Truth Matters, December 2012, Volume 16 Issue 12
Jim Bakker is Back At It Again By Rev. Robert Liichow
Baby-face Bakker was the former reigning king of charismatic television superstardom. For many years no one could touch him in ratings and raising millions of dollars from his viewers. Bakker even began to build his own city/amusement park known as “Heritage USA.” Jim and Tammy-Faye Bakker were the darlings of Christian television and Paul and Jan Crouch, Pat Roberson, Jerry Falwell and Robert Tilton all stood in the shadow PTL cast.
Naturally, when it was divulged that Jim had a one-night sexual liaison with Jessica Hawn (who had been being sexually abused by her pastor, who passed her on to Jim) all of the other ‘Christian’ televised charismatic luminaries lined up to take the soon to be vacated throne of beaucoup broadcast bucks. This was easily seen in the behaviors of the Crouch’s, who to this day do not ever mention the Bakker’s and Mr. Falwell who tried to wrest control of the PTL holdings (remember the infamous waterslide photo of Falwell in his suit going down it out of modesty). Jim loses control of PTL and eventually goes to trial and is given a very harsh and unreasonable sentence from the judge. Most sign-gift folks, while mourning the loss of PTL switched over to viewing the Trinity Broadcast Network (TBN aka “The Total Blasphemy Network) or The 700 Club hosted by Pat Robertson.
In 1997 Jim Bakker released a book entitled “I Was Wrong.” He published this fascinating book after serving several years of a forty year prison sentence. I remember buying the book in Grand Rapids, MI. at Bakers Bookstore and reading its 480 pages in one sitting (it was sort of long, but I found it a page-turner).
One aspect of the entire Jim & Tammy debacle that was quite telling to me was how quickly ALL the people the Bakker’s had made “stars” due to PTL totally abandoned them in their hour of need. The Crouches, who owe much of their existence on television to Jim Bakker totally distanced themselves from any Bakker association. I wondered “where is the love?”
This book chronicles Bakker’s rise and fall in a fairly honest fashion. Jim acknowledged that the “prosperity” message was unbalanced and confessed to his sexual sin and other failings. At the end one is left to believe that five years in the Federal prison changed Jim Bakker. From a multi-millionaire, to basically a homeless guy when he emerged from jail sans Tammy Faye, who divorced Jim and married Jim’s best friend Roe Messner in 1993 (the same year Roe divorced his wife & married Tammy). Bakker seemed totally humbled by his “fall” from super stardom.
Frankly, one would imagine that after what he experienced and learned in prison he would know how to avoid many of the snares set by Satan to entrap him (2 Tim. 2:26). Sadly, the lessons he may have begun to learn in prison were fleeting at best and the ‘birds of wisdom’ have flown the coup in Bakker’s case.
Some of our readers may be a bit unfamiliar with PTL (the forerunner to TBN) and the earthly kingdom Jim tried to build called “Heritage USA,” which was a Christian based theme park, schmaltzy shops that sold precious moments idols, and ice cream parlors. The vision was to have a place where Christians could come with their families for a fun time with a little evangelicalism-lite thrown in. Before some readers “poo-poo” Heritage USA they might know that by 1986 (it was begun in 1978) it was one of the top entertainment venues in America:
For those who are not familar with it’s story, this place was created by the PTL Ministry which was ran by Jim and Tammy Bakker. Heritage USA started out as a camp ground but quickly grew to be the 3rd most visited theme park in the world attracting over 6 MILLION visitors! Walt Disney World and Disneyland were the only 2 other parks ahead of Heritage USA during one point in the 80′s.[i]
Bakker got into legal trouble it was mainly about allegedly overselling the units in a high-rise hotel he started to build on the grounds, the hotel was never completed and Heritage Village went defunct shortly after Bakker went to the Federal penitentiary.
There have been several attempts in America to establish godly earthly kingdoms, all started by ‘charismatic’ sign-seekers. The Shiloh Community led by Frank Sanford; Zion, Ill. Founded by John A. Dowie, Miracle Valley AZ started by A.A. Allen, The City of Faith started by Oral Roberts and of course, Heritage Village.
