Rating Professors is Arbitrary

So warns Jacques Berlinerblau:

Professorial prestige, I contend, is an awfully arbitrary thing.

Among professors, where one works is a marker of status. Thus, the assistant professor employed by an Ivy League college accrues greater glory than her counterpart at a midsize regional university. The latter, in turn, is more esteemed than an assistant professor laboring at some far-flung small liberal-arts college. The same hierarchies prevail, I guess, among high-school seniors comparing their college-acceptance letters as they hotbox their parents’ Toyota Priuses.

The juveniles and, distressingly, the professors are just following the logic of popular college-ranking systems. They are assuming that the greater the renown of an institution as measured by U.S. News & World Report, the greater will be the quantity and quality of research produced by scholars in its employ. Is this assumption accurate?

If it were, it would follow that an assistant professor in anthropology at Princeton University (U.S. News 2016 rank No. 1) publishes more and better work than her exact counterpart at the University of Southern California (U.S. News 2016 rank No. 23). The USC savant, in turn, outperforms the identically ranked anthropologist at Clark University (U.S. News 2016 rank No. 75). The Clark ethnographer has a heftier CV than a comparable scholar employed at Oklahoma State University (U.S. News 2016 rank No. 149). The better the institution, the better the research its tenure-line professors produce. Right?

Well, practice has a habit of trolling theory. Let’s imagine an experiment. All four of our hypothetical tenure-track anthropologists are asked to submit an updated CV and all of their relevant publications. Upon their arrival, these materials are scrubbed of any identifying markers. The anonymous files are then forwarded to a panel of experienced academicians, no-nonsense types who understand how the game is played. Their task: Figure out which CV corresponds to which sage employed at colleges ranked 1, 23, 75, and 149.

Our arbiters, I’m convinced, would fail this blind test. They would fail even if we asked them not to look at mere quantity of publications but quality as well. That’s because the contestants would all look puzzlingly similar. The judges might assume that the assistant professor at Clark worked at Southern California. And, yes, it is not unthinkable that they would place the Oklahoma State ethnographer in New Jersey. The problem is not that the Princeton person is a slouch. The problem is that all four are publishing a lot and all are very impressive on paper. Ergo, it would be impossible for the judges to distinguish between scholarly Coke and Pepsi.

Does this apply to New York City pastors?

What about U.S. Senators?

What about platforms makes an author more of an authority than another author?

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The Presbyterian Fix

Scott Sauls (thanks to our southern correspondent) bemoans the pressures that pastors experience:

Studies show that pastors experience anxiety and depression at a rate that is disproportionately high compared to the rest of the population. Due to the unique pressures associated with spiritual warfare, unrealistic expectations from congregants and oneself, the freedom many feel to criticize and gossip about pastors with zero accountability (especially in the digital age), failure to take time off for rest and replenishment, marriage and family tensions due to the demands of ministry, financial strains and self-comparison, pastors are prime candidates for relational isolation, emotional turmoil, and moral collapse.

Studies also show that some pastors face unreasonable, even impossible, demands placed on them by their people. I am NOT one of those pastors, thanks to a church that both receives my gifts and embraces my limitations. All in all, the people of Christ Presbyterian Church treat me with extraordinary love and kindness. But, sadly, not all pastors are as lucky as I am.

Dr. Thom Rainer, a leading pastoral ministry guru, once conducted a survey asking church members what they expected from their pastors. Specifically, Dr. Rainer wanted to know the minimum amount of time church members believed their pastors should give each week to various areas of ministry, including prayer, sermon preparation, outreach and evangelism, counseling, administrative tasks, visiting the sick, community involvement, denominational engagement, church meetings, worship services, and so on. On average, the minimum amount of time church members expected their pastors to give to the ministry was 114 hours per week.

One solution to the problem is for congregations to adjust their expectations of pastors:

[I]t is time to once and for all remove your pastor from the pedestal where you and others may have been tempted to placed him. Under the right circumstances, we pastors can be some of the best friends and advocates. But we pastors make very, very bad heroes. Turning us into heroes not only hurts our churches, it also hurts us. When you put us on a pedestal and we fall, it hurts a lot more to fall from a pedestal than it does from the ground where everybody else is standing. Plus, only Jesus belongs on a pedestal. We pastors are shepherds…but we are also sheep just like everybody else. We have struggles and fears. We get depressed and anxious sometimes. We are at times unsure of ourselves, and we go through seasons wondering if we really belong in ministry.

