Anyone who has ever taken or given a Wechsler Intelligence Scale will recognize my title as having the form of the Similarities portion of the test. Those taking the test are given two different terms or things and asked how they are alike. Since the exact questions are a carefully guarded professional secret, if I tell you more I will have to see about broadening the laws on torture or something.
Writing in the New York Times op-ed section yesterday, Christianity Today‘s managing editor Katelyn Beaty wondered how Donald Trump and dictatorial church pastors are alike. She used our pal Mark Driscoll as exhibit A. Although I get what she is going for and as much as I don’t understand how Driscoll manages his brand, I think Mr. Trump is the scarier proposition.
Beaty tells us that there is a strong correlation between being a church pastor and narcissistic personality disorder. She might be right. At the 2015 American Association of Christian Counselors conference, R. Glenn Ball and Darrell Puls reported that “Narcissistic Personality Disorder in active clergy in the PCC is between 500% to 3000% higher than is found in the general population.” PCC stands for Presbyterian Church in Canada and those are big numbers.
Yesterday, I taught the familiar social psychology experiment conducted by Stanley Milgrim (more recently replicated by Jerry Burger) in which two-thirds of subjects thought they were shocking a person in the next room at dangerous levels because a researcher in a lab coat said it was necessary. We are a lot like sheep with many clergy and politicians willing to be our shepherds. When the shepherds are narcissists, the sheep are more like pawns.
Human nature being what it is, we must take care. I want to commit appropriate conformity for the good of others but I must keep my wits about me, whether in church or at the ballot box. Blind conformity or failure to question those we like and agree with can lead us astray.
How about some open forum on this article?
2019 update: Was I right or what?