The Cult of the Speaker

6:30 AM Up for a stern warning this morning?  

Before I issue it, some background. I have nothing against public speaking. I am asked to speak all the time. I enjoy listening to other speakers (provided they are well-prepared and not just repeating the same old same old). I have been responsible for organizing two major conferences on campus that featured such speakers as Dan Wallace, Darrell Bock, Moises Silva, Grant Osborne, Keith Elliott, and Scot McKnight. I am speaking, in fact, at a conference today at SEBTS. So what is my warning?

Beware the cult of the speaker!

Our culture, methinks, places far too much stock in the opinions of so-called “experts.” The only opinion that matters is God’s. Two weeks ago in chapel our president Danny Akin put it this way: “I don’t care what you say. I don’t even care what I say. The only thing that matters is the Word of God.” No truer words were ever spoken.

If you are a public speaker, never forget the words of the greatest man who ever lived (sans Jesus): “He must increase, but I must decrease.” The purpose of John the Baptist’s ministry was to point others to Christ and away from himself. He did not form his own little following. (Others formed the “John the Baptist Society,” but long after John was dead.) He didn’t set up his own 501(c)3. Just as the light of the morning star fades in the light of the rising sun, John was content to become nothing so that Christ might become everything.

In other words, John abased himself. This is not self-abasement for the sake of self-abasement. It is abasing oneself in comparison with Christ. The more others exalt us, the more we need to be very, very careful to humble ourselves. One way to do this is by stating publicly from time to time exactly what our president said: “It don’t really matter, folks, what I think. You check out the Scriptures for yourselves, and then go wherever the evidence points you.” In fact, maybe we should say this every time we get up to speak.

According to the author of Hebrews, Jesus has inherited a Name that is far greater than the angels’ (or ours). According to Colossians 1:18, Jesus is to have first place in the church. Are you willing to decrease in order to honor Christ? Am I?

Beware the cult of the speaker!

(From Dave Black Online. David Alan Black is the author of Energion titles Christian Archy, The Jesus ParadigmWhy Four Gospels? and the forthcoming Will You Join the Cause of Global Missions?. Used by permission.)