I would have thought a Presbyterian pastor would have two solutions at the ready other than congregational lowered expectations. The first is a session that oversees a pastor and reminds him that the pulpit is not his show but a ministry shared by an assembly of officers. The second is a ministry based on word and sacrament so that what drives a church has less to do with the pastor’s charisma than with Word and Spirit. Pastors are only farmers — not public intellectuals. They only plant seeds. God waters, right?

Presbyterianism is the great antidote to celebrity pastors, if only people would stop looking at Presbyterianism as a social and cultural upgrade from being Baptist.

Why Not Quote the Bible?

Tim Challies signs off many of his posts with some warm and fuzzy thought from a Reformed or evangelical person of standing. Today’s came from Burk Parson’s:

We should more quickly doubt our love for our own children than doubt God’s love for us.

Aside from lacking, as Mencken might say, bite and zowie, what are readers supposed to do with these? Isn’t Bible memorization a good thing? Don’t Bible verses express such sentiments without sentimentalism?

Let’s try this instead:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Paul of Tarsus

You Can't Spell Presbyterian with "Me"

My personal advice to any American Protestant is never to interrupt a debate between two English dissenting Protestants about celebrity pastors, but when one of them, Paul Helm, calls the other, Carl Trueman, a Presbyterian perfectionist, afflicted with “Bannerman’s Disease,” and “the zeal of a convert,” I can’t resist.

There are books of Church Order to be read, the contents of which are mastered by the lawyer-types of the church, and I confess that I do not find these a very satisfying genre. But besides this, I know without looking, that presbyterianism, like any such human system, leaks all the way. It leaks through nods and winks, through unattributable comments, through what is said and what is not said. Human society cannot be otherwise. We all know of poor people who have to protest their innocence all the way up, in courts of law and in Christian denominations, and that have been ruined by the attendant exposure, quite apart from the weeks and months of strain while documents are prepared and friendly counsel advised and the day of judgement awaited…. I say, in such circumstances thank God for religious consumerism. At least the aggrieved party can walk away, find another place of worship, and still earn a living.

I fancy that Carl goes on about this because he suffers from a sort of presbyterian perfectionism. Call it Bannerman’s Disease. A cynic might say that he has the zeal of a convert. When he bids us all to think with him of the church of Christ as a remnant, as living its life as if in exile, I’m with him all the way. And as I said in the post, I agree with critiques of the Big Men such as his. But not with the cure-all of Presbyterianism. The Black Book does not solve the bugbear of accountability. And the point is, if there’s nothing better in the Church of Christ that presbyterianism, let’s at least acknowledge its flaws. Carl recognizes the imperfections of the human natures of those that thumb the Black Book, and this is welcome. And this was my point. A perfect system administered by those with imperfections is de facto imperfect. Spurgeon famously said (from memory) ‘For me “lead me not into temptation” means “keep me off the committee”’.

Helm is right in a general Protestant church-is-imperfect sort of way that Presbyterianism leaks. But the system of church government that Calvin developed has real assets that Helm too readily ignores. Imagine, for instance, a faculty meeting where provost, department head, senior professor, and lecturer are all equal and you have some sense of the dynamics of session or presbytery. Or imagine a meeting of politicians where queen, prime minister, and back benchers are all equal, with the same authority, same access to debate, the same number of votes — 1. Presbyterianism is the great leveler and is no respecter of celebrity, age, fame, or Facebook friends. And because the meetings of elders are regular and absences must be excused by the wider body, to be Presbyterian is to be involved in a regular pattern of attendance where you are just one more member with no more rank or privilege than the guy sitting next to you. You have 12 books. He doesn’t have a Masters degree. You have journalists from national publications seeking an interview. The guy next to you fixes leaking toilets. In Presbyterianism, if you both are ordained you are both equal.

For the sake of the temptations that had to accompany his fame, Spurgeon should have said, “committees, put me on more of them.”

And even in those odd circumstances where a single officer has broad power thanks to the consolidation of finances and administration — say in a denominational committee — in Presbyterianism that rule of one becomes a secretary of a committee. The head of the foreign missions committee, does he have powers of the purse and can he influence votes? Maybe. But he’s merely a “general secretary” in Presbyterian church government. That means he is doing the bidding of the committee on foreign missions, which is a sub-committee of the whole assembly.

