Swaggart Judges Christian Ministers

By Mark Swarbrick

It is of interest to note that when ever confronting a Swaggart follower about the false teachings coming out of Jimmy Swaggart Ministries (JSM) the response almost always includes warnings that we are not to judge others and especially not Jimmy Swaggart, since he is God’s anointed and doing so will incur God’s anger as per Psalms 105:15. Here is an example; this is a typical post by a Swaggarite on the Internet:

“Touch not God’s anointed. I think the finest man and preacher that God has on this earth today is Reverend Jimmy Swaggart. Speak kindly about Brother Swaggart…Honor God’s anointing on Jimmy Swaggart. I believe the anointing of the Holy Spirit on him is greater than any other preacher.”

This unbiblical stance of “touch not God’s anointed” is exposed elsewhere on my site so I won’t take time with that here.[1] The purpose here is to point out that Jimmy Swaggart himself does not follow the advice voiced by his own followers, for all the Swaggarts fiercely and viciously attack other ministers and ministries continually.

The following clip of Swaggart illustrates this perfectly. As you watch the short clip below, note first how Jimmy attacks (as he has many times before) Pastor Rick Warren and his book The Purpose Driven Life, claiming it won’t help anyone, that this is another gospel, and that Rick Warren doesn’t understand the cross nor is he even saved.

He then goes on to expound a false teaching from Hebrews 10:26, claiming that the verse is about rejecting his peculiar “Message of the Cross.” In actuality the passage is clarifying that if a Christian sins willfully and deliberately and knowingly continues in wrongdoing without repentance, that he is in danger of judgment. Swaggart twists this to say that this passage is about rejecting or ignoring the teaching of Jimmy Swaggart Ministries.

I never cease to be amazed at those who will say, “I watch Swaggart all the time and I don’t see anything wrong with his preaching or even one bit of false teaching,” Yet, his broadcasts are loaded with deception and unloving, unfounded judgmental attacks upon others. This short clip is just one example of many that could be given. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6), however in this clip Swaggart seems to suggest that JSM is now the way. Watch the video and then we shall examine his teaching, point by point.

Now that you have seen the video, lets go over it. The first thing to note is how unhappy and dour Jimmy appears: The perpetual frown, the gloomy expression combined with his prounced facial tick of jerking his head down and to the side with every remark, reminds one of a bad-tempered old southern hillbilly cackling, “I reckon I sure-enough told him!” It was C.S. Lewis who said, “When we say that the body expresses the soul, this leads me to recall the saying, ‘In the case of all of us who are more than 40 years old, we are responsible for the appearance of our faces.’ A somewhat daunting thought. You show the kind of a person you are.”[2]

From Jimmy Swaggart’s expression I think one could say that clearly his riches have not brought him happiness. Could it be that his constant attacks upon others has so crippled his spirit that the wellspring of joy, gentleness and kindness has dried up in his soul? Are those who follow in his footsteps doomed to experience the same quenching?

He begins by attacking the book, The Purpose Driven Life. This is an excellent book. I have read it. It is a wonderful book that teaches that our ultimate and real purpose is only found in relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Its pages are filled with practical teaching on living for God, including the importance of church membership, prayer, serving and loving others with tips on how to face difficulties and overcome temptation. The book is loving, biblically accurate, contains no false teaching, has won countless people to Christ and has enhanced the Christian walk of many believers, myself included.

According to Wikipedia, “The book has been on the New York Times Best Seller list for advice books for one of the longest periods in history while also topping the Wall Street Journal best seller charts as well as Publishers Weekly charts with over 30 million copies sold by 2007, and it is the second most-translated book in the world, after the Bible.” A May 2005 survey of American pastors asked what books were the most influential on their lives and ministries. The Purpose Driven Life was the most frequent response. What does Jimmy Swaggart have against this fine Christian book? Why does he frequently and regularly attack the book and its author?

The book is famously popular and therein is the rub for Jimmy Swaggart, for alas, he did not write it. You see, Jimmy maintains that he is the last day apostle called to reform the Church; that he is the anointed one, having more light than “the Church has previously known.”[3] and “more light on that which was originally given to Paul.”[4]

So how could it be that someone else wrote a book that is more popular than any of Swaggart’s books? Well, it must be the work of the devil, or so he maintains. Perhaps if the book had endorsed JSM, perhaps he would be singing a different tune. But it does the unforgivable sin in the JSM camp – it ignores Jimmy Swaggart and his teaching – and (as is taught in the video clip) ignoring Swaggart is the unpardonable sin. Could it be that Swaggart’s attack upon Rick Warren and The Purpose Driven Life is spurred by nothing more than vanity and religious jealousy?

