The Re-education of Jim Bakker

Back on the streets, this fallen televangelist is preaching good news to the poor and predicting an asteroid-studded Second Coming.

Jim Bakker is a mover. For years he used television to move people to Christ and to move money from their pockets into his ministry. But after being indicted for fraud by the federal government, he was forced to sit still in prison for five years. During that time, Bakker renounced his faith-equals-fortunes message and embraced the Jesus of the poor. After prison, he wasted no time writing two books and, this fall, taking a new wife. (Tammy Faye divorced him six years ago while he was in prison.) These days he does penance on the streets of Los Angeles, volunteering with the staff of the Dream Center, a large, ministry-intensive church pastored by Tommy and Matthew Barnett. ct associate editor Kevin D. Miller along with managing editor Michael G. Maudlin talked with Bakker about his journey and his latest book, Prosperity and the Coming Apocalypse (Nelson).

On doing time. The first months of prison were devastating. After being in a public ministry every day of your life and then finding yourself with everything gone—not only the material things but friends and reputation—and facing 45 years, you wonder, Is God gone too? I began to seek God, but I couldn't find him. I even prayed what I call stupid prayers—God, wiggle a plant or something in the room.

One night I had a dream. I was sitting next to Christ. He reached up into his eye and took out a sliver of his eye and then put it in my eye. He said, "I want you to see everything and everyone through my eyes." That was the first time I had even an inkling that maybe God might still talk to me. When I woke up, I knew immediately I had to start reading the Word of God—if I was going to look at everything through Christ's eyes, I had to know him.

I began ...

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Christianity Today
The Re-education of Jim Bakker
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In the Magazine

December 7, 1998

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