Misconceptions About Christians: Part III
For the past two weeks I have been writing about misconceptions about Christians. So far I have discussed the misconception that being a Christian one must read the Bible literally and that being a Christian means you have to go to “church.” Today we will look at another misconception.
Misconception #3- TV ministers/evangelists are representative of all of Christianity.
One of the most popular and widely known Christian based television channels is the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN).
TBN was launched in 1973 has been expanding to other countries, bringing the people the message of Jesus Christ. I am not against this by any means but some of the people broadcasting on TBN have nothing in common with me (and many other Christians) theologically. Yes, there are times when I agree with something T.D. Jakes or Joel Osteen says but more often than not I disagree with them.
The problem that I see with most of the TV ministers and evangelists is that their messages are from the same theological mold and construct. TBN and other Christian stations make it a point to only promote their brand of theology, their view of God, their view of Christ and their view of God’s interaction in the world. The problem arises when people who are not of the Christian faith or disenfranchised with the church think this is the only way to view God.
There are millions of people who enjoy and get something out of watching the programming on TBN and there are just as many people who would want it to go away. By TBN promoting their theology as the theology of all Christians in the entire world, it greatly restricts the church and Christianity. This limits the movement of God in a person’s life; this limits the spirit to move and to intercede. This makes Christianity one-sided and monochromatic. TBN promotes a Christianity that is ‘their way or the highway.’
They seemed to have figured out Christianity.
One time I was speaking with a woman and the topic of me being a minister came up. She began to tell me her entire faith journey and then she told me something that I would never forget. She told me that she was raised in the church and had raised her children in the church; she was a devoted and committed Christian.
She told me that she felt she had been ‘misinterpreting’ the Bible because it was not the way Jimmy Swaggart preached and proclaimed the gospel. This got me thinking, was she truly believing “bad theology” until Jimmy Swaggart came along? Just because Jimmy said it and promoted it, that made it the “gospel truth?” This my friends is the power of the TV minister. This is the power of Christian television.
When a news organization like Fox News or CNN want the “Christian response” to a major event who do they generally ask? Answer: the late Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson or Joel Osteen. While they speak for some people, they don’t speak for me and many other Christians. No one person or persons speaks for all of Christianity.
Why can’t there be a Christian station that was “fair and balanced,” a station that showed all view points of Christianity, a station that started conversations about faith instead of ending them? This might be a dream that might never come into fruition, but it is something to strive for.
Next week I will continue my series on the misconceptions about Christians; I welcome your feedback.
Rev. Evan M. Dolive is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He currently serves as Associate Minister at First Christian Church (DOC) in Orange. Rev. Dolive can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or online at evandolive.wordpress.com.