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Amateur Christians



Some time ago Calvinist icon, John Piper, ignited an internet firestorm when he invited Rick Warren to be a keynote speaker at his “Desiring God’ conference.

Well, the conference is over now and the Reverend Rick, true to form, presented a man-centred pelagian message of Catholic lite heresy. Some have done a good job of exposing this unbiblical presentation of purpose-driven-popery, but interestingly as at the time of writing, none of the “big guns” have seen fit to comment. Including Mr Piper himself.

To go back a few months will shed some light, I believe, on this event and others like it.

When Piper was asked his reasoning for inviting Tricky Ricky he commented that Warren was “at heart biblically sound”, a statement  many have objected to but he went on to say that Warren is a “man of God, he wouldn’t have the church he has and the peace plan etc if he wasn’t”. Few have remarked on this remarkable statement.

Apparently in Piper’s thinking if you pastor a large church and have a popular ministry it simply and in-arguably follows that God is blessing what you do.

Think about this for a moment.

If we follow this line of reasoning, God is blessing Islam because it’s one of the fastest growing political/religious movements in the West at the moment. Mormons are obviously led by men of God because their influence is rapidly increasing. And to follow this argument to its conclusion, atheistic secular humanism must be under the blessing of the God whose existence they deny. Their sheer numbers prove this true.

The view of many church professionals is that a person is only worth listening to if they have a large following(this perhaps explains the tendency towards promoting the Popes cult within Evangelical churches. The Roman religion must be right, there are millions of them.)

This view of the religious professionals was highlighted when a highly respected preacher (and a friend of Piper) took objection to the many Christian commentators questioning Pipers decision, by referring to them as “amateur bloggers”. Ah I see, so unless you get paid for serving Christ, you have nothing worthwhile to say.

This is the mentality Jesus warned us about when he spoke on the hireling vs the shepherd.

The hireling is in it for the money, esteem or some other personal benefit. A true shepherd does it for the love of the sheep and obedience to the lead Shepherd. He may be paid but even if he’s not he does it anyway. The hireling will simply seek greener pastures if there is not enough return on his “investment”

The idea that a large or high profile”ministry” is the determining factor in a preacher or teacher is a major heresy which many have been conditioned to accept as biblical; but of course its not.

When Brian Houston honoured the current and previous Popes as men of God, he wasn’t concerned with their fidelity to the message of Christ but with their popularity. Same deal when he exalts Robert Schuller or Joel Osteen.

If you think about it for just a moment you will realise that all the heresies and foolishness which have invaded the church through the centuries have been ushered in by professional pulpiteers. And often God has used the “amateur” Christian to bring his church back to Biblical integrity.

Not every leader who draws a salary is necessarily out of God’s will, but when their salary allows them mansions and Rolls Royces etc they have entered the ranks of the hireling. (Mind you a hireling may not necessarily be on a huge salary package). And yet there is a mindset taking a hold in the church that the bigger the name the greater their godliness. And when faithful, Christ honouring “amateurs” are sidelined, ignored and mocked it won’t be long before the Shepherd will rise to deliver his sheep from the hirelings and career Christians.

Its been my honour over the years to know some wonderful and godly amateur Christians and I’ve also known some “fulltime” ministers who were men of integrity, but unfortunately I have also had to encounter career minded, institutionalised hirelings. I pray strength for the former and repentance for the latter.

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