You want to knock the pride out of celebrity pastors? Make them Presbyterian.

If Presbyterianism checks the sort of privilege to which bishops are prone, it also beats congregationalism. To be sure, the democratic nature of congregational polity could also restrain the kind of egotism that afflicts celebrity pastors. But more often than not, the politics of local congregations witness large clans or members with large wallets having more sway than other members or families. And pastors of independent churches often resemble bishops since they function in a capacity above the rest of the church and have no formal peers in ministry.

What Helm fails to see is that Presbyterianism, if all officers go to meetings and submit to their fellow presbyters (if they don’t, they’re not Presbyterian), by its very nature humbles the proud. And face it, famous preachers are prone to pride as much as any other celebrity. But among those churches where Presbyterian government is most evident and Roberts Rules most consulted, celebrity is hardest to discern in the deliberations of assemblies.

Presbyterianism is not a perfect solution to either the parachurch (Gospel Coalition) or helicopter church (Rome), but it has its moments.

How Others See U.S.

They sound a lot like U.S.

The Good:

America is a blessed nation. Visiting New York and seeing Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty is a great reminder of how much blessing has been brought to and through America. For many decades, with all its faults, the USA has been a bastion of liberty and freedom. Its hard not to love America.

The Bad:

it was an incredible experience to share with Tim Keller and Alistair Begg. God continues to bless the US with such pastors. Alistair is a gift of God, (from Scotland!) whose local church and wider ministry is a significant factor in the US Church. He has a wonderful ability to explain and proclaim the Word of God clearly. Tim is just the sharpest exegete of culture I know – the fact that he is also a superb exegete of the Bible and brings the two together is what makes his ministry so helpful to many of us beyond his own congregation. But it was not just the well known pastors. One of the things I loved about the conference was the fact that so many ‘blue collar’ pastors were there, battered and bruised, and hungry for the Word of God. I felt at home with them! I love Tim Keller and Alistair Begg, both of whom are great gifts to the Church and for me personally a great help to my ministry, but the Basics conference was not about them.

The Ugly:

We need to pray for this because all is not well in the US. Its political system is in trouble – prone to corruption, dumbing down and short termism. It is terrifying that someone with the reputation and inabilities of Hilary Clinton could actually become the most powerful person in the world – primarily because she has the backing of the corporate world which will grant her $2 billion of a war chest. . . .

All is not well in the church either. I don’t like the celebrity culture, the emphasis on money, the corporate business mentality or the view that America = Christianity. Yes much has been given to the Church in the US, but to whom much has been given, much is required. I think that a great deal of the Church in the US is self-obsessed, consumerist, dumbed down and shallow. How else can you explain a Church where Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer and Rob Bell are significant figures? But its not just the obvious false teachers. My fear is that the Church is being invaded by the culture, rather than the other way round.

So there are good celebrities (TKNY) and bad ones, exegetes of culture who don’t analyze celebrity culture. And there are good politicians — Jeb Bush? — and bad, Hilary. I was hoping for an outsider’s perspective.

Do Celebrity Pastors (like TKNY) Have Authority?

Or is fame the primary aspect of aspect of celebrity? And if a celebrity actually tries to use his fame or influence to restrain someone, does he lose his celebrity?

I generated these questions when reading a response to City Church‘s (San Francisco) decision not to discriminate on the basis of sexual identity and behavior:

It’s also untenable to say that God has not made His will plain in the Word. Look at the extreme candor and clarity of the scripture about intimacy. The bible is very blunt and clear about sex. Going on to ignore all of that is kind of like saying “Not only am I not liking this air stuff, I’ve had it with gravity too.” The irrational position of this letter is another part of the growing fallout.

Someone might respond and say I’m wrong to lump City Church into Romans 1, that it’s obvious your church still believes in God. Of course they do, and there are many earnest and sincere believers in your community. That’s abundantly clear. That isn’t what I’m claiming. What I’m saying is this – in this particular letter it simply isn’t the God of our ancient writings, our ancient witnesses, and our ancient creeds anymore. This isn’t the God of Romans. And my fear is now this. Where there is a new god, there must always be a new gospel.

