Christian influencers: in the ruthless world of social networks


They are neither prophets, nor guru, nor pastor, nor messiah, they are influencers.

"17 Then the high priest and all those who were with him, that is to say the members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy towards the apostles; they decided to act. 18 They did them arrested and thrown into the public prison.19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison, led the apostles out and said to them: 20 "... announce to the people everything concerning the new life." The Bible, Book of Acts, Chapter 5

October 31, 1517, Holy Roman Empire. A monk walks out through one of the wide doors of All Saints' Church in Wittenberg's old town. He closes it behind him, and unrolling the documents he was holding under his arm, he grabs a small hammer from his belt and between his teeth, four nails.

In this cold early morning hour, the street is deserted. Hammer blows echo off cobblestones and stone walls. Four times. The text, now visible to all, begins as follows:

"Out of love for the truth and with the aim of clarifying it, the following theses will be defended in Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Augustinian hermit, master of the Arts, doctor and reader of Holy Theology. This one prays those who, being absent, could not discuss with him, to be good enough to do so by letter. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen."

Luther's Reformation has just begun. It will cause many scandals, information campaigns, disinformation, denigrations, alliances and conflicts. In the years that followed, the painter Lukas Cranach would become the appointed portrait painter of the monk of Wittenberg.

And Gutenberg's printing press, which is only a nascent tool, will shake up the codes of distribution and will make it possible to bring to the hearts of homes the central object of Luther's theses, the book which crystallizes all truths and all outrages: the Bible. - Saturday April 5, 2014, Paris, Zeytoun family apartment, 7:30 a.m.

Like every morning since January 1, Olivier, a fourteen-year-old high school student, reads in the privacy of his room the Bible that his grandmother gave him for Christmas. At the moment, he is particularly devouring the book of Acts, which describes the first hours of Christianity, then how it emancipated itself from Israel and spread to Rome and Caesar.

Reading the works of the apostle Paul, Olivier boils inwardly. Because among the Zeytoun, one is not Christian by family tradition or by culture. Faith is not a free option. It is a belief. Either we have it or we don't. Olivier has made his choice: he has it.

He wants to follow "the way", Jesus Christ. After a moment of reflection, he takes a Stabilo out of his kit and highlights in yellow a passage that he wishes to memorize for later:

"Tell the people all about the new life." (Book of Acts, chapter 5, verse 20)

The next day, after the family meal, Olivier will open a Youtube account to share his journey as a young Christian and invite all those who wish to do the same.

Olivier does not know it yet, he who has never taken a photography or digital marketing course, but the videos he will post will be seen by tens, hundreds of thousands, even millions of people, d first on Youtube then, from June 2015, on Facebook and, barely a few months later, in October of the same year, on Instagram.

Today, "Zeytooun" accounts have 29 subscribers on Youtube, almost 000 on Tik Tok, 449 followers on Facebook and many more on WhatsApp, Twitter, Discord or on its site. We stopped the counters.

If Olivier Zeytoun is not a theologian, and even less a monk, he uses the tools at his disposal to share his faith in Jesus Christ and the fruit of his biblical research. At Luther the stylized profiles of Cranach, the print version Gutenberg and "the letters" of his disputants, at the other the video fashioned on the Iphone, the social networks and the posts of his haters.

The technologies have changed, the objective, all things considered, remains the same. The story of Olivier Zeytoun goes back a long way. He endorsed what, from the time of Luther, the first Protestants called "the universal priesthood", a foundation of Protestantism according to which every Christian can, and must, be a priest:

"[…] it is baptism, the gospel and faith which alone form the ecclesiastical state. […] Consequently, we are absolutely all consecrated priests by baptism."

Already wrote, in 1520, the famous and scandalous reformer. All priests! All influencers! But then, if all the baptized can proclaim themselves "preacher", "apostle", "prophet" or "master" as is often written, in gold letters, on the wild displays of the Porte de Clignancourt, what are the limits of the exercise?

Are they all right and true? Are all the speeches valid? How to discern the wheat from the chaff?

Christian influencers, pseudo-Christians, specialists in all kinds of happy, radiant lives relieved of all the burdens - especially monetary - that burden the lives of their subscribers, abound on the web.

"Do you have a credit card? I will bless you."

All rotten for all that? Is the web only carrying muddy waters? Would it be necessary to remain "pure" to cut all the moorings, to unsubscribe from everything, and to throw away all the speeches with the speed of the web?

In this jungle of salvation gurus and imprecatory or huckstering deliverance specialists, how do you recognize a Christian influencer from a true Christian influencer?

Really Christian, and not just an influencer? Are they wearing the priest's tunic? What does he/she look like? What do they believe? What does he/she say? What is he living? What is she living? How do you recognize an influencer who really wants you?

How can we never, oh never, fall into the trap of influencers who only have beautiful words as Christians?

Do not expect an answer in 5 points and three easy and free recipes, this is not the kind of Protestant Presence. But be ready for thirty minutes of truth, eyes to hearts, with Zeytoon, Johanna, Timothy, David Bonhomme and Éric Denimal.

Christopher Zimmerlin,

Protestant Presence Christian Influencers - The New Prophets A documentary by Damien Boyer produced by Orawa

To see or review Christian Influencers - The New Prophets for 7 days: or follow Presence Protestante on Facebook @

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