In Bed with TBNWritten by Jacob Prasch
By Jackie Alnor
There"s been a long-running debate in the evangelical church over what policy should be followed in deciding whether or not to buy air-time on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) or any other "Christian" network that promotes the "Prosperity Gospel," which is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Should teachers who promote the true Gospel grace the set of the "Praise the Lord" program or any other show hosted by false teachers?
The subject has come up again on the occasion of Tim LaHaye and his wife Beverly being the special guests of false prophet Benny Hinn on his program "This Is Your Day" aired on TBN for five days in a row the last week of April, 2003. LaHaye is not uninformed concerning Hinn’s record since "at one of LaHaye’s Pre-Trib Research Council meetings someone made a presentation, including video clips, of some of Benny's more outlandish prophecies," according to a reliable source.
LaHaye’s co-anchor of "The King is Coming" telecast which airs on TBN, Tommy Ice, told the Christian Sentinel that he does not agree with LaHaye’s choice to associate publicly with Hinn. And LaHaye’s co-author Jerry Jenkins who did not want to speak for the record against his partner acknowledged that "it is fair to say that I have not appeared on TBN."
It is hard not to see an ulterior motive in LaHaye when Hinn has such a large television audience and was making LaHaye and Jenkins’ latest book "Charting the End Times" available to all who would send Benny Hinn’s ministry $50.00. Included in that package were end-times charts and timelines. LaHaye stood to make millions and at the same time Hinn would rake in the money.
LaHaye is not the only Pre-Trib Bible teacher to go on Hinn’s show. Earlier this year prophecy teachers Grant Jeffrey and Joe Van Koevering, promoting their own latest Bible prophecy books, came on Hinn’s program. It was right after Dateline NBC ran an unflattering report on Hinn and the two guests joined in the hand-wringing over it. They even had the gall to condemn the secular media for "touching God’s anointed."
The Christian Sentinel and many others have written to respectable church leaders who are regular guests on TBN or have their own programs on that network. We have asked them their reasoning for it. Half of our letters over the past couple of decades remain unanswered, but those who did respond -- to a man -- agree that TBN is full of spiritual poison. They defend their position as trying to be light in the darkness. But our argument is that they can’t do that without compromise. One word spoken against the Word/Faith heresies and they will be cut off.
All Bow to Crouch
A case in point: Paul Crouch recently reinforced his position and place of power over any who would dare to use TBN’s public airwaves to expose error. In his February, 2003 newsletter Crouch wrote:
"I have a word of blessing, a word of admonition, and a word of rebuke to many in the body of Christ today! You had better buckle-up because some are going to love this word and some are going to hate it! But before we are done, hell will be thrown into further disarray and satan will be exposed for the filthy liar that he is!"
"Now I’m hearing the words, " ˜rivers of blood, rivers of blood,’ and the Lord revealed to me what’s coming in the next few days and weeks with this war with Iraq" ¦
Dangerous days are ahead for this world. I will tell you this, Satan is ready to unleash horror and terror on this earth as never before" ¦
I saw things that frightened me. The Lord said that only those who pray will escape. Only those who know him will escape."
". . . But the one that really got my goat (pardon the "Missouri" in me), was a dear brother on Praise the Lord a few weeks ago. Yes, on OUR TBN! I was down in Florida and the program was on tape. If it had been "LIVE" I would have called the engineer to take it OFF THE AIR!" [Emphasis in the original.]
"This ’dear brother’ was waxing eloquent on the " ˜error’ of giving to God, expecting ANYTHING in return! In about 15 minutes, he totally trashed everything Oral Roberts has taught us on " ˜Seed Faith’ for over 40 years! The great messages by R.W. Schambach, John Avanzini, Dad Hagin, Benny Hinn, John Hagee, Rod Parsley, T.D. Jakes, and a host of others, flushed right down the drain!"
Crouch went on and on blasting the "heretic hunters" and saying that the devil is behind any effort to stop his fund-raising methods.
"So why do the heretic hunters and other critics trash the " ˜seed faith’ message? I’ll tell you why " ” and here is the bottom-line for this whole letter. They are either ignorant of the Word, or bound by their traditions, OR " ” and this is frightening " ” some are, I believe, of their father the devil!"
"He will inspire the heretic hunters to use THEIR TRADITIONS to keep us poor, sick, discouraged, and deceived!" ¦ the mask is OFF. We see clearly the subtle deceptive tactics of the evil one! Let’s keep taking the wealth of the world."
Dilemma For Calvary Chapels
Calvary Chapel founder Chuck Smith put the shoe on the other foot when he preached:
"Anyone who hints or suggests that by your giving to their enterprise that a loved one can be saved
or healed or you can miraculously have money come back to you 60,100- fold are the kind of false prophets that Peter is warning against."
