Pastor Pete Rose :KevinH
Pete Rose was a great, tenacious, admired baseball player. As a kid, I loved Charlie Hustle (Rose’s nickname) as he played with immense grit and determination and he is often viewed as the missing piece who finally completed the Philadelphia Phillies and brought them their very first World Series championship in 1980. He will always have a special place in my heart as a baseball player.
As a person, however, Pete Rose is a pretty rotten human being, and he proved that once again on Sunday afternoon as the Phillies remembered and honored that 1980 championship team. In pre-game interviews, Rose boorishly dismissed a young female reporter who asked him about past rape allegations, finishing up by calling her “babe”. When followed up, he said that nobody cares about what happened 55 years ago (it was actually more like 47 years ago), conveniently ignoring the fact he was there to celebrate a championship that took place 42 years prior. Later, he was invited onto the Phillies broadcast of the game where he promptly and multiple times used language that is not allowed on live broadcast tv, while very crudely talking about different subject matters.
Yet, Rose is still quite revered by many fans as evidenced by his standing ovation, supported by many of his past teammates, and was given a platform by the Phillies organization.
Rose was an exceptional performer who experienced great success through which many fans, teammates, and organizations were able to share in the basking. All the other stuff – rape allegations, putting the integrity of his sport at risk by gambling on it, tax evasion, overall hubris and crassness – is then so often excused and overlooked so that he can continue to be admired and supported as a hero. Talent and accomplishment mean so much more than character and conduct. All the more, Rose uses his status as a baseball pariah to his advantage, casting himself as the persecuted and the unfairly wronged, gaining additional backing from his followers.
Oh, how it is so often like this in the church. We place our hero Christian leaders and pastors and politicians on a pedestal that exempts them from much of any accountability and we get quite upset when someone tries to “attack” them. We will not hear or allow accusations made against them, no matter how credible or supported by evidence they may be, while assuming that the accusers are the evil actors. We will not question the problematic, if not outright wrongful things they do or say. We will not be concerned by lack of transparency or accountability structures. We will, however, attack those who do dare question or implicate or “persecute” our beloved ones.
Wrongfully supporting an undeserving sports hero in their depravity is one thing. Wrongfully supporting an undeserving church leader, organization, or public official in their depravity is a whole ‘nother story. The amount of harm that can be committed by a person or organization with direct influence and say over others is in many ways greatly more than what can be done by an old baseball player who serves in no position over anybody else.
The church ought to be different than the world. Yet, when it comes to hero and idol worship, we can often be very much the same. Worse yet, in some ways our hero worship can result in greater harm to others than what occurs in the outside world.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” – II Corinthians 5:17
We are a new creation, yet we also know we will continue to sin. At the very least, may God give us the grace, ability, and fortitude to recognize just how harmful idol worship can be and may He help us in working towards ridding it from our lives and from within His Church.