When Jim got out of prison, Dr. Billy Graham (a former frequent guest on PTL) took him in for a bit (none of the Word of Faith crowd he helped make rich, although the Copeland’s did give Tammy some money when she was financially hurting, helped him at all). Jim returned to South Carolina where he was formerly established. Earlier in this decade Jim met up with Rick Joyner, head of Morningstar Ministries in Fort Mill, S.C. — the location of the former “Heritage USA.” Before you could say “divine appointment” Jim joined up with Joyner who was willing to back Jimmy financially to get him back on television.
Who Is Rick Joyner & What is Morningstar Ministries?
Unlike Jerry Collins, a Dog Track owner and gambler who bailed out Oral Roberts back in January of 1987. Remember when Oral said “God” was going to take him home unless he raised several million? Jerry Collins gave Oral 1.3 million; Rick Joyner is a SINistry whose devotees comprise the very farthest fringe elements of the so-called Prophetic & Apostolic movements. I believe Mr. Joyner saw an opening to broadcast his specific[ii] perversion of the Gospel.[iii]
Rick Joyner is one of the most egregious of the false-prophets on the scene today. Joyner sits very high-up on the dais of the ranking (and boy they are rank) prophets today. In short, Joyner is a huge player in the so-called Prophetic Movement. In fact, Mr. Joyner was one of the people responsible for the ‘spiritual restoration’ of ex-child molester and false-apostle, Todd Bentley.[iv]
When one goes through the kind of restoration Todd has been through over the last year and a half you usually come out stronger in basic Christian disciplines and character than ever. I feel that is certainly the case with Todd. However, I was surprised by the depth, power, and the impartation of the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit that was immediately present when we released Todd into limited local ministry…” Rick Joyner – The ElijahList Email” ”Check Out These Todd Bentley Events” May 15, 2010
Joyner seems to think Todd is a genuine apostle and is now restored from the ravages of his lust for another woman and the divorce of his wife, along with various lies, false prophetic words, etc. However, it seems the nation of Great Britain does not view Bentley as a penitent whose been restored, they will not allow Bentley to set foot on their shores![v]
Mr. Joyner gained a wider audience through the release of his book entitled “The Final Quest” aka online under the title “The Hordes of Hell Are Marching” and it is listed as one of the top one hundred Christian books (depending on which web site you visit). He reveals in a more recent nighttime phantasy of Joyner we are told that God has given Rick power over all natural laws and that the super-saints will move literal mountains (see Matt. 21:21) before the return of Jesus Christ.[vi]
Joyner is an integral part of the Prophetic movement and as such he believes: (1) in the need for the restoration of apostles and prophets in order for Christ to return; (2) the re-establishment of The Tabernacle of David (see Acts 15:16-17); (3) the validity of the so-called new wine of the Spirit gifts; (4) strategic level spiritual warfare which includes warfare praise, warfare intercession, etc.; (5) the global dominion of the earth by the Church prior to the return of Christ; (6) ultimate victory over death prior to the return of Christ; (7) new revelations from The Holy Spirit via dreams, visions, and trances; and (8) unity in the Church based on experience and not doctrinal confessions. You can even see Mr. Joyner on video declaring that God was going to send the fire of the Spirit through their cell phones (I kid you not) if the assembled would pull them out and make the call (the crowd did so and went into a frenzy).[vii]
Joyner is associated with every major charismaniac SINister infecting the Body of Christ today. Now through Bakker’s return to television another wave of spiritual counterfeits are released within the Church and upon the unwary saints due to his association with Rick Joyner.
The Jim & Lori Show
Here is a nasty dirty little secret — the world of ‘Christian’ broadcasting is a cesspool of greed, intimidation, false and/or compromised doctrine, immorality and more. Jan Crouch pretty much hated the Bakker’s who were the front people for Paul Crouch’s initial foray into television. Bakker was the reason Crouch had any success, and Jan knew this. Janny wanted to push her hubby out front of the cameras, so Paul fired the Bakkers. Jim was very depressed but eventually rebounded. All of this history is well detailed in Tammy Faye’s book “Telling It My Way” (another page-turner if you are into reading about these folks).
