"The DEADLY VIRUS of CELEBRITY CHRISTIANITY"
-by J. Lee Grady. (July 27).
Some bigheaded preachers demand rock star treatment. If the
apostle Paul were around today he might throw rocks at them.
Just when I thought we charismatics had finally taken enough
abuse from the egomaniac ministers in our midst, I've learned that
some of our leaders are taking things to a new extreme. We've
moved beyond the red carpets, limousines and entourages of the
1990s. A new strain of the celebrity virus is spreading in large
segments of the church.
"What is this sickness spreading in the body of Christ? All I know
is that God is grieved by all of this shameful carnality."
One friend of mine in Texas recently inquired to see if a prominent
preacher could speak at her conference. The minister's assistant
faxed back a list of requirements that had to be met in order to
book a speaking engagement. The demands included:
a.. a five-figure honorarium
b.. a $10,000 gasoline deposit for the private plane
c.. a manicurist and hairstylist for the speaker
d.. a suite in a five-star hotel
e.. a luxury car from the airport to the hotel (2004 model or newer)
f.. room-temperature Perrier
This really makes me wonder how the apostle Paul, Timothy or
Priscilla managed ministering to so many people in Ephesus,
Corinth and Thessalonica. How did they survive without a
manicurist if they broke a nail while laying hands on the sick?
I was relieved to know that this celebrity preacher's requirements
in 2007 did not include a set of armed bodyguards - because I just
might want to jump uninvited into her Rolls-Royce and say a few words.
It gets worse, if you can believe it. At a charismatic conference in
an East Coast city recently, a pastor stood on a stage in front of
a large crowd and smugly announced that the guest speaker was
"more than an apostle." Then the host asked everyone to bow
down to the person, claiming that this posture was necessary to
release God's power.
"This is the only way you can receive this kind of anointing!" the
host declared, bowing in front of the speaker. Immediately, about
80 percent of the audience fell prostrate on the floor. The few who
were uncomfortable with the weird spiritual control in the room
either walked out or stood in silent protest.
So today, I guess it's not enough to feed a celebrity preacher's ego
by treating them like a rock star. We also are required to worship him.
And apparently in some places you even have to pay big bucks to
speak with him. In a city in the South, a well-known preacher is
known to ask for money in order to secure a five- or 10-minute
counseling session. The minister uses Proverbs 18:16, "A man's
gift makes room for him and brings him before great men" (NASB),
to support this bizarre practice. Some people are known to give
more than $1,000 for a short meeting.
People on fixed incomes need not apply. (That would include
lepers, blind beggars, Samaritan women or any other social
outcasts who were welcomed and healed by Jesus without payment.)
What has become of the American church? What is this sickness
spreading in the body of Christ? I don't know whom to blame more
for it: The narcissistic minister who craves the attention, or the
spiritually naive crowds who place these arrogant people on their
shaky pedestals. All I know is that God is grieved by all of this
How far we have fallen from authentic New Testament faith. Paul,
who carried the anointing of an apostle but often described himself
as a bond slave, told the Thessalonians, "Having so fond an
affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only
the gospel of God but also our own lives" (1 Thess. 2:8).
New Testament Christianity is humble, selfless and authentic. And
those who carry the truth don't preach for selfish gain or to meet
an emotional need for attention. May God help us root out the false
apostles and false teachers who are making the American church
sick with their man-centered, money-focused heresies.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon