The SBC Needs Some J. Lee Gradys!

by Dave Miller on April 18, 2013 · 36 comments

J. Lee Grady is a former editor of Charisma magazine and the director of The Mordecai Project, who still writes for the magazine. Charisma is a leading charismatic journal, one with which most of us would have a lot of disagreement. I read a recent Charisma article by him, “No More Pentecostal Popemobiles.” It was a great article on its own merits, but it also was an example of what we need to see more of in the SBC. In the article, he suggests that charismatics draw a line in the sand and not put up with any more shenanigans from big name charismatic preachers.

NO MORE BODYGUARDS. We have evangelists who send a small squadron of muscular thugs to “scout” the lobby of a hotel before they arrive. This is extremely odd when you realize that most of the people in said lobby have never even heard of the guy! Sorry, but I really don’t trust a man of God who claims he needs a bodyguard in church. Get down on the people’s level if you want to minister to them.

NO MORE $10,000 PER NIGHT HOTEL ROOMS. We have traveling preachers who book 10,000-square-ft. hotel rooms with private pools so they can rest on their way home from international trips. Excuse me? We could build an orphanage with the money this man wasted. (P.S. I know a good Hampton Inn where you can get a nice bed for $89 a night—and it includes a hot breakfast.)

NO MORE PRIVATE JETS. We have egomaniac ministers who insist on flying in private jets to speaking engagements, claiming that preachers who fly commercial aircraft have no faith. These same ministers will hand you a fuel bill for $25,000. That is sick, especially when you consider that Jesus rode a donkey when He was presented as the Messiah to Jerusalem. (Note to Rev. Bighead: You are not the president, and you do not need Air Force One.)

NO MORE CHARLATANS. We have slimy TV preachers who beg for dollars on Christian television stations, pocket a large amount of the take and then use some of the funds to install marble floors in their four-car garages. That’s worse than when medieval priests sold papal indulgences to get relatives out of purgatory.

NO MORE LIMOUSINES. I don’t believe ministers have to drive clunker cars. Higher-priced cars usually mean lower repair bills. But we have a problem when a visiting preacher refuses to be picked up at the airport in a church van, or when the pastor of a 100-member church insists he must ride in a neon yellow Ferrari. Get over yourself. Maybe you should learn from Pope Francis—and take the bus until your ego shrinks to a normal size.

Wow! Rev. Bighead? Slimy TV preachers? Pointing out to preachers who fly private jets that Jesus rode a donkey? That is my kind of journalist.

But it is important to remember that this is not some John MacArthur disciple who is lobbing bombs over the wall at charismatics. He is one of them. He’s an insider. He goes on in the article to describe something he saw in a dream which he thought to be some kind of prophetic word about the Catholic church. Even those of us Baptists who realize that the Bible does not support the cessationism that has been a part of the Baptist heritage are uncomfortable with basing our preaching or writing on dreams and visions. He is a full-fledged, out and proud charismatic!

That is why his words are effective. If I said the same things as a Baptist, my words would be an attack. Books like “Charismatic Chaos” have reinforced the prejudices of non-charismatics but do little to convince those in the movement. But a man who is a respected charismatic can hold charismatics accountable. He can call them to account for the excesses of their movement.

We need Baptists like that. We are divided into camps – would that it were not so, but it is silly to pretend that we are not. I won’t even name the camps, because you know what I’m talking about, but I don’t want to give those extreme elements on either side the opportunity to hijack the post. We need Baptists like J Lee Grady who will call their own side to account for aggressive rhetoric. No, I’ve changed my mind. I’m going to be direct. Calvinists need to hold Calvinists accountable when they use extreme, divisive rhetoric, when they act like every post by a non-Calvinist is some kind of scurrilous personal attack, or when they demonstrate arrogance and condescension. Traditionalists need to hold traditionalists accountable when they make wild and unfair accusations, when they label Calvinists as “angry and aggressive”  or when they seek to marginalize and exclude those who disagree with them soteriologically.

On the playground, second graders justify their actions with, “he started it” and “well, what he did was worse!” When did such childish tactics become acceptable behavior among adults and Christians. Mature Christians ought to be just as offended by offensive statements made in support of their positions as they are by offensive statements made against their positions. Mature Christians ought never justify their words with “they started it” (if I had a nickel for every such comment at SBC Voices, I’d have an awful lot of nickels!). Mature Christians do not justify their sinful words by trying to balance them against the sinful words of others – we know that God does not grade on a curve!

A lot of the problems in the SBC will only be addressed when some J. Lee Grady types rise up on all sides of our controversies and say, “NO MORE!”