Jim went home to S.C. and started the PTL Club, and outdid Paul and Jan “in spades” for many years. The Crouch’s shed few tears when Jimmy was hauled off to prison and his network shut down. Those blinded by the cathode-ray tube had nowhere else to turn but to TBN, which blew-up huge (a little music industry lingo) in the vacuum created by the absence of PTL.
Understand this fact, TBN (the Crouch juggernaut) is soundly in the Word of Faith (WOF) camp. The resurrected Heritage International Ministries (HIM) is solidly in the Prophetic camp. WOF is of the pre-tribulation rapture belief and the Prophetic folk are overwhelmingly dominionists and deny any rapture of the Church. Now we have two sign-gift networks, which is watched in the same day will no doubt produce a TREMENDOUS amount of doctrinal confusion among the swallow-and-follow crowd. The following chart is a simple thumbnail sketch of a few of the positions held by the two counterfeits and the historic Church.
|Restored sign gifts||YES||YES||YES||NO|
|Restored apostles & prophets||YES||NO||YES||NO|
|Baptism as a means of grace||NO||NO||NO||YES|
|Bible Translation preferred||KJV/Amplified||KJV Dakes translation||Whatever||Differs widely over denominational lines.|
|Lord’s Supper as a means of grace||NO||NO||NO||YES|
|Prayer as a means of grace||YES||YES||YES||NO|
|Current & new ‘revelations’||YES||NO||YES||NO (the canon is closed)|
|Being Slain in the spirit||YES||YES||YES||NO|
|Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare||NO (although WOF believes in a form of spiritual warfare)||NO||YES||NO|
|Discipleship||NO||NO||YES||NO (not as practiced by the sign-gift folks). We Catechize.|
|Trinity of God||YES||YES/NO Modalists are the largest in number.||Primarily YES, some leaders are Modalists||YES|
The divergence on the cited doctrinal issues is not sufficient to keep both groups from mingling together at times in conferences or at big revival meetings. Remember the charismaniac war cry “doctrine divides.” It is not uncommon in large meetings to find a Roman Catholic nun ‘worshipping’ next to a Jesus-only Pentecostal who is standing in front of a “Spirit-filled” Baptist whose is adjacent to a tongue-talking Episcopalian. Isn’t unity a wonderful thing? The fact is, none of the aforementioned groups agree with each other on any of the cardinal doctrines of the one holy and Christian apostolic Church.
Please realize how serious a door Bakker has opened for the enemy of our souls. Prior to the return of his television show the majority of these so-called restored apostles and prophets did not receive much air time (due to the Crouches opposition to many of their beliefs). Now because of Bakker and his association with a chief false-prophet Rick Joyner another stream of extremism has been released on a viewing world. Now this specific steam of flakes has access to millions instead of a few thousand in conferences. Now they can proclaim their spurious twist of the Gospel on a global level as Bakker’s empire continues to gather steam. Now those who were previously unaware of the claims of the prophetic movement now have the opportunity to become beguiled by their lies.
One thing is for certain Jim Bakker has a gift or innate ability for making his televisions programs succeed financially by taking a voracious bite out of the Christian television market share; at least he had such ability prior to prison. Assuming the Lord tarries, if I was a gambling man, I would put my money on Jim Bakker ending up on top of the charismatic cathode-ray crowd again. Paul Crouch senior was/is in failing health and there is a huge power-struggle over who will take over at Paul Sr.’s death.
The latest in the nuclear family warfare surrounding the Trinity Broadcasting Network: A photograph entered into the court record of what appears to be Jan Crouch, her head tossed back in ecstasy, showing off a letter that is alleged to have been written by her husband, Paul, on what was assumed to be his deathbed.[viii]
Their close to a billion dollar empire is in huge disarray due to the many law suits that have been brought against TBN and Paul and Jan Crouch. These law suits come from their own immediate family members (truth is stranger than fiction).
