"…for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her." (Proverbs 8:11)
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Charlatans, Kooks and Calculus

When I was a kid, there were only three television networks: CBS, ABC, and NBC. (Four, if you count PBS.) Fox did not yet exist. Cable did not yet exist. You watched what was on the three channels, or you read a book, listened to records, or took a walk. TV entertainment was a scarce commodity.

For this reason, my dad and I never watched TV on Sunday morning. Saturday morning was all about cartoons. Sunday morning was reserved for Billy Graham, Oral Roberts, and other televangelists. Sunday morning TV was religious, and religion was for kooks.

I spent the first part of my adult life with this preconception about Bible teachers and preachers on TV. It didn’t help that the transgressions of Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart received unbridled media attention in the 1980s. Televangelists were all a bunch of charlatans and hypocrites. That’s what my dad believed, and that was what the news media reported. So, that’s what I believed, too.

And then I got saved.

After I became a Christian, my preconceptions were still there. I was wary of watching a preacher on TV, but I was also curious. Some were overly saccharine. Some were painfully dull. Some were unsettlingly focused on fire and brimstone. And some…some were very good.

A couple of the television Bible teachers really resonated with me. I liked their style of communication. I appreciated their depth of analysis and their insights concerning the original language and historical context of various Bible passages. I valued the real world application of their teaching, and I found that the more I listened — the more I studied and learned — the more interested I became in other teachers. A message that previously may have seemed too radical or extreme made sense after I understood the fundamentals.

Imagine sitting in a lecture on calculus when you are 8 years old and just getting a handle on fractions. The instructor is blabbing on about limits, derivatives and integrals, scribbling formulas on the whiteboard — and it’s all gibberish to you. It simply makes no sense. You may feel bored, annoyed, or even a little stupid. You have no context, no foundation for the teaching, and so you have no interest. It is not until you have learned fractions, geometry, algebra, trigonometry, and other mathematical fundamentals that you can understand and appreciate the application of calculus.

I watch several television Bible teachers frequently now, and their instruction is invaluable to my personal development and my Christian walk. Are there charlatans and hypocrites out there? Sure. There are also some pretty crappy math teachers. You can find people who lack character in virtually any profession. You will also find some very talented, committed people of integrity who are walking in their natural gifts.

If you are new to the Bible or not even a Christian, I recommend you check out Joyce Meyer. She’s a real straight shooter who speaks in a voice reminiscent of Marge Simpson’s sisters. You can watch episodes of her show, Enjoying Everyday Life, for free on her website. Give her a try for a week. If you are bold, give Creflo Dollar or Jack Hayford a shot. They rock. On the web, check out the blog by my friend Rebecca Carrell at Love.Serve.Shine.

Are they all a bunch of kooks? I encourage you to set aside any preconceptions and simply listen. Then make up your mind. You might be surprised at what resonates.

3 comments

1 Rebecca Carrell { 12.13.11 at 4:19 pm }

Thank you Leslie!! And I LOVE the analogy with calculus! That’s a gear way to look at it. 🙂 And btw, Joyce Meyers is one of my faves too!

2 Tress Collins { 12.13.11 at 6:35 pm }

Great read! I love Joyce and Jack Hayford – 2 of my all time favorites =)

3 Adam Oas { 12.16.11 at 11:12 am }

Nice writeup. I’m certainly a lover of the fact that with all of the new media that it’s so much easier to ‘drink your fill’ of some great messages, but being a part of a local church community should always come first. I don’t think that’s the point of your article here, but just something that should be a part of a discussion on media in the church. We’re really seeing a resurgence of pastors and churches getting into the media space and I think it’s a great thing.

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