The “gospel” on TV?!

In his book, Whistling In The Dark, Frederick Buechner writes, “There is perhaps no better proof of the existence of God, than the fact that year after year he survives the way his professional friends promote Him. If there are people who remain unconvinced let them tune into their TV’s for almost any of the big time pulpit pounders almost any Sunday morning of the year.”

Evidently Mr. Buechner has a problem with television preachers. I need to be careful since I am one myself. Honestly though I agree with the above quote. Program after program produced in the name of Christian television portrays God as judgmental, narrow minded, petulant, condemning, and angry. Once in awhile there is a program, which like a ray of sunshine on a dark day, reveals the beauty of Jesus. Here are my three top concerns in reference to Christian television.

1. Little or no revelation of the New Covenant. It seems almost across the board that preachers lack understanding that God’s justified wrath over human sin has fallen on Jesus. Misfortunes whether strokes, heart attacks, tsunamis, cyclones or hurricanes are attributed to a God who is angry with the particular sins of an individual or a whole nation. Yes the case can be made that this is how God dealt with the people under the Mosaic Covenant, but we live under the Covenant of the grace of Jesus Christ, who said, “For the Son of Man did not come into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved.” [John 3:17].

It baffles the imagination how we Christians could be come such champions at condemnation when our Savior is a non-condemner. Do we really think that harsh judgmental sermons are going to bring our nation back to God? Love not fearful manipulation is what changes lives.

2. Little mention of Jesus. Subjects range from Apostolic Ministry, Prophetic Ministry, Angels, Prosperity, Wisdom and Anointing, and these subjects are somehow viewed as entities to themselves. From a scriptural perspective, real apostles don’t teach apostolic ministry; they teach Jesus. Real prophets don’t teach about prophetic ministry; they teach about Jesus. He is our wisdom and there is no wisdom outside of Him. Why is there so little relationship between topics of teaching and the person of Jesus? Possibly those doing the teaching have very little Jesus awareness. Often a half hour program goes by and the only time Jesus’ name is mentioned is at the end of the closing prayer with the mandatory “In the name of Jesus, Amen”

3. Prophetic fulfillment for money. This is how Christian television is paid for. It goes something like this, “I’ve been fasting for seven days and God showed me that there is an anointing for family salvation {or whatever area the preacher chooses to focus on} to be released on everyone, who will plant a seed offering of $300 today. Your seed gift will bring you into a season of deliverance and victory. You will be going to the next level, please call the number on your screen now.” A preacher friend of mine was recently a guest on a telethon on a Christina station and he found it difficult to participate with this line of thought. When the host asked him to speak he asked if he could make a simple Gospel presentation and ask people to support the cause of the gospel with their finances. The host gave his okay and my friend proceeded. When he sat down, after encouraging the people to get on the phones and call in their donation, the host pointed to the telephones, “Look the lines are dead, no one is calling.”

Yes it seems we have conditioned the Christian audience to tie donations to a specific prophetic work for their lives instead of giving out of love for Jesus and faith in His gospel and a vision for the world. I encourage Christian preachers to not get caught up in the “snake-oil-salesman-syndrome”. I also have a word for believers who want to support the cause of Christ. Every time you respond to a prophecy tied to your financial seed appeal, you are saying to those who perpetuate this, keep it up this is what makes me give.

Do I believe in Christian television? I sure do. Let’s keep it gospel focused, and let’s give Jesus and His finished work at Calvary more time on television.

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