There aren’t too many things that really, really annoy me. It takes a real blunder to get my juices cooking — like a beautiful sirloin steak that’s been charred, or a spill I made on the carpet while explaining to my son how to be careful.
I don’t even let the newspaper get me steaming often. Not that there isn’t plenty to steam about, from Oval Office infidelities to Congressional deal-making to school board ineptitude. It’s just that I’ve come to expect such things. And after all, the newspaper does have it’s positive side, like Dilbert and Peanuts.
However, a recent article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Nov. 28, 1998) was enough to set me off. It was a feature on Lowell “Bud” Paxson, a Florida entrepreneur who founded, then sold, the Home Shopping Network. During that period, while going through a divorce from his wife, he picked up a Gideon Bible in a Las Vegas hotel room and “went through the exact instructions of how to accept Christ in your life.” Using the $130 million from his 1991 sale of HSN, he bought a series of small UHF TV stations around the country. Using those 78 stations as a base, he recently founded Pax TV, which premiered last August.
And what kind of format does Paxson plan to use? Calling himself a “strongly committed Christian,” he explains, “Ideally, we want our programs to have a touch of spirituality. They touch at the heartstrings and when the show’s over you’ve got a warm and fuzzy feeling.” Apparently he believes that “warm and fuzzy feeling” comes from programs like “Flipper,” “Diagnosis Murder,” and “Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman,” all staples of the Pax TV lineup. (OK, he also has the queen of all “warm and fuzzy” programming, “Touched by an Angel” reruns.)
So far, so good. It’s the rest of Paxson’s comments that set me off. He said: “Jesus delivered one sermon, the Sermon on the Mount. The rest of the time he told about his Father in stories and parables. I want to be the story and parable teller. I don’t believe in preaching.”
Apparently Bud should have spent more time reading that Gideon Bible. What does he think Jesus was doing while he was sharing those stories and parables? He wasn’t showing “Flipper” reruns — He was preaching! What was Peter doing on the day of Pentecost? He wasn’t casting for “Diagnosis Murder” — he was preaching! Remarkably enough, Mark 1:14 doesn’t say “Jesus went into Galilee, showing reruns of ‘warm and fuzzy’ TV programs.” It says He went “preaching the good news of God.” Too bad Jesus didn’t have a disciple like Bud available at the time; instead of encountering rejection and cricifixion, He could have simply altered programming to get higher ratings!
OK, I don’t want to overreact here. There’s nothing wrong with a network devoted to “warm and fuzzy” shows. Bud’s a smart guy, and he’ll probably make a bushel full of money on his venture. But let’s not pretend that this is going to be a tool to advance the Kingdom of God. When Bud tells a reporter, “We’re not here to proselytize or evangelize,” he shouldn’t think that’s a positive spiritual step. The programs on Pax TV could as easily be provided by a devoted Muslim or Buddhist or even an agnostic; they do nothing to proclaim or identify the Lord whom Paxson claims to be honoring. Apparently he’s so afraid of “televangelists” that he’s missed the notion of evangelism. And that means there’s nothing distinctively “Christian” about Pax TV.
Some Christian layman placed that Gideon Bible in that Las Vegas hotel room for Bud Paxson to read and meet Jesus. I suspect that unknown Gideon wasn’t inspired to action through being touched a TV angel, but by a sermon about commitment or about the power of God’s Word.
It’s a good thing for Bud he was listening to a preacher that day instead of watching Pax TV.

Share This On:

About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

Related Posts