It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.
- Psalm 118:8
We are seeing a huge tribalistic push not only within society, but within the Christian church, as well. Often times, this mentality is centered around the ideas, preaching or personality of a single person. Within politics, we see this with Donald Trump on the right and Bernie Sanders on the left. Within the mainstream media, we see this with Tucker Carlson on the right and Rachel Maddow on the left. Within Entertainment we see this with athletes such as Lebron James and actors such as Kim Kardashian. Within Christianity, we see with people identifying with their favorite pastor, whether it’s John MacArthur, John Piper, RC Sproul, Tim Keller or any number of other famous pastors.
As I’ve stated before, Paul condemned this mentality when he confronted the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 3. Here was the great Apostle Paul telling the church to “knock it off” when it came to identifying with their favorite church leader! We are talking about the very author of the majority of the New Testament!
Often times, as Christians, we place our faith in what our favorite pastor says ABOUT God’s Word, instead of simply going straight to the Bible. We rely solely on a particular set of commentaries, Bible studies, sermons or books for our understanding of theology.
Denise McAllister wrote about this kind of mentality within the political world on her website, Romans One. She made an extremely important point that applies just as much inside the church as it does within politics:
“If you’re shocked when someone falls from these great heights because of their secret sins, you have put your faith in the wrong place.”
The problem becomes, what happens if that pastor changes their mind, compromises in some way or even disqualifies themselves from ministry through moral failings? Often times you’ll see people walk away from the faith, just as we did when pastors like Mark Driscoll and James MacDonald disqualified themselves from ministry. They created a lot of pain and hurt, as well as disappointing so many who had placed their trust in them and their ministries.
Instead, we should place our faith in God and God alone. These pastors may fail us. In fact, because of the sin nature of every single human on earth, more than likely, they will fail us at some point.
Maybe we need to make a change. The system is not going to change for us. There’s too much money, power and fame involved. If we want to fix the system of celebrity worship, it will take each of us on a personal level to make that change. Stop relying on a man for all of your theological training. Read multiple people, getting different perspectives on an issue, challenging your thought process and always compare everything with Scripture. Make the Bible your primary text, and books, commentaries and Study Bibles a supplementary source to help point you in the right direction when it comes to understanding God’s Word.
Just remember, John MacArthur is not infallible. John Piper is not infallible. Tim Keller is not infallible. No human is, only God. So stop treating pastors as if they are perfect. They aren’t perfect and never will be. Plus, the point of church is to worship God, so why are you spending time fawning over some guy talking on stage when you should be focused on glorifying God? Get your priorities straight.