Anyway, the Church Report (Real Issues, Real News, Real Solutions) has just released its list of the FIFTY MOST INFLUENTIAL CHRISTIANS IN AMERICA. If several of these individuals truly do weild a lot of influence on the modern evangelical church - it really explains a lot.
Coming in at #1 is no real surprise - Dallas super-pastor T.D. Jakes and his mushy Trinitarianism. Close on his heels at #2 is the Smiling Pastor - Joel Osteen from Houston. I really wonder just what sort of influence he is making on the church - dream of bigger boats?
A little sanity returns at #3 as the venerable Billy Graham fills the slot. Even with Parkinson's ravaging his body, Dr. Graham is still being used of God for the sake of the kingdom. How he is ranked third behind the first two is beyond the pale. A good question to ask is "How much will "X" be missed when he is gone?" This question would reverse those rankings if it were to be asked in the first place.
The #4 and #5 spots are also filled by pastors of mega-churches: Rick Warren and Bill Hybels. This is probably true because a lot of churches around the country were influenced by their decision to cancel worship services on Christmas morning.
Number six is Paul Crouch, head of Trinity Broadcasting Network. I have some comments but my mom taught me - "if you don't have anything nice to say" - you know the rest.
Number seven is Joyce Meyer. Meyer is part of the Word Faith crowd along with Kenneth Copeland and Jesse Duplantis and Benny Hinn. She also teaches that Christ's victory was not won at the cross but after suffering at the hands of Satan in hell for three days. She even goes so far as to say that "There is no hope of anyone going to heaven unless they believe this truth that I am presenting. You cannot go to heaven unless you believe that Jesus took your place in hell." (Quoted from The Most Important Decision You Will Ever Make (1991), 37 (emphasis added). The words “in hell” are deleted from this sentence in the 1996 version of The Most Important Decision You Will Ever Make. However, substantial references to the general idea remain in this later version). Meyer also believes that she gets her sermons from angels, saying "I believe that right before I speak some anointed statement to you, that one of them bends over and says in my ear what I’m supposed to say to you." This type of influence we do not need.
Rounding out the Top Ten are President George W. Bush, Dr. James Dobson and Chuck Colson.
Other notable additions include the following:
- #19 - Robert Schuller
- #29 - Paul Crouch, Jr. (I didn't know there were TWO of them!)
- #30 - Benny Hinn
- #36 - Creflo Dollar
- #38 - Rod Parsley
- #42 - Brian McLaren (the "leader" of the Emerging Church phenomenon)
- #44 - Pope Benedict XVI (I imagine the Roman Catholics would be upset with this - the vicar of Christ on earth 14 spots below Benny Hinn?!?)
- #50 - Dr. Phil McGraw