A Movement of Personalities

Big personalities have always played a big role in the American church. Some celebrity preachers (like George Whitefield and John Piper) encourage us with their faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Others (like Charles Finney and Joel Osteen) raise serious concerns. The latter make you wonder if there is any hope for an evangelical movement that fills their churches and buy their books.

Earlier this year I discussed these issues of celebrity evangelicalism and more with my friends and fellow writers Owen Strachan and Justin Taylor. We live in a time when God has evidently blessed the ministry of many godly teachers. For that we can give thanks! But we also know form history that movements dependent on personalities rises and fall with them. So we discuss the differences between speaking at conferences and leading in the local church according to biblical guidelines.

  • Aaron

    Hopefully these personalities truly focus on the Gospel, which will remain long after they are gone. Good discussion.

  • http://mritala.blogspot.com/ Matti

    There’s somekind of celebrityism going on in every branch of evangelicalism. The Gospel Coalition type of consortium can even amplify this kind of tendencies in the New Calvinist movement. I see a lot of same names coming up all the time eventhough there a lot of godly pastors working behind in the scenes.

    Ultimately the problem is just that people don’t focus on Christ and the mystery Christ. I think pastors and other evangelical leaders need to grasp more Paul’s vision of his ministry found in Col 1:24-28.

    To them (to His saints) God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
    (Col 1:27)

  • John

    As an associate pastor of a wonderful small church, and a youth pastor of some amazing kids, I am encouraged daily by the faithfulness of my pastor and the congregation around me. I hope I encourage them by my faithfulness too. When discussing faithfulness to the gospel and to the church, and not to personalities, I like the microcosm of the local church. It helps me keep my eyes on Jesus.

  • Blest


    You talk about…
    “Historically, movements *rise and fall* on celebrity personalities.”

    Could these movements *rise and fall* because these celbrities, no matter how humble,
    eventually *take God’s name in vain?* And become “Idols?” If not to themselves, to others?”
    By taking, “His Name” for themselves? And by being called by “His Name?”

    2 Chron 7:14
    If my people, **which are called by my name,** shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

    Isn’t God asking those **which are called by my name,**
    to humble themselves? Turn from their wicked ways?

    Who are those believers “called” by “God’s Name” today?

    What about the names – Shepherd – Teacher – Leader – Reverend – ?
    Aren’t these **names** that God is called?

    1 – God/Jesus is called – Shepherd/Pastor
    The Lord is my **shepherd.** Psalm 23:1.
    …returned unto the **Shepherd** and Bishop of your souls. 1Pet 2:25.

    2 – God/Jesus calls Himself – Teacher
    … for One is your Teacher, the Christ…Mat 23:8 NKJV.
    If I then, your Lord and Teacher… John 13:14 NKJV.

    3 – God/Jesus is called – Leader
    And do not be called leaders; for One is your **Leader,** that is, Christ.
    Mat 23:10 NASB.
    God exalted him at his right hand as **Leader** and Savior…
    Acts 5:31 ESV

    4 – God/Jesus is called – Reverend
    …holy and **reverend** is his name. Psalm 111:9 KJV

    Hmmm? What about – Shepherds – Teachers – Leaders – Reverends – ?
    Aren’t these **names** that God is called?

    Are they taking “God’s Name” in vain? Oy Vey!!! :-(

    Ex 20:7
    Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain;
    for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

    The only movement that has lasted has “ONE” celebrity… Jesus…

    I’m Blest… I’ve returned to the shepherd and Bishop of my soul…

    Jesus… a name which is above every name…