Who says Californians can’t hoof it like a hillbilly?

California Hootenany from Ted Beam on Vimeo.

A Few Editorial Observations on Owen Strachan’s Writing Style

I am not a theologian. And while I don’t believe that the study of Scripture and doctrine should be reserved for theologians, I also know not to wade into waters that are too deep for me and pretend I can swim. (Pretending to swim never ends well.) However, I am an editor and I thought I’d share some observations on Owen Strachan’s blog post pushing back against criticism of what he calls Eternal Relations of Authority and Submission (ERAS). I noticed some quirks in his writing that I think warrant closer examination.

  • Near the start of his post, Strachan says, “Trueman and Goligher did not hold back, God bless ’em.” I want to give Strachan’s choice of words a gracious reading. Perhaps he was just falling into a homey colloquialism and trying to establish a friendly tone. But this phrase also rings a little condescending, something akin to its cousin, “Bless her heart.”
  • The next curious bit follows shortly thereafter: “Personally, I think both ERAS proponents and non-ERAS proponents can dwell together in unity and love. But it seems–guessing at random here–Trueman and Goligher disagree. [emphasis mine]” Maybe this was just a careless wording here, but Strachan is not “guessing at random.” Again, I don’t know if he’s just trying to strike a conversational tone or trying to be funny or what. In the same paragraph, Strachan assures us that this is a “friendly reply.”
  • Strachan later refers to those who confess a Nicene Trinitarianism along with Trueman and Goligher as the “T-G camp.” This makes it sound like Trueman and Goligher got together and formed the Theologians Against Subordination Club (TASC—or as it is more informally known, the TASC Force). Trueman and Goligher are pointing to an ancient understanding of the Trinity, and to reduce their view to a “camp” strikes me as disingenuous. Clearly, Strachan and the ERAS adherents are the outliers here.
  • I’m not a theologian, and even I know how important it is to keep your categories straight. Yet, Strachan veers toward the poetic in his post, and I’m afraid it’s at the cost of his argument. He writes, “If we lose this understanding of Christ, and this God-saturated conception of submission, we lose something very, very close to the beating heart of the Christian faith.” What is a God-saturated conception? I mean, I appreciate poetry. I really do. But I’m supposed to accept his take on submission because it’s “God-saturated.” Owen, you have to work harder than that.
  • Strachan continues, “This is the kind of insight that only the Holy Spirit can unveil, for it is so directly unearthly, so rudely contrary to the way the world views servanthood.” So, your argument is that only the Holy Spirit can confirm that your understanding of submission and the Godhead is correct? While I wholeheartedly affirm that it is the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth, it is a teacher’s responsibility to clearly lay out his lesson. Maybe that’s too much to expect in a single blog post, but I don’t think Strachan should be let off the hook on this point. What I hear is, “If you don’t agree with our teaching of ERAS, then the Holy Spirit has not granted you “this kind of insight.”

This little exercise took longer than I anticipated, and I only made it through Strachan’s first point. Again, this is not primarily a theological critique of Strachan’s blog post (although my final two points creep in that direction). I was struck by the writing choices noted above because they make a noticeable impact on the tone of his piece. I believe there is a mild undercurrent of passive-aggressiveness masked by an attempt to be the more magnanimous soul in the argument. As an outlier who is challenging a doctrinal understanding that has been generally accepted by orthodox Christianity for at least 1700 years, he should feel the heat. I would respect his response more if he had been more openly combative (theologically speaking) and had not tried to present his novel view of the Trinity couched in an appeal to Christian unity.

Twitter and Repentance

Next month, I will come up on my eighth anniversary on Twitter. Thinking about the amount of time I have spent there, this is perhaps more a reason to hang my head in shame than a cause for celebration. Either way, I want to speak to one moment on Twitter that I am not proud of.

A few years ago, I learned about Ergun Caner and the documented falsehoods regarding his Muslim background. Like others, I saw the fact that he had not repented and was still esteemed by many in American Christianity as an offense to the Bride of Christ. I listened to podcasts. I followed people on Twitter. And one of those people I followed on Twitter was JD Hall.

In early July 2014, I was reading my timeline and noticed that Hall had found Braxton Caner’s account (Ergun’s 15-year-old son) and was confronting him about questionable pictures that he had tweeted. I replied to one of Hall’s tweets (but didn’t tag Braxton) and noted that there was a sign that said Exit 420 in his header photo, insinuating that it was a marijuana reference. Braxton saw my comment and replied that it was the exit for his town. I then mentioned a risque photo in his timeline and asked him whether that was appropriate material for him to be tweeting. He snapped back that it depended on where the viewer’s mind was.

Someone wiser than me suggested that I step away from the conversation, and I did. Within 30 minutes, I had deleted both of my tweets and regretted posting them in the first place.

A little over a month later, Braxton committed suicide.

I felt horrible that I had anything to do with that conversation in July and that I could have caused any heartache for this troubled kid. Since then I have repented to God for my sin of being a busybody and for not truly caring for Braxton. The intention of my tweets was not to speak the truth lovingly to him (which, I think, still would not have been my place in that particular situation), but my attitude instead was immature and fueled by what I thought about his father. It was also plain foolish of me to be confronting a minor I didn’t know online. I think Proverbs 26:17 summarizes my sin well:

Like one who takes a dog by the ears / Is he who passes by and meddles with strife not belonging to him.

