Tuesday, December 4, 2007

"A series of personality cults"

That's how Frank Schaeffer describes evangelicalism, as pointed out in a column today by William McKenzie. As an East Texas boy who was raised in the Southern Baptist tradition (now recovering) I can concur. Lots of folks become attached to a charismatic leader rather than a faith. Then when that leader lets them down they have to find another charismatic leader to follow.

It is frightening the kinds of things people will believe if their chosen leader tells them. I had a college Sunday School teacher who taught on nothing but the end times and how current events were biblically prophesied. He was an obsessed man, and was an intelligent attorney but badly misguided. And he misled many others. This is a dangerous obsession, if it is not obvious, because people will stop trying to bring about peace and justice, stop caring for their fellow humans, and stop caring for God's creation. Because after all, God's judgement is about to come down hard and this earth will pass away.

Another great quote from Schaeffer regarding the big name evangelical leaders: "Big-time American Christianity is incompatible with the Gospel. It is part of the entertainment business. No matter what you think you are doing, you are really just another celebrity in a celebrity-obsessed culture."

Every church has its problems, including my spiritual home, The Episcopal Church, but I really like our emphasis on welcoming inclusiveness, social justice, and embodying God's Kingdom. In our baptismal covenant we promise "to seek and serve Christ in all persons." And our worship is centered not on preaching and sermons (or preachers), but on Eucharist: Thanksgiving, the holy meal that binds us together with Christ and each other and strengthens us for service to the world.

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