Every Man Has His Price: Fellowship Church and Wrasslin’
Over at his blog, Tim Challies has an interesting piece about the folly of the attractional church model megapastor Ed Young consistently uses to fill Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas. This month, Young’s attractional strategy is manifesting in the form of WWE Superstars Rick Flair, Sting, the Undertaker, and Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase. His “Wrastlin” series is previewed in the video below:
Three of these men are WWE hall-of-famers and all have proven for decades that they can draw a crowd (or “draw money” to use a wrestling term). Two of them have been outspoken about their Christian faith. This is a fact not mentioned by Challies, whom I doubt knows much about pro wrestling and its celebrities. I, however, came of age during the Monday Night Wars, so I thought I’d make mention of some important details that Challies left out.
First, pro wrestling is a great metaphor for the Christian religion. In pro wrestling, the action feels spontaneous but in reality the outcome is predetermined by the owner of the promotion; the winners and losers are picked out long before the wrestlers ever face off in the squared circle. If that doesn’t scream Divine election, reprobation, and predestination then I don’t know what does. I doubt Ed Young and his headliners will make mention of such a theological concern, however. Young’s event is clearly a money grab. Why else would anyone bring in main event talent like the iconic Sting and Flair?
Second, Ted Dibiase should be held in contempt by the Christian community along with Ed Young. Unlike the other wrestlers Young is bringing in, Dibiase is actually an active evangelist who regularly preaches through the organization he founded, Heart of David Ministry. Sting (real name Steve Borden) is also a professed Christian, and it should be noted that he did not perform in WWE until the McMahons (its owners) cleaned up their Attitude Era act. Not much is known about the personal life of the Undertaker (real name Mark Calaway), he rarely breaks character and did not even do so for Young’s preview video. Ric Flair would bust Hell wide open if he died. Flair has basically lived the life of his “Nature Boy” wrestling character, a profligate free-spending playboy. Flair is famously hard-up for cash and would likely appear anywhere for a payday. That a purported Christian minister like Dibiase would headline a church with a man who is so clearly lost is inexcusable. The words of Dibiase’s “Million Dollar Man” alter ego ring true: “Every Man has his price.” It could very well be the case that Dibiase and the many other wrestlers who have found paydays as preachers after their wrestling careers ended are kayfabe Christians who are no more genuine than their in-ring personas. They are still in the business of making an appearance for a payday.
Finally, I want to say a word about what Challies seems to be missing: an appeal to Ed Young’s Texas Redneck target audience. Challies refers his readers to the work of John MacArthur and Jared Wilson and the wisdom of James Montgomery Boice. While these references may be helpful to the regular readers of Challies’ blog, I imagine people who come to church to see the Undertaker don’t have much concern for reformed thinkers. Challies addresses the situation at Fellowship Church in an almost academic fashion, giving a critique of the “attractional model.” This gives far too much charity to Ed Young. Maybe he’s just a promoter looking for a payday and church has nothing to do with it. If the Freebirds and Von Erich’s were still alive, I wouldn’t put it past Ed Young to have them wrestle in the church building. He’s literally turned his church into a circus in the past so doing so wouldn’t be a stretch.
Listen wrestling fans, the lady who edits this blog was friends with Curt Henning and Rick Rude. I was there when Goldberg beat Hogan for the belt. I like Sting (I have a nWo Wolfpac shirt somewhere at my parents’ house) and I like the circus, too, but why in the world are you okay with Shotgun Saturday Night bleeding over into Sunday morning? If you go to Ed Young’s church, Vince McMahon might as well be your pastor. You are being a sold a show. You are not being discipled and grown in Christ. You are Ed Young’s mark. Wise up and get into a genuine church that’s not just another show. If you want help doing so, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And that’s the bottom line because Seth Dunn said so…
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.