Christ the Celebrity Preacher

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Puritan Board Sophomore
Someone drew my attention to a recent quote by a Scottish Presbyterian Minister who said, 'Today's evangelicals must know that there is only one celebrity preacher, Jesus I am finding his life utterly compelling.'

Christ was obviously both a preacher and well known, but to say He was a celebrity preacher conjures up a very different impression from the Christ of the Scriptures. These statements are often intended more for effect than anything else, but how would you view such a statement?

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
Witty and harmless enough. The point is that preachers ought not to draw attention to themselves, but to Jesus. It's a good point, and I think most listeners are sophisticated enough to pick up on it without reading any misunderstanding of Jesus' ministry into that line.


Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I take the point of the speaker to be: Christianity is all about the Mediator. Christianity is "hero worship," if we apotheosize the term in the one and only Son.

People today are infatuated with alternative idols (there's even a tv show in this country called "american idol"). This tendency has also infected the church. It could be that some are attracted to a church because of the pastor, some guy who has "built" that church into something admirable to worldly eyes, using earthly measurements. He might even be respectable, both personally and theologically.

The point is not that there are good men in those positions, beside a host of others with glaring faults. But that "success" by any reckoning is no substitute for faithfulness. And at the core of faithfulness (or devotion) is one's first-love. No pastor's love for Jesus can substitute for even one of his flock, who is "trusting" in his pastor (or that church).

Celebrities abound. Look at the frenzy around the pope; it's the ultimate example of ecclesiolatry. Earthly-minded people have lowered their gaze to an "incarnational" head, in whom they trust. But the rest of christendom has replacements galore. Osteen. Hybels. Warren. Robertson. Even women: BethMoore, PaulaWhite, etc. Even the Calvinistic community (broadly conceived) has its celebrity-subculture. Piper. MacArthur. Sproul.

The main problem is not with these individuals, however much (or little) they might revel in their notoriety. The problem is with humanity, and looking to other men as objects of particularly religious affection. Other kinds of celebrity/hero can be falsely elevated as well--be they politicians, athletes, martial figures, movie stars, etc. Obsession with such persons can very easily slip into a form of religion.

So much the worse when the person of Christ--what he did and taught; what he fulfilled and promised he would yet accomplish in the future--is supplanted by some man who (ostensibly) is committed to disappearing behind his message concerning Another.


Puritan Board Sophomore
I understand that the point is for preachers to draw attention to Christ not themselves, that is quite clear. Most may be sophisticated enough, as you say Jack, to avoid misunderstanding Christ's ministry through the quote, but it is important to bring clarity to these matters so that as many people as possible would have a clear understandng of Christ's ministry. We need seriousness and simplicity in the church, rather than wit and sophistication.

I had asked the question to an elder I know and he responded with the following:
Celebrity is cultivated and is the self-conscious pursuit of fame for your own ends. Christ came to glorify the Father, to preach the good news of the Kingdom and to seek and to save that which is lost. It is to demean his prophetic office to call Christ a celebrity preacher, most of whom these days are either charlatans or unhelpfully self-promoting. My Name Ministries etc. Christ came on a donkey not in a limo. He was such a celebrity he died in ignominy outside the camp mocked and despised. He was such a celebrity he would not allow men to make Him king. He was such a celebrity he forbid people to speak of Him, or even His glory till after His death. Sure He had fame. Many prominent people have fame. It doesn't make them celebrities. To be honest you just don't say things like that. Even for effect.


Puritan Board Freshman
Look at the frenzy around the pope; it's the ultimate example of ecclesiolatry.
just classic!

He was such a celebrity he would not allow men to make Him king. He was such a celebrity he forbid people to speak of Him, or even His glory till after His death.

Here is the crux of it as Jesus unlike the messiah they expected nor the superhero we would expect today who would come and fly around and move buildings and do all the impressive feats. But Jesus Christ came and served and healed.

Jesus was quite popular when he walked the earth but also notice that it was about his miracles and as they decreased and hard teaching increased His following decreased to the point of only a few women, none of His 12 even stayed, and Peter denied Him trice, and in God's ordination of these events we see that true power is restrained power. If you have ever seen the movie fearless by Jet Li he realizes toward the end that his father was the champion because he could have dealt a finishing blow but stopped himself (and therefore opened himself up to being hit and knocked out)

the church I was previously attending is kinda seekersensitive kinda emergent and they were found of throwing around the catch phrase "We need to spread His fame" and it always weirded me out a bit. I think it was because I knew they hearts were right and what they were getting at but the terms weren't defined very well. They weren't holistic, they didn't include the fact that people will bite and scorn you for His name etc. And just like this guy using the word celebrity I think his heart is right in wanting the preeminence for Christ but he could use a term that is far less culturally loaded at the moment or in the least be very specific in his definite and expositing his usage of terms. I've said this before I know somewhere on PB but a great downfall is due to our lack of critical thinking in the church and with that comes vagueness and theological terms that have no really meaning or depth behind them, things become less systematic, and then confusion sets in (and we know confusion doesn't come from God unless He is confounding or deluding as judgment 1 cor 14:33) or worse they become twisted or trendy without any true or righteous meaning.

I personally think it is ok to have our heroes in the reformed traditions, our Spurgeons, or Owen's etc as long as they don't steal the preeminence in our hearts from Christ, as the apostle Paul told his disciples to imitate him as he imitates Christ, but we must be very careful not to get infatuated where we end up being of Apollos or Paul instead of Christ. This is why being labeled a Calvinist doesn't bother me because Calvin does not come close to having the preeminence for me.

I will also add though that for the most part if someone starts getting really popular I usually run the other way now adays. Not always I respect MacArthur and even Piper but not Joel Osteen in anyway shape or form because he doesn't point to Christ.
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