointed out to Paul Crouch how easy it is to take up big offerings in the locations that get TBN. "You can tell as soon as you start speaking if that signal's in that area or not," Avanzini greedily bragged. "There's just not a flow unless that signal's in that city. But where the signal is in the city, the churches are easy. The people are loose. They receive revelation. You know, most places, really, you have to spend most of your time, if you're going to bring a revelation, you spend most of your time just trying to get them to receive basic principles." :"(Avanzini, 4/10/92 Praise-a-Thon)": The basic principles of the seed-faith lie is what he was referring to.
But, TBN's signal apparently doesn't do the trick everywhere. Once Paul Crouch lamented that Europeans don't cough up the dough. "God is giving Europe time" Crouch said in disgust. "There is no harder, colder, more disinterested place on earth in the things of God. Not Eastern, but Western Europe . . . You can't get the people in Italy to give a dime to Christian television. . . They won't give. Even the Catholic Church suffers over there."
In all my years of monitoring TBN, I've yet to hear any admonitions by TBN insiders to the TBN supporters to go out and share the Gospel themselves, which is the command of Scripture. Instead, the viewers are encouraged to tell others about TBN where the professionals can then give the Gospel on behalf of the supporters. If they give money to TBN for them to "reach out to the whole wide world," they've fulfilled their obligation to witness. For some, that is the easiest way out. :"(Crouch, Paul, 11/4/91 Praise-a-Thon)":
In TBN's way of thinking, those who live within humble means are not qualified to share the gospel themselves because only the rich will be successful at it. The Crouches lift TBN up as God's end-times voice for spreading the Gospel and the millions of dollars they take in is the God-ordained fuel that runs the machine. "Oh, here comes the critics," Paul Crouch moaned. "Here comes the pitch. Crouch is after your money. Yes, I am! Hear it, devil! Hear it, press! Hear it, everybody! We're after money -- for one reason -- that this voice can be amplified a million more times. That this gospel will be preached in the world." :"(Crouch, Paul, TBN Praise-a-Thon, 4/1/91)":
A good illustration of TBN's self-delusion that it takes lots of money to fulfill the Great Commission was revealed, perhaps unintentionally, by master manipulator, John Avanzini.
"Poverty can make your word be ignored," Avanzini taught on his now canceled :"(Though Avanzini's program was canceled, Paul Crouch still endorses him and cites his false teachings favorably. The reasons I've been given for the cancellation are in the area of hear-say so I can't repeat them here.)": TBN-sponsored program, "Principles of Biblical Economics." "You want to talk about a blessing. It's a blessing whenever you start to tell somebody how to get saved and they sit down and they want to hear it. It's quite something else when they look at you and say, 'man, I don't want what you got. Are you saved?' Wow, let me tell you something. I don't want to live like you live and have to drive around like you drive around. Listen to it, your words are not heard when you walk around in insufficiency, when you walk in poverty." :"(Avanzini, John --TBN's "Principles of Biblical Economics"-- tape on file.)":
He concludes that the poor are second class citizens in God's kingdom. "Child of God," Avanzini said to the TBN viewers. "Our words have to be heard if we're going to be effective Christians. And one of the curses of poverty is, no one wants to listen to you." :"(Ibid.)":
"Now, I can get a call from somebody, 'you know, brother John, I want to tell you that I don't think it's right to be preaching about money and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You know, I don't have any money and I'm getting along fine.' I'm not going to listen to that very long. But you let somebody call me up. You let somebody of import -- you let a businessman call me up and say, 'brother John, I want to tell you how God has blessed me and I want to put some finances into the kingdom of God.' I'll listen to that man. You'll listen to that man, too." :"( Ibid.)":
Avanzini went on to explain how the big donors who support TBN are given favorable treatment over the poverty-stricken people who give little out of their want.
"And that person came in and they met him at the door and they were glad to see him and they walked him through the building and they showed him everything. Well, why doesn't everyone get that treatment that comes to the studio? Well, he was a giver. He gave to Trinity Broadcasting. He was one of the partners, so there was room for him when he came in. I don't think there was anyone in the room ever met him before, but room was established for him. It makes a place for him, see?" :"(Ibid.)":
Yet we read in Romans that "there is no partiality with God." TBN gives special treatment to the rich, which is in stark contrast to what the Bible says our attitude should be towards the poor.
"My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, 'You sit here in a good place,' and say to the poor man, 'You stand there,' or, 'Sit here at my footstool,' have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?" :"(James 2:1-3)":
TBN founder Paul Crouch takes that a step further. Those who don't give to them will be the slaves of the ones who give. "Those of us who do give are going to get all the reward," Crouch boasted, while the TBN regulars stood behind him in agreement. "We're gonna get it all. They're going to be waitin' on us, boy. They're going to be washing our feet. They're going to be bringing you your late night TV snack dinner. They're going to be waiting on us in heaven, yes. You laugh, but that's absolutely true." :"(Crouch, Paul, TBN Praise-a-Thon, 11/7/95)":
Jan Crouch once spoke up for the poor folks and justified TBN's right to plunder them in the same breath. "The Lord just spoke to my heart something so sweet," she said during a "Macedonian Call" fund-raiser. "I thought, Lord these people are so poor (those living in Central America who were being asked to support TBN). And the Lord just spoke to me, 'I don't judge wealth of my people by what they have.' The Lord spoke to me, 'I judge wealth of my people by what they give.' The wealthiest people in God's eyes in the world can live in a hovel. And that's what we all want to be -- wealthy in God's eyes . . . Isn't that sweet? I was so blessed, then I realized that a little grandma could be the wealthiest person living on the face of the earth, somewhere in Africa in a little grass hut, she had given her all and she is wealthy."Ã‚ :"(Crouch, Jan, TBN Praise-a-Thon, 7/22/91)":
Jesus had harsh words for those who fleece the flock and target the needy:
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation." :"(Mt. 23:14 )":
Let's look at some of the strategies TBN has come up with to compel people to send in their money.
Twice a year, in November and April, TBN conducts one-week long fund-raisers they call the Praise-a-Thon. Each day of the week they focus on a different aspect of the operation for viewers to pledge to. One day will be for satellite expenses and another for the budget of the nightly Praise the Lord program shown on prime time. The other days include budgets for building new stations, producing motion pictures and general operating expenses.
