Why Megachurches are Illegitimate and Pastors like Robert Jeffress are Unethical

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mdhess
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For each of the past two days Thom has hosted a discussion with Robert Jeffress, pastor of the megachurch First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas.  Their discussion has been about whether Mormonism is a cult.  What I would like to interject into the conversation is my contention that those who operate megachurches, like Pastor Jeffress, have no legitimacy as clergy persons.  That is not to say that I am defending Romney from the assertion that Mormonism is a cult; I don't know whether to call it a cult or just plain silly but that isn't my concern here.  I contend that the operation of a "megachurch" is unethical for (at least) two reasons: first, those who operate them engage in gross displays of self-aggrandizement.  They use their position to attain lifestyles wherein they hobnob with the wealthy and with political elites and live lifestyles unbecoming of a student of Christ.  Second, but actually the more serious allegation, pastors who minister to "flocks" that consist of tens or hundreds of thousands of people can do no better than minister to their parishioners in vague generizations and so are shirking their respnsibility to appropriately "minister" to their flock.  This digression actually goes both ways as those who attend or who count themselves as parishioners of a megachurch because they watch TV programs are also shirking their responsibility as faithful Christians. Their participation is really nothing more than a claim, valid or not, that they are an anonymous face in an anonymous crowd.  While I am not myself a Christian I would refer megagchurch "parishioners" to Luke, Chapter 8: verses 5-18. This critique does not even touch on the subject of whether or not it is ethical for clergy persons to advise their parishioners on political matters, that is a whole 'nother discussion. 

Anybody care to argue with my claim that Robert Jeffress speaks from an illegitimate perch?

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Laborisgood
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No argument from me mdhess.

No argument from me mdhess.  You make a good case.  I am a Christian and I have visited 2 churches that would be along the lines of the "megachurch" variety and I'd say they creep me out a bit.  There does seem to be a more political bent to these types of churches.  I'm a strong proponent of freedom of religion, but I think a little scrutiny of the tax exempt status for political propaganda groups masquerading as churches might be in order.  This would actually benefit the churches who are actually not abusing their tax exempt privileges.

MEJ
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Isn't every religion a cult?

Isn't every religion a cult?

mdhess
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I quite agree.  I am not a

I quite agree.  I am not a Christian but as an outside observer it is apparent to me that megachurches and pastors like Jeffress, Rick Warren, Pat Robertson and the like do not show appropriate concern for an actual "parish" so as to be considered legitimate.  I live in a small town (around 2500 people) and there are at least a few dozen churches in this littlle town.  That creeps me out a little bit but at least I know that the clergy persons who operate these churches are interacting with and are members of a real community and not just a figurehead for some undefined population that could very well be so itinerant as to make the actual existence of the church just an illusion.  

mdhess
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MEJ wrote: Isn't every

MEJ wrote:

Isn't every religion a cult?

Perhaps, but that's not what I'm addressing.

Laborisgood
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mdhess wrote: I quite

mdhess wrote:

I quite agree.  I am not a Christian but as an outside observer it is apparent to me that megachurches and pastors like Jeffress, Rick Warren, Pat Robertson and the like do not show appropriate concern for an actual "parish" so as to be considered legitimate.  I live in a small town (around 2500 people) and there are at least a few dozen churches in this littlle town.  That creeps me out a little bit but at least I know that the clergy persons who operate these churches are interacting with and are members of a real community and not just a figurehead for some undefined population that could very well be so itinerant as to make the actual existence of the church just an illusion.  

Amen to that mdhess!  Thom had a good rant on Jefferson and Madison today related to their differences on religion, yet similarity as to keeping separation between church and state for different reasons.

Laborisgood
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Perhaps outlawing all cults

Perhaps outlawing all cults would be the best solution MEJ.  What about those pesky atheist groups?  Would they require special exemption for lack of the nutty factor attached to theism?  What about all the other goofy groups of people who get together in the name of silliness like civil war re-enactments and such?  Where do we draw the line?