HOW TO GET THE TBN BOOT

If you’re a charismatic icon, there are a lot of easier things in life than getting booted off the largest syndicate of “Christian” television stations, the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN).

Heresy won’t get you kicked off. Popular charismatic teacher Kenneth Copeland proved that when he told TBN co-founders Jan and Paul Crouch, during a TBN “Praise-A-Thon”: “I was shocked when I found out who the biggest failure in the Bible is. ... The biggest one in the whole Bible is God.” “Mmm,” Paul mused as Copeland rationalized his heterodox view. (His “biggest failure” pronouncement has also been taught on other TBN-aired programs. See, for example, Copeland’s weekly broadcast for May 8, 1994.) Copeland also teaches a concept of God that is more akin to Mormonism than orthodoxy.

False prophecy won’t keep you from inducing the TBN viewing audience. Los Angeles pastor John J. Hinkle told of a vision from the Lord saying that on June 9, 1994, God would “rip the evil out of this world ... And at that time something cataclysmic of glory and the power of God is going to come upon the earth. ... When that glory comes, and come it will, there isn’t anyone who won’t be on his knees and on his face before the Lord.”

June 9, 1994, passed and the “glory and power of God” that was to “come upon the earth” did not come. Instead of being rebuked and held responsible by Crouch for misleading the TBN audience with his false prophecy, Hinkle was allowed to “spiritualize” his utterance. “The veil, was it ripped?” he asked. “Yes, but it was at first a spiritual veil.”

You can’t get yanked off TBN by making harsh and unscrupulous declarations against Christians who scripturally examine the “revelations” of purported modern-day apostles and prophets. Faith healer Benny Hinn demonstrated that when he told a TBN audience: “You wonderful people of God quit attacking men of God by name! Somebody’s attacking me because of something I’m teaching! Let me tell you something brother, You watch it! ... You walk around with your stiff lip and collar on your neck—dear God in heaven I wish I could just—oooh! They call it a ‘ministry,’ my foot! You know I’ve looked for one verse in the Bible, I just can’t seem to find it, one verse that said ‘If you don’t like ‘em, kill ‘em.’ I really wish I could find it!”

Apparently those who evaluate Hinn’s doctrine and practice have become his enemies (Galatians 4:16). Nonetheless, even if his critics could rightly be labeled enemies, his attitude defies the command of Jesus Christ, who told His followers: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-45).

Hinn’s unbiblical outburst didn’t affect his standing as a favorite of TBN viewers. In fact, it was more in line with the network’s attitude than contrary to it. TBN President Paul Crouch has said of critics: “I think they’re damned and on their way to hell and I don’t think there’s any redemption for them. I say, To hell with you,” and “God’s gonna shoot you if I don’t.”

Yet just when it appeared impossible to get dumped from the TBN lineup for any reason, singer Pat Boone, an original TBN board member, did. In February, TBN officially announced that it was canceling Boone’s weekly gospel music show, “Gospel America.”

What was the reason? Heresy? False prophecy? Immoral conduct? Maybe some serious and hidden sin from the singer’s past? No, Boone got the ax after thousands of TBN viewers (and contributors) called and complained about the singer’s tame venture into heavy-metal rock music and his staged appearance in January at the American Music Awards. Crouch said he was singularly responsible for the judgment to pull the program. “The buck stops here. I made that decision,” he said.

At the awards ceremony, where Boone presented the prize for best heavy-metal album, the mellow teen idol from the 1950s donned a black leather vest and pants, studded dog collar, bracelets, and fake tattoos. Boone said his theatrical transformation was the idea of Dick Clark, who produced the show.

His latest album, Pat Boone in a Metal Mood—No More Mr. Nice Guy, flavors several heavy-metal classics with a jazz and big-band style. However, the album is anything but typical heavy-metal—the songs being sung in classic Boone-style with an orchestra accompaniment. Once again proving you can’t judge a book—or album—by its cover.

Boone said the whole episode was a “parody” and said that fans-turned-critics were “so quick to judge me.” For example, estranged fan Marilyn Intagliata of St. Louis, said Boone has “just turned me off completely. He’s behaving like an idiot.”

What makes the cancellation of the gospel program by TBN officials even more ironic is that Boone said, “The little old ladies and folks who contribute to TBN ministries didn’t get the joke.” Surely, TBN’s management and viewing audience are capable of knowing a “joke” when they see or hear it—aren’t they? After all, when Benny Hinn claimed his heretical declaration that within the Godhead “there’s nine of them” was just a joke, the TBN family laughed with him. There was no outcry for Hinn’s programs to be pulled from the airwaves because of the “joke.” (Neither was there concern from within TBN because Hinn’s proclamation was originally presented, not as jest, but under the cover of “revelation knowledge.”)

Following the cancellation of Boone’s program, the tide shifted and TBN began to receive calls in support of Boone. The Orange County Register newspaper polled its readers and reported a 50/50 split concerning the controversy.

Boone was an invited guest on the April 15 edition of the Praise The Lord show and was given the opportunity to explain his actions and dispel the numerous complaints. He responded to questions and complaints from the letters and phone calls of the TBN faithful. He also entertained an amiable rebuke from his pastor, Jack Hayford, who also appeared on the program. In the end, Crouch invited the viewing audience to make the decision of whether or not to return Boone’s program to the airwaves. At the program’s conclusion, Crouch noted that the calls were running 75 percent in favor of reinstating the weekly show.

The Pat Boone episode has again demonstrated that Paul Crouch, his TBN network and devoted flock lack good judgment and biblical discernment. It shows that Crouch is ruled by audience appeal and economics, not truth. Time and again, false teachers and false prophets who, for scriptural reasons, should be excluded from a “Christian” network of television stations are allowed to continue to propagate confusion and heresy. While another, who may have only lacked good judgment, is given the TBN boot.

—MKG

 

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