The question of whether Jared C. Wilson is “ELITE” or not is a very difficult and complex egg to crack. Eggs, like this question, are easily broken, but must be done with care so as to not get shell debris in your omelet. If shell shrapnel does get into your omelet, digestion and its eventual evacuation becomes regrettable. This is what The Daily Cherub seeks to accomplish here: an easy, pleasant passing of this very formidable question.
What is “ELITE”?
What does it mean to be ELITE in the Evangelical world? This, also, might leave a heaping pile of egg shell in the omelet you have been patiently waiting for for forty-five minutes, but Aunt Linda keeps screwing it up and starting over.
The way we see it, ELITE-ness can be measured in a few ways:
By Twitter followers. This is certainly the simplest metric and requires the least amount of thinking. This method is good for those who have received their breakfast in a timely manner. Its simplicity will provide results, but it will leave you wanting. You will receive an omelet from a capable Aunt, to be certain, but it will taste rather bland — at least you won’t totally waste your time with a disappointing relative that smokes and refuses to wear a hairnet.
The Twitter follower method might lead you to believe that men like Osteen (1 million+), Rick Warren (1 million+), and TD Jakes (2 million+) are the ELITE, and all others should be measured against their success within the social media platform. This would leave Jared C. Wilson in the dust with only 35k+, and he would be relegated to just a guy status. By all accounts and experience, he isn’t just a guy.
Twitter followers are helpful, but they need other controls to lead us to a legitimate conclusion. While the men listed above have millions reading every one of their sassy and genius tweets, we must conclude that they are seeker-driven panderers who have the theological backbone of an omelet dropped on the floor like the one my Aunt just ruined.
Book production. We could measure ELITE-levels by sheer book production, although simply publishing a book can be done by many non-ELITES and people in the just a guy realm. If sheer book production was a legitimate method, then Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard would be the ELITIEST ELITE of all time. He literally set a Guiness World Record with 1,084. Hundreds of them were literally garbage, while the other hundred were forced on his followers.
Understanding Jared’s place in Evangelicalism needs to include book production, but perhaps a helpful variant of this metric as well: how many of these books have appeared at important, faithful, theologically sound, large Evangelical conferences? We’re talking Ligonier, The Shepherds’ Conference, TGC, and T4G. If the potential ELITE finds his books sold there, then he is well on his way.
Book sales must be a part of the conversation as well. An ELITE, by nature, must be an expert at something. His expert-ness will then result in many Christians putting down their fluffy, perfectly fine omelets and buying those books. Therefore we must ask: 1) are their books sold at legitimate Evangelical conferences? and 2) if so, do many people buy them?
Conference speaking appearances. This to be sure, must include the large conferences mentioned above. Honest, Reformed men and women are not interested in the Passion Conference, Preaching Princess Conference, and TD Jakes’ Modalism Merchants Conference, as these often invite some questionable people who shoot from the theological hip. So does the ELITE in question appear at one of the permissible conferences? If so, what role does he play? Is he one of the keynotes, or does he just do a little side sesh?
It could be argued that simply acting as one of the plenary, main speakers at The Shepherds’ Conference, for instance, is enough to transform just a guy to a full-blown ELITE. We disagree. These top-notch Evangelical conferences do invite the Big-Wigs as plenary speakers, but they are also careful to pepper in a few “Normals.” Thus, plenary speaking appearances at one of these big time conferences simply isn’t enough to label a locally-popular pastor as ELITE.
There are infinite variables to consider within each metric, and, perhaps, many more considerations and controls are needed to bring this discussion to its proper and precise conclusion. Do you need to be in high-level leadership of a seminary to be considered ELITE, like a Mohler, Sproul, or MacArthur? It is our sincere opinion that this is to be left out.
We also acknowledge there is a level of subjectivity in determining ELITE-levels. Personality can certainly govern one’s opinion of a man. Joe Flacco, QB of the Baltimore Ravens, meets important criteria, lending some to believe his is an ELITE Quarterback. Many however, due to his lack of charisma, weak leadership, and general awkwardness consider him standing on the ladder rung below. Deciding on ELITE Evangelicals is similar — tastes, preferences, and nebulous unwritten rules can often enter into the discussion. We are trying our best to avoid this.
Whatever the case, we look forward to exploring this subject with much greater depth in the coming weeks and eventually coming to a conclusion. We also look forward to eating an omelet before three in the afternoon, Linda.
What do you think? Should Jared C. Wilson be considered one of premier Evangelicals of our time, or is he just a guy?