Jimmy says about this book, “It won’t help anyone…it’s a waste of time because the brother is advocating a way other than the cross.” He then goes on to admit that he has not read the whole book, but only a few pages. How he could know what the book teaches by only reading “a few pages,” he does not bother to explain. Why does Jimmy Swaggart so eagerly and quickly dismiss as worthless a book that he has not even read?

The fact of the matter is that Pastor Rick Warren’s teaching on the cross in this book is the same orthodox teaching that the Christian Church has always maintained and here are some quotes from the book to prove it:

“Then Jesus changed the situation. When he paid for our sins on the cross, the veil in the temple that symbolized our separation from God was split from top to bottom, indicating that direct access to God was once again available.”

“Remember what God has already done for you. If God never did anything else for you, he would still deserve your continual praise for the rest of your life because of what Jesus did for you on the cross. God’s Son died for you! This is the greatest reason for worship.”

“Believe God has chosen you to have a relationship with Jesus, who died on the cross for you.”[5]

There are many more examples I could quote. One can download the Kindle version of the book and do a search on “cross” and see for themself: Swaggart’s allegation is totally unfounded, which begs the question: Could it be that Swaggart’s problem with the book is simply that it doesn’t mention him or endorse his particular teaching? Apparently, to Jimmy’s way of thinking, any popular Christian book misses the mark if it does not mention the great last-day apostle of the new reformation: Jimmy Swaggart and his “Message of the Cross.”

Here are some examples of the fine and edifying teaching in this book, and bear in mind that as you read these quotes that Swaggart says this teaching is “a waste of time.”

“God’s glory is best seen in Jesus Christ. He, the Light of the World, illuminates God’s nature. Because of Jesus, we are no longer in the dark about what God is really like. The Bible says, ‘The Son is the radiance of God’s glory.’ Jesus came to earth so we could fully understand God’s glory. ‘The Word became human and lived among us. We saw his glory … a glory full of grace and truth.’ “ [6]

“God smiles when we trust him completely. The second reason Noah pleased God was that he trusted God, even when it didn’t make sense. The Bible says, ‘By faith, Noah built a ship in the middle of dry land. He was warned about something he couldn’t see, and acted on what he was told…. As a result, Noah became intimate with God.’ “ [7]

What blessed teaching! Jimmy Swaggart’s claim that this book – a book filled with scripture quotes – is another gospel and that “It won’t help anyone…it’s a waste of time,” is an outrageous statement; an allegation that is denied by the testimony of multitudes who have come to Christ or grown closer to God through its biblical message. How can Swaggart say this book “won’t help anyone” and is “a waste of time” when it clearly points people to Jesus?

Swaggart continues his personal attack upon the author, Pastor Rick Warren by admitting, “I know nothing about him…” and then goes on by saying that Rick Warren knows nothing about the cross, even though he may claim that he does.

He says of Warren’s ministries “He would say, ‘I believe in the cross,’ but I don’t even think they really understand it that much respecting salvation…but really their knowledge is extremely limited, if at all…every Pharisee in Jesus day would have stood up on their soap box and proclaimed that ‘I am right with God,’ but so few of them were and that’s the plight of the modern church. If the number of truly born again could be counted…it would shock you how few there really are.”

Swaggart therein claims that Warren is an unsaved Pharisee of what he calls the “modern church” and suggests that his knowledge is ‘extremely limited, if at all.’ In the midst of his suggestion that Warren doesn’t really believe in the cross, Swaggart tries to get his panel member to agree with him and it is interesting that despite the member’s obvious discomfort with the allegation he feels compelled to agree with Swaggart, albeit against his own conscience. He says, “I’d say it, but I’d have to be careful with…yea I agree with…” and he is then cut off by Swaggart as he continues his tirade.

One wonders how Jimmy Swaggart can know so many negative things about a man whom he admits he knows nothing about and whose book he has not ever read. One also is astonished at Swaggart’s followers, who accept blindly this unchristian, judgmental and baseless attack upon another Christian minister while at the same time they are constantly preaching condescendingly to others about “not judging,” whenever the errors of Swarggartism are pointed out. Their ire would best be turned upon their own prophet, who engages in constant unkind and baseless slander of others for whom Christ died.

