An Audio Sermon concerning recent developments in the FGBC 2006
Pastor Steve MitchellGarden City Grace Brethren Church, Roanoke, VA
Greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. My name is Steve Mitchell and I’m the pastor of Garden City GBC in Roanoke, VA and I have an urgent message for any who would kindly listen to this CD or read the accompanying article on my website www.powertostand.org
Please understand that this should be viewed as a voice of concern about what have become some very hot topics in our fellowship lately. I wish to say on the outset here that I mean absolutely no disrespect or malice towards anyone in any shape or form. This is not and must not be construed in any way as a personal attack on any pastor or ministry, even though some specific teachings and events will be addressed and identified. I judge noone’s motives or eternal destinies but Scripture commands us to test all things.
Paul told the Thessalonians in his first epistle to them, 5:21-22: “Test all things; hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.”
He counseled the Corinthians that “he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged by no man.” (1 Cor. 2:15).
Later, in 1 Cor. 6:5, he says: “I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide, diakrino, render a decision, between his brethren?”
Heb. 5:14 says: “But solid food belongs to those who are f full age, that is, those who by reason of use have exercised to discern both good and evil.”
1 john 4:1 “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
Jesus tells us “Judge with righteous judgment.” (John 7:24).
These and many other passages show us that we are indeed commanded to judge and discern teachings, and attitudes, spirits, messages and doctrines that are introduced into the Body of Christ. Eternal destinies and heart motives of individuals are off limits to us but we must exercise our discernment in these other areas. Its vital and crucial and commanded.
None are above that and we must make sound discerning judgments concerning the teachings and practices that come into our fellowship or are introduced to others. As always, I encourage anyone who is interested to contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website. Please receive this introductory word as charitable and with no malice.
The Bible says that in the last days, perilous, tense times will come (2 Tim. 3:1ff). False prophets and apostles will arise and deceive many (Matt 24:4-26). False gospels will be introduced and tolerated. The church will in many cases, heap up for themselves teachers that will tickle their ears (2 Tim. 4:3). There will be a great falling away from the faith in the days preceding the rapture of the church and the end things that God has planned (2 Thess. 2:3).
I believe wholeheartedly that we are in these days and sadly; the church of Laodicea is upon and among us (Rev.3:14-22). By that I mean that not every church is completely corrupted or apostatized but I think all of us see the effects of the lukewarmness, self deception and compromise that would infiltrate the Body of Christ in the last days.
Having identified the problem in generic descriptions and applied it to our day in varying extents. I wish to begin this address by citing some specific areas of false teaching and compromise that we in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches (FGBC) seem to be heading into in some circles. Again not all of what I mention pertains to you or your church, nor is everyone in a Grace Brethren church involved with some of these teachings but I believe that we are seeing an increase in some of our fellowships being enamored with, Looking to, and in some cases, fully involved with what can only be described as unscriptural, dangerous and aberrant elements.
This address has in view primarily the recent involvements with high profile leaders in what is called the Church Growth Movement (CGM). Men like Bill Hybels (Willow Creek), Rick Warren (Saddleback and Purpose-Driven fame), Dan Southerland (Church Transitions) , John Maxwell (INJOY), and others who represent this movement and some of its core teachings.
Far more dangerous and I believe, in some cases, downright sinister, are the teachings and practices associated with the Emerging Church Movement and emergent postmodern ministry circles. Teachings from men like Erwin McManus, Rob Bell, Brian Mclaren, Leonard Sweet, Dan Kimball to name a few… Going along with that is the growing prevalence of yoga being taught in churches and practices like labyrinth prayer, eastern style meditation and contemplative techniques. Some of These elements are beginning to rear their ugly heads, yes even among the Grace Brethren.
Some of you might be thinking at this point “WOW!I know nothing of these things! My church or pastor doesn’t promote or practice them!” For you dear folks I say ‘Praise God!’ Continue following the Bible and God’s outline for ministry and practice. But for any who might be familiar with these things or are in a church that is promoting them, well this address is an urgent plea for you to reexamine your convictions and the content of your ministry or spiritual environment.
I will attempt now to familiarize you with a few of the key players in the CGM and emerging circles as well as what some of the latest things are that they are bringing to the church. Throughout this message I will include a few evidences that the FGBC indeed is being affected by some of these things and some of the concerns I have for the future.
I’ll include a report on what has been occurring as I’ve addressed some of these concerns and then leave you to decide if perhaps the Lord is calling you to make a stand against the influx of some of these ideas and teachings. I’ll also end with a few parting Scriptures.
I believe what is central to the crisis we are in these days can be summed up in the fact that the authority of the Bible in our doctrine and practice is being undermined by much of what we find in the CGM and emerging church movements. The FGBC official motto of “the Bible the whole Bible and nothing but the Bible” is noble and a great heritage to uphold. I think all of us would agree that Gods Word and the Holy Spirit empowering us to live from, teach from, and understand that Word has been prominent in the foundation and history of the Grace Brethren churches. However recently, it appears that some of us are looking beyond these parameters and in some cases seem enamored by principles and personalities associated with what has been called the Church Growth Movement.
This is by no means a comprehensive history so for our purposes we’ll start with the man who claims to have introduced this paradigm: Robert Schuller is the pastor of the famous Crystal Cathedral claims to be the founder of the marketing approach to Christianity.
His philosophy is: “The secret of winning unchurched people into the church is really quite simple. Find out what would impress the non churched in your community then give it to them.” (This is a quote taken from Gary Gilley’s, This Little Church Went to Market, p.76).
He took his cues from Norman Vincent Peale and began an approach to ministry that all but did away with expository preaching centering on God’s Word and decided to address what he felt were people’s psychological and emotional needs. This approach shifted the focus from God to man and ultimately gave birth to a lot of what we see today in terms of a pragmatic or “do whatever works to get folks in” strategy regardless of whether we see these methods in the Bible or not. This degenerated even further and fast into Schuller’s later errors about self-esteem.He defines “sin’ as "any act or thought that robs myself or another human being of his or her self-esteem." (Quoted from Horton interview posted on http://www.oldtruth.com/blog.cfm/id.2.pid.106). Schullereven said that Jesus’ going to the cross was effective to “sanctify the ego trip.” (Ibid.).
What does Scripture say? Primarily, sin is rebellion against God and this whole business of the self centered esteem issue which drives his preaching and largely determines his positive thinking message flies in the face of what the Bible teaches us about God and His views. Consider these verses:
"I hate pride and arrogance (Prov. 8:13), "Pride goes before destruction" (Prov. 16:18),"The Lord detests all the proud" (Prov. 16:5), "Do not be proud"(Rom. 12:16), "Love does not boast it is not proud" (1Cor 13:4). In fact Paul warns Timothy that in the last days men "will be lovers of themselves" (2Tim 3:2). Interviewee Michael Horton asked Schuller this key question:
“Why should we as Christian ministers, myself included, why should we do anything to encourage people to become "lovers of themselves" if Paul in fact warned others that that would be the state of godlessness in the last days? “(Ibid.).
His response? SCHULLER: I hope you don't preach this, I hope you don't preach this!(Ibid.).
He was appalled at the thought of not building up the self esteem of his listeners.
Who we choose or look to as mentors in this life and for our ministry is very crucial and telling when we look at the progression of teaching. Norman Vincent Peale embraced all manner of erroneous and heretical teachings and Schuller followed suit developing some of them even more. We see this pattern of error begets error worsen on down the line as the leaders that have come on the scene draw from this past evil. Do we think that our churches will be safe havens of sound doctrine if we ally with and be trained by men who look to Schuller and others like him? We won’t escape the consequences of yoking ourselves to men like these.
As you can see, the roots of this paradigm, or viewpoint and system of doctrines and techniques, can already be seen to have faulty elements in it. Bad root equals bad fruit as it goes and well, the progression form bad to worse is evident.