One year in 1991, TBN conducted an emergency Praise-a-Thon in the summer they gave the name, "The Macedonian Call." Paul Crouch insisted that it was a one-shot deal to raise money to plant a station in Macedonia. However, it must have worked out well for TBN because the "Macedonian Call" mini Praise-a-Thon has been going on every summer since.
It's only been in the last couple of years that TBN has run excerpts from the Praise-a-Thons sporadically over the year during the Praise the Lord time slot to keep the money coming in. So what started out as a bi-annual event is now a much more frequent appeal for funds.
The late Larry Thomas, publisher of The Inkhorn, noted that the Praise-a-Thons are "a lot more 'raisin' than 'praisin,'" and renamed the fundraisers the "Raise-A-Thons." :"(Thomas, Larry, The Inkhorn, Vol. 5, No. 1, February, 1994)": What "praisin" that is seen in the Raise-A-Thons is a tired mix of the same handful of musical regulars, singing the same songs they've been singing on TBN for over a decade. Walt Mills will sing "Ain't Got Time For You Devil" for the umpteenth time. Then Mike Purkey will belt out "Sweet Beulah Land," while lumbering back and forth and Vern Jackson will comply with Jan's request for "Hello, Momma," Betty Jean Robinson might do 20 rounds of "He is Jehovah," while Candi Staten-Susswell :"(Candi recently dropped the "Susswell" portion of her hyphenated last name -- reason unknown.)": and Karen Wheaton go over their small repertoire. It's easier to watch the show on video so you can fast-forward through the music. The main function of the music is to move people to the telephones to call in their pledges since the phones don't ring while preaching is going on.
The Praise-a-Thons employ the pressure tactics of TBN's more convincing prosperity teachers who are gifted at twisting scriptures to pressure viewers into giving till it hurts. They utilize a false teaching, known as the prosperity gospel, as a catalyst to convince donors that they must give to get.
The prosperity message encourages people to value materialism and use the so-called principle of seed-faith giving to reap a material harvest of wealth. This false teaching was made popular by Oral Roberts, a has-been faith healer who built his failing ministry upon its principles. :"(See chapter XXXXX [materialism chapter] for a closer look at Oral Roberts.)": In his book, "Miracle of Seed Faith," Roberts tells how God showed him that the farmer could not reap a harvest unless he first sowed some seed. Misusing the scripture, "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap," Roberts concluded that if you want answered prayer, you must sow a seed of faith to obtain God's favor.
So building off that principle, the Praise-a-Thon's message is that in order to get rich or healed or your loved ones saved, you must sow a financial seed in order to obtain the desired results. The "give to get" mentality is promoted as a solid "Christian" value, though that attitude is consistently denigrated in the New Testament.
And one need not sow a financial seed for only money in return. As TBN fundraising preacher, Mark Chironna says, "Some of you, you're sowing for a promotion. Some of you, you're sowing for a business contract." And John Avanzini successfully sowed financial seed for husbands for his two unlovely daughters. He told the TBN viewers how he and his wife desperately prayed for one of their daughters who had a condition that prevented her from growing hair on her head. How could they find a husband for her? They sowed a financial seed and God brought her a husband who had had polio as a child and walked with a limp. Avanzini boasted, "Cueball married Gimp!" :"(Avanzini, undated Praise-a-Thon, video on file.)":
The original Bible-Answer-man, agitated by the blab-it-and-grab-it philosophy seen on TBN once said, "The Bible tells you, you can demand of God whatever you want by faith and if God wants to give it to you He will. And if He doesn't want to give it to you, He won't because God is sovereign over the universe and not men." :"(Martin, Walter "Little Gods in the Church." audio tape:on file)":
On the sermon on the mount, Jesus said, "But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing." :"(Mt. 6:3)": And the apostle Paul warned that "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." :"(1 Ti. 6:10)": These are strong words against those who would give you a formula for donating money in order to obtain wealth.
Sometimes the Praise-a-Thons will have hosts in the four corners of America, in which each section tries to get the most money pledged. You might see Paul Crouch hosting from California, and Laverne and Edith Tripp in Miami, with Dean and Mary Brown in Poughkeepsie, NY and another couple in Portland. One Christian media critic described it this way:
"Not long ago I was watching a religious telethon. They divided the United States into four regional areas -- north, south, east, and west. The hosts pumped up regional rivalries to keep the totals growing. I could just imagine as I sat there watching that fiasco that there were some folks who got caught up in the same way they might get caught up in a North-South or Blue-Gray football game or an NCAA tournament. They would begin to root for their region and would be hell-bent not to let their region be shown up, and would actually send money out of a pure spirit of competition. This is manipulation in its finest form" :"(Green John, The Sword & The Trumpet, Vol. 4, No. 1, Spring 1996, "Extortioners in the Pulpit.")":
Gain by False Promises
As I touched on already, TBN promises the donors a hundred-fold return on their investment. This teaching has gone through an evolution of meaning in the last ten years or so that they've been promoting the idea.
The first Praise-a-Thon to push the 100-fold heresy was in the Fall of 1990. John Avanzini, founder of God's Debt-Free Army in Hurst, Texas, set the tone for the fundraiser with the revelation that he was getting a now-word from God that would bless all who would grab hold of it.
Avanzini is a shifty-looking character from whom few people would be comfortable buying a used car. He sometimes wears a tie with dollar signs in the design and wears gold and diamond rings and a Rolex on one wrist and a gold bracelet on the other. He has a face that could scare small children. :"(Avanzini has since been replaced on the Praise-a-Thons by Marcus Bishop and Mark Chironna who have handsome appearances but teach the same "give to get" message.)":
He has a knack of dramatizing everything that he says as if he's coming up with something profound, but what comes out of his mouth is double-talk and hype. "I'm usually not allowed to speak about this," said Avanzini to the TBN audience on the opening day of the Fall-1990 Praise-a-Thon. "God only tells me at certain times that I can. Many times I've been asked to tell this story, but I can't tell it unless God gives the clearance to. . .I really feel God speaking and saying 'I want this voice in the earth.'"
