What is it about Reformed folks and the tendency to create superstars?
I write from "inside the camp" of the Reformed, if by that we are talking strictly about God being sovereign over salvation (I reject the Reformed view of the church; no surprise there).
I've compiled a short list of some of today's Reformed superstars: John Piper, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Al Mohler, Sinclair Ferguson, Alistair Begg, C.J. Mahaney, Timothy Keller, Thabiti Anyabwile, Mark Dever, Mark Driscoll, David Platt, Matt Chandler, Kevin DeYoung, and Josh Harris. There are several more.
I've either read or heard most of the above men. They genuinely seem like humble people. I don't get the sense that any of them wants to be considered a superstar.
The real problem, from my perspective, is those who give these men superstar status. Young seminarians, for example, often act just plain silly when they get to hear Piper, Mohler, Sproul, etc. By the young peoples' reactions, you would almost think that Jesus had returned and they had the opportunity to hear Him. For example, when I attended the 2010 T4G Conference, a good number of folks actually RAN to the front to get the seats closest to their appointed superstars. When John Piper spoke you might have thought you were at a mini rock concert.
Why this tendency to elevate men to positions that only Jesus Himself should hold? In particular, why do Reformed folks, who give much lip service to the glory of God, instead unintentionally give glory to pastors, theologians, seminary presidents, etc.?
Some of this problem stems directly from the shape and organization of the church in this country. Most churches hire one man to do most of the teaching/preaching. This necessarily elevates him to a position of status. This, then, creates a practice of looking up to certain special people who seem closer to God. The practice of elevating men is then amplified when a small number of gifted people write books, preach dynamically, and/or lead mega-churches and seminaries.
When I look in the bible, I read about a jealous God who has no intention of sharing His glory with another. That includes superstar men of today. We do God a great disservice when we do this. Might I even dare say that we sin? We must be careful to reserve our adulation, honor, glory, and worship for our great triune God Himself.
Should we respect gifted leaders within the church? Yes, we certainly should. We must remember, however, that they are just sinful and redeemed men like other followers of Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the only true superstar. Let's keep our focus on Him.