Two men that cite Schuller as a mentor and who they learned to do church from are Bill Hybels of Willow Creek and Rick Warren of Saddleback church. Both men started their churches using the survey method and have continued to model and develop the teachings called seeker-sensitive or seeker friendly. There are several troubling elements to these introduced teachings and philosophy of ministry. One aspect of this is that sinners are relabeled “unchurched” and church becomes the transforming organization that causes the life change. Too many times this model of ministry has watered down central elements of the gospel that someone needs to be saved. When the biblical concept of being lost is diminished to being “unchurched” some of the gravity of the sinner’s situation gets lost as well. Combine this with an emphasis on appealing to the unbelievers felt needs as a guide for how to do ministry and trouble compounds. Seeker sensitive paradigm teaches that unchurched Harry and Mary need to be attracted to what a church has to offer and thus are catered to and the church then must do whatever it takes to appeal to the lost people rather than primarily considering her message as read in God’s Word.
Sometimes certain teachings on sin hell and other vital subjects are downplayed or left out completely even though these subjects are what need to be preached in sinners hearing. Rather the preacher is focused on getting their felt needs addressed. This becomes the bases for many topics for the pastor now instead of what God would have them preach.Pastors like Schuller, Warren and Hybels have in some cases avoided some of the more difficult biblical subjects and even in some cases refuse to address some important topics because they were considered “negative”.
This is problematic because we are told that unregenerate cant and don’t even know the gravity of their need until the Holy Spirit convicts them as they hear the Word. If they don’t hear the Word how will they believe?
1 Cor. 2:14 tells us that “the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of god, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them because they are spiritually discerned.”
Understand that a sinner cannot accurately perceive their felt needs so this is the wrong place to start. They can’t even receive the wisdom of the Bible or comprehend it apart from being worked on and regenerated by the Spirit of God. The chosen method for the sinner to hear the gospel is preaching.
Rom. 10: 13-14: “For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” How then shall they call on Him whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?”
Sinners need to be told the complete gospel including the reality of their spiritual lostness via a bold proclamation of their only hope, the gospel message, and coupled with the Spirit’s power, then and only then will they be saved. Too often in the sermons heard throughout the land at the megachurches in this movement, the message is watered down weakened and unbiblical and aimed at making a sinner feel better, less negative, and of greater self esteem. I’m not saying every message preached by these guys is always like this but too often this flawed felt needs philosophy results in a tainted or incomplete message.
The result? weak bodies and unsaved people in some cases. A Willow Creek theory paper encouraged leaders of home Bible studies to not use “religious words” when talking to unbelievers. Words like “Born again”, “saved”, “repent” and too much emphasis on the “blood” of Christ is frowned upon in this particular framework and that should trouble anyone who knows and loves the Bible because its full of “religious words” like those. In fact they communicate the content of our faith. Jesus said religious words to Nicodemus when he said “Except a man be born again, he can NOT enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (John 3:3-7).. The word “repent” is in frequent use. Bottom line: Christ and the apostles never tailored their speech or sermon content to cater to the comfort of the lost.
James Sundquist says it profoundly:
“How do you carry out the Great Commission without using religious words in Scripture to proclaim the Gospel...another religious word? “Saved” is a religious word directed to every tribe and nation to the ends of the earth to every generation throughout the ages. And, once again, what does the Bible say? “Whosoever believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, even on His name shall be “saved” (Acts 16:31).
Jesus used religious words in the Sermon on the Mount, whose audience was both churched and unchurched Harry and Mary. Same message for both audiences!!! Religious words were spoken at the upper room at Pentecost. If it is good enough for the120 who started the church in the First Century, it is good enough for me in the 21st Century. Are we now to go into all of the world and preach the Gospel (of repentance unto salvation and fear God and give him glory) without using religious words!?!” http://rock-to-salt.cephasministry.com/bill_hybels.html
Some in the CGM tell us that Efforts must be taken also to create a “neutral setting” in home studies or churches so the visiting unbeliever can feel comfortable. This may even go as far as their suggestion to remove crosses or any other religious imagery to minimize the “church” feel of a place. I’m of course not an advocate in having iconic symbolism or the necessity of every church to display a cross or some other religious symbol, it just says something that these guys suggest a removal of these things and why? To suit the felt needs of an unbeliever.
Jesus and the apostles had compassion on the unbelieving multitudes they encountered. They served and helped them but never can we read of any kind of veiling of the message or a methodology that relied on the felt needs of those who were hearing the Word preached. In actuality, many doctrines of the CGM suggest a Church conformed to the image of this world in some respects in order to win the unchurched. This is not what Paul meant when he said he had become “all things to all men” (1 Cor. 9:22), and definitely not in view when he wrote Romans 12:2: “And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove hat is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” sadly, when we continue to look into the teachings and stratagems of the CGM and related offshoots, we see, in some cases, the direct opposition to those truths.
No the Bible says that Christ is a rock of offence to the world yet many are trying to make Him appealing. Decorate and disguise Christ and then you can reach “unchurched Harry and Mary” and draw people into the Kingdom?
We’re told we have make church “cool” all this comes from George Barna’s philosophy of marketing the gospel as though it was a product, an exchange of equally valued goods. Barna’s influence in the CGM cannot be underestimated. He says that marketing is “a broad term that encompasses all the activities that lead up to an exchange of equally valued goods between consenting parties.” (George Barna, A Step-By-Step Guide to Church Marketing, p. 19)
This is fundamentally flawed because the gift of salvation and what Christ did for us on the cross is far more wondrous than anything we bring to exchange it with. If we are going to preach the gospel as revealed, those elements will come forth quite abhorrent to the unsaved. The Bible says it that way. The Gospel is the power of God, the only hope for any who will believe but we can’t smooth the edges of what it says about the lost condition in order to make it user-friendly or consumer compatible.
Using Wal-Mart and Sears as his examples, Barna makes his case that churches are indeed selling or marketing a product. The obvious implication is that if churches are peddling a product then ministry’s definition has changed. Barna says“Ministry, in essence, has the same objective as marketing – to meet people’s needs.”(Ibid. p. 21).
1 Cor. 1:18-23 clearly tells us:
“for the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.’ Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?(Secular marketing principles are based on the “wisdom of this world” and god calls it foolishness!). For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks, foolishness…”
I think you can clearly see what’s going on here. That short passage pretty much dismantles the core premises on which Barna’s marketing approach relies as well as a great deal of the methodology employed by many in the CGM. God calls it foolishness and we are in opposition if we try to change the message to appeal to unbelievers. You just can’t get around the scandal of the whole thing and I praise God for that! It is what arrests the very pride and self esteem that Schuller and his disciples cater to and enables the heart of the wicked to break under the Spirit’s power in attendance to the proclamation of this liberating good news! Amen and Amen…
Marketing and business principles really have no bearing on the church in terms of any kind of real correlation. We are not selling a product and in fact, if the true gospel is offensive and hatedby the world, then the only way an unbeliever would “buy into it” is if its foundational message was changed, This is precisely what the seeker-sensitive, management and marketing gurus associated with this aberrant movement end up doing in many cases: changing or veiling the message in order to cater to unbelieving consumers, and this wont work!
John MacArthur said it astutely:
“The simple reality is that one cannot follow a market-driven strategy and remain faithful to Scripture. Preachers who concern themselves with user-friendliness cannot fearlessly proclaim the whole counsel of God. Those who aspire to preach a timely message will find themselves at odds with the timeless truth of the Bible.” (From his book Ashamed of the Gospel, as quoted on old truth.com)
Read all of First and Second Timothy, and Titus and try to find any real endorsement of these marketing principles in Paul’s instruction to these two men. It’s not in there. Barna’s and others theorems and teachings can’t be supported biblically in many points.