Avanzini went on to recall a story of how he tried for years to join the ministry of televangelist, Morris Cerullo, a certified con-artist who was banned from preaching in England. [I attended one of Cerullo's meetings in Philadelphia in which I caught him faking a healing by bringing up a man from the audience with an oxygen tank who had written to him, telling him about how God had healed him. The man agreed to come and re-enact his healing to promote faith in the viewers and Cerullo put on a show jumping up and down with the tank pretending that the miracle had just occurred. ]
Finally Avanzini got the opportunity to accompany Cerullo to his crusade in Abba, Nigeria. "When I came into Abba, Nigeria," Avanzini said, "the meeting was already underway. . . 1,800 black African leaders in that meeting and as I came into that room all of a sudden something hit me and I thought, 'my goodness, it's hot in that room' and I stepped back out of the building and I realized that there was something there that I had never ever experienced before." :"(Praise-a-Thon -- Fall-1990 -- Video tape on file.)":
He went on to spin a yarn about how God had appeared to him in his African hotel room and commissioned him to teach "God's economics." He went to the Morris Cerullo crusade the following day with instructions from God "to speak a hundred-fold increase over that offering that it will be multiplied back to the giver 100-fold!"
"I told them how the offering would be and they began to pass around two little bowls that they had with about 2,000 leaders now in the room. Within one row the bowls were full. . . they started taking the offering with the pillow cases. . . and money was falling out of the balcony. . . and finally Dr. Cerullo stood up and he said, 'Stop the giving. . .' And I began to pray. I felt something hitting me and I looked up and the people were throwing money. Money was being thrown over the top of their heads."
[It's hard to imagine Morris Cerullo yelling, "Stop the giving,' when the entire thrust of his ministry seems to be focused on the collection plate.]
Then Avanzini told the TBN audience that this was a lucky day for them. God was telling him to speak the 100-fold over their pledge slips. "At first, you know Jan Crouch has asked me a dozen times to speak the hundred-fold message and I have to say, 'Jan, anything else, but God is just not letting me do it.' But tonight I feel it with all of my heart and soul. I'm going to speak the 100-fold increase tonight."
Apparently God let him do it for every Praise-a-Thon since. It must have generated a huge response because TBN got a record pledge total during that fundraiser. At the end of the program that night, Avanzini followed through on his promise. The entire prayer consisted of three sentences:
"Father, we thank you that there's more than enough. We know the devil's a liar. Lord in the name of Jesus and in the power of your revelation we speak in the name of Jesus be multiplied 100-fold in Jesus' name, Amen."
The 100-fold promise has been a mainstay on the Praise-a-Thons, but TBN has had to fine-tune the doctrine over the years. Even John Avanzini wrote a book that was offered as a TBN love gift, called "It's Not Working Brother John," in order to explain away the fact that nobody was seeing the promised results.
Some of the ridiculous excuses for failure that he lists are: not seeing that Jesus was a rich man; :"( Avanzini, John, It's Not Working, Brother John, @ 19XX, Pg. 49)": not giving in to fear as Job's fears brought poverty upon himself; :"(Ibid, pg. 73)": don't criticize others like an unnamed apologist did and was a month behind in his bills because of it; :"(Ibid., pg. 117)": and you must trust the "prophets" such as himself or no prosperity. :"( Ibid., pg. 122-123)":
Let's take a look at the scripture that Avanzini is distorting.
"But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred." -- Mark 4:8
This is from the Lord's parable of the seeds that were sown in various kinds of soil, some bearing fruit and others dying. The parable from which Avanzini lifts his "give to get rich" formula condemns him when it's read in its context. Jesus interprets the meaning of the sower and the seed and the ground. In verse 14, He said, "The sower sows the word." So, the seed Jesus was referring to was NOT money -- it is the Word of God.
The seed of the word when it is sown on thorny ground endures only a short time until "the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful" Mark 4:19.
This is Avanzini's fate, unless he repents, as he is deceived by the desire for riches and the same fate will be shared by the spiritually blinded people who follow him into the pit.
In verse 20, we're told about the true nature of the 30-60-100 fold return. It is not a financial harvest, but a spiritual one. "But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred."
How can seed be interpreted to mean money? What a perversion of scripture! Jesus made it quite clear that money was something that the world values, but has no value to God.
"So they brought it. And He said to them, 'Whose image and inscription is this?' They said to Him, 'Caesar's.' And Jesus answered and said to them, 'Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.' And they marveled at Him." :"(Mr. 12:16-17)":
Jesus is certainly not demanding a taxation upon His people of the very thing that Caesar wants. We as believers give our lives to Him -- and not just 10% of it -- He gets it all and then He meets our needs according to His will for each of us as we walk by His Spirit. Whatever He puts into our hands is His -- all of it. And the heart of a true follower of Christ is generous and giving. They give not expecting anything in return and God keeps them and provides for their needs. They are not worldly or materialistic, but go as far as their provisions allow. When God calls them to do something, He equips and provides and is in control of their pocketbooks. In fact, God will sometimes utilize their poverty or their abundance as a tool for directing them and telling them to stop or to go ahead according to His wishes.
TBN's doctrine of "give to get" is a perversion of the Bible verse: "But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver." :"(2 Corinthians 9:6-7)":
The apostle Paul was encouraging the Corinthians and all believers to be generous. If people are stingy, they're not going to be rewarded by God. This was not given as a club to compel people to empty their pockets. He made that clear when he said "God loves a cheerful giver."
The Crouches and the other speakers at the Praise-a-Thons corrupt the word of God to raise money. They justify it by saying that, 'it works.' The fact that it works makes them believe that it's true. But it works for them, but not for the donors. They may find some exceptions who testify of "financial miracles," but most are still waiting for the manifestation of TBN's promises.
Jesus told us to do good and share with those in need who are worse off than ourselves. That is part of our Christian service. He explained it like this:
"But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil." :"(Lk. 6:35)":
God does reward His children for their generosity, but as He said, "hoping for nothing in return." As soon as a selfish motive is introduced into a Christian's giving, that actually prevents the blessing from occurring. TBN is robbing people of their reward when they encourage greed. And exhorting people to eagerly pursue riches sets them up for a fall. The Apostle Paul put it this way:
"But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition."
I like how the famous evangelist Charles Finney spelled out the difference in the attitude of a true believer and a false one in his writing, "True & False Conversion." Showing some similarities between true saints and false ones, he wrote, "They may both love the Bible -- the true saint because it is God's truth. He delights in it, and feasts his soul on it. The deceived person loves the Bible because he thinks it is in his own favor, and sees it as the plan for fulfilling his own hopes." :"(Finney, Charles, "True and False Conversion", quoted in a tract published by Pretty Good Aprinting, @1983, Last Days Ministries.)":
This is the wrong attitude promoted by TBN. Use the Bible to accomplish your own purposes and get healthy, wealthy, and wise in your own eyes thereby. The Bible becomes a tool for attaining your own selfish desires.
