Monday, January 31, 2011

All Hail The Greatness Of Saddleback - Rick Warren's Sermon At Desiring God (Part 8)

The following commentary corresponds to the following video from 28:35 to 30:53

My head is swimming. Just how delusional and full of himself can this teacher of humility be. Many of you will remember how earlier on in this sermon (see part 6 of this series) Warren lectured his audience on the importance of humility. Without missing a beat, Warren then launched into an avalanche of self aggrandizing. What has followed has been a relentless barrage of self promotion and rubbing everybody's noses in it. We have 2 more minutes of video today because I don't think we could take any more than that when the great humble one just won't let up. This time he tells us how great his church is. I don't know where to begin with all this.

After quoting from another weird paraphrase Bible, with another verse I cannot even recognize, it's time for another reminder about "doing" and Pastor Warren can't think of a better example for a lot of people doing a lot of stuff than his own Saddleback church. If you've ever wondered "how successful" Saddleback church is you will not be left wondering after this delusional smoke blowing fest. Rick Warren applies the military doctrine of shock and awe as he informs us that:

1. Saddleback has a lot of people coming through the front door and nearly 15,000 of them have gone out the back door - as missionaries!
2. More than 22,000 new believers have been baptized at Saddleback in the last ten years and that there is no other church that has done this.
3. Pastor Rick personally baptized 25 people last week and 32 the week before - just in case we weren't feeling inadequate enough already.
4. Saddleback has sent out 14,881 missionaries to every country in the world in the last eight years.
5. They are the first church in the history of the universe to do this.
6. Pastor Rick knows a greek word!
7. Saddleback's secret to their "amazing success" is their focus on teaching people to "do" the word.

It is often difficult to sort the trash into the different categories for disposal. So it is when trying to analyze two minutes of hot air blown by Rick Warren. But I'd like to respond, first up, to the claim that Saddleback has a lot of people coming through the front door and many of them go out the back door - as missionaries! It is hard to know what the statistics would be but there are a lot of people that go out the back door of Saddleback and other purpose driven churches because (a) the Gospel does not get preached and they remain unconverted and go back into the world or (b) the Gospel does not get preached and they go looking for somewhere that does preach it. But the real smokescreen in all of this is what Warren defines as a missionary. I do not want to denigrate all short term mission work but Warren's delusional comments here are a slap in the face to true mission organizations that send people who give their lives to take the Gospel to the far flung corners of the world. Rick, getting people to go somewhere and do social work and hand out copies of Purpose Driven Life is not mission! (And yes, the instances that I am aware of involved "Saddleback missionaries" handing out copies of Warren's book instead of the Bible - again, very humble!) We have to differentiate here between extending God's Kingdom and Rick Warren's Peace plan. The only global mission work being promoted on the Saddleback website is Rick Warren's PEACE plan. Here is their own description:

The vision of the PEACE PLAN is to mobilize Christians around the world to address five GIANT PROBLEMS:

Spiritual Emptiness
Self-Serving Leadership

The Christian Church was designed by God to take the lead in this effort. It has the world's largest distribution network, the most people ready and to serve, and the greatest motivation of all—the LOVE of Jesus Christ. Since responding to these five global giants through the local church is what Jesus says Christians must do, that’s where the PEACE Plan focuses. We have committed ourselves to fulfilling these five expressions of God’s love:

Promote Reconciliation
Equip Servant leaders
Assist The Poor
Care For The Sick
Educate The Next Generation

That sounds more like a UN charter than an evangelism strategy. Warren might know the greek word for nations but he doesn't know the english word for missions. To quote from the Saddleback website:

The bottom line is that we intend to reinvent mission strategy in the 21st century. This will be a new Reformation. The First Reformation returned us to the message of the original church. It was a reformation of doctrine - what the church BELIEVES. This Second Reformation will return us to the mission of the original church. It will be a reformation of purpose- what the church DOES in the world.

Attention Pastor Warren - why not try preaching that "message" that the first reformers recovered before we even start talking about doing anything. This "second reformation" Warren is fantasizing about only reflects poorly on his understanding of the biblical Gospel and the nature of true conversion. The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart, not purpose driven education.

