cow, cult, Cult of Evangelical Leadership, evangelical, Phil Pringle, pop-psychology, preacher, preachers, Pringle, psycho-spiritual, sacred cow, stars, The Cult of Evangelical Leadership
After much investigation and analysis into the doctrines, practices, scandals, associations and dishonest methods of Phil Pringle and his cohorts, do you think this article reveals just how disastrous churches like C3 have on the broader body of believers?
From: Herescope, http://herescope.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/sacred-cows-and-stars.html
The Cult of Evangelical Leadership
Billy Graham was probably the first real superstar in the rising evangelical pop culture. Some men had fame, but Billy had charisma and was widely admired. He possessed stage presence, a handsome face and good hair, a zeal mixed with just the right dose of humility, access to big arenas and unlimited crowd appeal. He was the first Big Star.
Mankind has always desired heroes to worship. And some men have been extraordinarily gifted, dynamic, and attractive – possessing superior talents and abilities. It is human nature, after all, to put eminent men on pedestals and exalt them as bigger-than-life Super Heroes. Some men are thought to be more than mere mortals.
Hollywood contributed to the celebrity ethos in America, and even Jesus Christ became a Superstar in the Andrew Lloyd Webber rock opera of 1971. Rock ‘n roll artists paved the way, turning themselves into instant Idols. The Beatles led the music culture far beyond Elvis into the visionary pursuits of Eastern mysticism, transcendental meditation and drugs. Idolatrous teenage fawning over rock stars was mightily facilitated by altered states of consciousness. Star-following became a way of life in America. Fans, a term derived from “fanatic,” became the norm.
From the earliest days of the modern evangelical movement the church followed the same sociological patterns as the culture at large and elevated certain men to Superior Status. By the late 1970s, as the broader evangelical media became an integral part of the American church landscape, leaders naturally – and unnaturally – arose. The television ministry became a new channel for popularity. In this climate of excess, Robert Schuller built his exotic Crystal Cathedral. The old humble revival meeting circuit gave way to the popular conference circuit. Prominent leaders like Pat Robertson and Dr. James Dobson rose to the forefront. Evangelical Stardom was birthed.
Soon it became popular to name drop. “I attended a conference where Joyce Landorf spoke,” a friend bragged in 1978, “and I got to meet her IN PERSON afterwards!” The glitz, glitter and glamour of stardom had rubbed off just a little on a lesser mortal. Stardom flourished wherever Fans multiplied.
Somehow Born-Againers never quite repented of their proclivity to follow the Stars. And a cult of leadership idolatry arose and became utterly acceptable. The only ones who seemed to notice with dismay were pastors who watched their own dethroning as their sheep flocked to the new ministry experts. Stardom took over the lucrative job of herding the sheep/fans.
There was money to be had in Stardom. Sacred Cows are Cash Cows. The Stars thrived on publicity. They published books, wrote articles, went on tours, ran the gamut of conference circuits, and addressed receptive audiences from behind the fancy new plastic podiums in rising megachurches. Some Star Performers launched their own media outlets, and others formed mega-ministries. Their name became their brand name. Evangelical show business became big business.
The parachurch ministries, which had previously lurked in the background as small mission-minded groups, mushroomed into the mainstream. A plethora of parachurch organizations arose to meet every possible sociological, psychological, economic or theological need. Each parachurch group featured its own Superstars – rank Showmen who marketed their niche product to the pan-evangelical church at-large. Some were Snake Oil Salesmen touting their wares, deceptive and deceitful.
Meanwhile, “felt needs,” a desire-driven psychology, was the profitable fuel feeding the new Priesthood. “What he said made me feel so good; it felt so right,” was the popular refrain. Formulaic methods of crowd arousal were mixed with exuberant sessions of emotional catharsis, creating a sensation of hyper-spirituality. A Star had to know how to make people feel happy.
Other Stars were propped up as the Scholarly Elite – the psycho-spiritual Experts, the business Gurus, and/or the mystical Change Agents. Sometimes, as in the case of Leonard Sweet, one man exemplified all three! Churches were Big Business after all, especially the megachurches. Consultants were needed to enhance ministry performance and profits. These purpose-enhanced, self-esteem-driven programs were based on secular management systems and tightly controlled standards. Big Box church leaders were trained to herd sheep into caged programs with pre-determined outcomes. Stifling. Sucking the life out of the sheep in order to obtain pseudo-spiritual results.
