|Voices from the
James P. Needham
One of the great problems of all time is what is generally known as preacheritis, or the excessive loyalty which many give preachers. It seems always to be a problem. Some people's religion seldom runs deeper than some preacher. He is the center and circumference of their religious devotion. This soul-damning disease deserves extensive treatment, hence an entire chapter is devoted to it.
I. WHAT IS IT?
(1) Excessive exaltation of the preacher: Preacheritis sets in when people take their eyes off Christ, and set them on men; when they "think of men above that which is written" (I Corinthians 4:6); when they exalt the preacher above the preaching: the messenger above the message and the proclaimer above the proclamation. It is a spiritual affliction which causes people to "prove" their religious practice by the words and deeds of a preacher rather than by the authority of Christ (Colossians 3: 17; 1 Corinthians 4: 6).
People in the early church had this sickness: (a) The Corinthians said, "I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas..." (1 Corinthians 1: 12; 3: 4). (b) Pergamos had those who held "the doctrine of Balaam" (Revelation 2:14), and the "Nicolaitans" (Revelation 2: 15). (e) The Galatian churches had in them those who had followed the Judaizers in being circumcised that they might glory in the flesh (Galatians 6:12-13). (d) The Ephesians were warned about some who would "speak perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them" (Acts 20: 30).
Should we think it strange that people still have this disease? There are some very severe cases of it. One sister said, "For all I care, they can shoot all the preachers except brother _______________." Others feel no obligation to attend the assemblies unless their favorite preacher is preaching. If the preacher is out preaching to people who need it worse than does his "home congregation," attendance and contributions often decrease until he returns. Then, there are congregations that can hardly conduct a service unless a "properly ordained minister" is present. A brother once said to the local preacher, "What do you mean by being gone in so many meetings? Do you not know that you are our preacher, and that you get paid for preaching to us?" Some church members seem to think they will be judged by the words of their favorite preacher rather than by their own deeds (Romans 2:6).
We have all known of situations where "firing" the preacher was like burning the building! Changing preachers is sometimes the next thing to disbanding. We hear expressions like: "I just cannot get over brother Blank's leaving," or "Brother Newcomer is a good preacher, but he will never take Brother Oldtimer's place" (As if he wanted to). It goes without saying that a religion that is built around a man is not built around Christ. If it is preacher-centered it is not Christ-centered, and therefore, is vain (Matthew 15:9).
(2) Spiritual immaturity: Paul said preacheritis is a sickness of spiritual babies: "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto BABES in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able... For while one saith, I am of Paul..." etc. (1 Corinthians 3:1-4). These Corinthians were milk drinkers rather than meat eaters because their spiritual constitutions were so delicate, and diseased. Preacher centered religion is baby religion, because it cannot get weaned from a preacher. One version represents these people as saying: "I belong to Paul ..." etc.
(3) It is carnality: "For ye are yet CARNAL: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul ...", etc. Paul said, "to be carnally minded is death ..." (Romans 8: 6). Hence, preacheritis is a fatal spiritual disease; preacher religion is a death religion; it cannot bring eternal life. Carnality signifies that which is fleshly; that which is of the world. Paul said the Judaizers wanted to "glory in your flesh" (Galatians 6: 13). Preacher religion is a fleshly religion; it cannot bring spiritual rewards.
(4) Human: To the Corinthians, Paul said, "you walk as men, for while one saith, I am of Paul...", etc. (1 Corinthians 3:3-4). Preacheritis is walking "as men," not as Christians. It is a human religion, not a divine one. It is therefore, a "vain religion" (James 1: 26), and brings one no closer to heaven than any other human religion, though it may parade under the name of Christ.
II. WHO IS AT FAULT?
The matter of responsibility for preacheritis is an important consideration. We see only the symptoms of the disease in the actions of people, and maybe never really think about its origin. Let us consider two possible sources of the malady:
(1) The preacher: Preachers are often the main cause of preacheritis. Some preachers are experts at building up congregations around themselves. This is accomplished in the following ways:
(a) Iron-fisted dictatorship: Paul said to the Corinthians: "Not for that we have lordship over your faith, but are helpers of your joy" (2 Corinthians 1: 24). There are many preachers who are anything but "helpers of your joy." They are LORDS over the faith of the congregation. The church, therefore, is made up only of those who are willing to knuckle under to the preacher's iron-fisted rule. Everyone must either believe everything just like the preacher does, or keep his mouth shut, or get out. The preacher fills the "eldership" with henchmen and hatchetmen. The preacher is chairman of the "central committee," and always holds the balance of power in its decisions. Anyone who goes against the establishment is quickly excommunicated, and banished from the congregation. If a member of the "central committee" gets crossed up with the chairman, he is immediately castigated and excommunicated lest his manifestation of courage arouse the rebellion that sleeps within the hearts of others, and a revolution be spawned. One such preacher was heard to say, "The only way to keep peace in a congregation is to clean out your eldership every year or two."
Members of such congregations are always quick to jump to the defense of their preacher overlord. They are often sincere in denying that he is such. They have been brainwashed to think that all who oppose him are just jealous of his success and position. They think the voice of the preacher is the voice of God, and opposition to him or his ideas is blasphemy.
(b) Martyr complex: Preachers sometimes build up churches around themselves by playing the role of a martyr. They constantly sing a song of woe to those members who will listen. They are constantly supposed victims of a vicious plot, and the elders are always seeking opportunities to take advantage of them. Most people favor the "underdog." Hence, the members begin to feel sorry for the poor helpless preacher, and the elders are branded as "lords over God's heritage" and nothing short of their resignation will be acceptable.
In a certain church, some of the most influential and able members of the congregation protested when the well entrenched preacher aligned himself with certain false teachings. In a business meeting some of them went into a detailed exposure of the false doctrines the preacher had embraced. When they finished, the preacher arose and said, "I am just like Jesus before Pilate. These men are determined to crucify me, and like Jesus I am not going to answer a word." That carried more weight with his deceived followers than any scriptural defense could have. Who could refuse to come to the defense of the poor, crucified preacher?
(e) Alignment with the weak element: Some preachers gain personal following within the congregation by aligning themselves with the weaker members. These people usually have some complaint against the congregation, or the eldership. They are constantly looking for an opportunity to "get at" the church or the elders. They usually do not attend business meetings, and very few assemblies. They contribute almost nothing to the program of the church. Frequently their complaint is that the church is run by a clique, or that the elders are dictators. The preacher champions their cause, and starts a revolution. When it is completed, the congregation is made up of another "clique," the weakling worldings who have contributed almost nothing to its existence. Those who sacrificed time and energy to make the church possible are driven out in disgust, or by excommunication.
(2) The members: Preacheritis cannot be imposed upon any person against his will. This is one disease one must be willing to catch! It is self-inflicted. But, as in the case of physical disease, preacheritis is brought on by weak resistance. The spiritual constitution is unable to fight off its invasion. The preacher's personality, domineering spirit, or political prowess are more than some members can stand. They either knuckle under to power politics, or are overwhelmed by personal attachment. They "with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the preacher, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the preacher" (Cf. 2 Corinthians 3:18, with apologies). Indeed, with some people it is hard to distinguish between the glory of God and the glory of the preacher!
III. THE DANGER OF IT
Preacheritis is a very dangerous disease. This part of our study would not be complete without a discussion of some of the dangers of this affliction.
(1) Spiritual fatality: When one ties his faith to a man, he subjects himself to the danger of spiritual fatality. Sooner or later he will discover that his worshipped image has feet of clay. Regardless of how much a man is idolized, he is still a man, subject to all human weaknesses. It goes without saying that a preacher who will allow people to tie their faith to him, usually has more than his share of such frailties. The psychology of preacheritis from the preacher's standpoint may well be that he realizes that a personal following is his only chance of remaining employed as a preacher because if people are dedicated to the Lord, they will automatically repudiate the likes of him.
Most preachers are godly, dedicated men, but unfortunately, some few are otherwise. The dedicated ones must constantly carry the reputation of the bad ones as a millstone around their necks, due to the tendency of people to generalize on specifics and identify all groups with the misdeeds of a few members thereof.
