In the morning, we got angry Mac. It was the "You'll do what I want you lazy, recalcitrant sheep, and you WILL like it " Mac.
But in the evening, we got "cry over the grace of God" Mac.
Red hot anger in the morning. Sorrowful, crocodile tears in the evening.
Watching Mac Sunday was like watching the transformation of Michael Corlioni from the soft spoken, shy young man early in Godfather I and then fast forwarding to see Michael transformed into the ruthless family leader who ultimately turns on his own family members in Godfather II....Mac shows us two opposite sides. Is it Mac, or is it Mac performing for us? Is he a performer like Al Pacino that can play one role in the morning and come back in the evening and play another role?
After watching Mac Brunson Sunday night cry and weep like a baby over God's grace as he read out of the book of Genesis to show us just how tender hearted he is, while that morning Mac showed NO grace whatsoever, I realized something very profound. I've known for sometime he is less of a preacher and more of a performer, but I couldn't quite put my finger on something. Watching Mac "perform" in his sermons in this manner I've always felt like it was something I'd seen before. There was a strange familiarity with Mac's obnoxious style. But I knew Vines and Lindsay didn't bounce and jump and bob and weave all over the platform. I knew that they didn't constantly contort their faces, rub their eyes and forehead, yell and scream, take the glasses off and put them on and stare us down and amen themselves....so where is this "deja vu" feeling coming from as I've watched the Mac Brunson Show for 2 1/2 years? All my life I've listened to preachers who stood mostly behind a pulpit and calmly spoke. They exegate the scriptures - for the purpose of teaching and edifying their sheep. I could concentrate on what they were saying, thinking about what they were saying, and not having to watch a guy do "preacher gymastics" while I also am processing his message.
But watching Mac cry Sunday night I immediately knew where I had seen this sort of theatrical, emotionalism preaching.
If you go back and look at Jimmy Swaggart in his prime, he was the same kind of theatrical preacher that Mac is today, with maybe a few more moves than Mac. Swaggart never stood still. He had to move about. His face would be twisted and contorted as he preached. His eyes would squint, and then they'd peer. He'd be up on one level of the platform, and down, then up again. He'd whisper one minute, and projecting his booming voice across the auditorium the next. He'd "strut". There was an aire of arrogance about Swaggart- nothing humble about Swaggart's tone or delivery. He often spoke very condescendingly to his audience. He was "the man" up on the stage, and he was going to give you his sermon as a performance, as an actor. And his people LOVED IT! They would hoot and holler as he was "working" the auditorium.
Swaggart was a Bible preacher, but that wasn't his main gig. Swaggart's schtick was he was a great theatrical orator. He would take one scripture and chase rabbits, and make his points. Very little explanation of scripture, it was more the use of scriture as a springboard into what his points were that he wanted to make. Mac is similar in that he loves history, and loves to use the his Greek interpretations and historical illustrations to springboard from his bible text into his points.
And nobody could cry on cue like Swaggart. Swaggart knew the power of a tear. He knew that Christians respected someone as very spiritual if they wept publicly over Jesus, or over lost people. Mac doesn't do it much, maybe a few times he has gotten choked up. But Sunday night was classic. I have never before seen a man in front of an audience of thousands openly weep...then yell, then yell and weep in the same sentence. I am certain only an actor can do that.
Below is Mac's crying performance if you missed it, along with examples of his less "grace-ful" side. Tomorrow I'll post some thoughts on just what is it about Mac's preaching that leaves so many of us with a spiritually empty feeling.