Of this he was absolutely sure; if ever he came to doubt it, his life would lose all meaning. “Do you wish,” he asked indignantly, “my life to have no meaning?”
- The Stranger, Albert Camus
Question: Should faith depend on a pastor?
My opinion: No. My opinion is that faith needs to be based on something more constant and less fallible. In theory, “men of god” are supposed to have a more upright walk. In practice, humans are humans – I think many of them merely appear to be so.
Question: Does faith depend on a pastor?
My guess: For a lot of those in a mega-church, probably. In addition to having a pastor as a figure of leadership and an example of stellar character, he was probably the reason many joined in the first place — the very reason for their faith. This would have been later cemented by an associative effect – by associating him with the word of God. And to many church-goers, probably not associated with much else — their only interaction with him would have been to hear him preach.
Question: Will faith waver because of the failing of a pastor?
My speculation: For a large majority of the current members, I’m actually guessing no. Especially if the leadership figure plays an important role in their faith, their mind will find a way to resolve this dissonance. For instance, by viewing this as a form of “spiritual warfare”, or some attack from the devil.
The cognitive dissonance is even greater for those who have poured in a lot of their money. Who the hell wants to accept that they gave a way so much of their money for nothing! Their mind will find a way to justify their efforts. In a counter-intuitive manner, I actually think that the faith of some with become even stronger.
Question: Will there be a slow in church growth rates?
My response: In the first place, I’m not even sure how these megachurch growth rates are measured. Do those people who visit once but stop going count? Do people who decide to “recommit their lives” during altar call again count? It disturbs me whenever statistics are too nice – and in this case, it’s almost as if there is an increasing growth rate every year – to show the admittedly large congregation that the church is still growing from “strength to strength”.
Question: Does giving to a church equate to giving to God?
My stand: I’m about to go into a long angry ramble. I think I will save the steam for tomorrow.
Question: Will prayer get anyone out of this mess?
My opinion: Realistically speaking, God isn’t Santa Claus or a genie. The watchdogs spend -a lot- of time gathering all their evidence even before they press charges. In fact, they have every incentive to make sure that they have a solid almost-certain case, before they risk bad press by pressing ‘false charges’. Two years is a really long time to collect evidence and one does not simply spend two years doing nothing – unless they are every Singaporean’s son.
The outcome of this will probably add another dent to faith if the pastor continues to proclaim that prayer/God will help him out of this. What will people think of prayer if a pastor continues to declare “I pray/believe God will save me” and it doesn’t happen?
Hmm, an expensive lawyer might get someone out of this mess though. Don’t underestimate the power of expensive lawyers.