The Deadly Virus of Celebrity Christianity
I thought we charismatics had finally taken enough
abuse from the egomaniac ministers in our midst, I’ve
learned that some of our leaders are taking things to a new
extreme. We’ve moved beyond the red carpets, limousines and
entourages of the 1990s. A new strain of the celebrity virus is
spreading in large segments of the church. What is this sickness
spreading in the body of Christ? All I know is that God is
grieved by all of this shameful carnality.
One friend of mine in Texas recently inquired to see if a
prominent preacher could speak at her conference. The
minister’s assistant faxed back a list of requirements that
had to be met in order to book a speaking engagement. The demands
included: a five-figure honorarium, a $10,000 gasoline deposit
for the private plane, a manicurist and hairstylist for the
speaker, a suite in a five-star hotel, a luxury car from the
airport to the hotel (2004 model or newer) and room-temperature
This really makes me wonder how the apostle Paul, Timothy or
Priscilla managed ministering to so many people in Ephesus,
Corinth and Thessalonica. How did they survive without a
manicurist if they broke a nail while laying hands on the sick? I
was relieved to know that this celebrity preacher’s
requirements in 2007 did not include a set of armed bodyguards -
because I just might want to jump uninvited into her Rolls-Royce
and say a few words. It gets worse, if you can believe it. At a
charismatic conference in an East Coast city recently, a pastor
stood on a stage in front of a large crowd and smugly announced
that the guest speaker was "more than an apostle." Then
the host asked everyone to bow down to the person, claiming that
this posture was necessary to release God’s power.
"This is the only way you can receive this kind of
anointing!" the host declared, bowing in front of the
speaker. Immediately, about 80 percent of the audience fell
prostrate on the floor. The few who were uncomfortable with the
weird spiritual control in the room either walked out or stood in
silent protest. So today, I guess it’s not enough to feed a
celebrity preacher’s ego by treating them like a rock star.
We also are required to worship him.
And apparently in some places you even have to pay big bucks
to speak with him. In a city in the South, a well-known preacher
is known to ask for money in order to secure a five or 10 minute
counselling session. The minister uses Proverbs 18:16,
"A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him
before great men" (NASB), to support this bizarre
practice. Some people are known to give more than $1,000 for a
short meeting. People on fixed incomes need not apply. (That
would include lepers, blind beggars, Samaritan women or any other
social outcasts who were welcomed and healed by Jesus without
What has become of the American church? What is this sickness
spreading in the body of Christ? I don’t know whom to blame
more for it - The narcissistic minister who craves the attention,
or the spiritually naive crowds who place these arrogant people
on their shaky pedestals. All I know is that God is grieved by
all of this shameful carnality.
How far we have fallen from authentic New Testament faith.
Paul, who carried the anointing of an apostle but often described
himself as a bond slave, told the Thessalonians, "Having
so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to
you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives"
(1 Thessalonians 2:8).
New Testament Christianity is humble, selfless and authentic.
And those who carry the truth don’t preach for selfish gain
or to meet an emotional need for attention. May God help us root
out the false apostles and false teachers who are making the
American church sick with their man-centred, money-focused
J. Lee Grady, Charisma magazine