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!”