Saturday, March 24, 2012

Jimmy Swaggart's "Message Of The Cross" Examined

In 1998, I wrote a post for an Internet bulletin board which became the most popular article on Spiritwatch Ministries' website entitled "Why Jimmy Swaggart Still Needs To Repent." I voiced my opinion of the sullied ministry of the legendary Pentecostal minister and stated that, in my opinion, for all of the supposed repentance he's exhibited concerning "the error of his ways" Swaggart still has a lot to repent for and a lot to answer for. 

Every month for years, as we check our stats, the article is always the most accessed of all we've written on the Spiritwatch site. There are apparently a lot of people who have questions about Swaggart's influence and want an alternative view of it and the Spiritwatch Ministries article has given one such view to a lot of them. It's always been a bit astonishing as to just how many of them have read this article. I've never quite understood why until, after a relatively recent lull in the ongoing spiritual warfare I've engaged in with the Remnant Fellowship cult for the past decade, I have had time to study Swaggart's never-ending reinvention more closely.

I believed then as I do now that Swaggart's greatest spiritual need is to publicly repent for the social and spiritual offenses that his moral failures, personal rebellion and mockery against Christian church authority has committed against the Christian Church, as well as the arrogantly elitist example his leadership currently exhibits that is undeniably divisive and borders on the cultic.

It was not then - and is not now - my intent to focus upon what he secretly did with prostitutes from Louisiana to California. This point, however, is pathetically, entirely lost upon the authors of the "fan mail" we've received regarding the article for years. They are mostly anonymous, occasionally thoughtful but are all sincere expressions of feral rage over my opinion. To these people, I did nothing but dig up Swaggart's moral failures in an outrageously scandalizing manner and made them the focus of the article. That wasn't the case, but these Swaggart disciples simply wouldn't see it in any other way. So they've spent a lot of bandwidth and time screaming about how unforgiving and ungracious it was to keep bringing up Swaggart's "sin", how ungodly and vicious it is to kick a man whom "God is using."

What these sadly deluded folks utterly failed to realize is that my entire concern in this first article was about a matter far more primal, basic and serious: that Jimmy Swaggart Is STILL in need of repentance for an inner defilement that has become so much more subtle than ever.

Even after his moral failures and downfall, Jimmy kept on keeping on. It's clear that during the past decade, Jimmy Swaggart Ministries (JSM) still struggled mightily just ahead of television station creditors, a critical media that had him pegged as just another cartoon of televangelism worthy only of a cheap laugh, and a church that had largely written him off as an embarrassing, hypocritical and judgmental maverick. The merchandising of his religious wares is as tenaciously pushed as is his continually rehashed campmeeting revivalism in his half empty Family Worship Center in Baton Rouge. Undaunted by his self-imposed isolation from Christendom, Swaggart pressed on to buy blocks of airtime where ever the TV markets offered an opportunity for his telecasts. He sold off tracts of land owned by JSM around its' ministry headquarters to developers and rented properties to keep the bills paid. He sold his gospel music and Bible commentaries at unbelievable prices as "Spirit-inspired Biblical scholarship" to whomever would buy them. Whatever could be done for the sake of "the Work" that could move his own product line of teaching and his Gospel piano plunking was tirelessly pursued.

While my own ministerial labors in grappling with the deceptive cultism of Gwen Shamblin came to completely dominate my time the past decade, Swaggart stayed busy as well rebranding himself as a lonely voice in the wilderness who was one of the only sources of divine truth on the earth - in much the same way Shamblin views herself as an exclusive mouthpiece for God. With that kind of shrill and elitist posturing, most believers, including myself, had come to view him as a head with it's chicken cut off, thrashing about in phantom life just before finally keeling over into the silence of a back alley somewhere. Still sounding every bit like a marginalized loose cannon on the fringes of the church, Swaggart's voice seemed destined to fade into obscurity. No one, including myself, believed he'd ever rise again out of the morass he'd created for himself.

How wrong we all were.

To everyone's surprise (excepting his faithful remnant who stood with him), Swaggart's wobbly rise from the ashes of his self-inflicted funeral pyre has slowly taken an awkward flight. The light bills still get paid, the toll free phones are still manned and "Campmeeting" goes on. He continues to preach, to produce daily religious programs, some headed by his wife Frances, his son Donny and his grandson Gabriel, and to continue to seek allegiances with churches still open to his example. He has swapped out his three piece suits for a more business casual look and filled his soundstages with sets to contain panels of yes-men preachers and post production suites. The shilling of his publications, gospel music CD's and teaching DVD's is a never ending enterprise throughout his daily programming. A preacher with such gifting as he enjoys will never quite fully fade away. Swaggart's suavely polished oratory and pulpiteering is an asset that had gained him an audience and a ministry empire across the Southeast and is now serving him again.

