Salvation only in Jimmy Swaggart

By Mark W Swarbrick


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Jimmy Swaggart says you must follow him or you are not saved. Here is what he says:

“People are following denominations…particular churches…with most leading nowhere…we must follow the Preacher who is preaching the Cross, who is living the Cross, and who understands the Cross and holds it up as the Foundation of Christianity and the throughway of blessing.” [1]

Who is the “Preacher” with a capital P? According to what Jimmy has said elsewhere, he himself is the only one that has been given the new revelation about the cross. He claims he has been given a commission by God to restore the true gospel to the Church. So, “the Preacher,” is Jimmy Swaggart. And Jimmy says we must follow “the Preacher.” Another sly way for Jimmy to say, “Everyone must follow me.”

The New Testament teaches unequivocally that we are not to follow people. Jesus said:

“Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.” (Matthew 23:10) And the Apostle Paul said: “For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?” (1 Corinthians 3:4)

On the Swaggart’s television program, Frances and Friends, a caller mentioned me and this website. What transpired is instructive about the nature of Jimmy Swaggart Ministries. The caller, who was a new Christian, said that she had Christian friends that were concerned she was getting involved in a cult. An excerpt of that video can be seen here:

Although the caller didn’t really know what the main issues with Swaggartism are, Frances Swaggart and her panel members did a good job of indicting themselves as cultists. Their knee-jerk reaction to this caller is to spend most of the time saying that anyone who disagrees with them is a tool of the devil in league with demons of darkness. This is a typical reaction you would see from a cult; anyone with a differing viewpoint is of the devil. After Frances Swaggart was told about several articles by me about Jimmy Swaggart Ministries, Frances responded with:

“You’re listening to people that will destroy you. You can lose your soul by following and listening to people that don’t know what they’re talking about.” 

A normal Christian ministry would respond with something like, “Well, listen to what we say and what they say and compare what we both say to the Word of God. That is how you will know which of us is speaking truth. Compare it to the Bible.”  Instead they try to scare this lady away from listening to anything that challenges the Swaggart doctrine. “You can loose your soul by following and listening…”  What does she have to hide? Why is she so afraid? The cult of Mormonism takes the same tact and tries to frighten people away from an honest examination of their teachings. The Swaggarts respond  in fear just like the Mormons.

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So not only does Swaggart Ministries teach that you must follow them, they also say that listening to a concerned Christian like myself will cause you to lose your soul.  I think most people see right away how absurd that is. We aren’t saved or lost by who we listen to. We are saved by our relationship with Jesus Christ. Because of his atoning sacrifice on the cross, he is able, through His shed blood, to bring us into right standing with God the Father. Jesus does that for us based upon our relationship with Him, regardless of anything else.

Near the end of the video, Frances Swaggart recommends this new Christian get a King James Version of the Bible. She says, “We depend upon the Word of God, King James Version, the original translation into English…Do you have a King James Bible, Diane?

Frances appears to be ignorant of the history of English Bible translations. The King James is not the original translation of the Bible into English, as she claims. John Wycliffe made the first translation into English in 1384. His version and copies of it are handwritten. In 1525 William Tyndale translated the New Testament into English and was working on the Old Testament when he was martyred. After that came many more: The Coverdale Bible in 1535, the Matthews Bible in 1537, the Great Bible in 1539, the Geneva Bible in 1560 and the Bishop’s Bible in 1568.

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In 1611 the King James version was produced. It was at first largely opposed as an accursed modern version. It was not a new version, however. It was simply a revision of previous Bibles, particularly the Bishop’s Bible. In fact, ninety percent of the New Testament in the King James Version is from Tyndale’s translation. The KJV translators said that the stated purpose of the King James translation was “not to make a bad version good, but to make a good one better.” Clearly, it was a revision, not a new version, as KJV advocates claim.

There have been many corrections to the 1611 King James Version over the years. In 1613 there were 300 corrections made. In 1885 the Apocrypha was removed. Clearly, Frances Swaggart’s insinuation that the KJV translation is perfect is incorrect and her statement that it is the original translation into English is erroneous. The archaic ambiguous language of the King James Version is the last choice you would want to recommend to a new Christian. Frances says you will lose your soul if you listen to people that don’t know what they are talking about. She has just proven herself to be one of those persons you shouldn’t listen to.

After a tirade that accused me of doing Satan’s work, one of the ministers on the panel counseled this new Christian on how to discern truth. He told her:

“How you know the difference…the Spirit of God in you will confirm to you what is right and what is wrong. So be very careful about who you listen to, but be more attentive to the Holy Spirit within you who will lead and guide into all truth. Satan wants to hinder your walk and so he’ll use people to do that, so be very very careful.”

That is a very deceptive statement.  It is actually very similar to a method of beguilement used by Mormon missionaries. Mormons will tell you to pray about the Book of Mormon and tell you to ask the Holy Spirit to show you if it is true or not. They say the Spirit will give you a witness, a feeling that the book is true. This device has deceived many people. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”  We can not trust our heart alone about what is true or false. Proverbs 28:26 says, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool.”  There is only one way to know if a teaching is true, and it is not by a feeling. It is by determining if the teaching lines up with the Bible. Below is an interesting video of an ex-Mormon explaining how relying on subjective spiritual feelings can lead one very far astray.