And then there is the story of the 22,000 baptisms at Saddleback over the last ten years. What is his secret? This video from the Saddleback website will illuminate us:

Does that video even warrant a comment? It is definitely a good strategy for getting a lot of people to jump in your pond.

The only secret of Saddleback's success is that they fool a lot of people with all their "doing" and lack of gospel preaching.

More to come . . .

Go On To Part 9
Go Back To Part 7
Go Back To Part 1

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Just Added - Knowing God

JI Packer's classic work has just been added to my resource directory! Yes I know Packer signed onto the ECT document and I hope he repents of that. In fact, the theology reflected in this book rebukes Packer's actions in signing the ECT.

J I Packer

Category: Apologetics, Theology
Click Here To Order
A lifelong pursuit of knowing God should embody the Christian's existence. According to eminent theologian J.I. Packer, however, Christians have become enchanted by modern skepticism and have joined the "gigantic conspiracy of misdirection" by failing to put first things first. Knowing God aims to redirect our attention to the simple, deep truth that to know God is to love His Word. What began as a number of consecutive articles angled for "honest, no-nonsense readers who were fed up with facile Christian verbiage" in 1973, Knowing God has become a contemporary classic by creating "small studies out of great subjects." Each chapter is so specific in focus (covering topics such as the trinity, election, God's wrath, and God's sovereignty), that each succeeding chapter's theology seems to rival the next, until one's mind is so expanded that one's entire view of God has changed. The lazy and faint-hearted should be warned about this timeless work - God is magnified, the sinner is humbled, and the saint encouraged.

Friday, January 28, 2011

And They Were Unaware Until The Flood Came And Swept Them All Away

Does the title of todays post sound familiar? It is actually a line from Matthew 24 concerning the suddenness of Noah's flood. That verse came eerily to mind as I watched the deluge in Australia consume many of the areas in which I have spent much of my life. Not only was it surreal to see the pictures but also strange to watch it from Denmark where I now live.

I grew up in the small farming town of Chinchilla in the dry inland interior of Queensland. And I spent almost all of my adult life (until I moved to Denmark four years ago) in the large coastal city of Brisbane. I have travelled the long road between them many times and have strong memories of the many places in between.

Just prior to Christmas I saw this picture on BBC world news. The bridge in the picture had a remarkable similarity to the railway overpass in Chinchilla. This was because it was a picture of the remote and dusty little town of Chinchilla experiencing some of the most severe flooding ever. It is hard to comprehend the vast quantities of water that have turned much of inland Queensland (the north eastern state in Australia) into a giant lake.

As you drive east from Chinchilla towards Brisbane, the next town you reach is Dalby which also had extensive flooding. The irony of the flood for Dalby was that all of the water damaged their water treatment plant and left them with no clean drinking water. Viewing news footage of Dalby reminded me that, aside from the damage to buildings, enormous havoc is reaped when so many major transport routes and airports are cut off. Getting supplies to some communities has been a major issue.

As you drive east for another hour from Dalby you arrive at the top of the mountain range and in the beautiful city of Toowoomba. Toowoomba (pop 100,000) is a special city for inland Queensland. When travelling from the west it offers cooling relief from the heat due to its altitude, and is normally the first real sign of greenery and lush parklands after the endless miles of brown grass and little shade. Without a doubt, the most shocking part of the flooding that happened in Australia was the "inland tsunami" that hit Toowoomba and killed several residents.

Toowoomba is the last place you would ever expect this to happen and Jesus words in the title to this post come eerily to mind:

For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (Matthew 24:37-39)

As you drive to Brisbane from Toowoomba you drive east down the mountain range and into our "sald bowl" where countless farms dot the landscape growing most of the vegetables we find in our supermarkets. One of the first towns you come to once you get to the bottom of the range is the small town of Grantham which (prior to the bypass being
built) was a place where my family always stopped to buy produce from the many roadside vendors on our annual trip to Burleigh Heads. I always loved this stop in Grantham where I enjoyed the rare luxury of fast food, a bag of boiled peanuts, and the knowledge that I would soon be "hitting the waves". Well, that "inland tsunami" that struck Toowoomba then gushed down the mountain range and absolutely demolished this little town of Grantham. We even heard horror stories of people being swept away while in their houses and their are still people/bodies that have not been found. As the picture reveals, the water came so fast they barely had time to scramble onto the roof. Luckily for these people, their house was anchored well enough to the ground beneath.