My heart goes out to the Caner family; I can’t imagine the pain of losing a child. I have many thoughts about how and when we should confront sin or false teaching online, but the purpose of this post is merely to bring my own sin into the light. It is easy to be a chameleon on social media and to “control the narrative” as the pundits say. I don’t want to live that way—online or offline.

I’ll take a large Coke and some Junior Mints with that sermon, please.

 

Man of Spiel?

Man of Spiel?

Superman is not Jesus Christ. In fact, in case you weren’t aware, Superman doesn’t even exist. If your pastor is preaching sermons based on films instead of the Word of God, you should be the one flying—as fast as you can from that church.

As this Denver Post article tells us, the Man of Steel marketing team at Warner Bros. hired Craig Detweiler to write a sermon that pastors can download and preach from (and presumably hype up the movie in the process).

Where is the reverence for Jesus as God in this? Where is the reverence for his Word? As Christians, is the Bible not adequate for all instruction? (2 Timothy 3:16–17 comes to mind.)  Why do we need movies made by godless Hollywood to teach us about God, when He has already revealed himself to us through scripture He has breathed into life?

And we haven’t even mentioned the bizarre mingling of the sacred with crass consumerism. Are sermons going to be brought to us by corporate sponsors? This week’s sermon on being a cheerful giver sponsored by Intuit TurboTax®. It’s your money. Keep more of it with TurboTax®! That may sound crazy, but how far away is that from a movie studio hiring a consultant to write a sermon?

Here is the sermon to peruse [broken link]—should you have nerves of steel.

When Shepherds Are Replaced by CEOs

A few months ago, I heard a segment on the podcast Fighting for the Faith that sheds light on the origin of some of the unbiblical ideas about pastoral leadership that have largely been spread by key figures in the seeker-driven movement. In short: the shepherd-pastoral model is irrelevant to our culture and must be replaced by a CEO-model, wherein the pastor casts a vision for the church and possesses the people-management skills to ensure his vision is carried out. I have transcribed the entire podcast segment, which is quite long, so this introduction will be my last intrusion into the post. Even though the transcript is lengthy, I encourage you to read all the way through and to consider the merit—and biblical validity—of the argument being put forth. For the remainder of this post, when a secondary source is not being quoted, the author is Fighting for the Faith producer-host, Chris Rosebrough.

From Christianity Today, from their Leadership Journal, the headline reads Leaders Insight: Get-it-Done Leadership; Six Questions for Pastor and Leader Andy Stanley. So, these are six questions asked to Andy Stanley and his answers, which are published at Christianity.com.

Here’s question number one to Andy Stanley: What is distinctly spiritual about the kind of leadership you do? Keep in mind Andy Stanley is a seeker-driven leader. So here’s his answer, he says:

There’s nothing distinctly spiritual. I think a big problem in the church has been the dichotomy between spirituality and leadership. One of the criticisms I get is “Your church is so corporate.” I read blogs all the time. Bloggers complain, “The pastor’s like a CEO.” And I say, “OK, you’re right. Now, why is that a bad model?”

A principle is a principle, and God created all the principles.

Well, here’s the problem. I happen to have an MBA, and I got it from Pepperdine. And the emphasis of my MBA was leadership and organizational change. So I know a couple of things about leadership, and that is this: there’s all kinds of different models out there—lots of them. So, just saying, “We have a corporate CEO leadership model, and a principle is a principle, and God created principles,” the problem is this: the CEO model of leadership, especially as developed by Peter Drucker—keep this in mind, Peter Drucker really is the father of the modern corporation as we understand it—and the leadership model that he employed, the CEO model, is a vision-casting model designed to organize a workforce towards achieving corporate objectives. Here’s the deal: the church isn’t a workforce, and organizing the church like a business and having the pastor as the CEO, that’s not revealed in Scripture. There’s a different model revealed in Scripture. So here he just says, “God created principles, and a principle is a principle.” Well, the problem is you haven’t demonstrated that your leadership model is actually consistent with what God has revealed pastors are to be doing.

Question number 2 to Andy Stanley: So what’s the principle behind the CEO model? Here’s his answer:

“Follow me.” Follow we never works. Ever. It’s “follow me.” God gives a man or a woman the gift of leadership. And any organization that has a point leader with accountability and freedom to use their gift will do well. Unfortunately in the church world, we’re afraid of that. Has it been abused? Of course. But to abandon the model is silly.

Churches should quit saying, “Oh, that’s what business does.” That whole attitude is so wrong, and it hurts the church.

So, notice what he’s saying here. There are people out there who are saying, “Listen, we shouldn’t be doing this in the church, and that shouldn’t be our leadership model because that’s what businesses do.” Yet, Andy Stanley is making the claim that [that] attitude is hurting the church. But he hasn’t demonstrated that his model for leadership is actually biblical. We continue with his answer:

In terms of the shifting culture, I say thanks to guys like Bill Hybels and others who have been unafraid to say we have a corporate side of our ministry; it’s going to be the best corporate institution it can possibly be, and we’re not going to try to merge first century—

Okay, so they’re going to have a corporate institution, and they’re not going to merge anything from the first century into it. Why not? Parts of the bible were written in the first century, especially the parts that pertain to the pastoral office. But he continues:

The church wasn’t an organization in the first century. They weren’t writing checks or buying property. The church has matured and developed over the years. But for some reason the last thing to change is the structure of leadership.

