I’ve never been a fan of “Bishop” Eddie Long, who, among other self-aggrandizing moves, has flouted Baptist practice by naming himself a bishop. I have detested his gay-bashing and loathed his narcissistic lifestyle. I’ve doubted the theology of his “prosperity” ministry.
Nothing more aptly describes the way that New Birth Missionary Baptist Church has become a cult of personality — not Jesus Christ’s personality, but Eddie Long’s — than the responses by Long and a few of his congregants to allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation.
In a sermon carried live by TV cameras yesterday, Long very dramatically told his congregation he is “under attack.” From the WaPo:
“Please hear this: I have been accused. I’m under attack. I want you to know that I am not a perfect man, but this thing I’m gon’ fight,” said Long, who also preached a short sermon on surviving painful times.
“I feel like David against Goliath, but I’ve got five rocks, and I haven’t thrown one yet,” the bishop said to roaring applause as he dropped his microphone on the pulpit with a thud, took his wife Vanessa’s hand and left the stage.
If Long were going to compare himself to a Biblical character, he should have chosen Goliath.
Then there was this quote from one of Long’s parishoners:
“The devil always tries to attack the kingdom, but we know that victory is ahead,” said Ian Waite, who has been a member of the church for six years. “We will fight it on our knees with prayer and fasting.
“He’s not a perfect man, but God will fight on his behalf. . . . If it ends up being true, we have to be there on his behalf. He’s just human. In life, we have failure and downfalls, but God will see you through.”
I’m sorry, but New Birth is not “the kingdom.”
We don’t yet know whether Long is guilty of sexual abuse, but it’s clear that he’s guilty of perverting the Gospel.