Some of you know that for the last [oh my, has it been that long?] years I have done the buying for a chain of Christian bookstores that has now been reduced to a single location. Cutbacks in the industry necessitate very careful buying and frankly, I don’t need a lot of excuses to cut back on any given author’s quantity commitments, or even skip a title altogether.
So all the recent discussion that is taking up a lot of space on Christian news pages and in the Christian blogosphere certainly tempers my buying for these writers, and saves me some money in the process. Maybe I should thank them.
Anyway, if you’ve not been keeping up with some of the latest ones, here the current top five — Pat Robertson and Jack VanImpe are assumed — and if you can think of others I’ll add them. And we’ll give Joyce Meyer a pass on the private jet for today; maybe it is more efficient than booking commercial flights.
- allegations (proven) of widespread plagiarism over several years involving many titles and three different publishers
- allegation that he manipulated the system by which books appear on the New York Times bestseller list for the title Real Marriage
- suggestions that church funds were used to facilitate the NYT list placement
- question of ethics over distributing copies of a book on the grounds outside the Strange Fire conference (may or may not have been escorted off the grounds by security staff, depending on version of story)
- requires church leadership to sign non-disclosure agreements preventing any discussion of church policies or revelation of insider information
- various questions about church discipline and shunning and dis-fellowship of members who voice dissent
- various concerns about ultra-conservative views on the role of women, to the point where spouses of staff members may not work outside the home
- allegations of various types of financial improprieties and secrecy concerning compensation and benefits and/or concerns over lavish lifestyle, resulting in many staff and leadership departures and the creation of a watchdog blog containing a variety of other revelations concerning the authoritarian style of church government
- linked to at least one gambling venture with Jerry Jenkins (see below)
- concerns over Jenkins’ “hobby” as a “recreational gambler” in Las Vegas and timing/relationship of relaxed standards for Moody Bible Institute faculty and staff (but not students) for which Jenkins is board chair
- concern that the Strange Fire book and conference has now polarized the Pentecostal/Charismatic community and non-Pentecostals; that his rant goes too far and is dividing Evangelicals
- concern over $1.75M home he is building and statements that the home is paid for from book royalties
- allegations that he used the same New York Times Bestseller sales strategy as Mark Driscoll to plant his new title, Crash the Chatterbox on the list. (Driscoll and Furtick are friends.)
- possible implication of involvement of church funds in so doing
- concerns that strategic placement of volunteers throughout the Elevation Church auditoriums manipulate the response to baptism altar calls
- questions as to whether Furtick’s contemporary and creative preaching style may leave new Christians confused as to the fundamental application of popular scriptures and themes
It should also be noted that several of the megachurch pastors have a ‘council of reference’ that includes other megachurch pastors, and it is these, not the local church boards or directorates, that advise on salary issues. Many of these pastors are also compensated for appearing at each others’ conferences; the whole conference subject being an issue for another discussion entirely.