Listen to this argument again, “The church wasn’t an organization in the first century. They weren’t writing checks or buying property. The church has matured and developed over the years, but for some reason the last thing to change is the structure of leadership.” Weird argument. Yeah, the church didn’t have cell phones back then, either. Notice this isn’t a biblical argument. He’s basically saying, “Because the world has changed, we have to change our leadership. I’m going to show you from Scripture, from Scripture itself, this is absolutely, flat-out contradicted by what Scripture says.

We continue: Question number 3: So, why do pastors resist using business terms for leadership.

I know. Because they’re not in the bible. That’s not what he says; here’s what he says.

Andy writes:

Because there are people in our congregations who have red flags go up.

Maybe they have red flags go up because the Bible doesn’t teach this model of leadership.

If you’re a preacher’s kid, you see the church differently. Having seen church from the inside out, it was very easy for me to abandon all that because I did not confer spirituality on congregational decision making. To me that system was just chaotic. It works against the gifts of the Holy Spirit, in my mind, and it works against godly leadership principles.

Here’s an incredibly important principle. You cannot communicate complicated information to large groups of people. As you increase the number of people, you have to decrease the complexity of the information. Congregational rule, when you’re trying to make a complicated decision, works against the principle. So consequently, the guy with the microphone and the clearest message always wins. The most persuasive person in the room is going to win. Whether right or wrong.

Notice, again, this is not an argument from the Bible. This is weird. So you had a bad experience with the church having a congregational model. So does that mean we just chuck what the Bible says regarding the role of pastor? So, now comes the important questions–at least the ones that I think are *really* important.

Question number 4: Should we stop talking about pastors as “shepherds”? Here’s his answer:

Absolutely. That word needs to go away. Jesus talked about shepherds because there was one over there in a pasture he could point to. But to bring in that imagery today and say, “Pastor, you’re the shepherd of the flock,” no. I’ve never seen a flock. I’ve never spent five minutes with a shepherd. It was culturally relevant in the time of Jesus, but it’s not culturally relevant any more.

Nothing works in our culture with that model except this sense of the gentle, pastoral care. Obviously that is a face of church ministry, but that’s not leadership.

So, he dismisses what Scripture says by making a fallacious argument. I’m going to point this out here in a minute, and I’ll reference this again. His argument is that, “Well, the only reason why Jesus said “shepherd” is because at that time there were shepherds. I don’t think so. Now he’s going to make another point; here’s the next question:

Isn’t shepherd the biblical word for pastor? Great question; here’s his answer.

It’s the first century word.

Notice he doesn’t say it’s the biblical word. He says, “Oh, that’s just the first century word.” He continues:

If Jesus were here today, would he talk about shepherds? No. He would point to something that we all know, and we’d say, “Oh yeah, I know what that is.” Jesus told Peter, the fisherman, to “feed my sheep,” but he didn’t say to the rest of them, “Go ye therefore into all the world and be shepherds and feed my sheep.” By the time of the Book of Acts, the shepherd model is gone.

Listen to this statement again.

By the time of the Book of Acts, the shepherd model is gone. It’s about establishing elders and deacons and their qualifications. Shepherding doesn’t seem to be the emphasis. Even when it was, it was cultural, an illustration of something.

What we have to do is identify the principle, which is that the leader is responsible for the care of the people he’s been given. That I am to care for and equip the people in the organization to follow Jesus. But when we take the literal illustration and bring it into our culture, then people can make it anything they want because nobody knows much about it.

Weird. Argument. And, by the way, he’s flat-out wrong. And what I mean by that is the Bible contradicts him straight up. Absolutely straight up. You see, according to Andy Stanley, the shepherd thing is just a cultural metaphor, and of course if Jesus were around today, he wouldn’t use that word. Strange that he would say that because Jesus wasn’t incarnate this century. He was incarnate two [millennia] ago. He could have talked about leadership at that time that was more akin to the type of leader that Caesar is. There were different leadership models that existed at the time of Jesus. And Jesus, being God, could have used any kind of reference. But he didn’t use just any kind; he particularly chose the shepherd model. The weird thing is we all know what a shepherd is and what a shepherd does….So his argument is that if Jesus were here, he would have used a different term—that’s not a biblical argument, by the way. That’s him basically trying to sneak into the biblical text stuff that isn’t there. It’s an allusion to the bible, while rejecting what the bible says and then coming up with a culturally plausible sounding argument in order to teach something that the bible doesn’t teach.

And then this statement, “By the time of the book of Acts, the shepherd model is gone.” That is flat-out, historically a bald-faced lie. Absolutely, 100 per cent contradicted and contrary to what Scripture says. So what we’re going to do right now is take a look at a few passages and we’re going to be asking the question, “What have pastors been given the authority to do?” Because what they’ve been given to do is going to tell us which model best fits the pastoral office. It’s really that simple. So, let’s look at some passages. We’re going to begin with one of these passages that contradicts Andy Stanley straight up.