Preacheritis has been spiritually fatal to many because the preacher they idolized turned out to be morally bad. We should just face reality and frankly admit that we have human preachers who, like some other church members, are first class hypocrites and who are or have been guilty of just about every sin in the catalog. We have known preachers who fornicated, beat their debts, used and peddled dope, forged checks, murdered, robbed, stole, broke up homes, lied, embezzled, mistreated their families, etc. The discovery of such in some preachers seldom causes their followers to become more godly, but rather more ungodly. Their attitude is that if preachers cannot live righteously, why should others even try to do so.
(2) Easy prey for false doctrine: One of the great dangers of preacheritis is that it makes the individual easy prey for false doctrine. If the preacher gets "led away with the error of the wicked" and falls from his own steadfastness (2 Peter 3:17), his followers usually go with him because their main concern is the messenger, rather than the message. Many new denominations have been started in just this way. Many congregations have been divided in this manner.
All should realize that all human religion is vain (Matthew 15:9). Following the modern preacher will not lead one to heaven any more than will following an ancient one like Luther, Calvin, or Wesley. Human religion never brings spiritual or eternal rewards. Such is limited to this life, and whatever benefits are derived from it are limited to this life. It may bring some measure of happiness and satisfaction here, but it will bring only misery and dissatisfaction in the world to come.
Preachers today, like Paul, must strongly desire and insist that the brethren's "faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God" (1 Corinthians 2: 5). They should neither desire nor accept the devotion of people; their admiration, and encouragement, yes, but their devotion-NEVER!
The above is a sobering reminder to us all that both Christians who preach and the ones who do not, are subject to fleshly, carnal temptations. We are not immune to the sins which plague mankind in general, including the urge to place friendships and feelings above objective truth and righteousness.
We often castigate the denominations for elevating certain men (Calvin, Wesley, Luther, etc.). We upbraid the Catholics for exalting the Pope (whoever it may be at the time). Yet, there are times and instances when some of our beloved brethren are guilty of the same thing. As brother Needham pointed out, some fellow-Christians love a preaching brother so much, they cannot imagine life without him. Some congregations are almost wholly dependent upon their preacher for their faith. And, some preachers love to have it so!
It is unfortunate, but true, all of us have not learned from mistakes of the past. We can look back and see where the love for man exceeded the love for God and brethren were thereby led into apostasy. We can study our Bibles and see where it condemns the lifting up of men (1 Cor. 3:1-4). However, when it comes to modern times and events, we ignore such strong examples and warnings. There are people even now who would rather "stand by their man" than "stand...in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths..." (Jer. 6:16). There are those who believe that grace and truth came by brother so-and-so. There are preachers who join the chorus and sing "How Great Thou Art" to their number one man (or themselves).
While preacheritis cannot always be controlled by the preacher, that is, some brethren will just be that way, let us be determined not to lend a hand in our own exaltation, nor that of another. Let us all look to the one Head of the church, the one Author and Finisher of our faith, the one Apostle and High Priest of our profession, the one Lamb of God, the one Alpha and Omega--the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:22-23; Heb. 12:2; 3:1; Jn. 1:29; Rev. 1:8)!
"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me" (Matt. 10:34-37).
e-mail this feature editor at SFDeaton@compuserve.com
Return to Watchman Front Page
return to August index
Christian living: preacheritisBy Jerry Moffitt
Perhaps I can write about this because no brother ever was dumb enough to glory in me. Preacheritis is a fatal disease some brethren get afflicted with when they disobey God and tend to glory in men. Their preacher, whom they idolize, is built up in their mind to a point where he can do no wrong. From that point on every other preacher is compared with him, but is always destined to fail. Some go so far as to dislike any preacher who follows their idol and they can only, over a long period of time, get to the point where they can accept a replacement. Too, if the preacher is disgruntled when he leaves a church, brethren so afflicted by this malady leave too, even if they can't follow their object of devotion, that is, the preacher they worship.
Preachers don't like this situation. When it seems brethren exalt them, a sound servant of Christ is so struck with terror he sincerely begins to hope he can creep into heaven on all fours and unnoticed. No one deserves glory but God Almighty. Herod gave not God glory and died and was eaten of worms (Acts 12:23). Undue praise heaped on any man or woman is dangerous. They may begin to think of themselves more highly than they ought to think (Rom. 12:3). Brethren and sisters in Christ ought to pray and then practice the virtue of encouraging a poor preacher rather than in praising him. There's a difference, but we probably need help from God to learn that difference and practice it to the glory of God Almighty.
