49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2003
I am not the target audience for this book. During the time that Jim Bakker and Jessica Hahn were in the news, I attended a non-denominational church most like the Baptists. My only familiarity with Jim Bakker and his programming is what little I saw in excerpts over the years, which really wasn't much. Now I attend an Orthodox Presbyterian church. Doctrinally, it was always my assessment that Jim Bakker was wrong. I didn't need to read his confession to hear that. In fact, if we were to get into many of the doctrinal issues, I would probably still disagree with Bakker on a number of issues.
Had I not gotten my cheap copy used here on Amazon, I likely never would have read it. I am SO glad I did. On all the IMPORTANT matters, we agree. This book was tremendous. It was so encouraging to read about how God provided for Bakker and worked in his life, giving him encouragement when he needed it and direction in how to go on. The story that especially comes to mind is when he was in prison after his mental breakdown, when he was ready to just give up on everything and die, and a guard risked his career to remind him, "Jesus loves you."
Bakker's discussion of forgiveness and what is necessary to do it was wonderful. It helped me finally forgive some people who hurt me many years ago in totally different ways. If anybody knows how to forgive, it is Jim Bakker. He's had to forgive a huge number of people.
His humility in writing this book and confessing his own failures and weaknesses was refreshing. Many Christian leaders become full of themselves and what they've accomplished, unfortunately, and it is not at all unusual for many people to refuse to admit, at least to others, that they were wrong. Bakker never had to write this book. It probably reopened a number of old wounds that he'd rather leave alone. But he did, and I would imagine that the majority of his readers are glad that he did.
My perception of Jim Bakker has been transformed through the reading of this excellent book. When I bought it, it was mostly due to the curiosity factor. What did he think he was wrong about? It might be interesting.
I once thought of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker as a couple of clowns, buffoons that Satan used to smear mud all over the name of Christ. Today, I see a broken man, a modern day Job. In this present day and age, there is no one in the Christian community I can think of who went through as much as he did. Did he bring it on himself? To an extent, yes he did. He chose to procede with an affair with Jessica Hahn. But Bakker knows that. Did he deserve to lose everything -- his personal posessions, his reputation, his word (in the failure of PTL, though not something he intentionally did), his marriage? No. But God had a plan. He uses everything for the good of those who love him, and he never forgot Jim Bakker.
This book is an encouragement and something most of us can learn from. As I said, it is such a tremendous book, that it is worth reading, no matter what you once thought of Jim Bakker, before the headlines and the demise of PTL. My only disappointment is that I bought the abbreviated paperback. I can't help but wonder if the parts that were excluded were also well worth a read!
44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2000
This book never interested me. I stuck my little nosey up at it, not wanting to peer at someone's icky past and wade through all their dredged up pain. I read the book because a friend I respect read it. Her review startled me into reading it.
What I discovered about Jim Bakker is that we have much in common. Short synopsis: Guy makes mistakes. Guy is in the pits. Guy discovers who God REALLY is.
This story is about a man who made mistakes, not the ones we thought, but maybe the ones we are more familiar with. It's a beautiful story of redemption, of God redeeming the redeemed. This story is not only Jim's, but Billy Graham's and Billy's son, Franklin. They lined themselves up with Jim, like Jesus did with the woman who had somes stones coming to her.
I had a rock or two in my hand before I picked up this book. Got no more rocks...but I do have some Mallowcups. I'd share 'em with you, Mr. Bakker, if I ever got the chance.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2006
I picked up this book not because I had any interest in Jim Bakker or televangelist scandals but because, as a student of the Bible and theology, I was fascinated by Bakker's first paragraph revelation that he has renounced the false "prosperity gospel" which he had previously preached and which is becoming practically normative in his Pentecostal brand of Christianity. The "prosperity gospel" is the utterly non-Christian belief that God wants us to be rich and prosperous on this earth, so all we have to do is demand wealth and material goods from Him ("name it/claim it") and just wait for the goodies to magically roll in. So, I began to read the book hoping to learn more about Bakker's theological volte-face, but I was quickly drawn in to the incredible story of his epic downfall.