1 Peter 5:1-4 (which, by the way, was written [emphasis Rosebrough’s] during the period of the book of Acts):

So I exhort the elders among you [notice what he said there: I exhort the elders (emphasis Rosebrough’s) among you] as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you, not for shameful gain, but eagerly, not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock and when the chief shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Let me point out a couple of things along the way here. I’m going to go back to Andy Stanley’s article. Here’s what he said. He says, “By the time of the book of Acts, the shepherd model is gone. It’s about establishing elders and deacons and their qualifications. Shepherding doesn’t seem to be the emphasis. Even when it was, it was cultural and an illustration of something.”

And in this passage, 1 Peter 5:1-4, Peter is admonishing the elders to shepherd the flock. And how long are they to continue shepherding the flock? Until the chief shepherd appears. This is an important piece of the pastoral office: a pastor is an under-shepherd of the great shepherd Jesus. That’s what this passage is really teaching: “when the chief shepherd appears” (that’s Jesus), “you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” So, think of it this way. Jesus is the chief shepherd. You’re pastor is there, literally standing in for the chief shepherd, Jesus. In the future, when Christ returns and comes for his church, we won’t need pastors because we won’t need people standing in for Jesus. We’ll have a face-to-face relationship with him. Nobody’s going to need to stand in for Jesus as an under-shepherd of the chief shepherd. And yet, here, 1 Peter 5:1–4, Peter writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit—during the time of the book of Acts, by the way—tells the elders of the church who he’s writing to to “shepherd the flock of God.” That means they exercise oversight, they don’t do what they do for shameful gain, they don’t domineer over the people in their charge, but they are examples to the flock. And then when the chief shepherd appears—how long is this shepherding stuff supposed to go on? It’s supposed to go on until Christ returns, who is the chief shepherd.

Ephesians 4:8-14, Paul writing:

Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men. (In saying, He ascended, what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also  ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to  the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

Notice this, in this list: apostles, is that a cultural metaphor? Nope. Prophet? Is that a cultural metaphor? No. Evangelist? Is that a cultural metaphor? No. Teacher? Is that a cultural metaphor? No. So, apparently, only the word “shepherd” is a cultural metaphor that we need to get rid of? But see, notice here, these are all titles now. He gave apostles—in fact, you can actually say offices—apostles, prophets, evangelists, and the shepherds and teachers. So here, Ephesians Chapter 4—which, by the way, was written well into the period…of the Book of Acts—it says that Christ, the one who ascended, he’s the one who gave the church apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers. And he gave them to us for the building up of the body of Christ until we all attain the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature in the fulness of Christ.” Contradicts straight up what Andy Stanley said there.

Acts 20:28-31. This is the apostle Paul, his farewell speech to the church at Ephesus. Here’s what he says,

Pay careful attention to yourselves and all of the flock in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure, fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock, and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things in order to draw away disciples after them. Therefore, be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears.

Interesting. So, there we have the apostle Paul again referring to those in the church as part of a flock, giving them the charge of doing “shepherd-y” work. And yet, let me read the quote again by Andy Stanley: “By the time of the book of Acts, the shepherd model is gone.” It wasn’t gone at all. It was utterly emphasized and reiterated by both the apostle Paul and the apostle Peter, the two primary apostles at the time of the book of Acts.

Now, real quick, I want to answer this question, “What have pastors been given the authority to do?” The passages that we have been looking at actually kind of give us an outline of the kind of things that pastors are to do. Now, this is not a comprehensive list, but let’s talk about some of these things. Pastors are given the authority to preach the Word. I would point you to 2 Tim. 4. Preach the Word. They are also given the authority to administer the Lord’s Supper and baptize. Clearly, these are within the purview of the responsibilities of the pastor. Pastors are also given the authority and responsibility to pray for and intercede for the flock that is entrusted to them. We’ve already read this in these passages. They are also charged with living an honorable and moral way of life as an example to the flock. They are also given the authority to administer church discipline to impenitent Christians, who when confronted with their sins refuse to repent and be forgiven. And they also have the authority, I would point you to the epistle of James, to care for the poor, to visit and pray for the sick.

If you look at what it is that pastors are supposed to be leading us in: right handling of God’s Word, proclaiming the truth, rightly handling it, teaching what’s in accord with sound doctrine. They are given the task of presiding at the Lord’s Supper, baptizing, praying for the flock, being an honorable, moral example of Christianity, administering church discipline, caring for the poor, visiting the sick. [Those are] not duties that fit a CEO. CEOs are all about organizing a workforce to get a task done, or to profitably get tasks done and to keep the organization moving forward. The pastoral office is not about organizing a workforce. It’s about feeding Christ’s sheep. The reason why Christ used the shepherding metaphor is because that’s exactly the model that is called for here.

Different organizations have different models. And when you look at what it is biblically that the pastor is supposed to be doing, it explains perfectly why the shepherding model is being used because that model fits what it is that Christ wants to have done. Shepherds are to feed and protect Christ’s sheep, to raise them up in the faith, to disciple them, to discipline them, to feed them the Lord’s Supper, to baptize them, to pray for them, to be a model of good works, and to care for the poor, visit the sick. When you look at what it is they’re supposed to be leading us in, it makes perfect sense. That’s the model that fits. But the seeker-driven leadership model is not a shepherding model, they bristle under it, and [what Andy Stanley’s] answers to these questions demonstrate very clearly is that they hate the shepherding model and will engage in kind of obfuscation necessary to wipe it from our minds, so that they aren’t called on the carpet and shown for what they are—people who are rejecting what Christ has commanded pastors to be doing. That’s exactly what he’s doing.