The influx of many of these principles of marketing and leadership patterned after the business world results in many times as the Pastor seeing himself as a “professional” or CEO. Some of these CGM ministries actually consider him to be just that. This simply doesn’t fit with the biblical guidelines and description of a “pastor” or “overseer” in Scripture. Pastor David H. Seefried wrote an excellent article entitled “Implications of Leadership Models Today” and says this:
“Pastors are not CEOs, no matter how they attempt to make their setting appear as such with the addition of more and more staff. Pastors are servants of God’s children. The function model of leadership will perform those duties that Christ prescribed for the blessing of His people. The power model leads to the attempt to bring a CEO style to Christian leadership; these leaders are really telling the Lord to move aside and to let the more capable leader handle the situation. This thinking says in practice that Christ is an incapable Head of the Church. The implementation of the CEO/pastor in the place of the servant pastor violates biblical teaching.” (http://www.soundofgrace.com/v11/n2/leadership2_dhs.htm)
One need only read their books, or attend their leadership seminars to see, in many cases, an almost complete absence of biblical teaching and a marginalization of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, if He’s even mentioned at all. This is in accord with the worldly wisdom espoused by the many business and life coach experts that the CGM looks to.
But what’s really happened? This quote sums up the concerns of this whole phenomenon: from the herescope website in an article called Pseudo-Mission: Blasphemizing and Social Sciencizing:
“Modern evangelicals have observed the "dumbing down" of modern Bible versions and paraphrases, some of which come with a barely-concealed "New Age" agenda. The humanistic psychologists brought the language of "felt needs" into the church. And the modern business gurus brought in purpose-driven, "servant-leader" mantras, as well as the advertising/marketing slogans which rely heavily upon the research of social scientists' use of language as a tool to manipulate consumers”
One of the key players in this “seeker-friendly” movement is Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Church in the Chicago area. Hybels fleshes out Barna’s marketing approach principle on a massive scale through the teachings of his church and the Willow Creek Association (WCA).
When Bill Hybels started his church, he vowed not to use religious words, suggests that we need to remove “religious words” in our efforts to reach the community. He also used the survey method asking “unchurched” folks why they didn’t go to any church and determined to put together a place where they could be catered to. Find out what they want and give it to them: Barna’s marketing idea in full swing.
I’ll cut right to the chase about Hybels by just listing a few major areas of concern and I think you’ll see where he’s coming from. Ask yourself: Should pastors and churches in the FGBC follow in his footsteps?
He invited an Islamic cleric to speak in the pulpit to the people after 9/11. His claim was to help his congregants get a better understanding of Islam. What happened was an imam got platform to teach Muslim beliefs. Did Hybels take his cue from this world’s interfaith idea of unity or from Scripture. You would be hard-pressed to find Christ, his apostles, or the leaders of the church in history allow an unsaved cleric to occupy the sacred pulpit in a Christian church! Schuller, one of Hybel’s mentors has publicly said he would not be disappointed if his grandchildren became Muslim!
And he does the same thing in some ways with the guests he has at his Willow Creek Leadership Summits. By that I mean, he features men who really have no reason and no right to train leadership inside the Body of Christ. Some of them are disqualified by their endorsements or by the fact that they aren’t even saved themselves! What business do they have to train pastors and leaders inside the church? Leadership Summit 2006 was attended by more than 70,000 Christian leaders, in over 130 locations and, yes, was promoted by some churches affiliated with the FGBC who have joined the WCA!
Past Summit teachers have included New Ager Ken Blanchard, Word/Faith minister TD Jakes and this year’s Summit 2006 featured the regular Ivy League grad business coaches and management consultants, standard fare for willow creek.This years teachers included Pastor Wayne Cordeiro from the island I lived for 20 years, Oahu, Hawaii. He is the epitome of the seeker friendly paradigm pastor and has a huge church. He has promoted a dangerous therapy program called Cleansing Stream, featured church produced programs recommending local churches with women pastors and recently took a short sabbatical to a monastery complete with vows of silence. He suffered from anxiety attack and sought psychiatric help. Many find his vulnerability refreshing but is this really the type of leader we need to train us. It appears he ahs some serious issues of his own to deal with. He has also spoken with some of the locally worst false teachers imaginable.(this info from the article; “Burnout a Reality for many in Clergy”, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Sunday, Aug. 20,2006).
Jim Collins was a speaker and he endorses new age contemplative mysticism. Collins comes heavily recommended by Blanchard and promotes the meditative techniques and eastern practices by writing the forward to Michael Ray’s 2004 book, The Highest Goal. Listen to an excerpt from Ray’s book which Collins endorses:
"I attended a meditation-intensive day at an ashram [Hindu spiritual center] to support a friend. As I sat in meditation in what was for me an unfamiliar environment, I suddenly felt and saw a bolt of lightning shoot up from the base of my spine out the top of my head. It forced me to recognize something great within me ... this awareness of my own divinity." (From The Highest Goal, Michael Ray, foreword by Jim Collins, p. 28, 2005)
For Hybels to feature Jim Collins who clearly supports Ray’s mystic falsehood should be all anyone ever needs to be appalled yet thousands were exposed to Collins thanks to Willow Creek’s Leadership Summit 2006. But it was worse:
U2 rocker, Bono, was a featured speaker for this years leadership summit and this is shameful because he has no real right to be training pastors as he himself is not a Christian. Why is he selected to train church leadership?
U2’s Bono, social activist, Irish rocker, is the rising star and spokesman of “Christian” pop culture. He speaks on college campuses about building a Christian worldview. Promise Keepers brought him in years ago to lead worship at a big PK convention. He’s heavily featured in top Christian magazines and seems to be popping up everywhere and being looked to by multitudes as a Christian leader.
Bono says, “God’s Spirit moves through us and the world at a pace that can never be constricted by any one religious paradigm…. There are 2,103 verses of Scripture pertaining to the poor. Jesus Christ only speaks of judgment once. It is not all about the things that the church bangs on about. It is not about sexual immorality, and it is not about megalomania, or vanity. It is about the poor.” (Thunderstruck)
As noble as that sounds, it is completely wrong!
“Music is the language of the spirit. Its first function is praise to creation – praise to the beauty of the woman lying next to you, or the woman you would like to lie next to you.” (Beliefnet2001)
Make no mistake, Bono does not consider himself a Christian:####
“U2 has often been seen as a Christian rock band.” Bono: “We really f– ked that up, though. We really f–ked up our corner of the Christian market. I think carrying moral baggage is very dangerous for an artist.” The crude rock star was the first person to use the “f” word on live T.V. He admits he has a problem with profanity and drunkenness.
Relevant magazine quotes Bono who says “One myth often associated with contracting AIDS is that it stems from sexual irresponsibility…Bono states, ‘Somewhere in the back of the religious mind is this idea that we reap what we sow (that) is missing the entire New Testament, and the concept of grace completely.’”
Paul writes, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:
Gal. 6:7,8 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”
Well, that settles that. The New Testament speaks of grace and this principle as well. Am I angered that Bono doesn’t know that? No I am indignant that Hybels would feature him to train leadership in the church. I am also indignant that pastors and churches put up with and promote these phenomenons as if they were safe and righteous.
At a recent U2 concert Bono held up a sign that said COEXIST: The C was a half crescent moon for the sign of Islam, the X was the star of David for the Jewish symbol and the T was the cross for Christianity. He began chanting MUHAMMED, JESUS, and JEW!ALL TRUE! Thousands joined in.
Why was he a featured speaker at this years Leadership Summit and why would some in the FGBC host or promote the simulcast of this event. What does this say to the discernment levels here? I and the pastors of this Blue Ridge district were told by one of the hosting pastors, as he chuckled, that Bono’s actual address to those at the summit would have to be prerecorded and edited because he swears too much. As this was chuckled about, I couldn’t help wondering whether that fact sent the crystal clear message that there was something really wrong in thinking this man was qualified to train church leadership. How far have some fallen!?