Paul condemned the Corinthians for saying, "I am of Paul; and I of Apollos: and I of Cephas; and I of Christ" (I Cor. 1:12). Yet, we do the same thing, even though the Bible calls it carnal (I Cor. 3:1-3).
I believe that true servants of Jesus cringe a little, wince, and even shrink when well-meaning, loving, kind, and generous brethren thank God for them and their work. God knows our faults, weaknesses, and deficiencies. Good Christians know that about the best they have ever done was arise to a point where they could be called "unprofitable servants" (Luke 17:10). They have only done what it was their duty to do. Paul said, "For who maketh thee to differ? And what has thou that thou didst not receive? But if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?" (I Cor. 4:7). Why would one want to think he lifted himself up by the bootstraps? In Christ there is no unaided effort! We have no righteousness of our own (Phil. 3:9). In all things, by prayer, the Lord is at hand (Phil. 4:5). So as in the book of Revelation, it is our sincere joy to cast our victory crowns before the throne of God and say, "Worthy art thou, our Lord and our God" (Rev. 4:10-11).
Now here is a scripture, rather, a flat, firm urgent command from God through the Holy Spirit. It is as much a command as "be baptized." It says, "Wherefore let no one glory in men" (I Cor. 3:21). Not to glory in men is a big difference in Christianity and the world. In him, let us rub that difference till it shines brightly.
1 Corinthians 1 - A Study Guide by Mark A. Copeland "THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS" Chapter One OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To understand how division is unacceptable is the Body of Christ 2) To see why our boasting should be only in the Lord SUMMARY In his opening remarks Paul expresses gratitude that the Corinthians had been enriched by God, came behind in no gift, and were eagerly waiting for the revelation of the Lord (1-9). He immediately begins dealing with the first problem, that of division which manifested itself in what we might call "preacheritis" (10-17). Discerning that the underlying cause concerns the exaltation of human wisdom, Paul demonstrates the folly of boasting in such (18-31). OUTLINE I. INTRODUCTION (1-9) A. GREETINGS FROM PAUL AND SOSTHENES (1-3) 1. To the church at Corinth, and those who in every place call on the name of Jesus (2) 2. Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus (3) B. THANKSGIVING FOR GOD'S GRACE TOWARDS THEM (4-9) 1. Enriching them in all knowledge, even as Christ's testimony was confirmed in them (5-6) 2. Coming short in no gift as they eagerly await the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ (7) 3. Who will confirm them so they may be blameless (8) 4. For God is faithful, who called them into the fellowship of His Son (9) II. THE NATURE OF THE DIVISION AT CORINTH (10-17) A. AS REPORTED TO PAUL (10-12) 1. His plea for unity (10) 2. For those of Chloe's household have reported contentions among them (11) 3. Evidently involving "preacheritis" (12) B. PAUL'S INITIAL REACTION (13-17) 1. Rhetorical questions to illustrate the absurdity of what we would call "preacheritis" (13) 2. Gratitude that he personally baptized few of them (14-17) a. Lest any should accuse him of baptizing in his own name (14-15) b. Administering baptism was not his chief calling anyway (16-17) III. THE FOLLY OF BOASTING IN HUMAN WISDOM (18-31) A. GOD WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE (18-25) 1. Granted, the message of the cross is foolish to some, but not to the saved (18) 2. But God will the destroy the wisdom of the world (19-20) 3. God chose to use His foolishness and His weakness to save those who believe (21-25) a. Because the world through its wisdom knew not God (21a) b. So God chose to save mankind through a "foolish" message about Christ crucified (21b-24) c. But even God's "foolishness" and "weakness" is wiser and stronger than men (25) B. THE CORINTHIANS' OWN CALLING DEMONSTRATES THIS TRUTH (26-29) 1. Not many of them were "wise, mighty, or noble" (26) 2. But God has chosen those things that are "foolish, weak, base, despised, and which are not", so that no flesh should glory in His presence (27-29) C. INSTEAD, BOAST IN THE LORD (30-31) 1. He provides for us the true wisdom, plus righteousness and sanctification and redemption (30) 2. We should glory only in Him (31) REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) List the main points of this chapter - Introduction (1-9) - The Nature Of The Division At Corinth (10-17) - The Folly Of Boasting In Human Wisdom (18-31) 2) Who joined with Paul in addressing this letter to the Corinthians? (1) - Sosthenes 3) What was one thing the church did not lack in Corinth? (7) - Spiritual gifts 4) What is the first problem Paul deals with in this epistle? (10) - Division 5) Who reported this problem to him? (11) - The household of Chloe 6) How was their divisiveness expressed? (12) - Calling themselves after men 7) Who had Paul personally baptized at Corinth? (14,16) - Crispus, Gaius, the household of Stephanus 8) Why was Paul thankful that he had not baptized any other? (15) - Lest they should say he baptized in his own name 9) In what two ways do men view the preaching of the cross? (18) - Foolishness to those who are perishing - The power of God to those being saved 10) How did the preaching of Christ crucified appear to the Jews and the Greeks? (23) - A stumbling block to the Jews - Foolishness to the Greeks 11) How has God chosen to confound the wise of this world? (27-28) - By using that which in their sight is foolish, weak, base, despised 12) Upon what grounds may we boast? (31) - Only in the Lord
