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On the Cult of Personality



Some notable excerpts:

In Australia’s prominent churches (including world-famous Hillsong), this passionate, talented, and broken 28-year-old was not just a hero but a superstar. Until he confessed to the lies about his terminal cancer and his addiction to pornography, all of which have come as a painful shock to those closest to him. …

While some might want to write Mike off as another right-wing, power-hungry prideful preacher using Christianity as a vehicle for his own fame with no concern for others unless they can help build their empire, this simply is not true of Mike.

As one prominent pastor has blogged:
“It’s his sin, not mine … or yours.” And not to project “his failure onto all and sundry.”
But pastor, this is not something I can say “amen” to.
In no way do I want to take away from the pain Mike has caused, or his responsibility for his actions. But clamouring for our own integrity by scapegoating this obviously desperate and hurting (and unwell?) brother can’t produce fruits that help us in our own transformation. To paraphrase Carl Jung, we will not become enlightened by replacing Mike with another unrealistic idol of light, but by making the darkness in us, our church cultures, and our world, conscious.

I wonder if one of those logs is a communal sin in Christian circles where we create Christian celebrities … onto whom we project all our potential – and, on the flipside, whom we crucify when they reveal brokenness.
Could it be true that in aid of being “relevant,” our churches have become a mirror of the larger culture’s infatuation with power, prestige, position, possessions, and prominence, instead of being “colonies of heaven” by embodying a different way?
Do we really want suffering servants who lead by washing feet and meeting the needs of the least of these without their left hand knowing what their right hand is doing? Do we really want wounded healers who humbly renounce “lording [power] over them”? Do we really want fellow confessing sinners who just like us need accountability in taking the exodus from death-dealing ways into God’s gracious gift of new life?

I think these are very provacative questions. Is the church a collection of rock star individuals who burn out in short spurts? Or is it a whole community of individuals who have no face, but the face of Jesus?

One Response to “On the Cult of Personality”

  1. on 30 Aug 2008 at 1:41 amMark

    It should be a community with no face but Jesus, but sadly it all too often isn’t. That’s why cults get started in the first place. People want to follow a charismatic leader.


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