These men along with business consultants are attempting to train ministers, some of whom are in the Grace Brethren churches! This ought not to be, beloved.What’s going on here? What about our moorings and foundation? The authority of the Scriptures. We are not to look at the worlds marketing experts or false teachers or non-Christians for that matter to be trained and equipped to pastor and lead God’s people. The Bible clearly warns us:
““They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” (1John 4:5, 6)
Yet FGBC pastors were urged to attend from a church that is in this fellowship. If anyone thinks this isn’t happening, wake up…Yes this danger is in our fellowship and in a big way! When I voiced my concerns they were labeled condescending, misinformed and unloving!
We should consider what the apostle John wrote in 2 John 9-11:
“Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.”
As you see the applicable principle in this passage, we are warned not to allow false teachers to teach in our churches nor give them any encouragement (v. 10). And if we do, we share in their evil deeds (v. 11).
Latest endorsements by Bill Hybels and Willow creek include the mystical: Hybels new book Walk Across the Room is advertised as mystical. Willow creek is also promoted contemplative meditation practices, associated with many in the emerging church by endorsing the new book: Contemplative Youth Ministry: Practicing the Presence of Jesus with your Students
This is all tragic and some in our Grace Brethren churches or ‘affiliated as the case may be, needs to stop being enamored with Hybels and Willow Creek Association and they definitely need to cease and desist promoting these falsehoods.
From Hybels and CGM we move to “America’s pastor” Rick Warren of Saddleback Church:
When RickWarren began his church, he started out using the very same methodology of Robert Schuller and Bill Hybels: rather than a study of the Scriptures, Warren did a survey market study of unbelievers in order to start his church. He catered to the desires of the unsaved at the foundation of Saddleback Church. Not surprisingly, Schuller praises Warren’s Purpose Driven Church book inside the front cover, and Hybels highlights the book on his Willow Creek Internet web site!
During his last year in seminary, he and his wife, Kay drove west to visit Robert Schuller's Institute for Church Growth. "We had a very stony ride out to the conference," she says, because such nontraditional ministry scared her to death. Schuller, though, won them over. "He had a profound influence on Rick," Kay says. "We were captivated by his positive appeal to nonbelievers. I never looked back."
Warren has had a long history of involvement and teaching conferences with CGM men and worse:
Warren spoke at the "Schuller Institute For Successful Church Leadership" where 80+ gay/lesbians were in attendance
Schuller Trains Homosexual Pastors?--The Spring '97 Evangelicals Concerned RECORD newsletter said, "More than 80 gay and lesbian pastors and lay leaders from the Metropolitan Community Churches participated in this year's Robert Schuller Institute for Successful Church Leadership at Schuller's Crystal Cathedral. The speakers included Bill Hybels, John Maxwell and Rick Warren."
Warren spoke at a Schuller event with Wimber, Hybels and others
WIMBER, HYBELS SPEAK AT SCHULLER EVENT Listed faculty for The Robert Schuller Institute for Successful Church Leadership,Jan.27-30,at Crystal Cathedral campus included: Schuller, John Wimber (Vineyard "signs and wonders" guru), Bill Hybels, Charles Blake (Church of God),Walt Kallestad, John Maxwell, and Rick Warren. Ken Medema was at piano (9/16 CT). Hybels, Wimber, and David Cho were 1994 speakers. Tony Campolo and Jack Hayford were listed as 1995 speakers. http://home.hiwaay.net/~contendr/3-15-97.html
Warren is part of the ultra-conservative Southern Baptist Convention, and all his senior staff sign on to the SBC's doctrines, such as the literal and infallible Bible and exclusion of women as senior pastors. Yet Warren's pastor-training programs welcome Catholics, Methodists, Mormons, Jews and ordained women. "I'm not going to get into a debate over the non-essentials. I won't try to change other denominations. Why be divisive?" he asks, citing as his model Billy Graham, "a statesman for Christ ministering across barriers." ("This evangelist has a 'Purpose'", by Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY,7/21/2003)
There’s so much involved with the issues of Warren’s books that they need a more extended treatment than what can be given here and there’s plenty of critiques available so I am going to cite a mere fraction of what’s so problematic. Keep in mind, at the lowest level, Warren cites many of his scripture passages out of context and uses translations that butcher some of the verses.
These he employs to further his faulty premise that someone should begin this forty-day journey in order to discover their purpose, even though his assertion that God uses forty days to help biblical characters find their purpose in life is clearly flawed.
PDL, p. 9.Warren says that“The Bible is clear that God considers 40 days a spiritually significant time period. Whenever God wanted to prepare someone for His purposes, He took 40 days.”
Is this true? It’s the very premise of the book and all his campaigns which thousands have run headlong into and have been promoted within the Grace Brethren! Upon closer inspection of the actual biblical narratives we see that this isn’t the case at all. He mentions Noah, Moses, the 12 spies, David, Elijah, the city of Nineveh, Jesus in the wilderness, and the post-resurrection disciples. None of these examples can be used to support his premise OR that this is some sort of formula for us today.
Still Warren promises, “The next forty days will transform your life.” (PDL, p. 10). I won’t be able to go into these examples but I provide further documentation for any who wish to visit our website.
Where’s the care for scriptural accuracy that the Bible commands for us: 2 Tim. 2:15 says: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
If a pastor or teacher doesn’t “cut straight” the Word then they ought to be ashamed of themselves. That’s really what it’s saying. This also fits the warning that James gives in James 3:1” My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.”
This is serious business and “America’s Pastor” ought to be more careful with how he treats the Scriptures in his teachings and writings.
There is also what can be characterized as an incomplete portrayal of the gospel for any who are unsaved readers. Sin is not clearly defined nor the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. One gets the impression that a life of sin is equivalent to a life lived without purpose, rather than what the Bible teaches about it being in rebellion to a holy God. Warren takes his cue from Hybels and Schuller by endorsing the felt needs approach to dealing with the “unchurched”:
“It is my deep conviction that anybody can be won to Christ if you discover the key to his or her heart. .. . . It may take some time to identify it. But the most likely place to start is with the person’s felt needs.”1 (Rick Warren) The Purpose Driven Church, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995) 219.
As we have seen this is wrong but then again, there are large portions of the teachings in his books that go against what the Bible tells us. In the Purpose Driven Life he claims, "To discover your purpose in life you must turn to God's Word, not the World's wisdom". He further states "you must build your life on eternal truths, not pop-psychology, success motivation, or inspirational stories". He then proceeds throughout the book to include no less than31 statements or usages of those very things. (Bob DeWaay compiled this list in book Redefining Christianity).
Even at the onset of the PDL, readers are asked to sign a covenant, in partnership with Warren to commit to reading this book. The Bible clearly tells us that we are not to do that but that doesn’t stop Warren or thousands who sign it and go forth into their forty-day campaigns. Jesus said:
“Again you have heard it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes” be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’, ‘No’. For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” Matt. 5:33-37.
James 5:12” But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes” and your “No”, “No”, lest you fall into judgment.”
Although Warren may say some good things in his books, one can only call them a mixture of truth and error, which is where the danger lies. Say some correct statements but pepper the text with false assertions and misuse of scripture and you have a dangerous book.
2 Peter 2:1 warns, “ But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies (“truth alongside error”) even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.”
Beloved we need to be aware of how dangerously close many of us are to swallowing or promoting mixtures of truth and error. Its deadly fro us and our churches. The teachings of the purpose driven and the marketing techniques comprise what can only be called, in many of its elements, a false gospel for this day and age. Bob DeWaay writes:
“The false “gospel” being preached today says that Jesus came to save people from a lack of purpose, lack of happiness, or from living a stress filled and problem filled existence. The true gospel delivers sinners who are God’s enemies (whether they know it or not) from God’s wrath through the blood atonement. This is the gospel Paul preached and this is the “faith of the gospel” around which Paul told the Philippians they should strive to unify.( “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ; so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27))
DeWaay continues: “Any church that does not clearly and publicly preach this message from the pulpit, yet talks about “unity,” is promoting a false and man-made unity that is unbiblical.”(Excerpted from “True and false unity” http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue88.htm
But still, many in our own Grace Brethren churches endorse, promote and take their congregations through these false teachings and problematic programs.
