Shepherd’s Chapel, Gravette, AK
I have been traveling for work lately and I’ve been facing some work-related deadlines, and between those and the chore of reading the Rob Bell books I haven’t had much to post here lately.
I have however been spending some time in Iowa, in the broadcast range of KFXB in Dubuque. This is one of the two K-callsign affiliates of Christian Television Network (CTN) [link], a relatively small network with its flagship station in Largo, Florida. About them more later, but not today.
I’ve also caught a couple of episodes of The Shepherd’s Chapel [link], a show hosted by Arnold Murray, that is broadcast on 200 or so affiliates and originates in Gravette, Arkansas, a town near the AK/OK/MO tri-corner. This show also appears early in the morning on a couple of Albuquerque-area stations, but when I’m home I’m too busy in the mornings to watch television at all, much less sit and watch Arnold Murray.
The format is fairly simple: a man, at a desk, with a Bible open in front of him, and a flag on a stand behind him, offering some sort of exposition on a text. When I’ve had a chance to watch Murray his teaching seems fairly familiar: Dispensationalist, probably Baptist, fairly fundamentalist.
He occasionally gets pegged by online discernment types for having said odd things about the Trinity, the “Kenites,” and other doctrines; he’s posted an omnibus reply [link]. It would take some digging to match up the responses with the accusations and the accusations with archival footage. Murray hasn’t done that; he responds to his critics generally and topically, and I have no idea how fairly either he or his critics represent the underlying facts.
I would be more inclined to ding Murray for a couple of things, however: one is that his ministry does not apparently have a street address, just a post office box in Gravette. He occasionally shows footage of a steel frame building and what appears to be a sign for the “Shepherd’s Chapel Church,” but I haven’t been able to track down an address for this building or this church. And in his broadcasts and on his website I’ve never seen any invitation to stop by the church on say a Sunday or a Wednesday, etc.
It’s noteworthy that his son Dennis Murray occasionally sits in for his father; I hadn’t seen this before, but Dennis was holding down the fort during the broadcast I saw a couple of weeks ago. He seems to be cut from the same cloth as his father: odd hair, a serious if conversational approach to interpreting Scripture, and the occasional oddball doctrine. I was surprised to learn from Dennis that the Beast in the Revelation is Satan himself, and not a man. That was one I hadn’t heard before.
I have no idea how much money the Murrays are handling here; it can’t be cheap to keep programming on 225 stations, but I can’t guess what the numbers would be. I’d just be concerned about any “church” that doesn’t have a street address, doesn’t advertise an affiliation with any external body, doesn’t make available audited financial statements or the names of its board, and apparently has a father-son succession plan.