Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hero Admiration v. Hero Worship

**Although I was going to wait and publish this post next week, based on some current situations amongst pastors I respect, I thought it might be best to submit it now.**

I love John Piper.  I love Mark Driscoll.  I love Matt Chandler.  I love Kevin DeYoung.

Have I mentioned that I do not have a personal relationship with, nor have I even met, these men?

And yet, I claim that I love them because their ministries have heavily affected my view of God, life and faith.  Or, perhaps a better term to use would be “hero”.  Those four men listed above, amongst others for sure, are, for me, heroes of the faith.  I look at these men; I see their love for God, in Christ; I see their intelligence; I see their successful ministries; I see their blogs, books and articles; and (if I’m honest) I see their popularity (i.e. they are great spiritual/ministry leaders – and who doesn’t want to have followers?).  To me, these men are the epitome of successful pastor/theologians.

However, I have recently found myself thinking through hero admiration v. hero worship; and I am concerned that those of us (including me!) within the New Calvinism community might be prone to hero worship, which is an idolatrous slap-in-the-face to God and His gracious sovereignty in placing these men in their respective ministries. 

Last fall I went to my first Desiring God national conference in Minneapolis; it was a great experience.  First, the conference subject matter: Think; and, secondly, it felt like I was rubbing shoulders with some of New Calvinism’s elite.  Prior to Al Mohler’s session, I went to save seats near the front of the auditorium, wherein I eventually found myself sitting across the aisle from John Piper and several of his staff members.  It was in that moment that I really began to ponder hero admiration v. hero worship, for, as I snuck peeks across the aisle (as if John Piper were that cute girl in your high-school class), I found myself completely star-struck, raising him up ever higher on the pedestal of Theologian Par Excellence.

But why? 

Isn’t there danger in that?

Does it breed a certain type of idolatry?

Does Piper not have sin issues (which, in fact, might have been the reason he took a leave of absence recently)?

Does Piper not argue with his wife?

Does Piper not have hunger pangs?

Does Piper not have the occasional runny nose?

In other words, although I don’t know the four heroes mentioned above, I am confident that they would admit their own sinfulness, normalcy, and memories of early ministry, wherein they might have also dealt with hero worship.  Therefore, let this be a reminder that we all put on one pant leg at a time; we all crave to be admired; we are all still wretched and depraved sinners before a majestically righteous God; and we have all been appointed to do the work God has set before us.

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