ONTARIO, Calif. (BP) — “Christian celebrity is an oxymoron,” Jeff Iorg, president of Gateway Seminary, said. “Those two words should never go together in a sentence.
“Yet, too many of us emulate the worldly pattern of venerating Christian leaders, producing sectarianism, tribalism, denominational strife and church conflicts,” Iorg said Jan. 31 at Gateway’s main campus in Ontario, Calif., as classes opened for the spring semester
Iorg spoke on the topic “Christian Celebrities and Childish Followers” to students, faculty, staff and area pastors as well as a global live stream audience, challenging the Gateway community to mature in their relationship to popular leaders, learning from their example but not venerating them to the point of divisiveness.
Social media has codified Christian celebrity via the question, “Who do you follow?” Iorg said, warning that importing this worldly behavior into the Christian community can be detrimental. Speaking from 1 Corinthians 1:3-9, he said such behavior only seems new because of today’s technology, but it is an age-old problem.
“Some Christians behave in childish ways that signify immaturity,” he said. “Immature Christians relate to leaders in unhealthy ways.”
Iorg cited the apostle Paul’s description of immature behavior as being envious of popular leaders, leading to strife.
“Followers are jealous of the successes of some leaders and attack them for supposed fallacies in their approach,” he said. “Attempting to tear down others, we only denigrate ourselves. Immature Christians venerate leaders and create factions.”
Examples of the error of “I follow Paul” include division in order to find security in a group; categorizing people to establish a particular identity; and posturing to promote status.
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Source: Baptist Press