“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Christian Life - Part I - Cult of Personality

As I stated in my last post, I want to take a look at the Evangelical community within the West, and comment on some of the trends that I find to be disturbing.

The first one I want to address is the 'Cult of Personality' that surrounds many of the better known pastors. One cannot make an observation about a well-known pastor without a counter-site popping up 'protect' the pastor in question.

We should be berean in our approach to anything that is said regarding our faith, regardless of who said it. When there are pastors out there that cannot make a simple gospel presentation, it SHOULD be duly noted, and corrected. Especially when these men are high-profile, and supposedly the 'voices of modern evangelicalism'.

Their own supporters should be the first to ask these men to clarify their public statements. No one is immune from making a gaffe, and we should therefore temper our comments in the light that all can make a mistake; however it is incumbent for us, as Christians, to ensure that those who supposedly represent Christ, actually DO represent Him!

Let me give you an illustration of this Cult of Personality, Pastor-Elevating culture we live in:

Here is a standard bio for a pastor (it is no one in particular, but is culled from a number of bios) -- "Pastor John Doe is a cutting-edge, straight forward communicator whose creative teaching methods are making a huge impact in today's society. He is the founding and Senior Pastor of ACME Church. The church has fifteen campus' nationwide. Pastor John is a visionary, whose entrepreneurial efforts have changed the face of the modern church. Pastor John was also named Time's Man of the Year two years running, and he is the author of more than forty bestselling books."

Do you see anything in this bio (again, a composite) that points to Christ, or to this man's qualifications to be an undershepherd of God's flock? I mean, this could be Anothony Robbins bio, as opposed to a man of God (not saying anything about Robbins, but even he does not promote himself as a pastor!). We have become fascinated with bios, and books, and 'cutting-edge' communications, and have left important things such as Biblical Knowledge, or Prayer Life, or a Pastor's Heart in the dumpster. A man is now successful if his church is bigger than XX, regardless of whether or not his life reflects Christ's at all!

Now I want to say that I am all for reaching the lost, and reaching out, but when we have men who strut about with their 'fan-club', promoting their latest book and teaching methods, what we DON'T have are people who are role models for Christians. How a pastor lives is as much a part of his teaching as what he says; and many of the modern popular preachers do not reflect the life of one who has died to self, and now lives for Christ. What the lost need more than another self-help method is the transforming power of the Spirit in their life, and they need to see people modeling that same Spirit in their lives.

Let me compare the above bio with this bio -- And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1st Corinthians 2:1-5

When we are all about self-promoting, we are (at best) not promoting Christ as Lord and Savior, and (at worse) promoting self-dependence w/o Christ.

Before anyone comments about this, let me say that pastors and leaders in the church are due honor, yes, but honor that they get from PROPERLY teaching and preaching the Word -- not just because they carry a title. I know people without any title at all that I give respect to because of their teaching and the fact that their lives reflect God's transforming power; likewise, I know men who call themselves pastors who do not deserve any honor at all.


Anonymous said...


This is a great post. I guess you don't expect to be popular with the mega-church crowd or to be invited to speak at any of their conferences. I've just started a series of posts concering the implications of mutual edification for the church. One of those will deal with pastors and leadership as well. I'd love to hear your views on that post.


Ray said...

Hello alan -- No, I expect that i won't be receiving any speaking invitations anytime soon.

Truthfully, it is not only Mega-Churches that have this issue, it can be small churches or large -- and I must admit, we all need to be on our guard, and in prayer regarding our attitude lest we become self-righteous in our piety!

I have visited your blog and see that you are going to discuss the individualism aspect as well. I have posted about that before, and it will come up in this series as well.

Thanks for visiting -- Ray

Anonymous said...

Great post Ray.

I wonder what Paul, who proclaimed that he "preached Christ crucified", would say about the cult of personality. I've heard sermons from a well known "cutting edge" communicator (preacher) that did not contain a SINGLE biblical reference. All just stories about himself.

The ministry is just another way to be famous in our celebrity junkie society.