Brett McCracken has made a reappearance into the fray of the Spiritual War within the church after several months of bad pop culture commentary. This time he is white knighting for beta male pastors who have left their congregations hanging out to dry for the last two and a half years. It’s important to note that The Gospel Coalition is a top 5000 website in the United States, according to Similar Web, which is huge. Their audience is legion, and this is a data point which undermines Brett McCracken’s argument against generalized statements critiquing pastors on social media.
In the article Stop Throwing Pastors Under the Bus, Brett McCracken begins by describing the plight as he sees it.
The formula is familiar: a Highly Online Christian takes to social media to put generic “pastors” on blast by unfavorably comparing them to secular thought leaders or politicians who are supposedly more courageous truth tellers.
Perhaps this is a subtle way of calling out William Wolfe and others who have called for accountability on Branch Covidian pastors, like TGC writer, Daniel Darling. This is most likely the underlying context of this article and why it was poorly received on social media.
Few call out their own pastors online. But many employ the imprecise word “pastors” (Every pastor in the world? Every American pastor? A few notable pastors you’re subtweeting?) to advance a narrative of negligent clergy sitting out the culture war.
Often the social media post focuses on a timely front in the culture war and turns it into an indictment on “beta pastors” who are allegedly naive about the issue’s gravity: Wake up, pastor! While you’re trying to winsomely “engage the culture,” the culture is indoctrinating your congregation with _____ [CRT, LGBT+ agendas, woke ideology, and so on]. Quit sitting on the sidelines!
Left-leaning Christians also join the “pastor as punching bag” social media chorus. Their posts similarly indict “pastors” as a vague class, taking them to task for enabling various evils: Pastors have blood on their hands. Their cowardice in staying silent on _____ [racism, Christian nationalism, abuse, AR-15 mass shootings, climate change, and so on] means they have zero moral authority on any issue.
Brett McCracken attempts to play the umpire calling balls and strikes but makes errant moral equivalency like comparing the topics of climate change and Christian Nationalism with Critical Race Theory and the homosexual/transvestite/pedophile agenda.
Pastors aren’t above criticism. There are some pastors who refrain from speaking up about vital issues out of fear of losing favor with one group or another. There are pressing issues some pastors should speak about more often.
Yet it’s impossible to lump all pastors together and it’s unhelpful to make blanket accusations in cyberspace.
The reason why generalizations are helpful is that they edify a diaspora of believers who are facing the same issue. And as established, The Gospel Coalition has a huge audience; therefore, sweeping generalizations are completely warranted. After all, how many churches refused to close down when the government asked them to? How many churches said no to struggle sessions following the Martyrdom of St. George Floyd?
Much pastor bashing on social media doesn’t jibe with realities on the ground. From what I’ve seen, most pastors are aware and concerned about the pressing social and cultural issues of our day. Most of them are seeking resources to be equipped to address timely topics from the pulpit and in pastoral conversations (“transgenderism” is one of the most-searched-for phrases on The Gospel Coalition’s website).
Yet Highly Online Christians expect pastors to be highly online too. If they don’t see a pastor retweeting the latest “drag queens perform for children” headline, they assume said pastor isn’t aware, doesn’t care, or lacks the courage to speak up. But just because there’s no social media evidence for a pastor’s proactive engagement with a cultural concern, does that mean the pastor (who may have wisely chosen to be off social media) is apathetic or ignorant?
McCracken continues with the example of a pastor preparing a sermon Genesis which will tackle the topic of transgenderism, but this example refutes McCracken’s point. If your pastor is only just now talking about transgenderism, he’s late. Bruce Jenner was 2015, 7 years ago.
But one of the biggest fallacies is that these criticisms are based on social media game or lack thereof. They aren’t. The Gospel Coalition is simply dismissive of the concerns of Christians. This article is meant to sooth the conscious of beta soyboy squish pastors who are their devoted reader base.