I think Keller put it well: a god you create, where you pick and choose what you think is “flourishing,” is just a Stepford god. Like the robot women in the old sci fi B-movie The Stepford Wives, where husbands are quietly getting rid of their wives and replacing them with obedient, pretty, and servile android spouses. It’s just a god who does what pleases you, can never offend you, and in the end can never save you.

Imagine if Tim Keller wrote that letter. Imagine even if he called on the phone pastors who either worked with or were inspired by him. Imagine if he spent some of his considerable capital. Might the Gospel Coalition then actually do something more than inspire or impress?

And then Kathy Keller’s B-S detector goes off . . .

Giving Old Meaning to Celebrity Pastor

Can you imagine the mayor of Grand Rapids taking a delegation of city officials to Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, the home of the OPC’s headquarters, to solicit last year’s moderator of General Assembly to attend this year’s assembly in Grand Rapids? I can’t. You can’t. No one can. The reason is that a moderator of an OPC General Assembly is not someone who is going to generate tourism dollars for local business. At best, last year’s moderator will show up (if not a commissioner) and plunk down maybe $1,400 in expenses between room, meals, parking, airport taxes, and miscellaneous items.

The reason for this thought experiment is the news that Michael Nutter, the mayor of Philadelphia, received a bit of a cold shoulder from Pope Francis earlier this week. For a cash-strapped city, it is not enough to be hosting a world conference on families thanks to the Archbishop of Philadelphia’s responsibility. The conference scheduled for next should draw hundreds of thousands to the city. But Nutter wanted to persuade the pope to attend. Since Nutter is not a Roman Catholic (to my knowledge) and since Philadelphia’s origins are Quaker, the only logical explanation for Nutter’s arm-twisting is commercial. With the presence of the pope, maybe those flocking to Philadelphia will double?

Such attention to the papacy, however, has its downside:

The truth is that the more the world flatters the Catholic Church by fixating on the papacy—and the more the internal Catholic conversation is monopolized by speculation about the intentions of one man—the less likely it is that the church will succeed in moving beyond the confusions and conflicts that have preoccupied it since the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). The church desperately needs to reclaim its cultural and spiritual equilibrium; it must find a density and richness of worship and mission and a renewed public presence, which far transcend mere loyalty to the pope. Lacking such equilibrium and self-possession, the church cannot find its true voice. But to find this voice, Catholics will have to turn not to Rome but toward one another, which is where both the problems and the solutions lie.

The fixation on the papacy trivializes the faith of Catholics, the vast majority of whom throughout history have had little knowledge of, and no contact with, any pope. Traditionally, the papacy was the court of last resort in adjudicating disagreements among the faithful. But in the last century or so it has increasingly become the avenue of first resort, determined to meddle in every theological or ecclesiological dispute. If American nuns are flirting with novel styles of ministry, the Vatican intercedes. If translations of liturgical texts incorporate a bit of inclusive language, Rome takes out its red pencil. This meddling Vatican infantilizes the church’s bishops, who seem to change their tune (as well as their dress) in response to every new papal fashion. Bishops in turn demand deference from the clergy and laity. The consequences have been all too clear: As in any heavily top-down organization, local initiatives fail to gain a foothold, or fizzle out for lack of dynamic leadership, and apathy prevails in the pews. Institutional gridlock and paralysis have become the norm. Seminaries are empty, and clerical talent is thin on the ground.

At the same time, the advantage of the papacy is the one that goes with monarchy more generally. Imagine Mayor Nutter having to fly around to all of the largest dioceses in N. America, Africa, and Europe, to persuade archbishops to attend the conference and to pay for some of their parishioners to visit Philadelphia. It would break the Mayor’s travel budget. So with one person in power comes efficiency and decisiveness (no consensus-building among committee members).

And for that reason, Roman Catholicism will have trouble ever finding the road to the spirituality of the church even when the pope’s real power is merely spiritual.

Does the Vatican Have a Bureau of Spin Control?

John Allen thinks Rome might need one.

First, there’s a growing tendency in the Catholic blogosphere to grouse that Francis is becoming more myth than man, that a cluster of urban legends are growing up that threaten to turn the pope into what one Italian blogger recently called “a cartoon strip for kids.” The danger, as some of these commentators see it, is that important aspects of the pope’s character and message, such as his repeated warnings about the devil and the “spirits of this world,” are being obscured.