Now, I’m going to read to you a portion from an unpublished work that I’ve currently been working on…and this is talking about vision-casting leaders I’m going to translate the leader into German: vision-casting Führer. Because what we’re dealing with in the seeker-driven church is a leadership model developed by Peter Drucker. It is the same model used by the fascists; and there’s a reason for that. So, let me read:

Not all human organizations employ the same leadership model. Oftentimes the leadership model employed by an organization depends on which one is best suited for the type of work that a company does. The military utilizes a top-down chain-of-command model. Many law firms employ a partnership model. Advertising agencies and media production companies thrive in a collaborative team environment. But if we’re to make sense of the ecclesiastical leadership model which was developed and employed by church growth consultants in seeker-driven church networks who’ve bought into the fascistic, counter-enlightenment worldview of Peter Drucker, we must understand that their ideology is what drives their model. They philosophically deny the existence of the individual in time. They believe that communities are organic. They deny the existence of transcendent truth and are not only irrational but are experiential enthusiasts down to their core. They eschew the transcendent and focus their attention on the imminent and have redefined the mission of the church from making disciples by baptizing and teaching to “making a difference in the world.” How do you organize and run a church if you hold to a fascistic, anti-enlightenment worldview? The answer is the Führerprinzip  or the leadership principle. In this chapter, I will explain the origins and historical core tenets of the Führerprinzip  In the next chapter, I will demonstrate the parallels between the ecclesiastical leadership model employed by the seeker-driven church movement and the Führerprinzip  as well as highlight an important variation to the Führerprinzip developed by the Druckerites.

This section is entitled Führerprinzip Idealogical Roots and Tenets; here’s what I wrote:

As stated in the last chapter, Peter Drucker, who was the idealogical mind behind the seeker-driven church movement—along with the fascists of the 20th century—bought into Rousseau’s philosophical worldview, which denied the existence of the individual in time. Said Drucker, it was Rousseau who formulated the idea that “whatever human existence there is, whatever freedom, rights, and duties the individual has, whatever meaning there is in the individual life, it is determined by society according to society’s objective need for survival. The individual, in other words, is not autonomous. He is determined by society. He is free only in matters that do not matter. He has rights only because society concedes them. He has a will only if he wills what society needs. His life has meaning only insofar as it relates to the social meaning and as it fulfills itself in fulfilling the objective goal of society. There is, in short, no human existence. There is only social existence. There is no individual, there is only the citizen.” It was also Rousseau who laid the foundation for the leadership model for those who subscribed to his idealogical worldview.

Rousseau provides the details of this model in his work entitled “The Social Contract.” In that work, Rousseau claims that the state is a collective organism in which all individual liberties are assimilated, or synthesized. What emerges from this communal, collective organism is what he calls “the general will,” which then can mystically or spiritually be embodied in a single leader, or Führer, or sovereign. Dr. Edward Younkins of Wheeling Jesuit University summarized Rousseau’s ideas in his 2005 article entitled Rousseau’s General Will and Well-Ordered Society. Said Younkins,

The idea of the general will is at the heart of Rousseau’s philosophy. The general will is not the will of the majority. Rather, it is the will of the political organism that he sees as an entity with a life of its own. The general will is an additional will, somehow distinct from and other than any individual will or group of individual wills. The general will is, by some means, endowed with goodness and wisdom surpassing the beneficence and wisdom of any person or collection of persons. Society is coordinated and unified by the general will.

Rousseau believed that this general will actually exist and that it demands the unqualified obedience of every individual. He held that there is only one general will and, consequently, only one supreme good and a single overriding goal toward which a community must aim. The general will is always a force of the good and the just. It is independent, totally sovereign, infallible, and inviolable.

The result is that all powers, persons, and their rights are under the control and direction of the entire community. This means that no one can do anything without the consent of all. Everyone is totally dependent on everybody for all aspects of their lives. Such universal dependency eliminates the possibility of independent individual achievement. In addition, when the individual joins society in order to escape death or starvation, he can be a sacrificial victim ready to give up his life for others. Life is a gift made conditional by the state.

All power is transferred to a central authority or sovereign that is the total community. Major decisions are made by a vote by all in what Rousseau calls a plebiscite that is something like a town meeting without the benefit of debate. A legislator proposes laws but does not decide on them. The legislator is a person or an intellectual elite body that works out carefully worded alternatives, brings people together, and has people vote with the results binding on all. The authority of the legislator derives from his superior insight, charisma, virtue, and mysticism. The legislator words the propositions of the plebiscite so that the “right” decision will result. The right decisions are those that change human nature. The unlimited power of the state is made to appear legitimate by the apparent consent of the majority.

Rousseau’s ideas regarding a single leader mystically embodying the collective general will of the community were adopted by and further developed by fascist theorists and then later put into practice by the fascist governments of the 20th century. One of the most succinct explanations of the Führerprinzip was given by Herman Göring during the Nazi wartime trials in Nuremburg. On March 19, 1946, the US Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson cross-examined Göring specifically in reference to the Führerprinzip  A partial transcript of that cross-examination is reproduced below. I’ve added emphasis in order to highlight some of the core concepts of this leadership model.

