There is a great blog that is by a former pastor (non COG) which is called Why Churches Suck.
Sadly it is no longer being updated. He has an article about the personality cult of pastors in churches. I have included his entire post below. It is too good to see fade into oblivion.
Armstrongism is filled with the cult of "Pastor-gods." Just look at Dave Pack, Gerald Flurry, Ron Weinland, Rod Meredith. These men can do no wrong. People get giddy with excitement at the mere presence of these men in their midst. People get tears in their eyes when they see these men. Their writings are on par with scripture and considered just as sacred. They get seats of prominence at all functions and at church. They build enormous edifices supposedly dedicated to God but in fact are monuments to failed virility. Fellow ministers jostle and beat their way to be at the top next to these men. Walking over others backs to advance is considered sacred duty. Members literally bow to their magnificence when they cannot make any decision without first asking their pastor-god for approval.
What has been your experience with Pastor-gods in the Church of God?
The Cult of the Pastor-god
When the church is at its
healthiest, many people contribute to the life of the body with gifts they’ve
been given. One of those gifts is
“pastoring”, or care-taking. Mixed with
all the other gifts in the body, the whole community is healthy, alive, free,
and an expression of God’s love in the world that is obvious and undeniable.
But this is very rare among church
Much more often, the group is
dominated and defined by the personality of one person: the Pastor-god.
The Pastor-god is not merely a
contributor within the body; he is the voice, the face, and the authority in
the church. He is the boss, the CEO, the
example, the teacher, the father-figure.
In the Cult of the Pastor-god, they
are called “God’s anointed”. They
are the one who communicates God’s word to the followers. They are the mouth, while the church is the
ears. Their part is to provide care and
discipline to the people; the people’s part is to listen, honor, and follow.
And in many churches, this model
works flawlessly. People really want
someone to lead and protect them—without it they feel vulnerable and lost. And of course there are no shortage of people
willing to assume this role of the Pastor-god.
The Pastor-god claims to not want
adulation and adoration from the people, but inwardly they crave it. The people claim they don’t believe
their pastor is a god, but they treat him like he is. When the pastor makes them proud, they heap
accolades. When the pastor does not live
up to his god-like standard, they look for ways to take him down.
When the Pastor-god is there, the
people feel safe. When the Pastor-god
goes away, the people are devastated.
Of course this is nothing new—people
are afraid to be leaderless, as was the nation of Israel when they demanded a
But the people refused to listen to
Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the
other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our
battles.” (I Samuel 8:19-20)
God reluctantly gave them their leader, an
outstanding young man named Saul. Their
craving for a leader was satisfied, but it was wrong; what resulted was
anxiety, strife, war, madness, and death.
One of the reasons churches suck
today is because they are much less like the body of Christ and much more like the
Cult of the Pastor-god—or "the cult of personality." More and more within the church are recognizing this disturbing reality:
“...evangelicalism is not so much a religion as a series of fast-moving
personality cults.” ― Frank Schaeffer
Thinking about this, I could not get
the image of an old Star Trek episode out of my mind. It’s called Who Mourns for Adonais and it’s about the Enterprise crew coming
face to face with Apollo, one of the gods from earth’s ancient culture.
Remember this one?
As the episode goes, back when
the gods (turns out they were actually aliens) came to earth, the primitive
people saw their power and naturally fell down to worship them. Under their authority, people felt cared
for--and the gods were happy to have the attention. It was a comfortable, but immature and ultimately dysfunctional
relationship. The gods’ part was to
provide care and discipline to the people; the people’s part was to listen,
honor, and follow…
…just like in the Cult of the
In those days, to defy the gods was
a fearful thing—as Captain Kirk discovered when he dared to defy Apollo’s
Kirk: “Apollo, we’re willing to talk, but you’ll find we don’t bow to every creature who
happens to have a bag of tricks.”
Apollo: “Agamemnon was one such
as you, and Hercules--pride and arrogance.
They defied me, until they felt my wrath.”
Have you ever been called “proud” or
“arrogant” by a pastor-god when you questioned their authority? If you have,
you have come face-to-face with the Cult of the Pastor-god.
Apollo expected these people to fall
down and honor him just like people did in the ancient days. But Kirk, recognizing the dysfunction of such
an authoritarian relationship, continued to defy—and the conflict escalates:
Apollo: “I could sweep you out of
existence with a wave of my hand, and bring you back again. I can give life or
death. What else does mankind demand of its gods?”
Kirk: “Mankind has no need for
gods. We find the one quite adequate.”
Apollo: “We shall not debate,
mortal. I offer you eternal rest and
happiness according to the ancient ways. I ask little in return. But what I ask
for I insist upon.”
The one thing he cannot handle
outright defiance; he can only insist on its authority, and promise judgment
upon the one who dares defy them. If you do decide you need to escape the
cult, understand one thing:
There is no gentle way to get out of the cult of the
If you are struggling to get free
from a pastor-god cult, please re-read that last sentence a couple more times. This will be a battle of wills.
Eventually, Kirk and his crew had
use force to disable Apollo’s source of power. Apollo was reduced to his
true, powerless nature.
In the end,
Apollo lost everything and is reduced to tears:
And there’s the thing. Even people who have been raised life-long in
a pastor-god cult are realizing they can no longer give outright honor and obedience
to a religious authority figure. And
they shouldn’t. Our leader is Christ,
not the one up front with the loud voice and the big platform.
Apollo: “I would have cherished you,
cared for you. I would have loved you like a father loves his children. Did I ask
Kirk: “We’ve outgrown you. You asked
for something we can no longer give.”
More and more people in the body of
Christ are finding true “body life” outside of the Cult of the Pastor-god--but
it hasn’t come without a price. The
emotional turmoil that comes from separating from an old authority figure can
be intense, even devastating.
I’ll repeat: There is no gentle
way to get out of the cult of the Pastor-god.
I have my war story of leaving the Cult of the
Pastor-god, and I know many of you do too.
If you want to share your story in the comments, please feel free