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HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS ... HAVE BEEN INFLUENCED
WARREN CLAIMS THAT FOCUSSING ON 'INTERPRETATIONS' OF SCRIPTURE RESULTS IN DIVISION!
Two churches are seen as models for the 'seeker-friendly/purpose-driven' movement: Willow Creek Community Church (near Chicago), pastored by Bill Hybels, and Saddleback Valley Community Church (south of Los Angeles), pastored by Rick Warren. The reach of their influence is massive: Willow Creek formed its own association of churches with 9,500 members. Hundreds of thousands of church leaders have been influenced by Willow Creek leadership conferences and Rick Warren 'Purpose Driven Church' seminars and subscribe to weekly e-mail newsletters. Hybels and Warren both use un-Biblical 'psychological principles' as interpretive guides for 'exegesis' of Scripture. Foolish speculation is the order of the day: 'King David had an identity crisis'; 'the apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to do self-analysis'; or 'Peter had a problem with boundary issues'! Hybels assembled support, regarding the harmful consequences of lying, from psychiatrist M. Scott Peck, the author of The Road Less Traveled (Simon & Schuster, 1978), who declared in that book (pp. 269-70), 'God wants us to become Himself (or Herself or Itself)'!
The over-riding message from these false teachers is that the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit are insufficient for delivering a person from a habitual sin and for transforming the Christians' life into one that is fruitful and pleasing to God. And these leaders have exported their teachings to hundreds of thousands of ignorant and naïve church leaders around the world! Seeker-friendly pastors have forgotten the warnings of Scripture and the words of Jesus to the church of the Laodiceans (Revelation 3v14-21) who were 'rich, and increased with goods,' yet failed to recognize that in God's eyes, they were 'wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.' Jesus, standing outside their church, where they have unwittingly displaced Him, offers them His counsel, the truth of His Word, which alone will enable them to live their lives for His pleasure.
In another era the church was warned:
'This age of novelties would seem to have discovered spiritual power in brass bands and tambourines....The tendency of the time is towards bigness, parade, and show of power....Jesus said 'Preach the gospel to every creature.' But men are getting tired of the divine plan; they are going to be saved by the priest...by the music...by theatricals....Well, they may try these things...but nothing can ever come of the whole thing but utter disappointment and confusion. God dishonoured, the gospel travestied, hypocrites manufactured by the thousands, and the church dragged down to the level of the world.'
The Church of God has gone into the entertainment business! People must be amused, and as the church needs the people's money, the church must supply the demand and meet the craving! How else are godless hypocrites to be held together? So the picture show and entertainment... take the place of the gospel address and the solemn worship of God. And, thus, Christ less souls are lulled to sleep and made to feel 'religious' while gratifying every carnal desire under the sanction of the sham called the church! And the end? What an awakening [in eternity]!
Is it possible that The Purpose Driven Life can help a non-believer become a Christian, or help a believer on their spiritual journey, when it is clearly never completely true and faithful to the Word and will of God? Warren often misinterprets Scripture to try and support his doctrinal stance and uses humanistic psychological principles where it suits his purposes. Sound doctrine, holiness, and Biblical separation from unbelievers is considered less important than love and unity. Historical enemies of Christianity are even quoted as authorities in one's spiritual journey and used to promote The Purpose-Driven program. So how can genuine Bible-believing Christians trust The Purpose Driven Life and participate in the '40 Days of Purpose' campaigns?
What Warren has really done is search for Bible 'translations' (paraphrased works of uninspired men) that support his own ideas of what a Christian should be and how the Christian should live. But is his 'blueprint' for Christian living consistent with the Bible, the Word of God? The more closely you look at his work the more clearly it becomes obvious that he is really doing what the cults do in order to lead the un-churched and weak Christians to follow their methods. Joseph Smith used the vehicle of the Book of Mormon, the Jehovah's Witnesses use their books and magazines (Awake and Watchtower), and Warren has his 'Purpose Driven' material to seduce the unwary by influencing the way in which they understand the Word of God! It really is that simple.
