Saturday, 21 December 2013

Celebrity preachers and star-struck Christians

There are many Christians today, who claim to hold to the fundamentals of the faith, and who attend churches where the gospel is faithfully preached, yet who are also fans of big name celebrity preachers that are anything but faithful to the word of God. Men like Mark Driscoll, Rick Warren and Joel Osteen, women like Joyce Meyer, somehow attract a following within conservative denominations, their status as a celebrity preacher being such that many believers are either deceived or ignorant as to their true nature; that they are 'false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves'. How is this so, that so many within the evangelical church today are attracted to the teachings of these false prophets, and have become 'star-struck', unable to see beyond the name and the personality.

1. A lack of discernment
One of the main reasons behind such a state of affairs much surely be that there is a great lack of discernment amongst believers. There is neither the ability nor the desire to discern between truth and error. Do we know error when we see it? Do we even think of looking out for it? The great baptist preacher C.H. Spurgeon said that 'discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather, it is telling the difference between right and almost right'. It is easy to discern between the teachings of Christianity and Islam, or between Christianity and Romanism, but what about Calvinism and New Calvinism? What about Evangelicalism and Neo-Evangelicalism? The most dangerous error is that error which is mingled with truth, that which appears on the surface to be Christian, yet when it is looked at in depth it is riddled with the poison of heresy and compromise. A perversion of the truth is far more perilous that a blatant deceit. Prominent Christian teachers such as Joyce Meyer and Mark Driscoll may make some comments that are not unscriptural in themselves, yet when their teachings as a whole are examined it is clearly seen that they do not faithfully preach the whole counsel of God, but are in error on vital truths. Being right on one point of doctrine does not excuse error on another. Do we see the need to discern between truth and error and the need to 'try the spirits whether they are of God'? Simply because a preacher may be well known, popular (even among our Christian friends) and have celebrity status, does not mean that they are faithful ministers of God's word and that we should accept their teachings without examining them. It is the duty of every Christian to exercise discernment in their spiritual life and to 'hold fast that which is good'.

2. A shallow and limited theology
In his letter to the Corinthians the Apostle Paul said 'I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able'. Although the believers at Corinth had received the Christian faith, they had not grown and matured in their understanding of it, but were still babes in Christ. So it is true of many today, for another reason why many Christians are taken in by many celebrity preachers is that they have not developed any depth in their theology. In explaining their conversion they still cannot describe it in any more depth than having 'asked Jesus into their heart' despite being saved for many years. Doctrines such as regeneration, adoption and justification are deemed to be too deep for their study. A shallow theology such as this will lend itself to the appealing quotes which many celebrity preachers will make, and their other theological errors will do unnoticed. Indeed it is a shallow theology which will result in an inability to discern between truth and error. On one occasion Joyce Meyer made the following comment about the Lord Jesus Christ; 'The minute that blood sacrifice was accepted Jesus was the first human being that was ever born again'. If we do not understand the doctrine of regeneration, of what it means to be born again, then we will likely not see the heresy in that statement, but will continue to quote her because she sounds good and says things that appeal to us. If however we have applied ourselves to the study of the word of God and are well grounded in our theology then we will easily recognise error and those who propagate it. Doctrine is not something to be disregarded as unimportant but is vital if we are to identify the wolf through his sheep's disguise.