What has become clear is that Swaggart has based his ascent from obscurity upon one central conviction. This is what Swaggart calls the "Message of The Cross."  I finally found time to study Swaggart's doctrine on this point and was shocked at what I found and stirred by the Word and Spirit of God to share what I found. You can find two new articles on Swaggart's take on "the Cross" on the Strange Fires page of our site and how he has exploited Christian adoration of the cross of Christ to his own empire-building agenda. It is truly one of the most revolting things I've seen in a long time.

Click here to read them. We'll need to hire more secretarial staff to probably handle the fan mail now. Well, you got to do what you got to do when it comes to standing for truth in an apostate age filled with false brethren and false teachers.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Truth About Cults Is Still Truth About Cults - No Matter Where You Find It

There's nothing more pithy or provocative then those little portable bits of advice we can hear in modern proverbs. Sayings. Portable bits of advice. Folk wisdom. They are always so cautionary. Sometimes they turn up on places as diverse as toilet stalls to church signs. But they leave you thinking and mulling over an insightful thought given to you in a highly compact form.

So as a blogger began to share her own personal views about her personal exploration of the Remnant Fellowship cult via the Weigh Down Workshop, and finally her own ultimate conclusions about it, one wonderful proverb comes to mind:

There's nothing more tragic than to see a beautiful fantasy slain by an ugly fact.

Oh, I love this. It's an awesome read. It shows the cultic apostasy of Remnant still can be seen for what it is, no matter how much window dressing they move around, how much Photoshopping they do or how many glowy little testimonies they can cite. There is a God and He doesn't require diets to prove Himself, either.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The LDS Political Agenda: Hidden In Plain Sight

The following is from an LDS apologist site: evil and intolerant "antis" (Christians who oppose Mormonism) didn't write this but Mormons themselves did and the bold face emphasis is mine:

On 7 April 1842, Joseph Smith received a revelation titled "The Kingdom of God and His Laws, With the Keys and Power Thereof, and Judgment in the Hands of His Servants, Ahman Christ," which called the for the organization of a special council separate from, but parallel to, the Church. Since its inception, this organization has been generally been referred to as "the Council of Fifty" because of its approximate number of members.

Latter-day Saints believe that one reason the gospel was restored was to prepare the earth for the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Just as the Church was to bring about religious changes in the world, the Council of Fifty was intended to bring a political transformation. It was therefore designed to serve as something of a preparatory legislature in the Kingdom of God. Joseph Smith ordained the council to be the governing body of the world, with himself as chairman, Prophet, Priest, and King over the Council and the world (subject to Jesus Christ, who is "King of kings").

So much for separation of "church and state."

The article concludes that:

The Council never rose to the stature Joseph intended. Members (which included individuals that were not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) were sent on expeditions west to explore emigration routes for the Saints, lobbied the American government, and were involved in Joseph Smith's presidential campaign. But only three months after it was established, Joseph was killed, and his death was the beginning of the Council's end. Brigham Young used it as the Saints moved west and settled in the Great Basin, and it met annually during John Taylor's administration, but since that time the Council has not played an active role among the Latter-day Saints.

To an LDS apologist's perspective, of course, this enigmatic "Council Of Fifty" was just one of those discarded forms of theocratic government the - sniff - apolitical LDS Church has no longer any guidance from.

To quote the legendary and illustrious researcher Colonel Potter: "Horse hockey."

LDS political ambition to rule the planet is still very much alive. So is ignorance about it.

The corporate entity of the Fifty may not exist. But within the elite circle of the LDS leadership, the delusion that it has the exclusive right to be kingmakers is still very much is in place. Janis Hutchinson's excellent article details this rather concisely here.

And Lordy, Lordy, where are the journalists sniffing this out when you want them around?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mitt Romney's Institutional Racism: Sorry, Wrong Skin Color

No one's asking Mitt Romney the questions he needs to be answering, which might shed light upon the measure of his ability to lead the United States in a Presidential role .. such as why he hasn't fessed up to his role in the institutional racism of the Mormon Church.

