TBN: Ready to Video Tape Jesus’ Return??

I recently stumbled across a Young Turks video which alleged that TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) and Daystar Television Network have acquired live feeds to record the second coming of Jesus. I checked it out and, indeed, it’s true. Daystar has, in fact, had a live feed going for some time and recently TBN purchased a building near them. The location? An area with a heavy concentration of olive trees.

I don’t really know what the intentions here are. Maybe since the Second Coming is analogized to a wedding with the “bride” and the “bridegroom” TBN and DayStar are competing for who can produce the best wedding video. I have a suspicion that this will not be something we’ll be watching on the five-year anniversary! It seems, instead, that this is part of a TBN and Daystar move to gain a foothold in Jerusalem even more so than before.

“The main thing we want to do is help sponsor what we call Messianic Jews, or Jews that have received Jesus Christ as their Messiah,” said TBN co-founder Paul Crouch, who recently wrapped up a tour of Israel with 1,800 TBN supporters, most of them from America. “We want to do some Hebrew language programs to reach out to Jews and entice them to read the word of God and become what we call a completed Jew.”

Okay…where to start?

If I might be allowed to make a suggestion here to TBN, I would highly recommend stay away from making such titles as “a completed Jew.” For a nation which has, for its entire existence, been identity driven, such a statement–and the actions that follow it–are likely to be seen as incredibly and unnecessarily offensive. One merely needs to put oneself in such shoes to imagine the insult that it carries. Imagine being told blatantly and abstractly that your entire identity and heritage, going back thousands and thousands of years, is just “incomplete.” Indeed, this is what the Jews have heard from people for centuries! Much of the Hebrew Bible is a response to such a question in the midst of exile, defeat, insult, and abuse. “We are God’s people” the prophets said and this, indeed, is still where many Jews find their identity.

Now, this is not to say that Christians should never be offensive or that the gospel itself isn’t offensive. This is also not to say that one adopt some sort of religious pluralism and not indicate the reality of ethnic and religious rejection of Jesus on part of many Jews. It’s hard to get away from such a reality in scripture. The paradoxical reality of scripture is that God’s own people rejected Him.But we also should notice that evangelism in scripture is primarily about discipleship, not conversion. It is about redemption, not blame. It is about being made whole, not about pointing to the brokenness of others and saying “Be perfect like ME!!”

Indeed, while it may be true that the NT portrays non-Christian Judaism as missing the point of being “the people of God” it goes farther to note the real truth of it all: We are all incomplete without Jesus. To go farther, none of us are complete until the finality of redemption at Christ’s return (video taped or not!).

I would recommend to both companies, resisting the urge to take their networks to Israel at all (though I doubt this will be conceded). Some of the perceptions in the West of TBN and Daystar should serve as an indicator of how such a missionary effort will come off to Jews. Non-Christians in the West generally see these networks as a joke. Many Christians (and perhaps most in my generation) do as well. Prosperity gospel and dispensationalism are, for the most part, the standout perceptions of “Christian television” and the only time Pat Robertson gets some national air is when he makes a controversial and offensive statement (like how Haiti made a pact with Satan). I suspect that the view of such networks will remain fairly consistent (perhaps even become worse) in Israel’s mind.

Setting up a live webcam, taking to the streets to hand out Hebrew NTs, and infiltrating the television networks with Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, John Hagee, Pat Robertson, and many more, is not discipleship. It will not show Jews a missed reality of Christianity and it certainly won’t bring about a conviction that Christians aren’t trying to “fix them.” What the world needs to hear (not just Jews) is that we’re all broken, that we’re all sinful, that we’re all in need of a redeemer. And I promise, Jesus can accomplish this without TBN in Jerusalem.

  • Danhy G.

    I agree completely with your assertions and critique. I see no way in which this is taken as maybe offensive, but definitely silly, with a bunch of painted up clowns showing up to “fix them”.

    Many Jews are interested in carrying on a meaningful conversation, exchanging thoughts, and finding spiritual truths. Many find themselves spiritually lacking and looking for answers. But neither they or anyone else (including Christians) have any need for fluffy showbiz Christians and false prophets to show up and tell them how “you can be a complete Jew” or a complete anything else, much less turn this into Christian reality television.

    These folks have apparently been in the biz so long that they either take themselves seriously, or this is someone’s really goofy idea that has little other purpose other than to get grannies to donate yet another $50.

    I can’t pretend to know what it’s like to be a Jew in Israel. But I can empathize with those with those who are baffled, amused, and irritated with those who think they understand me in the context of my cultural heritage.

  • Steve

    Just another reason to loath “christian” TV.