The internet is abuzz (it’s always abuzz about something isn’t it?) about the repudiation of the Christian faith, the apostacy Josh Harris and subsequent separation from his wife. Since you are reading this on the internet I will assume that you can find all the details you need there and so I shall not repeat them here.
What is a Christian to make of all this? Well, there’s much. For one thing, we need to reclaim the language of apostasy and understand what that means in the dying days of Western civilization. I’m not going to do that here. But I do offer seven things to consider:
- Listen to, that is, read and heed, those Christians who have finished their race. In other words, spend more time reading the teachings of dead Christians who lived a life of holiness and who taught truth. These often have much more value than those of the present, and their subsequent lives will not disappoint. The argument that those who have died do not have enough relevance to our situation today can be dispelled by actually reading them. Anyone who says that John Owens has nothing to teach us hasn’t read him.
- Do not overestimate the spiritual vitality of celebrity Christians. It may be easy to think that Christian celebrities have actually earned their status. The worst of them may believe they have earned it, but the best would shudder at the thought. In either case, God raises some up and not others.
- Do not underestimate the spiritual peril of celebrity status. Celebrity has it’s own dangers. A well-known (and revered) Christian often speaks with more authority than he should. A celebrity Christian can be shallow, ill-informed, and outright wrong, but his words will carry much more weight than someone who is out of the public eye. Fame does not confer wisdom or knowledge, or correct information.
- Be angry, but do not sin. Anger is a normal response to anyone who builds a brand, gains a following, then abandons the followers and repudiates his teachings. Be skeptical about a person’s honesty, when the issue is a moral failing before it is a spiritual or doctrinal one. Moral failure is the predecessor to apostacy. Be angry because this will cause some to stumble: “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.” Luke 17:1–2. There are people who were genuinely helped by Harris’ books, who are today questioning him and everything he stood for. It is only the Christian celebrity who, upon committing apostasy and fleeing into the arms of the welcoming world, will receive accolades, praise, and book deals. He will be acclaimed as “brave” when he is really choosing the easiest and most cowardly choice of action possible (Matthew 7:13-14).
- Seek to be faithful, not famous; never confuse the two. Remember that for every Christian celebrity, there are many more average Christians who live lives faithful to Christ. Seek to be one of them. Remember too, that with abundance of everything, even fame, comes responsibility: “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” Luke 12:48.
- Do not insulate yourself from other Christians. No one is to be “above the fray.” For Galatians 6:1 to work, a Christian has to have those in his life who can speak to him about sin and error. Celebrities are often surrounded by sycophants who enjoy basking in the light of their friend far to much to actually be a friend.
- Watch yourself. Nothing that has happened in this unhappy episode is out of the range of possibility for anyone else (1 Corinthians 6:12).