What Do Christians Love More: Raising Up or Tearing Down Our Celebrities?

We have a love-hate relationship with celebrity culture.

We who consider ourselves part of this New Calvinism hate the idea of celebrity, but have no clear idea how to avoid the reality.

We say we hate a celebrity culture, yet stories about our celebrities dominate blogs and periodicals; a sure way to draw in massive amounts of traffic is to write about each new scandal connected to each of our celebrities.

We see the dangers posed by a culture of celebrity, but also see that to some degree it is unavoidable. After all, there are men and women we honor and respect and look up to, who are worthy of our regard and worthy of the leadership we give them.

We expend all kinds of effort in celebrating these people we love, and commending them to others, and spreading their fame. We serve as evangelists for their books and their churches and their conferences. We build them up in our own minds and in the wider church culture.

We do this naturally and almost without thinking about it.

“You’ve just got to read Don’t Waste Your Life!”

“Have you seen Paul Washer’s Shocking Youth Sermon?”

“Don’t you read that blog? Don’t you follow that Twitter account?”

We can’t stop this celebrity culture. Not all the way.

Carl Trueman has become a celebrity in his own right at least in part because of all he has written to oppose celebrityism. Ironically, his anticelebrityism earned him a place on the front stage at one of the biggest conferences going. And this is what happens to the men and women we raise up—they are given bigger platforms and a louder voice.

This is the way we want it.

We usually don’t regard celebrityism as a problem so long as our celebrities are the ones on top.

It’s the other person’s celebrity we have problems with.

If we need to have celebrities, I’m glad that Trueman is one of mine.

This is the front side of celebrity culture—elevating people to high positions. We all see this and all know it.

But there is another side as well. There is a flip side and it is even uglier.

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Tim Challies
Tim Challies, a self-employed web designer, is a pioneer in the Christian blogosphere, having one of the most widely read and recognized Christian blogs. He is also editor of Discerning Reader, a site dedicated to offering thoughtful reviews of books that are of interest to Christians.