The poor donors who are looking for a financial blessing after paying TBN instead of their creditors have believed TBN's preachers that they will become rich because its their right as a child of God. They want to cash in on the "great end-time wealth transfer" that Avanzini promised them.
"It would be nothing for God to give a hundred thousand dollars to a person," Avanzini told his desperate TV audience. "Why, a bank could do that; a lottery could do that and greater than a lottery has come. His name is Jesus and he can give us anything that the world could do, he would do." :"(Avanzini, John, Spring 1991 Praise-a-Thon, 4/1/91)": In other messages he has compared God to other industrial giants claiming, "a greater than General Motors is come; :"(Avanzini, 11/7/90 Praise-a-Thon.)": a greater than Ford Motor is come; :"(Ibid.)": a greater than Citibank has come." :"(Avanzini, 11/6/90 Praise-a-Thon)":
It is a known fact that the biggest buyers of lottery tickets are the ones who can least afford it, but who are hoping for that one lucky windfall. This is the same measure of desperation that drives many of TBN's donors to listen to the talk of giving to get. This is also why it carries over well into the third world nations who look at Americans and desire what we have. They're made to believe that if they do what we do, they'll get what we got. Contrary to some critics of the prosperity gospel, who say it wouldn't fly in the third world, it does fly -- right in the face of God Almighty!
"It is a common characteristic of false teachers to have false promises," noted evangelist Greg Laurie, whose "Harvest Crusades" air regularly on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. "They promise that God will prosper you. 'Oh,' they say, 'if you will send in your gift right now we will pray the hundred-fold blessing upon you.' You've seen these guys -- 'God's revealed to me he's going to give a hundred fold blessing, so if you sow $10 he'll give you the hundred-fold blessing and multiply it. If you sow a hundred you'll get even more.' Interesting, though, 'if God's going to give you this blessing, first you have to give to me,' the false teachers say. It's a false message because you should never give to get because it's a wrong motive, going back to Cain." :"( Laurie, Greg, CSN radio network broadcast, circa 2000.)":
Another one of TBN's favorite money preachers is R. W. Schambach, a loud shouting preacher who learned the trade from 1950s circuit riding faith healer, A. A. Allen. Schambach intersperses old stories of miraculous signs and wonders from the old days into his current messages. He tells stories of seeing limbs grow back on amputees and of one four-year-old child who was born with 26 major diseases -- blind, deaf, dumb, with tongue hanging out. He was rippled and deformed and no feet -- just clubs, and no sex organs, but was miraculously restored to normal at an A. A. Allen meeting, :"(Fall-1990 Praise-A-Thon)": Schambach claims.
Yet, once during the Fall-1990 Praise-A-Thon Schambach appeared frustrated while preaching about signs and wonders and shouted, "Today we talk more about power than producing the power. If you have the power you don't have to talk about it, all you got to do is demonstrate it. The more we talk about it is the evidence we ain't got it and that's all we been doing for ten years and we been trying to force God to do miracles."
Schambach went on from there talking about more signs and wonders from his glory days while insisting, "I want you to know the church is going out in a blaze of glory. We're going out in a double portion fashion. I believe we're going to see more going out than what was originated in the book of Acts. Get ready for the greatest move of God you have ever seen. . . This is the final decade. This is the countdown hour. . . This is the cry of preachers, this is the cry of God's people, where are our signs? Where are our miracles? All we're doing is talking about them. Why can't we see em?"
His own words condemn him. Not only has he not produced the so-called power that he testifies to have seen in the 1950s, but he falsely declared that the 1990s was the final decade. And the viewers respond in droves to his theatrics. He is by far the best weapon TBN has for getting the phones to ring.
During a recent Praise-a-Thon, Paul Crouch was frustrated to see so many phone lines open. "Brother Schambach, come here!" Crouch hollered. "They're not calling! Will you command them to call right now in Jesus' name? Come on, General Schambach!" :"(Praise-a-Thon -- 4/5/2001)":
Schambach didn't disappoint. The number of phones available were at 100 when Crouch called him up. By the end of his hard-sell plea the available lines lingered around 1 to 3. Schambach appealed to people's greed to give in order to get and they started calling. He ordered the people to pledge $2,000 of what they don't have and to pay the tithe of it up front of $200.00. And if they would pay it within 90 days, God would guarantee the rest of the money would come in.
But Schambach put out a warning. "When you get that whole seed," he instructed, "don't you eat your seed. Don't you go down and buy that brand new pair of shoes. Don't buy that new dress. That's seed. You don't eat seed. You put that seed in the ground and then it's gonna spring forth a hundred-fold."
Unfortunately for the deceived givers, this was the seventh Praise-a-Thon in a row that Schambach gave the people the revelatory orders to give $2,000 in order to get out of debt. At the end of the Praise-a-Thon, he would have a debt-burning ritual. An altar of burning coals was set up outside the TBN studio and Paul Crouch and R. W. Schambach would feed the fire with pledge slips containing the amount of debt the viewers were reporting they wanted rid of. They also included the amount of money there were pledging to TBN to ensure their blessing.
But, people were starting to complain that it didn't work for them. No problem, Schambach had a Bible verse to encourage them to give it one more try. He told them the seventh time was the charm as it was for Elijah in 1 Kings 18, who sent his servant out to look for evidence of approaching rain after a long famine.
"You know what?" Paul Crouch said to Schambach. "I had never really thought about that -- Elijah and his servant. What if Elijah had quit after that first time? He went and looked and there was no cloud. He went and looked again, again. I had forgotten that. It was the seventh time. What if he had quit the sixth time? There would have been no miracle. They'd have been no rain. There'd have been no story in the Bible, but he hung in there till God heard. I wonder why the Lord waits like that?"
"You know why?, answered Schambach. "For us. I call that prevailing faith, the ability to hang on like a junk yard dog."
But, just in case the old exasperated givers weren't convinced, Schambach looked into the camera and said that he's looking for new partners.
When Schambach first began this campaign during the Fall, 1999 Praise-a-Thon, he told a testimony of a guy who sowed a seed of $500. And next day he found $25,000 in cash stashed under the hood of his truck, money that did not belong to him.
