Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Dangers of Evangelicalism

At the site of yet another "evangelical" pastor resigning after succombing to Homosexual desires (see: http://www.denverpost.com/ci_4817067) I feel the need to write about the danger that evangelicalism (as is exemplified by the mega-church movement) poses to the Church Catholic. Here are Four Bullet Points that I will expound on with following Posts. If you have any insight or questions you would like answered please feel free to post messages.

1) Lack of Pastoral Oversight

2) Lack of Historical Perspective

3) Lack of Eucharistic Awareness

4) Lack of Creedal Association/Foundation


ChipB said...

I don't think you can limit these ills (lack of pastoral oversight, historical perspective, eucharistic awareness and creedal foundation) to evangelical megachurches. I think this is a rampant in problem (in various forms) throughout the church. The PCUSA is rife with these problems. However, with the megachurches, the old cliche rings true - the bigger they are the harder they fall.

Anonymous said...

Excuse my ignorance, but what do you mean by "eucharistic awareness?"

Backwoods Presbyterian said...

I agree that this is just not a phenomenon allocated intrinsicly to evangelical mega-churches but is a symptom of greater problems throughout the Christian world. However this particular posting will focus primarily on the specific world of the mega-church.

Backwoods Presbyterian said...


"Eucharistic Awareness" refers to a misunderstanding or a complete lack of awareness of the improtance of the eucharist in Christian Worship. In my short life I have attended many of these mega-churches where little or no attention is paid to the eucharist.

Anonymous said...

You are exactly right.

I look forward to your analysis. I am only an outsider looking in at the world of mega-evangelicalism. I have always lived and worked in the shrinking world of the oldline denoms.

However, just down the road from my small town, there is a larger city that has two of these mega-marts of religion. Plenty of our residents drive to attend these palaces of vacuity. No pastoral care, no depth of biblical insight and no exposition of Scripture in the worship, that's for sure.

So, why do these people drive 60 miles roundtrip to attend?

Presbyterian Gal said...

I also look forward to your thoughts on this.

I call the mega-church movement "Christianity Lite".
In my small experience I had the sense that it was an easy way to join an "exclusive" group that weekly affirmed the validity of your existence without having your having to do anything except say "Amen" at the right time and nod knowingly with an "Umm hmmm". Then empty your pockets.

Anonymous said...

Presbyterian Gal pegged it!

Bayou Christian said...

hey I'll do my usual job of being contrary here.

Could you imaginie us handling the Ted Haggard situation any better? I mean in a matter of days he went from total denial, to being submitted under authority, full and total confession, and in a process of restorative ministry without any lawyers involved (ok I have no evidence of that).

Also for years my in laws have attended a 5-8,000 member church. They also had several small groups and a house church in their home. There was tons of pastoral care. Think about it how much do any of us clergy know about the secret lives of our members? little.

Don't get me wrong I still think the small church is the future but the mega church's ills are much exaggerated. In my ever so humble opionion.

as to the Eucharist - anonymous may not have known you meant "have an understanding of the significance of the Lord's Supper in the nurture and development of the believer"


Chris said...

I second some of Bayou Christian's remonstrations. However, I want to underscore the cheapness of sacramental theology in most megachurches. A local megachurch - locals sometimes call it "Six Flags over Jesus" (though it's not as bad as this place - has what amounts to a 3 minute snack for their weekly (weakly?) celebration of the Lord's Supper. A detachment from the worship team performs a song while elements are passed. Sometimes they might introduce the sacrament, but most of the time it's done on autopilot and there is no institution or any other part of the four-fold movement of the Supper (Jesus took = Offertory,
Gave thanks = Eucharistic Prayer,
Broke the bread = Fraction,
And gave = the Communion).

Also disturbing is their nearly weekly baptismal service. The lights go down as spotlights hone in on the baptismal tub (imagine the set of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire when things start to get serious). Then somebody - a friend, relative, "sponsor" - unceremoniously announces the name then dunks them. Note - this is not the minister, but just a fellow congregant. It doesn't matter if you've been baptized before. For them, baptism is an act of affiliation with a particular local church and thus is to be repeated anytime you move membership or get a repentant feeling. It's all about what you are saying, rather than God's claim on you.

Dad said...

When we attended one of the Mega Churches it was to hide and blend in after fighting the presby "wars" for far to many years. A place to not do anything and enjoy the show because that is all it was a show just like hollywood. So, refreshed we rejoined the fight.

Bayou Christian said...


Good point and I can't argue a bit. Sometimes I forget how much these things mean - it would be like talking about how much I enjoy having a right arm. I just don't think about my right arm that much. The sacraments are in many ways the same thing but different ;)

Anonymous said...

Could the PCUSA handle Ted Haggard better?

He'd just have had to offer a retroactive scruple! He'd still be ministering as a "More Light" Presbyterian!

Todd Bensel said...

The title of your series leaves me with the desire to pen one myself - The Dangers of Mainline-ism! ;)

liberty4u said...

Another take on why effective ministries seem to fall.

God is in control. If so, He allows leaders and those in the public eye to fall into temptation.

Could it be that He allows this to bring more glory to himself? Those in high profile positions may end up getting worshipped rather than God. It may be for His glory alone that these leaders fall into temptation. It is a reminder that Jesus alone was perfect and without sin and how much we need redemption.

For more examples, look at the high profile movies:
* Nativity Story - Actress that played Mary is pregnant and unwed
* End of the Spear - One of the main characters was played by a non-Christian gay activist
* The Passion - Mel Gibson has to apologize for a drunk tirade

Anonymous said...

"When we attended one of the Mega Churches it was to hide and blend in after fighting the presby "wars" for far to many years."

Yeah, been there. There're people who actually stay there, too.

Still, one of the megachurches in my area offers things in its Sunday School program I could dream of. If it had Christian fellowship atop that ... my only problem would actually be the sacraments.