I'll be honest. Until a few years ago, I didn't even know people followed after prominent preachers to the degree which they do. My mom was careful not to allow us to be taught strictly from any one preacher or teacher when it came to doctrine, and we were always under solid, Biblical education when it came to doctrine. We were taught fact and doctrine straight from the Bible, rather than from the lips of any man. The reason? Men can be wrong.
So imagine my surprise when I first got on Instagram and found hundreds of Baptists who idolized many preachers. Yes, I used the word idolized. Any word these preachers spoke, these people adhered to as if life itself required it. I didn't quite catch on at first. I just thought, oh okay, they must like to hear them preach. Oh, the ignorance!
Fast forward a year or so. I realized just how problematic this mass following of preachers is! People no longer studied the Bible on its own, no, they had to have every commentary, every study book, every pamphlet or reference these men owned to study the Bible. They must have man's views and interpretation to understand God's Word.
Huh. And here I was thinking God's Word needed no extra book to understand it. What was the verse about not adding to God's Word again?
These men may have good points on some of their doctrine. But remember, Galatians 5:9 says 'A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.' Where there is error in one point, it will gradually and inevitably leak into the rest of the doctrine.
Maybe I'm just really, super old fashioned but I tend to be skeptical of any preacher who is famous or well known, past or present. Ruckman, Anderson, Townsend, Hyles, Luther, Scofield, Spurgeon... These are just some of the names that come to mind. I don't follow and worship these men as if God had given them the only interpretation of His Word. Not to mention, any man who must shout his own worth... No thank you. If I see anyone bragging about the number of souls they led to the Lord, or the number of disciples they have, I'm instantly concerned with why they are so focused on their own abilities and on numbers. There is a difference between thanking God for souls saved, and letting people know how wonderful of a soulwinner you believe you are. Same goes for disciples- shouldn't you be pointing Christians to follow Christ rather than yourself? The preachers who brag about all the little 'preacher boys' they have following them... I'd rather not sit under anyone who must look to another man for what he should or shouldn't preach, how to preach, when to preach and where to preach.
Where did the Berean Christian go, the one who studied God's Word and compared Scripture to Scripture to see what was true? When did Christians suddenly have need to be identified by which famous or well-known preacher they followed?
The problem I see and have with these men is the cult-like following they have. Focus on the man, rather than the Lord. If they say God's Word means such-and-such, then most of their followers will agree, whether or not it lines up with scripture. Having known men who twist the Bible to fit their views rather than align their views with the Bible, I can't follow anyone who allows, and even encourages, this type of behavior. Add in liberals like Graham, Warren or Osteen and I really shy away (I know enough about these fellers to know what they're teaching is correct doctrine isn't right at all).
As a matter of fact, if you actually study the Bible and compare Scripture to what these men teach or taught, a lot of these famous or often quoted men were incorrect on core doctrine. And for Independent Baptists, many of the preachers like Luther or Spurgeon taught doctrine that conflicts with our beliefs on serious points.
Whether or not these men started out to create this cult-like mindset among people who follow them, I don't like how Christians blindly follow any particular man. Goodness gracious, but I even know people who would name their children after these men as if that was bestowing an honor upon the child. WHAT?!
And then I saw a new... oh, what's the word I'm looking for? A new trend? A new... oh, I can't think. It is disturbing to say the least.
The pulpits and Bibles of prominent preachers are on display, as if these objects were somehow extra holy or blessed because of the man who stood behind or used them. I think I did a visible eye roll the first time I saw this advertised. Is it new? Maybe not. Maybe I just never saw this kind of thing before, but either way, I can't believe this. There is nothing- NOTHING- special about a pulpit or Bible just because it is linked to your favorite preacher.
To me, in my eyes, this begins falling into idolatry. The Bible has many verses on idolatry, reader. We're warned so many times about the sin of idolatry, of worshiping object or person rather than God, and yet Christians are just dying to make shrines to their favorite preachers.
It's like the preacher I sat under who bragged about going to a dead preacher's grave where he stood barefoot and prayed. Umm, sorry, what? Did that somehow make your prayer reach God faster? Give it a little boost in efficiency? No, it didn't.
Again, I don't hate any of these men. But you won't find me dedicating my firstborn son under the name Martin Luther Charles Spurgeon Hyles Anderson Ruckman, or find me setting up an exhibit of pulpits used by well-known preachers.
So, my question for you readers is, why are Christians so bent on following a man and his teachings over God's? Why do we place, whether on purpose or by ignorance, such importance on a man over God? And since when do we need any other book to understand the Holy Bible?
I don't identify as a follower of any man or man's teachings, but rather of God. Yes, I am Independent Baptist, I am KJV 1611 only (quite firmly, too). I am pre-trib, I am old fashioned in my doctrine and beliefs. These 'labels' allow me to clearly state my beliefs to other Christians, especially other Independent Baptists of like faith, but they do not mean I follow any other Independent Baptist's views or doctrine wholly and completely.
I'll never be a Ruckmanite, an Andersonite, a Hyles or Luther or any other man's follower. You want to know why? Because I know that true doctrine comes straight from God's Word, rather than the minds and lips of any man. I'm not going to place myself in the dangerous position of following and adhering to any one man's teachings lest I fall into the trap of thinking that he must always be correct.
I'll leave you with a couple verses that came to mind as I tried to sort out my thoughts while writing this post.