(Image: Derik R. Girdwood)
The Christian suspense novel The Church of Jezebel, Hijacking the Gospel is fictional. However, the author says his book is based on the real life corruption and cult side of some televangelists and churches.
Derik R. Girdwood doesn’t name anyone in particular in his book, but he told The Christian Post that in his writing he eludes to three or four televangelists and specifically what they have said or have written in books they've authored.
“Some churches and televangelists seem to speak in what’s called ‘spiritualese.’ One example would be ‘seed faith.’ Basically, they’re asking for money and if you give money you should have this expectation of 100 percent return in some way,” said Girdwood, 59, a Michigan-based attorney.
“I think that is a faulty reason for a Christian to give. We give out of compassion. We give out of love. We give out to support a church, but I think that seed faith is not a good principle for tithing or giving.”
Secondly, Girdwood sees a problem with televangelists who teach “word faith,” which is the “name it and claim it” type of preaching in which church members are encouraged to visualize their desires as if they were already received.
“I think that standing on the word of God is a good thing, but I think that if we think it’s going to eliminate God’s sovereignty, then I think we are going to be sorely mistaken,” he said. “We can name and claim anything we want, but ultimately it’s up to God. God isn’t a vending machine.”
The third problem area that Girdwood addresses in The Church of Jezebel by way of fictional storytelling is “faith healing.” Again, he said he believes God has the final say on who does or does not get healed.
“I don’t think there is any dispute that people like Benny Hinn, or Kenneth Copeland, or Kenneth Hagin, generally promote a lot of that stuff,” Girdwood said. “These type of televangelists only care about how much money they can get, how big of a church then can build, how many networks or how many radio stations they can get on. [Also,] what kind of car they can get or how many mansions they can get. I really think it’s a perversion of the Gospel.”
The Church of Jezebel follows the story of Christina, 18, who attends a megachurch and starts attending a Bible college. She is also “easily awed by the power of the dynamic speeches.”
“She has a real heart for God,” Girdwood said of Christina. “She’s excited to join this Bible college and church. It’s somewhat of a legalistic and overly spiritualistic type of church. She has some confrontations with her father over her faith and over this church.
“She winds up giving her total obedience to this church and Bible college only to find that they really don’t care about her at all and they will use her in any way to increase the church’s wealth,” he said.
Girdwood told CP that one of the reasons he wrote the book was because of what he witnessed his wife going through before she died from cancer a little more than seven years ago.
“She was a very devout Christian. She leaned more toward the legalistic church. She didn’t see a doctor because maybe she thought her faith was strong enough to overcome it. She didn’t see a doctor until too late,” he said. “Seeing some of the things through her eyes and my eyes and watching the televangelists on TV...”
“It got to the point where [I thought] somebody should write a book because there is a lot of good people with good hearts who want to really please God. Then, they find themselves joining or tithing to a church or televangelist that really doesn’t care about them.”
“It’s unfortunate that sometimes good people end up getting abused and manipulated by some of these churches and televangelists,” he said.
Girdwood said he knows that he is not the only one that feels that way about some ministers and churches.
“When Jesus would criticize people in the Bible or criticize things it was mostly the church leaders that he criticized. He dined with the sinners and the tax collectors, and everybody else. He had compassion for them. I don’t think too much has changed. There are many, many good churches, but there [are] a lot of bad ones, too,” he explained.