While exercising, I often listen to podcasts of the Sunday morning talk shows (Meet the Press, ABC This Week, et cetera). This past Sunday, each show did a “year-in-review” and significant attention was given to the new pope, who recently was named Time’s Person of the Year.
The praise was effusive. The pope is being called a “rock star,” who single-handedly will revitalize the Catholic Church and make Christians & Christianity popular again. According to several commentators, the pope’s popularity thus far is owed in part to his softening of the Catholic Church’s position on various moral issues.
Obviously, I don’t know Pope Francis. I assume he is a kind, loving and humble man. I also assume he is genuine in his desire to reach out to the poor and others who are marginalized.
I’m concerned, however, when we turn out religious/spiritual leaders into celebrities. It’s bad for the leaders; it’s bad for the people who look up to them.
As evangelical Protestants, we have our own religious celebrities. This past summer, I listened to a presentation by a Christian book publisher and was shocked to learn how religious celebrities are chosen, created and marketed. Here’s a bit of “inside” information: The new Christian bestseller you just got for Christmas? Probably wasn’t actually written by the person whose name is on the cover.
In 2014, let’s keep our focus on Jesus . . . and make sure we don’t substitute what a man has written about the Bible for the Bible.