Endorsements abound within the pages of the PDL:
(Purpose Driven Life page 269.Warren cites Henri Nouwen, though the quote does not present anything to be uneasy about, he is not a good source to quote. We find Nouwen is a promoter of contemplative prayer and is a Universalist. Henri Nouwen wrote “Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God's house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God” (Henri Nouwen's last book p.51, Sabbatical Journey Crossroad publishing Co., New York,1998 Quoted in a Time of Departing by Ray Yungen )
Warren also quotes Bernie Siegel who is a new age leader on pp.30-31of his book Purpose Driven Life. One can only wonder when biblical discernment is exercised with these men's associations. Whenever there is a lack of discernment and judgment heresy will grow.
Warren also quotes in The Purpose Driven Life on p.103 Gary Thomas’ book Sacred Pathways.. In Ray Yungen’s excellent book, In A Time of Departing, he quotes Warren who says of Thomas' book:
"Gary has spoken at Saddleback, and I think highly of his work ... he tells them [readers] how they can make the most of their spiritual journeys. He places an emphasis on practical spiritual exercises" (see pg.151 ATOD, 2nd ed.).
In Gary’s book Sacred Pathways, He quotes Carl Jung favorably “Carl Jung developed four profiles to describe human nature…. Combinations of these four profiles can create sixteen different personality types, and the Myers Briggs test is designed to separate these types” (Sacred Pathways, by Gary Thomas, p. 21.) Psychologist Carl Jung is not a good source for any Christian to turn to as he received his information from a “spirit guide” named Philemon
Warren’s wide uses a range of quotes from others books (mystics and Catholics) which clearly shows that he lacks discernment. He quotes in The Purpose Driven life on p.108 another seemingly ok statement of Floyd McClung - who is involved with the 3rd wave Movement and now pastors Mike Bickle’s church.
Rick Warren's website also recommends both Richard Foster and Dallas Willard whom practice what some identify as “Christian” mysticism. We see Warrens affinity for the new ageand meditative techniques involved with contemplative mysticism. As far back as the Purpose Driven Church where he said that the Spiritual Formation movement had a "vital message for the church," and has "given the body of Christ a wake up call" (p. 127). He named Richard Foster and Dallas Willard as key players in the Spiritual Formation movement. Since then, a repeated promotion of contemplative prayer has taken place through Rick Warren and his ministries.
In the March 29th 2006 issue of Rick Warren's "Living the Better Life" e-newsletter we see an article called, "Enjoying God's Presence in Solitude," written by Saddleback Pastor of Maturity, Lance Witt.In the article, Witt uses Thomas Merton as an example of someone who knew about solitude. But Merton's solitude was connected to his firm belief in Buddhism. Merton compared contemplative prayer to an LSD trip. He’s been described as A Catholic mystic and a Trappist monk who popularized inter-spirituality. Merton blended the scriptures, the Desert Fathers, Christian mystics, existentialism, Taoism and Buddhism together. Merton died in Asia searching the depths of Tibetan Buddhism.
Of course this is indicative that Warren is reading these men and therefore we should expect to see him showing up more and more at conferences where this new mysticism is promoted and participated in. Hopefully I’m preaching to the choir and don’t have to tell you all that this new neopagan resurgence of Eastern meditation and contemplative mysticism is not compatible with biblical Christianity. Pagan teachings and practices that honor false gods and Satan have no place in the church and we should shun anyone who would endorse these things.
Warren attended a pastor’s conference in March 2004, it had Labyrinth walking, contemplative praying, and yoga. Labyrinth has much to do with new-age (Dr. Jean Houston). Yoga is part of the Hindu religion. Contemplative (centering prayer) was a daily part of the convention. With Speaker Brennan Manning (a well known Christian Mystic who advocates New Age type “meditative prayer” ideas). Rick Warren quotes Manning in his book “The Purpose-Driven Life”. Manning uses the New Age mind-emptying method of meditation integrating various practices from psychology, inner healing techniques and Roman Catholic contemplative prayer techniques. Warren was a featured speaker at the National Pastors Convention 2004. (http://www.nationalpastorsconvention.com/sched/sandiego/full.php)
Notice that every day of the convention started with a prayer Labyrinth (http://www.letusreason.org/Nam30.htm)Session 1 featured Brennan Manning
On Thursday March 11 there was "Stretching & Yoga" and Rick Warren as the featured speaker. In Series 2 Gary Thomas was the speaker. On March 12 and 13 there was Yoga again.
Yoga? What’s going on here?What about prayer walking and yoga? In the Grace Brethren? Yes sadly there seems to be an influx of that as well. Grace College taught a yoga class and a large fellowship in the FGBC is also holding classes to practice yoga as well. Here’s the deal. I was a missionary to Hindus and Muslims for two and a half years in India and am well familiar with the roots and even modern day manifestations of yoga and similar practices from the east. Let me just comment by way of asking any of you who think yoga is a harmless group of stretches and exercises, ask an Indian believer who used to be a Hindu to come along to a church sponsored yoga class and watch the response. Nuff said. It is deplorable and downright wicked to practice this in Christ’s church FGBC or whatever.
No it is not a harmless system of poses designed to merely relax you and keep you fit. These practices are asanas, positions directly formulated and designed to help you achieve enlightenment, oneness with gods, or enhanced kundalini serpent power! Even a Hindu will scoff at any notion that the actual positions can be divorced from these contexts and it gravely offends born again Indian believers
! I urge you and exhort you to cease practicing yoga yourself or hosting it at your church or schools. It has no place in the body of Christ and is a completely pagan practice that can endanger the practitioner and introduce demonic activity into your church and home.
Is. 26:3 says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”
Ps 119:97 “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.”
Ps. 119:15 “I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate, or “look into” all Your ways.”
Phil. 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.”
Biblical meditation, or ‘chewing the cud” is far removed from the practices of new age or Hinduism. It involves knowing and keeping in mind God’s Word, not in a repetitive or formulaic way like Buddhist mantra. Biblical contemplation does not involve “centering down” or having some mystical experience. The objective of biblical meditation is to fill the mind with Gods holy Word and not to empty it for the purpose of receiving messages or having some transcendental demonic experience.
Rom. 12:1 says: “ I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”
As for our bodies they ought not to participate in practice or posture designed and taken from the pagans. All of our worship should be in spirit and truth (Jn. 4:23,24), in accordance with the Bible. That’s where our heads and bodies should be at, nowhere near the “Far East”.
Warren advocates “breath prayers” "Many Christians use "Breath Prayers" throughout their day. You choose a brief sentence, or a simple phrase that can be repeated to Jesus in one breath." — (pp. 89, 299 PDL) and on pastors.com
Again this is mysticism and has no place in our relationship with the Lord.
Warren and New Age terminology
From Rick Warren's website (pastors.com) "This is a time, which calls for a critical mass of transformational leaders who will commit to creating a synergy of energy within their circle of influence so new level of social, economic, organizational and spiritual success can be reached. We have not, however, developed the leaders we need for this noble task. To reach such heights, we will need to un-tap the leadership potential of skillful leaders who are successfully directing various organizations and systems. Some of these men and women, knowledgeable and committed, to there profession, will be the transformational leaders we need to create the needed synergy of energy." http://www.fromthelighthouse.com/blog/index.php?p=136&more=1&c=1
“Critical mass”, Synergy”, “Transformational”, many of these terms have found their way into the church today from motivational speaking, corporate business management or worse, new age and new apostolic contexts. Left unexplained and given Warren’s affiliations with many who promote these concepts, we have no choice but to see them for their intended meanings in these other contexts.
Warren is listed on the national board of Ken Blanchard’s “Lead Like Jesus” organization. When Ken Blanchard and Rick Warren co-led the 2003 Lead Like Jesus Conference in Alabama, Blanchard stated that Norman Vincent Peale had been one of the men responsible for bringing him into the faith.
