It would be best if you didn’t get your theology from celebrities. Looking up to people is hardly a new concept. In Corinth, there were factions within the church who were divided by who their “guy” was. Some followed Paul, some Peter, others Apollos. It was ridiculous because Peter, Paul, and Apollos were not divided, and they all followed Christ. But I can understand how they would instinctively (and rightly) follow these men for who they were and what they did.
But being famous for being famous is a new thing. Once upon a time, fame and notoriety came because you accomplished something that drew people’s attention. Whether a great heroic deed or an infamous act of cowardice, you were known for something you did that was out of the ordinary. Now, you can make a silly YouTube video that gets shared around, and suddenly, you are having dinner with the President of the United States. Greta Thunburg skipped school to protest the weather, and suddenly, she has been bestowed an honorary doctorate and gallivants about lecturing world leaders. I’ve been complaining about the weather for many years and was frequently skipping class in high school, but no one gave me a doctorate. It’s not Greta’s fault that people listen to her, and I don’t blame her for taking advantage of the opportunity she was given. But I question the people who gave her the worldwide microphone and the people who feel compelled to listen to what she has to say. “Trust the science!” Ok, why are we following the guidance of someone who took a sabbatical from high school to lecture the world about science? Because in our age, we would rather hear something from a celebrity than an expert. They would rather hear from someone young and zealous than someone who has spent most of their life studying the topic.
Today a young man can write a Tweet or make a YouTube video about a Biblical subject, and it goes viral. Suddenly, he’s got more followers on social media than most have in their denomination. He’s got book deals, an agent, and a roadie named Bart. Not because he has the knowledge, experience, or qualification of a Biblical elder, but just because he’s famous. Sometimes, preachers become celebrities because they have natural gifts. Some preachers can read the phone book and make half the congregation weep, and the other half question the direction of their lives. They have a powerful ability to move and persuade through their public speaking abilities, and the tone, and tenor of their voice. Congregations go crazy about a sharp-dressed man. They get a following, people listen to them, and now the book publishers want in on the action. Do they have the moral qualifications to lead? Have they put the time and effort into studying the Scriptures to make them worthy of following? Does being well-known make you right? It doesn’t necessarily make you wrong, but it shouldn’t be the standard by which you judge the truth. Don’t get your theology from celebrities.
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