"They are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly. They live in million dollar homes, they are complete with wine cellars, they fly around the country in their own personal jets, they ride in chauffeur driven limos, and they tell you precious little partners how desperately God needs your money. Paul realizes that there are always those who take advantage and will fleece the flock of God." ("Grievous Wolves" 7/28/02 Real Audio http://www.calvarychapel.com/library/smith-chuck/index.htm)
Years ago, I wrote a letter to Pastor Chuck asking him for his reasoning for sometimes hosting the "Praise the Lord" program, bringing on guests who blessed the Lord Jesus and spoke rightly concerning him, at the same time avoiding the topic of TBN’s false teachings. I wrote in part:
"This week watching TBN’s Praise-a-Thon" ¦ I noticed that your name kept getting scrolled at the bottom of the screen as TBN host R. W. Schambach was compelling the viewers to call in with a pledge of $2,000. He was saying that he personally got a word from the Lord that any who would pledge $2,000 of money that they do not have in the bank, if they would act on the word of the " ˜man of God’ then God would reward them by supplying the pledge and on top of that get them out of debt by the turn on the century as a reward for their obedience to the word of His " ˜prophet.’"
"" ¦All the time he’s teaching this, the names of good and bad Bible teachers alike scrolled across the screen, including your name. The one time the Lord Jesus blew his stack in the Gospels is when He came across the money-changers in the Temple. I wonder what He thinks looking down at the spiritual abuse being laid on His people, temples of the Holy Spirit."
I also sent Pastor Chuck a transcript I typed up from a fundraiser on another "Christian" network of TBN regular Phil Munsey dropping his name to get people to contribute. This is the fruit of good teachers associating themselves with false teachers.
Munsey shouted into the camera: "Whether it’s a Kenneth Copeland or a Benny Hinn, or a Charles Stanley or a Chuck Smith, whoever it is, remember this: None of those ministers could come to you if they had to buy this station in order to come to you... so when they buy time there’s something to buy from. This is Mama here! If Mama goes down and Mama can’t expand then Charles Stanley doesn’t expand, Chuck Smith doesn’t expand, Benny Hinn doesn’t expand. It expands because Mama expands!"
Then he went on to give one of the foulest prosperity faith messages ever preached. The final point he made went like this:
"This is only for those who have something and you’re ready when the Holy Ghost speaks to release it in an atmosphere that’s going to touch you with what’s in me that’s on this network that’s about to be released from the heavens" ¦ I tell you what you do, you touch what’s on me. Something’s on me and it’s gonna get on you. How? Where your money is, that’s where your treasure is, where your treasure is, brother, that’s where your money " “ I can not encourage you with my mouth. I need you to touch what’s on me with your money!"
Chuck Smith at that time was hoping he could do some good on TBN by preaching the truth and acknowledged that he did not watch TBN much because he did not want to get his blood pressure up. He hasn’t been back to TBN in over a year now. In fact, in December of 2002, Pastor Chuck preached one of the best messages I’ve ever heard on why associating with demonically inspired false teachers is biblically incorrect. The study was on Acts 16 where a girl with the spirit of divination was speaking highly of Paul. The message was entitled "Conflict with Evil."
Smith acknowledged that the damsel was speaking the truth about the apostles. He said:
"These men were of the most high God and they were showing the way of salvation. But, though what she was saying was true, Paul was grieved in his spirit by her following them and calling out that these men are the servants of the most high God that show us the way of salvation. Paul knew that by her sort of advertising them that the Jews would immediately discount what Paul was saying because she obviously had a demonic spirit. And the fact that she was saying this about Paul they would put Paul in the same category that she is in. In other words, recognizing that there was demonic power there, they would begin then to feel that the miracles that Paul was working in their midst were done by the same powers that possessed this girl, that somehow they were on the same side. And Paul did not want that kind of an association."
And therein lies the problem for those who think there’s no harm in aligning themselves with TBN and using their facilities that were built on the dirty money raised by spiritual extortion. They will be seen in the same light as those with whom they associate.
Unfortunately, this message has not gotten through to some evangelical leaders who continue to see TBN as an opportunity to preach the Gospel under the censorship of Paul Crouch. Even Calvary Chapel pastor/evangelist Greg Laurie allows his Harvest Crusades to be televised by TBN whose phone number appears at the bottom of the screen as Laurie gives the altar call. The Christian Sentinel on a couple of occasions tested to see where Laurie’s viewers would be directed if they called the number. We had friends call while the show was on the air from all parts of the United States. We asked them to ask for a church in their area that would be compatible with the evangelist Greg Laurie and all were referred to Word/Faith Pentecostal churches and none were referred to a Calvary Chapel. Laurie’s former assistant pastor Joe Sabolick, now pastor of Calvary Laguna, has followed his mentor’s example and buys airtime for his program "The Source" from TBN’s new satellite youth network, JC-TV.
The End Justifies the Means
Well known street evangelist Ray Comfort, author of "Hell’s Best Kept Secret," is now considering having a weekly program on TBN. When questioned, he responded: "We will be separate/independent--like the many other legitimate ministries that use the Network, without being part of it--Charles Stanley, etc."
