Review: I was Wrong (Jim Bakker)

This was high quality writing.  I know it seems counter-intuitive, juxtaposing convicted televangelists with good literature, but it’s true.  He tells his story of when Praise the Lord (PTL) began to fall. Regardless of his theology–which he admits was “wrong”–the roots of his fall have little to do with money.  Indeed, it’s hard to know exactly what the federal counts were (his criminal acts pale in comparison to the Clinton Foundation).

The story of his fall involves a woman, Jessica Hahn.  Bakker and Tammy Faye were having problems and Bakker, foolishly following the advice of a friend, met Hahn in her hotel room.  He kept it secret for seven years, and when it exploded, that’s when PTL’s shady dealings came to light.

Tammye Faye forgave him, to her credit.  But as the Charlotte Observer threatened to expose Bakker–stuff happened.  The narrative is hard to follow at that point.  By fornicating with Hahn, Bakker didn’t actually break any laws, so it’s hard to see just how the fraud and the adultery connect.

But PTL’s accounting came to light, which led to a 45 year conviction. Bakker then tells an amazing story of life in prison and how God had to heal all the baggage.  Bakker notes that before prison he never read the bible all the way through. Towards the end of prison he was reading it 16 hours a day.

Should Reformed people read this book?  Why not? While our temptations aren’t the same as those from the Assemblies of God.  Still, it warns of “getting too big for yourself” (his Heritage USA project became an uncontrollable monster towards the end) and the dangers of the Scarlet Woman.

It also tells of Tammy Faye’s divorcing him.  That might seem justified given his earlier adultery, but she was already sleeping with his best friend (who then divorced his wife to marry her).  Furthermore, it is grim snapshot of American religious life in the 1980s.



About J. B. Aitken

Interests include patristics, the role of the soul in the human person, analytic theology, Reformed Scholasticism, Medievalism, Substance Metaphysics
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