Jim Bakker

Case Study in Healing from Spiritual Abuse

By Grantley Morris

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Jim Bakker:
Victim & Perpetrator of Spiritual Abuse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Case Study in Healing from Sexual Abuse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Understanding Spiritual Abuse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spiritual Abuse Examined

The following is extracted from Jim Bakker: “I Was Wrong” Book Review & Spiritual Insights. The full webpage is well worth reading but I have brought together those parts of particular relevance to spiritual abuse for those preferring to focus exclusively on this subject.

Jim Bakker’s name has become so contaminated and controversial that I could lose readers merely by mentioning him. It is most relevant to a discussion of spiritual abuse, however, not only because Jim Bakker’s actions have spiritually wounded many people but because Bakker himself has suffered enormously from the words and actions of churches, ministries, Christian leaders and average Christians.

If you were too young at the time to have heard of the Jim Bakker scandals or would like to recharge your memory, see my very brief outline.

Many people have felt too hurt or betrayed by Jim Bakker to read anything by him. “Why open old wounds?” people ask themselves. If, however, after all these years it is still a sensitive issue, something is disturbingly wrong. The wound must be infected and need re-opening to be cleansed and allow healing.

There is no denying that precious people were hurt by Jim Bakker’s failings and by what the saga seemed to reveal about other televangelists. Still more were wounded by Christians and secular media misreporting the events. Even today, many victims of the fallout remain spiritually damaged. Nevertheless, God declares that all things work together for good for those who love him. Can this be true even of this disaster?

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The Infinite Lord’s Bewildering Ways

In Waiting for Your Ministry, I wrote:

    “Throughout history, God has elected to see his precious name blackened rather than lose first place in the hearts of his loved ones.

As an example, I cited an instance involving Youth With a Mission (YWAM). Bakker would whole-heartedly agree that the same principle was at work in his saga.

It is clearly an act of divine love in the lives of the key players, although even they are likely to be reeling in bewilderment and initially feel appallingly let down by God. Bakker certainly was. It begs the question, however: what about the collateral damage? What about the innocent bystanders whose shaky faith is shattered by the fallout?

We humans must nurture the capacity to tolerate mystery if we are to maintain a close relationship with the Infinite Lord. This is one such mystery. Nevertheless, I might be able to shine a flicker of light on it.

As highlighted in Jesus’ parable of the sower (Matthew 13:18-23), right from the commencement of spiritual life we are subjected to hazards that threaten our spiritual survival. Incidents like the falling of spiritual giants or the exposing of wolves in sheep’s clothing (neither of which should come as any surprise to those who take biblical warnings to heart) are just some of these hazards.

In Life’s Mysteries Explained I explain the rather surprising spiritual advantages of suffering temptation. In such webpages as The Surprising Joy of Trials and Why Hard Times Bless Christians I expound the spiritual benefits of suffering hardship and all sorts of apparent disasters. When it comes to the fall of spiritual heroes and the exposure of frauds, the benefit is in driving us to focus on our perfect Lord, rather than idolizing fallible humans.

Yes, sadly, some fall away. The parable of the sower is just one biblical proof that not everyone will make it. My guess, however, is that if it had not been precipitated by one event, then something else would have precipitated it.

The Almighty is not nervous about challenging our faith. Those who are truly sincere will rise to the task and end up stronger because of it. Jesus himself was prophesied to be the great stumbling block (Matthew 21:42-44; see also Romans 9:32-33; 1 Corinthians 1:23; 1 Peter 2:6-8). Not only were many offended by his behavior (such as healing on the Sabbath, instead of waiting the few hours to sundown, (when the Jewish Sabbath ended), even in his teaching Jesus could have explained himself better and toned things down, but he refused. For example, Jesus could have explained himself and used less offensive language when declaring that the key to eternal life is to eat his flesh and drink his blood. Many of his disciples were so bewildered and offended that they ceased following him (John 6:51-66). The twelve, too, were shell shocked but they nevertheless clung to Jesus. “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve?” responded Jesus. Even then, he had to add, “Yet one of you is a devil!” (John 6:70).

Despite himself being a stumbling block:

    Luke 17:1-2 Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. . . .”

And Scripture insists we must avoid offending a weaker Christian brother (Romans 14:1-15:3; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 ;10:24-11:1).

Whilst we are still to pray “hallowed be your name,” (Matthew 6:9), we must not try to take things into our own hands by engaging in a cover-up. That was a key element in Bakker’s undoing.

