Thinking Out Loud

February 12, 2012

Don’t Follow Television Jesus

About three decades ago, I was writing monthly checks to three different television ministries. 

I believe in the good that Christian television can do, and I know a number of people who — with apologies to their pastors — receive their greatest spiritual nurture from Christian television. 

And I worked in Christian television.

As the only community television producer at a Toronto station who was allowed to direct his own program, I produced 48 half-hour Christian music showcase shows. I also was an audio engineer and worked in guest relations and music coordination for a national daily Christian television show. I also assisted a local church with their weekly broadcast of their Sunday morning service, seen on a national network to this day.

So you would expect me to be a little more supportive, right?

And you would also expect after all the flak I took two years ago for posting a picture of a prominent TV Bible teacher’s luxurious house — or, houses — I wouldn’t have wanted to do it again yesterday, right?

But that opulence; that excess is wrong. Just plain wrong.

There’s a saying in ministry that as a pastor, you should get a salary reflective of the median income of the people you are serving, live in a house that is typical of your parishioners, and enjoy vacations and benefits equal to the average member of your church.

That should apply with parachurch ministries as well, such as relief and development agencies, music ministries and (especially) television ministries.

The ease with which some people are corrupted by the finances involved in Christian broadcasting makes their theology somewhat suspect. I’m not saying that they are guilty of completely misreading the Bible or ignoring the basic laws of Biblical exegesis. But they either are (a) not understanding the text, (b) skipping sections they don’t want to read, (c) or fully understand what it all means but feel it applies to someone else. Or of course there’s always (d) they are in ministry for the money.

Certainly, this does not apply to everyone in television ministry. Not by a long-shot. Many are sincere, and present the gospel with clarity.

However,  I think the very thing in the personality of some people compels them to go on television means that the Jesus they present on air will be partially skewed by the elements of their own personality.

Christian television is a great place to let the introduction to Jesus happen. But from there it’s time to move on to (a) corporate worship in a local church, (b) interactive Bible study in a small group or coffee klatch, (c) finding a personal mentor, counselor, or prayer and accountability partner, (d) finding a place of Christian service, (e) finding a context for Christian witness; or (f) all of the above.

Generally speaking, Christian television doesn’t give you an outlet to do the things listed above. You receive — on various levels depending on the type of program or number of programs you watch — some degree of Bible teaching and exhortation; as well as the opportunity to give money. But that’s really all these shows can do for you.

Though you do get a kind of look at Jesus as he appears on television; the “television Jesus”  somehow robs you of the full picture. There are so many other voices who want to share in your fullest discovery of the infinite aspects of Jesus Christ.

And unless you’re reading this in a really, really remote place; you’ll find the opportunity to pursue Jesus in a local church not too far from where you live.

December 17, 2011

Wednesday Link List on Saturday

List Lynx

I thought it was only fair to give you weekend lurkers a window into what happens here during the week. Maybe W.L.L. can also stand for Weekend Link List.

  • Given the season, we’ll kick off with a feel-good, flashmob video; Deck the Halls as it sounded at the Carlson School of Management.  Don ye now yer gay apparel.
  • Veteran Christian blogger Andrew Jones notes that 2011 was the year we talked about hell. “How can someone say that hell contains literal fire that scorches your butt while heaven contains metaphorical wine that you cannot enjoy? That’s not consistent. It’s also bad news for wine drinkers. And how can all the words for ‘hell’ in the Greek be interchangeable while the words for ‘love’ are highly nuanced?”
  • In response to the child abuse scandals that have rocked on particular denomination, a UK sculptor reminds us yet again in this pixelating piece titled Cardinal Sin.
  • Here’s a 2012 book title that looks interesting: Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos. From the book blurb:Imagine Matt’s astonishment when he finds out that the guy he knows as Jesus . . . isn’t. He’s an Imaginary Jesus: a comfortable, convenient imitation Matt has created in his own image.” Here’s the video preview.
  • Pastors must love it when parishioners are literally ‘overflowing’ with the weekend message; saying that they “knocked it out of the park.”  Check out Free Will vs. Free Will.  The preacher in this case is Mark Vroegop of College Park Church IN INdianapolis INdiana, IN case you were wondering.
  • Move over Martha Stewart Department: What Christmas table wouldn’t be complete without some Christmas Eve Mice desserts?   Mine, apparently; until I read about them at Daily Encouragement where they’re known as Church Mouse Cookies. Bet the Church Mouse name came first and then it got P.C.-ed. Looks too good to eat, though.
  • While this video was posted to GodTube a few days ago, I think I’ve seen this one before; the one where the little girl either steals the show or ruins the show depending on whether or not you had kids in this particular Christmas production. Note: Earplugs recommended.
  • Christian Week profiles Luke Gilkerson of Covenant Eyes and his summary of Five Ways Porn Warps Minds.  Sample: “It taps into the neuro-circuitry of our brains, making us desire the rush of sexual energy from porn again and again.”
  • Some Evangelicals may not have liked Christopher Hitchens, but the renown atheist kept us on our toes. Hitchens passed away Thursday at age 62.  Doug Wilson offers a Christian reflection at Christianity Today.
  • At Christianity 201, I offer up two videos to try to contrast the difference between apologetics and evangelism, featuring two people who are very skilled at both. Longtime readers here will recognize the first vid.
  • At Stuff Fundies Like, it’s time to reveal the truth about Christmas — and Rudoph — in this classic sermon based on ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.
  • Lastly, Roger Morris is a Christian in Australia who confesses that his kids have done the whole Harry Potter thing, and then goes on to recommend doing so, “in a controlled and supervised fashion.”  Read his reasoning at Christian Today.

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