Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Who Are the Most Influential Preachers in the U.S.?

In a recent survey performed by LifeWay Research, Rev. Billy Graham was named as the nation's most influential preacher. The final poll results, which included responses from over a thousand pastors from Protestant denominations, reveals some potential problems with the sample from which LifeWay collected its data.

First, let me list the top ten responses:

1. Billy Graham
2. Chuck Swindoll
3. Charles Stanley
4. Rick Warren
5. John MacArthur
6. Barbara Brown Taylor
7. David Jeremiah
8. Max Lucado
9. John Piper
10. Andy Stanley

What I find interesting about this list is not that I don't think these individuals are influential (clearly they are), but I wonder about the relative homogeneity of the list. All of the preachers listed here are white and all but one is a man. Seven of the ten are from either Georgia or California. That seems a bit odd to me.

In addition, pastors of several of the largest churches in the country are not listed here, most notably Joel Osteen, Bill Hybels and T.D. Jakes. In the case of Osteen, we can say what we will about his theology and teaching methods but hardly a person in America (Christian or not) has not heard of him as a result of his television program and best-selling books.

The director of the company that did the study said this:
"The lack of diversity -- the top picks were nearly all white male Southern pastors -- however, surprised Ed Stetzer, director of LifeWay Research, which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

"Considering our sample includes liberal and conservative, all races and ethnicities, mainline and evangelical, we were surprised that the list looked like mainstream Christian radio and publishing and was not more representative," Stetzer said.
Perhaps the reason the study came out the way it did was because those that were questioned are those that listen to mainstream Christian radio and are exposed to mainstream Christian publishing. Other groups like Pentecostals, African Americans and Hispanics, to name a few, are simply not represented in this sample. I wonder if a company that was unaffiliated with a particular denomination were to conduct a similar survey if they would get the same results. It would be interesting to find out.


Anonymous said...

John MacArthur & Pretrib Rapture

Who knows, maybe John (Reformedispy) MacArthur is right and the greatest Greek scholars (Google "Famous Rapture Watchers"), who uniformly said that Rev. 3:10 means PRESERVATION THROUGH, were wrong. But John has a conflict. On the one hand, since he knows that all Christian theology and organized churches before 1830 believed the church would be on earth during the tribulation, he would like to be seen as one who stands with the great Reformers. On the other hand, if John has a warehouse of unsold pretrib rapture material, and if he wants to have "security" for his retirement years and hopes that the big California quake won't louse up his plans, he has a decided conflict of interest. Maybe the Lord will have to help strip off the layers of his seared conscience which have grown for years in order to please his parents and his supporters - who knows? One thing is for sure: pretrib is truly a house of cards and is so fragile that if a person removes just one card from the TOP of the pile, the whole thing can collapse. Which is why pretrib teachers don't dare to even suggest they could be wrong on even one little subpoint! Don't you feel sorry for the straitjacket they are in? While you're mulling all this over, Google "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty" for a rare behind-the-scenes look at the same 180-year-old fantasy.


Anonymous said...

Wow. A lot of weak sound bites in that post. Saying that all churches before 1830 believed the church would endure the tribulation is a straight up lie.

The rapture, the "catching up" (harpazo) was revealed by Paul the apostle. It is a mystery he gave us through Holy Spirit inspiration, as recorded in 1 Corinthians 15:51-55 and 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18. The Rapture was not the concoction of John Darby, who picked up this teaching, and gave it improved order of presentation centuries after the doctrine was believed and taught by the early church fathers (first two centuries AD).

The rapture isn't built on one or two verses, but on the entire body of Scripture. When viewed in totality, and in context, the doctrine flows with prophetic signals we observe occurring in the world today--i.e., the world isn’t getting better and better as the "kingdom-now" people believe (that the Church will make the world better until Christ can return to set up His throne). The pre-trib rapture view puts forward that the world will grow worse and worse. The Church will be removed from earth, then God’s judgment will begin to fall on rebellious earth-dwellers.

Which do we see happening today? The world getting better and better –or- are things looking worse and worse for Planet Earth? Read the daily headlines, or watch the hourly news, and you will have your answer.