The Idolatry of Celebrity (Pentecostal) Preachers

Giants Among Us. Larger Than Life. Above Reproach. Super Human. Deserving of the best seating at banquets and church events, the finest food, the best rooms and accommodations. We crave their autograph, two minutes of their time, to sit near them as if, like the Apostle Peter, their shadow might grant us healing, or powers!

The idolatry of celebrity and prosperity preachers is no surprise, but it is rampant among the United Pentecostal Church, International and Pentecostal churches as a whole. But did God want us to idolize preachers, pastors, apostles? Is that the example Jesus came to setup, or Peter, Paul or the other apostles created?

The featured image of this article is from First Pentecostal Church in Little Rock Arkansas, a celebrity church in the Pentecostal world. Their building is worth millions upon millions of dollars, created by all those faithful tithes and offerings they require, and faithful ‘donors’. The hanging angel in their sanctuary (idolatry?) alone would feed many hungry people.

First_Penecostal_MAIN-sized

The most notable aspect to a Pentecostal Church is the Celebrity Seating (my term). Every Pentecostal Church tends to do this. They create on-platform, elevated seating for preachers, both local and visiting. This keeps them separated from the little people and puts them in a place of elevated honor.

And then you have the United Pentecostal Church, International., General Conference, which is a once-a-year festival celebrating Pentecost, but most importantly, her preachers.  Anyone who is anyone is here and you gain your UPCI Pride Badge by attending and posting to Instagram. (Sarcasm intended)

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This year – to the chagrin of some I’m sure, they decided to embrace the worldliness they shun so rabidly; Hollywood. At General Conference 2017 (hash tag #UPCIGC17) they set up the Hollywood style backdrop and red-carpet photo walk-in for preachers and their kids. This holds great significance because Pentecostalism as a whole shuns the watching of Television and Hollywood created Movies. They consider Television and Movies as the conduit of Satan. And then they do this…

I don’t claim ownership of any images. They are all found on Instagram and are property of their owners. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZoLCyYAWwr/?hl=en&tagged=upcigc17

Want to see it in action? Try this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93n6scICwPc

We, of course have celebrity preachers of all kinds, the Joel Osteen’s of the world, or Benny Hinn, etc. But then we have the small town BMW’s of the world. In my home town, my old preachers and my old church are VERY well known among the community as the BMW Church/Preachers. (The Bishop, his wife, and the Pastor and his wife will only drive BMW’s, and they have special assigned parking street side so all can see)

Every year, at the anniversary Services of Abundant Life Pentecostal Church (my old church) they ship in and pay preachers of all sorts to come and preach. It’s like inviting this years Hollywood special to speak at your event.

Every year, they have special ‘ministers and their families only’ meals at the meeting, but on Saturday they have a whole-church BBQ where the regular people get served the left overs that the preachers didn’t eat at their special meals.

For years this bothered me, and then I was able to read Matthew 23 with an open mind and it all made sense;

 They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their [a]phylacteries (tefillin) wide [to make them more conspicuous] and make their [b]tassels long. They love the place of distinction and honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues [those on the platform near the scrolls of the Law, facing the congregation], and to be greeted [with respect] in the market places and public forums, and to have people call them Rabbi. – Matthew 23:5-7, AMP

Enter the idolatry of Celebrity Preachers. All they do, they do to be seen of men. They are well-paid performers. They preach a Gospel of Who Knows What, just pay your tithes!. Often, when you listen to a service, Scripture is minimized, or rarely used (a verse at best), and loud, ostentatious noise is instead the focus, shouting and screaming that causes an emotional rift through the people, stirring demonic worship. The louder you can shout, and the more people hopping up and down, the more popular you become.

I feel compelled to point out something very important. It’s a modern revelation, and yet plain for all to see. This is it; When the Word talks about wolves in sheep’s clothing, it was talking about Preachers!

I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; – Acts 20:29

This is the danger of Celebrity Preachers and the idolization of them. They could be wolves in sheep’s clothing. If they are, and you hang on their every word, then like me, you could be led astray by false teachers who have their end goals in mind over your salvation and well being.

preacher

Many don’t seem to know it, but their preacher is bigger than Jesus. In my article, Replacing Jesus with your Pastor, we talked about the more legalistic side of this equation, but the todays side, is you!

Let me ask you a question

Does your Pastor teach things that are not found in the Bible, and yet you find yourself following it blindly, without question, even to the point of defending it? Would you be afraid to ask him why he teaches it?

If you can answer yes, you have idolized your pastor. He is a celebrity. He comes in on a red carpet that you condemn, but you excuse it, because it’s your pastor. You can utter the words, ‘If anyone cames against my man of God…why…They will get the five folded ministry!’.

Raised_fist

I’ve literally heard men, holding the coveted microphone say this, about Pastor Davies at Abundant Life Pentecostal Church in McMinnville, OR. He’s been convicted of Child Labor Law violations, and paid settlements in a Defamation of Characte lawsuit, yet they (his followers) would defend him rabidly.

This is idolization, and it must be exposed. Our God condemned idolatry, but more importantly, he condemned his servants being held in such high regard. Consider the rest of Matthew 23, Jesus’ instructions to His disciples.

But do not be called Rabbi (Teacher); for One is your Teacher, and you are all [equally] brothers. Do not call anyone on earth [who guides you spiritually] your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 Do not let yourselves be called leaders or teachers(Rabbi); for One is your Leader (Teacher), the Christ. 11 But the greatest among you will be your servant. – Matthew 23:8-11, AMP

Certainly, someone who gives their life for the work of Jesus is, as Scripture declares, worthy of double honor. (I Timothy 5:17) Yet, in the regards of worthy of ‘double honor’, this was because those men were spending their wealth performing the work of God’. Not becoming wealthy on the Work of God.

