This week, Christianity Today (CT), the evangelical flagship magazine founded by none other than Billy Graham, released a bonus episode of their podcast series The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill. This episode, Everything is Still Falling Apart, addresses the dangers of the cult of Christian celebrity.
True, this entire series fails to point the finger at themselves given Christianity Today’s own sex scandals, not to mention the oversized role this outlet plays in elevating select pastors to Christian celebrity status.
But by including scandals such as the downfall of Hillsong, they at least admit the larger scope of this problem by noting how fame replaced virtue as the key quality desired in Christian leaders. Almost without exception, these scandals can be traced back to the lack of necessary accountability structures and fiscal oversight required to keep spiritual gurus from going gonzo.
I can see how spiritual leaders are questioning if this podcast series applies to their own work. After all, Driscoll garnered many perks of the profession that enables him to continue living a comfy Christian life even though he’s been deemed by many of his former peers as unfit for the pulpit.
During a hurricane in your city, your megachurch (formerly a basketball arena) is one of the few places that remains dry. You’ve been asked by the city if these unfortunate souls can camp out at your church until the water subsides and they can return to their homes.
- You welcome everyone in no questions asked.
- You allow people to stay at your church but then bill FEMA for the cost to clean up the place (even though the cleaning bill is less than what it costs to tidy up your mega mansion).
- You refuse to allow anyone in on the grounds they will muddy up your sanctuary, thus making it too unclean for worship services.
Back in your evangelical megachurch preaching days, you elevated Betsy DeVos to elder status and accepted millions from her. Her donations were used in large part to launch your international bestselling author/speaker career where you market yourself as a kinder/gentler progressive evangelical. When asked about these donations from an anti-LGBT rights icon, your response is …
- OMG I am so, so sorry for my prior work with DeVos. I will donate any monies she gave to my ministries to organizations that work to help LGBT kids damaged by her actions.
- Oops. Didn’t mean to do that. My bad. Won’t happen again.
- Who paid for you to come here and try to ruin my ministry?
You are penning a book about human sexuality from a hipster Christian perspective. Given how many books on the topic have been penned by both secular and religious scholars, your book publisher tells you to come up with a unique way to market your book to the missional masses. Do you …
- Research the living daylights out of the hordes of research on this topic until you have an actual body of work that sheds new light on this topic.
- Write a book that dumps on the evangelical church’s approach to S-E-X while ignoring your own mainline denomination’s failings on this hot-button topic.
- Launch a campaign to promote your book whereby you have purity rings melted down into a vagina sculpture that you gift to Gloria Steinem (like she needs any more presents) as part of a glitzy exclusive conference.
You scored an invitation to the National Prayer Breakfast. What do you do?
- Politely decline, stating you cannot support organizations that do not support church/state separation.
- Accept the invitation in the hopes you can do some bridge-building work among the various international groups gathered there.
- Use this invite as a PR marketing tool to promote yourself as one of the DC prayerful power players.
As the head of the mainline denomination, you’re asked to address multiple charges of inappropriate behaviors by leaders under your charge. How do you respond?
- Launch a full-scale investigation and let the chips fall where they may.
- Apologize for any harm that may have been caused, and then allow those involved in said abuses to resign with a full pension and other perks.
- Issue a statement declaring that at least your leaders didn’t engage in acts of child sexual abuse like those SBC perverts.
Give yourself 1 point for every #1 answer, two points for every #2 answer, and 3 points for every #3 answer.
You’re a selfless saint. If there were more people like you in the Christian world, there would be no need for religious satirists.
You’re like most faith-based folks, just trying to get by without being too big of a jerk for Jesus. Though the blandness in your work might explain why your numbers keep dwindling. There’s no there, there.
Yay! You win the prize for spiritual narcissist of year. But of course, you knew that already.