Looking at my old pile of goodies, I found this one from 20 years ago. It might be a little over the top, but not much. Of course, things have changed a lot in that time. TV isn't what it once was. Paul and Jan are gone. I know that their kids actually sold one of their buildings to some pretty good guys for a huge bargain, a pretty decent thing to do, I must say. Nevertheless, when it comes to theology and pretty much anything having to do with Christian discipleship, steering clear is the best choice of action, as several songs from the 80s and 90s (Poison: Something to Believe In; Genesis: Jesus He Knows Me; Dire Straights: Ticket to Heaven) reinforce as this became what everyone viewed "Christianity" as being in those days. Here then is my version of Philippians, TBN style.
What if the folks at the Trinity Broadcasting Network had written the letter to the Philippians?
by Douglas Van Dorn. March 31, 2003
(1) The folks at TBN, servants of no one, masters of our own destiny,
To all the saints at Philippi, together with the prophets and prophetesses,
Greetings from all of us at the “Trinity” network.
We have heard that you are having a few problems. In fact, tens of thousands of your prayers have made it to us in the form of piles and stacks of prayer requests that we lay our hands on (but never read and in fact use as firewood) in front of the television every day. We are confident that if you keep sending your prayers requests along with your “love gifts,” that God will not forget you (and he will keep our cozy TV fireplace running at no extra cost to us.) He will bless you financially and materially in your relationship, your jobs, and anything else you want. Aladdin’s got nothing on our Jesus!
It is right for us to feel this way about you, because we have seen this work in our own lives. In fact, we write to you from the Megacityopolis and Wonderland that is TBN. One of these days we even hope to buy out the entire city of Branson, Missouri so that we can bring you even more entertainment as you stop by and see us in your brand new Fleetwood motor home!
This is our prayer. That you would send us more and more money so that God might bless you with 30, 60, 100 fold the financial blessing in Christ.
Some people have been accusing us of preaching Christ out of envy and rivalry and selfish ambition. But we know that isn’t true. We preach Christ because we want you to become rich and have everything you deserve. Because, hey, you’re worth it. (Aren’t TV slogans great?) And you do deserve a lot more than you currently have now. But, anyway, it doesn’t really matter what our motives are, now does it? All that matters is that Christ is broadcast into hundreds of millions of homes through our network. That way, we all get more money. Isn’t that great how that works?
We rejoice because of you. We know that you have very little. Many of you are beggars, widows, on fixed income, children, and are extremely sick. Yet, on that backs of your huge debt and triple mortgages, we live in palaces and drive Hummers! Praise-be-to-God (Ken wanted us to put that cliché in there). We live like kings. And God wants you to live like this also. Though heaven will be fun, God wants us to make streets of gold for ourselves now. This is why he came. You will see how true this is when you begin to apply our faith principles to your lives as well.
God doesn’t want you to suffer! Christ suffered so that you won’t have to. Just use your God-given freewill and believe what we are telling you. Stop bringing this suffering on yourselves. This martyr complex has got to stop. We don’t suffer and we are your example in Christ.
(2) So make our joy more complete. Though you have little, give it to God through our ministry. Christ and the Spirit will bless you for doing it. Don’t be selfish with your money. Stop being so conceited. But consider others as better than yourselves and prove this love with your wallet. Put your money where you mouth is. Don’t look to your own interests, but also to the interests of others, like us here at TBN. After all, God is using this ministry. How do we know that? Isn’t it obvious? We have lots of money and are being beamed by lots of satellites into almost every nation in the world. God likes power and prestige. He uses it to give it to others like all of us.
You should consider Christ.
He is God. He is equal with God.
He became nothing so that God might make him a king.
And kings have lots of money and power.
This God became a man. In fact, God is 6 ft. 2. He has strong masculine hands.
He became a man so that man might – oh now listen to this…
So that man might become like God!
He wants us to be like him in every way!
Everyone is going to bow before God. So shouldn’t this be your goal as it is ours? To become gods?
Therefore, dear friends, God works out all of his blessings in you. And he does it through others. We have sent you so many TV shows to prove this too you. We sent you Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland and the Prophetess. Aren’t they helping you? Or are you still stuck in that rut of thinking you are supposed to be poor? Listen, as soon as you get this letter, you really should mortgage everything you own so that you can buy a television set so that you can watch all of our programs. We know the choice is between a warm meal and a TV set, but let’s think about our priorities for a minute, ok? Then you will know better what we are talking about. And maybe you should take out a little extra from the bank and send it to us, just so that God will give you a bigger TV so that you can watch us from other rooms in your house!
(3) There are some people out there who say we are evil. Watch out for them. Watch out for those who tell you to suffer for Christ. They only want to keep you down. Think about it. If you are poor, you will not be able to get purple hair or better toupees like we are now able to afford. And you won’t be able to sit on gaudy gold chairs like we do on TV. You won’t be able to own private jets or rake in millions of dollars of tax-free cash from “healing” crusades.
You see, we have already obtained all of this. And this is only the beginning. The more homes you help us reach, the more money we will be able to make. The more money we make, the more money God will let you make if you just have faith in your faith. We forget what is behind us – that life of poverty. And we press on to what is ahead. Bigger crusades, more power, more fame, and more money, more outrageous end times speculations and prophesies that never seem to come true (but that we only make to get more money anyway, so the end justifies the means). You see, this is where it is at after all. Don’t let anyone kid you on that.
So follow our example. We know you are poor and we are tired of you not listening to us. In fact we cry on TV for you every night. Some of us (particularly Jan) can’t stop crying for you. Actually, she can’t stop crying for anything – but this is because we know it gets good ratings; and the better ratings, the more money comes in on our telethons. You’ve seen how few phones are actually not ringing, haven’t you? So, don’t be the Lone Rangers. Give us a call to so that you can be like everyone else.
(4) Learn to rejoice in your power and fame and money, even if you don’t have any. And remember, if you give out of faith that which you don’t have – that which you need to feed your cold, wet, starving children – then God will make you a god too. And then you will be able to have all sorts of money because you will have become little gods with the power to make it happen.
So whatever is gaudy, whatever is entertaining, whatever is amusing, whatever has neat special effects to make our strange interpretation of Revelation come to life and sell lots of tickets that gives us more money, whatever is expensive, whatever is hillbilly, whatever has rhinestones, whatever products let you do really fun things with your hair, whatever helps you sell your shtick – things like “tongues” or expensive suits or a pretty face or a really loud voice, whatever is gilded, whatever is cheesy, whatever is cunning or sly, whatever is theatrical, whatever makes money and fools little old ladies and sick desperate people, think on these things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from us, put them into practice. And God will make you rich too. We promise!