The Danger of Listening to One Man
Have you ever stopped and wondered how the Corinthian believers managed to factionalize themselves between Paul, Peter, Apollos, and “Christ” without the aid of digital downloads? It’s not like Apollos or Peter tweeted pithy little theology sound-bites two or three times a day for their Corinthian fan club to chew over. And yet despite limited access to the teachings of these men, the Corinthian believers managed to shatter the unity of their church through by obsessing over the style and ministry of one particular church leader.
I’m definitely not the first to make this observation, but our generation is the first with almost unlimited access to thousands of sermons preached every Sunday. I can find a pastor who teaches in whatever style I most identify with. And rather than being challenged by the voices of people around me who have different perspectives and preferences, I can allow my understanding of biblical truth to be defined by a particular pastor I easily identify with rather than having to fight for clarity through the words of a pastor who communicates differently than I do.
Every preacher will over-emphasize and under-emphasize certain aspects of doctrine and practical living. The only preacher to ever strike a perfect balance was Jesus. I will naturally be drawn to listen to the preachers who emphasize what I emphasize and neglect what I neglect. Unfortunately, this means that I won’t be challenged in my weaknesses nearly as much as I should be. Putting only the familiar and the comfortable in my iPod will change me only in familiar and comfortable ways.
I don’t mean to sound like it’s wrong to have a favorite preacher. I have one: John Piper. He’s taught me incredible things about the glory of God and how delighting in Him is the chief end of man. He’s redefined my understanding of what it means to take radical risks for the kingdom of God and how often wisdom and risk are the same. And yet, listening to only Piper is dangerous. Dangerous that I will lose sight of some aspect of the full counsel of God that Piper does not emphasize and dangerous that I will begin to believe that only those who listen to Piper can understand the greatness of God. The Corinthians are proof that even a wonderful thing like unlimited access to sermons can be used by Satan and our own self-deceiving hearts to derail our spiritual growth.
So who do you listen to? Who do you read? Leave a comment at the bottom if you want. Outside of John Marc at Cornerstone, here’s the men who are shaping my understanding of the whole counsel of God:
The Master’s College Podcast (Various Southern California Pastors)
John Piper/Desiring God
Pyromaniacs (Phil Johnson, Frank Turk, Dan Phillips)
Authors (During 2010):
T. David Gordon