Selling Satan: The Evangelical Media and the Mike Warnke Scandal Paperback – 1 Jul 1993
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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".