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“I was Wrong”

After Jim Bakker’s world came crushing down, he had an unforgettable dream that told him he needed to see everything through Jesus’ eyes. This led to a prolonged and intensive Bible study of all of Jesus’ teaching. It took quite some time before it hit him but eventually the discrepancy between Bakker’s lifestyle and preaching and that of Jesus became so obvious to Bakker that he described himself as not only “amazed” but “deeply concerned” by this discovery.

He began his book with:

    The words, “I was wrong” do not come easily to me.

    For most of my life I believed that my understanding of God and how He wants us to live was not only correct but worth exporting to the world. One reason I have risked putting my heart into print is to tell you that my previous philosophy of life, out of which my attitudes and actions flowed, was fundamentally flawed. . . .

By reversing his position, Bakker was alienating all the Christians and powerful leaders who had previously agreed with his teaching – the very Christians most likely to support the now intensely unpopular man who needed every friend he could get. Nevertheless, he was so convicted that his previous understanding of Scripture was dangerously mistaken that he emphasized it in the very first words of the introduction to this book

Further on, he wrote:

    As the true impact of Jesus’ words regarding money impacted on my heart and mind, I became physically nauseated. I was wrong. I was wrong! Wrong in my lifestyle, certainly, but even more fundamentally, wrong in my understanding of the Bible’s true message. Not only was I wrong, but the teaching was the exact opposite of what Jesus had said. That is what broke my heart; when it came to the awareness that I was actually contradicting Christ, I was horrified.

“Such arrogance! Such foolishness! Such sin!” he said of the message he used to preach.

     . . . for years I helped propagate an imposter, not a true gospel, but another gospel . . . My heart was crushed to think that I had led so many people astray. I was appalled that I could have been so wrong, and I was deeply grateful that God had not struck me dead as a false prophet. . . .

    I had allowed the quest for material possessions and the deceitfulness of riches and the lusts for other things to choke the Word of God in my own life and in the lives of my family members and coworkers. . . .

    Tragically, too late, I recognized that . . . I had been doing just the opposite of Jesus’ words by teaching people to fall in love with money. . . .

He concluded:

    In retrospect, one of the main reasons I slipped into believing and preaching a prosperity doctrine was because of my lack of understanding of what it really means to allow Jesus be Lord of my life. . . .

    Although I was committed to following Jesus, I wanted to do it my way rather than His . . . I wanted Jesus to be in my life, to be the engine, the power in my life, to be the motivator and the enabler who supplied the resources to do great things on earth and eventually take me to heaven, but I wanted to keep my hand on the controls. . . .

    God was teaching me that I must “die” daily and that the process would continue for the remainder of my life. . . .

    I truly believe that one of the reasons God allowed me to go to prison was to learn this principle. . . .

In the next section I will describe one of Bakker’s errors because it touches on a significant reason why Christian leaders can hurt so many people. I will then outline the route Bakker – and all victims of spiritual abuse – had to take in order to heal from the inner wounds inflicted by Christians who were less than Christlike.

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Righteousness versus “Anointing”

Bakker came to lament the fact that he sometimes extolled and publicized ministries on his show, and promoted people in his organization, not according to how godly they were but how talented they were.

Citing Mark 13:12 and Revelation 16:14 (note also 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11), he writes:

    Because I was so enamored with talented people and laid such emphasis upon the ability to perform, I now realize that I was setting people up, preconditioning them to accept an Antichrist who will be able to perform great miracles. But the power source for those miracles will not be God.

I initially objected to Jim referring to some of these people as “anointed.” Even such spiritual gifts as words of knowledge can be faked by someone skilled at picking up clues from such things as body language and combining them with high-probability guesses and generalizations to give the illusion of being able to read someone’s mind. As I thought of the biblical meaning of “anointing,” however, I zeroed in on King Saul and found it illuminating. Saul was anointed by God as king. That means he was divinely selected and appointed for that role (1 Samuel 9:16; 10:1) and spiritually empowered for the task (1 Samuel 10:5-6, 9). Later, however, Saul went astray, was rejected by God and even ended up with an evil spirit (1 Samuel 15:10-28,35; 16:14; 18:10-11; 19:9-10). Despite all this, for a long while, God allowed him to remain king. Perhaps the Lord was mercifully giving Saul opportunities to repent. Perhaps it was because David was not yet ready to be king. Perhaps even a critical part of David’s preparation was what he learned through being attacked by Saul. Whatever the reason, even though Saul had blown it and was seeking to murder his divinely chosen successor, David respected the calling that was on Saul’s life and refused to attack him. Despite having what his friends concluded were divinely given opportunities to save himself by slaying Saul, David not only refused that path but honored Saul (1 Samuel 24:3-22; 26:7-27:1).