Much of that water, as well as the overflowing dams and continual rain, contributed to a huge flood in the large coastal city of Brisbane (pop 2,000,000). Some of my friends evacuated their two story house in one of the lower lying areas just in time as the water quickly reached their roof!

The aftermath has been interesting. As Australia slides increasingly into being a secular nation (some would say we're already there), much of the talk and media has focussed on the "triumph of the human spirit" and many preachers shy away from the Sovereignty of God preferring to advocate an idol they call God who would be too nice to ever send a disaster. Our heart should go out to these hurting people and this is a great chance for the body of Christ to rise up and be salt and light in the community. But to abandon the doctrine of God's Sovereignty is to abandon the church's prophetic role in the culture. Not only that, it represents a disastrous understanding of human depravity and the character of God. And what do we do with a Bible verse like:

I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things. (Isaiah 45:7, see also Job 37:3-13, Psalm 147:8-18, Jeremiah 10:13, Amos 3:6, 4:7, Lamentations 3:38)

We can't just pretend those verses don't exist. Aside from the terrible sin of idolatry, can we really find comfort in a god who does not have complete power over all things? What is more glorious - to go to sleep at night knowing that random chance (or Satan) might pull a surpise manouvre on God; or to place ourselves in the Hands of the One Who works all things together for the good of His people (Romans 8:28) and the glory of His Name? And when we feel like a victim, and there are many victims, is it not good to be reminded of the sinless One Who received God's wrath in the place of sinners who hated Him? Do we not think that God can relate to suffering?

And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:13-16 emphasis mine)

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Then there is also the question of our depravity. If we really understood what we deserve as sinners then perhaps we would ask the question why does God delay His wrath? Why aren't there more disasters? Thank you Lord for giving me time to repent. And on that note we are reminded that Jesus never answered the why question concerning calamity and disaster - instead he told them they were asking the wrong question:

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?
No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:1-5)

I will close with these wise words of counsel from John Piper in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina which I believe to be the best meditations for those of us who sit in the mud of calamity (and let's face it we all do in the light of eternity and human sinfulness):

Who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Shall the pot say to the Potter, “This is an unintelligent way to show your justice and your power? Come, Maker of heaven and earth, sit at my feet—I have lived 89 years and have gotten much wisdom—and I will teach you—the eternal God—how to govern the universe”?

No. Rather let us put our hands on our mouths and weep both for the perishing and for ourselves who will soon follow. Whatever judgment has fallen, it is we who deserve it—all of us. And whatever mercy is mingled with judgment in New Orleans neither we nor they deserve.

God sent Jesus Christ into the world to save sinners. He did not suffer massive shame and pain because Americans are pretty good people. The magnitude of Christ’s suffering is owing to how deeply we deserve Katrina—all of us.

Our guilt in the face of Katrina is not that we can’t see the intelligence in God’s design, but that we can’t see arrogance in our own heart. God will always be guilty of high crimes for those who think they’ve never committed any.

But God commits no crimes when he brings famine, flood, and pestilence on the earth. “Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?” (Amos 3:6). The answer of the prophet is no. God’s own testimony is the same: “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things” (Isaiah 45:7). And if we ask, is there intelligent design in it all, the Bible answers: “You meant evil . . . but God meant it [designed it] for good” (Genesis 50:20).

This will always be ludicrous to those who put the life of man above the glory of God. Until our hearts are broken, not just for the life-destroying misery of human pain, but for the God-insulting rebellion of human sin, we will not see intelligent design in the way God mingles mercy and judgment in this world. But for those who bow before God’s sovereign grace and say, “From him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever,” they are able to affirm, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:36, 33). And wisdom is another name for intelligent design.