3. The influence of social media and the internet
The internet and social media have many positive features, yet they also make it much easier for us to become influenced by false teachers. Whilst social media, and the internet in general, has made it easy for us to access the teaching of many good evangelical preachers, it has also exposed us to those who are not orthodox in their theology, and those preachers, who in times past we would likely never have heard of, or had very little contact with, are now so much more accessible to us. The speed and freedom which we have to access information through the internet means that there is little to guard us against the influence of error if we are not vigilent and aware of the need for discernment. We can very easily become influenced by false teaching, and attracted to a celebrity preacher long before our minister has warned against them from the pulpit. Great care is required when following the lead of others in what teachers we associate ourselves with. Our friends may have 'liked' a particular preacher or ministry and it can be easy to do likewise without giving thought to the faithfulness of that preacher beforehand. Even our friends can err, and because they approve of a preacher is not sufficient reason in itself for us to do likewise. Do not assume that the preachers you see quoted on Facebook and Twitter by your Christian friends are faithful preachers of the word.
4. Today's celebrity culture
Psalm 135:15 says that 'The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men's hands'. Whilst there are still those around the world who worship idols of gold and silver, for many today their idol is the celebrity. Much of what is broadcast on television is geared towards creating celebrities, other programmes have a celebrity version of their normal show. Magazines are full of the details of the lives of celebrities. It is the celebrity who has the millions of adoring fans, who will defend and worship him. Even among Christians there is a great desire to follow what celebrities are doing, and to keep up with the latest news. It is perhaps not surprising then that Christians are drawn to a preacher who also has that celebrty status, who commands a great following, and who is even prominent within mainstream media. With popularity being seen as something that is the an essential measurement of success, we then want to follow a preacher who is popular. The world loves its celebrities and so Christians also love their celebrity preachers. Of course that is not to say that we should not hold faithful men and women of God in high regard, yet we ought not become attracted to them simply because of their celebrity status, nor think of them as being beyond criticism. The defining factor of what a good preacher is should not be their celebrity status within the church, but their teaching measured in the light of God. How popular they are is of no great importance, yet what they teach is everything when it comes to considering whether we accept or reject them.

5. A disregard for biblical separation
The word of God is very clear on how we should regard false teachers, we are to separate from them and have no association with them whatsoever. We are to 'come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing'. The extent of our separation from error is seen in the word 'touch'.  We are not simply to refrain from handling that which is unclean, but we are not even to touch it. The Old Testament laws on cleanliness did not require any long association with a leprous person, or an unclean beast, in order for a person to be considered unclean, but only a touch was required. Our separation from error should not be partial, but complete. This does not mean that we only quote or follow those whom we are complete agreement with on every point, for this is impossible. It is essential doctrines which we are concerned with, and where any teacher compromises on a fundamental teaching, we should reject them absolutely. We should not limit our view of separation to being simply that of leaving an apostate denomination, but should ensure that in no way whatsoever do we associate ourselves with, or promote the teaching of those who are in error. We will not miss out on anything through this course of action, but will be blessed by God for it. It is not as if there is a shortage of faithful preachers, both today and from the past, for us to learn from! 

What then is our attitude to be as regards today's celebrity preachers? We do not reject them simply because they have celebrity status and are popular, but we do not blindly accept them on that basis either. We are to try all things by the word of God, regardless of name, status or reputation, accepting only those who are faithful to the blood and the book. Don't be star-struck by the name, but in all things seek to bring honour and glory to the name that is above all names, that of the Lord Jesus Christ.


  1. Tried posting this on another article but didn't work...

    I assume the guy or girl above left the response anonymously is probably so you cannot put him or she down and call them out for being wrong like you did in your article Celebrity preachers and star struck Christians. If you want serious responses yourselves as a website or forum you may consider actually stating some quotes or facts rather than talking loosely around the subject, for example, direct quote...Joyce Meyer and Mark Driscoll may make some comments that are not unscriptural in themselves, yet when their teachings as a whole are examined it is clearly seen that they do not faithfully preach the whole counsel of God, but are in error on vital truths. What are the truths they are missing, have they never taught them or just not ones you have heard?

    If a name had of been left would you actually take questions more seriously? What would that involve exactly? More openness? Doubtful. What does it matter if it is anonymous, why did you create such a website if you didnt want to take responses seriously and request people leave their names for no reason.

    We all know Man is not perfect, I am sure you will agree with me on that. So from that I would assume that if you are a Pastor or Minister or Teacher you have mixed your words up before, been tired and said something you didnt mean or where in fact wrong on a sermon or a point and then a couple of months or years later found out you interpreted the piece of scripture wrong. Or if you are not a Pastor you can apply these to your churches Pastor. If you disagree you are probably suffering from a case of pride, which I am sure you know is a sin.

    I would definitely like clarity on the celebrity preachers and examples of them leaving truths behind them and teaching false things in particular Mark Driscoll. I would not like a delay in this response and will be very interested in the time it does take you to reply as you should not have written such an article if you dont have such quotes or examples to hand.