Both Rick Warren and Bill Hybels did a conference with Ken Blanchard (Leadership Summit 2005); Rick Warren, Ken Blanchard and Bill Hybels spoke at ( Lead Like Jesus 2003, 2004). At the 2004 Lead like Jesus Conference, Ken Blanchard & Bill Hybels spoke: “What is Lead Like Jesus All About? and “Making Your Commitment to Lead Like Jesus” (www.leadlikejesus.com).
In 2003 Warren approved Ken Blanchard as someone who could train Christian leaders. He has asked him to be part of his Peace Plan. Warren says:
“Ken [Blanchard] has signed on to help with the Peace Plan, and he's going to be helping train us in leadership and in how to train others to be leaders all around the world.” (sermon by Rick Warren at Saddleback Church November of 2003). http://www.letusreason.org/Popteac33.htm
Who is Ken Blanchard? He is the founder of Ken Blanchard Companies; and the author of The One-Minute Manager. Ken Blanchard, a professing Christian that endorses the new age, mystics and is a promoter of new age concepts. He is a (board member on the Hoffman Institute –Bob Hoffman was a psychic- the Quadrinity process is a self realization type course). This shows at the very least a lack of spiritual discernment with all the books and people Blanchard endorses. The third annual “Choices for the Future” symposium held in Aspen in 1988 Ken Blanchard was on the platform with Barbara Marx Hubbard (a key promoter of the new age movement who openly opposes Christianity).(go to Christianresearchservice.comto read up on Ken Blanchard’s various held beliefs).
Blanchard writes: “I look for inspirational messages from a variety of sources besides Jesus. Our folks get to hear words of wisdom from great prophets and spiritual leaders like Buddha, Mohammed ... Yogananda and the Dalai Lama." “Buddha points to the path and invites us to begin our journey to enlightenment. I ... invite you to begin your journey to enlightened work” (Ken Blanchard, foreword What Would Buddha Do at Work? by Frank Metcalf, 2001) http://www.letusreason.org/Popteac23.htm for more http://www.christianresearchservice.com/KenBlanchard8.htm
Why is Warren endorsing this man and partnering with him to accomplish his global PEACE Plan? Why would FGBC pastors continue to promote and endorse Rick Warren and his writings and take their respective congregations through these dangerous waters?
The Bible clearly says:
“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:20-21)
“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-20).
Paul tells us: “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret (Ephesians 5:11-12).
I care for and love my fellow pastors in the Grace Brethren and in leadership of GBNAM, GBIM, and CE National. That is why I have to bring these things out. They are our day’s version of “unfruitful works of darkness” and we ought to be exposing them and not involved with them. We ought not to have anything to do with anyone who would participate with them, promote them, or endorse their ministries. But that’s precisely what Hybels warren and the men they teach and lead with are doing. They’re not capable of discerning the dangers in these alliances then we need to have nothing to do with them or their ministries. Yet many even in the FGBC defend these things. I know, I’ve been saying things for quite awhile.
Warren also predicts a Second Reformation
On May 15, 2005, Pentecost Sunday, the Latter Rain apostles held a huge global prayer meeting. Rick Warren spoke to a gathering of 12,000 people in Dallas, Texas at the Reunion Arena for a live broadcast of the Global Day of Prayer event. Rev. Jack Graham, T.D. Jakes, and other evangelical superstars joined him on-stage.
An official press release from Saddleback Church states that if “Christians mobilize to confront the five ‘global giants’ of spiritual emptiness, egocentric leadership, poverty, disease, and lack of education, it could spark a second Reformation.” http://www.discernment-ministries.org/NLJulyAugust_2005.htm
Warren in asserting this joins ranks with the latter rain heretics and dominionists of the new apostolic reformation. This serves as the underpinnings for his unbiblical proposal:
At a recent Purpose-Driven conference Warren stated, “The P.E.A.C.E. plan will be a ‘revolution’ for global Christianity,” and “I’m looking at a stadium full of people who are telling God they will do whatever it takes to establish God’s Kingdom ‘on earth as it is in heaven.’” (http://www.sbcbaptistpress.org/bpnews.asp?ID-20603)
Notice the phrase “whatever it takes” and the word “revolution.” This type of aggressive Latter Rain “transformation” terminology is increasingly showing up in mainstream evangelicalism.
Lets not forget that Jesus Himself tells us that these five giants will be with us until the end when Christ Himself eliminates them. Before the rapture we will see an increase in the very problems Warren is proposing that the church must solve, which is also not a biblical mandate for us anyway. Its wrong to pray for the elimination of these things in the context of being the agents that will solve them, this is however what Warren believes the church will do even though Christ said otherwise.
“Whatever it takes” is not biblical and it is certainly not biblical to partner with false teachers to get this done.
“Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4b).
“For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:18-20).
Here is a quote from Rick Warren, who addressed 2,400 Anglicans on November 12, 2005 at Hope and A Future conference of the Anglican Communion Network, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, during an interview:
Rick Warren:"I really do feel that these people are brothers and sisters in God's family. I am looking to build bridges with the Orthodox Church, looking to build bridges with the Catholic Church, with the Anglican church, and say 'What can we do together that we have been unable to do by ourselves?' " http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05316/605324.stm
Rick Warren states there are over 2 billion Christians in the world, and says that this number includes hundreds of millions of Catholics.
Page 125 of PDL Also speaks favorably of Mother Theresa with no warning about her false gospel which is also interfaith and heretical:
“If in coming face to face with God we accept Him in our lives, then we are converting. We become a better Hindu, a better Muslim, a better Catholic, a better whatever we are. ... What God is in your mind you must accept” (from Mother Teresa: Her People and Her Work, by Desmond Doig, p. 156).
Her false gospel said 'there are many ways to God': “All is God--Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, etc., all have access to the same God.” (12/4/89 Time, pp. 11,13)
There’s also an increasing emergence of interfaith speech from Warren.
"The church is bigger than any organization in the world. Then you add in Muslims, you add in Hindus, you add in all the different religions, and you use those houses of worship as distribution centers, not just for spiritual care but health care." —Rick Warren*
This goes beyond an ecumenical union of Protestants and Roman Catholicism, which is in itself extremely dangerous but Warren also advocates partnering with other world religions to accomplish his PEACE Plan. Does this not cause at least a tiny alarm to go off in your heart?
In order to get this peace plan implemented Warren talks about finding the “man or woman of peace” in areas of the globe to implement the needed changes
At the Pew Forum on Religion 2005, he explained his "man of peace" concept and said that every village, every government, every place has a man (or woman) of peace: "The man of peace is open and influential ... and here's the other thing, the man of peace does not have to be a Christian believer ... could be Muslim, could be Jewish."
Warren then had the audacity to suggest that Jesus sent out his disciples to go find the “man of peace” in every village. He said Jesus sent them out to find people who would work with them on solving poverty, sickness and the other problems of the world.(He said that they did not have to agree with the disciples message or beliefs.)Is this what it says? Let’s look at the verses he uses as support for this ridiculous assertion: Matthew 10:5- 15
“These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: "Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.... Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. And when you go into a household, greet it. If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!"
No, one can honestly get Warren’s version of any man or woman of peace from that passage. The very thought that Jesus approves of selecting unbelievers to partner with the church to solve issues that He Himself said would not be solved this side of the Millennial reign is deplorable and Warren should be ashamed of himself for treating the Scriptures in this way. Imagine Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of the Living God, participating in some interfaith campaign to enact a PEACE Plan. ! Outrageous!
Warren continues: "I could take you today to a million villages ... they got a church. Or they got a synagogue. They got something. They got a house of worship. The church is the biggest organization in the world.... And I came up with a thing called the P.E.A.C.E. Plan. When Jesus sent the disciples out, he said, 'When you go into a village, you find the man of peace.' Now this person doesn't have to be a Christian.... You find the person of peace, and then you begin to do the P.E.A.C.E. Plan ... Now why am I telling this to you? Because we're going public with it this next year in 2006.... And I believe it will change the world." —Rick Warren*http://www.inthenameofpurpose.org/index.html *For these quotes and their endnotes see In the Name of Purpose (PDF), pp. 185-187, 202, 232-233, 260-262, 273, 367.