So the president of the trial asked Justice Jackson this question, “Do the Chief prosecutors wish to cross examine?”

Justice Jackson (to Göring): You are perhaps aware that you are the only living man who can expound to us the true purpose of the Nazi party in the inner workings of its leadership?

Göring: I am perfectly well aware of that.

Jackson: You, from the very beginning, together with those who were associated with you, intended to overthrow, and later did overthrow, the Weimar Republic?

Göring: That was, as far as I am concerned, my firm intention.

Jackson: And upon coming to power, you immediately abolished parliamentary government in Germany?

Göring: We found it to be no longer necessary. Also, I should like to emphasize the fact that we were, moreover, the strongest parliamentary party and had the majority. But you are correct when you say that parliamentary procedure was done away with because the various parties were disbanded and forbidden.

Jackson: You established the leadership principle [Führerprinzip], which you have described as a system under which authority existed only at the top and is passed downwards and is imposed on the people below. Is that correct?

Göring: In order to avoid any misunderstanding, I should like once more to explain the idea briefly, as I understand it. In German parliamentary procedure, in the past responsibility rested with the highest officials who were responsible for carrying out the anonymous wishes of the majorities, and it was they who exercised the authority. In the Leadership Principle we sought to reverse the direction; that is, the authority existed at the top and then passed downwards, while the responsibility began at the bottom and passed upwards.

Let me re-read that sentence. You kind of have to get what’s going on here. In the United States of America, we elect government officials who serve us and represent us in Washington, DC. So, in the Congressional district in which I live, we have a Congressman, and we have a Senator and people like that. Our elected officials, they serve us. We send them to Washington. For instance, in the Presidential election oftentimes if a Presidential candidate runs on a particular platform, if he receives a really strong majority—like 56%, 57% of the vote—then he is said to have a mandate to enact his platform. The idea being that the government officials serve their constituents. In the leadership principle, the Führerprinzip, everything is reversed. Remember, this is coming off of Rousseau’s concept here. The Führer, the leader, at the top has a mystical vision of what’s necessary to move the community forward, together. Not only for their survival, but for their thriving, for their success. So the visionary leader is the one who receives the vision mystically, and then the idea is that he’s not their to serve the people below him. No, the people below him, they have the responsibility to make the vision come to pass. This is what’s called the Führerprinzip.

Let me read this statement again. “In the Leadership Principle” (this is Göring, again, being cross examined), “we sought to reverse the direction, that is, authority existed at the top and passed downwards, while the responsibility began at the bottom and passed upwards.”

Now, if this sounds familiar to you, it should sound familiar because of the vision-casting quotes that we’ve played before here at Fighting for the Faith. Let me remind you of them. This is Creflo Dollar:

You hear people say, “Well, why do you go to that church? So, I can be fed.” You don’t come here to be fed. You come here to help me and Tabitha fulfill this vision. That is, if God called you here. You haven’t been called, so you can be fed the Word. Now, if you get fed in the midst of it, that’s good. But you’ve been called to find your part in bringing this vision to pass in the earth. That’s why you’ve been called to the church. You haven’t been called here—I came here, so I can get fed the Word. Isn’t it so interesting how we come to church out of [unintelligible]? You didn’t come here to see you can get fed the Word. Now if you can get some Word while you’re here, that’s good, too. But you came here because each of you have a piece and a part that you play in bringing this vision to pass. So, if you’re just kind of sitting around being fed, but not understanding that you have a part to play in this vision coming to pass—that’s why God called you. When God calls a person to a church, you’re called to that church to help that pastor fulfill that vision [emphasis Dollar’s].

Let me remind you of another very disturbing statement made by one of Eric Dykstra’s underlings:

We are united under the visionary. Now, the visionary here is Eric. The Crossing is built on the vision that God gave pastor Eric. And we will aggressively defend that vision. Now, what does that mean, “aggressively defend that”? That means that we do church the way that he wants us to do it. And me, as a campus pastor, I can’t go up to Zimmerman and decide that I’m going to preach on Sunday because that’s not the vision that we have for this church, that God gave to Eric. And we defend that when people go, ‘Well, maybe we should do it this way.’ And we’re like, No, no, no, no, no, no, no, you don’t understand. God gave Eric this vision; we do it this way. Because we don’t want to argue with God, basically. We don’t want be like—Eric’s not God, we’re not saying Eric is God. He’s not God, but he’s got a vision from God, and we have decided with our lives that we’re going to follow that vision and we’re going to stick to that, and if we ever just decide that we don’t want to be a part of that vision, then we can go find a church and serve somewhere else. And that’s okay. We’re not telling anybody that they have to unite under this vision that Eric got from God. You can do whatever you want. But we think that it’s a really cool vision. We’re on board with it, and we’re going to defend it and we’re going to stick to it.

One more quote from Elevation Church. This is some really creepy lady reading from Elevation Church’s vision statement:

We are united under one vision. Elevation is built on the vision God gave pastor Steven. We will aggressively defend our unity and that vision.

Okay, so what are we dealing with here? And Andy Stanley, you’ve got to understand this, Andy Stanley is one of the major leaders in this whole movement. What we’re dealing with is an ecclesiastical version of the Führerprinzip, which was developed by Peter Drucker. Let me read Göring’s quote again, and then I’ll continue with the transcript.

