“Every compulsion is put upon writers to become safe, polite, obedient, and sterile.”
-Sinclair Lewis, Letter Declining the Pulitzer Prize, 1926
“Fanaticism can often be a normalized phenomenon, and the unwritten recipe suggests that it starts and ends with absolute certainty. If you are always certain about everything, you might just live in an echo chamber, or there might be a lack of ideological diversity among your sources and friends. Only, there is no size limit to this echo chamber as long as there is consensus: and the bigger the chamber the more solidified the fanaticism, and the more solidified the fanaticism the more the outlier will be seen the liar and the fanatic.”
― Criss Jami, Healology
On November 29, 2021 Sovereign Grace Churches published Mark Prater’s weekly video update. Prater, the Executive Director of Sovereign Grace Churches, is interviewed by Ben Kreps, a pastor in the “family of churches.” Kreps is a shining example of what Sovereign Grace leaders love to see in their underlings – a happy, effervescent man who never questions anything too deeply and is well trained in the art of flattery. Here is Kreps in a 2019 video promoting CJ Mahaney and the joy of partnering with the SGC family.
Below is the video by Prater and Kreps. I will understand if you are unable to get through the full 6 minutes, but the first two minutes should be enough to get the gist of it. Kreps praise of Mahaney’s sermon is effusive. Prater recommends Jerod Mellinger’s talk on the blessings of partnership to all the young men interested in becoming pastors in the SGC family of churches, stating that Mellinger casts a wonderful vision on the benefits of partnership. (I would guess that the endorsement of Mellinger’s Beatific Vision-casting stems at least partially from the fact that he and Prater attend the same church!) The two men then share ideas/suggestions on how to get everyone in their churches to watch these talks by the great servant leaders. Elders who were unable to attend the Pastor’s Conference are encouraged to listen to all the main sessions and the breakout sessions. (That’s a hefty investment of time, but perhaps they can meander over to the local Starbucks and get a cup or two of Joe while listening.)
Here are a few short clips from Jerod Mellinger’s Beatific Vision-casting. It’s about all I can reasonably expect anyone outside the Sovereign Grace echo chamber to sit through.
In this second clip Mellinger states, “There has emerged a deadly cynicism and distrust towards churches, towards denominations and towards every other institution.”
I would challenge the veracity of the last clause of the sentence above, but maybe it’s a case of pastoral license commonly exercised when preaching. Further, I would state the cynicism and distrust towards churches and denominations is not deadly, but healthy, and it has been earned. Need I remind you of the sexual abuse scandals rampant in the Roman Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Conference and yes, even the little family of churches known as Sovereign Grace Churches?
For those unfamiliar with the Sovereign Grace scandal please read the article titled “The Sex-Abuse Scandal That Devastated a Suburban Megachurch: Inside the rise and fall of Sovereign Grace Ministries.
I would also like to remind those outside the SGC echo chamber, as well as recent converts to the “family of churches” of some other drivel Jerod Mellinger spewed from his bully-pulpit back in 2011. He cautioned his church that reading Brent Detwiler’s blog on the internet (not specifically mentioned by name, but made quite obvious in the context of his message) was worse than looking at porn. (Which raises the question, does Mellinger make this comparison from personal experience?)
Finally, a short video I compiled with clips from Ben Kreps, Mark Prater, Brent Detwiler and Manchester Orchestra. I can’t claim it’s “vision-casting,” but I hope you like it!