Bakker is moving with a much younger pool of sign-seekers than the Crouches. Paul and Jan seem to appeal to the older middle and ‘blue-haired’ aging crowd. Perhaps I’d compare Paul and Jan to Paul Harvey and Jim Bakker to Dennis Miller, one of the far more trendy and hip radio talking heads.
Even though Bakker has shifted camps doctrinally he has not changed his time-tested format on raising money. The television programs seem to run along the lines of promoting a little bit of heresy in short teachings interspersed with a lot of selling products to garner funds for the various “projects” that need the viewers support. What Bakker is now hawking to his viewers is indicative of his most recent evolution regarding the end times. Jim begins this catalog off with the following statement:
Many, many Christians believe that the Church will escape the perils detailed in the book of Revelation. I’d like to believe they are right – but I can’t. And because I believe that the Church – including here in America – will go through a time on earth of suffering, hunger, violence and persecution, we must be ready. More than that, we must help prepare our loved ones.[ix]
This statement is a HUGE dividing line among not only American evangelicals but also among the various derivations of sign-seeking groups. Bakker is no longer among the pre-tribulation, pre-millennial rapture of the Church crowd.[x] Now Bakker subscribes to a certain aspect of the Kingdom Now or dominionists belief system.[xi] Bakker believes the Church must go through a literal coming tribulation period of seven years (see Daniel 9:24; Rev. 4) and he is building his empire on people’s fear of an uncertain future. Let me prove this by giving you some examples from his “Christmas 2012” catalog:
“But if I’m right, that nonperishable food may save your life someday. ..Prepare now. In the days ahead, food will be more valuable than gold. I totally believe one day that food will be the main tool of bartering for all of our financial and material needs.” Jim Bakker p.4
- 1. TIME OF TROUBLE PLUS Food Buckets $3,000
- 2. YEAR FOR TWO PLUS $1,000
- 3. YEAR FOR YOU PLUS $500
- 4. TIME OF TROUBLE Dessert Buckets $1,200
- 5. VEGAN FOOD BUCKET $150
- 6. Morningside Fire NOW Emergency Fuel $100 (“Imagine yourself on a cruise ship, a naval vessel, or a cargo ship, and suddenly the sea turns blood red. . .”)
- 7. 29 Blocks of Life Water Storage Containers $580
- 8. Super Silver Starter Kit $100
- 9. Fuel-Less Generator (solar kit) $1,900
- 10. Radiation Water Pitcher & Ultimate Survival Squeeze Btl $100
Yet Another DIRTY SECRET REVEALED!
Raising money within Christian circles is often based on either blatant or subtle manipulation. Within televangelism funds are obtained through the use of two psychological ploys: 1) People will “give” to purchase something, i.e. they are receiving something they want (or think they want/need depending on the giftedness of the salesman to manipulate the audience). The donor receives some value for their dollar, along with the feeling they are helping support a cause they deem worthy. 2) People will “give” to build something, a cause to propose to build something or go somewhere and people will buy into the vision presented. This makes the giver feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves. Manipulation can be brought to bear here through showing images of starving children (if a mission work), the homeless vs. an average home (like the viewers), etc. Certainly sending out trinkets as point-of-contact fetish items along with an appeal letter is another way of subtly telling the recipient “see we spent money to reach out to you, at least send in something,” and playing on their guilt. Naturally in both cases the Word of God is horribly abused and twisted by these Gospel pimps to work the miracle of transferring the sheeple’s dollars into their bank accounts (some people think that God’s ‘address’ really is P.O. Box A, Santa Anna, CA).
At the top of each page of this catalog is either an excerpt from Bakker’s latest book “The Time Has Come,” or apocalyptic biblical passage wrest from its context with the intent of driving home the critical need the reader has to order these products. In a simple 14 page catalog 17 photographic iterations of the Bakker clan are shown.[xii]
Jim uses both time tested techniques on his programs to raise his money. Money to what end? To buy more television time, to get more viewers, to get more money, to buy more time, to. . .and so it goes.