*It would be worth studying the commentaries on I Timothy 5:17

In the end, idolizing and marking celebrity preachers as some grand human is idolziation, and against God’s purpose. God wanted his preachers to feed the poor, not become wealthy. God’s preachers would heal the sick, not be aloof from them. God’s preachers would spend all to reach one, not require of all to reach one more.

Recently, I visited a church where the pastor sat down with all the ‘normal’ people, and when he was called up, he came up, gave his message, and returned to the people. I was blown away, but then I realized, this was a man of the people, not a man of his Position.

 

 

3 thoughts on “The Idolatry of Celebrity (Pentecostal) Preachers

  1. A. Amos Love

    Hmmm? Idolatry??? Celebrity???

    Seems most who take the “Title” pastor, leader, reverend, are desiring “Celebrity.” To be well known. That simingly innocent “Title” comes with something “A Little Bit Extra.”

    Power, Profit, Prestige, Honor, Glory, Recognition, Reputation.

    ALL those things that become “Idols” of the heart.
    ALL those things Jesus spoke against.
    ALL those things highly esteemed among men – But…
    is abomination in the sight of God..” Luke 16:15 KJV

    And the Bible warns us to “hew down
    “the graven images” of their gods.” Deut 12:3 KJV.

    But, instead, we make the “Title“ pastor a “graven image.”
    An “Idol.”

    **“A Graven Image”* on Diploma’s , Denominational licenses…
    On business cards handed out, books, Conference Ads, tracts…
    **“A Graven Image”* on office doors, secretarys desks…
    On church letterhead, on Sunday morning bulletins…
    On church street signs, , etc, etc…

    And anyone who reads them knows who “the pastor” is. Yes? …

    Isn’t that…
    “He who speakes of himself seeks his own glory?” Jn 7:18 KJV.

    Isn’t that…
    Honoring self? And your Honor is nothing? Jn 8:54 KJV

    Isn’t that…
    Looking to receive honor from men?

    Jesus said, In John 5::41-44 KJV
    “I receive NOT honour from men.”
    “How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another,
    and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?”

    Isn’t that…
    Desiring “Celebrity?” Desiring “to be known?” Idolatry?

    What is popular is NOT always “Truth.”
    What is “Truth” is NOT always popular.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A. Amos Love

    In my experience…
    “Titles” become “Idols” (of the heart Ezek14:1-11 KJV)
    “Pastors” become “Masters” ( A NO, NO, Mat 23:10 KJV)

    And these “Idols,” carried in the pastors heart, are unseen to the natural eye, extremely difficult to lay down and walk away from. They become an addiction. And like any addiction, you never have enough, you always need more and more to satisfy the addiction. You think you’re in control, tell others you’re in control but the addiction controls you. You’re in bondage to an addiction, and a lie, and you don’t know it.

    Power corrupts – and absolute power – corrupts absolutely.

    And in my experience with “Todays Abusive Religious System.” This “power” corrupts ALL who attempt to wield this “power.” This “power” they think they have, ”to rule over others,” ”to be obeyed” ”to be someone special,” ”to be someone important,” ”to be a leader,” is leading them to, Burnout, Depression, Hopelessness, Discouragement, Failure…

    This addiction to, ”Power – Profit – Prestige,”is like other addictions. It destroys those who believe they can handle it. These addictions NOT only destroy the pastor…They often destroy the pastors family.

    The statistics, for burned out pastors,say…
    80% of pastors’ spouses wish they would choose a different profession.
    80% say pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families.
    77% say they do NOT have a good marriage.

    Jer 50:38
    A drought is upon her waters; and they shall be dried up:
    for it is the land of “graven images,”
    and they are mad upon their “idols.”
    xxxxxxx

    Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person,
    neither let me give Flattering Titles unto man.
    For I know NOT to give Flattering Titles;
    in so doing my maker would soon take me away.
    Job 32:21 KJV

    Like

  3. A. Amos Love

    Hmmm?
    Idolatry??? Celebrity??? Titles???

    WE, His Sheep, His Kings and Priests, His Saints, His Servants, His sins, His Friends, His Ambassadors, His Ekklesia, His Called Out Ones, His Body, His Church, His Disciples…

    Live in a world of “Titles and Idols.”
    ”Idols” of the heart.

    “Titles”
    That do NOT exiest in the Bible…
    For one of His Disciples.

    1 – Pastor. 1a -Pastor/Leader/Reverend.
    2 – Shepherd. 2a – Under Shepherd.
    3 – Senior Pastor. 4 – Lead Pastor.
    5 – Teaching Pastor. 6 – Executive Pastor.
    7 – Youth Pastor. 8 – Singles Pastor.
    9 – Worship Pastor.
    10 – Reverend.
    11 – Holy Reverend.
    12 – Most Holy Right Reverend.
    13 – ArchBishop. 14 – ArchDeacon. 15 – Canon.
    16 – Prelate. 17 – Rector.
    18 – Cardinal. 19 – Pope. 20 – Doctor. 21 – M.Div.

    22 – Chief Executive Apostle.

    NO kidding. There really is a, ”Chief Executive Apostle”
    Saw him with my own eyes. 😉

    Houston – We have a Problem…

    Titles – Titles – Idols – Idos…

    Everywhere – Except in the Bible… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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