"Somebody said, 'How did that get there?'" said Schambach. "What are you asking me for? I have an idea some old stingy man trying to hide it from his wife and then he died and nobody knew where it was but the holy ghost." He bought the truck on the same day he found the money, according to Schambach. Obviously he made no attempt to locate the rightful owner, nor did it occur to him to do so. But all's fair in the 100-fold game.
Schambach gave another example of how donors got money to pay their pledges. During the Fall, 2000 Praise-a-Thon, he shared the testimony of a caller who boasted that the credit card company sent them a check of credit in the amount of $10,000 from which they were able to pay their pledge.
Similarly, prosperity teacher, Frederick Price, a TBN regular, testified of a similarly questionable money strike in the fashion of "finder's keepers, losers weepers." In the June, 1987 issue of his ministry's newsletter, Messenger, Price wrote, "Even if you walk down the street and find some money, it still came through some man or woman. It was theirs first."Ã‚ :"(Price, Frederick K. C., excerpted from his book, "Faith, Foolishness, or Presumption?")":
Once, on a Behind-the-Scenes broadcast, Paul Crouch showed a tinge of guilt for the 100-fold hoax. He read a letter that came in from a poor woman in India. Crouch read part of her letter. "At this time I have absolutely nothing," the poor woman wrote, "but I desire to be a source of blessing but also to receive a hundred-fold return. I am from India, Bombay. The salary that I get in hand is about 8,400 rupees." Crouch interpreted that to mean about $200.00 per month salary. She went on, "My husband does not have a job at the moment, therefore a pledge of $2,000, which is what brother Schambach was talking about, is just too much for me. Do I have an optioin to pledge as much as I can," she asked. "Dear Jesus, oh," Crouch reacted. "If I let myself, I could weep right now." :"(4/14/00 Behind the Scenes, video on file.)":
Yet, Schambach did not give the poor any such loophole when he commanded the viewers, "If you're down to your last -- how many times in my meetings people come and say all I have is $20.00. I said, you blew it. You should have given it to the lord. You should have put it in the offering bucket if that's all you have. God begins with nothing." :"(Fall - 1999 Praise-a-Thon)":
"I've been doing this at TBN -- I'm letting you know what God said," he continued. "I'm not saying this, God told me to rehearse it in the ears of his people. You need a miracle in your life. Anybody can give what they have -- but I'm trying to encourage you that have nothing. The meal barrel is empty . . . there's not enough there but for one more meal. You need a miracle in your bank account . . . And if you'll be obedient to what the man of God tells you to do, it'll be the beginning of a miracle and it will be perpetual, not just a one-time deal. Obedience is better than sacrifice -- that's what's the word of God declares." :"(Fall - 1999 Praise-a-Thon)":
This sort of spiritual extortion should never be tolerated. Yet TBN can hide behind the First Amendment's freedom of religion clause to legally extort money upon false pretenses. The Crouches don't seem to operate TBN by what's ethical and right, but by what works. As Avanzini once boasted, "They can't keep the rent on the building paid, cause what they do don't work."
Schambach made the same accusation against ministries that don't utilize their strong-arm tactics. "Keep it on, heresy hunters. I know you're watching. You can't accuse me of being after your money. You ain't got any!" :"(Spring Praise a Thon -Monday- 4/2/01)":
Paul Crouch gets very angry that anyone would question his methods. One of the many times he lost his composure when defending his unbiblical fund-raising practices, Crouch angrily said, "Oh here come the critics! 'Here comes the pitch. Crouch is after your money.' Yes, I am! Hear it, devil! Hear it, press! Hear it, everybody! We're after money -- for one reason -- that this voice can be amplified a million more times. That this gospel will be preached in the world." :"(Crouch, Paul, 4/1/91 Spring Praise-a-Thon)":
But what is TBN's gospel? Is it the Gospel of the New Testament? Not hardly. TBN's gospel is what's known as the "Prosperity Gospel." Schambach explained it like this: "When you hear the good news, that God wants you well, you'll not be content to stay in that situation you're in but you'll look for a way out -- a way out of your problem; a way out of your trouble and this is why TBN is on -- to tell you that we have your answer and the answer is in a person, Jesus of Nazareth." :"(Schambach, R. W., 4/1/91 Spring Praise-a-Thon)":
It is a different gospel, one that is condemned in Galatians 1:6-8 - "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the Gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed."
TBN's gospel is under a curse. Money given to TBN is money that is being stolen from the real work of the true Gospel around the world. And TBN makes no bones about taking what they want from the church. "When God speaks to you, you don't have to run to your pastor and say, 'Is it all right? Is it all right for me to give to TBN?'" Schambach told the TBN audience during the Fall-1999 Praise-a-Thon. "You ask your pastor and he'll say, 'No, no, you put it right here in the church.' God didn't tell you that! God said to give. You have been feeding 24-hours a day on Christian television and now God wants something out of you. And all he's asking out of you is obedience."
The non-Christians who stumble upon Praise-a-Thons see right through the hype. Unfortunately, the true Gospel suffers. One evangelist in Britain put it this way: "In the United States, the prosperity preachers have made 'born-again' a household joke. Born again is a joke in America because of the prosperity preachers with their money. When unsaved people see these guys on television, they say, 'This gospel is a con; we don't want your gospel, this is all a con.'" :"(Prasch, Jacob, "Be Consoled" - Tape #PRA-1008, audio on file.)":
Gain by False Teaching
As I pointed out, so many times during TBN's quest for the gold they distort and pervert God's Word to use it, or should I say misuse it, for their own purposes. They will grab hold of a verse, rip it totally out if its context, if it appears to endorse their deceptive ideas.
One verse you'll hear the Crouches quote on nearly every Praise-a-Thon is Exodus 34:20. Jan Crouch came up with this interpretation in 1994 when she told TBN's viewers that this passage is saying that Christians cannot ask God for answered prayer unless they pay money up front. "He depends on us to keep his kingdom going," said Mrs. Crouch. "So we cannot appear before God without a gift." :"(Crouch, Jan, from a 1994 vintage Highlights of TBN program, video on file)":
But, she read it from the Living Bible which gives a better reading for what she was trying to convey. Of course, what they don't tell their viewers is that the Living Bible is not a translation; it's a paraphrase version that does not give a word for word rendering. It has some value -- but only as a commentary. But even with that much said, the Living Bible does not even convey what the Crouches are trying to make Exodus 34:20 say.
