Updated: Aug 1, 2019
This is the question I get asked on a fairly regular basis by many solid Christians: Why should we care what pastors say? Why should we care when John Piper or Kirk Cameron appear to support the Catholic Church? Why should we care when Perry Noble claims that the 10 Commandments are not really commandments at all? Why should we care that Mark Driscoll plagiarized, misused church funds, swore at fellow pastors, shared stories of the Holy Spirit giving him pornographic visions of church members sinning in his church, or lying about having his books confiscated after crashing the Strange Fire Conference? Shouldn’t we just focus on our own local church… I mean, who cares what's going on outside of my church?
As Christians, we are called to expose the false teachings of those who claim to be teachers of God’s Word. “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11) Now, you may ask, “But what difference does it make? It’s not like you are going to get them to repent!” Sadly, that last statement is probably true. However, we need to expose false teachings, not simply to bring that specific pastor to repentance (although that would be a huge plus!), but to warn those under our influence to be careful and discerning about this subject. 2 John 1:10 even goes so far as to say that “if anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting…”
A perfect example of this is John Piper. John Piper is an amazing theologian, who is highly respected by almost everyone in the Christian community. He has been a close friend of John MacArthur for decades, and was a regular speaker at the Shepherd’s Conference every year until a few years ago. He has a huge sphere of influence and has written many amazing books, given brilliant expositional sermons, and spoken to millions of people around the world.
Now, we could take the approach of “Let’s just hide our heads in the sand and let Piper say and do whatever he wants… I can’t do anything to stop him!” However, while he may not be speaking directly to the members of our local church, more than likely he is influencing the members of your church because of his solid theological background.
The result of not speaking out when he (or any other “celebrity pastor”) says or does something unbiblical is catastrophic, and (in my opinion) is one of the reasons why the American church is failing miserably. You see, someone might be reading one of his solid theological books, listening to one of his amazing exegetical sermons, or going to one of his conferences and be impressed by him and his theological brilliance. Then, they may think to themselves… “Wow, he’s really good, and seems to be on point theologically! I’m going to follow him on Twitter, read more of his books, and read his blogs over at Desiring God.”
That’s great, you might be saying to yourself. That’s one more person who is taking God seriously and who is learning from a theological genius!
Here’s the problem… When John Piper speaks at the same conferences as Carl Lentz (the celebrity hungry, charismatic prosperity gospel pastor of Hillsong NYC), gives his stamp of approval to Rick Warren (the ecumenical, purpose driven pastor of Saddleback Church), or promotes pastors like Mark Driscoll (the angry, charismatic, cussing, “I can see my congregation performing sinful acts on a screen in front of my face when I see them," former pastor of Mars Hill Church), those who follow and trust him can be led astray.
Piper’s followers may think to themselves, “I’m surprised that he is saying (such and such)” or “Wow, I can’t believe that he is supporting (so and so).” But then their followup thought is, “But John Piper has read and studied the Bible way more than I ever have, so he must know what he is doing. Maybe I was wrong in my position before, and need to repent to fall in line with what this amazing Bible teacher is saying.”
Then, a pastor who doesn’t really follow what is going on in the World of Christianity, gets asked to promote a (hypothetical) Rick Warren conference promoting unity between Catholics and Protestants. He does his research and sees that John Piper supports Rick Warren, and then decides to help promote this conference because he respects Piper so much. “I mean, John Piper would never want a heretic to infiltrate the church. Who am I to question such an amazing pastor as Piper?” And then Rick Warren and his ecumenical theology has just infiltrated another church.
So, you see… the point isn’t just to beat up on John Piper or any of the other pastors out there. The point is to correct error. The point is to protect the church from heresy. The point is to keep truth in and keep error out. The point is to be sure that your congregation is receiving biblical teaching, and to keep them from being led astray because their ears are being tickled. Remember 2 Timothy 4:3-4: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
This article was originally posted on my blog several years ago. However, while some of the names and references in this article are outdated, I feel as if the principle applies to what we are seeing happen in the church today.