The Bible says:
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you,” 2Corinthians 14-17
In promoting his Plan, Warren is redefining the mission of the church. His idea is that we are to wipe out world problems and make the world a better place to live in before Christ returns.His program screams of Dominionist Theology which teaches that Christ can't return until the Church takes over the earth.
The hits keep on coming:
“I have known many people who believe in the Messiah of Jesus, regardless of what religion they are, because they believe in him. It’s about a relationship, not a religion” (Interview with Rick Warren, CNN Larry King Live, December 2, 2005, Transcript, (Emphasis added).
What question should pop up in response to this statement with those who think biblically? This broadens Jesus’ narrow road to be all encompassing. Jesus never taught this way at all.
“You may be Catholic or Protestant or Buddhist or Baptist or Muslim or Mormon or Jewish or Jain, or you have no religion at all. I’m not interested in your religious background. Because God did not create the universe for us to have religion. He came for us to have a relationship with him” (Rick Warren United Nations, Interfaith Prayer Breakfast, September 2005 (Emphasis added). For more on Rick warrens UN interfaith prayer breakfast thing go to http://herescope.blogspot.com/2006/08/divine-convergence.html
Jesus said John 14:6 that he was the Way, the Truth, and the Life. “No one comes through the Father except through Me.”
Earlier in John 10:7-9 Christ taught the people, saying: “Most assuredly I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”
The claims of Jesus are exclusive.
Rick Warren panders to the spirit of the age when he says this trendy quip: “there’s truth in every religion, I, I, Christians believe there's truth in every religion. But we just believe there is one savior. We believe we can learn truth from, I believe I’ve have learned a lot of truth from different religions. Because they all have a portion of the truth. I just believe there's one savior Jesus Christ” (Larry King Live “Interview with Rick Warren” Nov.22, 2004).
Truth in other religions that have a different God?
“I happen to know people who are followers of Christ in other religions.” (Rick Warren (Emphasis added) Aspen Ideas Festival, The Aspen Institute, July 6, 2005, “Discussion: Religion and Leadership,” with David Gergen and Rick Warren). http://www.aspeninstitute.org/site/c.huLWJeMRKpH/b.901097/k.C0C7/Agenda.htm.
Transcribed from the audio available at Lighthouse Trails Research Project, http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/newsletternovember05.htm referenced from the book “In the Name of Purpose, Sacrificing Truth on the Altar of Unity” by Tamara Hartzell). http://www.letusreason.org/Popteac34.htm
You can follow Jesus in other religions? How is this possible when Jesus said to forsake all pick up your cross and follow Him (only). Only the religion of Judaism has related teachings of the Messiah. We are never counseled in Scripture to learn spiritual truths from other religions.
If these people are in other religions then it is obvious that they are trusting in someone other than the true Jesus to save them. God's Word teaches that without having faith in Jesus Christ, there is no hope of salvation. “He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life” (1 John 5:12).
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).You can’t be called a true evangelical without holding to this statement by the apostle[s].
John 3:18: “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him”(John 3:36).
You can’t truly be in any other religion and be saved. This point is lost amid the seeming catering Warren engages in to come across as inoffensive as possible. What is he really saying? Where do his loyalties really lie/ one thing is certain these statements are unwise and nothing we need to emulate in the FGBC.
Warren also involves himself with the worst false teachers from within the church as well:
Warren was a key speaker at Yonggi Cho’s church growth conference in 1997. Cho is known to mix occult concepts with Christian teaching. He is especially known for his word faith /visualization techniques.
At the Centennial celebration of Azusa street: T. D. Jakes, Fredrick Price, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Jerry Savelle, Creflo Dollar, David Yonggi Cho, and Bill Hamon to name a few. What these speakers all have in common is that their teachings are incompatible with the doctrines taught earlier in the Assemblies of God and at North Central Bible College from 1971 to 1974. And, of course are heretical distortions of the Scriptures.
2Jo 10 “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into [your] house, neither bid him God speed:
2Jo 11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
Warren apparently is not concerned with these verses.
Latest bad statements
Lately, I believe America’s pastor has taken a doctrinal nosedive into even more dubious beliefs and concepts. Several examples of the latest bad statements will suffice:
"In fact, I don't think evil and sin are the same... We don't know the answers...we really don't...none of us are going to come out at the end of the day and say 'got that one figured out.'If you do please write the book on it and I will buy it.....I don't think it [evil] is the same thing as sin...I don't consider myself an evil person because I sin...I think you have to reserve the word 'evil' for 'evil'....I haven't yet found a good definition of it... http://rock-to-salt.cephasministry.com/global.html
The word "evil" occurs 613 times in the Bible (KJV) and Scripture goes into elaborate detail defining and describing not only what evil is but who is evil.
Is Warren a good Berean? We would expect America’s pastor to be.
“Now the word “fundamentalist” actually comes from a document in the 1920s called the Five Fundamentals of the Faith. And it is a very legalistic, narrow view of Christianity” , and when I say there are very few fundamentalists, I mean in the sense that they are all actually called fundamentalist churches, and those would be quite small. There are no large ones. ... that group is shrinking more and more and more” (“Myths of the Modern Mega-Church,” May 23, 2005, transcript of the The Pew Forum on Religion biannual Faith Angle conference on religion, politics and public life)
Which of these could be considered narrow or legalistic? The Five Fundamentals of Faith that have been accepted by Christians throughout its history everywhere are: 1.The Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2. The Virgin Birth. 3. The Blood Atonement. 4. The Bodily Resurrection. 5. The inerrancy of the scriptures.
The Philadelphia Inquirer stated, “Warren predicts that fundamentalism, of all varieties, will be “one of the big enemies of the 21st century.” “Muslim fundamentalism, Christian fundamentalism, Jewish fundamentalism, secular fundamentalism – they're all motivated by fear,” he said. “Fear of each other.”
(http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/living/religion/13573441.htm Jan. 08, 2006 “The Purpose-driven Pastor” By Paul Nussbaum).
Lumping Christian fundamentalists in with Muslims and others? Whose side is he on? The truth is the five fundamentals are narrow in scope because they are based on exclusive claims from the Bible. But of course that’s not the narrowness term that warren is insinuating here. Just ask yourself, fellow FGBC leader or pastor or anybody? Which of these precious doctrines are legalistic and how is belief in these and other core doctrines of the Christian faith to be likened to Islamic fundamentalism? Preposterous!
Have you ever criticized the Purpose Driven paradigms or attempted to express your disagreement with them? Well I have and have received some flack for it but look at Warrens and Dan Southerland’s latest statements on any who wouldn’t go along with their churches plans to transform or transition into being purpose driven.
From pastors.com website: "If your church has been plateaued for six months, it might take six months to get it going again. If it's been plateaued a year, it might take a year. If it's been plateaued for 20 years, you've got to set in for the duration!
I'm saying some people are going to have to die or leave. Moses had to wander around the desert for 40 years while God killed off a million people before he let them go into the Promised Land. That may be brutally blunt, but it's true. There may be people in your church who love God sincerely, but who will never, ever change." Warren
Did you catch that, dear one? Anyone who is perceived as stubborn in their willingness to go through the purpose driven change is likened to an unbelieving Israelite “killed off” in the desert! Is someone’s questioning of this paradigm really tantamount to rebellion against God as done by many in the desert? Look at these verses.
Beloved this is serious. Pastor Warren views purpose driven detractors or resistor as a desert rebel that God may have to kill off. Does Warren mean this literally, I don’t think so but the analogy is such a misuse of scripture that I can scarcely stand it and I believe we can see a spirit at work here coming through this statement and taken with Dan Southerland’s next statements.
