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Selling Satan: The Evangelical Media and the Mike Warnke Scandal Paperback – Jul 1993


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Product details

  • Paperback: 476 pages
  • Publisher: Cornerstone Press Chicago (July 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0940895072
  • ISBN-13: 978-0940895072
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 14 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,437,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 Feb. 1998
Format: Paperback
I have been a fan of Warnke's since about '91. I was amazed when I came across this book. A part of me wanted to resist the evidence presented at the beginning of the book. I wanted to believe that Warnke's family and friends simpley remembered things differently than he did. As the book progressed however, the evidence, pictures, dates, activities, that the authors presented became harder to make to excuse. I could not put the book down once I began reading. I think the authors did a remarkable job in tracking down all the people and following the numerous information trails. There was a lot of repetition of information from chapter to chapter and it was tricky to follow the timeline of what happened in which years. However, it appears that they left no stone unturned including attempting to talk with Mike Warnke. I was very disappointed by Mike's responses. The authors bring up a very good point. Just because someone professes to be a Christian and may even bring others to Christ does not mean they should not be challenged. Being a Christian does not mean we should stop asking questions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 Feb. 1998
Format: Paperback
For years people had wondered about Mike Warnke's validity and his "tall tales". JPUSA Cornerstone did a great job of digging up all the dirt. I wonder if there has been any follow up since this was published.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 46 reviews
97 of 103 people found the following review helpful
Sex, Lies and Audiotapes 9 May 2000
By Jerry Dodson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Mike Warnke was the most popular Christian comedian of the 70's and 80's. His rumpled, comfortable style of storytelling made his tales of satanic involvement "safe" for Christian audiences--sorta like a horror movie, where we have a cathartic but protected encounter with the bogeyman. As his reputation grew, so did his visibility: he was even consulted by police departments as an "expert" on satanic crimes. The albums and accolades kept on coming; Warnke was the undisputed king of Christian comedy, and the unofficial chaplain of the Jesus movement. But not all was well: under the surface, rumblings of dissent could be felt from those who knew Mike best. Friends and associates began to call the offices of Cornerstone magazine, a Christian periodical that has a long history of debunking the sensationalistic claims of religious frauds. When Mike Hertenstein and Jon Trott, Cornerstone staff writers, started to review the facts, it became clear that Mike Warnke's tales of satanism were built of two parts imagination, and one part research (one of Warnke's friends during his junior college days wondered why an satanist would have to spend so much time reading books on the subject.) Mike had never had been the leader of a coven; he had never cast spells on people or hobnobbed with Anton LaVey. Hertenstein and Trott really dug in and started to uncover more and more discrepancies; while Mike's pre-conversion exploits were false, his life as a "Christian celebrity" more than made up for them. Multiple marriages, lie on top of lie, and a staggeringly profligate use of money raised for a non-existent ministry were all part of the Warnke we never saw on stage, never heard on tape. But when Hertenstein and Trott finally went public with their well-documented findings, a bomb went off on the playground of what is known as Contemporary Christian entertainment. Warnke, as expected, tried to lie his way out with a tenacity that would do Bill Clinton proud. Many Christians villified Hertenstein and Trott as muckrackers and trouble makers. Extensive documentation and careful journalism weren't good enough: we can't expose the misbehavior in our midst, so the mantra went, because we have to forgive. Forgiveness is one thing; obfuscation is another. To this day Warnke maintains his innocence (on a website), and continues to peddle albums that contain his "testimony." But if you go to the website with the intention of discussing the truth, don't bother: the guest book is censored. Hertenstein and Trott, I know how you feel.
125 of 135 people found the following review helpful
