I read the news of the death of televangelist Paul Crouch in Yahoo News the other day. I didn’t actually know the man’s name though I had seen him on television a few times years ago, and I recognized his face. Paul Crouch was the founder of the Trinity Broadcast Network, which has become the largest Christian network in America.
Paul Crouch, the televangelist who built what’s been called the world’s largest Christian broadcasting network, has died. He was 79.
Crouch died at his home in Orange, Calif., on Saturday after a decade-long fight with degenerative heart disease, his grandson Brandon Crouch told The Associated Press.
“He was an incredible businessman, entrepreneur, visionary; he built something that impacted the world,” he said.
Trinity Broadcast Network had reported that Crouch fell ill and was taken to a Dallas-area hospital in October while visiting the network’s facility in Colleyville, Texas. He later returned to California for continued treatment of “heart and related health issues.”
“We mourn Paul’s passing and he will be greatly missed. But we know, as the old hymn reminds us, soon enough we will see him again in that great ‘meeting in the air,'” the network said in a statement Saturday.
Crouch began his broadcasting career while studying theology at Central Bible Institute and Seminary in his native Missouri by helping build the campus’ radio station. He moved to California in the early 1960s to manage the movie and television unit of the Assemblies of God before founding Trinity Broadcast Network in 1973 with his wife, Jan.
I wouldn’t have anything to write about Mr. Crouch, since I have never actually watched his show, but it seems that he was a proponent of the Prosperity Gospel.
They grew the network into an international Christian empire that beams prosperity gospel programming to every continent but Antarctica around the clock. The programming promises that if the faithful sacrifice for their belief, God will reward them with material wealth.
Based in Costa Mesa, the network says it has 84 satellite channels and more than 18,000 television and cable affiliates as well as a Christian amusement park in Orlando.
The Crouches faced criticism for what critics say was their extravagant lifestyle. Ministry watchdogs have long questioned how TBN spends the hundreds of millions of tax-exempt donations they receive from viewers.
The account of their preaching is, no doubt, vastly oversimplified. A short news story of the death of a preacher cannot be expected to delve very deeply into that preacher’s theology. The Prosperity Gospel is the belief that devotion to the will of God will lead to material prosperity and well being. This would seem to contradict several passages in the New Testament in which Jesus warns his disciple to expect nothing but trouble and persecution as the result of following Him, and that they should aim for treasure in Heaven that never decays.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:24)
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” (Matthew 19:23-25)
9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:9-11)
For this reason, mainstream Evangelical leaders have considered the Prosperity Gospel to be heretical. There are, to be sure, passages which suggest that riches will come to those who are righteous. Abraham prospered as did the Israelites when they were faithful. Job regained all that he had lost and more after remaining faithful. The book of Proverbs suggests that prosperity is the result of righteousness. I think, though, that this is the general idea that those who are honest and just are actually more likely to prosper than the dishonest and unjust, whatever a cynic might believe. If money is what you most want in life, than it is likely that you will get money, but perhaps nothing more. If Heaven is what you want, you might get that, and much more.