The passing of Steve Jobs and the global tributes to the Apple chief offered, for me, a fascinating look into modern American evangelical leadership. And, since I discussed a few weeks back a revolutionary concept I’d read – all companies publish – I have reflected in the last week on what message the world is hearing from visible leaders in the church.
On Twitter especially, scores of famous evangelical leaders waxed poetic about Jobs, a Zen Buddhist and business wunderkind. That the cerebral, cool Jobs would be feted by evangelicals is ironic and, probably, somewhat comical. Going out on a limb, I’d say Jobs would have had something close to contempt for the brand of faith practiced by professing evangelicals in our society.
Still, that didn’t keep the hoards from embracing his memory and paying homage to him. I’d like to say, too, that when Christian publishing kingpins made the decisions a quarter-century or so ago to apply secular business techniques, they began to separate from what I’d call the old-line faith. This decision explains why such authors as Jack Canfield (“Chicken Soup” books) came to be in the mix at Christian book conventions.
Let me put it another way: If Charles Spurgeon (whose voluminous publishing endeavors in 19th century England are not well-known by most Christians) strolled down a CBA aisle and saw today’s book offerings, he’d run screaming from the building.
Today, the “big-tent” philosophy prevails in Christian publishing circles.
In any event, some of the Twitter comments were eye-opening. Publishing guru Michael Hyatt tweeted that a short video clip of Jobs from 1997 is “worth watching.” The link takes you to something called “Zen Presentations” and shows Jobs addressing Apple execs and explaining why they would be changing their marketing strategies.
Jobs makes some good marketing points, so why I am I (you know me so well by now) transitioning into making a big deal out of this?
Because I wonder if some prominent Christian leaders in America have forgotten James 4:4?
“You people aren’t faithful to God! Don’t you know that if you love the world, you are God’s enemies? And if you decide to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.”
No doubt many will dispute what I’m saying, but it really doesn’t matter for me. I’ve observed Christian publishing and ministry leadership up close for almost 20 years, and my claim is this: American church leaders are rapidly moving into a point of no return that will eventually take them into full-blown syncretism.
Few seem to notice or care.
An ABC News story published the day after Jobs died had this to say about his spiritual worldview: “The Whole Earth Catalogue was his bible, with founder Stewart Brand’s cry, ‘We are as gods.’”
I saw several Christian leaders tweet fawning tributes to Jobs.
This is not a mountain out of a molehill.
The pattern of Christian leaders holding up non-Christian leaders as symbols to emulate is disturbing.
Scott Williams, one of the young turks moving in “Emergent” circles (this is my characterization of him), wrote on his blog a few weeks back that he was very excited to attend the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta. One of his priority items was to hear Dr. Cornel West, a professor at Princeton and self-described “non-Marxist socialist” and admirer of Jeremiah Wright and Louis Farrakhan.
West also calls Jesus Christ a “Palestinian Christian,” borrowing from the propaganda of Yasser Arafat, among other Marxists.
Why are Christian leaders paying homage to Cornel West? Why was he invited by the organizers of Catalyst?
Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners, a leftist publication and group, has an archived “Conversations” interview on the Catalyst site. Tellingly, Wallis relates an encounter with Billy Graham several years ago in which the evangelical icon placed his hands on young Wallis’s shoulders and told him that he loved what he was doing because Wallis was dealing with some of the issues “some of us weren’t willing” to deal with.
Some of the issues Wallis and Sojourners deal with (if you subscribe to Sojourners magazine today, you’ll get a free Gandhi poster!) are:
- Opposing the Israeli “occupation” of “Palestine”
- Opposing the death penalty
- Anti-war protests
- Societal equality for gays and lesbians.
To make sure we are specific about that last one, this is from the Sojourners site:
Pass anti-hate-crime legislation that prosecutes attacks on gays and lesbians
Ensure that long-term gay and lesbian partnerships are afforded legitimate legal protections, such as ensuring that gay partners are not prevented from hospital visitations by “family restriction” rules, have an appropriate voice in their partner’s medical treatment and have legal rights in wills and inheritances.
Do you find it extraordinary that Billy Graham would embrace the agendas of Jim Wallis? I do.
Catalyst’s executive director, Brad Lomenick, wrote in his blog “On the Journey” (September 12, 2011) that in the next few years, he’d like to meet (among others): Oprah Winfrey, Chris Martin of Coldplay, Will Smith, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.
Stunning. Again, why are Christian leaders enamored with anti-Christian change agents?
Overall, I don’t think a high percentage of American Christians will pay much attention to any of this, or even care, but they should. So much leftist worldview is being published today for the younger generations that, one day very soon, American Christianity will bear no resemblance to biblical faith.
I will continue to stand by that statement.