Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Celebrity Gospel

In his column this week for Agape Press, the Rev. Mark Creech of the Christian Action League of North Carolina pulls no punches in taking on pastors who are proclaiming what he calls a "celebrity gospel."

Creech writes: . . .

A celebrity gospel is when a preacher compromises the gospel of Christ in order to achieve or sustain a celebrity status. When a preacher proclaims a celebrity gospel, offenses are stringently avoided. There is no need to carry a Cross -- no need to take a stand theologically or politically. Christ is preached, but without preaching against sin. The good news of Jesus Christ is set forth in vague generalities designed to keep from dividing the audience. The hope or objective of a celebrity gospel is that people might feel helped and encouraged, not condemned or judged.

Two good examples of preachers proclaiming a celebrity gospel of late are Dr. Billy Graham and Joel Osteen. Please understand it troubles me deeply to speak negatively of either one of these ministers. I consider myself unworthy to even shine their shoes. Dr. Graham has preached to more people in the world than any other evangelist in history. Joel Osteen serves the largest church in America, has a national television ministry, and has had a book on the
New York Times best-seller list for several weeks. But I have witnessed compromises to the gospel of Christ by these two that I can only assume are driven by their desire to protect their celebrity.

For instance, talk-show host Larry King, on CNN's
Larry King Live, recently interviewed both men separately and in so many words asked them if they believed people of faith outside of Christ would go to heaven. Graham's answer: "That's in God's hands. I can't be the judge." Osteen responded: "Here's my thing .... I think it's wrong when you go around saying, you're saying you're not going, you're not going, you're not going, because it's not exactly my way." Both acknowledged their own faith in Christ, but wouldn't clearly delineate that there is only one mediator of salvation between God and man -- Jesus Christ (I Timothy 2:5).

Creech goes on to explain why he believes the message these pastors are communicating is a matter of concern and significance in the church, as what they say publicly strays farther and farther away from what Jesus taught us in John 14:6.

On the problem with pastors wanting to remain neutral on political issues of moral significance, Creech contents that they are being "derelict in their duty" to be "salt and light" as Christ commanded in Matthew 5:13-14.

To get a full sense of where Rev. Creech is coming from on these issues, I strongly recommend that you click this link and read his entire column.

Hat tip to News! for Christians.

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