“Christian” TV?

It’s interesting to note the proliferation of Christian TV channels over the past few years. The last time I counted, there were at least twelve being broadcast on the Sky network. What saddens me about this explosion of suppposed Christian broadcasting though, is the vacuous nature of most of it. With odd exceptions, such as the phone-in programmes on the Revelation/Genesis channels, and the talks by such people as John MacArthur and R.C. Sproul and a few others, there isn’t a great deal of good television out there. And it’s a little sad to me as an evangelical, that the most consistently intelligent and thought provoking programming seems to come from the Roman Catholic EWTN. (This said. I must confess that whilst watching the occasional programme of theirs that I sometimes nearly choke on my supper at the suggestion that I should pray to Mary, St. Anthony or indeed anyone other than the Father through Jesus Christ!)

Most of the programmes shown on these (unpleasantly named) ‘God Channels’ are, of course, imported from the U.S. where overt, often personality driven ‘televangelism’ has developed in a way which is quite alien to most of us in Britian today. Not having studied the history and background of American culture in any depth, I haven’t the faintest idea why this should be the case. All I do know is that people who often look rather like shady used car dealers (wearing expensive suits and Rolex watches) keep trying to sell me ‘prayer cloths’ or vials of ‘holy water’ or some such; almost anything in fact but real Christianity.

Sometimes, I flick past  channels where the picture is of dreadful quality and almost unwatchable. Pausing during such ‘flickpasts’, the preacher will often be bellowing so frantically that the PA system is driven into gross distortion and it’s painful, if not impossible to listen. On other occasions, I come across a programme which claims to be a ‘conference’, but in fact appears to be a rock/pop concert with a distinct absence of conferring. 

Almost every night, I can find a programme where the preacher is telling me that ‘God has a plan for my life’. God wants this for me, or He wants that for me. And what He usually seems to want for me is that I either get rich or miraculously healed. And to help Him bless me (and ‘change my life’) in the prescribed way, it would be a good idea, says the preacher, if I buy his latest book and/or DVD for a certain price. Or I could send my ‘love gift’ of at least $…… right away!
On odd occasions, I’ve even found myself – in a weirdly ouija board kind of way – being invited to press my hand against the TV screen and thus make ‘contact’ with the preacher’s hand, so that the Holy Spirit can bless me in some way, despite the fact that the programme may have been made weeks, months or even years earlier. (Forgive my impious cyncicism dear reader. I’m not saying the Holy Spirit can’t work in such ways, but simply questioning whether he does).

What are we to make of all these programmes in this tinsel, Disney-esque Religionland? And if we Christians don’t have an answer to that, what must casual non-Christian visitors to such channels make of them?  Are they drawn in or more often turned off?  One suspects it is probably the latter, though it is true of course that the Lord can work in ‘strange and mysterious ways His wonders to perform’. And for this, we must indeed thank and praise Him.

  1. Absolutely Chris! If I had to name one thing that was killing Western Biblical Christianity it is that the Western mindset increasingly looks at the Church in business terms, i.e. volumes, profits and returns are all-important. Now couple that with the celebrity culture of the West and, boy oh boy, do we have a lethal mix!!

    Of course, if we believe the Bible, it’s not volumes we’re about but rather TRUTH and it proclamation. Until that is done, more and more of what’s left will degenerate into a fantasy world.

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