Last, but by no means least is the preacher blinder. Those who wear this blinder put the preacher on a spiritual pedestal, believing every word he utters as if he continually receives direct revelation from God. Again, the Bereans were free from preacheritis in as much as they were interested in the message, not the man.
Unfortunately, preacheritis is often encouraged by some preachers because they delight in the recognition. Others, perhaps, find this a way to hold on to their "jobs". In the last few decades in the church we have seen preachers encouraging preacheritis by the constant praising of each other. Time is spent at the beginning and the ending of gospel meetings in praising the local preacher and the local preacher, in turn, praising the visiting preacher.
Lectureships, either at a church building or at a college are also breeding places for preacher-praise. Usually, preachers (at least the important ones) are named one by one, along with the name of the group where they do local work. Prayers are usually led by the best-known ones. Such practices carried on year in and year out serve to foster in the minds of the body of believers a "preacher-hierarchy", CONDONED NOWHERE IN GOD'S WORD.
In the preacheritis situation the preacher who allows or encourages it, and his followers who practice it are alienated from God. Our God desires that we give our praise and loyalty to Him, not to mere man, who is only the vehicle used to present the message. Woe unto the man who allows, yea, encourages others to follow him, becoming a blinder to God's children.
The true follower of God is one who has cast aside all blinders as he searches and finds the "narrow way that leads to life". The true believer continually "works out his own salvation with fear and trembling", going directly to God's word for direction in how to live in all his areas of life through Christ. The true believer as he fights in the spiritual war realizes that God expects him to bring others to Christ, and also that he aid them in being successful fighters in their waging spiritual war against the devil and his followers.
Let us seek to be true believers.
|"WE PREACH NOT OURSELVES"
How is it possible for us to fall in the trap of "preaching ourselves?"
Is it possible to emphasize an alliance we call "the church" more than Christ?
the Cross (3)
(1 Corinthians 4:1-7)
By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in another mans territory.
I could not address you as spiritual but as worldlymere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.
Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have.
So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God.
There are some things you need to know. This is our church, not your church. We were here before you came, and well be here when you leave. So we expect you to do what we tell you to do!
Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.
I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, Do not go beyond what is written. Then you will not take pride in one man over against another.
Trends Among Conservative Brethren
Trends Among Conservative Brethren Weakness
In our last installment, we addressed the problem of liberalism from an historical perspective with particular emphasis on the institutional movement during the 40s and 50s era. In this issue, we want to address the problem of weakness which characterizes many churches today. God being my helper, I will try to be objective in arriving at the conclusions, and this by applying the law of rationality; which says, all conclusions must be based upon adequate evidence.
Lets begin by seeking to establish the reason or reasons for said weaknesses. Brethren, doesnt it begin at the top; especially with the kind of preaching which is being done today? Preaching today may be true in what is declared, but much of it is weak and many times watered down. The kind of preaching declared from many pulpits among us could be favorably received in many denominational churches. Preaching today doesnt have the old familiar ring that it once had, and many times the focus is on what the preacher believes, and not on New Testament objectivity. A real danger, too, is preacheritis, and the preacher scratching the itching ears of those who love to have it so. Our Lord said, ...preach the word... and this doesnt mean preach what I believe about it. Something else which comes into play here is it is not what we know, but how we feel about it. We need to remember what the apostle said in 2 Tim. 4:1-8. (Please read these passages) He said that preaching the word involved reproving, rebuking and exhorting, and this with all longsuffering and teaching.