I imagine Bakker makes most of his money from selling his End-Time Pepper (perhaps next month we will consider this recent phenomenon from a biblical perspective) supplies because this is the current fear among many Americans due to the current political and economic conditions.
No SINister worth his or her salt leaves a revenue source untapped; ergo the viewers can support the “Lori’s House” project for unwed teenage girls. A “project” they can give to and watch being built and for a mere $1,000 gift one can become “A Lori’s House Builder Club” member. This project is probably perking along pretty well considering it is: (1) pro-life, who isn’t, right?), (2) deals with pregnant teens, who does not want to see them nurtured? (3) Lori herself had several abortions in the past so she can tearfully persuade (sell) the viewers on the need to give. I can assure you once this project is completed there will be another one to take its place or then the push will/can become to (1) maintain Lori’s House or (2) replicate it elsewhere, etc.
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose
The more things change, the more they stay the same (a little French lingo) is most certainly true of Mr. Bakker. He has exchanged his WOF affiliation for acceptance by the so-called Prophetic and New Apostolic Reformation heretics. Now because of his doctrinal shift there are two MAJOR venues to promulgate WOF heretics (TBN) and Prophetic heresy (Bakker) to an undiscerning audience.
Bakker is using the same technique’s that grew his former SINistry machine and it will probably work again for him in this latest venture. When I first read his book, written before his association with Joyner and Morningstar, I thought to myself “praise God, Bakker has finally gotten it.” It is evident that my excitement was ill-timed. Bakker has yet to produce the fruits of genuine repentance (see Matthew 3:8). I urge that we pray for Jim and Lori (Tammy-Sue, little Jimmy too) and their viewers. May our gracious Lord, the One who opened our eyes and has shown us the glorious liberty that is ours in the Christ of the Gospels open the Bakkers and their viewer’s eyes as well. Selah.
[ii] All tongue-talkers are NOT created “equally.” They all agree on speaking in tongues and divine healing after that they share few similarities. Classic Pentecostals and WOF are pre-mill, most Prophetic/Apostolic cults are post-mill. There is some mutual recognition of self-proclaimed prophets/apostles by both WOF and Prophetic, but much doctrinally divides them.
[iii] Am not saying that Joyner did not or does not feel sympathy or something for Bakker in his decision to initially bank-roll Bakker, but trust me when I say there is a lot more going on than mere brotherly “love.”
[iv] For more insight’s into this stellar restoration go to: http://www.morningstarministries.org/resources/videos/todd-bentleys-restoration-update
[vi] Obtained from a video of Joyner speaking at a Morningstar Conference at http://www.morningstartv.com/featured-video-week/greater-works.
[ix] Obtained from page 2 of the 2012 Jim and Lori Bakker Christmas Catalog, available online at http://www.jimbakkershow.com/lovegifts/christmas as of 12/01/2012.
[x] Even among the pre-tribulation rapture folks there is disagreement. Some teach all the faithful shall be raptured at that point in time. Others teach only the overcomers, as delineated by their own set of requirements, will be initially taken up and the others will have to go through either (1) 3.5 years of the tribulation or (2) 7 years of the tribulation.
[xi] Please understand that even among the dominionists they have differing views on the Church during the actual last days. Some view the Church as rising up and becoming these miracle-wielding super-saints who begin to systematically Christianize the world. This view sees the Church as overcomers, as Joel’s Army, as conquerors even conquering the last enemy, Death itself! Others view the Church as being persecuted, decimated, yet being highly empowered in the sign-gifts and out of the rubble of society the Church rises like the Phoenix with healing in Her wings and solutions to the world’s problems. Then the Church Christianizes the world and hands it to Jesus. This later view seems to be the one held by Bakker, or at least the view he offers because it is the more lucrative position, only God knows his motives.
[xii] There are reasons why all of these people plaster their faces on virtually every page of their magazines. It too is done for psychological impact. The goal is hopefully for the reader to unconsciously relate to the images shown repeatedly. Also, there is the reality of the pride of life (see 1 John 2:16) that we are all prone to. These people are very proud, boastful and arrogant and take every opportunity to promote themselves.