1 Dave Miller April 18, 2013 at 6:01 pm

The point of this is the necessity of each side of our various splinter groups holding one another accountable.

This is not an excuse for the extremes on both sides to come out of hiding and start lobbing bombs at one another. The last thing in the world that I want is another Calvinism food-fight.

Thank you in advance.

2 volfan007 April 18, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Dave,

Dont you have body guards?

Seriously, seeing Pastors in $1,000 suits in the bathroom at the SBC…and seeing a Pastor and his family ride off in a limo to catch a private plane, I believe it was….and hearing about Pastors living in $400,000 houses, and higher; much higher….it all does make you scratch your head.

David

3 Dave Miller April 18, 2013 at 6:17 pm

A 400k house is a different thing in different places, of course. In Boston, where my son lives, you can hardly get a grass hut for under 500k!

When I wear my lime green suit, I need no bodyguards.

I wouldn’t know a 1000 buck suit from a 89.99 special. But I pretty much buy all my clothes on eBay!

I just wish I got to where I could afford to fly first class. Jenni and I got bumped up once on a plane. THAT is the way to fly!

4 Mike Leake April 18, 2013 at 6:25 pm

Flying? We usually have to walk to the Annual Meeting. I’m almost to Orlando…you guys are still having it there this year…right?!?!?

5 Christiane April 18, 2013 at 6:48 pm

my son uses Business Class (or first) because of his height . . . it’s more expensive but if you fly from Hawaii to the east coast mainland, and you are REALLY tall,
you need not to cramped up . . . can lead to all kind of problems

I pay for it, ’cause he’s military, and I tell him anytime he can come home, I’ll cover it

worth it to me? oh yeah

6 Dave Miller April 18, 2013 at 7:08 pm

I’m 6’4″, so cramming in coach feels like getting packed in a suitcase.

7 Christiane April 18, 2013 at 7:15 pm

good grief!
how can you stand it?
. . . there are some medical concerns if you are on a long flight
to do with the circulation system in your legs, if you are a ‘large person’ (tall) and you do have to get up and walk around some (to the facilities) several times if you want to avoid circulation problems . . . I’m talking possible clots forming

my son is just Tall, very tall,
but I don’t want to take any chances with his health if I can afford to secure for him a better situation . . . he’s worth it . . . honorable and very hard working young man who is a long, long way from home

8 Les Puryear April 18, 2013 at 10:57 pm

I’m 5′ 5″ and I can hardly fit in a seat in coach. I don’t how you do it.

9 Dave Miller April 19, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Les, flying is a painful experience.

10 Bruce H. April 19, 2013 at 3:09 pm

What about the people on either side of you? lol :-)

11 Keith Price April 19, 2013 at 3:27 pm

I’m no 6’4″, but I fly about 160 times a year. It gets old quick and oh, the stories…

By the way Dave, the next time you fly United, my offer still stands…

12 Dave Miller April 19, 2013 at 3:32 pm

I always beg for an aisle seat.

13 Dave Miller April 19, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Keith, The Sioux City airport (yes, our designation is SUX) only flies American. If we go to Omaha to fly, it is often Delta or American. But if I ever fly United, I will most definitely let you know!

14 Keith Price April 19, 2013 at 3:46 pm

SUX, I’m stilling laughing over that…

15 Dave Miller April 19, 2013 at 3:48 pm

If I’m lying, I’m dying.

We say that it is both a designation and a description!

Once, my son had a flight scheduled and the pilot didn’t show up. We are not exactly O’Hare or Laguardia.

They have a promotion trying to get us to fly from here instead of driving to Omaha. “Fly SUX.” Don’t know who the marketing genius was who came up with that. But it is an accurate descriptor of the joy of flying out of this airport.

16 Keith Price April 19, 2013 at 3:56 pm

I travel to a lot of small airports. When you travel a lot, you get stuck in places. It is no fun, but I never have been stuck in SUX.

17 Dave Miller April 19, 2013 at 4:01 pm

The only thing that ever happened at our airport was a major plane crash 20 years or so ago.

18 volfan007 April 18, 2013 at 8:17 pm

Flying first class is definitely the way to fly…..I also got to fly first class, one time. It was great….you’re right.

Dave, when you see a $1,000 dollar suit, or higher, you’ll know it.

Dave, the house thing…yea, I should’ve said that they’re living in houses that lawyers and doctors can afford…that way, the different regions prices would not come into play. In other words, they’re living in palaces.

And, Pastors who can afford to call limo’s to haul them around at the SBC, and other places….and can hire private jets to fly them wherever they go…unless, of course, the pilot is doing this for them as a ministry….