Of course, there’s always a risk of selective emphasis and myth-making when the media decides to turn someone into a celebrity, but I would put the situation this way: Isn’t it better that people are paying attention than not?

Surely deciding what to do with a massive global megaphone is a better problem than wondering how to get that megaphone in the first place.

Second, we’re probably in for a long run of pope storylines that are going to burst on the world like a spring thunderstorm, and some of them, like his alleged nocturnal outings, are likely to be bunk, rooted in misunderstandings or in breathless leaps to premature conclusions. The old rule of caveat emptor, therefore, will be more critical than ever.

Actually, this dynamic may offer a new lease on life to Catholic journalists everywhere, some of whom are feeling a bit disoriented at the way the general-interest media has sort of ripped the pope story away from them. Insiders no longer may have a monopoly on the beat, but they may be able to rebrand as the go-to destination for rumor control.

Third, there’s a sense in which the media ferment amounts to a virtual application of Francis’ memorable line from Evangelii Gaudium: “I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.”

By injecting himself so thoroughly into the 21st-century media culture, Francis runs the risk of seeing his image distorted, obscured and occasionally caricatured. From his point of view, however, that’s preferable to staying out of the fray — because the fray, after all, is where real people live.

I can see many a celebrity Protestant pastor thinking the very thing. Access is better than not access. But fame turns to fad. The grass withers. Shepherds are not celebrities.

Tribalists All

While six middle-aged men continue to receive their comeuppance for challenging the soundness of rap and hip-hop, the imbroglio over whether Mark Driscoll plagiarized Peter Jones continues. (I don’t know why people are not debating whether Driscoll should even be writing books.) Miles Mullin writes a gloomy assessment of evangelicalism thanks to the structural problems that the Driscoll affair reveals:

Because of the personality-driven leadership inherent in contemporary evangelicalism, the tribalism it nurtures, and the reality that most of American evangelicalism subsists in some variation of the free church tradition, the final outcome of this story is clear. There is no authority that can adjudicate this matter other than the authority upon which both Driscoll and Mefferd have built their ministries: evangelical popular opinion. . . . Thus, regardless of whether or not Mark Driscoll truly plagiarized in A Call to Resurgence(and other books) or whether Janet Mefferd lied about Driscoll hanging up, their tribes will defend them to the end.

This is the troubling reality of the personality-based leadership that encompasses much of American evangelicalism. Often, charisma and dynamic communication skills trump character and integrity as popular appeal wins the day. And for those of us who wish it were otherwise, there is no court of appeal with the authority to hear our case.

I am not sure about the distinction between charisma and dynamic communication on the one side and character and integrity on the other. In the world of mass media no one has the kind of personal knowledge that allows us to tell whether a figure has any more character and integrity than he does charisma and rhetorical skills. Someone who actually holds an office of authority could function as an umpire in such a dispute. And said office-holder would have authority no matter what his gifts or integrity (unless of course he broke the rules that pertained to his office). In other words, an ecclesiastical officer could decide this matter (as well as an officer of the court) if Driscoll were part of a church overseen by officers who assented to church authority.

Now I can see where some might think this takes me, right in the direction of Jason and the Callers’ boy-have-we-got-a-solution-for-you appeal to papal supremacy. And that is exactly where I’d like to go since it seems to (all about) me that without temporal authority the pope’s spiritual office has descended to the levels of charisma, rhetorical skills, integrity, and character. Before Vatican 2 the papacy could claim greater authority and generally commanded it. But since the 1950s with the greater prosperity of Roman Catholics in the U.S. and greater academic accomplishments by Roman Catholic scholars, even papal supremacy does not command the conformity that it once did when the people prayed, paid, and obeyed. For instance, the Vatican’s power to police Roman Catholic universities has arguably never been weaker (despite Ex Corde Ecclesiae).

Here is one recent story where Roman Catholic professors are appealing to Pope Francis’ off the cuff remarks to challenge their administrations:

Pope Francis surprised many last month following the publication of his first full-length interview, in which he offered a less doctrinaire stance on issues such as homosexuality and abortion than any of his predecessors.