This same unreliable and cultic technique was fostered upon this new Christian. I don’t deny that the Holy Spirit does lead and guide, but when it comes to determining correct doctrine, there is only one standard – the Word of God. What they should have told this new Christian is to compare every teaching to the Bible and to get into a good Bible preaching local church. It is noteworthy that they did not tell her these two essential things. They didn’t because they don’t want her going to a church or comparing their teachings to the Bible. They don’t want her listening to anyone or anything but Jimmy Swaggart Ministries. The impression given is that they think falling away from JSM is the same as falling away from God.

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Another panel member gave a definition of what exactly a cult was. His definition was spot-on. He explained that a cult may be classified as such from two perspectives. From a sociological viewpoint, a sect can be classed as a cult if it exercises inordinate control over member’s personal lives. He further explained that a sect can also be classed as a cult based upon theological grounds. If its teachings depart from the cardinal doctrines of historic orthodox Christianity then it is a cult from a doctrinal perspective.

Unfortunately the panel member did not seem to realize that Jimmy Swaggart Ministries fails on both counts. Frances’ requirement that employees weigh in each day so she can record their weight was bizarre to say the least. Her confiscation of books from employees’ personal libraries was definitely improper control over peoples’ private lives. The confiscation of tape recorders from reporters in public service shows a cultish paranoia. These activities place the church in the arena of a sociological cult.

Theologically they are in even worse condition. They teach that they alone have the true gospel, that all other churches have fallen away – this is definitely a cultic view that is shared by Mormonism and other cults. They promote an extra-biblical source of authority: Jimmy’s new revelation, which he says actually is the gospel. Jimmy’s teaching that God has a body, that he is not omnipresent, and that he lives on Planet Heaven is more than strange: It is Mormon theology, not Christian. They have disdain for all other ministries unaffiliated with them. They teach that if you don’t speak in tongues you are of little worth in the Kingdom of God. Their insistence that you are saved or lost based upon what pastor you have is akin to a doctrine of salvation by works, rather than by grace. By theological standards Jimmy Swaggart Ministries is a cult.

Jimmy also lays down the law as to what church we must attend:

“If the church is not a Cross church, one should not attend there. If the preacher is not a Cross preacher, he should not be heeded.”[2]

Of course all Christian churches teach about what Jesus did for us on the cross. But we see from his words at the beginning of this article, that doesn’t count. Jimmy says that denominations and churches “are leading nowhere.”  We must only go to a  Cross Church, says Jimmy. What Jimmy Swaggart means is that everyone has to join one of his churches. You must be a member of his new denomination, a sect that has him as prophet and pope. That is what he means by a “Cross Church.”

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Like the Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists and many other cults, Jimmy Swaggart declares that all churches except for his are corrupt. He obviously desires that everyone should just quit their denominational church. Assembly of God, Baptist, Church of God, Foursquare, Vineyard, Calvary Chapel, Nazarene, Brethren, Wesleyan – all these are worthless churches that are “leading nowhere,” according to Jimmy. There are 900 million professing Christians in 33,000 protestant denominations. All those churches should just close their doors and everyone go find a church that is part of the denomination that Jimmy is starting. That is what Jimmy wants.

In one of Jimmy’s teaching videos he scolds, with serious countenance, those who don’t follow him and his teaching:

“Your soul will be saved or lost according to the preacher to whom you heed or hear…Yes, I said it. Your soul is at stake.” [3]

Indeed, he said it and what he just said is heresy. Swaggart declares we are no longer saved by grace. Our salvation depends upon whether we listen to the right teacher. What he means is that we either listen to him or we are lost. Salvation is found in Jimmy Swaggart. That’s his drift. That is the conclusion many of his followers reach. That is why so many Swaggarites treat Christians who don’t follow Swaggart as though they are not saved.

Adding any condition to salvation by grace through faith in Christ is tantamount to adding works to salvation. In Galatians 1:8-9 The Apostle Paul said that the Pharisees who had believed in Christ who were adding circumcision to the free gift of salvation were accursed—doomed to Hell for attempting to deceive God’s people with a lie. Paul said plainly that if anyone brought a message that added any works to salvation they were to be considered “accursed” (Gr. anathema).

Jimmy Swaggart has added a condition to salvation. You have to follow him or you are lost. According to the Apostle Paul, Jimmy Swaggart is accursed. His teaching is a denial of a cardinal doctrine of Christianity – salvation by grace alone apart from works. If Jimmy Swaggart is saying you are lost unless you listen to the right preacher – and it most certainly appears that he does – then this puts Swaggartism into the category of a non-Christian cult.

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[1] Swaggart, The Message of the Cross, 134

[2] Swaggart, The Message of the Cross, 134


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