It all does make me shake my head. Something else that makes me shake my head is watching some Pastors at SBC, State Conventions, etc, who strut around like a Rooster in a chicken pen….you know, there are some people, who can strut even when they’re sitting down.

David

19 Howell Scott April 18, 2013 at 10:54 pm

David,

Now you’ve done it. You just had to mention lawyers, didn’t you? :-) As for the $1,000 dollar suits, I wouldn’t have spent that much on a suit when I practiced law, much less spend that kind of money now as a Pastor. As to your Rooster comment, not too many out here in NM, but the Roosters are always on full display at the SBC Annual Meeting. God bless,

Howell

20 volfan007 April 19, 2013 at 7:48 am

Howell,

Lawyers are supposed to be rich. :)

David

21 Jeremy Parks April 18, 2013 at 10:44 pm

I nearly gagged at the reference to 10,000 square foot hotel rooms. My family of five lives comfortably in an apartment that measures at roughly 1,500 feet. I wouldn’t know what to do with 10,000 feet.

22 Bruce H. April 19, 2013 at 8:39 am

It is unfortunate, but man is the creators of these spiritual monsters. It is all about supply and demand. People who claim to be Christians will throw money at a “seed faith” sermon without knowing what the money is going toward. Mike Murdock is one of the top 10 swindlers out there. Almost every sermon ends with a $1,000 seed faith request. They speak more about giving and nothing about saving. It is all about the Christian Lottery. There is some good in tele-evangelism but there is more bad. The only person I listen to occasionally is John MacArthur on KHCB in Houston and Youtube. KHCB is a listener supported radio station that does not charge for air time. They are selective on who they offer free air time. We do need to stand up for what is right in what we are doing for the kingdom. Amen.

23 Steve Tanner April 19, 2013 at 9:06 am

One of the problems with speaking the truth about such is in the SBC we tend to lob bombs back at each other rather then consider if there is biblical truth in what is lobbed. If there is biblical truth then thank the Lord for the truth and love the brother who lobbed the bomb.

24 Tommy Rucker April 19, 2013 at 12:05 pm

What about holding Conventions in expensive, downtown venues, where accessible hotels cost twice or three times as much as others? Why can’t a convention officer or speaker stay at the Motel 6, like those of us who live and work in the trenches? If we took stewardship THAT seriously, then we could cut the cost of such meetings, freeing up funds for the actual spread of the gospel. And don’t get me started on the opulent appointments in the institutions . . .

25 Dave Miller April 19, 2013 at 1:13 pm

There is truth in that, Tommy.

26 Jess Alford April 19, 2013 at 12:35 pm

I think there are a lot of the religious crowd that will split Hell wide open.
I once owned a 100$ suit, I felt too much like a big shot and gave it away,

27 Jess Alford April 19, 2013 at 12:55 pm

About 35 years ago a precher came to our church to hold a revival, he was dressed really nice. His shoes were shiny and his suit looked new.
I told him he was about the fanciest preacher I had ever seen. He called me off to the side, and said looks can be decieving. He showed me the bottoms of his shoes. They had holes in them about two inches long and three inches wide, I could see his sock in one of the holes. We had a great revival.

28 William Thornton April 19, 2013 at 2:16 pm

check’s in the mail

29 Steve April 19, 2013 at 2:31 pm

It’s relatively easy to think of examples of excess…usually someone who has nicer things than me! However, there is a danger of secret envy too. How do we confront this problem? One way is to talk about it openly at conventions and conferences; let’s be blunt: some of our leaders and churches (and some of us) set a bad example by spending lots of money on themselves. The other thing is to point out good examples of leaders and churches which have acted in humility, generosity and who live modestly. Only the Lord can judge with all the facts; but we can lift up those who inspire us all to be better stewards of the opportunities and resources God has provided.

30 Dave Miller April 18, 2013 at 7:47 pm

When I flew home from Taiwan last summer, my left leg swelled to 2x normal size. Took a couple days to go back to normal.

31 volfan007 April 18, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Dave,

I have had that happen to me a couple of times, as well. I think the Doc called it Flibitus, or however you spell it….

It hurt. Bad.

David

32 William Thornton April 18, 2013 at 8:30 pm

You can die from that. Go first class for the Lord…

33 Dave Miller April 19, 2013 at 1:15 pm

“Go first class for the Lord.”

My new life motto. Thank you, William.

34 William Thornton April 19, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Happy to help. You do recognize the phrase as an old prosperity gospel line…?

35 Dave Miller April 19, 2013 at 2:03 pm

William, if you need some financial help in your retirement years, I would encourage you to send in your seed-faith gift to the Dave Miller Change-My-World fund.

36 Rob Ayers April 22, 2013 at 9:58 am

You are funny big man.

Rob

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: