Godly men and women—pastors, authors, speakers, missionaries—have impacted my life, and you may have heard of some of them. Many of them are Christian leaders and, dare I say, “superstars” of Christianity today. People like John Piper, John MacArthur, Alistair Begg, Beth Moore, Voddie Baucham, Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin, Ken Ham, and Matt Chandler are just a few examples.
These are men and women who have dedicated everything to God without reserve, laid it all on the line without hesitation, searched the Scriptures with diligence, and proclaimed God’s truth with boldness. These are Christian leaders with whom I largely agree, and whom I tend to hold on a pedestal far far away from me. Come to think of it, perhaps pedestal is an understatement—it might be more accurate to venture that they’re on another planet from me, and someday when space exploration is feasible for us laypeople I may be able to board a shuttle to visit for a few minutes.
Hold the spacecraft: I smell smoke!
I am sure that all of these people would be the first to exclaim, “We are human!” And though we know that in our heads, when we still treat them as though they are an earthly anomaly of perfection, capable of higher theological understanding, we are in danger of abandoning our Berean-esque critical thinking and Scripture-searching skills, and indeed the Holy Spirit Himself.
The fact of the matter is that of the Christians in the list I gave above, I seriously doubt that there is one with whom I would agree on every doctrinal and spiritual issue. Some I agree with more than others, some I can think of disagreements with immediately, and with others, I scratch my head to think of one area of disagreement with them, yet know that one probably exists. These are not argumentative disagreements, or disagreements on areas foundational to salvation, or disagreements that exclude them from my favorite authors or speakers list. Yet they persist as a reminder to me to never, ever become so comfortable with one person’s teaching that I fail to check it out against Scripture.
I discount not one iota of the enormous impact that godly men and women have had in my life and in the lives of many of you, but I challenge you never to swallow any blogpost here or sermon there without first checking the ingredients against Scripture.
Because how is such an attitude of total veneration of one Christian any different than the attitude of the Catholic clergyman who declared to William Tyndale, “We are better to be without God’s laws than the Pope’s”? Do we not sometimes act as though we would rather be without Scripture than our John MacArthur commentary or our favorite theologian’s exposition on doctrine?
Apparently this is not a new issue, for Paul wrote of it to the Corinthian church. Try substituting the names of some of those who have been influential in your Christian life in here:
“For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building.”-I Corinthians 3:4-7,9
It is easy to simply label yourself: I am a Calvinist. I like John Piper. I read So Much More. In fact, it is vastly easier than testifying of how you are God’s field and God’s building: sharing your life verse; elaborating on what God has been teaching you doctrinally, theologically, and practically; and revealing where you are in the sanctification process. But no one said Christianity was easy, and I challenge you as well as myself to move away from what is, according to Scripture, carnal labeling.
“Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come--all are yours. And you are Christ's, and Christ is God's.”-I Corinthians 3:21-23
Hi, I’m Lauren. The most important thing you should know about me is that I am Jesus Christ’s. I am a Christian.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.