David Morrill of Protestia writes about Christian online celebrities, especially YouTubers. These influencers have been growing in popularity and the author questions whether that is always a positive thing. While many channels are helpful, many are more concerned with popularity. Successful YouTube channels can reach hundreds of thousands of subscribers with millions of views. More than a few videos have focused on Biblical teachings that do not follow what is actually said in Scripture.
At the top of the Christian YouTube heap lies a perniciously dangerous breed of online teacher. These teachers boast hundreds of thousands of subscribers, millions of views, and video content on nearly every theological topic imaginable. Their content is often solidly biblical and helpful, especially for believers not steeped in the finer points of biblical discernment.
Yet time and time again, when the topic at hand would call them to risk their popularity by decisively marking and avoiding a false teacher (Rom. 16:17) with enough followers to put a dent in their subscriber base, these teachers retreat. They capitulate and play the “judge not” card – not only refusing to identify clear heretics but often encouraging the faithful to welcome leaven in the lump.
These professional video creators are rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, revealing that while they may disagree with the icebergs, they aren’t prepared to tell ships to stay clear. They are collaborators – telling the faithful to let down their guard (sometimes quite literally) while convincing themselves their popularity must be maintained lest the Spirit be unable to minister within the hearts of digital seekers. Their compromise is often identifiable in the comments of their most ardent defenders, who rush to their defense with cries for unity, gentleness, and accusations based on nebulous “Christlikeness.”
In the same spirit, these YouTubers will make sure to identify and warn against other online discernment ministries who don’t hesitate to mark false teachers and therefore must have less-than-pure motives.