Paul Crouch confirmed his wife, Jan's distortion of the passage and built upon it to pressure people to pledge support. "We have studied Exodus 34:20, my little sweetheart found this a few years ago," Paul Crouch said to the viewers in a 1998 Praise-A-Thon. "You don't stand before God without a gift. The Old Testament, as I've taught you before, you didn't even get into church unless you brought a gift. Hey pastors, what do you think your folks would think if you just stood at the door and said, 'Let me see your tithe before you get in!?' Hello! God did! God did! You didn't get in unless you brought your gift. Hello?! You take it up with God if you don't like this!" :"(Crouch, Paul, Spring, April 1999 Praise-a-Thon, Video tape on file.)":
Now this false interpretation has developed into a new TBN doctrine that makes void the blood of Christ and its satisfaction for the sins of believers. They portray God the Father as an angry deity who won't listen to the prayers of his subjects without a bribe.
"You know what? Another thought hit me so strong," Paul Crouch said to "prophet" Mark Chironna during the Spring, 2001 Praise-a-Thon. "We kind of apologize for tying giving to things that we need from the Lord. Boy, they didn't in the Old Testament. If you had sin in your life, you brought an offering to the priest. . . If you want God's blessing, he'll make a contract with you . . . I'll make a contract. I'll bless you. I'll meet your needs. I'll give you manna from heaven . . . I'll give you all these things if you'll keep all of my commandments. And you read them in Exodus 34. The last one is 'don't ever come into my house without a gift'. It's just the law of God and the biggest lie the devil has perpetrated on us through the heresy hunters and others is, 'oh, you can't buy' -- We're not buying a miracle of God! We're planting seed in the ground so that a harvest will grow up and give me [wealth] -- so that I can establish the covenant, the kingdom of God on this earth. I'm through apologizing for that!" :"(Crouch, Paul, Praise-a-Thon, 4/4/01)":
Wow, Paul Crouch just destroyed the Christian doctrine of the Atonement and threw out the New Covenant of the Blood of Jesus, our High Priest and Mediator. The shed blood on Calvary eliminated the need for peace offerings. That's a basic doctrine of the Christian faith.
The Bible warns of a time when apostate Christians will deny Jesus, which is what Crouch does when he looks for another contract. "But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction" 2Peter 2:1.
I don't know what kind of contract Paul Crouch has made, but the only contract that the New Testament believer is to walk in is the New Covenant in the blood of the Lamb by which we are saved (and blessed) by grace through faith, not of works lest any man boast. In Crouch's contract, he stands up and boasts continually during the Praise-a-Thons of how much money he has given into the work that he fully controls. It's sort of like giving to yourself. Yet with his millions, it's not very impressive when he "sows" $10,000 into a project that furthers his own agenda. That can hardly be seen as giving to God or giving all. He boasts that when he started TBN, they emptied their bank account to do so, but that was not some gift to God, but an investment in his own future. The gamble paid off, but I am not impressed by his so-called generosity. It's what any ambitious businessman would do.
No doubt, it takes a lot of money to keep the network going at its current rate of expansion. The pressure must be great on Paul Crouch to keep the money coming in or else shut down some stations. And if the seed-faith heresy pays the bills, it would be self-defeating to recognize its evil and eliminate it. There would be no Crouch dynasty to be passed onto his sons. Paul and Jan Crouch have been snared in this sin trap and cannot break free. The monster must be fed by whatever means it takes. The sin is self-perpetuating in that it leads to more sin just to keep it alive.
As a wise man once said, "The bait you use to catch someone is the food you need to keep them."
"This teaching transferred peoples' faith in God to faith in our faith," noted the late Martin Lloyd-Jones during the 1960s. "Faith became a force of nature that we could lay hold of and activate to use in our life to live victoriously. The results are the goal, God is not. They lose sight of the fact that we must lose our life to gain it. This is a self-on-the-throne Christianity that is so compatible with the spirit of antichrist." :"(Lloyd-Jones, Martin, [http://mlj.org.uk/frames.htm] from his sermon, "The Glory of God." -- circa 1960.)":
Crouch has mastered the devilish art of double-speak. He comes right out and says something, then gets angry when he's called on it. He must be getting an awful lot of negative feedback recently since he has begun to defend his false ideas of seed faith giving more and more strongly on every Praise-a-Thon. In an agitated voice on April 4, 2001, during the Praise-a-Thon, Crouch hollered into the camera:
"If you're sick in body, no you can't buy your healing! No one ever says that! You filthy heretic hunters that try to put that on us. We don't say that! Hear me! We're planting some precious seed in the ground so that a harvest will come up!"
Yet, that is exactly the implication of his teaching -- that we can't be healed unless we give money first. He doesn't even see the seriousness of what he's saying, he's that deceived. As we'll see in more depth in the chapter on demonic influences, things come out of Crouch's mouth that he isn't even conscious of saying.
Gain by False Prophecy
Up until the new millennium arrived, Paul Crouch continually used the possibility of the Lord returning that year as an incentive for people to give it all, while there was still time. In the January, 1987 issue of TBN's newsletter, Crouch told his supporters, "Will you go with Jan and me another mile? Will you hold our hands up another year? This could be the final one you know. This could be our 'Battle of the Bulge! . . . This final drive will be our finest hour!"
And he reiterated the need to give in the final year of 1990 as well. In the January, 1990 newsletter he wrote, "The 1990s will be the last GREAT HARVEST of souls. And YOU and YOUR TBN are a vital part of the HARVEST. . . This is the time He spoke of when believers would be His witnesses in ALL the World. This is the Final Harvest of Souls before the end comes. The time we have to bring in this last great Harvest is short!"
TV mega-preacher, Benny Hinn, must have really believed Crouch's prediction. On the November 9, 1990 Praise-a-Thon, Hinn surprised Crouch with a revelation. "Paul, I can say this -- Are you ready for this? We may have two years before the rapture. . . Can I be blunt with ya? I don't know if we have two years left. . . I'm gonna prove to you from the Word tonight, that we have less than two years." Crouch wasted no time at all in utilizing Hinn's prophecy as an incentive to compel the viewers to call in their support: "Dear Lord, this may be the last telethon we'll have to do, maybe the next to the last."