“I am no one to judge,” he said in response a question about gay people, echoing previous comments he’d made to media on the topic this summer and signaling to some that the Vatican was becoming more moderate. Somewhat similarly, the pope said that the church has grown “obsessed” with doctrine — at the expense of larger spiritual matters.

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods,” he said. “I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that.”

But within days of the publication of the Vatican-approved interview, which appeared in the U.S. in the Jesuit magazine America, several American Roman Catholic institutions took a harder line on those exact issues.

The apparent disconnect led some faculty members at Santa Clara and Loyola Marymount Universities, which recently dropped coverage for elective abortions from their standard health insurance plans, and Providence College, which banned a gay marriage advocate from speaking on campus, to wonder whether their administrations had gotten the message.

Meanwhile, the theologians whom John Paul II tried to make more accountable through Ex Corde Ecclesiae are raising questions of their own:

An international group of prominent Catholic theologians have called the church’s teachings on marriage and sexuality “incomprehensible” and are asking bishops around the world to take seriously the expertise of lay people in their preparations for a global meeting of the prelates at the Vatican next year.

Church teaching on issues like contraception and same-sex marriage, the theologians write, are based on “abstract notions of natural law and [are] outdated, or at the very least scientifically uninformed” and “are for the most part incomprehensible to the majority of the faithful.”

Addressing next year’s meeting of church leaders, known as a Synod of Bishops, they say that previous such meetings involved “only carefully hand-picked members of the laity.”

Those meetings, they write, “offered no critical voice and ignored abundant evidence that the teaching of the church on marriage and sexuality was not serving the needs of the faithful.”

Of course, an apologist could say that this changes nothing. The pope is still in charge. Which of course is true in a sense. But his being-in-chargedness is not exactly evident in large sectors of the church, any more than Protestants have some way to adjudicate the Driscoll affair. And if we recall how popular Francis is compared to Benedict XVI, the categories of charisma and character turn out to be as crucial for a pope’s clout in the modern church as it is for celebrity pastors among Protestants.

Which is just one way of saying that in the modern world where churches are “merely” spiritual institutions, without backup from the state — the real power in contemporary affairs, Roman Catholics and Protestants are both shooting blanks. (Eastern Orthodox may be different when you can have titles like this one — His All Holiness, Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch.) And that may explain why so many popes, now regarded as being products of time and place, the ones who oversaw Inquisitions, abducted Jewish boys, and condemned all aspects of modern social life, had a point. If they were going to retain their power, it needed to be powerfully palpable and visible.

Don't View This on a Full Stomach

At the same time, before a meal it may put you off eating (thanks to our Cumberland Correspondent). The it in question is a video of Tim Keller on sex and marriage in which he portrays Christian married sex as — well — see the video for yourself.

The problems here are at least a couple: 1) without violating my own code, I suspect that if pressed many married couples would not give two thumbs up to all of their sexual encounters. I also bet that many times a husband is in the mood and his spouse is not. (Has Keller not heard of the proverbial headache?) I would even put more money on the notion that baby boomers talk far more about the pleasures of sex than their parents for whom the encounter was part of marital duty (at least for the wife).

This leads to 2): Christians of an older generation (and Keller is by no means a spring chicken — should it be rooster) didn’t talk about sex or bedroom or bathroom matters. Was that wrong? No. Did it mean they were uptight in ways that boomers found constricting? Sure. But was their wisdom in not giving too much information about private matters? Yes. And to keep up this catechism, did problems accompany silence about topics not fit for the sitting room or even the kitchen? Yes. But I have trouble thinking that the current blather about our private lives has resulted in a great cultural advance.

In fact, Keller’s comments may discredit the ministry of the Word since I am not sure that the guy to whom I want to go for pastoral counsel is the one who is doing a video like this.

Then again, he has patented a variety of Teflon that not only keeps all criticism from sticking but that turns adversity into gold. I am truly in awe.

At the same time, as Carl Trueman wonders about the flap between Janet Mefford and Mark Driscoll over allegations of plagiarism, I wonder if the same question applies to Keller: “Is there an evangelical industrial complex out there or is there a morality which transcends and ultimately regulates the evangelical marketplace?” I would simply vary the question to ask whether any cringe factor or sense of propriety regulates evangelical celebrity culture. It surely doesn’t prevail in the world of Hollywood or professional athletics. But shouldn’t we know Christians by their discretion?