The Trinity Broadcasting Network, or TBN, was started by an Assemblies of God minister, Paul Crouch, with his wife, Jan, in 1973. The couple began buying air time on a local TV station and was eventually able to buy a low-power TV station in the Los Angeles area in 1974. They produced some of their own programming and sold air time to other Christian ministries. In 1977 the station was renamed KTBN. Over time, they expanded their broadcast hours, the programming began to be carried via satellite and local cable, and the network came into its own.
Today, according to TBN’s website, the Trinity Broadcasting Network is the largest and most watched “faith network” on the planet. From the website: “TBN has grown into a family of over thirty twenty-four-hour global networks reaching every inhabited continent with entertaining, inspirational, and life-changing programming for every family member and demographic.”
The stated purpose of the Trinity Broadcasting Network is “To use every available means to reach as many individuals and families as possible with the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ.” This would indeed seem to be a laudable goal. However, one will search in vain to find any statement of faith or clear presentation of just what the life-changing message is. The website does include a gospel presentation that quotes Romans 10:9–10 and offers the following:
“If you will read this simple prayer below, and you mean it from your heart, we believe you will be saved!
“Heavenly Father, in the Name of Jesus, I come before You.
I know I’m a sinner. Lord, I repent of my sins.
I ask Jesus to come into my heart and be Lord of my life.
I believe in my heart, and I confess with my mouth
Jesus is the Son of You, the Living God,
And that You raised Him from the dead.
And This very moment, I make Him Lord of my life.
All that I am…and all that I ever will be.
I believe this moment right now, that I am saved and I am born again.
I am a child of the Almighty God. Thank You, Jesus. Amen
“If you prayed this prayer, then we welcome you to the family of God!”
While the above statement is good as far as it goes, it leaves many things unexplained and seems to reduce becoming a Christian to repeating a prayer, which leads to the next problem. It appears that anyone who claims to be a Christian or who uses the name of Jesus is welcome on TBN. While the Trinity Broadcasting Network provides some programming from mainstream evangelicals, there is also programming from Charismatics, faith healers, self-proclaimed prophets, and prosperity preachers like Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, T. D. Jakes (who, ironically, denies the Trinity), and Creflo Dollar. Some of the programming is original with TBN, and some of it is simply purchased by ministries who want to get access to TBN’s viewers—much the same way many ministries purchase air time on a variety of stations. From TBN’s original programming, it would be accurate to describe the network as brazenly promoting the heretical prosperity theology, seed faith offerings, and the Word of Faith Movement.
A well-known apologist once said the most dangerous place for a Christian is a Christian bookstore because most Christian bookstores will sell anything that claims to be Christian, leaving the buyer to sort out the good from the bad. The same is true of TBN. There is some beneficial programming on TBN, but extreme discernment is required. One must sift through a lot of heresy, bad theology, greed, superstition, and just plain foolishness to get to anything biblical. Because it is billed as “Christian” fare, the unsuspecting or undiscerning viewer may be misled into simply trusting everything featured on TBN and may be enticed to support the network financially. The Trinity Broadcasting receives millions of dollars in donations every year. In giving to TBN, supporters are enabling one of the largest broadcasters of heresy in the world today.