Purpose Driven Confusion

Rick Warren is a very famous mega-church pastor in America.  He is probably best-known for his famous books, The Purpose Driven Church and The Purpose Driven Life.  Unfortunately, in these books he misused Scripture, making his points repeatedly with Scriptures that didn’t say at all what he claimed they said.  Many “evangelical” leaders turned a blind eye, for whatever reason.

They’ve turned a blind eye over and over again, as Pastor Warren repeatedly does things that are not consistent with Scripture.  But I wonder if even his apologists will turn a blind eye to his latest fiasco.

Bridges to Muslims

Last year, Rick Warren signed an interfaith statement with Muslims with vague language about both faiths worshiping “one God.”  One of the claims of Muslim apologists is that Muslims and Christians worship the same God — and Muslims claimed Warren had agreed to this.

When a newspaper picked up the story, Warren denied it, saying the language meant simply that both religions practice monotheism.  He was, of course, right.  But it is a classic example of reaching an agreement which either side can claim (to their own “constituents”) means what they want it to mean.  Some famous evangelical leaders defended Rick Warren, because he hadn’t denied the faith.

But is this really the way God wants Christian leaders to behave, using hazy wording, that allows the “other side” of the agreement to say something that isn’t true?

II Corinthians 4:1-2

1 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;
2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

Twitter Twisting

Tuesday, Mr Warren struck again.  A friend who comments here sometimes wrote telling me about this tweet:

Join me today in fasting and prayer for the 115 Cardinals seeking God’s Will in a new leader. http://instagr.am/p/WvyDIWI0yI/

God’s will?  God’s will is that they choose no one to be called “Holy Father.”

Matthew 23:9

And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.

God’s will is that they stop teaching a false gospel.

Galatians 1:6-8

6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

His will is that they stop bowing down to icons and statues of Mary.

Exodus 20:4-5

4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them:

His will is that they quit covering up (“for the good of the Church”) the perversions of those they’ve put in authority.

I Timothy 5:20

Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

His will is that they repent.

II Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Demonic Differences?

How did Rick Warren respond to criticism of his tweet?

Not everything that’s different is demonic. Learn to appreciate differences. Obviously #GodLovesVariety!

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that you have to keep the sacraments to be saved.  They teach prayers to Mary and the saints, which is idolatry.  They teach that their pope should be called “Holy Father.”  This is not the kind of variety God loves, and any teacher who tells us we should appreciate these differences is teaching falsely.

In fact, the Bible does talk about demonic teachings.

I Timothy 4:1-3

1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

What are these doctrines of devils?  Hypocritical lies.  Check the repeated pattern of response to the immorality of priests.  Conscience seared.  Check the obvious example of Keith O’Brien (and many others), who never acknowledged their sin until they were caught.  Forbidding to marry.  The required celibacy of priests comes to mind.  Commanding to abstain from meats.  It’s Lent season, and Friday is coming….

Rick Warren is right, not everything that is different is demonic.  But sadly, some differences are demonic.  Whether Warren is being disingenuous, or really doesn’t get it, he is way out of line with Scripture.

Broad Evangelicalism Has Become so Tragic

Christians are so concerned that persecution is coming — but false teaching is a greater danger to the church than persecution ever was or ever will be.  Some think “gay marriage” and abortion and corrupt lawmakers and restrictions on religious liberty are bad for the church, but those who treat blatant apostasy as a difference to be appreciated, and those who endorse and defend such teachers, do far more damage.

I know Rick Warren has a very big church, and that “success” looks very appealing.  But I’m not interested in his books.  Our church won’t be giving them away.  We won’t be endorsing anything he says.  It’s hard to see any reason to endorse anything from evangelical “big names” like John Piper and Ed Stetzer who have kept supporting Rick Warren.

These men give a great demonstration for why we don’t use the label “evangelical” for our church.  Too often, “evangelical” encompasses just about anyone who says the right thing often enough when he’s around his evangelical friends, even if he spreads abundant error at other times.  Once you are “in the evangelical club,” you really do have to make a very bad mess of things before your friends even start to ask questions.

There is a great gulf between Biblical Christianity and the traditions and errors of the Roman Catholic Church.  Rick Warren likes to “build bridges” — to Muslims, to Catholics, to whomever.  But if “evangelicalism’s big tent” encompasses this kind of bridge-building, we do better to raise our standard elsewhere.

This is one reason we describe our belief, not as “evangelical” but thus:

“Historic Christianity — believing what Christians have always believed.”

About Jon Gleason

Former Pastor of Free Baptist Church of Glenrothes
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16 Responses to Purpose Driven Confusion

  1. Matt Parker says:

    Good word, Jon. True doctrinal teaching is THE VERY thing that will sustain us in persecution. It is paramount.Though I like much of what some guys like Piper, and occasionally some Stetzer, have to say, I would disagree with them here. I have always tilted a gimlet eye towards Warren ever since the book came out. Evangelical is such a “junk drawer” word / concept anymore. In so many way the “evangelical” has departed from the Gospel, from historic Christianity. Tragic.

