Is it Idolatrous to have Christian Heroes?

If you were to enter my pastoral office at work you would quickly notice two things. 1. The massive bookshelves that surround my office; and 2. The pictures of Christian preachers (past and present) that look over my shoulder (on my office walls). As a young minister I often look to the past to find Christian inspiration. I love reading about the legacies of the former “giants of the faith”. Godly men like George Whitefield, John Calvin, John Knox, and Charles Spurgeon (all of whom grace my walls) are heroes of mine (for a variety of reasons). These men were solely dedicated to the Word of God; men who gave their very lives for the gospel. Leaders who did not compromise even when it cost them dearly. Powerful Bible preachers and in many regards wonderful Christian role models. These men loved their Savior and lived for his approval. In my estimation they were Hebrews 11 type people.

There are also many modern day preachers who I greatly respect and admire. For this reason I have an autographed picture of my former pastor (John MacArthur), a small cut out picture of D Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and a postcard picture of Alistair Begg posted on my wall. I attended Grace Community Church for close to 13 years so obviously John MacArthur’s ministry is near and dear to my heart. He was my pastor for many years as well as the President of the two institutions I graduated from (TMC and TMS). Lloyd-Jones was a tremendous leader and a fantastic preacher, while Pastor Begg is a charismatic speaker who (in my opinion) really knows how to drive home the biblical application of a Text. I have great admiration and respect for all the pastor-preachers who grace my pastoral walls. In some ways they keep me accountable and humble. They encourage me to persevere and remain steadfast in my ministerial calling. They remind me that nothing matters more than God’s gospel.

With that said, there is clearly a major “famine in the land” when it comes to great expository preaching that is both exegetical (i.e. deep), God-centered, Christ-exulting, and clear. Well-known preachers like John Piper, Mark Dever, R.C Sproul, John MacArthur, Al Mohler, Don Carson, and Alistair Begg are exceptions to this trend. {Of course there are many “lesser-known ministers” who faithfully serve God, (&)who are equally committed to this method/model of ministry/preaching (the contributors of this blog I hope are fair examples of this).}

The questions I want to ask and answer are ones that I hear quite frequently these days: Is it wrong to have a modern day (or ancient day) Christian heroes? Is it sinful to talk about having a favorite preacher (past or present)? Does all this “hero worship” inevitably lead to idolatry, human kingdom building, and/or divisive Christian factions? Are Piper-ites and MacArthur-ites and Begg-ites guilty of unbiblical factionalism (see 1 Corinthians 3)? Is it wrong that I have pictures of sinners saved by grace on my walls?

These are some of the questions I hope to tackle during my upcoming posts. Please be patient as it will take some time to develop and answer all these questions fairly.

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