Original Photo Attribution: “Selfie” by Paško Tomić; CC 2.0
I always get a little bewildered when I see others posing with “celebrity pastors” and theologians. I find nothing inherently wrong with having great respect for a man who has consistently shown his reputation to be worthy of honor (or double honor, for that matter). I also find nothing wrong with celebrating what has been accomplished through a man. I don’t think it is idolatrous or sinful to get a photo with the guy – but when do we cross that line?
Do we have a line set?
I suppose the main reason it makes me cringe a little is that it perpetuates the celebrity culture I am so “meh” towards to begin with. Maybe that’s an internal issue of my own, but in the short span I’ve been a Christian, I’ve seen many more of these men fall rather than remain standing. I’m grateful for the men that continue to stand, but part of me wonders if there will be a grand reveal of some particular sin one day that disqualifies them from ministry. I hope I am wrong on that one, but chances are that I am not in at least a few more. Ask an older generation.
I don’t think adulation sets one up for the fall. Manifest sin is the culmination of one’s own desires; this external, “Christian celebrity” image has simply revealed a long-standing idol in the fallen pastor’s heart. That being said, adulation certainly doesn’t help quell the ego. There is a fundamental difference between the “celebrity pastor” that seeks the attention and one who has it thrust upon them. Yet in the end, it seems strange even to put the faithful ones on such a pedestal.
What is funny to me in all of this is that we Christians have formed our own niche in the celebrity culture, only one that isn’t so famous. Few people outside of the church know of mega-church pastors, and the ones that they do know about, they certainly don’t care about. I mean, if you took an unchurched friend and told them you were going to introduce them to a celebrity, they would be severely disappointed to find out it was a man who is famous among Christians. He might be a nice and respectable guy, even worthy of double honor, but he certainly is no (reader: insert your favorite celebrity name here).
Don’t get me wrong. I am incredibly grateful for some of these men’s ministries and the influence they have against those who are “celebrity pastors” that have no business opening their mouths. I’d love to grab a cup of coffee with the faithful ones and pour through the scriptures. But, would I grab a selfie with the guys in academia or some big name pastors? Would I be stoked to see them following me on Twitter or accepting my friend request on Facebook? Would I be star-struck with a man who was never designed to be a star?
Through scripture, there is one, grand, unifying theme presented: God gets the glory.
God is the one who gifts the church with pastors, gifts pastors with their abilities, effectually draws people to the cross, and causes the scriptures to have His desired affect upon the hearts of hearers. The popular, yet faithful pastor recognizes this – and holds onto it dearly.
Through the celebrity culture, there is also one, grand, unifying theme: man gets the glory. Regardless of our acknowledgement of it, the celebrity culture affects our way of thinking. To me, there just seems to be something flawed about bringing that age-old ideology within the church and acting like it is part and parcel to Christendom.