Preaching today is not producing the same results that were produced in New Testament days. Those in sin are not made to feel any remorse about their condition. This is quite a contrast to the results of New Testament preaching. In that experience, men could feel the force of the message, and many were moved to obedience to Gods word. On Pentecost (Acts 2) the apostle Peter pulled no punches in pointing out to the Jews on that occasion that they were guilty of crucifying the Son of God, and that with wicked hands. They were pricked (to stab, pierce thoroughly-Young) in their hearts. (Acts 2:37) How can men repent and change their lives if the word preached does not touch their hearts in this way?
We are told that Felix, the governor, trembled (was terrified-ASV) at the preaching of Paul. (Acts 24:25) But the tendency today is to soften the message, and make it acceptable to everyone, and to fit Christ into the mold of mans thinking, rather than fitting man into the mold of Christs thinking. This philosophy has led to the emergence of the Community Church. It is the result of soft and weak preaching which produces soft and weak churches. God admonishes, and we need to get this, be ye steadfast, unmovable always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (I Cor. 15:58)
Another problem among conservative churches in many places is the lack of discipline. Sin is prevalent in the body of Christ, and nothing is done about it. This is sin! I have observed relatives and family members oppose the scriptural efforts to rescue a lost soul through Gods disciplinary plan. When men are undisciplined, they walk in their own way, and thus live in sin. We all know that sin will destroy the church of our Lord, and when brethren decide not to deal with it in a scriptural way, they are just as guilty as those who first engaged. Sin is destructive. Sin is a sovereign, and will control the lives of those who live in it. This is why the apostle admonished, let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey the lusts thereof:... (Romans 6:12) And he said in verse 14, for sin shall not have dominion over you. Brethren, in light of all this, do you not see the need of strong, reproving, rebuking and exhorting kind of preaching? Yes, indeed, we must get back to this kind if the church is to be saved.
Thinking Of Men
Above What Is Written
Thinking Of Men Above What Is Written
The Corinthian church was deeply troubled when Paul wrote the
letter of 1 Corinthians. Members of the church harbored sin, sued each other, abused gifts
of the Spirit and doubted the resurrection (1 Corinthians 5, 6, 14, 15). Too, Paul
addressed their excessive esteem for men, that is, they were lining up behind certain men
(1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:4).
In addressing this carnal attitude, Paul said, "Now
these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your
sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may
be puffed up on behalf of one against the other" (1 Corinthians 4:6).
The Corinthians were not the last Christians to be stricken
with "preacheritis." There are still those who tenaciously adhere to their
favorite man. It may be because of his personality, past help, preaching style or
prominence. Sometimes this disease goes undetected. At others, it is pronounced. Such is
the case with a recent meeting announcement we received. In discussing the "guest
preacher," the church's letter of invitation said, "Brother _______'s passion
for truth and respect for our Lord coupled with his unique style of preaching will make,
we believe, your time even more well spent in the worship of God" (emphasis
Statements like these bring up questions.
Does this mean other guest preachers there or elsewhere have
not been so beneficial to the worship of God?
Is time not so well spent when the non-guest (local) preacher
What is it about this brother's preaching that is so great?
Is it his unique style or does he have a greater "passion for truth and respect for
our Lord" than other men?
In June 1960, Bill Cavender wrote an article titled Trends
Toward Apostasy (The Gospel Guardian, Vol. 12, No. 8). In it he noted three basic elements
needed for apostasy to develop: "(1) A lack of knowledge of the will of God and a
disrespect for the same; (2) The exaltation of human leaders and human pronouncements; (3)
Time." The first two of these has come to pass. The last is in progress.
Here is our point: More and more, brethren are exalting
preachers above what is written. Paul said such people are "carnal" and
"babes in Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:1). "To be carnally minded is
death" (Romans 8:6).
Ask yourself if you are a follower of a man and his teaching
or the Man and His Word?
- Steven F. Deaton