A 20 minute tryst with a young floozy in 1980 (which he somehow hoped would reconcile his failing marriage) resulted in the complete destruction of his life 7 or 8 years later when the woman re-appeared demanding hush money. His congregation would have forgiven him if had just told the truth but he tried to cover it up with lies and pay-offs. When the story went public anyway, Jim Bakker was finished. People he thought were his friends conspired to gain control of his PTL ministry and eventually stabbed him in the back when the government started looking into the ministry's financial dealings. It was those financial dealings which eventually earned Bakker a 45 year prison sentence, although Bakker claims he was completely innocent and was subsequently exonerated by the courts. In any case, Bakker's downfall was utterly complete. He went from mansions and luxury cars to scrubbing dried semen out of prison phone booths. He lost his fortune, his property, his reputation, his personal dignity, his wife (the completely insane Tammy Faye Bakker, who divorced him and married his best friend), everything except the love and support of his family and some friends. Bakker's prison experience is both harrowing and entertaining, as he goes through everything from an attempted sexual assault to soccer games with Columbian drug runners and political discussions with cellmate Lyndon Larouche. Bakker eventually had his sentence reduced and was freed in the early 90s. If nothing else, "I Was Wrong" is a fascinating account of a man who experienced a roller-coaster ride of a life, but for the faithful it is an instructive and inspiring tale of a man whose sin and pride brought him down into hell but who persevered and trusted in God and was brought to eventual redemption.
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2001
Jim Bakker gives a compelling account of the events surrounding his notorious 'fall from grace' in the 1980s. He is entitled to be heard, and for the most part we can agree with him when he exposes the unfairness of the treatment he received at the hands of the media and the courts, as well as when he confesses, 'I was wrong.' He bravely recants on the prosperity doctrine he used to teach and provides an enlightening account of the process by which the Lord revealed to him the error he had fallen prey to.
Perhaps the one area in which I would urge caution, however, is in the personal accusations he makes at the others involved in the PTL scandal. He alleges a number of things about other Christian leaders, as well as those closest to him, such as his ex-wife Tammy Faye. He may or may not be right, but let's remember he is just telling one side of the story. I wonder whether he was wise in putting some of these things into print.
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2001
Curiosity probably caused my initial ... purchase of the hardback copy, but by the time I was finished I felt I knew a different Jim from the materialistic, flashy head of PTL and Heritage, USA.
From a humble beginning with such promise, he and Tammy Faye somehow lost their way in the glamor and glitz of Heritage and its' fame. Granted, they felt a call of God on their lives, but they seemed to turn a corner somewhere along the route and money became a god instead of God. At least that's how Jim describes their life in this book.
Although the book is long and sometimes wordy, it really does lay out the past and present situation of a man who, once acknowledged as a shining star in the Assemblies of God - failed. His deep devotion to his wife Tammy Faye is obvious as is his sense of betrayal by her with his trusted best friend. Of course, he also seemed to understand her needs and the fact that he was in prison and she was lonely. Still, his account made me very angry at Tammy Faye for not "standing by her man" -per Tammy Wynette.
The prison routine was frightful and probably Jim's sanity was often on the edge, but when he sincerely and seriously turned to God and the Bible, he found that his real friends were there for him. Not the "Job's" friends like in that saga, but his real, true friends literally bridged the gap between despair and decency. I appreciated the fact that Jim gave credit where it was due.
Probably the most impressive page of the book was when Jim Bakker said he really, never, ever knew God as deeply as he met Him within the walls of prison, after being stripped of all his glory, money, his marriage and reputation. It had to be humiliating and embarrassing, but it was probably at that low point in his life when he realized all the expensive trappings and phoney friends were just transitory, and all that was real was his faith and dependence on God. He realized he was wrong, he repented and came back, just as he was, and God met him there.
