Needing Unanimous Support

Imagine for a moment that you’re a fundamentalist pastor who has recently decided to make a big change in his ministry. Perhaps you’ve decided to add a bus ministry and a baptistry for children that’s shaped like a fire engine. Perhaps the move is even more drastic such as leaving your church to become a full-time evangelist or even something as far out as moving to the Midwest and starting your own end-times cult.

Whatever the case may be, you’re sure to insist that the only reason you’ve decided to make this move is that God Himself has told you that it should be done. Given that kind of authority for his choices, one wouldn’t think that a fundy pastor would care all that much whether or not the rank and file of people around him agreed with his decision or not. If God be for him, who can be against him? Why care what the unwashed masses think?

Yet, experience proves that not only must a fundamentalist pastor have God on his side but he will brook no disagreement from any mere mortal about his decisions as well. Even if he’s got one foot out the door of his ministry, voicing any apparent concern about the Man o’ Gawd’s decision to suddenly leave may well end you up called on the carpet by the new pastor to repent of your rebellion toward the old one. You can also expect haranguing phone calls from other members, anonymous notes of condemnation sent to your job or home, and possible removal from whatever ministries you happen to work in.

At any crossroads of decision the pastor knows that with God on his side, he’s in the majority — but he needs everyone else to agree with him anyway.

48 thoughts on “Needing Unanimous Support”

  1. Yup. And after he’s already gone and into his new “God-called” ministry (read: he got caught with his pants down), he’ll still govern his old church from afar. He’ll even show up at a deacons’ meeting unannounced and scream and holler about loyalty. After all, it is his church; he started it.

  2. God, naturally creates instant unanimity. Knowing that God is on my side helps in so-called hopeless causes. Like Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell who have both claimed that God wanted them to run for office.

      1. I wasn’t intending to bring about a political point per se. My point was that the attitude that is displayed by fundy pastors occurs outside of the church as well. It’s a sort of “fundy fatalism” that harkens back to the book of Esther. It happens to be that the most prominent examples of this are in the political arena at this time.

        1. Wouldn’t that be a pointer as to how utterly worldy and inexcusable the demand for unanimity is, then? Prostitution occurs everywhere, too. It’s still inexcusable within the boundaries of the church.

          In fact, I think that’s the point: ONLY those who are utterly worldly are brash enough to insist that God is on their side with no doubts, no misgivings, no room allowed for prolonged instrospection, no toleration for dissent or even questions. Those characteristics **are** the demonstration that such a demand for unanimity is utterly unChristian.

          We don’t know that God created unanimity. After all, how can we be unanimous with Him when we cannot even comprehend Him? Even Christ lamented over God’s harsh treatment of Him. Was that unanimity? God loves us, and He loves us with our differences. Indeed, God Himself, with all His knowledge and grace cannot be as fond of chocolate as I am. He doesn’t limit Himself in order to be unanimous with me in my ardent love for chocolate. He just gives me chocolate and lets me praise Him. Consider the otehr things that so rule us. God doesn’t sleep, and He doesn’t procreate.

          If anything, God has designed us with some limitations and specialized characteristics to make sure we come to Him with different points of view about things. After all, every time we intercede or plead our cause with Him, we show we are not in unanimity with Him. Yet He hears His people.

  3. Paranoid personality disorder is a psychiatric condition in which a person is very distrustful and suspicious of others. Other common symptoms include:

    * Concern that other people have hidden motives
    * Expectation that they will be exploited by others
    * Inability to work together with others

  4. A somewhat related experience….years ago I was in an IFB where the preacher’s son was filling in on a Sunday or Wednesday night. After he told the congregation how holy and what a true man-of-god his father was (comparing him to Moses!). He then something along the lines of….”when was the last time you went to preacher for guidance on a major decision in your life? Afterall, being a true man-of-god he can pray and will tell you what God told him was the right decision. 😯
    This would have been a good story for the Nepotism post a while back. Anyway……
    Moral of the story…preacher + God = majority. Allopposedmotionpasses.

  5. Let the record show I didn’t drag the discussion down the political route. After having been in mainline denoms for 30 years, I have to ask what’s so bad about dissent? It makes you justify your decision. It makes you “sell” people on your plan. You can’t just claim authority and get your way. Mmm.

    1. But Dan, that is SOP in fundy circles.
      A properly prepared congregation of “sheeple under the steeple” has a M-O-g who is the voice of “gid” himself. There is no higher calling than that of the self-anointed, self-apointed, fundy shepherd. They hold proxy omnipotence, and if anyone questions that, they then claim 2nd class martyrdom as a persecuted M-O-g who is standing in the gap.

      No-o-o-o, a fundie hired gun in the pulpit is the only law west of Emmaus. He is there to keep your soul from danger, from worldliness, from gross sin, from your own wickedness, from Rock Music disguised as CCM, from mixed swimming, from any guitless pleasures (a fundy oxymoron, a worldly myth, even a lie straight out of the pits of hell… there is no such thing as a guiltless pleasure in fundyland) , and from Calvinism.

      (because everybody know you can’t hold to a high view of God’s sovereignty and ABC repeat after me hit-n-run evangelism. Without the easy believism there is no way to get increase your numbers and grow your church the Rice, Hyles, or SOTL way.)Those are freebees. I won’t charge extra for those paranthetical thoughts. 🙂

      So the Sultans of the Fundamentalist Sacred Desk can just claim authority and get their way. …and more often than not… they DO.