So although I heartily agree with Bakker that he had been wrong to promote talent – or even genuine anointing – above Christlikeness, we must be as loath as David – the man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22) – to attack God’s anointed who have gone astray. After being subjected to devastating attacks himself, Bakker learned this well.

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Beginning to Heal from Spiritual Abuse

Bakker’s healing from the abuse he had suffered began with the harrowing discovery that he was far from being as blameless in God’s eyes as he had presumed. For all of us, our healing starts here.

What convinced Bakker that he was wrong was the very same Bible he had always revered, always believed and was convinced he knew so well; the divine guidebook he had always taught, had always inspired him and that he thought he followed to the letter.

None of us is immune from getting it horribly wrong and missing or distorting critical truths in the Bible we esteem. And those particularly vulnerable to this grave danger are all of us who think it couldn’t happen to us. For insight and help, see The Spiritual Essentials for Accurate Bible Interpretation: Down to Earth Help.

It is terrifyingly easy to remain so fixated on how greatly we have been sinned against that we lose sight of our own desperate need of divine forgiveness and mercy, without which we can never even get to base camp on our healing journey.

    1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

    Matthew 7:5  . . . first take the plank out of your own eye . . .

Bakker’s moral/spiritual failures ended up hurting people. The spiritual damage was greatly magnified, however, by people spreading and distorting the news by being eager to gossip, exaggerate and believe slanderous lies about him. If so, many of those who self-righteously considered themselves better than Bakker were, in fact, blinded by their own hypocrisy. Moreover, those whose faith was as it should have been – in Jesus rather than in a man – were little affected.

If the Word of God uses the mistakes of others to teach us, one of the most obvious lessons is not to be surprised when a spiritual leader falls. Even those offended by the monetary side of the Bakker scandal would be little bothered if they considered that they were giving to God, who saw their heart and would reward them, regardless of what Bakker did with the money. It was those who were giving to get who particularly felt cheated. In Jesus’ famous words, “Let he that is without sin cast the first stone,’ (John 8:7).

As I have written:

    Nothing stirs divine compassion more than people overwhelmed by their own depravity. As air rushes to fill a vacuum, God rushes to cleanse and exalt such people. Conversely, nothing saddens, disgusts and infuriates God more than the arrogant self-righteousness of someone who thinks himself morally superior to the most despised sinner. The same Jesus who was ever so tender towards those acutely aware of their sin, tore strips of the self-righteous. (From How to be Righteous and Win God’s Approval.)

Like Adam, our tendency is to run from God and hide and, if cornered, accuse the Holy One and blame others, when we should have run to our merciful Lord and sought his forgiveness so that he can begin the restoration process.

The remainder of the healing journey is outlined in the next section.

 

 

 

 

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Jim Bakker:
Victim & Perpetrator of Spiritual Abuse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[logo]

Net-Burst.Net

 

 

 

 

 

Case Study in Healing from Sexual Abuse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[logo]

Net-Burst.Net

 

 

 

 

 

Understanding Spiritual Abuse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[logo]

Net-Burst.Net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spiritual Abuse Examined

 

 

 

 

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Net-Burst.Net

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Love Heals

In the acknowledgements section, where Jim lists those to whom he dedicates the book, he wrote, “To the kind guards, who helped make life a little better, and the unkind guards who drove me closer to God.” That sums up everything that can ever touch a Christian and highlights the beautiful spirit Bakker eventually developed through his ordeal.

Love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8; Proverbs 10:12). Moreover, pouring out love on those whose sins have hurt us covers our wounds like a healing balm and protective bandage. For years, my wife has suffered horrifically because of the betrayal, hypocrisy and selfish thoughtlessness of Christians and people calling themselves Christians. One day, as she reeled in pain, she asked the Lord how he copes with all the hurt he suffers from all the people who let him down, falsely accuse him, turn against him or otherwise hurt him. He replied, “Love heals.”

For much more help with forgiving others, see Lord, Make Him Regret What He Did To Me! A Healing Experience.

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Not to be sold. © Copyright, Grantley Morris, 2015. For much more by the same author, see www.net-burst.net   No part of these writings may be copied without citing this entire paragraph.

 

 

 

 

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