In this post the prodigious John MacArthur takes on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) and others concerning the un-Jesus slop they serve up to viewers day after day (I was going to say ungodly but then I realised that they serve mammon so that’s not technically true). If you are what you eat Christians whose nourishment consists of this programming are certainly malnourished.
While I agree with MacArthur’s general point that the evangelical church has been too slow to condemn this, people have to be responsible for what they consume. If you eat junk food all the time you will get fat and/or sick. If you chose to watch ungodly programming masquerading as godly you will get spiritually sick. Just as there is strong temptation that leads obese people to consume more pop and chips there are strong temptations that cause Christians to consume a diet of TBN. Is that the fault of local pastors for not protecting their flocks from the charlatans who produce these shows or is it the fault of viewers who send in their God-given dollars? (Notice I didn’t say hard-earned). No doubt there are pastors who will have someone to answer to for allowing their sheep to fall among these wolves but I wonder if those sheep are as guileless as MacArthur makes them sound. Are they not responsible for leading themselves and others astray as they turn their back on their local churches and focus on wealth and prosperity?
In the comments to MacArthur’s post there are many references to wolves in sheep’s clothing but are they really disguised as sheep? There have been a multitude of expose shows by both secular and Christian publications and yet nothing changes. Are people not choosing to follow the wolves? The question must be why. Why are they following the teachings of those who obviously oppose the message of Jesus? Is this what their itching ears want to hear? Or is it something deeper – are they craving something that they are not finding in local churches and these TV “artists” are selling them hope? We know they aren’t buying health and wealth so what are they receiving? It seems the answer is hope. Unfortunately, their hope is misplaced, as was Tetzel’s customers, as MacArthur mentioned. They are selling modern day indulgences – and they aren’t even building cathedrals with the money (Well okay, some are).
If my conclusion is on the money (pun intended) we need to be offering our sheep hope – hope for today and hope for tomorrow. Perhaps it’s a natural consequence of focussing too woodenly on eternal salvation. We have forgotten that Jesus offered good news for the here and now as well as in the Age to Come. Let’s do two things to offer hope both to our congregation members and through them to the world:
1. Let’s overcome our selfishness by focussing on Jesus rather than ourselves. Jesus only – rather than our cohort only. Let’s look outward. Let’s accept Christ as our head and act as Christ’s body to reach out to our world by being salt and light. Jesus said he would be with us to the end of the age in all things so let’s spread that hope!
2. Let’s overcome our narcissism that causes Christians to seek health and wealth instead of acceptance and poverty. Can American Christians even comprehend the idea that many early Christians voluntarily chose poverty and hardship in order to better commune with Christ?!? Is it possible for us to love Jesus more than ourselves? Jesus said that anything is possible with God so let’s spread that hope!