June 10, 2006

Charisma Magazine’s Duplicity: "A Crying Shame"

From the Webster’s Pocket Dictionary: "Duplicity": "The practice of contradictory speech or thoughts with the intent to deceive; double-dealing."

If you peruse the pages of Charisma Magazine you will find it chock-full of contradictions. It’s like they say one thing, and do another. For instance, two confrontational editorials have been published recently– one by Charisma’s editor, Lee Grady and another by Dr. Phil Cooke who has a regular column in Charisma.

Cooke’s editorial in the June, 2006 issue is called "Tune Out the Jesus Junk." He was lamenting the pitiful choices of television programs by TV evangelists. He expressed righteous indignation at the pitches for money in exchange for miracles that is common fare in televangelism. "I’m still amazed – and often shocked – at the junk some evangelists pitch on television," he wrote. "Vials of anointing oil and ‘miracle water’ are still big, as well as prayer cloths, miracle seeds, and gimmicks of all kinds…How did we come to this?"

I’m glad you asked – because apparently, Dr. Cooke doesn’t have a clue to the answer. That becomes obvious by this statement he made in his editorial: "It’s no wonder that in such a marvelous era ‘miracle ministries’ were born. Men and women such as Oral Roberts, William Branham, Kathryn Kuhlman and Jack Coe ignited a new passion for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. But now, 50 or more years later, the pendulum has swung so far we’ve become addicted to the feeling."

In ignorance, he just adulated the kingpin of all TV Jesus junk and hype – Oral Roberts. (The others on his list of heroes are troubling for other reasons.) Cooke in his earlier statement ridiculed "miracle seeds," yet Oral Roberts is the one who coined the term and popularized it for the use of other hucksters – and it has served them all very well for the past 30 years or so. (For documentation of Oral Robert’s Legacy, see an excerpt from my unpublished book, "TBN: The Fleecing of Christianity.)

In fact, Oral Roberts’ "ministry" is infamous for sending out more "miracle Jesus junk" than anyone. He rivals the direct-mail power of Marilyn Hickey and Peter Popoff. While Dr. Cooke is "amazed at the junk evangelists pitch on television," I am amazed that he can lift the praises of Oral Roberts after pointing out the deception Roberts is infamous for. Yet this contradiction got past the editors at Charisma.

Charisma Editor Lee Grady sent out his regular on-line editorial on June 9, 2006 called "A Crying Shame: Charlatans in the House." Any discerning reader would say a hearty "Amen" to his lambasting what he calls greedy impostors polluting our pulpits. The money raising tactics used on "Christian" television is "more akin to superstition – or worse, witchcraft," Grady wrote. "It’s not even remotely biblical, but those of us in the charismatic movement are so used to tolerating such shenanigans that we think this is standard procedure for fundraising."

Both editorialists described a typical TBN Praise-a-Thon starring the biggest names in televangelism. However, these same hucksters on TBN grace the advertising space in Charisma Magazine monthly. This is perhaps the reason why you won’t see any actual names spoken of critically in these men’s editorials. Charisma wouldn’t want to lose any advertising dollars. I am not accusing either of these men of duplicity. The buck stops at the desk of Charisma publisher Stephen Strang. He is the one who has the authority to change the advertising criteria. But money talks to Strang.

Where were these men’s voices over the past couple of decades as these fundraising methods were being popularized? They were silent. Could that be because they didn’t dare speak out for fear of who knows what? But now that various discernment ministries have written and spoken out non-stop for the past couple of decades, the TV viewers are starting to get the message. So, now it’s safe for these men to speak out.

It is a mystery how Charisma Magazine allows these editorials to go forth while at the same time driving their readers right into the gaping mouths of the hungry wolves. They do this by taking the advertising dollars of the very unnamed hucksters and "greedy impostors" whose works they single out for criticism. The Bible calls men like this "double-minded."

As an example, one pretty face that is in just about every issue of Charisma Magazine in the past couple of years is that of televangelist Paula White. In the current issue (June 2006) Ms. White bought a full-page ad for her upcoming conference at the Marriott in Orlando. The title of the conference is, "Celebrate You," geared toward women seeking self-actualization and self-fulfillment. In fact, this full page ad is on the opposite page of Lee Grady’s "Fire In My Bones" column.

Yet, in the last TBN Spring Praise-a-Thon, (April, 2006) Paula White utilized the very fundraising tactics that Lee Grady calls a "spiritualized form of arm-twisting." Paula instructed TBN’s donors to give a specific monthly amount of $68.19 as she supposedly was led by the Lord to proclaim. "But the moment you get up and go to that phone your faith is gonna activate the receiving of what is already been released in the spirit realm… So until you get up and activate the word of revelation, until you get up and activate the word of faith, until you get up and activate a rhema word, nothings gonna happen!…Get up and go the phone, Psalm 68:19, for the next twelve months, you’re believing God daily to load you up with benefits."

"I’ve heard different amounts suggested—such as $64.11 or $72.14, or $53,24," Grady wrote in his editorial, "to correlate with some obscure Old Testament Scripture reference. The implication is that if you write a check for this magical amount, God will release some kind of special blessing on you, such as the salvation of loved ones or the quick sale of a house."

Sounds like Paula White, doesn’t it? Lee Grady ends his editorial with the exhortation to all Christians to "Speak out. Confront those who misuse the Bible to dig for money." And I would add, confront those who take advertising money from ministries who use these evil methods of fund-raising because their money is tainted. Quit taking their ill-gotten gains to run your magazine because you therefore become partakers in their sins. Say no to them and single them out by name if they don’t stop their evil practices. Stop participating in revenue sharing with the likes of Rod Parsley, Fred Price, Casey Treat, Morris Cerullo, John Hagee, Oral & Richard Roberts, Juanita Bynum, Marilyn & Sarah Hickey, or Benny Hinn. Just in the past two issues (May & June 2006) Charisma has ran ads for these "ministries." And Lee Grady and Dr. Cooke both know that these very names are the ones that use the methods they are speaking out against. As one of my favorite evangelists once said, "this is not guilt by association, but guilt by cooperation." And Stephen Strang’s hands are dirty.


"Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days." James 5:3


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