Sunday, July 2, 2006

More on the Miracle Channel, and the company they keep

In the latest post at The Miracle Channel Review, Tim Thibault writes about the conviction of Gregory Setser who defrauded thousands in a classic Ponzi scheme -- including televangelist Benny Hinn (although the self-proclaimed "Pastor" claims he made a profit before he smelled a rat and bailed out). There is a Canadian connection, as several allies of Setser are now facing investigation by the BC Securities Commission. Those suspected also happen to be highly respected by Dick Dewert of Lethbridge TV station CJIL, a.k.a. The Miracle Channel.

It's a great post. The larger point Tim makes, as he has for well over a year, is how the "Word of Faith" movement that outlets like CJIL champion plays on people's hopes and fears; demanding money for a reward from God, claiming if a person gets sick again after a remission it's because he or she has "lost their faith," and either ridiculing or condemning those who use discernment and question the very underpinnings of the Health and Wealth gospel.

Tim writes, in part:
The difficulty in bringing these impostors to justice is that within their “Christian” organization, there is no official investment firm or business whose sole purpose is wealth building for its clients. When companies such as IPIC and Amber Investments are perceived to be a fraudulent sham, they are investigated and if the investigation reveals convincing evidence, they are then brought to trial. But when Christian ministries such as the Miracle Channel or Storehouse Ministries (Clive Pick) make promises of wealth transfer, divine healing, favor, etc., in exchange for donations (an “investment” into the “kingdom” or the “releasing of a seed”) and the promised return does not transpire, the religious huckster gets the money AND gets off scott-free. The victims are left worse off than before, blaming themselves (because they have been conditioned by these same ministries to believe it’s their fault) for not receiving their promised return from God.

For my part, I'd like to know how it is that some people view the late Kenneth E. Hagin as a prophet, when he was exposed as a plagarist over two decades ago -- lifting entire passages verbatim from E.W. Kenyon and John A MacMillan; how Benny Hinn and other faith healers are viewed as the "annointed" when in fact they're nothing except the successors to Franz Mesmer; and how they twist even the most commonly accepted historical facts (such as this claim that Jesus was duped by Judas -- even though the Bible plainly teaches the Man from Galilee already knew who was going to betray him).

As ever, I support the presumption of innocence. However, I also believe that one can be assessed not only by the fruits of one's labour but also by the company he or she keeps. Leading people down a garden path to salvation then shooting them down and saying they are condemned because they didn't keep their faith is one of the reasons so many are disillusioned with religion in general and why many have turned to the various forms of the occult -- from horoscopes to overt practice of Wicca. To add salt to the wound and say certain otherwise regarded people are one's friends makes one think the whole world is against them.

As Christians, we may have differences of opinion about some of the more obscure points of theology. Admittedly, there some issues that I have with the Catholic Church that I belong to.

There should be no quarrel, however, over the Twelve Articles of Faith as presented in the Nicene Creed. Those who question the plain truths defined in any one of them is, by definition, either is not a Christian or is one who has lost his or her way. Which pretty much describes how I feel about many of the personalities that populate the outlets which we pretty much have no choice to receive, but get as part of "must carry" rules.

Keep it up, Tim. I still have hope, dim as it may be, that Team Dewert and those they associate with will see the light. Something's got to give.

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Belmont Manitoba 2009 High ...wrote:
Tim says it like you say it - direct and to the point, without fear. Thank God for him, and for folks like you. Time and the courts will determine whether Wes Campbell is guilty of the charges, but I suspect his wife Stacey must have turned off her spiritual discernment when it came to the Ponzi scheme - God does move in mysterious ways. How does New Life Church reconcile the fact that their #1 prophet appears to have screwed up? They haven't seen fit to answer my e-mails questioning why none of this is mentioned in the website.
July 24 / 06