Jimmy Swaggart is a polarizing figure. Without question, he has his following. Many older Pentecostal love his ministry because it celebrates what they grew up in at the traditional Assembly of God churches in the 1950’s. He also have his enemies that openly question his gossiping from the platform and demonizing anything that is not traditional.
I actually like listening to him sometimes and I will say they do put an emphasis on camp meeting style Pentecostal services. This is something that we are losing in our churches today. I do not think he is the second coming of Smith Wigglesworth but I do like that he still talk about the need for the baptism in the Holy Spirit. It seems this is becoming some things many church preach less and less about.
I see churches like Family Worship Center more of a cultural experience that a spiritual one. There is a different set of “rules for the road” in more traditional Pentecostal churches. I am not condemning them but realizing that sometimes church in the deep south is just as much about culture as it is about faith express. An example of this is I only need to wear a suit to preach when in the South but rarely elsewhere.
What about the Prostitution?
Sadly, the name Jimmy Swaggart is more known today by his trips to prostitutes in Baton Rouge and California than it is for the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not as simple as some what people to understand it. It is very possible, especially the first case, that he was indeed setup by a former friend that he was at odds with.
The details of what happened at that motel on the edge of Baton Rouge just doesn’t seem to add up. It also seems that the people involved committed crime in order to get their evidence of Jimmy with the prostitute. Hiring someone to get images out of a hotel room using a telephoto lens on a camera, then letting the air out tires so you can “confront” him is probably criminal.
I do not question if Jimmy Swaggart put himself in a very bad place for being a man of Pentecost. It was clearly sin. However, the truth be told that the family of Marvin Gorman did some very out of line things and as I said, possible criminal activity.
As far as the second case in California, there is no getting around what he did. He was caught with a prostitute by law enforcement. He was detained and then released. He not only was engaging in adultery, he was committing a crime in the state of California.
The worse part of the ordeal was his handling of it before the Family Worship Center. His response to them was very simple, “It is flat none of your business.” This is not how you deal with the sin. As many did at the time, I have to reject that type of behavior in the strongest of terms.
Jimmy Swaggart : Hellfire and Brimstone?
The primary issue that I have with the preaching down in Baton Rouge is not the hellfire and brimstone preaching. In fact, I am pretty hellfire myself. My issue is more the condemnation of anyone that disagrees with him. When your message is more about gossip with other ministries than it is about the need for a Savior; there is a problem.
Most of what has come out of Jimmy Swaggart in recent years is slander and gossip in the name of hellfire and brimstone. Anyone that disagrees with him must be attacked and have their name ran through the mud. This has the cycle of his ministry for quite some time and to be honest, I do not see it changing. His son and grandson seem to have picked up where he left off.
They seem to have a special bitterness towards the Assemblies of God. They are convinced that the Assemblies is becoming too worldly and has accepted sin as a way of life. They believe the movement as a whole is poisoned with compromise. There is no debate that the Assemblies needs Holy Ghost revival more today than ever. However, I am not convicted the problem is not using the King James or have southern gospel groups in for services in the problem.
I am all for getting back to the preaching of repent or perish. It really is heaven or hell. Life and death is in the balance. However, that message is not talking this person and that person in ministry and how much more “godly” you are than them!
Jimmy Swaggart Faithful
There is a group of old school Pentecostals that are part of a cult following surrounding him. They see him as some type of a modern day Elijah or Apostle Paul. Anything that is not like Family Worship Center, hellfire and Brimstone, and southern gospel must be rejected completely.
In my opinion, these people are a far bigger threat to Holy Ghost revival in the Assemblies of God than the liberal seeker sensitive preaching. It is easy to convince people that hyper grace is out of line. It is much harder to convince traditionalist they need revival. They do not see a need for it because they think they are already they are the revival!
I am more convinced today than ever before that the Assemblies needs a nation shaking revival. Brownsville was a long time ago and the church need to be awaken again. We need something that will bring us back to the our roots of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, praying in tongues, preaching healing as integral to the gospel and getting ready for the end time revival.
However, I see two major threats among pastors in the movement. One of them is the seeker sensitive guys that more interesting in reading Purpose Driven Life than Why Revival Tarries?. The other is the Jimmy Swaggart faithful who are too full of themselves to admit they need revival in their churches.