The very thought that I might have groupies had not occurred to me, but thank you, Al, for pointing out that frightful prospect. Perhaps these qualifications will be helpful in identifying whether all three of you who are groupie candidates do indeed qualify.
You know you’re a groupie if you hang on every word that your hero speaks. It’s one thing to listen to what a wise person says. It’s another thing to treat every word that said wise person says as if it’s golden. This can happen easily in the Christian world. We can so enjoy the work of men like John Piper or John MacArthur that we treat them as (practically, if not theoretically) infallible. This is a dangerous position, because you are putting a man in a place that only God should have. Do you evaluate critically what your hero/mentor says? Do you think about whether they might be right or wrong, and give serious thought to that question? Or does critical evaluation leave your mind nearly as quickly as it came? If so, you’re a Christian groupie.
You know you’re a groupie if you tenaciously argue for your mentor in every possible situation where possible disagreement may arise. We all have our heroes, and we all defend them to the core. But ask yourself–can I stomach the possibility that my hero is wrong? Or–this is a big test–can I stomach the possibility that my hero may be significantly wrong on something? That’s a tough test. No groupie can pass it. It is a sign of considerable maturity for a person to have a hero, to greatly respect him, but also to realize that this hero is but a man, with flaws and inconsistencies. This perspective is quite different from the less mature perspective, which is characterized by thinking that one’s mentor has no flaws and that therefore said mentor needs to be defended at all costs at all times. It is good and right to have people whom we look up to. It is not so good and right to assume the responsibility of attacking as full-time bulldog for such a person.
We’ll talk more about this tomorrow. For now, though, know that I believe it an excellent idea to have role models and heroes in the faith. This is necessary. Those who do not have role models are missing out. But our heroes are human. We must always remember this. And we must remember that they are super-humans–humans, yes, but unbelievably good humans. No, they’re sinners to the core. Keeping this perspective in mind guards us from sinful over-trust in humanity–and keeps us from the kind of bitter disillusionment that always follows when one human discovers that another is just like him.