Can We Trust Anyone Anymore? 28 Aug. 2002
By Lillian Patterson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is depressing. I'm depressed that I have to give this book 5 stars, because I would be so much happier if the research were sloppy or inaccurate. Then I could possibly believe that the allegations about Mike Warnke were indeed false. But this book is so thurough, it's sad.
Let me explain. I stumbled accross this book while searching the Internet for information about Mike Warnke a few months ago. I had listened to a tape of his as a child, before I became a Christian (I had actually memorized many of Mr. Warnke's monologues from this tape), and it was so moving that I wanted to find out if I could order it somewhere. I was surprised to discover that Mr. Warnke had claimed to be a former satanist-the tape I'd listened to had never mentioned this part of his "testimony," and I'd never heard about it before. I came accross information about this book, got it, and read it. Honestly, it made me sick to my stomach. And I can't help but be compelled to believe the charges brought out by this book, due to the overwhelming evidence presented therein.
I grew up admiring and respecting Mike Warnke, and his observations about the Christian life became all the more relevant once I gave my life to Christ. I was saddened to find that he was not what I'd thought he was. Yes, I know that no one is perfect. David was an adulterer and murderer-and the Bible calls him a "man after God's own heart." But the thing we need to remember about David is that when confronted with the truth, he didn't just say that he repented, he really did. And he changed. Mike Warnke is still claiming to be a former satanist. While I'll never know for sure, since I wasn't there, I'm faced with the decision to either believe that every single one of the people interviewed in this book who knew Mike Warnke during the time he was supposedly a satanist (and who all say that this isn't true) are lying, or Mr. Warnke himself is lying. I don't know about you, but I know which of those options seems the most logical to me. And if what these people say is true, than Mr. Warnke's ministry is founded on lies-lies that he refuses to admit. After praying through the matter, I've decided that though Mr. Warnke has done good things with his testimony, if it's built on lies, I need to reject the source (not the good that has come from the source). That means not putting any more money into his bank account (sorry, his MINISTRY'S bank account). Though God has used him to lead people to Christ, and that's awesome, there are plenty of other ministries that lead people to Christ without being built on lies. I'm not condemning him, that's in God's hands. I'm simply choosing to be a good steward of the money God has given me, and use it to support other, less dubious charities.
It sems like there are few people we can truly trust these days. I'm glad Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I guess I'll just trust Him and let Him take care of the rest.
44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Shocking and sad.. 18 Feb. 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have been a fan of Warnke's since about '91. I was amazed when I came across this book. A part of me wanted to resist the evidence presented at the beginning of the book. I wanted to believe that Warnke's family and friends simpley remembered things differently than he did. As the book progressed however, the evidence, pictures, dates, activities, that the authors presented became harder to make to excuse. I could not put the book down once I began reading. I think the authors did a remarkable job in tracking down all the people and following the numerous information trails. There was a lot of repetition of information from chapter to chapter and it was tricky to follow the timeline of what happened in which years. However, it appears that they left no stone unturned including attempting to talk with Mike Warnke. I was very disappointed by Mike's responses. The authors bring up a very good point. Just because someone professes to be a Christian and may even bring others to Christ does not mean they should not be challenged. Being a Christian does not mean we should stop asking questions.
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
SATANIC HYSTERIA BROUGHT TO AN END 22 Feb. 2006
By Stephen Scott - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
For many years, I admired Mike Warnke. I listened to his recordings, bought his book, "The Satan Seller" and listened to his "testimony" about being delivered from a Satanic Cult. I attended one of his Oklahoma City Concerts and donated $20 to his "ministry." Now, I would like to have the money back.

