“Celebrity culture is nothing new. In his day, Paul had to oppose certain celebrity preachers: he called them “super-apostles” (2 Cor 10–13, esp. 11:5). But what made them super-apostles (and, equally, “false apostles,” 2 Cor 11:13) was not the size of their ministries or the reach of their influence (for on that ground, Peter and Paul would both stand condemned), but their lust for power and not service, their preaching of a triumphalist Jesus and not the Jesus of the cross, their blatantly boastful accounts of their spiritual experiences in order to enhance their reputations over against Paul’s fear that people would think too highly of him (2 Cor 12:6b). Paul treats such people with severity, demanding that the church in Corinth remove them from leadership and influence. One must not forget, however, that this same Paul treats very differently those who preach the truth faithfully, even if their motives leave something to be desired: “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice” (Phil 1:18). And even here we are doubtless dealing with a spectrum. Paul is convinced he must correct Peter, but shall Peter be written off for pastoral and theological mistakes (Gal 2:11–14)? May not Christian leaders disagree sharply on how to handle a John Mark?

In other words, while we rightly identify the dangers in celebrity culture and grapple with the negative effects they have on a God-given revival, our analysis must not prove so shallow and sweeping that we happily condemn faithful preachers who happen to be more fruitful than we are. There is a kind of condemnation of celebrity culture that seems to be seeking a kind of celebrity over its own insight.”

(D.A. Carson, “The Underbelly of Revival?  Five Reflections on Various Failures in the Young, Restless, and Reformed Movement,” Vol. 39, Issue 3, Nov. 2013)

The Oldness of Today’s Celebrity Culture in the Church


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