The Crisis of Christian Celebrity

"In recent months and years, it seems as if every single major branch of Evangelical Christianity has watched a famous leader fall." - French

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Bert Perry's picture

It strikes me that in many cases, the key issue is that people knew something was amiss and chose to look past it.  I don't know every detail (nor do I want to), but people knew about the increasing distance and such from the people served, behavior of doubtful morality, and the like, for most of the cases I've heard about.  These things mostly do not come out of the blue, but are a predictable consequence of things overlooked.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Ron Bean's picture

Looking back over 4 decades I've seen "celebrity" fundamentalist pastors fall in similar fashion. And they weren't of the Hyles variety. I've seen deacons cover for pastors who were convicted of drunk driving, using church funds for unauthorized personal use,  and refusing to  confront proven allegations of sexual immorality, all because any action would "damage the ministry".

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Lee's picture

"Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart."

I am fully convinced that a primary, if not the primary, youthful lusts of our current culture is the desire for perceived success--what is commonly referred to  as rock-star status.

Paul gave Timothy two concepts to "flee", evidently due to their devastating potential to the minister of Christ.  The love of money being the first, and youthful lusts (desires uniquely definitive of children).

Celebrity happens.  If that is one's ambition then they are putting them self in a world of danger.  It is potentially devastating, and a fall should not be a huge surprise.  



Aaron Blumer's picture


It's a great point, Lee.

... and there are two halves: the mindset of the leader and the mindset of the led. Leaders should be trained to see humility and substance-over-appearance as their path. Ministries should be trained to insist on this from their leaders.

It would be encouraging to see educational institutions take a more proactive and conspicuous role in this, since--in so many churches--they profoundly shape both the pulpit leadership and the congregational leadership.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Mark_Smith's picture

David French wrote in the article:

"The way I’ve put it in speeches to young Christians is simply this, “Make the easy choice so you don’t have to make the hard choice.” Saying no to the extra drink is much easier than halting a drunken flirtation."

-I say don't have the first drink... but that makes me a "wacko" fundamentalist with his "unbiblical" belief in not drinking alcohol.

Thought #1:

-Making a guy who dresses, performs, and acts like an early-2000's white rapper a "pastor celebrity" just might be where you went wrong...

But that makes me judgmental.

Thought #2:

-I have no idea what went on with the Ravi Zachariah claims... but I weep for him and his family. Ravi had the right to be a man, a Christian man, with all his failures and need for repentance. May God help us not to put men on a pedestal. Does that excuse him? No. But there was apparently so much pressure on him Ravi felt like he couldn't be real with those around him. No one could survive that. We need to learn to not make "celebrities" out of good preachers and teachers. That is our fault.



Mark_Smith's picture

I heard a brief speech from a woman who many of you would consider heretical. It was Kenneth Hagin's wife, Oretha. Hagin of Word of Faith (Rhema) fame. She rarely spoke publicly. In fact, I can only think of twice that I ever even heard her at all (I used to be wrapped up in this a long time ago). This one time she was asked to talk about her marriage to Hagin of 60 years. She said that the most important thing was that most people thought of her husband as a hero of the faith, a scion of virtue, but to her he was a man who took his pants off one leg at a time, and went to the bathroom just like everyone else... The room was silent. But what she said was true. Hagin was a man. And every "famous" man needs people around him that remember that and keep him grounded.


Bert Perry's picture

Ravi Zacharias is a good example of what we need to avoid in this; here we have a guy who is a snappy dresser, no obvious signs of midlife crisis, but evidently nobody bothered to check up on his CV and see if the claims held up.  Keep in mind that falsifying his life story is something that started early in his ministry.  

The same can be said about a bunch of others.  Perry Noble showed the signs Mark mentioned, but prior to that, his teaching was implicated in racial slurs and a totally false claim that Hebrew has no word for "command".  Often it's a 20/.20 hindsight issue.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.