Göring: In the leadership principle [or the Führerprinzip], we sought to reverse the direction; that is, authority exists at the top and is passed downwards, while the responsibility began at the bottom and is passed upwards.

Jackson: In other words, you did not believe in and did not permit government, as we call it, by consent of the governed, in which the people, through their representatives, were the source of power and authority?

Göring: That is not entirely correct. We repeatedly called on the people to express unequivocally and clearly what they thought of our system, only it was in a different way from what was previously adopted and from the system in practice in other countries. We chose the way of the so-called plebiscite. [This is Rousseau’s concept.] We also took the point of view that even a government founded on the leadership principle could maintain itself only if it was based in some way on the confidence of the people. If it no longer had such confidence, then we’d have to rule it with bayonettes, and the Führer was always of the opinion that it was impossible in the long run to rule against the will of the people.

Jackson: But you did not permit the election of those who should act with the authority by the people, but they were designated from the top downward continuously, were they not?

Göring: Quite right. The people were merely to acknowledge the authority of theFührer [or the leader], or, let us say, to declare themselves in agreement with the Führer. If they gave the Führer their confidence, then it was their concern to exercise the other functions. Thus, not the individual persons were to be selected according to the will of the people, but solely the leadership itself.

Jackson: Now, was this Leadership Principle supported and adopted by you in Germany because you believed that no people are capable of self-government or because you believed that some may be, but not the German people, or that no matter whether some of us are capable of using our own system, it should not be allowed in Germany?

Göring: I beg your pardon. I did not quite understand the question, but I could perhaps answer it as follows. I consider the Leadership Principle necessary because the system which previously existed, and which we called parliamentary or democratic, had brought Germany to the verge of ruin. I might perhaps in this connection remind you that your own President Roosevelt, as far as I can recall—I do not want to quote it word for word—declared, “Certain peoples in Europe have forsaken democracies not because they did not wish for democracy as such, but because democracy had brought forth men who were too weak to give their people work and bread and to satisfy them. For this reason, the peoples have abandoned this system and the men belonging to it.” There is much truth in that statement. This system had brought ruin by mismanagement and, according to my own opinion, only an organization made up of a strong, clearly defined leadership hierarchy could restore order again. But, let it be understood, not against the will of the people, but only when the people having in the course of time, and by means of a series of elections, grown stronger and stronger, had expressed their wish to entrust their destiny to the National Socialist leadership.

Jackson: The principles of the authoritarian government which you set up required, as I understand you, that there be tolerated no opposition by political parties which might defeat or obstruct the policy of the Nazi party?

Göring: You have understood this quite correctly. By that time, we had lived long enough with opposition, and we had had enough of it. Through opposition we had been completely ruined. It was now time to have done with it and to start building up.

Jackson: After you came to power, you regarded it necessary in order to maintain power that you suppress all opposition parties?

Göring: We found it necessary not to permit any more opposition, yes.

Jackson: And you also held it necessary that you should suppress all individual opposition lest it should develop into a party of opposition?

Göring: Insofar as opposition seriously hampered our work of building up, this opposition of individual persons was, of course, not tolerated.

Let me summarize. From what we have read of both Rosseau and Göring, here is a summary of the core tenets of the Führerprinzip.

  1. The individual does not exist.
  2. The community, or communal collective, is the organic entity.
  3. All individual rights are assimilated and synthesized into the collective.
  4. From that collective arises the general will.
  5. This is not the will of the majority.
  6. It is the mystical will of the collective and it is good, wise, totally sovereign, infallible, and inviolable.
  7. The general will demands the unqualified obedience of every individual. No opposition will be tolerated.
  8. Each community has one supreme good and a single overriding goal toward which it must aim. (This would be a mission and vision.)
  9. The general will is mystically embodied in a leader, or Führeror sovereign.
  10. The function of the leader, the Führeris to lead the community towards its supreme goal.
  11. This requires the leader to mystically be in tune with both the general will and the community’s supreme goal. (That would be their mission and their vision.)
  12. The leader, the Führer, has all the authority.
  13. The members of the community have all the responsibility of achieving the community’s supreme goal as communicated through the vision of the leader.

That’s kind of an overall summary of the Führerprinzip. Now, let’s talk about what those who buy into this leadership model do, in the church, with opposition. Listen again to Mark Driscoll:

Here’s what I’ve learned. You cast vision for your mission, and if people don’t sign up, you move on. You move on. There are people who are going to die in the wilderness, and there are people that are going to take the hill. That’s just how it is. Too many guys waste too much time trying to move stiff-necked, stubborn, obstinate people. I am all about blessed subtraction. There is a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus [chuckles] and by God’s grace, it will be a mountain by the time we’re done. You either get on the bus, or you get run over by the bus. Those are the options. But the bus ain’t gonna stop. I’m just a guy who is like, “Look, we love you. But this is what we’re doing.” There’s a few kind of people. There’s people who get in the way of the bus. They’ve got to get run over. There are people who want to take turns driving the bus. They’ve got to get thrown off [chuckles] because they want to go somewhere else. There are people who will be on the bus—leaders, helpers, and servants—they’re awesome. There are also just sometimes nice people who sit on the bus and shut up. They’re not helping or hurting—just let them ride along. You know what I’m saying? But don’t look at the nice people that are just going to sit on the bus and shut their mouth and think, “I need you to lead the mission.” They’re never going to. At the very most, you’ll give them a job to do, and they’ll serve somewhere and help out in a minimal way. If someone can sit in a place that hasn’t been on mission for a really long time, they are by definition not a leader. And so they’re never going to lead. You need to gather a whole new core. I’ll tell you, guys, what, too; you don’t do this just for your church planting or replanting. I’m doing it right now. I’m doing it right now. We just took certain guys and rearranged the seats on the bus. Yesterday we fired two elders for the first time in the history of Mars Hill last night. They’re off the bus. Under the bus. They were off mission, so now they’re unemployed. I mean, this will be the defining issue as to whether or not you succeed or fail.

So, just like the original Führerprinzip, which has its core in Rousseau’s idealogy as developed by the fascists, they do not tolerate any opposition. Those who teach the ecclesiastical Führerprinzip, they don’t tolerate any opposition either. You oppose the vision, you’re off the bus.

This is James MacDonald talking about getting rid of opposition:

I’m releasing you to take a small portion of your church’s budget and build a catapult, put it in the church parking lot, and load it regularly. I think we can shoot this one right out of our county.

Yeah, so build a catapult, put it into the church parking lot, get rid of the opposition. So, here’s the idea: I know this is controversial, but we call a thing what it is: The seeker-driven leadership model developed by Peter Drucker is nothing less than and nothing more than a church version of the Führerprinzip. The same principles apply. Now, what’s different about it, just real quick, is where the 20th century fascists and Rosseau talked about the general will and how the leader, or the Führer, would be in touch with the general will. The difference with the ecclesiastical Führerprinzip is that the general will has been replaced with the individual vision that the leader is supposed to get from God. So, the general will is no longer something that burbles up from the community; instead it comes from the top down, and that would be from God down to the leader, and then that vision that the leader has must be enacted. And the responsibility for making that come about is the responsibility of the people in these churches. And Andy Stanley is one of the major leaders putting forward this leadership model.

This is not what is revealed in God’s Word. It isn’t revealed in there at all. It doesn’t have its origin in the Bible and the Holy Spirit. It has its origin in Rosseau and the early twentieth century fascists, and this is a historical fact. You may not like it, but it’s absolutely true. And that’s why their leadership model must not only fought against, it must be rejected and battled to the point where it’s cast out of the church because these guys are not pastors. They are Führers. It’s really, really dangerous and [it’s] messing up the church.

Genetically-Approved Marriage

 

Samaritans marking Sukkot on Mount Gerizim

The Samaritans are a fascinating people. Once a group that numbered up to a million people in late Roman times, the Samaritan population is now just over 700. I found this information about the dilemma of Samaritan continuity very interesting:

One of the biggest problems facing the community today is the issue of continuity. With such a small population, divided into only four families (Cohen, Tsedakah, Danfi and Marhib; a fifth family died out in the last century) and a general refusal to accept converts, there has been a history of genetic disease within the group due to the small gene pool. To counter this, the Samaritan community has recently agreed that men from the community may marry non-Samaritan (primarily, Israeli Jewish) women, provided that the women agree to follow Samaritan religious practices. There is a six-month trial period prior to officially joining the Samaritan community to see whether this is a commitment that the woman would like to take. This often poses a problem for the women, who are typically less than eager to adopt the strict interpretation of Biblical (Levitical) laws regarding menstruation, by which they must live in a separate dwelling during their periods and after childbirth. Nevertheless, there have been a few instances of intermarriage. In addition, all marriages within the Samaritan community are first approved by a geneticist at Tel HaShomer Hospital, in order to prevent the spread of genetic disease. In meetings arranged by “international marriage agencies,” a small number of Ukrainian women have recently been allowed to marry into the community in an effort to expand the gene pool.

Remembering Remembering Plato

As much as I appreciate and enjoy art, there are times when I walk perfunctorily through a museum or exhibit and leave without having had any new thoughts, feelings, or inspiration. Perhaps this is due more to laziness on my part than anything else. However, there are other times when I leave a museum having been touched by a piece or an exhibit and carry it with me long afterward. One such installation is Mineko Grimmer’s Remembering Plato, which I saw at the Menil Collection in Houston either in late 2001 or early 2002.

Two upside-down cones of ice, embedded with small stones and pebbles, hung above two wooden boxes full of water. One box had a piano string pulled across the top of it, and the other box had a brass bar that ran across its top. As the ice melted, every minute or so a pebble would drop into the water below. Lights inside the box were angled so that shadows of the water were projected on the wall next to the box; the gently moving water rippled across the wall, and you could see the disturbance when a new pebble entered the water. Occasionally, a pebble would strike the piano string or brass bar, creating a plunky sound that reverberated throughout the darkened room. (There was an unspoken understanding among everyone who entered the room that it should remain quiet.) The installation was a relatively simple, low-tech setup, and yet I cannot think of another piece of art that has ever created such a distinct sense of space for me. It seemed as though even the rules of time were being bent as I sat on a wooden bench next to the installation.

Remembering Plato

Remembering Plato

Below is a video taken of Grimmer’s installation The Dialogue.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén