Sunday, April 17, 2016

The cult of celebrity. . .


We watched it on the Oscars.  Actors who won awards felt duty bound to lecture us with their esteemed wisdom on a host of subjects (example, Leonardo DiCaprio).  It seems that with fame and fortune come the presumption of knowing better about other things than the populace and feeling the right to tell us so.  There is no shortage of people whose names are in the news or on the screen (big, small, permanent or portable) who use their celebrity status to promote causes (from the environment to politics to gun control -- you name it).

I suppose that I can stomach this to a certain degree.  After all they have figured out how to make millions playing a part a couple of times a year and the general population supports this with $15 dollar matinee tickets and $30 popcorn and soda combos).  It is a matter of marketing skill.  Well, it maybe a matter of playing another part -- acting on behalf of a cause, so to speak.  I do enjoy the movies even of actors whose politics and stances I cannot abide.  What may be an annoyance and frustration in the world, is a scandal within the Church.

The cult of personality is something we have grown to expect among the mega church crowd and the evangelical celebrities whose books and conferences are more about providing an income than providing a service to Christians and churches.  Yes, I said it.  It is an entrepreneurial arena in which the profits are the engine as much as anything else.  After all, the only reason Joel Osteen does not receive a salary is that even his mega congregation cannot match what his books bring in to support a very lavish lifestyle.  Kenneth Copeland and a host of others have insisted that they cannot be expected to fly coach like ordinary people -- the Lord cannot work through them in this way.  I could go on but I cannot make myself repeat the outlandish claims of those whose Christian celebrity status have accorded not only popularity but prosperity.

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That said, it is an even greater scandal when Lutherans hit the bandwagon on behalf of such media stars within the Christian cult of celebrity.  I recently got print, email, and banner ads promoting none other than Beth Moore, the LifeWay cash cow who has tour after tour bringing her business to Christians of all stripes.  I am told in her PR that 3 times in April in 3 locations and all throughout the rest of the year she will be on the road doing her Living Proof Live workshops and worship encounters.  She promises me Spirit filled words, healing, freedom, and new fire for the Lord Jesus.  She offers personal testimonies from those who attended in the past.  But what she does NOT offer is the assurance of orthodox truth.  Beth Moore does not offer sound exegesis of Scripture that expounds Christ as the center of the Scriptures and faithfully conforms this teaching to creedal orthodoxy and catholicity.  Emotionalism is her most profound tool.  When she’s not twisting and proof texting Scripture to support her preconceived ideas, she’s putting herself in the square in the middle of the Biblical narrative.

The cult of celebrity may have gripped the attention of those outside a confessional church where catechism and creed anchor us in the firm ground of Christ and Him crucified but it has no business tempting or attracting Lutherans.  Beth Moore is certainly successful -- successful at promoting herself, at making herself the center of her teaching, at appealing to emotion over fact, and at deceiving confessional, creedal Christians to put their trust in something other than Christ and the Word which speaks Christ to us.  Another thing, the people who claim to be full of the Holy Spirit are most often those who are full only of themselves.  The real Spirit does not turn our attention inward or to Himself but to Christ, awakening faith within us and nurturing that faith in Christ that we may live in Christ today and be found in Christ blameless and ready when He comes in His glory.

I am not saying that there will not be people who are popular because they faithfully, energetically, and effectively speak Christ and teach the faith.  What I am saying is that those people do not become millionaires and do not make themselves the center of a ministry designed largely to make money.  Whether it is Beth Moore or a host of others similar to her, Lutherans stay away and be warned!


3 comments:

Kirk Skeptic said...

Again, Pr P, you resort to a false dichotomy, because small confessional churches controlled by micro-pope pastprs are hardly unheard of; I've had the displeasure of being in one.

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