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March 09, 2009

Calling All Evangelical Alpha Males

Bushandchuck Terry Mattingly at GetReligion.org is pondering the direction of the conservative Christian movement. In a recent blog entry, Mattingly examines the graying of many of the "religious right's" elder statesmen, and wonders who the next "alpha males" might be to take the baton from their predecessors. He notes the recently announced retirement of Dr. James Dobson from the chairmanship of Focus on the Family, the passing of prominent Christian conservatives such as Richard John Neuhaus and Jerry Falwell, and the advancing age of many of those who remain active in the arena (including a certain "alpha male" known and loved in these parts).

"The crucial point," says Mattingly, "is that these Alphas are leaders of religious movements that, in defending their doctrines and beliefs, end up taking stands in the public square. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, these leaders possessed unique talents that inspired their own troops. Those movements are all facing painful transitions and the clock is ticking, ticking, ticking."

So what say you? Who are the young evangelicals who are poised to fill the gap being left by these men?

(Image © The White House)

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Jason Taylor

What is it with pseudoscientific, pseudolatinate, polysylibic linguistic contrivances(also known as big words) like "Alpha Male"? What is wrong with "elder"? The first phrase gives nothing more in precision and takes away in color.

Gina Dalfonzo

"Elder" wouldn't be completely accurate in this case. Steve is talking about leaders, not older men per se. The question is who will be the next leaders after this generation has passed the baton, and that doesn't necessarily imply age; in fact, his last sentence refers to young evangelicals. (I believe the only place "elder" is used these days with the connotation of "leader" is in churches, and we're not talking about churches but about parachurch movements.)

Jason Taylor

Of course an "elder" doesn't have to be old, and it is a more romantic sounding word then "alpha male". Besides some might be female, although that particular kerfuffle is old enough to be boring by now.


Interesting that Mattingly thinks that God specifically selects "alpha males" to be leaders, rather than raising up who He will choose, looking for men after His own heart, rather than Mattingly's choice of those who would rise by the flesh.

But if we must be secular and animalistic about leadership in Christ's bride, those grey-haired men -are- the silver-backs. . . ;-)

As to the age of elders called by God, requirements do include one wife, and one (living) wife only, and that his children have grown up in the Lord, haven't been neglected, haven't been oppressed and thus rebelling when leaving home. That does tend to rule out what our contemporary society means by 'young'.

Jason, obedience to God and avoiding Korah's rebellion may be boring to you, but I'd rather not have the ground open up and kill me. God is still Holy, and you and the feminists don't get to re-write His rules.


Craig gross

Francis chan

Donald miller


Labrialumn, again, those requirements are for elders in a church. We're not talking about churches.

Jason Taylor

Labrialumn, where in the Bible does it say, "Thou shalt use the phrase 'alpha male'"?


You seem to think that we should not confuse the next "Alpha Male" with an elder. The elder is in the church arena while the "Alpha Male' is the leader of "religious movements". The question then has to be asked; Where in the Bible does it talk about any religious movement being ran or commissioned outside of the church?


Gina, but it is exactly the church that you which you are talking about.

Jason, I didn't bring up the term, Mattingly did. I disagreed with him and made fun of the term in my previous post.

Gina Dalfonzo

No, we're not talking about the church, we're talking about parachurch ministries.

With that established, and setting aside all quibbles over terminology, the question -- again -- is this: Who should be the next leaders of the movement? Ryan is the only one who's tried to answer it so far. Does anyone else want to weigh in on the main point?

Benjamen R. Meyer

From what I've seen, I think Rob Bell (NOOMA, and Mars Hill Bible Church in MI) will be among the top forthcoming leaders.

Likely to join him will be Andy Stanley.

Not sure who else.


Trust in God. Don't let your hearts be troubled. You never know who God is going to bring up. It might be better than before. Who knows. He is in control.

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