“The Internets” have given everyone a voice today. Obviously, that’s both good and bad. Computer technology has really leveled the playing field, so the classic “writer living in his parents’ basement” can have a platform, mostly, like a high-profile New York writer.
At least that’s the theory.
One gets the feeling, though, that some of the high-profile folks resent the heck out of all this.
Case in point would be many of what I’d call evangelical elites in America. These are the famous celebrity pastors, ministry heads and media types who have placed the mantle of leadership on themselves (for the most part). What they detest is anyone questioning them or their methods.
It’s an amazing phenomenon to watch unfold.
It’s well documented that Rick Warren has a burr under his saddleback over those pesky “discernment folks” who regularly point out the easily-documented flaws in his “purpose-driven” agenda. “Pastor Rick’s” association with New Age thinkers is part of the public record (although, let’s be honest, the majority of evangelicals in the pews will never care about any of this, only that they can participate in a PDL “bible study,” eat finger foods and go home feeling good about themselves).
When a researcher/writer like Warren Smith exposes Rick Warren’s troubling network, the (still Southern Baptist) pastor sometimes lashes out. Who can forget his almost comical split response a few years ago on Twitter, when one day he offered that one should be gracious when dealing with those who disagree with one’s viewpoint. A few days later, he urged his many followers on Twitter to “un-follow negative twits.”
It would be funny if it weren’t so grotesque.
What we essentially have within American evangelicalism is a band of elites who control the narrative. Rick Warren would sit atop that pile, along with Bill Hybels and Andy Stanley.
If Stanley wants to give messages that seem to help mainstream the homosexual agenda, he responds to “critics” by clamming up, for the most part.
If Rick Warren is critiqued by someone who knows what he’s talking about (Smith), he lashes out.
Then there are the fellows who are what I’d call second-tier elites (though no less influential).
Guys like Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer.
Stetzer I’ve discussed before. Not much to say about Ed at the moment; he’s blocked me from seeing his Twitter messages, and no longer answers me via email. This after I questioned him about LifeWay’s prior knowledge of the Alex Malarkey book/hoax.
But Rainer is no less culpable. In fact, Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, has a popular blog. He often writes tips for pastors who have to deal with “critics.”
A fascinating thing to note in these missives is that Rainer subtly implies that the critics are almost always wrong. In other words, he will write about how loving and gentle a pastor/leader should be when answering a critic. He does acknowledge that sometimes, a leader can learn things from critics.
Yet the thrust of Rainer’s (and, by extension, all these religious leaders) charge is that critics are just mean-spirited losers who are, for some reason, bent on disrupting the all-important unity among ministries and denominations.
It totally fascinates me that these people are eager to launch and maintain writing and speaking platforms that they then use to dispense worldly wisdom, yet if someone begins to pry into some unsavory aspect of their leadership (what did LifeWay know about Malarkey, and when did they know it?), said critic must be defamed and marginalized.
There are very troubling signs that the Southern Baptist Convention has allowed all sorts of bad philosophy (via books in LifeWay stores, conference speakers and curriculum) into the tent. But in the Rainer/Stetzer orbit, it is the “critic” who is at fault.
One of the best books I’ve read on Warren’s agenda was written by Noah Hutchings of Southwest Radio Church. Titled, “The Dark Side of the Purpose Driven Church,” the book outlines the destruction of many evangelical churches by the strong-arm tactics of PDL.
When I asked a high-profile Southern Baptist pastor about Hutchings’ book, published in 2011, he said that Hutchings is a “lunatic.”
I asked if he’d read the book.
Had he read critiques offered by researchers like Smith and Ray Yungen?
Then how did he perceive that Noah Hutchings is a lunatic?
“Because he’s divisive, looking for a demon behind every bush.”
Actually, no. He’s not.
This response is deeply disturbing, because if researchers like Smith are correct, dark forces set about decades ago to undermine and ultimately harm the evangelical church. Just check out Warren Smith’s work.
There is a clear agenda to marginalize whistleblowers within evangelicalism.
But I have some words of comfort for the offenders: most evangelicals in the pews will never care. Your agenda is probably safe.
The downside, though, is that a steady, incremental erosion of true gospel preaching and teaching is afoot. Honestly, it’s rolling downhill like a two-ton boulder.
The evangelical elites today (some refer to them as the “evangelical industrial complex”) control the agenda and the narrative in churches all across America. If they want to, for example, promote radical leftists like Cornel West to evangelical audiences, by golly, they do it.
If they want to publish and sell books with occult roots, by gum, they do that, too.
Whatever you want to call this powerful ruling elite – I like “mafia” – just know that in a few short years, the evangelical church in America will bear no resemblance to its ancestor.
The EIC Mafia is seeing to that.
Critics be damned.