The Question Every Shepherd's Chapel Student Should be Asking Dr. Arnold Murray and The Shepherd's Chapel
The question you ought to be asking is, "Why, in 2014, can't we download all the Shepherd's Chapel teachings?" When I began studying with Dr. Murray in 1993, we lived in a different age. When four hours a night on TV were not enough for me, I turned to the Shepherd's Chapel tape catalog in order to obtain the teachings I was hungry for. Back in those days we ordered cassette tapes. There were many intriguing titles among their single study cassette tapes. And, of course, you could order his complete studies for all the books of the bible.
I remember, when I visited the Chapel in 1995, they had these enormous tape reproducing machines running constantly. The tapes cost four dollars a piece which I thought was reasonable, even though longer books of the bible wound up costing a bit of money. Arnold used to say that the teaching was free, but the donation was required to cover the "cost of materials." Of course, I knew that bulk cassettes were much cheaper than four dollars, but those machines must have cost thousands. Plus, I didn't mind at all if the Chapel profited a little from the cassettes, I wanted to see the ministry prosper.
Fast forward, here we are in 2014, twenty years later, and the internet has revolutionized communications. Can you download any of Dr Murray's single subject teachings online? No. Can you even download the free Mark of the Beast teaching? Nope. They still want you to write or call them and request the "free introductory package." They treat their internet ministry as if it was an extension of their TV ministry. It is just another feed of their television program. If you want to listen to a certain book immediately, you still have to order the CD's or wait for it to come around on the television program. Why are they dragging their heels about coming into the 21st century?
Back in the 80's Murray invested himself in his "great trumpet," Big Momma, the $100,000 satellite dish through which he began the Shepherd's Chapel Network (of which he is President). Thirty years later, the internet has basically made Big Momma obsolete. No one starting a ministry today would ever consider investing in a satellite uplink when the internet is a very efficient way to reach many more people around the world. The internet has also made costly cassette and CD duplication unnecessary. If you want to get your message out there, you can get unlimited web space for your ministry at little to no cost, based on your needs. Maybe that is why Arnold Murray has said "How I hate the internet."
Murray makes a big deal about what a martyr he is for the ministry, how he never takes a salary "for teaching" and all that (which I think is a subtly constructed lie, because he does more at the Chapel than teach, and you can bet, through one channel or another, Chapel dollars end up in his pocket). Yet he insists that you have to give a donation, before you can listen to the study of your choice. And, if I am not mistaken, those CD's are not four dollars like the cassettes used to be (I have not seen a catalog in years, anyone want to send me one?). Notwithstanding, the fact that CD duplication is less expensive than cassette duplication (unless of course your cassette duplicators already paid for themselves years ago).
Is it greed? If it is not greed, then what is the motivation? Is it because Arnold Murray has always been very self-conscious about being on TV? He likes to maintain tight control over what gets out there. He does not want everything he has said getting out to the general audience. Not because he feels he has made mistakes, (except perhaps one) it is because he knows his true opinions would turn many people away from his ministry He wants to make sure that the people who get his single studies are willing to lay cash down for the Chapel before they can get a hold of stuff that was never on TV. Speculation? Perhaps. I don't know, but students of the Chapel should be asking: Why can't we download your teachings?
I don't even know if the Chapel still offers some of the cassettes I possess. I obtained them during the period that the Chapel explicitly denied any copyright over their materials and said that they wanted people to share the teachings. Now the Chapel has become a very copyright conscious entity. I noticed they even went after pro-chapel posters on YouTube for posting their precious public broadcasts.
Look at my Bible Studies page. You can download any book of the bible for which I have recorded a teaching, that is hundreds of hours of work. Look at my Songs page. You can have them all, any time you want. In fact, I have started uploading torrents of my teachings and songs to thePirateBay the world's largest bittorrent tracker, so that even more people might encounter the teachings of the scriptures. You can download, share, copy, all these works, and I make them available to you, on demand, at my own expense, (which is not much of an expense).
I am not ashamed of the Gospel I preach. And neither am I greedy of earthly gain. I want the teachings to gain listeners. There was a time when I believed that was what Arnold Murray and the Shepherd's Chapel wanted. But the internet has been around for a while now and their website has not advance past the stage where it is an extension of their 1990 era TV broadcast meant to funnel people into their book and teaching sales program.
Technology has exposed his 20th century ministry as something more than just a church trying to get the truth out there. Murray is either greedy, or he is hiding, otherwise he would put his teachings out there freely for people to hear. I would really like to see a recent catalog, because I have a feeling that certain teachings have probably quietly disappeared from the catalog.