WARREN'S SYSTEM FOR WIDESPREAD INDOCTRINATION OF THE 'UNSTABLE AND IGNORANT'
Anyone using The Purpose Driven Life as a guide to their spiritual life may well become the 'type' of 'Christian' Rick Warren wants him to become, but he is going to be seriously side-tracked from becoming the 'type' of Christian God desires him to become - one dedicated to the whole counsel of God and to faithful obedience and holy living (Isaiah 6v3; Romans 6v19,22; Ephesians 1v4; 4v23,24; Titus 1v8; 1 Peter 1v15; 1 Corinthians 1v30; 2 Corinthians 7v1; Revelation 15v4). Anyone who minimizes the importance of doctrine and sound Biblical interpretation, as Warren has done, can make the Bible say whatever they want it to say. In contradiction of Scripture (1 Corinthians 11v18-19), Warren specifically claims that focussing on 'interpretations' of Scripture results in division (p. 162). Obviously supporters of The Purpose Driven Life will follow Warren's lead and reject charges of faulty interpretation of Scripture as 'divisive' - whereas Scripture makes it clear that it is those who reject true doctrine who are divisive (Romans 16v17; Eph 4v14; 1 Tim 1v3,10; 4v6; Titus 1v9; 2v1,10; Hebrews 6v1; 2 John 1v9-10). Thus it is clear that interpretation and doctrine are important and a central part of the Christians spiritual journey - whereas Warren's deception depends on following cultic methods and making interpretation relative and irrelevant.
Warren also foolishly claims that 'conflict is usually a sign that the focus has shifted to less important things' (p. 162). If this were true, then the apostles and preachers in the early churches were side tracked much of the time, because they were frequently involved in doctrinal conflicts. Paul was involved in such conflicts almost continually and most of his epistles contain lengthy sections in which he takes a stand against false teachers. In his epistles to his fellow preacher Timothy, Paul repeatedly warned about false teachers by name (1 Tim. 1v19-20; 2 Tim. 1v15; 2v17-18; 4v12, 14).
Warren admits: 'In this book I have passed on to you what others taught me about the purpose of life; now it's your duty to pass that on to others' (p. 309). If a historically recognised cult leader, such as the founder of the Mormons, Joseph Smith, urged believers to follow his discoveries we would be unsurprised. Believers are to disciple others in the faithful teachings of the Word of God - not the seriously inaccurate and misleading beliefs of an uninspired individual, such as Rick Warren. We are to follow the words of the New Testament apostles and prophets who were inspired to record the words of Scripture and commanded believers to 'teach others also' (2 Timothy 2v2) and to 'stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our (the apostles') epistle' (2 Thessalonians 2v15). The Word of God makes it clear that it is sufficient to equip the believer 'for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works' (2 Timothy 3v16-17). The Bible is utterly sufficient and the sole source of teaching material used by pastors and teachers to train and disciple believers in the truths of Scripture. The Holy Spirit can inspire pastors and teachers in the contemporary church, but He will not cause any true believer to teach anything contrary to the Word of God. Since The Purpose Driven Life is not consistently faithful to God's Word it is certainly not inspired by the Holy Spirit and must therefore be rejected by discerning believers who seek to follow Christ and His Apostles.
TO EVEN SUGGEST THAT CHRIST HAD 'A BEGINNING' IS HERESY
In many ways Warren has merely constructed a system for widespread indoctrination of the 'unstable and ignorant' (2 Peter 3v16) that, to some extent at least, many liberal leaders of Christian denominations have already been familiar with for many years. If you doubt this you may have been fortunate in not being exposed to the kind of liberal teaching that has been rife in many churches in the West for many years before Warren. It is not so long ago that we heard views from the pulpit of a local church that could have come straight from Warren's material. In a desperate piece of eisegesis (interpretation of a text by inserting one's own ideas and views into the meaning in order to support your own agenda) Dr Michael Ball (former 'pastor' of llanishen Baptist Church, Cardiff) stated that 'Jesus would not have approved of the zeal shown by Phinehas.' In the account from Numbers 25, we read:
[25v1] While Israel remained at Shittim, the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab.  For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods.  So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and the Lord was angry against Israel.  The Lord said to Moses, 'Take all the leaders of the people and execute them in broad daylight before the Lord, so that the fierce anger of the Lord may turn away from Israel.'  So Moses said to the judges of Israel, 'Each of you slay his men who have joined themselves to Baal of Peor.'  Then behold, one of the sons of Israel came and brought to his relatives a Midianite woman, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the sons of Israel, while they were weeping at the doorway of the tent of meeting.  When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he arose from the midst of the congregation and took a spear in his hand,  and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and pierced both of them through, the man of Israel and the woman, through the body. So the plague on the sons of Israel was checked.  Those who died by the plague were 24,000.  Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,  'Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned away My wrath from the sons of Israel in that he was jealous with My jealousy among them, so that I did not destroy the sons of Israel in My jealousy.  'Therefore say, 'Behold, I give him My covenant of peace;  and it shall be for him and his descendants after him, a covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the sons of Israel.'
