This is a great article on a continuing problem in American Christianity:

Thus Saith the Radio

The problem, in a nutshell, is that if something is said by some Christian personality on the radio, it trumps what your local church pastor—who doesn’t have a radio program, or isn’t on “Christian TV”—says. It’s a form of personality worship; it’s why people will defend Joel Osteen’s indefensible “preaching”, or TD Jakes’ lavish lifestyle, or Charles Stanley’s going back on his word, or… We make heroes out of people, and their word, if they write books or are on the radio, trumps the Bible, or integrity, or what have you.

A corollary to this is Kool-Aid drinking. Clarence Thomas, subject of my previous post, is a man who wasn’t willing to stay on the plantation run by race hustlers like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, but instead was willing to think for himself, and when the conclusions he reached didn’t match what the massahs said they should, he was faced with the decision to either stand by his convictions or drink the Kool-Aid. He stood by his convictions. And yet, there are evangelicals who’ll drink the Kool-Aid, unthinkingly, for whomever, whether it’s James Dobson, or Jim Wallis, or anybody in between. No…have the courage to own your own convictions, trying your best to base them on the Word of God, and on the evidence at hand, instead of molding what you believe, against your conscience, to conform to the leader of some pack into which you want to fit.

5 responses »

  1. Mel says:

    This is, I think, an epidemic problem, and it’s not just limited to our celebrities. Go to any superchurch, like Lakewood or Grace Houston or Phoenix First Assembly, and you’ll find the majority of the congregation practically praying to the pastor. The people can’t be bothered with thinking for themselves. Here we now have the freedom to read scripture in our own language and glean from it what we wish, and we’re giving up that right to let someone else tell us what we’re supposed to believe.

    Between that and the “Christian celebrity” worship, the “body” isn’t really a body anymore. Why do we need our own celebrities? Why do we need our own rock stars, our own action figures, our own movies, radio programs, etc.? Why do we need this stuff? Everyone calling themselves by Christ’s name complains that the world is destroying itself and that things like homosexuality and left-wing politicians are threatening us, but the reality is that we’re on the road to destroying ourselves.

  2. Mark Merritt says:

    Possibly your best post ever, Byron. What you are claiming is absolutely true.

    I know because I heard it on the radio today (just kiddin)

  3. Don says:

    This actually isn’t a new problem. It’s just gotten way more pronounced in the modern era of telecommunications. I can remember back in the late seventies and early eighties a good deal of fawning over a conference speaker by the name of Bill Gathard. People would flock to his seminars by the droves and gobble up every word that he preached as if it were gospel. He covered such subjects as Basic Preparation for Engagement (though he’s never been married), Basic Youth Conflicts (though he’s never had children), medical advise (though he isn’t a physician), Oh, and my personal favorite, How to Evaluate Music (though to my knowledge he isn’t a musician). Never mind whether or not he was qualified to speak intelligently in any of these area.

    The thing that disturbs me the most about guys like Bill Gothard is the blind devotion of their “disciples”. Whenever I would try and challenge someone on Gothard’s teachings, I’d get two immediate responses, as if they were indoctrinated. “But he’s only teaching the Bible,” was the first response. And when I tried to point out that, no, what he’s actually teaching is his opinion on the Bible, the next response would be, “Have you ever attended one of Gothard’s seminars?” The point being that if you haven’t heard him speak then you really don’t fully understand his teachings.

    It’s a scary thing when people worship a personality above the Almighty. And it’s an even scarier thing when they don’t even recognize that that is what they are doing.

  4. Byron says:

    Great words all, Mel, Mark, and Don. To Don, I once had a seminary prof (whom you’d know) refer to Bill Gothard as the closest thing he could think of to a “Christian cult”. My recollections/experiences mirror yours, Don. I never went to “Basic”, but was given a ticket to a Pastors’ Gathering in Denver in 1986. I went to that—someone told me only later that I wasn’t supposed to be able to go without having gone to “Basic”, but that could be in error. Honestly, it was fine, but I didn’t come away fawning like the folks I’d observed who were full-fledged Gothardites. I had an experience in PA with a family that were such, and frankly, their daughter clashed with her mother big-time, IMHO because of their unrealistic expectations. The girl and her beau began premarital counseling with me, but broke up because of Mom and Dad. Then, several years later, she began dating a once-married, but not-yet-finally-divorced guy when she moved away. She kept in contact with us, and showed up in church one Sunday with her new beau AND Mom and Dad (whom I’d met through the first-beau affair). She had a ring on her finger, and Mom and Dad were all smiles, even when she and her beau asked me to do the wedding—and in a less-than-two-months hurry.

    Karen, perceptive sometimes in ways I’m not, asked me, “do you think something’s up?” “No”, I said confidently, “if there were a bun in the oven, do you think Gothardite Mom and Dad would be so gung-ho?”

    Guess how that one turned out…

    Anyway, their Gothard-reverence cost them a nice relationship with their daughter, IMHO.

  5. Derlin says:

    This sounds like a modern version of Luther and Tyndale taking on the Catholic church by translating the Bible into German and English so the people could read it for themselves.

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