We live in a celebrity culture — we create celebrities, and then we idolize them.
Conservative, Reformed, Evangelicals do this too, especially seen in the conference culture we have created. Awhile ago, Timmy Brister wrote a great post about this, echoing some of the things I have thought about at times. It’s not just the Reformed circles, either. It happens in all streams of the Christian faith.
I think we run a great danger of turning the great men of our faith into golden calves, bowing in worship to (nearly) every word they say. We take our theology from them. We model our ministries after them. But we must remember — they are only men.
So, in that light, this week’s list is some indicators of admiration becoming idolatry.
1. You take your cues from a man’s style, and just not his theology.
Maybe it’s Piper’s preaching. Or Driscoll’s manliness. Remember, though, style is not substance.
2. You tend to be easily convinced by a man’s arguments.
This stems from having great respect for someone, but it can lead down the path of not thinking biblically and critically of their ideas.
3. You judge others by a certain man, and not first by the Scripture.
Easily, when we respect someone, we compare others to them, measuring them against the “great one”. In baseball, people get compared to Babe Ruth. Theology has its heavy hitters; however, we have one infallible standard.
4. You envy a man’s accomplishments.
This might mask itself as “I wish God would use me like _______.” It is pride, which has put a man on a pedestal. Everything, then, is compared that person, and what they have done, rather than by faithfulness to God’s calling and Word.
5. Your theology and thinking almost identically matches another man’s.
This closely relates to #2 above. We’ve heard it said,”If you agreed with everything in the book, you probably weren’t thinking for yourself.” It’s the same in theology more broadly. We must be careful to affirm the Scripture’s teaching, and not that of a single and fallen man.
6. You read a person’s books or listen to their sermons, more than you study and read the Bible.
This one explains itself.
7. You have a “______ is my homeboy” t-shirt.
Ok. This one is tongue-in-cheek.
Great men are truly a gift from God to his church. However, we must remember them in their proper place, and not practice a form of Protestant canonization. Men are men. God is God. Let’s all (and I’m preaching to myself most of all) keep that straight.