    Thank you for reading this and I look forward to your response.

    All very serious stuff here so I will leave you with a joke

    A man goes to Heaven and is invited to have a look round...

    Firstly he gets shown a great room with lots of banners and flags...this was the Pentecostals.

    Secondly he gets shown a very wet room and an actual swimming pool was in it, this was for the Baptists.

    This went on and he was shown a variety of rooms and many interesting things but most importantly everyone was giving Glory to God!

    Lastly they paused before going into the last room, and the man was instructed to be very quiet before going into this one...the man asked why? The reply was, this is the Free Presbyterian Room and they think they are the only ones here.

  2. Anonymous

    1. Why people post as ‘anonymous’ is a matter that only they can answer (perhaps you could assist here yourself), however I suspect if they had any real conviction about what they said they would have no issue in putting their name to their comments. Leaving a name will cause the questions and comments left to be taken more seriously, as it will indicate that they have a desire for meaningful debate and do not need to hide behind the anonymity that the internet can afford.

    2. In relation to direct quotes, you will see in this article that I have directly quoted Joyce Meyer on one occasion. Since the point of this article was not to deal with the errors of specific teachers, but to warn against following preachers simply because of their celebrity status, I did not consider it the place to extensively quote them or highlight their errors. Those preachers who I have named, were simply given as examples of some of those who are followed by many evangelical Christians, yet ought not to be so.

    3. What vital truths are they these preachers in error on? As above, this was not the place where I intended to deal with that in detail, however if you go here you will find some of the errors which Joyce Meyer has taught (taken from her own words). There is likewise so shortage of errors which can be attributed to the others whom I have named, and I may indeed examine them in detail in the future.

    4. The errors which could be attributed to these teachers are not such as could be attributed to tiredness or mixing up words (which as you say can happen to us all), but to clear doctrinal error.

    5. Mark Driscoll – where do we start? His profane language and mocking of scripture? His supporting of punk rock music and tattoo artists despite their clear association with the culture of the world. His interpretation of the Song of Solomon as essentially being a sex manual? His claim that he receives supernatural visions from the Lord into the lives of other people? To go through all of this will take some time, and I think I will come back to Driscoll at some time in a future post however if you are interested then you may find some interesting analysis of him at this website

    It is quite telling that of all the comments that I have seen made about this article, they have all been people defending the preachers who were briefly named in the article, not discussing whether we should be discerning in what teachers we follow; they have been jumping to the defence of their celebrity preacher. I would like to see the same enthusiasm in defending the name of the Saviour when it is attacked by the teaching of so called Christian teachers.

    PS I fully intend to see non Free Presbyterians in heaven, indeed this article is as applicable to Free P's in what preachers they follow as it is to anyone else.

  3. Thanks for your reply, all points taken seriously regardless of your name attached.

    Just so you know, I tries to leave my name but I got an error message saying URl contains illegal characters amongst my message, I tried to fix it but to stand by my orginal point of view that your name should not matter the error helped me to stand by my view although not my own decision.

    In reply to your comments about Driscol he has openly came out and declares in his earlier teaching he was very zealous and did and said things he should not have said. That to me is a man who was unexperianced but was very much seeking the work of the Lord just unfortunately in the wrong way on occasions.

    I agree with you on the discerning matter, people generally dont think a lot about it and your blog raises awarness somewhat on this topic...not the way I would have addressed it but none the less.

    What I would like to say on this that what you are perceiving celebrity preachers is somewhat naive. Let me explain.

    Mark driscoll - global recognition

    Ian paisley - international recognition

    Local free Presbyterian who guest speaks a lot - regional recognition

    I see this a lot locally, many people following different churches, many denominations including free ps looking up to teachers they shouldn't just because in that area they are recognised a hero. People are very short sighted...two defintions, they only see their local teachers as true but yet dont discern their teaching and short sighted that anyone out of their region is wrong as they have a number of followers.

    Anyway, in regards to Driscoll, I had asked for things he didnt teach rather than what he did teach if you or I are discerning what he taught wrong wouldnt be a problem as we could disregard these in applying them to ourselves.

    Thanks for the discussion