Evangelical Arrogance, Evangelical Game

I coined a term for myself in the early 2000’s, maybe around 2003. It’s unoriginal, but it fit perfectly with what I was trying to come to grips with at that time. The term is evangelical arrogance.

It was a very difficult time in my adult life. I was separated from my wife, living in an apartment, unemployed, and badly disillusioned. All of that occurred, as usual, very suddenly. I went from prosperous married father, prominent church member, and a prison ministry volunteer, to an off track, un-anchored semi-juvenile man in his early 40’s. But I didn’t manage to totally eliminate God’s influence on me.

So, one evening I was standing around the apartment swimming pool area and heard some guys discussing church. There was an older fellow there; dressed in creased polyester pants and heavily starched shirt, wearing cowboy boots, and he and some others were discussing church. I was drawn into the conversation mainly because I had not been to church in a few months and wanted to be a part of that impromptu discussion. But something was off about the guy.

He was saying all the right things. I mean ALL and ONLY the right things. Like a machine. He was a natural alpha in the Duck Dynasty sense, and had some of that type of charisma. So, many of those attending the conversation were trying to seek his favor. They would attempt to repeat back the man’s own words, maybe adding a thought, and no matter what they would say he would spiritually trump them, make their words insufficient. He would knock them down. I walked away and something congealed in my mind.

The prison ministry I had been a part of right up until my separation was populated with men such as this. It was impossible to have a conversation with the majority of them because if you were weak minded, you would be made to feel even weaker. There was even one inmate in the prison who had adopted this persona. They called him “Shi-light”. He would always “greet us with a holy kiss” to the cheek. He had lots of small things like that that he would do to keep people on their heels. Rather than let these guys get to me (my reaction was anger or irritation, not a desire to please them) I avoided them and did my teaching in the prison class rooms. They sought sycophants. Sycophants are not good followers. They are not profitable.

It’s interesting that one of the most pressing problems in the church is neutered leadership, wimps behind the pulpit. It’s also interesting and conformational that somehow men like the ones I am describing seem to attract a following of spiritual masochists. They tend to state and restate absolutes and never allow the notion of working out one’s salvation with fear and trembling, or running a race, or any work in progress type of Bible references creep into their vernacular. I hate to use the expression, but they spew sanctimony, they discourage Christians (meaning Christians, not churchians) and they do no worldly good for God’s kingdom with this manner. I say it that way because I do not know what other works they do, those works may be many.

As an example I offer Bobbye who has been commenting at Dalrock. To be clear, I do not know him, and the behavior I am describing in others is identifiable only when seen and heard. Reading is not a sufficient indictment. But, he repeats and recycles true and absolute scriptural declaratives….full stop. He describes God’s Kingdom as ultimately will be manifest as an answer to the kingdom of the ruler of the air and the father or lies. It’s a kind of Christian utopianism, and a perfect-as-enemy-of-good dynamic.

I know how problematic that point is. It’s a fine line I tread because churchians use a form of the reasoning I am using to rationalize all the grace and mercy and encouragement first teaching they do. It’s also a fine line because I do not have things figured out either. But I am smart enough to know self-edification when I see it. It is indeed evangelical arrogance. It will attract weak men like any alpha leader will in any context. But it will not last. It’s on sand that is made of truth as contradictory as that sounds, especially with regards to the topical overlay of the manosphere. People do not need someone to ONLY remind them generally that sin is the problem with the world, or that we are “called to-(fill in the blank)” as a response to discussing human problems in the third person. It’s ok to talk about the world. It does not mean we are ill focused, necessarily.

The church may well be filled with weak willed wimps at the human helm. But men with a Duck Dynasty demeanor are no more going to wield lasting influence than those feminist pandering men are today. These grand characters could be replaced by a random word generator where the buttons call forth correct Christian proclamations. If I had only those two types to choose between, I’d go with the evangelical egoist. Don’t accuse me of not saying anything good.

The posing, even if unintentional, is only content-wise different than hard core game. It isn’t real. It is following a set of rules for some purpose that has to do with influencing others to follow you, not necessarily to theirs, yours, or mutual benefit. Today, I’ll coin another unoriginal term for myself. Evangelical Game.

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5 thoughts on “Evangelical Arrogance, Evangelical Game

  1. You are correct, you do not know me. Jesus was also accused of self-edification (John8) It means nothing. I, being more sinfull than any one I know, do not enumarate or talk about sin. Everyone knows that they are a sinner. Jesus died for our sins, sin is not the issue. Being submitted to God is the issue. Knowing God is the issue. Committing to agree with God on all issues. I dislike all religion, except the one God indorses in James. I fail miserably at that religion. I absolutely do not desire anyone to follow me. I do encourage all to follow Jesus.

  2. Bobbye that is why I stated that I do not know you. In reading that your wife is ill, I prayed for you. I am not writing what I wrote to make quarrels. To the degree I am capable, I am sharpening and presenting myself to be sharpened.

    I made no reference you with regard to speaking about sin. I did not suggest you sought followers. And I do not know why you chose to raise the “religion” point, but i would venture a guess because decrying religion is very much vogue, though being vogue is in no way the intention.

    I once decried religion. I once believed that lacking the corporate nature of church I could be fully submitted to God and he and I would be just fine. But i kept reading and realized that unity of the body is another worthy aim. It cannot be achieved but, like full submission to God, its still a goal of import and worth trying, hard. There simply must be a body of believers not just a one on one God to you or me relationship. Why? Because it is unmistakably prescribed in scripture in the corpus of Paul’s letters.

    We needn’t compromise truth to accommodate other believers. But we should not make God the exclusive domain of the individual.

  3. Empath, I definitely agree with you: Christ did not instruct his followers to have people baptize *themselves* in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, if they seem averse to a communal sort of thing.

  4. Empath:
    “But men with the Duck Dynasty demeanor are no more going to wield a lasting influence than those feminist pandering men today.”

    On the contrary, those types of men and the guys you met in the prison ministry attract females like magnets. They are even more dangerous than the male feminists who pose as ministers.

    As proof of this, just look at the track record of famous recent cult leaders: Warren Jeffs—80 wives. David Koresh, Aleister Crowley, Jim Jones, Reverend Moon, Charles Manson, Anton LaVey: you name them, they’ve had all the women they can handle. This is why, in the old days, the Church practiced veneration of Mary and the female saints—so that women had positive feminine archetypes and wouldn’t go barreling off after thugs as they seem inclined to do with no moral check to this kind of behavior.

  5. Eric, I meant that these men have no lasting influence on men in an inner circle sort of way, or in any significant numbers. They will have a small group of hangers on, and an ever changing group of hanger on wanna be types

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