The Church of Cards

Allen Smith* led one of the fastest-growing, most exciting churches in the Philadelphia* suburbs. He boasted several degrees and awards, including master's degrees and a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Yale. He was trusted, respected, and widely admired.

When I became his associate at Faith Church, I gained a share in his success: ordination, a nice salary and title, a good reputation, and membership on an elite staff of ten. Five years later, however, our church of cards came tumbling down.

One church member, Doug Creek, had a son who wanted to pursue a graduate degree. While sorting through school catalogues, the young man said to his father, "I don't know which of these schools to apply to, Dad."

Doug remembered Allen's Ivy League credentials. "Why don't you apply to Yale," Doug answered, "where Pastor Smith went."

"No, Dad," his son answered, not realizing the impact his words would have. "Yale doesn't offer a Ph.D. in clinical psychology."

The accusations of deceit against ...

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