Over at Knightopia, Steve Knight cites a former correspondent for NPR who is not religious, but who wants a “religious operating system for the rest of us.”
The correspondent, Eric Weiner, apparently is feeling left out at Christmas, and wants something similar for people who may or may not believe some day. He writes, in the New York Times:
We need a Steve Jobs of religion. Someone (or ones) who can invent not a new religion but, rather, a new way of being religious. Like Mr. Jobs’s creations, this new way would be straightforward and unencumbered and absolutely intuitive.
Knight suggests we already have Steve Job-ish like guys to show us the way, citing emergent church heavy weights like Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Rob Bell, Shane Claiborne and Peter Rollins, who have, he claims, “played this role to some extent.”
That’s too bad. And I thought we needed guys like Jesus.
Knight never once points us to Christ, however, or to any source of authority at all in the “participatory church” he envisions. Just his own list of celebrities who can lead us to the place where we can create our “religious operating system.”
Meanwhile, over on the other side of the evangelical spectrum, the “new Reformed” movement is gathering in Kentucky next spring to celebrate its own Parthenon of celebrities. Piper. Dever. Mahaney. Mohler.
I like these men, and appreciate their passion for the gospel and the Word. But frankly they got bad advice on their marketing material, which looks as postmodern and as celebrity-driven as any. The entire inside of their over-sized marketing brochure is a picture of the speakers, lined up to look like the CD cover for a rock band.
And the website too has this look and feel. Just this week I heard of a young ministry student who aspires to be on the speaker list of this conference someday. That’s not a good place to start.
In fact, none of this looks good for a people who follow One who “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant.” The incarnation, which we celebrate this week, is the antithesis of all motives to lift ourselves up.
The stable, the shepherds, the manger—all these things speak of obscurity and humility. Mary and Joseph were just ordinary but obedient servants.
I understand that throughout church history He has also gifted men to speak and lead with authority and passion. We are naturally drawn to such men. But whenever they began to seek celebrity they were soon destroyed with hubris and power. They often became (and become) as controlling and as petty as Steve Jobs himself, who, I assure you, never took on the form of a servant.
Christmas can teach us many things. It teaches us that the way up is always down. That God will provide the star and the wise men. That the angels will still do his bidding. That the first will be last.
And that the glory of God will appear, if we wait for it, “not thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. (Romans 12:3)”