Trump’s pastor was Norman Vincent Peale

When Donald Trump was growing up, his parents would take him to the church pastored by Norman Vincent Peale.  The minister who developed “the power of positive thinking” conducted the weddings for Trump and his sisters.  And today the preachers of the “prosperity gospel,” which was largely launched by Peale, are the “evangelicals” who are supporting him.

Michael Horton makes these connections and goes on to apply them to the larger evangelical scene today. [Read more…]

Donald Trump to meet with Prosperity Gospel preachers

Donald Trump will be meeting with a “select” group of evangelical pastors in an event organized by television evangelist Paula White, a woman who is the senior pastor of her megachurch and who teaches the “prosperity gospel.[Read more…]

Imaginary Yelp reviews from famous theologians

What might Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, Charles Spurgeon, Charles Finney, Billy Graham, John Chrysostom, Tim Keller, and the Apostle Paul say about Joel Osteen’s church, with its Prosperity Gospel and Power of Positive Thinking?

Anthony Sacramone has the spiritual gift of being able to give spot-on madcap imitations of famous preachers and theologians.  See what he does in imagining Yelp reviews of Rev. Osteen’s church from those distinguished figures. [Read more…]

Hans Fiene takes down the Osteens

You may know of Pastor Hans Fiene from his uproariously funny and theologically profound Lutheran Satire videos.  He now has another forum, The Federalist, in which he has published the definitive critique of mega-pastor Joel Osteen.  His wife has created an uproar for saying that worship should be about our happiness rather than God’s glory.  But, says Pastor Fiene, the Osteens have said so much worse. [Read more…]

Scandals at the biggest Christian TV network

Christianity has a presence on television.  Unfortunately, its presence come from Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), a forum that presents a schlocky and embarrassing version of Christianity, its programming consisting mostly of “prosperity gospel” preachers.  It’s interesting how such ventures are so often accompanied by overt corruption and scandal.  From World Magazine:

A $50 million jet. Chauffeurs. Mansions in California and Florida. Clandestine affairs. Crimes and cover-up. Even a $100,000 motor home for the pet dog.

These are just a few of the allegations directed against the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) and its directors in a pair of lawsuits filed in February by former employees of the nation’s largest Christian broadcasting network.

The first lawsuit, filed on Feb. 1 in U.S. District Court in California, contains charges by Brittany Koper, the former chief financial officer of TBN and the granddaughter of founders Paul and Janice Crouch. Her lawsuit is not against TBN but against Davert & Loe, one of TBN’s law firms. Koper’s suit says she discovered illegal activities when she became head of finance. Among the alleged activities: “the unlawful distribution of the TBN Companies’ charitable assets to Trinity Broadcasting’s directors,” some of whom are Crouch family members. The suit says “these unlawful financial transactions” exceed $50 million.

She took that information to Davert & Loe, seeking legal advice. The firm “acknowledged that the conduct in question was unlawful but nevertheless advised … Ms. Koper to perform and cover up such unlawful activities,” according to the lawsuit. The suit also says lawyers in the firm harassed her sexually. She seeks more than $500,000 in damages.

The other lawsuit is against Trinity Christian Center of Santa Ana, one of TBN’s corporate entities, as well as other TBN entities and Davert & Loe. Joseph McVeigh, Koper’s uncle, says TBN sued him in retaliation against Koper. A judge dismissed TBN’s claims against McVeigh, who now seeks legal fees and “punitive and exemplary damages.”

Both lawsuits paint a sordid picture of TBN, including allegations that Janice Crouch had an “affair with a staff member at the Holy Land Experience,” a TBN-owned amusement park in Florida. The suit also accuses Matthew Crouch, a TBN director and the son of Paul and Janice Crouch, of sexual and financial misconduct. Koper’s suit said that Matthew Crouch brought a gun to one meeting. He “began tapping the firearm … and asked Ms. Koper what she thought would happen [if] she wrote a memo to the board critical of Matthew Crouch’s financial improprieties.”

via WORLDmag.com | TBN again | Warren Cole Smith | Apr 07, 12.

Top religious developments of 2010

What do you think were the major developments in the world of religion for 2010?  I think we can do better than the lists from religious journalists that I’ve seen.  Look not only for events but also for trends that came into view in the preceding year but that might have a longer lasting effect.

I’ll go first:

–With the election of Matthew Harrison to the presidency, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod made a U-turn in direction, from a church body that officially wanted to emulate the rest of American Christianity to a church body that other American Christians may want to emulate.  The new president stands on the Lutheran confessional distinctives without being insular, and pushing the denomination in a winsome, compassionate, internationally-engaged direction.

–Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral went bankrupt.  Other positive-thinking, prosperity gospel ministries and believers ran up against the economic collapse.   Does this herald the end of that particular heresy?  Does it herald the decline of the megachurch?


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