One of the tools Rick Warren uses to help churches become Purpose Driven is a book called Transitioning: Leading Your Church Through Change. The book is sold on Rick Warren's website and is written by Dan Southerland. According to pastors.com (Rick Warren's website to pastors), Southerland is the director of "Church Transitions Inc., an organization that trains pastors and church leaders to effectively manage major transitions. Southerland ... is the leading expert on implementing the Purpose Driven paradigm in existing churches."
Chapter six of Transitioning is called "Dealing with Opposition" and is just one of many ways Rick Warren tries to convey the fact that those who oppose him are less than desirable. Southerland states:
“We have experienced two major sources of criticism during our transitions. The first is Christians from more traditional backgrounds.... Not all of our traditional backgrounded Christians have been critical - just the ornery ones. Our second source of criticism is traditional church pastors. Again, not all traditional church pastors - just the meaner ones.” (p. 116).
Southerland tells readers "some folks are going to get very angry." He goes so far as to liken opposers of Purpose Driven to "leader[s] from hell." He says:
“If you have read Nehemiah recently, you will remember that Sanballat is Nehemiah's greatest critic and number one enemy. Let me put it plainer than that. Sanballat is a leader from hell. We all have some Sanballats in our churches. This is the guy who opposes whatever you propose.... You cannot call this guy a leader from hell to his face - but you could call him Sanballat (p. 115). http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/resistersdieorleave.htm
You remember Sanballat, the opposer of God’s man Nehemiah and an obstacle that tried to thwart what God wanted Nehemiah to do? Am I a Sanballat if I choose to see the obvious problems in transitioning a church into Purpose driven? An opposer of God’s plans and people? A persecutor?
Look at this statement once more so we can clearly see what Southerland, under Warren’s blessing, is likening a Purpose driven change resistor to:
“This is the guy who opposes whatever you propose.... You cannot call this guy a leader from hell to his face - but you could call him Sanballat”
A leader from hell? A leader from hell. Is that what the purpose driven pastor is counseled to think towards members in his congregation who disagree? So let me get it all straight: Unbelieving Israelites who God had to Kill, leaders from Hell, and Sanballats: Should this be how our sheep should ever be characterized. What crime? To oppose the implementation of these faulty and unbiblical in a lot of cases ministry forms? The question we must ask is just how far will Rick Warren go to help rid churches of those they consider "leader[s] from hell," who in reality may be part of the very Bride of Christ.
Southerland plays hardball by his own admission. Once you get that “leader of hell” kicked out so the real transitioning can begin, he suggests this:
"There are moments when you've got to play hardball," said the Rev. Dan Southerland, Church Transitions' president, in an interview. "You cannot transition a church...and placate every whiny Christian along the way." http://www.challies.com/archives/002080.php
The web site for Church Transitions says the model is "Biblical--based on the book of Nehemiah." But sadly, as his Sanballat statement shows, he misuses the scripture to equate someone who might be a concerned congregant with the persecuting malice of an unbeliever and this analogy cannot be supported by the text.
Both warren and Southerland and all who misuse scripture like this should be mindful of what Paul instructed Pastor Timothy to do. “Cut straight” or “Rightly divide” the Word or you should be ashamed! (2Tim. 2:15). These men should be ashamed.. They are disqualified from having a legitimate ministry if they cannot accurately expound the word of God. Yet these men are hailed and nearly venerated by many in ministry today even in the Grace Brethren.
Honestly, with even this scant info and there’s much more we will be happy to document, is there any good reason anyone can honestly cite for FGBC pastors and ministries to want to emulate or affiliate with the CGM or Purpose driven philosophies? No, I believe we are seeing horrendous compromise in our ranks among those who would look to or adopt these teachings and programs. To be sure the FGBC is better off sticking to the Bible not the novel doctrines and deceptions of these men who are trying to transform and change Christianity. Well I think I’ve disproved that we really shouldn’t affiliate with a man like warren no matter what it seems to be about. Could you imagine what Hoyt or Alva McClain would say if they knew what some Grace Brethren churches were doing by wanting to be trained by Southerland or taking their churches through 40 days of this stuff?
Tragically however, there is a growing presence among our churches to implement and endorse principles from the CGM. Here’s the truth. Several of those in high leadership in the FGBC, and other ministries linked with the FGBC have endorsed the PDL and purpose driven church. Many pastors have been counseled to and holding forty day seminars or are taking their leaders through these things. Jon Maxwell’s associate Southerland has instructed Grace Brethren pastors in these transitioning principles to be change agents and some FGBC fellowships have completely swallowed Warrens bad ideas, including the peace plan and the fact that pastors should be seen as “Change Agents” rather than the shepherd motif we read about in Scripture. We even have at least one church in the FGBC who has officially partnered with Warren and saddleback to be a Peace plan officiator! Yes in our fellowship.
In of I wrote a letter from India to my mail list and several leaders in CE National, GBIM, and GBNAM warning about Warren’s newly developed and unbiblical PEACE plan as well as warning folks away from some of the faulty teachings in the pd life. I was met with some agreement as well as some real antagonism, even on the part of some leaders who are convinced that this is a good thing we ought to promote and implement to our young people. Can’t help but wonder whether some of you think I should be struck dead, am a leader from hell or a Sanballat. The insinuation that I was opposing God was leveled at me more than once to be sure.
Pastor Chuck: Here I am in 2009 reviewing your work and passing along deep appreciation for your hard work. FGBC and specifically the Pacific Northwest Ministerium are sorely lacking without your presence. There are many of us who have not bowed the knee to Baal, and we continue to battle. We would be so pleased and aided if you would return. In the meantime your continued contributions to the cause of truth (the Bible, the whole Bible and nothing but the Bible) via your preaching, blog and just your life are deeply appreciated. This is to say Thanks, brother. I love you. Your brother, Paul
Please note that while I am accused of poor study skills, philosophical error and lousy rhetoric, the blog in question is not authored by me. This was clearly indicated multiple times in the opening lines of the blog (one might question one's interpretive skills). However, I am no doubt guilty by association in that I stand by the author, Pastor Steve Mitchell of Garden City Grace Brethren Church, Roanoke, VA. It should also be noted that young Bible College students with lots of academic theory and little experience in the trenches of Gospel warfare would benefit from their own advice; â€śhumbly repent from your attacks and grow in conviction of truth.â€ť Furthermore, if you are going to argue that someoneâ€™s rhetoric is poor, or that quotes have been mishandled, it is helpful to provide examples of those instances to substantiate your rhetoric.
Ryan, I respectfully submit that your reply is nothing more than an ad hominem attach on Pastor O'Neal. You have attacked by insulting the speaker and making accusations. If you have a personal knowledge of Pastor O'Neal that would substantiate your insinuation that he is ignorant of proper Biblical hermanuetics, philosophy, or rhetoric, then by all means bring that to light. Using ad hominem is not only fallacious reasoning, it is disappointingly unchristian behavior.
You have accused the pastor of abusing scripture, a serious charge indeed. However, you have not substantiated your claim to any degree. I'm certain that Pastor O'Neal would be most eager to reason with you from scripture, should you afford him that opportunity by being gracious enough to present specific concerns/scripture references.
You appeal to this pastor for humble-mindedess...please reconsider your own standing in this regard (Matt. 7:3-5).
"These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so."
You quoted multiple scriptures out of context in this article, not only that you poorly interpreted a variety of quotes - particularly those from Rick Warren.
I started reading because I saw in the introduction you pointed out several obvious heretics, with some guys I have respect for (Warren and McManus) and I wanted to hear your case. It was weak. I suggest you go to seminary, learn some Biblical interpretation and give it a whirl. Also, study a little philosophy and rhetoric so that you can actually understand that when someone says there is "truth in other religions" that means that there are some things true, certainly not the entire picture.
Please understand that this is not a personal attack or insult any greater than those you posted in your article.
Mr. O'neal, I live nearby perhaps we could go out to lunch and discuss your doctrine and work through these issues. It is my heart that you are not angry over this message, but that you humbly repent from your attacks and grow in conviction of truth, not adiophora.