In 1978, the Mormon Church finally decided that its black members could hold priesthood offices that essentially affirmed their status as honest to God human beings of equal worth before their god Elohim. In that year, the long standing and binding rejection of any black LDS member participation in these higher levels of Mormon spiritual hierarchy was finally officially set aside - thanks, of course, to the dictates of Elohim by a "divine revelation" commanding that the practice be stopped. The LDS theology that relegated black people to a second class status has never been repudiated, though.

And Romney has been part of the spiritual machinery of Mormonism that helped perpetuate that.

Don't believe me. Get the facts. For an excellent overview of how thickly this legacy has congealed around the feet of Romney, click here for an excellent video discussing this, click here.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Just Another Day In The Apostasy, Part 3,867: Gay "Orthodoxy" and "Orthopraxy"

Orthodoxy is compliance to a set of beliefs that are viewed as normal and orthopraxy are those practices which stem from these normal beliefs. To deviate from these things gets you anything from raise eyebrows to verbal burnings at the stake.

You can realize how far things have gone toward the endtime apostasy when you can read of the latest ripping of a Christian who takes a public stands against homosexuality and the exaltation of those who demand it be accepted as "normal." This is the new orthodoxy and orthopraxy of the spirit of the age. Woe be to those who dare cross their paths with anything like an objection.

That's because, it seems, those who cross it get noticed and dispatched pretty quickly. Kirk Cameron, one-time 1980's TV actor and Christian actor, was quoted in a recently aired CNN interview as saying of homosexuality that he believed it was "unnatural":

"I think that it's detrimental, and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization."

Such a verboten opinion, spoken so directly in a secular media spotlight controlled by liberal interests utterly given to affirming, protecting and militating against any perspective that might question its infallible worldview, was a red flag waved in the face of a herd of bulls. Within hours, Cameron was demonized as an antisocial misanthrope by gay rights organizations, movie stars and the entire blogosphere - while new klieg lights were shone upon the inspiring magnimity displayed by Hollywood's rallying for the Cause.

Homosexuality may have been permitted or smiled at throughout ancient pagan culture and history, but no pre-Christian civilization that advanced humanity to any degree has ever arisen that viewed homosexual family units as a basic building block of its society. Monogamous heterosexual relationships that founded stable social systems were the norm. The social conventions of today that the politically correct elites of today demand - which include same sex marriage, parenting and the social infrastructure that empowers them - were never relevant then and should not be so today. This is what Cameron was getting at. While heterosexual monogamy and romance is rapidly becoming as subject to fickle relational change that views open marriage, swinging and free divorce as part of modern life, it still is where society is advanced. Homosexuality is a sterile social option that does not result in family units and neighborhoods that are more or less stable. Proceeding as it does now, society will indeed begin to find more undue pressure on it than ever before because of it's willingness to recognize instability as a new building block for its already morally corrupt heterosexual culture. For this reason, homosexuality was recognized as being a deviant form of human relationship that Scripture condemns but that of course is no longer the way things are viewed now, of course.

For Christian objections to this kind of gender bending have no place in society, as one Christian employee of a Macy's in San Antonio, Texa found out last year at Christmas time. Foolish, benighted woman! She should have known that in the New Orthodoxy of the last days apostacy, that gays, lesbians and "transgendered" people are "who God created them to be and are authentically living it out", as the Reverend Mick Hinson of a local branch of the Metropolitan Community Church. To imply a man in makeup and woman's clothing is not a woman smacks of intolerance to the indignant pro gay culture, when actually it's a sign of people whose minds are so open that their brains have fallen out.

The Christian objection to homosexuality has long ago been deftly redefined as "outdated bigotry and hatred for those who are different" according to one analysis offered by the noted social commentator and cultural engineer Perez Hilton. He ended his lament of Kirk's "intolerance" with a righteous snort that 

We'd say that those qualities are far more "destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization" than homosexuality could ever be, wouldn't you, Kirk?

It is they who are the true champions of "real tolerance" and "meaningful diversity" - such as the Chicago Theological Seminary, a seminary of the United Church of Christ, the same denomination that the good Reverend Jeremiah Wright, one time pastor of President Barach Obama, has been a part of for decades. The gay rights movement has long ridden the coat tails of the civil rights movement to gain the cultural wedge it has exploited to make racial equality and sexual orientation a part of "basic human rights."

You can read here what it means to be a part of this new "orthodoxy/orthopraxy" at the Chicago Theological Seminary. It's just another day in paradise .. before the end comes. Homosexuality has been, is and forever will be, according to Scripture, a sinful practice no worse than any other. It doesn't matter who says so or how many voices go quiet on it. The Word of God is still plain about it .. and that judgment will fall upon those who engage or support it.

