Monday, March 28, 2005

Did you see the NYT Magazine??

This is a great commentary: http://www.therevealer.org/archives/main_story_001819.php, much more reasoned and thorough than mine, but at any rate, here were my thoughts:

First, scary, that this is being held up as some kind of example for churches to follow. Some guy who didn't even get a seminary degree, just took a few classes, thinks he can actually lead people spiritually? Yikes. Reflects that anti-intellectualism of the church (touched upon in the article when referring to Assemblies of God) that has screwed us up so bad for a century.

The story seems to be making the irresponsible equation Christian = Republican Voter
Also Christian Success = money and numbers - it read more like a business page story than religion (which may have been the purpose)

It's kind of a tired subject - been seeing megachurch stories for 2 decades. Not sure they succeeded in squeezing any new info out of the old chestnut. Perhaps recycled it b/c of the election results?

Celebrating the success of this church (from a business perspective) makes good news, but it is bad for religion.

Where are the experts questioning this guy's credentials? It doesn't present any dissenting opinion! No Christian interviewed who says this IS NOT the way church is supposed to be. What about other denominations who try the same thing but aren't successful? Or other non-educated pastors who've failed?

For that matter, what gives this place, which for all outside appearances is just a social center, the right to call itself a Christian Church?

The reporter does ask a few good questions, but leaves them at questions - I wonder if he even asked them of his experts? All he has from experts are sound bites that support the story - but nothing of substance, just quotes repeating what he's already said.

It definitely did get a reaction from me, but not a positive one. I think a typical evangelical would be mostly pleased with the article, although it seemed to me that the pastor (successful or no) comes off looking kind of irreponsible (in his spiritual growth and education, I mean), and the church isn't really acting like a church. I doubt very many evangelicals would be proud to be associated with a church like this, although interestingly, most evangelical churches are pretty similar to this (in services offered, etc.), just not as brazen about it.

2 comments:

Chris T. said...

First, scary, that this is being held up as some kind of example for churches to follow. Some guy who didn't even get a seminary degree, just took a few classes, thinks he can actually lead people spiritually? Yikes. Reflects that anti-intellectualism of the church (touched upon in the article when referring to Assemblies of God) that has screwed us up so bad for a century.

I agreed with everything you said except this, where you seem to fall prey to the genetive fallacy. While it's true American Christianity has suffered as a result of the anti-intellectualism of evangelicals, I also know plenty of very effective spiritual leaders without seminary degrees. The lack of that education doesn't signify much, even if we'd prefer to have our leaders go to sem.

RJ said...

Welcome back!

It's certainly a gloomy thought that Radiant is a Christian Church: "There are no crosses, no images of Jesus or any other form of religious iconography."

While I agree that financial success doesn't equal success in Christ, it makes me wonder: Here's a guy who gives his parishioners the most watered-down version of God possible and a quarter of his congregation tithes! Is this God's sense of humor?

--

P.S. Tell us your Holy Week story.