Christian Celebrities

RZIMc Community,

Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. (James 3:1)

This question is based on a very specific so-called “Christian celebrity” (forgive me if this title seems inappropriate or to forward but it’s the best I can come up with) but I am also interested in hearing about others’ experiences with such types of people and is based on the truth of James 3:1 above.

Q: How does the influence of “Christian celebrities” impact (or sway or persuade or direct) the movement (or direction) of the body of Christ inside and outside of the church?

Examples include Chip & Joanna Gaines, Tim Tebow, Chris Pratt, and every Christian artist currently in rotation on K-Love (radio station), just to name a few.

Here is my specific experience with such a person … my church’s men’s group just finished Moving Mountains (by John Eldridge) which discusses prayer. After the 8-9 weeks of instruction, I have to wonder if the message of prayer that was presented was beyond the limit of scripture and actually just served to fill a 8-9 week course? I believe that Mr. Eldridge took scripture and adapted them to his message about prayer versus using scripture to understand biblical prayer or how Jesus prayed or something more in line with scripture. It is clear after finishing this course that there is a right way to pray and a wrong way to pray. Also, JE indicates that longer prayers are better than shorter prayers. He also indicates that the wording matters. How can an immature Christian, who has never read Matt 6:9-13 (the Lord’s Prayer), take such a legalistic view of prayer as anything other than a set of strict rules? Guys in our class seemed very concerned about their own prayer life and that “they were not doing it right” before. What about the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:26-27)? Maybe someone out there has experienced this course and can add their thoughts?

Secondly, after reading his book Wild at Heart, which I enjoyed, I later found criticism of this book and the reasons for such criticism really concerned me. Firstly, he does not present Proverbs 20:5 correctly and this is the basis of his entire book. He misquotes it on the title page of Ch. 1 (The heart of a man is like deep water . . .) whereas NASB says (A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water, …). How can such a blunder give me, or anyone confidence in his theology? The article below indicates several other errors, too many for me to list.

Source: https://www.ccwtoday.org/2010/04/a-critical-review-of-john-eldredges-wild-at-heart/

I hope that my points above are clear and I certainly do not want to bash John Eldridge but I understand that the bible teaches know and understand and apply the truth and that teaches are to be held accountable to what they teach (2 Tim 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 3:16; 1 Thess. 5:21, James 3:1).

Mark

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@Parkeri1313 Great question :slight_smile: You know, when I went to seminary our professors warned us that as we grew in knowledge, it would be easy to judge other preachers or ministers who were not as educated or who had different opinions on theological issues. Knowledge can puff us up, when what we need is to build up.

Now, this is not an excuse not to practice discernment, but it is a healthy warning. Of course we should not follow false teachers or encourage others to do so. And it is terribly frustrating to me when public Christians encourage people to seek experiences that I fully believe they will never have… In fact, it downright makes me angry sometimes.

But here are the things I keep in mind when I disagree strongly with a public figure:

  • we pray for people who represent Christ publicly, that if they do not know Jesus they would come to know Him and that for the sake of the Gospel God would lead them into all truth
  • we avoid judging someone’s motives—only God knows their heart
  • we differentiate between the Gospel and secondary doctrines—if the Gospel is in tact, there is a lot of room for disagreement on what Christian experience should look like outside of it
  • we avoid becoming obsessed with identifying errors in other peoples’ teaching and instead focus on Jesus and how we can serve Him
  • if we know someone personally who is under the sway of genuine false teaching, we should warn them in all gentleness and respect

1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 - Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.

Acts 17:11 - Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Levels of Doctrine

Not all doctrine is equally important. Some beliefs are at the very center of our Christian faith and to deny them is to deny Christ. Other beliefs are important to how we practice our faith and are therefore the cause of disagreement between many denominations, but these beliefs do not place us outside of Christ. Still other doctrines, such as eschatology, are difficult even for very learned and godly people to understand clearly and are therefore a matter of opinion.

The below article offers a fuller explanation of levels of doctrine and gives a helpful summary list of 4 levels of doctrine.

  1. absolutes define the core beliefs of the Christian faith;
  2. convictions , while not core beliefs, may have significant impact on the health and effectiveness of the church;
  3. opinions are less-clear issues that generally are not worth dividing over; and
  4. questions are currently unsettled issues.

Where an issue falls within these categories should be determined by weighing the cumulative force of at least seven considerations:

  1. biblical clarity;
  2. relevance to the character of God;
  3. relevance to the essence of the gospel;
  4. biblical frequency and significance (how often in Scripture it is taught, and what weight Scripture places upon it);
  5. effect on other doctrines;
  6. consensus among Christians (past and present); and
  7. effect on personal and church life.

Thanks for the great insight SeanO. What a blessing you are to this forum and to me specifically in this response.

It seems like as we grow and mature there will be more things (and people) that God brings to our attention that make us question “what is happening out there?” and “what am I supposed to do?” or “how am I supposed to respond?” now that I am a new creation in Christ Jesus who is maturing day by day by reading His word and in prayer and in community with other Christians.

Keep up the great work SeanO and thanks again for this insight.

Mark

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@Parkeri1313 Sure thing - the Lord Jesus bless you with all wisdom and knowledge as you continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our King and Savior!