Hal Lindsey who has had a long association with the Crouches in the early years used to confront false teachings on the air. Paul Crouch allowed Lindsey to debate the Kingdom Now heresies with Earl Paulk on a Praise the Lord show back in the 1980s. But Crouch has since been able to muzzle Lindsey and he has now been trained to stick with areas of agreement. The Christian Sentinel asked him for his justification and he responded:
"Do you recommend I pull off TBN altogether and abandon that slot to whoever comes next? Who should I associate with? People who already know the truth? How useful is that?"
Although Lindsey has his own program on TBN, a disclaimer comes up at the beginning of the program saying something to the effect that "the views and expressions on this program do not necessarily reflect the views of TBN." It doesn’t work the other way around, however. If any sound Bible teacher with a program on TBN were to put on a disclaimer that "the policies and practices of TBN’s management do not reflect the spiritual and ethical standards of this program," they would be cut off faster than you could say "antiestablishmentarianism."
Lindsey’s reasoning was mirrored by D. James Kennedy, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, who has had a long-standing relationship with TBN. He responded to a critic in a letter dated January 26, 2000:
"You say I tolerate a TBN or apparently agree with what they put on the air. I do not agree with everything on TBN. I don’t even watch it very much" ¦ I don’t agree with everything on TBN, nor do I agree with all of the programs on CBN, ABC, FOX, or any of the other networks. If I were to abide by your philosophy I could not have my program on any broadcasting network or my books in any bookstore or library" ¦ Furthermore, I don’t wish to beat this dead horse anymore."
But is buying airtime on TBN no different than buying airtime on NBC or FOX? I pointed out the difference once on Zola Levitt’s discussion board when I received no response from his ministry after writing him about his Jewish Roots program seen on TBN. I keep pointing out that the money that keeps the lights on at TBN is generated by the fleecing of the flock of God by compelling people to give or their prayers won’t be answered. TBN also habitually uses false prophecies as a pretense for people to get in on the last chance to sow a seed before the prophesied date of some cataclysmic event occurs that never pans out. (See "The Cleansing" at http://www.cultlink.com/sentinel/cleansing.html
On the other hand, network television raises revenue by the advertising dollars paid out to sell cars, toothpaste, clothing, and every other product used by believer and pagan alike. This is honorable. But taking advantage of cheap rates on TBN due to the fact that they rake in the tainted money by stripping the wool off the sheep is the same as participating in their evil deeds. Why would anyone dare to cash in on that?
I pointed this out to the Zola Board when I wrote:
"I know some would say, 'I'd go on any network as long as I can preach the gospel without interference.’ But that excuse does NOT wash regarding TBN. Secular networks make their money honestly by selling their ad spaces. The world is already under judgment -- we're not to judge them. But within the professing church the Bible tells us we are to judge and to not have any fellowship with so-called brothers if they are immoral or to enter into their deeds. By going onto their network, we are in fellowship with them and partners in their crimes against God and the flock of Jesus Christ" (reference to 1 Cor. 5:9-13).
A Zola Levitt defender responded that it wasn’t in Zola’s best interest to "bite the hand that feeds him." In other words, if you’re getting a good bargain for airtime on TBN you don’t dare speak out against them in any fashion. That seems to be the policy of all the ministries -- good or bad -- that have programs on TBN.
Failed Correction Attempt
This has been demonstrated in the past by the late Walter Martin, the original Bible Answer-Man. He shared his own experience in trying to put together a coalition of church leaders to confront the heresies of TBN and other "Christian" networks
"Recently, I committed an unpardonable sin. I sent a letter to fourteen of my colleagues, Christian leaders whom I could name, and I said, 'These are the following heresies being taught on radio and television. And it's a stench in the nostrils of God.' And then I just reproduced the quotations. And I said, 'I know you don't believe these things. Why don't we all stand together and say we are not going to give you any credibility if you are not going to stand for the foundations of the faith.' Twelve of them didn't bother to answer me. Two of them did. One said he would do absolutely nothing about it because unless they interfered personally in his program he didn't see where that was his business. And the other one said, 'Well, think of all the good that's being done on all these.. programs . . . the gospel is certainly being preached. So we shouldn't talk about things like that.' We used to condemn the Jesuits for things like that. It's called the end justifies the means. The very thing we condemned them for, we now tolerate and sometimes practice." . (Audio tape: "Little Gods in the Church." circa 1986)
I know from Walter Martin personally that the second man he quoted was none other than Jack Hayford, allegedly the Crouches own pastor. Now almost 20 years later the false teaching and false teachers have multiplied and part of the blame goes to those men Martin wrote who didn’t see it as their place to speak out. Christians need to increase the pressure upon those who compromise with TBN by writing letters and withholding support. Perhaps it’s not too late for them to heed the words of Walter Martin when he said:
"If the Christian ministries that are on TBN would say to them, 'You clean this up or we clean you out. We won't support you anymore. We'll pull all the programs.' You want to know how fast repentance would come? Like yesterday . . . The gospel of the checkbook rules the roost, not the gospel of Scripture!" (audio tape: "Schismatic Sheep"-pt. 2).
"For 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. But you, O man of God, flee these things . . . " (1 Tim. 6:10-11a).