Seeing the Light
From then on, I felt a spiritual change and developed a passion for reading the Bible. I also read The Cross and the Switchblade, a book about the evangelization of Nicky Cruz, a former Puerto Rican gang banger in NYC.
Furthermore, I gave up cigarettes, excessive drinking, carousing around, and chasing after women. Since I ceased the role of a player, I began taking my ex out more often to restaurants and the movies. Besides regular attendance at church, we also became more involved in various Christian ministries and fellowships.
When I heard about the FGBMFI (Full Gospel Business Men’s International), I immediately joined the local Binghamton fellowship. To sum up, I guess one could say that I joined the charismatic movement.
Discernment of Heresies
Years later, when Bakker had fallen from grace due to sex and financial scandals I was unmoved, since I was already well entrenched in the Christian faith. I reasoned that I had been duped by Bakker into giving gobs of dough, that was wasted on his wife’s makeup and wardrobe extravagance. I would rather have spent those dollars on my own wife; especially since my wife could have learned from Tammy’s shopping habits of economizing at K-Mart during those times.
In any case, I figured the Lord knew my intentions and honored the money I had given to their ministry. According to the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians “. . . Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice . . . .” (Phil. 1:18) To break it down, the Lord honors his word, even if it is preached by someone having perverse intentions like Jimmy Bakker. Besides, I continued to tithe to my church and donate to other Christian ministries.
Then a couple of years later, Jimmy Swaggart, whom I also had placed confidence in, also got caught up in a similar sex scandal. Officials from the Assemblies of God church were given photographs showing him taking a prostitute to a Louisiana motel. Yet Swaggart would repeatedly stand in the pulpit and preach against adultery and promiscuity. This john had given the charismatic movement a bad name. The nerve. Shame on him.
On the other hand, in a way I couldn’t blame him and Bakker, especially with all the fine looking tomatoes involved with Christian ministries. No wonder these guys couldn’t keep it together.
Furthermore, in conjunction with other scandals during those times, I was reminded of the religious hypocrites in South Philly during the ’40s who deceived Christian and non-Christians with their urgent humbug mission stuff. These thoughts caused me to soon latch onto another addiction which involved exposing spiritual heresies. I felt the same sought of calling as Paul had when he wrote: “. . . I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.” (Phil. 1:17). As will be read in up coming chapters, I was on the verge of becoming a “cult buster.”