So regardless what anyone, including Clint Eastwood, may say,  God's Word stands unchanged. The new gay orthodoxy and orthopraxy may do or say what it will, but I will stand on His Word alone - even as the endtime apostasy continues its slouch to Gommorrah.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

"I'm A Mormon": When LDS Cult Recruitment Tries Too Hard To Show "They" Are Just Like "Us"

While doing other things, this link came up on a random YouTube search right on top of a video I watched.

(I"m sure I can say a whole lot more about this sophisticated manner in which advertising that specifically targets viewers of certain YouTube videos with solicitations for more contextually driven links that are meant to hook them into clicking onto a paid advertisement, but this article will do the job nicely, so I just got spared explaining it.)

It's part of the "I'm A Mormon" campaign being conducted by the ever media-savvy Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It's not an advertised link: being that it's a targetted one and the fact that I, a countercult researcher and Christian minister got pegged to this deliberately was most intriguing to me. I smiled when I saw this ad and could not, of course, viewing it. You can check it out here if you want.

The link I clicked is a concisely scripted, cutely filmed glimpse into what we are told is the home life of one Cassandra Barney. She's a mom whose artistic career is clearly a big part of her children's upbringing. It's pacing, energy and overall thrust is the unabashed product of Mormon Church marketing strategies meant to evoke emotional connections to sell their product, that is, the invitation to identify and maybe even become a Mormon. There's no subtlety here and no high pressure sales pitch by earnest young LDS missionaries ready to enthrall with more heartwarming emotional manipulation. It's plainly meant to make you connect with Mormonism through Mormons, trying to show that they aren't the "Others" on the fringe.

This relentlessly cheery and purposefully public outreach aimed at attracting disillusioned people searching for a faith that speaks to them, is a massive presence all over the Internet as well as in the proverbial boots on the ground where Mormons socialize and serve alongside non LDS people in civic and social scenarios. Using animated voice over and just the right kind of low key background music to set the mood, the video at the end of the link says that Barney "used to think I was meant to be something I'm not."  She candidly shares a personal insight that is aimed at resonating with her audience and getting them to realize her LDS faith is just the most enjoyable and personally liberating force in her life:

I don't know why more people don't do this 'cause it's stinking fun. .. I used to think that there was a thing that I was supposed to be that I didn't quite fit, and one day I realized I totally made that up and that God wants me to be an individual but doing that with what I've been given. .. My name is Cassandra Barney and I am a Mormon."

It's really sad, however, to see an obviously very articulate, spiritual and yes, fun woman who enjoys a healthy connection with her own gifting and talent that she shares with her family become so grotesquely exploited. I truly do hope that Mrs. Barney does indeed come to understand that to be told to be something you're not really is at the heart of the religion she's helped to peddle to the masses.

I hope she's comes to figure out that she's not meant to really be a literal goddess wife, rendered eternally pregnant for all of eternity to populate a planet with her god pant-wearing husband in the next level of "Forever Family" in the galactic Beyond. Or at least that she doesn't have to keep playing up how far she's been allowed to wander on her leash in a LDS culture that has very clearly defined roles on who the individual is and exactly what women are meant to be - namely religious chattel for whom "Biblical submission" equals a condescended subservience dominated by their lord and master husband, even to the point that they need him to be resurrected. That would be swell.

Surely this campaign would have nothing to do with the 2012 Republican Presidential campaign. Certainly, just because LDS church-subsidized marketing surveys and focus groups discovered that the views of Mormons are actually viewed as antisocial "Others" would have nothing to do with that (or Mitt Romney's own awkward attempts to be seen as an ordinary Joe)! Surely the Mormon Church would never be so political. It's just all about helping people see, in an election cycle, how really upright and nice Mormons really are. Would someone ask Mitt Romney what he'll name his first spirit baby in the afterlife to come?

Of course, taken at face value, the LDS Church's insistence that this multimillion dollar ad campaign is just to show us how "us" Mormons are. It would also certainly not have anything to do with the very real and very portly elephant in the Mormon parlor room: that this cult's recruitment is hitting all time lows globally with a simultaneously devastating exodus of Mormons from the church which can no longer be ignored by the LDS "Brethren" leadership. Campaigns about being ex-mormons probably aren't all that much of an issue, therefore.

We're just glad Cassandra has done what she can with what she has been given. I do the same thing myself and appreciate the opportunity to build upon her work.

It's like, you know, a Bible? I swiped it from the Marriott we partied at.
Inside, an old lady wrote she was wanting to share it. Ain't that nice of her?