Around here we like John Piper and Mark Driscoll, Acts 29 and T4G, Matt Chandler and JD Greear, the Gospel Coalition and 9Marks. Many are on-board with this. But others would criticize it, saying all that these things represent are the new rock star breed of Christianity. That’s their prerogative to say, but as for me, I know that what I witnessed one week ago at the SBC Pastor’s Conference (SBCPC) when Mike Huckabee took the stage (I shiver to say pulpit) was nothing more than their own breed of rock star worship.
Huckabee rose to prowess during his failed attempt at the Republican Presidential nod last year, and from the word “Go” he wore his Southern Baptist credentials high. For many people this was enough to garner their vote, but I never really bought in. Aside from standing more firmly on his religious beliefs than other former governors of Arkansas and a ludicrous tax plan, Huckabee showed little political difference from his slick predecessor from across the aisle. Still, watching him as a speaker at the SBCPC I was willing to forget my political concerns and listen simply as a fellow brother in Christ. Unfortunately, by the end of his speech, a flat tax was the least of my worries.
People swarmed the room to watch Huckabee’s half-hour amalgamation of theology, morality, and politics. I’ve seen Driscoll speak several times, and never has he his appearance created such a buzz. To be fair, Huckabee made several good theological insights, but honestly, this made the whole thing that much more disappointing. For someone who apparently knows the Bible well, he demonstrated a horrific ability to connect it with the reality of Christian living.
His main message was, “We need to recognize that real leadership does not bring power to ourselves but brings power to those we serve.” Uh, okay. Now, move to application. How do we do this? Among the apparent answers offered by the Huckster were “to live by the Golden Rule,” “to have higher personal morality and personal responsibility,” to end abortion, and to comprehend that “our relationship with [political] Israel is organic and not just organizational.” Whoop-dee-doo! I mean, really? If “the role of leadership is to empower people to stand before God as righteous, responsible people” (which I do not agree that it is), how does throwing a bunch of moralism and pep-rally jazz at an audience accomplish this?
But you know what? People ate it up. Standing ovations. An amen corner. If Jesus had come back at that moment, I honestly believe a lot of people in the room would have been disappointed. And for what? A bunch of non-biblical moralistic therapeutic deism?
Maybe Piper and Driscoll and Keller and Mahaney are rock stars. Maybe people like myself focus on them too much. Regardless, at the end of the day, I can fall back on the fact that these men, as over-hyped as they might sometimes be, are at least pouring out a true, deep biblical theology to the screaming masses, which is plenty more than I can say about the “acceptable” rock star worship I witnessed that afternoon in Louisville!