When 1993 rolled around and still no rapture, Crouch put to use another false prophecy to speed up the support. On March 14, 1993, Rev. John J. Hinkle of Christ Church in Los Angeles, who buys airtime on TBN, shared a vision allegedly from God with his congregation and the large international TBN audience. " On Thursday night, March the 11th, the Lord spoke to me in a loud firm voice," said Hinkle. "'On Thursday, June the 9th, I will rip the evil out of this world.'
He went on to explain that God was pointing to 1994, not 1993. They would have to wait a year to see the fulfillment. The false prophecy was used by TBN to raise money during their "Praise-a-Thons" and in their newsletter as an incentive for the viewers to give more money than ever before. When June 9th came and went, no apologies were forthcoming from TBN or John Hinkle.
Benny Hinn, is a regular on TBN's Praise-a-Thons. He too has proven to be very effective in fleecing the flock. In the Spring, 1999 Praise-a-Thin he used a false prophecy to extort millions of dollars from unsuspecting victims. He warned TBN's TV audience that 1999 was going to be a year of plenty and the year 2000 would bring disaster.
He threatened the viewers that those who didn't double their giving in 1999 would not survive the year 2000. Even the donors who had already called in their pledges were ordered to call back and increase their giving or face the consequences. This certifies Benny Hinn as a false prophet.
This isn't the first time Hinn has prophesied falsely. Back in 1989 he prophesied to his congregation at the Orlando Christian Center in Florida what he was seeing for the decade of the 1990s.
- "The Lord also tells me to tell you in mid 90's -- about '94 or '95, no later than that -- God will destroy the homosexual community of America . . . He will destroy it with fire."
- "The Spirit of God tells me -- an earthquake will hit the East Coast of America and destroy much in the 90's."
- "The Spirit tells me -- Fidel Castro will die in the 90's. . . Holy Spirit just said to me, it'll be worse than any death you can imagine." :"( Hinn, Benny, 1989 New Year's Eve message -- audio tape on file.)":
After 20 minutes of prophesying to his congregation that night, Hinn appeared to be "drunk in the spirit." When he came to his senses he said, "I'd like to know what I said. I was totally gone."
Yet no matter how many times Hinn's false prophecies have been exposed, he still performs to overflowing crowds in stadiums around the world.
During the Spring, 1999 Praise-a-Thon, Paul & Jan Crouch discussed with their guests that pledges were down because people were apprehensive anticipating potential troubles arising from Y2K hysteria. Hinn exhorted TBN's supporters to not let Y2K fears affect their donations.
Hinn started out by establishing his credentials as a prophet of God. He called upon TBN's fellow guests for help in interpreting a disturbing dream he had had. "I do not fully understand it," he lamented, "but I really believe it deals with what God is about to do in the world." :"(Hinn, Benny, Spring 1999 Praise-a-Thon, video tape on file.)":
He gave a long narrative of his mystical dream that he said was "more of a vision of the night" than a dream. "In this dream, I did not see his face," Hinn began. "Everything in me knew it was the prophet Elijah . . . I walked up to him and he was turning water into blood." Hinn continued, "As I came to him, he said to me, 'Take this!' I took the rod from him."
When he finished, fellow guest Mark Chironna, offered the interpretation. "The formless essence of Elijah is the spirit of Elijah that God promised to pour out on the last days' company of seasoned ministry that will literally fulfill everything that God promised under the old covenant that would come into the new covenant of a prophetic order that would change the course of history."
Hinn responded. "I feel the anointing here while he is talking!" " Chironna continued, "And when Elijah handed you the rod, God was putting in your hand a new level of apostolic authority for the nations. . . You are entering into a new age of the miraculous. There will be a sharpening, for the spirit of Elijah rests on you."
Hinn laid out his first prophetic message under Elijah's mantle. "Pat Robertson, in January, said 'I have just come out of two days of prayer and fasting. The Lord has said to me that this year, 1999, would be the greatest year for the body of Christ, economically and spiritually, but beginning the year 2000, disasters would hit in the world, economically and otherwise, and only those in the church who have been giving to God would be spared.'" :"( Ibid.)":
Turning his attention to the viewers, Hinn said, "So when I say to you here and in your home, increase your seed, God knows you can and you must because if you do not, you will be the one to suffer."
TBN supporters then jammed the phones in order to survive the coming year of disaster. Hinn gave dire warnings to those that pledge and then fail to follow through. "And one final thing, if you break your promise, hear this! Some of you make a pledge and along the way you decide to forget about it. The Bible says God will destroy the work of your hands if you do that . . . We can't play games with him!"
[This is the exact opposite of what R. W. Schambach tells the TBN viewers. He says, "If God doesn't supply it, you don't have to pay it." :"(Schambach, R. W. TBN Newsletter February, 1998, Vol. XXV, Number II.)":Ã‚ But he tells the people to go without shoes and clothing and paying creditors, in order to pay TBN's pledge first or the money won't come in for the other things.]
"Now, some of you will have to step out in faith tonight," Hinn said. "You may not even have the money right now. In fact, most times you make a pledge you don't even have it."
Then he followed up with a warning to the skeptics. "You know, you do not get under the kind of anointing I get under just because you sing hallelujah," Hinn said, ''There's a heavy price and I would not want to be in the shoes of the one who touches the anointing. Don't touch the anointing!"
"I'm giving you a prophetic word. You know the scripture says they prospered because they obeyed his prophets. I'm telling you tonight, I'm speaking prophetically. Obey the Lord!"
Hinn had a solution for those who were short on cash, -- liquidate! "You know if I was you and God spoke to me like this, I'd take it out of my investments to give it to God now cause it's already spring and the year 2000 is almost next door."
So now that the year 2000 has come and gone with no casualties to count, will TBN refund the extorted funds? Don't count on it!
Leader of the Pack
One thing you cannot escape when putting all the words of the TBN insiders together -- they all borrow from each other. They learn what fads and schemes have worked out for others and they adapt them for their own success in money-mongering. A multiplication of error upon error -- false precept upon false precept -- has been brought together under TBN's roof. Every trick in the book has been adapted and fine-tuned to get the desired results.