We challenged Dr Ball after the service to support his assertion that Jesus, the Second Person of the Triune Godhead, would not have approved of Phinehas' act when the text so clearly states (v8-13) that God did approve of the act of killing 'the man of Israel and the [Midianite] woman'. Ball's reply was that he followed the 'method of interpretation approved by the Baptist Union of being consistent with 'the Spirit of Jesus'. No support for such an idea was forthcoming, so we asked him how he could make such a statement without seeing that he was making the Word of God contradict itself. His bald reply was breathtaking: 'The Bible contradicts itself in many places!' Asked for an example, he stated: 'Jesus said, 'My Father is always working' - while Genesis tells us that 'God rested'!'
It is ironic to find a supposed 'man of God' falling into the same error that stumbled the priests and rabbis (John 5v16ff). Having finished the work of creation in six days, God had rested from Creation on the seventh day - the Sabbath. This clearly does not necessarily mean that He rested from everything - although, nothing being impossible for God, He could have rested had He chosen to do so! God has obviously worked ceaselessly if He chose to do so - especially to bring men and women back into fellowship with Himself. He would provide a means of redemption and send out the gospel message to every generation. Thus, from the time of Adam's fall up to the present time, God has been working - perhaps, but not necessarily, ceaselessly - on redemption - and who knows but He, on other matters too! The Father, Son and Holy Spirit were all engaged in the redemption of man and the Lord Jesus came to earth to engage in His Father's business, and His love and grace would not necessarily be confined to only six days of the week. The Jews became more determined than ever to kill the Lord Jesus because He not only had broken the Sabbath, by their rabbinic interpretation, but had claimed equality with God! To their narrow minds, it seemed that the Lord had broken the Sabbath although it was not true. They did not realize that God never intended the Sabbath to impose a hardship on man. If a man could be cured of a disease on the Sabbath, God would not require that he should suffer one day longer. Jesus' argument for healing on the Sabbath was that God does not suspend his activities on the Sabbath. The laws of 'nature' set in motion by God take no holiday. If a man cuts himself on the Sabbath, the healing process begins immediately. But, more important than pointing out the unceasing laws of 'nature,' Jesus identified His activities with those of the Father and claimed to be continuing the creative work of God: 'My Father, has been working on Shabbat since the beginning of time, and therefore I too am working on Shabbat.'
In the larger scheme of things there is a 'Shabbat' yet to come (Hebrews 4v9-11) if the present era of history is thought of as 'weekdays.' The Talmud recognizes this by dividing history into six 1,000-year 'days' (Psalm 90v4; cf. 2 Peter 3v3-9), after which comes the Messianic millennium, the seventh 'day' (Sanhedrin 97b). Since it is now still a 1,000 - year 'weekday,' even the Torah 'permits' the Father and Jesus to work; and they will continue working until the 'day' comes that is entirely Shabbat - in whatever form that takes.
It is quite an irony that Dr Ball should attempt to use a verse immediately preceding a passage in John in which Jesus claimed equality with the Father (John 5v17-23) - and showed they are in a Unity that leads to complete and perfect agreement! Yet the statement made by Ball in his sermon - which was probably missed by his liberalised congregation - was in complete opposition to this Scriptural fact. All to try and prove that God is a 'God of love' - without reference to any teaching that He is also a God of truth and justice! The spirit of New Age has infiltrated the church and deceived believers into accepting deception - even at the expense of trampling on the Word of God!
