here’s a statement that cannot be “proven”, but i would wholeheartedly believe none-the-less:
“most people change their mind, not on the basis of evidence or logic, but on the basis of a charismatic leader.” – george mavrodes, professor emeritus of philosophy, university of michigan at ann arbor
so troubling. so true. we love to believe our leaders. especially in matters of faith and doctrine. we trust them. we believe that god has called and uniquely equipped certain pastor-leader-teachers to interpret the words of god for us.
we sit at their feet. the common man is simply ill-equipped to challenge their education and charisma and authoritative presence and teaching. the inference is “god has gifted and enlightened me as your shepherd-priest”. the inferred response is “who am i to question god?”
look…i’m not insulting the common man. i am the common man. this is how i often feel when i listen to some of today’s high-profile teachers. their conviction is inspiring. their preaching authority is powerful. their doctrine is unwavering.
and the overwhelming message that comes from teaching is that their interpretation of the truth is the right interpretation of the truth. and if you believe anything other than what they are teaching, your doctrine and experience is called into question.
and people flock to this kind of authority by the boat load!
here’s an inflammatory quote i read today by one of my favorite author-theologian-professor-bloggers, dr. scot mcknight, professor of religious studies at north park university in chicago:
Let me push that button: I’m convinced that many today are Calvinists, not because they have read the Bible and solved the problem passages, but because John Piper is. He has illustrated for me time and time again the power of a charismatic person.
ouch. but i’m going to go on record and say that agree with him. totally.
here’s a prayer you can pray with me and for me:
god…protect me from ever using my personality or my position to overpower or intimidate people into believing what i believe simply because i am their minister. help me to continue to cultivate and teach a love for your word and a passion for study. give me the courage to speak boldly and with conviction…mixed with absolute humility.
give me the confidence and integrity to admit that i don’t have all the answers and to encourage deep and difficult questions from those i walk through life with. guard me from the arrogance that comes from needing to right. let me never lose the attitude of a student and the whimsy of a child.
god, may my words challenge and inspire people to read your book with reckless abandon and to listen clearly for what you are saying. give us all wisdom to sort through the varieties of teachings and interpretations. help us refrain from building unnecessary walls and hostile feelings towards those with whom we disagree.
give us room in our hearts to share fellowship with the people at the biggest possible table…and the compassionate conviction to know where to draw boundaries.
in the circle where i live out my commitment to your kingdom, it is my deep desire that we would consistently reflect your grace in every interaction and diligence in our search for truth…that we would not follow the crowd, but would take personal ownership of our actions and attitudes and beliefs…and reflect humility in all things.