Leadership Network, aptly named, trained an entire generation of evangelical leaders in the mechanics of sales and service à la Peter Drucker. Marketing dynamics became an essential component of the new evangelical methodology, replacing genuine conversion with a bell curve to shift the paradigm. Note: Laggards could never become Leaders. Only those willing to push the envelope of transformational change need apply for Stardom. Thus, a new fad-driven culture emerged in which the latest craze dominated the evangelical media outlets. Conferences and organizations proliferated under every agenda-propelled Star. Fads for Fans!
The Image-driven Pastor became the mark of new leadership. An emerging pastor must become an Icon – the next Evangelical Idol. Slick Superstars were stage-managed, and careers were launched by Leadership Network, which specializes in guruship training via indoctrination in change theory. New-style “hip” churches were invented, attractional theologies were concocted, and carefully hand-selected Celebrities were placed on blazing career paths to head up the Emergent movement. A “hip” image-conscious counterculture was expected to push the boundaries of biblical orthodoxy into the New Age. Each new Leadership Network-fashioned Charmer developed his own brand name. “Image is everything.” Iconographic leadership.
Being at the top got chummy. Leaders endorsed other leaders. The Cult of Leadership became self-promoting and self-perpetuating. Backscratching Stars scored brownie points with other like-minded Stars. There was room at the Pinnacle of Success for more Spiritual Elites. The basic ground rule at the top was simple: “Only Endorse, Never Question.” The escape hatch, in case an associated Venerable Star fell off the deep end or became controversial, was also simple: “Deny Association If Expedient.”
Servant-Leaders promulgated the myth of humility and asceticism. These were the new worldly Monks who enjoyed monetary success while chanting medieval mantras, publishing rambling books, and contemplating their rising spiritual acumen. It wasn’t enough to have worshippers and admirers. Plans grew more grandiose. They would charm the socks off of peons in the pews by jumping on the stewardship bandwagon to change the planet. Social justice, eradicating poverty and global transformation – how hip! The “missional” church would become Planetary Stewards. Stardom for Stewards!
Smoke and mirrors characterized a certain segment of the leadership phenomenon. These men, naming it and claiming it, rose to fame and power by hype and extravaganza. Money, travel, influence, popularity, and extreme materialistic prosperity characterized a new breed of Braggadocios who thrived on incessant publicity and multiplying flocks of admirers. The more money promised, the more faithful followers to be had. Become rich by sending $uperpastor $tatus your dollars. Gold dust might even fall on your head!
The New Apostolics traveled with their own band of self-appointed Prophets – Celestial Cheerleaders who gave them the extra-spiritual endorsement of exaltation. More than elites, these Apostolic Stars brazenly proclaimed their Superiority over not just mankind but even Heaven itself! Their aim would be Divine Dominion, and to enforce it they organized their followers into downline networking schemes that promised prosperity and passion, even godhood. They built their empire on the elite Gnosticism of secret spiritual messages that only their own self-anointed Mucky-Mucks could decode. Their pedestals would become Mountains where they claim they will reign. King of the mountain. With the downline sheep under their feet. Tithe upline and the man at the top becomes the Doyen of Dollars. A powerful and prosperous Stardom indeed.
How did this tabloidesque culture of the Stars emerge so easily in evangelicaldom? These Superior Superstars owe it all to training the Superstitious Sheep. Fawning Followers, captivated, bow down at their platforms. Time and again the malleable sheep will follow ostentatious or pretentious Shepherds, no matter how far off the narrow way they journey. Fallen Shepherd? Hey! An occasion for even more publicity! The “Touch not God’s anointed” mantra guarantees that meek sheep won’t question the deceptive path. The Revered Stars are above questioning. They are Sacred Cows, after all.
Spiritual starvation tactics work well. Hungry sheep will follow Snakes into the pit, hoping a bit of the Charm of their Stardom will rub off. “Benny Hinn laid hands on me!” my friend exclaimed in awe, after he followed Hinn around the country seeking a cure for his cancer. Clever magician tricks on a spectacular stage entranced him into believing that Hinn – not Jesus – would meet his needs. “But the crowds!” he explained when pressed. “They stretched around the building for blocks!” That made it right. If plenty of sheep/fans follow the leader, then Stardom must be okay. Meek sheep don’t dare question the popular fads of rising Stars unless they want to get a terrible backlash. Some churches will show them to the door.
Bread and Circus – the ancient Roman means of keeping the crowds controlled by superficial entertainment and fleshly delights. The Hallowed MegaStars have fully equipped entourages. They hold huge stadium events with phenomenal lighting, hypnotic loud music and an immense presence enhanced by sophisticated stage mechanics. The effect is awesome. Pizzazz. And it is all peer-driven. Sheep follow the sheep, too. Who would want to be associated with the humble Gospel message in a tiny church with cold wooden pews? Why bother with Pastor Nobody in Nowheresville? The popular hip crowd is going BIG. Follow the crowd! Hang out with Big-name leaders in Big-domed stadiums with giant screens, colored lights, throbbing drumbeats, intoxicating messages. And while the fans are whipped up into frenzy, the new doctrines are introduced. Slick. Subtle. Serpent-like.
The new gospel is M & M – Missional and Misanthropic. It is all about the Leaders, don’t you know?! Compassion? It is manufactured, too. Ignore the “least of these” unless the Superstar can profit from the act of associating with them to appear humbly “missional.” Stand for a photo op with a poor person in Africa – it works! Everyone falls for it time and again! But Stardom is not really about substance. It is all about supercharged numbers, rabid followers, riotous pop culture, lots of moolah and being edgy.
Sacrosanct Cows specialize in keeping their sheep ensnared in saccharine. Craving a nutritional word? The Star-crazed diet is a meager menu of sugar-coated pap. The same biblical vocabulary is there, but yummy new words are added to the mix. Digest the Divine Drivel – it is a pre-packaged deal. Fast food drive-thru religion. For example, here is what is important to Superstar Pastor Wannabes:
- How do you deal with an elder board that is out of control?
- You’ve got a cocky and arrogant staff member. Or a guy or gal who is incompetent or untrustworthy. Maybe you hired a real jerk. Making staff changes in the church is really tough… in fact “freeing someone’s future” is one of the hardest, yet most needed things we need to do….
- You’re in over your head, and the options are not pretty. You’re overstaffed. You’re under budget. And your people are smelling it.
- The local newspaper just wrote an article about your church that is disparaging, or worse yet, totally untrue. Or a disgruntled church member has started a blog about you and your church…. How should you deal with a PR nightmare?
- These topics include things like pastoral obesity, muslim relations, security issues in the church, cohabitating seniors, and truth-stretching.
Speaking of “truth-stretching,” Sacred Cows specialize in it. Their version of the gospel is about Kingdom and Culture, not Christ and the Cross. These Divine Denizens have now reached far beyond the Local Church. They need an expanded arena of operations. First they set up branch churches in other locales. Not church planting – but babies still on the umbilical cord of the mother church via upline tithing and sterile pre-canned teaching. Profitable indeed!
Next, these Pied Piper Pastors play a new tune. They must wield power over more than just their church-based sheep. It’s easy! Simply redefine “Sheep” to mean “Culture.” Big Bad Culture, after all, needs changing and conquering. It must become Sacred so a Star can reign over it – especially via sophisticated community transformation methodologies. Stars have Utopian dreams. Sheep are the slave laborers.
Certain Superstars are now advocating opening up their flock to universal salvation – a clever trick that especially increases their numbers and popularity. Thus making it all the easier to fuse Church with the Culture. The two shall become one. No more nasty separation. A large pedestal must be built for any Superstar who achieves this death-defying feat!
Sacred Leaders are a temperamental puffed up lot, you know. They require faint-hearted Sheeple to think more highly of them, preferringthem. They believe that the humble should not be exalted, especially if it threatens their own popularity. And any sheep with discernment should be treated as “offscouring.” They invoke one spirit, but believe only the Elite have many gifts. “Let all men glory in Leaders” is their slogan, contrary to I Cor. 3:21. Puffed-up Priests, all of them.
And the sad fact is, despite all of this, the sheep continue their faddish worship of these Sacred Cows and Stars.
(1 Peter 2:21-25. bold added)
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cattle_in_religion The image of the sacred cow is from this webpage.
2. Matthew Poole, A Commentary on the Holy Bible, Vol. III (Hendrickson), p. 794, commenting on 2 Timothy 2:16-17.
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_cow_(idiom) Sacred Cow: “A literal sacred cow or sacred bull is an actual cow or bull that is treated with sincere reverence. A figurative sacred cow is something else that is considered immune from question or criticism, especially unreasonably so.”
4. Advertisement for The NINES, by Leadership Network, e-mailed October 2, 2012, See also:http://thenines.tv/ and http://thenines.tv/register.html
5. Related reading: “Purpose-Driven Cows & DNA,”http://herescope.blogspot.com/2006/10/purpose-driven-cows-dna.html
Note that much of the subject matter in this post is covered in a multitude of previous Herescope posts spanning 2005 to the present — posts which have exhaustive documentation on these topics. Written by Sarah Leslie of the Discernment Research Group, who many years ago wrote a similarly titled and styled article: “Big Bad Cows and Cars: Green Utopianism & Environmental Outcomes,” published as Appendix XXVII (27) in the deliberate dumbing down of america by Charlotte Iserbyt (Conscience Press, 1999), pp. A-167 thru A-176, posted online at:http://deliberatedumbingdown.com/MomsPDFs/17-Appendices%2026-27.pdf
” New International Version 1984 (NIV 1984)
18 “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be[a] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[b] loosed in heaven. ”
What ever will be done ,will be either done beforehand or after ,distinguishing the way in which the teacher has implied it.
In this case the teacher has distinguished the statement,’will be’,as though it will have already been prepared for.
ie:New International Version (©1984)
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God””””” prepared “”””””in advance for us to do.
sorry it had to come from me,
Eyes – put that verse back in it’s proper context, Then perhaps listen to this audio.
Matthew 18:15-20 If Your Brother Sins Against You
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed[a] in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
(Footnotes: Matthew 18:18 Or shall have been bound… shall have been loosed)
Matthew 18:20 – “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
This verse is commonly used in prayer meetings and worship services, However, the context of the verse tells us that it is specifically addressing church discipline. The Lord, here, is promising that if discipline is handle in a manner consistent with His teaching, He will be there with those handling the discipline, and they will have His blessing.
The overall context of this passage, dealing with church discipline, is another that is often misused. This happens in two different ways. First, church discipline is often neglected at the congregation level. Second, it is often wrongly applied to public discourse. When a popular teacher or pastor says or does something very publicly that is worthy of rebuke, many Christians expect those who do the rebuking to go through this process and start by approaching them privately. This is very different than a congregant engaging in sin and a church member bringing it to light. Public sin can and should be dealt with publicly (see 1 Corinthians 5).
I was merely pointing out the predetermination of “GOOD WORKS”that come from God and are by faith in Jesus Christ.As you can clearly see from the scriptures below.
Amplified Bible (AMP)
18 And I tell you, you are [a]Peter [Greek, Petros—a large piece of rock], and on this rock [Greek, petra—a [b]huge rock like Gibraltar] I will build My church, and the gates of Hades (the powers of the [c]infernal region) shall [d]not overpower it [or be strong to its detriment or hold out against it].
“””19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind (declare to be improper and unlawful) on earth [e]must be what is already bound in heaven; and whatever you loose (declare lawful) on earth [f]must be what is already loosed in heaven.”””
10 Everything has already been decided. It was known long ago what each person would be. So there’s no use arguing with God about your destiny
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, …
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
1 Peter 1:2
According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
How you been?
Been trying to go from Bad to Better,rather than from bad to worse.If you know what i mean.
(BTW, not by human effort,savvy.)
Nice set of EYES on ‘c3churchwatch pretends there’s a scandal’.Thought someone was staring at me through the screen.(He he he he he he he he he !)