12 March, 2008

Listening for the Gospel Truth

About three years ago, I turned off Christian Radio for good. This included not only the contemporary Christian music channel but the Christian talk and sermon channels as well. Why? I could literally 'hear' the degeneration of the Gospel message in every aspect of this medium. Most of the sermons were from seeker, church growth movement pastors who wanted you to have a balanced checkbook and happy marriage. It would have been rare to hear about the Wrath Christ took on the Cross.

And as I studied scripture more intently, I kept hearing sermons that were obvious proof texts of ONE verse out of the intended context of scripture. Then came the pleas for funds to continue these ministries that twisted the Word for effect. Some of these ministers pleading for funds had been outed by some bloggers showing their 'personal ministry' income figures from their 990's and it was shocking what they were making in addition to their church salary. And it was even more shocking to see what their family members were paid in these 'personal ministries'. The more I listened, the more the blatant hypocrisy and shallow teaching scared me so I turned it off. Radio could not be trusted anymore for the truth of scripture nor for the ethics of those pleading for funds. (I do listen to VCY archived shows over the internet)

When I saw this post at Slice of Laodicea, it clarified for me that what has happened to Christian Broadcasting is the same thing that has happened to Christian Publishing and the church: Marketing + Growth = Money.

Here are a few excerpts from the post which show how Christian Broadcasting has been lured by the world's system of success:

"Eliason says he has seen vast changes in the landscape in Christian broadcasting over the decades. “When I began in Christian broadcasting years ago, there was a seriousness, a gravity among those whose driving passion was to air an unadulterated Gospel message. Ministry was the focus. We now have an “Industry” focus that results in Disney and Fox consultants coming in to tell us how to present the Gospel.

A Disney exec is going to be telling us about, ‘The Power of a Story’. We need the creators of Cinderella to tell us how to present the story of the living Christ? What ever happened to the power of the Holy Spirit?” asks Dr. Eliason. “The emphasis today is not on the preaching of the Word. We’re told that nobody will listen to preaching any longer, that only images will suffice. Yet Scripture tells us in I Corinthians 1:21 that it is through the preaching of the Word that the Holy Spirit works to convert souls. In our endless and expensive quest for cultural relevance, we are losing the heart of the Gospel message, which is to deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Christ. Unlike what many religious broadcasters are airing today, Jesus is not a life-enhancement product.”

Dr. Eliason concludes by saying, “What a powerful thing it would be if all of those broadcasters who are still committed to getting the true Gospel out to the masses through media would kneel and seek God at a mass prayer meeting in the Delta Ballroom. We could confess corporately that all of our slick media techniques, all of the money that is now the motivation in so much of religious broadcasting, and all the man- made strategies are ultimately worthless in changing hearts without the power of God in our ministries. What we are needing as Christian broadcasters at this hour is repentance and a return to the core purpose for our vast media assets—to unapologetically preach Christ crucified, the only hope of the world.”


Cindy said...


This is so funny. I listened to Focus on the Family for the first time in many years after news broke about the problems with homeschooling in California.

I was head-over-heels in love with Christian radio until about '93-'94 when Dear Dr. Jim came out with his book about suffering. He promoted the book for at least a week on his broadcasts, and it made me really angry. A sweet, sanguine woman at church who loves Jim Dobson nearly choked when I talked about it. I said that he sounded just like a secular humanist! (I get along great with this friend who is about 100% sanguine, a trait that I share with her. But boy, when my other character traits kick in, look out!) I'm glad that she loved me then and still loves me now.

I haven't been able to listen to Focus on the Family ever since. (At least not more than once about every 5 years, and I usually turn it off about half way through.) After around 2000, I could hardly take any of it anymore. It wasn't so much the "send us money and we'll send you our latest gift so you can see Lazarus rise from the dead in the privacy of your own home" stuff. It was the gross lack in Biblical content. For the few good options that some of the stations carry, it just wasn't worth the effort.

I don't know if I appreciate this post in the way that you intended, but I do appreciate it.

And you, too!

Revelation 2:17 said...

Your post immediately came ot mind this morning when in my morning reading I came across this:

`And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make MERCHANDISE of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.`

- 2 Peter 2:3

Lindon said...

Cindy, given your background and scholarship in ministry and clinical psychology, saying his book sounded like a secular humanists is quite something. I have not read it and found I could not get through many of his other books.

Christian radio sounds like a dead zone of tickling ears and then pleading for money. A few years ago, I was able to see quite a few of these radio preachers list of boards and 990's. My first thought was that they have great ability to give to themselves including their family members. :o)

I think 'Rev' gets it. Christianity has become a market niche with lots of dollars to be had in selling sermons, books, literature and even jewelry and home decorating items.

Somehow I cannot picture Paul selling his sermons on papyrus. :o)

But I do think that we should fund the Great Commission. I just don't think Christian Radio has anything to do with the Great Commission anymore.

Cindy said...

Hi Lin,

You know, I did really like the earliest books of Dobson.

It reminds me of something I heard said about Frank Sinatra. He sang best when he was skinny and still hungry. When he got fatter physically (when he had money for food following his success), he didn't sing as well.

I feel somewhat the same about Dobson. For years, I loved the Focus on the Family broadcasts. I now love them best from afar -- by not listening. But I'm getting older, and I'm in a different phase in life.

imaresistor said...

I am with you Lin...VCY is my only recourse these days. Thank God for people like Vic Eliason and his daughter. The lists are short aren't they!