    • Jon Gleason says:

      Thanks, Matt. It’s so sad when people mix truth with error.

      • Matt Parker says:

        Yes, and even more sad when the fight to contend for the Truth is too heavy a burden to carry in favor of the much lighter load of compromise.

      • Jon Gleason says:

        The Purpose Driven Church concept ultimately comes down to trying to present the truth in ways that will be palatable to unbelievers. The Scriptures say it won’t be palatable. I suppose, once you’ve gone down that line, compromise becomes almost inevitable. You want to be palatable to seekers, then you want to be palatable to Muslims and Catholics as well.

        Piper is supposed to be a Calvinist. I’ve never really understood how a Calvinist could be happy with someone pushing the “seeker-sensitive” approach. But I guess we’re probably both too busy to spend too much time trying to figure out the “whys” of it all. 🙂 We’ve got a client waiting for something from me….

  2. Great post, Jon! I’m encouraged to see you calling it the way it is! Keep it up.
    BTW – got anything good to say about Billy Graham/Franklin Graham? 😉

    • Jon Gleason says:

      Thanks, Mark.

      Billy and Franklin Graham represent “big tent evangelicalism”, as you know. I am thankful for the times they have spoken truth and that souls have been saved. I am deeply disappointed in things they have done which are contrary to Scripture.

      The last campaign in Scotland was in Perth back in the late 90s. I didn’t go.

  3. linda jones says:

    Great post! Thank God for people like you, who can still see the truth the way God intended it to be. Thanks for being so true, honest and bold. You couldn’t have said it better. God bless you with all the heavenly and earthly blessings.

  4. Andrew says:

    His books and speeches are based on world pleasing politically correct cheesy cliches and anecdotes basically.

    • Jon Gleason says:

      Thanks, Andrew, I agree. He’s not alone in that. Robert Schuller did it, Joel Osteen does it. The disappointing thing is that evangelical spokesmen are defending him.

  5. ukfred says:

    It is refreshing to see that you are prepared to mail your colours to the mast for a faith that is in accordance with Scripture. Unfortunately too many of our church leaders in almost all denominations are more churchian, that is interested in the welfare of their own organisations, than concerned for the truth of the Gospel.

    I am coming to see the description ‘evangelical’ as meaningless, because many of those who claim to be evangelical do not have lives which would give someone outside the Kingdom grounds for wanting to know what made this believer different. I still remember my own conversion, coming in a conversation in which I asked a person I knew to be Christian what was it that they had that I did not have that gave them peace in a stressful time. I could see the difference and I wanted to know what caused it and whether I could have some too.

    I fear that those who are trying to make the Gospel palatable to the world have missed the heart of the matter. We very much do need to communicate the Gospel in language that the present generation understands, but we need to do so without changing the meaning of the message we have to proclaim. We ought to know that many will turn away from the message that is Jesus, crucified and resurrected, but if we see success as being an ever greater proportion of people who accept our message, then perhaps we need to check to be sure we are proclaiming the message we were sent to proclaim.

    • Jon Gleason says:

      Hi, Fred. Thanks for the comment. If we aren’t going to raise that standard, there’s no point in raising any standard. Your second paragraph (especially the last sentence) sounds like my I Peter 3:15 series. 🙂

      Those who try to make the Gospel palatable to the world deny this Scripture: “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (I Corinthians 1:23-24). But you are tempting me to write a whole blog post on that point, so I’ll stop because I don’t have time for that right now.

  6. Well, such a breath of fresh air!! Well said!!!
    Ever since Warren’s book came out I have been in a minority of detractors and it is sad to me that as he basks in his glory, many churches still praise the man.
    Yes, the Laodicean church is alive and well and thriving; in no little part due to his writings.
    Blessings, Angus

    • Jon Gleason says:

      Hello, Angus. So you’ve been sitting afar off in a distant country, saying, “and I, even I only, am left” (I Kings 19:10)? 🙂

      There are more than some might think who haven’t bowed the knee, or bowed their purpose, to being driven by Warren’s philosophies. But even if we seem to be standing alone, we’ll stand on. His ideas won’t hold up under persecution, will they? If serious persecution starts, he’ll have to write a different kind of book which will be either much, much better, or much, much worse.

      Blessings to you, my friend.

  7. Christine says:

    Dear Friend… I just found your website today while on http://defendingcontending.com/. I thank you for defending the truth of God’s Word. Someday we hope to visit Scotland (grandparents are from Paisley) and enjoy its beauty! Have a Blessed Day!

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