As this website teaches[8], it is biblical to point out false teaching in ministers that are in doctrinal error. However maligning others without evidence and making false statements without support and doing so while admitting you have no substantiation (“I know nothing about him”) is tantamount to slander and in violation of the scripture which tells us to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.” (Titus 3:1) One would think, after having being sued for defamation by another minister, and found guilty by the judge, and having being ordered by the court to pay ten million dollars in reparations, that he would have learned to be more careful in his speech. To all appearances, backbiting is a deeply ingrained habit at JSM.

In the context of Swaggart’s disparaging remarks concerning The Purpose Driven Life, he incorporates an analysis of Hebrews 10:26-27 which in a real Bible (as opposed to the Swaggart Bible) says this:

“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of fire which will consume the adversaries.”

This passage is simply stating, that if after you get saved, you say for example, “I’m going to go rob a bank and I don’t care if its wrong,” that such willful deliberate sin with an unrepentant attitude is not covered by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and you are in danger of judgment.

Swaggart twists this into saying the passage is about accepting the patented and copyrighted doctrine of the Jimmy Swaggart “Message of the Cross,” and that if you don’t accept his teaching, then you are in danger of judgment. They do this very skillfully and carefully so as to make this a clear suggestion without coming right out and saying it. They do this in order to have an out of plausible deniability. They are adept at suggesting something and then when challenged on it, denying that is what they meant.

Nevertheless he says it and here is the proof: In the video clip you see that he puts up his plagiarized modified Swaggart Bible with his notes in red, as shown below.

Swaggart Bible

Swaggart Bible

Christ and Him crucified” is Swaggart-speak for his trademark product: The Message of the Cross, which he claims the modern church does not have and which can only be found at Jimmy Swaggart Ministries.

Swaggart’s commentary declares that the willful sin is “transference of faith from Christ and Him crucified to other things.” Such a postulation is nowhere supported in the context. The biblical text teaches that any continued willful unrepentant sin is spiritually dangerous for a Christian. Swaggart denies or ignores this truth and injects his own ideas into the passage. One cannot but wonder if his continued willful sin of visiting prostitutes for twenty years has any bearing upon his interpretation of this passage, for to accept this verse at face value he would have to admit he was in danger of the fires of hell when he was in the bonds of fornication.

An aspect of the Swaggart Bible (The Expositor’s Study Bible) is that throughout the entire work he interjects his own Message of the Cross doctrine into every passage possible, whether or not the context says anything related to the cross or not. This is a perfect example of that. It must be emphasized that Swaggart’s Message of the Cross is not the biblical preaching of the cross, but is a doctrine of his own making. This is outlined in the article Message of the Cross found here: http://www.christiananswerman.com/message-of-the-cross/ and also here: http://www.christiananswerman.com/a-fundamental-flaw/

He goes on to argue that if one does not accept the Swaggart Message of the Cross that one is lost. They even go further than that and say if you merely ignore Swaggart’s doctrine that you are not saved. Of course they maintain that their message is the same as the Bible’s message, but it is not. They claim there are no churches (or almost none) teaching the true Message of the Cross, thus whatever the listener thinks the real message of the cross is, it is wrong unless it is Swaggart’s interpretation, which he admits in other places, is different than what the church teaches and different from what the apostles understood.[9]

Jimmy asks, “Can you oppose it without saying a negative word about it?” and his cohort answers, “Yes you can. You can by ignoring it, by saying I don’t want that, I want this; by rejecting what’s being offered on this program as the means of sanctification and opting for some other method, that’s exactly what your doing. Now you may not think its that big of a deal, but you fall under this category as an adversary.” Jimmy responds, “Fearful judgment and fiery indignation.” Another panel member quickly adds, “He who is not with me is against me.” to which Swaggart agrees, “That’s what He said.”

So there you have it. If you are not with Swaggart you are against him. If you seek anyone’s help to live for Christ, like reading a good book like The Purpose Driven Life, then you have rejected Swaggart’s doctrine and are looking for “another way” and if you merely ignore Swaggart’s teaching you are “rejecting what’s being offered on this program” and according to them you have become an “adversary” of God! Not only does Jimmy Swaggart malign Rick Warren but he likewise condemns all (or nearly all) other ministers as fallen pharisees of the “modern church.” 

Note the cultic statement: “by rejecting what’s being offered on this program…you fall under this category as an adversary…fearful judgment.” In other words, according to them, rejecting or ignoring Jimmy Swaggart’s doctrine is certain doom! If you find Christ through reading a book such as The Purpose Driven Life or if you go to a “modern” church and accept Christ, Swaggart says you are using “another way” and any way but the Swaggart way is a “waste of time,” or so says Swaggart and his ilk.