And they ridicule true believers who give with pure motives, calling evil good and good evil. "Like most of you, I was taught that we should give of our resources to God, but NEVER expect anything back from God, "wrote Crouch in the March 1999 TBN newsletter. "After all, we should give from a heart of pure love of God simply because He is worthy! Sounds mighty high and noble doesn't it? :"(Crouch, Paul, TBN Newsletter March 1999, Vol. XXVI, Number III)":
And the world looks on and laughs. Desperate people look on and empty their pockets because of the power of the Word of God that is being wrongly wielded as a club against them. The words of Scripture are powerful, but when wrongly applied they can be devastating. The devil himself recognized that and used God's word taken out of context to tempt Jesus to test God. :"(See the fourth chapter of Matthew.)": The devil is the one who inspires others to use the same approach.
And again, TBN's prosperity message is so foreign to the New Testament teaching on the subject of getting rich off the ministry. The apostle Paul, rather than being a burden to the church, chose to be a tent-maker, along with his partners Priscilla and Aquilla. He told the Corinthians, "Now for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be burdensome to you; for I do not seek yours, but you. For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children." :"(2 Co. 12:14)":
Just because there are con-men masquerading as brothers does not mean that Christianity is false, as some viewers would conclude. It just shows that there is so much value in God's kingdom of heaven on earth that opportunists find ways of using it for their own benefit. Jesus gave a parable in which he taught that outsiders would see the value in the community of the saints and try to enrich themselves thereby.
"Then He said, "What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches" Luke 13:18-19.
The birds of the air are roosting in the branches of God's tree, the true church. The birds live off its fruit and yet are not part of the tree.
Another parable that gives the same imagery is one that TBN regulars admit to often. The Crouches and their guests often boast that they are the violent who take the kingdom by force. They've even hosted "Forceful Men's Conferences" based on a misinterpretation of this parable and have identified themselves as the ones who are violent.
"It's time to get violent," R. W. Schambach shouted during the Fall-1999 Praise-a-thon.. "The kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force. I'm advocating violence! We've been running from the devil long enough. It's about time we stop in our tracks and turn around and eyeball him and say, 'I've had enough, devil!'" :"(Schambach, R. W., Fall - 1999 Praise-a-Thon, video on file.)":
Schambach was quoting Jesus in the 11th chapter of Matthew. But it was a rebuke of violent people, not an endorsement of violence. The religious leaders of Jesus' day were using violence against Him so they could have the visible kingdom of heaven for themselves. And today what is known as "the church" has many factions fighting for their position at the top. The same battle for supremacy rages today as it did when Jesus was on earth.
The apostle Peter warned of the same thing as he saw it happening in the first century. "And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not" 2 Peter 2:3 KJV.
The prosperity preachers at TBN have turned the Gospel of the Kingdom into the gospel of wealth. These are two different and opposite views. They can't be reconciled. As Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon" Matthew 6:24.
"Put on the idiot box if you can bring yourself to watch TBN for any more than 10 minutes without getting nauseated," evangelist Jacob Prasch remarked in his message, "Faithful and Unfaithful Bride. "You'll see the Bride of Christ sleeping with Mammon." :"(Prasch, Jacob, "Faithful and Unfaithful Bride" audio tape from CCLV on file.)":
Paul Crouch makes it very clear what side of the fence he's on in his October 1998 TBN newsletter he wrote: "Ah, what a lie the evil one has perpetuated through the scribes and Pharisees of our day! NO! We are not buying this lie anymore! God wants you and me to be RICH in every way!"
It could be that the Crouches began right and got side-tracked. We cannot judge their hearts, but we can and must inspect their fruit. And the fruit of TBN is putrefying. Perhaps the Holy Spirit strove with them for a long time before finally just giving them over to believing the lies they wanted to believe. I hope it's not too late for repentance.
TBN's biggest draw, Benny Hinn, at one time saw through the evil of the prosperity gospel and preached against it. Why did he turn from the truth? God only knows. It's hard to look upon such casualties in the kingdom. Here's some wisdom Hinn once had that he now rejects:
"What's the message out there today? It's a message of ego, pride, and selfishness. It's a message of mine, me, I. Show me how to get more! It's not the message that Jesus preached when He said, 'If you want to be my disciples . . . deny yourself and take up the cross and follow me." :"(Hinn, Benny, June 21, 1987, message at Orlando Christian Center)":
In fact, Hinn was so concerned back in 1987 when he preached this to his congregation at Orlando Christian Center, that he said, "Today the Lord has made it very clear to me, that I am to warn you today of what's coming. No, this is not an easy message to preach, it is needed. And the Bible tells me if I don't tell you, God will require the blood on my hands!' :"(Ibid.)":
"You are as tired and as sick of money-hungry, greedy hypocrites to where you almost threw up," Hinn continued. "They come to empty your pockets, promising you mountains of gold. You haven't gotten one mountain yet!" :"(Ibid.)":
And he concluded, "Any preacher that doesn't preach self-denial, the cross, the blood, is a false prophet! Any pastor, any leader, any evangelist that will not preach the cross, the blood, or repentance, living for God, self-denial, is a man filled with ego, selfishness! He's a dreamer! . . . You say, 'Benny Hinn you're being hard.' No sir! I have seen the heart of God and I want people to see it just like I have seen it. . . No, this is not a popular message" ¦ but it's His (God's) message." :"(Ibid.)":
Sadly, only a few years passed before he began proclaiming the same pitiful message. He attributed his change of heart to Oral Roberts. He told the TBN audience during the Spring, 1991 Praise-a-Thon how Roberts had been a guest at his church in Orlando and criticized Hinn for how he took an offering. Roberts told him, "You take lousy offerings." He told Hinn that he put too much emphasis on giving, and little on receiving. Oral Roberts said to Hinn, "From now on build faith in your people, not faith in the seed but faith in the harvest it's gonna bring back." Hinn complied and said, "It changed my whole look on giving and receiving, sowing and reaping." :"(Hinn, Benny 4/3/91 TBN Spring 1991 Praise-a-Thon)":
Later in the Praise-a-Thon, Hinn recalled how he used to view mammon. "You know years ago they used to preach, oh, we're gonna walk on streets of gold. I would say, 'I don't need the gold up there, I got to have it down here. This is where I need it. I mean it's wonderful to walk on streets of gold in glory, but the bills are down here. Say amen!"
If Hinn had only listened to his own sermon that he preached three years earlier, he might have thrown Oral Roberts out of his church on the spot. He recognized the evil spirit behind the prosperity gospel and its eventual destruction of souls. Now what he said of them applies to himself. "I fear for these men," said Hinn in that sermon in 1987. "Unless they wake up they may find themselves in a pit they'll not get out of." :"( Ibid.)":
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