      1. I’m quite sorry to hear that there are some fundies that have abandoned the easy-believism model (which is good actually) and being influenced by Lordship types (e.g. Conway, Ray Comfort) and they’re still every bit as hardline/legalistic as their easy-believist SotL and Hyles counterparts.

  6. Vote by secret ballot

    parliamentary law

    “Motions Relating to Methods of Voting: Call for a vote to be taken by a method specified by the motion (perhaps a counted rising or ballot vote). Are in order until the Speaker has stated the question on a new motion. Are not debatable. Form: “I move to conduct the vote by secret ballot.””

    1. Funny, the church I just left never did anything by secret ballot. It was always the ridiculous “All in favor, say AMEN.” “Opposed, same sign.” I never, not once in over 12 years of attending the most tedious business meetings, EVER saw anyone disagree when we took a vote like that.

      One time we did have a woman in our church stand up and ask a question. 😯 You could feel the tension in the room, and the disgust that she didn’t wait until she at home and could ask her husband.

      1. Only once did I vote “nay” in a business meeting. I was toward the back of the church and I’m sure the local chiropractor had a huge appointment list the next day due to all the strained necks. I’ve never seen heads turn so fast.

      2. At the first business meeting I attended after we moved to our current church we were voting on a somewhat controversial issue and a wise older woman made the motion to vote by secret ballot. It was quite the new experience! The vote passed by a fair margin, but there were a number of people who actually felt free to disagree because no one would know who they were.

        1. My church votes by ballot, although we learned to make our ballots small so people don’t have room to editorialize. 😀

  7. Yikes, this is what The Faith has come down to: Money, power and sex..if one does not have enough power for the other two, it seems that they try schmooz enough to get in on the action. The only Fundie congregation I was ever involved with had an older Pastor who was a sincere godly man but the congregation had a pedophile, a KJVO Posse…and since the Church was just off the airbase, they attracted the various and assorted nutcases that couldn’t make it in regular society. Is it possible to be a Bible Believing Baptist w/o being a headcase? ❓

  8. Bahaha love the picture caption.

    At my ex-church we were not even allowed the privilege of voting…but I suppose that doesn’t really matter since we couldn’t have dissented anyway.

    1. I supposedly had the privilege of voting in my last church – even as a single female! – but I didn’t dare disagree with anyone ever, so for the last two years or so before I left, I just quit voting. I would stand with everyone else, but I did not “all in favor say Amen” with anyone.

  9. Unanimity is essential also for church business meeting, because, you know, “God is not the author of confusion” and we have to “let all things be done decently and in order.” If a couple people raise their hands against it, there is confusion and this action is not from God, yet…at least until those backsliders conform to the desires of the rest of the church and stop acting like they are so wise and know what’s best for the church.

    1. But Moses was getting his messages directly from God. These preachers basically say that they are cessationist, but then expect everyone to believe that they have just received direct revelation.

      (according to them, this would then supercede previous revelation, thereby potentially invalidating portions of scripture that it might disagree with)

  10. Great essay. I will point out, with some sadness, that some of the reaction against Fundamentalism is also quite intolerant. That demand for perfect unanimity clings long and hard, even after we think we’ve jettisoned the baggage of Fundamentalism. After seeing well meaning Christians called–of all things–spies, I posted a series on the danger of Groupthink.(http://jeriwho.net/lillypad2/?p=2848) The reality is, we do need dissent. We desperately need dissent. Our union as Christians is not built on total agreement, but rather, on the Love of God. That’s what makes us unified as brothers and sisters in Christ.

  11. No matter the cost, no matter the over-the-top luxury; no matter the lack of real need – it was our job, yea calling, to get behind the vision of our pastor.

    Anyone who dared question this was a rebel of the worst sort.

    👿

    Yeah, that would be me… 😈

  12. We had a secret ballot when our preacher’s son was voted in as co-pastor. I really like him, he has a sense of humor and actually preaches from passages as opposed to a single verse out of context. Shocking, I know.

    Our church has several hundred and are all very supportive. The vote was 97%. Just as an estimate, 15 adults MAX voted nay. I heard several people wanted to know who those 3% were who dared to differ. I’m glad they didn’t know.

    A person can have a different opinion without being a church splitter.

    1. There was a somewhat controversial decision voted on in my church about a year ago, and those of us counting the votes expressed that we were actually glad to see that some people voted against the measure – it meant that they felt comfortable enough to vote what they believed and didn’t feel bullied by the majority.

  13. Our Anglican church recently elected its first vestry. (Roughly equivalent to a deacon board in a Baptist church) We didn’t pretend to be democratic about it. The rector and the two wardens produced a list of candidates, one candidate for each position, and the people voted “yes ” or “no” on the entire slate. We still used a secret ballot. Most proposals in the Anglican church contain the phrase “God willing and the people consenting.” The rector (or pastor, we use that term, too) has some authority, and is himself under the authority of the bishop. But if the people have serious reservations about anything he proposes, he’ll reconsider, and likely come up with a different plan.

    (The vestry was elected by overwhelming majority, but not unanimously.)

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