That Warren's work, which loves to simplify the Christian life and ministry, follows the same pattern of sloppy hermeneutics and poor exegesis is easily proven. Simply read Saddleback Church's statement of faith and consider this excerpt from the statement on 'Who is Jesus?':
'Jesus Christ is God's Son and an equal of the Father. He has existed from the beginning of time, yet lived on earth during the first century A.D.'
To even suggest that Christ had 'a beginning' is heresy. He is the eternal God and Creator of all things!
Also consider Saddlebank's statement on 'What is Salvation?':
'Our disobedient nature has eternally separated us from our Creator. No matter how hard we try, we can never earn our way back into God's presence. Our only hope is to trust Jesus as God's provision for our disobedience.'
What the Word of God clearly calls sin, Saddlebank manages to turn into a shallow and inadequate statement about our 'disobedient nature'! And they feebly call the salvation wrought through the shed blood of the 'unspeakable gift' (2 Corinthians 9v15, KJV) of God's Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, into a vague, undefined trusting in 'Jesus as God's provision for our disobedience.'
It is not that many years since men sacrificed their lives rather than deny the truths of God's Word. Heretics of any age could fit their theology into the vague framework that exists in the Saddlebanks' of this world. They are willing to present a watered down gospel that says we are saved by Jesus' life, or His example, or His suffering in general. But defining His death, burial, and resurrection through the use of Scripture (e.g. 1 Corinthians 15v1-4) is beyond the reference of the Saddleback statement of faith. No mention of the blood or repentance can be found, for the Saddleback paraphrase of the gospel is no gospel at all. It is no surprise, then, to find that 'The Purpose Driven Life' follows so many other 'gospel presentations' of recent years in producing confused followers who are unsure of the very essentials of the faith.
How does Warren's false gospel, theology, and reasoning, effect his view of those who do take a stand on the Word of God? Will his views align with the Word of God or with the World? Here is an example: the immoral and mercenary former Home Secretary, David Blunkett, foolishly equated evangelical Christians with Islamic terrorists (speech to the Institute for Public Policy Research, 7th July 2004) during the early attempts of the corrupt Labour government to introduce its 'Religious Hatred Bill'! Blunkett has finally received another comeuppance resulting in his forced resignation. But who do we find sharing Blunkett's view in an attack on genuine Christians? The darling of the 'self-esteem' gospel, Rick Warren, likened Biblical fundamentalists to Muslim extremists and atheistic secularists in this way:
'There are all kinds of fundamentalists, Larry, and they're all based on fear. There are Christian fundamentalists. There are Muslim fundamentalists. I've met some Jewish fundamentalists. You know that there are secular fundamentalists. They're all based on fear. Secular fundamentalists are afraid of God.' (Larry King Live, December 2, 2006)
Warren is happy to libel Christian fundamentalists and so is foolish to claim, in contradiction of Scripture (1 Corinthians 11v18-19), that focussing on 'interpretations' of Scripture results in division - or that 'conflict is usually a sign that the focus has shifted to less important things' (p. 162). Even Warren will have to admit that it is impossible to go through life without causing 'division' and 'conflict' with others. Regarding the 'fear' factor he levels at Christian 'fundamentalists', what a pity he can't see that the fear of God is Scriptural and the reason believers at Corinth were instructed: 'Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God' (2 Cor. 7v1). Paul instructed the church at Philippi to 'work out your own salvation with fear and trembling' (Phil. 2v12) and Hebrews 12v28 declares we are to 'serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.' Warren's handling of Scripture reveals clearly that he does not have this fear - if he did he would not 'mishandle' the Word of God, which 2 Timothy 2v15 warns against: 'Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.'
What kind of believers have been created by contemporary, un-Scriptural, evangelical methods? Research by George Barna ( www.barna.org ) in 2004-5 claimed that 'a slight majority of born again adults - 55% - claimed to have shared their faith in Christ with a non-Christian during the prior 12 months. That figure has remained relatively constant during the past decade.' These figures might look good until you consider other figures produced by Barna - and then you'll begin to wonder what they 'shared'! What, for instance, does it say about the condition of the church when a recent Barna poll revealed that 71 percent of Americans, 64 percent of 'born-agains,' and 40 percent of 'evangelicals' reject absolute truth. That there is little difference between many non-Christians and 'Christians'?
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