Weekends are for Worship: Worship and Celebrity Malarkey

One of the dangers believers face is that of man-centered worship.  Worship, by its very nature should be God-centered.

Carl Trueman writing of the American tendency toward hero-worship and celebrity has said:

The American church reflects the culture: ministries built around individuals, around big shots, churches that focus on god-like guru figures, all of them pointing to one door.  I have lost count of the conversations I have had with church people anxious to tell of who they heard at this conference, of which person they corresponded with, of how this opinion or that opinion would not sit well with this demi-god and is therefore of little value; and, of course, of how anyone who disagrees with, or criticizes, this chosen hero must, of necessity be morally depraved and wicked.  People want the gods to do their thinking for them.  All of the Pelagian, Manichean celebrity malarkey of the American political process is alive and well in the church as well.  The question is: when it comes to churches and ministries built around messiahs who are supposed to point not to themselves but to the true door, who is going to have the guts to leave the temple?

This concept is nothing new, but it has reached dangerous levels in recent years. What should be our response? I’m reminded of the story of the visiting speaker at the church pastored by Henry Ward Beecher.

During the tenure of the great orator Henry Ward Beecher, a visiting minister once substituted for the popular pastor. A large audience had already assembled to hear Beecher, and when the substitute pastor stepped into the pulpit, several disappointed listeners began to move toward the exits.

That’s when the minister stood and said loudly, “All who have come here today to worship Henry Ward Beecher may now withdraw from the church. All who have come to worship God keep your seats!”

{Today in the Word, April 1989, p. 22.}


2 thoughts on “Weekends are for Worship: Worship and Celebrity Malarkey

  1. I think that the problem is the greatest in Evangelical churches. Christian radio and TV have enshrined many folks and created an unhealthy model of ministry for local churches.

  2. Yet another reason to immerse one’s self in the church fathers. I don’t see throngs of people tuning in to watch a special on Augustine or John Chrysostom, or classical Reformation sources use of the Western tradition…When we can raise millions to create an evangelical patristics society based on Mere Christianity, give me a call…

    I agree with Kansas Bob that certain evangelical circles in particular lend themselves to this, since the emphasis is on “decision making” preaching, rather than liturgy and sacrament (ordinance for my Baptist friends) for example (not that preaching isn’t important, it certainly is!) .

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