Monday, September 26, 2011

On Asterisks for Celebrity "Pastors"

As I had considered this very issue earlier this morning, I was pleased with the providential reading of Ed Stetzer's post, Should 'Broader Interests' Preclude Pastoring? (HT: Challies). I am grateful for Stetzer's three reasons on why Christian speakers and writers must stay close to the local church:
  1. I love the church
  2. I need the church
  3. I'm committed to serve
And he concludes with this perceptive statement:
Reality means accountability to some kind of leadership structure in the church and to body as a whole. Rick Warren alluded to this problem in a tweet that followed the Rob Bell announcement: "Speaking tours feed the ego = All applause & no responsibility. It's an unreal world. A church gives accountability & validity" The last thing anyone needs is more to feed out selfish egos, but that is precisely part of the challenge associated with the speaking circuit (emphasis added).
Read his entire post.

We do not often gel with the views of Rick Warren, but he could not be more right on this one. Pastors and teachers who leave local churches for the speaking and/or writing circuit, have departed reality for a manufactured environment without real accountability. And it is that last aspect which is especially troubling.

It is all the more troubling because their move from accountability is a move into greater influence before the eyes and ears of impressionable Christians. Such influence is guaranteed by retaining the privilege and prerogative of the title, "Pastor."

God intended the local church to be the auspices under which teaching, speaking, and writing was to be conducted. Any author or speaker who is not under accountability, has no credibility. This is to say that even our best-selling authors - irrespective of how crazy their love - simply lack credibility as representatives (much less as leaders!) of Christian faith and life.

Now, here's what I'm thinking and proposing. If we are concerned to inform impressionable young boys to hold their admiration because that athlete was "juiced-up," should we not tell Christians that the water-treading faith of their favorite speaker or author is worth questioning? And why not use the same asterisk?

Maybe Christian publishers could agree on some standardized warning that the asterisk would indicate:
* This author has removed himself from the accountability of the local church, which is the normal community for every Christian and is probably assumed by you. In other words, this author is mostly accountable to the dictates of his personal ambitions, along with those of his agent, who profits monetarily by any increase in popularity. Please read this book with that in mind. Any self-reference as "Pastor" should be read with suspicion.
It may be unrealistic, but I like the idea of asterisks for celebrity "pastors."

The point is that if you find the other-worldly spirituality of such men unbelievable, you are right. It is unbelievable because they are unaccountable. The spirituality of the Christian speaking and writing circuit is not a spiritual reality.

Is everything such writers say unhelpful, unedifying or even unbiblical? Of course not.

But all their books are followed by a *

No comments:

Post a Comment