Such statements are a definitive mark of a cult, for instead of salvation being placed where it belongs – in the Lord Jesus Christ – it is made contigent upon acceptance of their idiosyncratic teaching, which is exactly the modus operandi of all cults.

It would seem that Jimmy Swaggart wants to be the way the truth and the life instead of Jesus; a last-days apostle leading a reformation, a shining light in contrast to the darkness of all the churches. Does Swaggart really say this? Watch the video again and see how evident it is. That is what they want you to believe, that “rejecting what’s being offered on this program” is tantamount to rejecting Christ. And for further proof, just look at what his followers say, who will hound other Christians to distraction, telling them they need to “come to the cross” (become a Swaggarite) to really be in the light.

[1] See video: A Cultic Tactic: Touch not God’s Anointed at: http://www.christiananswerman.com/christian-answer-man-videos/  Also see http://www.christiananswerman.com/judging-exposing-error-and-naming-names/
[2] C. S. Lewis and His Circle: Essays and Memoirs from the Oxford C.S. Lewis Society, page 23
[3] http://www.francesandfriends.com/message-cross/
[4] The Evangelist, From Me to You, December 2004
[5] Warren, Rick (2012-10-23). The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? (p. 77, 111, 146). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
[6] Warren, Rick (2012-10-23). The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? (pp. 71-72). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
[7] Warren, Rick (2012-10-23). The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? (p. 90). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
[8] http://www.christiananswerman.com/judging-exposing-error-and-naming-names/
[9] See http://www.christiananswerman.com/message-of-the-cross/

4 Comments

  1. Excellent job, Pastor Mark! The Purpose Driven Life is a book that has also ministered to me in a huge way! And I have passed it on to friends and family who also have found it helpful.

    Quite some time ago, possibly within the past year, an entire 2-hr episode of “Frances and Friends” consisted of a criticism of “The Purpose Driven Life.” The panel of 4-5 people, (Frances, Donnie, Jim Nations, Mike Muzzerall, Carl Brown–I think) were supposed to have read the book, and they were to discuss it! As the program went on, it was clear that NONE OF THEM had read it! They each had “dog-eared” pages that they thought proved the book to be un-scriptural or false teaching. Donnie Swaggart admitted that he hadn’t heard anything about the book when he ran across the book in an airport bookstore. He said he opened it up, read a few pages, and put it back, saying that he didn’t have to read any further because he could tell it didn’t “preach the cross, ” and uses “strange” translations of the Bible.

    The whole program went downhill from there! It was the most dishonest, lack of scholarly examination of a book I had ever seen! They would pull statements out of context and completely misrepresent what was actually being said. I’ve never seen so many “straw men” in all my life! Seriously, it was a joke! No honest, serious person would ever be convinced by such a display of ignorance and lack of fairness. I was struck by their paternalism and condescension toward their audience! They kept saying that they were reviewing the book so they wouldn’t have to read it for themselves because they were worried that the audience could get “confused” and/or “misled” by false teaching, and possibly “lose their souls!”

    It was sickening to watch! I doubt this program is still in the archives, since it aired so long ago. If they ever run it again, I’ll keep an eye out for it!

    Rick Warren appears to be their favorite target. They refer to him, or “forty days of purpose,” etc. all the time! I’ve heard Swaggart say that “nobody has ever been helped by that book” or words to that effect over and over. I really think your assessment has some merit…Warren has the kind of exposure that J.S. used to have at the peak of his career. Additionally, Donnie and Gabriel (Donnie especially) continually brags about his dad, using hyperbole and grandiosity, ever placing him at the pinnacle of every area, eg. music (he’s the greatest musician, has the keenest ear), the empire he’s built, his theological acumen, his writing, etc. etc. Jealousy could be the driving factor.

    Thanks again for a great job! I’ll pass along your articles as the need arises!

    Reply

    1. Thanks Thurza for the appreciation and your well-compiled comment on their lack of scholarship concerning their opinion of The Purpose Driven Life. Yes, I think you are on to something – Jealousy could be the driving factor!

      …Pastor Mark

      Reply

    1. Hi Pastor Carmen, that is very interesting. I watched the clip. It appears that was recorded in the 80s sometime after Jimmy’s affinity for prostitutes was discovered. Benny Hinn said he believed Swaggart was a changed man, however Jimmy was caught two more times with prostitutes after that, so obviously Hinn’s pronouncement was false. Sounds like he just believed he was “changed” because he was being friendly to the false teaching of the Word of Faith movement. Very interesting and thanks for sharing.

      Reply

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