Let me preface this post by saying I wasn’t saved when Jimmy Swaggart was in his hey day. In fact, I was only vaguely aware of the name. Shortly after my conversion, I remember standing in front of the TV watching this guy bawling into the TV cameras. My tender, newly saved heart was moved with emotion and sympathy for him. Little did I know at the time, one of the biggest superstars and icons of Christendom of that era, had just got gotten caught with his pants down, so to speak. Hence, the national TV confessional, with tears streaming down his face, and the never to be forgotten words, “I have sinned”.
I had a Christian friend at that time who told me that she had been a devoted Jimmy Swaggart fan for years, but when he “fell from grace”, she thought if Jimmy Swaggart can fall, how could she possibly hope to make it? (That right there is the real danger of making idols of mere men). But, as for me, Swaggart was never my style and I was put off by his on stage dramatizations. I was spirit-filled, and had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but I was not a “holy roller”. So, out of sight, out of mind, or so I thought…until a few days ago when I came across a website which included an article about the reinvention of JSM, Jimmy Swaggart Ministries. I read with fascination, shock, and more than a little disgust at what I read.
Some Swaggart fans are going to howl about my posting this article and video. However, let me point out that my purpose is not to condemn but to inform, and let it go at that. However, people need to know that when the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Cross of Jesus Christ becomes a slick selling point, and a business, it’s just plain wrong! If folks refuse to be informed, and instead put their fingers in their ears and go “hmmmm”, then they will have to deal with the consequences.
For some background on this if you are unfamiliar with what happened to cause Jimmy Swaggart to “fall”, first watch the video, part one and part 2, then below, please read the powerful article I found on “Spiritwatch Unchained”, how Swaggart has resurrected himself in not a very ethical way by all appearances, with much evidence to back it up.
“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 viscious 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.”
Additional reading: http://deceptionbytes.com/jimmy-swaggart-ministries