Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Rock Star Personalities and the Church. . .

Lets face it.  Christianity is marked (or perhaps I should say marred) by the larger than life figures who are our versions of rock stars.  They stand out from the crowd, they are everywhere, they publish often, they are sought out by the media, and they often put the official leaders of churches in the shadows of their own giant persona.  Some of them can be watched on TV.  It is hard to call them pastors since few of them do much that could justify applying such a term and even when they do preach, they preach not as pastors who know their people but as rock stars in the pulpit.  Even their sermons do not bear all that much resemblance to the sermons you might expect at your local parish.

Some of them have been around for years.  The Bishop Jakes and Joel Osteens and an emerging kind of new rock star that pushes the edge even further, say like Nadia Bolz-Weber.  Some have called them narcissists and others decry them only because they envy their reach but truth be told they are not good for Christianity.  When they fall, and they do, their fall is public and the consequences often great for the ministries they are associated with and the congregations they are affiliated with (ask Tullian Tchividjian).  But it is when they succeed that they are most dangerous.  They become the face of Christianity to many (inside the Church and outside).  Few of them are bona fide theologians and some of them have only the barest of theological education and hardly any of them have any ecclesiastical supervision.  They are like Trump in vestments.

They are a force to be reckoned with and some folks who have taken them on bear the bruises to show for it.  Some label any and every criticism envy and jealousy.  The presumption is that all pastors want to be rock stars and therefore they resent those whose star power literally sucks the air from the room whenever they appear or whatever they have to say.  I do not think that this is the case at all but for a very small few it might be.  The complaint most of all is that these folks color Christianity for the world and the color of this Christianity bears little resemblance to the palate of doctrine, creed, truth, and repentance that are the hallmark of orthodox preaching and teaching.  Some of them are just plain outrageous and use their fifteen minutes of fame to promote their agenda (like Bolz-Weber and sex, crudity, and vulgarity).  Others may simply crave the limelight or once they have it don't know what else to do but keep on feeding the frenzy.  Most of them are not creedal or confessionally orthodox in any way shape or form.  Some of them have found almost a cult following among the youth (or at least among the parents of youth who naively believe that their influence could not be worse than that of the world).  But it just may be.

Christianity has not fared well under these rock stars and Jesus Christ even worse.  Usually gone are the distinctive marks of truth -- from fealty to the Scriptures to the call to repentance and faith to the direction of the Christian life (too much for this world and too little of the life to come).  So what do we do with them?  I wish I knew.  I guess we are stuck with them.  But in my preaching and teaching I work to contrast these celebrities with the orthodox Christian Gospel and to promote the need for ecclesiastical supervision as one of the keys for the folks in the pews to have confidence in what they hear from the pulpit.  And one more thing.  I remind people that they are vulnerable most of all because they do not know the faith well enough nor are familiar enough with the Scriptures to recognize error, heresy, and apostasy when they hear it.  That is the real problem.  The level of Biblical illiteracy is such that people are knowingly or unknowingly influenced away from the Scriptures, creed, and confessions (squared with Scripture).

They tend to gnosticism (secret wisdom not clearly revealed in the Word of God) and they also tend to the phenomenal (miracles waiting to be claimed) but they parade themselves as saviors and redeemers for churches and church leaders hopelessly mired in the past, in the Bible, and in creed and confession.  They are sure they know how to make the church relevant and the Gospel winsome again and so reverse the downward path of Christendom.  In the end, whether they are taking their fame to the bank or not, they only succeed in rescuing themselves from the oblivion they deserve.  It is far past time to expose them and to expose the whole myth of rock star celebrity preachers and teachers as a sham and a stain upon the Body of Christ.


Carl Vehse said...

"Rock Star Personalities and the Church. . ."

Speaking of which, what ever happened to David Ellefson of the thrash metal band Megadeth, who was accepted into the Specific Ministry Program of Concordia Seminary-St. Louis, training to become a pastor?

Anonymous said...

What I find particularly disturbing in our circles is the fawning praise for a man who committed adultery, had to leave the ministry, and then went on to yet more fornication, but now has created a cottage industry around himself, and is being promoted by faculty and others at Concordia University Irvine. This same man has promoted and praised other fallen Evangelical leaders as well who keep presenting themselves to the public as public teachers and preachers.

Anonymous said...

Joel Osteen has the largest mega-church in America and is seen
by more viewers on cable TV. His prosperity gospel is popular
because he sells the false idea that God wants everyone to be
wealthy and healthy. His books are a false collection of
what Christianity is all about.

Anonymous said...

In 15 years, every Evangelical congregation, everywhere, no matter how small, will "do church" in the same megachuch way. The theology of glory has nothing in place to prohibit this from happening.