I lived in Kentucky, not far from his headquarters when the story broke. I was shocked, bewildered, and flabbergasted by the Cornerstone Article that came in just under 20,000 words. When the book came out, I read it extensively.

All through the 1980's, I heard of a vast Satanic Conspiracy that Evangelicals had lamented about. One of the two books that got it started was Mike Warnke's "The Satan Seller." Others entered the fray like Lauren Stratford (Satan's Underground), Bob Larson's "Seduction of Evil" and the fringe Rebecca Brown "He Came to Set the Captives Free." However, none of these had the impact, notoriety and visibility of Warnke.

Authors Mike Hertenstein and Jon Trott (whom I've both had the fortune to meet) did the most exhaustive research any journalists ever did.

They interview college friends, high school acquaitences, Viet Nam buddies, ex-wives, and former employees. All the testimony, research and investigation leads to one inescapeable conclusion: Mike Warnke was a fraud.

Warnke never had the time or the ability to oversee a Satanic Coven. He never had the ability to get four or five Master's Degrees, and he misused funds just as bad as Jim and Tammy Faye Baker.

I never knew of Warnke's ability to keep tight information on his three (now four) ex-wives, the adultery involved, and his very strange Church, the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church of Kentucky. I never heard of the IRS revoking his tax-exempt status. I never knew he made a quarter of a million dollars from the mid 1980's and on.

Probably the most striking ability Trott and Hertenstein have is to write in a way to display concern for both Mike Warnke and the Truth. There is a somber approach instead of a cynical, sarcastic, and acerbic tirade. The reader will get the sense the duo felt heavy laden and sad about what they wanted to do ... and what they had to do. In some junctures, you get the sense they were aiming for justice, while trying to keep their own motives in check.

Probably the most interesting part of the book is the chapter called News Cycles and Spin Cycles which chronicles events after the Cornerstone Story broke. Once the story hit the airwaves, journalists and fans followed up. Some helped, others prodded wanting to know more, while others lambasted Trott and Hertenstein for their expose.

The final chapter, an interview with Anton LaVay also has a melancholy mood that actually evokes sympathy for a man who made a million dollars creating the Satanic Bible.

The truly amazing thing is that some people will not accept the truth. Despite the evidence, Mike Warnke refuses to admit any wrongdoing. Despite the evidence, many fans refused to leave Warnke's side.

It's not easy facing the facts on someone you admire. Feeling foolish, I first ripped up Warnke's "Satan Seller." I don't hate him, but I truly feel sorry for him. Like Walter Mitty, I think Mike Warnke suckered himself into believing his own hype.

The book, though, helped me in many ways. First, I started to think more skeptically and critically. Ultimately, though, my paradigm changed and I discounted the idea of Satanic Covens plotting to take over the world.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Meet the religious media's Woodward & Bernstein... 14 April 2006
By Chuck Donegan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This extended version of Hertenstein & Trott's original Cornerstone expose on Warnke is a fine example of solid journalism and fact-finding w/out resorting to condemnation or judgement.

Was this done maliciously or solely for the sake of a good story? Not at all...Cornerstone gave Warnke an opportunity to refute their findings and prove his outlandish claims, but he refused to talk to them. More to the point, have the handful of reviewers who gave it such negative reviews actually READ the book? "Philosopher", I'm sure your one-time meeting w/Warnke may have left you w/a good impression, but such false prophets are convincing in what they attempt to convey, as the Bible will tell you. And what do the "liberal left" and your list of conservative talking points have to do w/anything? Both Hertenstein and Trott are evangelical Christians, and their expose was first published in Cornerstone, a well-known Christian publication.

Should we forgive Warnke for his sins? By all means...however, his inability and/or unwillingness to admit the false testimony, defrauding followers who thought they were contributing to the work of a genuine anti-Satanic organization and other wrongdoings indicate a man who seeks only to portray himself as a martyr suffering unjust persecution at the hands of fellow Christians...as others have pointed out, had Warnke fully come clean and still been castigated afterwards, he would be justified, but this is not the case at all.

Former "PTL Club" host/televangelist Jim Bakker not only fully admitted his past sins, but also denounced his former "prosperity Gospel" teachings and even went so far as to title his tell-all book "I Was Wrong"...*this* is a man who showed courage, and was rightfully welcomed back w/open arms for it by the majority of the Christian community. Warnke, on the other hand, continues to cling to his fictitious Satanic experiences, which is why his attempted comeback has gone nowhere.

I close this review w/a quote from 1 John 1:8 - "If we say we have no sin, we decieve ourselves, and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness".
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