I feel writing this book was perhaps the cleansing ritual Jim needed to go through before being released, and I think it was much like his personal journaling only he shared it with the public. Thanks Jim, and may God bless your new ministry however humble.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2005
I had never really liked Jim Bakker and the seeming insincerity of his program, so the title "I Was Wrong" caught my interest immediately. Surprisingly, the book follows that theme, which is refreshing in itself. For any public and/or religious celebrity to admit his wrongs....shows that they have now got it more right! There are some awesome insights, and NO WHINING !!! I am ordering paperback copies to send into a local prison and will give one to my pastor.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2002
I, too, was skeptical that this book would be an accusing tell-all of the final PTL days and his lament over the loss of Tammy Faye. I believe he wrote this book with a broken and spilled out spirit. I truly believe from this book and from his present lifestyle that he is not the same Wealth Theology minister of the 70s and 80s. God has forgiven him, and he has moved on with his life. This is an excellent book.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2002
This is an incredibly awesome book, and not only does it come from the man who was unjustly accused of fraud, but it points to the fact that it was God alone who used events to speak to Jim Bakker's heart and help him see where he was wrong in other areas of his life - family, children, greed, workaholism, and other areas, and in particular - forgiveness. It is a work of love, this book which Jim wrote, and while I took a while to read it through, I am amazed at the miscarriage of justice which took place, and the betrayal of other leading Christian ministries which abandoned. There were other bright lights in the story, especially Franklin Graham's friendship with Jim, as well as the chapter "I Was Wrong," which details Jim's admittance of his false teaching on prosperity, and as he really absorbed the words of Jesus, how this all came into focus. But I may be giving much away. Nevertheless, I believe he was an innocent man, and he had such help in proving this - God Almighty Himself, and in 1996, he was ultimately vindicated by the federal government. The changes in his heart and his family's are touching. An awesome, challenging read. Highly recommended.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2000
What an apt tile.
This book is mammoth- and I appreciat that, Jim. Your story truly encompasses a lot. And you cover it all.
I admire and respect this man. This man did worng and went to prison- and even in his darkest hour he didn't give up, turn bitter or pass the blame.
This book is an inspiration. I despise what he did, but look at what he has become.
He lost it all and survived. He didn't get it all back either. But he's still out there swinging, trying to make ammends.
I love a "warts-and-all" biography. This is a gem.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2009
Once again I am reminded that you can't judge a book by its cover. On the cover of this book is a remorseful looking Jim Bakker and a title that doesn't match the content very closely. I was expecting a story that chronicled the rise of Bakker, his eventual downfall, a journey in the darkness, followed by a triumphant, Christian recovery. Instead, the book was filled with finger-pointing at everyone, and just about anyone, else for all of his problems, and overly long lists of names (some popular and some obscure in Christian circles) of people with the apparent intent of trying to convince the reader (and maybe the author) that those people believed that Bakker was innocent and supported everything he did.
I don't know if Bakker was guilty or innocent of the crimes for which he was convicted. The way he tells the story is filled with innumerable holes that prevent the reader from fully understanding what happened to send Bakker to prison, while at the same time leaving this reader suspicious that there was A LOT more to the story than this book told. He was convicted and the conviction was upheld in multiple courts but any arguments he made in the book weren't coherent or convincing enough. Bakker quoted one of the prosecuting attorneys in his book and I share her (Attorney Deborah Smith) assessment completely:
"Mr. Bakker has been very successful so far in walking this very thin line, trying to convince the Court he's accepted responsibility so that he gets the benefit from playing on this Court's sympathy and mercy while at the same time turning to all of his friends in the industry of televangelism and all his followers and saying, 'I was merely naive; I won't let it happen again. I accept responsibility for what I did,' but it is always in the vein of, 'I'm the captain of the ship. I accept responsibility for what happened on my watch, but personally I'm blameless because I didn't intend to defraud anyone.' His campaign has been remarkably successful...."
His one chapter "I Was Wrong" was about the only highlight of the book wherein Bakker, a self-professed "prosperity-gospel" preacher, admitted he had spent years leading people astray with a false Christian message. His recovery from that theology was refreshing, but very limited in the 633-pages of self-serving attempt to convince. His lack of touch with reality (such as describing his 10,000 sq-ft house like that is the size of house his average contributor sent their checks to his organization from) puts the author and the reader on two completely different plains.
As a fellow Christian, I don't feel like Jim Bakker has to explain anything to anyone other than God. Yet he tried to win readers over in this book, with limited results. His book is filled with dragged-on narrative and less than compelling experiences. If you're looking for a gripping tale that carries you on a journey from spiritual depression to Godly victory, with a revealing storyline and coherent writing, this is not it.