Several months ago, I received some friend requests on Facebook from people who lived in the area where I grew up. I faintly recognized some of the people and decided to accept them requests. Turns out, these people were attending the same church and were connected. One thing I quickly noticed about them, especially the so-called preacher, was the quickness with which he positioned himself as an anti-intellectual Christian. Several times he posted comments about Jesus or the Bible or other things, which were not only theologically unsound but just plain ignorant! Whenever I challenged his views and or beliefs, he got super defensive and went into anti-smart mode, argued against the validity of "thinking" about things (e.g. "you can't read the Bible with reason" or "you can't out-think God" etc.). The church-goers did the same. In fact, one of the congregants was getting so hostile (and we all know what happens when religion, hostility and ignorance are mixed) that I just had to delete any contact with him.
But back to the preacher, who was this guy? Well, his name was Jerry Cannon. Yet, he went by other aliases too. For example, Terry Lewis, a solicitor and distributer of child porn. All-in-all, he had thirteen profiles created on Facebook through which he did a lot of his dirty work; one Facebook account uncovered by the FBI had over 600 photos of young girls aged 10-16 on it. Sickening, right?!? But why couldn't people see through the facade? Jerry Cannon was a scripture twisting, people deceiving, sex-craved, pedophile who started a meeting called "God's House Church" were he spread his ignorance and evil like yeast. And like many preachers today, he was able to pull the wool over peoples' eyes and use his power and position to fulfill his sick cravings. I remember one young teenage girl writing on his wall saying how much she enjoyed a counseling session with him and how grateful she was for him. In the affidavit filed against him, he is quoted as saying that he fantasizes over his young, 10-yr old niece. I shudder to think of all of the horror stories that will arise out of this congregation.
So, why am I mentioning this? Well, so that this can be a lesson, a bad one I know, of how bad theology or no theology at all really, can lead to moral, ethical, relational and ecclesiastical disasters. Unfortunately, in my brief life as a Christian and even a Christian pastor, I've seen several so-called ministers end up in prison over sex scandals like these. Let it be known that good theology is a good thing. That thinking deeply about God's word, God's mysteries and God's church is a good thing. For those who have ears, let them hear that anti-intellectualism in the church is a breeding ground for heartache, scandal and ruin. And may those with eyes to see, realize that several months ago, when I attempted to challenge God's House Church's leader and some of its followers, they did nothing but resort to faulty logic, bad reasoning, stupid arguments, etc. This is not to say that I am always right; far from it. But this is to say that when you find yourself in a church where questions are forbidden, where anti-intellectualism is the creed, charisma is put on a pedestal and orthodox Christian beliefs are swept under the rug, then, more than likely, you are part of a cult, not a healthy church...and certainly not the Body of Christ.
Let this be a lesson on why good theology is important! Oh, and let this also be a lesson about why choosing friends on Facebook should be done with more and more care!