Top Three Justifications for Celebrity Preacher Worship
1. “Look at the number of followers this preacher has – He obviously is blessed by God in His ministry, so we need to follow him.”
Where in Scripture are we taught to follow the religious leader with the greatest number of followers? (cf. John 6:65-67)
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a.k.a. Pope Francis, has over one billion loyal followers, more than any other preacher (who is not the God-man) of all time. Unless you intend to join the happy skipping back to Rome with the new Calvinists and other ecumenical movements, perhaps the numbers argument falls short of logical validity. If that seems an extreme example, the same could be said of any number of mega-church preachers. You choose one, it doesn’t really matter how many followers he has, there is no Scriptural grounds for placing any man on the pedestal of spiritual hero worship.
2. “Look at the souls he has won during his ministry – it is good that we follow him.”
We should never attribute the saving of any soul to a man, ever. No preacher has ever won a soul from the Devil. That goes against the clear teaching of Scripture which tells us that no man can come to Christ unless it is granted by the Father. See especially I Corinthians 3:5-7.
Besides, souls are not won for Christ by men, they were purchased by Christ for Himself on the cross. God the Father draws men to Christ by the preaching of the Gospel. Men, that is, the Church, has been entrusted with the duty and glorious task of proclaiming the good news, yes indeed, yet the number of those who come is no reason to recognize anyone as an evangelical star whose teachings are to be held in such esteem that they are never held to the light of God’s holy Word.
If you’re going to swoon, swoon over something relatively worthwhile, like chocolate or tacos, but let us not rob God of the glory due Him for the saving of souls by offering our praise to talented preachers with swag. God alone is the true soul winner.
3. “But [insert favorite evangelist/preacher/teacher/author here] obviously is anointed by God in his ministry, we should both support, listen and obey him because of that anointing.”
Thus says the Lord:
Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge. – 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 [emphasis mine]
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. – I John 2:19-21
Bottom line: Every true believer has the anointing of God. Stop worshipping preachers as if they have an elite, special anointing that you, as a true believer, do not! It is not so Christian.
God, through His written Word, has addressed this very issue, which we would do well to heed and follow. Far, far too many defend men and their teachings for no better reason than that they are adored in the heart as nearly infallible, untouchable, and the untouchable ones feed and grow greedy on the frenzy.
It is a vain thing which the Church should immediately turn from. Yes, it will disturb the “peace” and throw a proverbial wrench into the engines of certain popular movements, like new Calvinism.Yet God has spoken, we have been given our teaching and example from Him in this matter.
When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voice, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have become like men and have come down to us.” And they began calling Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways; and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” Even saying these things, with difficulty they restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them. – Acts 14:11-18