God does not answer to us. We answer to him. And we have only one answer: “Guilty as charged.” Every mouth is stopped and the whole world is accountable before God. There is only one hope to escape the flood of God’s wrath. It is not the levee of human virtue but the high ground called Calvary. All brokenhearted looters and news analysts and pastors are welcome there.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Rick Warren Shares The Secrets Of His Immense Knowledge - Rick Warren's Sermon At Desiring God (Part 7)

The following commentary corresponds to the following video from 23:30 to 28:35

Rick Warren now launches into our need to pursue knowledge with Proverbs 18:15 from another strange translation. Can't this guy just find a literal word for word translation and stick to it? Oh yeah, it would be harder to find those elusive verses needed to support his ideas. Nonetheless, this version of Proverbs 18:15 is reasonably close to the mark - and that doesn't happen so often with Warren.

Warren emphasizes the importance of listening by demonstrating another of his traits - building theology from cliches. We have one mouth and two ears - therefore we should listen twice as much as we speak. There may be wisdom to this counsel, but Warren certainly doesn't heed it as revealed by his "selective hearing" problem in my previous post.

Then comes this bizarre statement that he based on Proverbs 10:14: "If you store up knowledge in yourself you're taking you to heaven". I don't know what to make of this and perhaps one of the readers can enlighten me. It just struck me as weird. But a broken clock gets it right twice a day and so too Rick Warren can stumble upon wise counsel (coupled with a lame joke). The scary thing about Warren, as far as I'm concerned, is that he is knowledgable and theologically trained - many of us can't help but think that his purpose driven propaganda is not done in ignorance, but is a carefully thought out agenda. Warren does demonstrate wisdom when he counsels the audience to start a theological library. I don't buy into the specific amounts of reading he prescribes in books from various eras of church history (25% pre reformation, 25% post reformation, 25% previous century, 25% contemporary). But I do appreciate that Warren emphasizes the importance of church history and the legacy of literary treasures left by the great scholars and theologians of history. If we knew church history then we wouldn't readily buy into purpose driven man centered moralism because we would be vigilant against any drift away from Christ's finished work at the epicenter of all human endeavor.

But the regular farce quickly resumes when, in another brazen display of humility, Warren informs us that he read the entire works of Jonathan Edwards in the last year. That is an absolute mountain of reading and leaves me wondering how he found time for the other 75%. As mentioned in an earlier post, James White even placed a huge question mark over anyones ability to consume all 26 volumes of Edwards in one year. Whatever the case it certainly didn't rub off. Is there anyone else who can see the disconnect (because Piper apparently didn't) between studying the man who preached "Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God" and preaching "God's not mad at you, he's mad about you" (that is what Warren said in his "gospel proclamation" on the Fox Network). What an absolute mockery of the man recognized as North America's greatest ever theologian.

More to come on this . . .

Go On To Part 8
Go Back To Part 6
Go Back To Part 1

Monday, January 24, 2011

REFORMATION RESURRECTION 2011 - Voddie Baucham Coming To Denmark

The 2011 conference is now over and was a huge success. Don't miss out on our 2012 conference with Phil Johnson! You can already check it out here.

The Tilbage Til Bibelen (Back to Scripture) network of Denmark is pleased to present Reformation Resurrection 2011 with keynote speaker Dr Voddie Baucham - an outstanding reformed preacher and cultural apologist (bio below). Reformation Resurrection 2011 is a four day conference in the Danish countryside devoted to the furtherance of the Gospel in Europe and around the world. There is a lot of talk today about "new reformations" with new solutions to new problems. But we face the same problem today that we did 500 years ago - the pulpits of Europe have abandoned the Gospel.

Reformation Resurrection 2011 is a rallying cry to the same solution that the reformers risked their lives to proclaim. That sinful men can be justified before a Holy God by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. And that this truth is faithfully proclaimed in God's Word alone, and to God's glory alone. The reformation isn't over - it just needs new life breathed into old truth. Men and women who are not ashamed of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, the power of God unto salvation. Will you forsake the silence to join with us and be a voice in resurrecting the Reformation?

Tuesday July 26th to Friday July 29th 2011 (week 30).

Skroedstrup Boarding School
Skroedstrupvej 26
9550 Mariager

Here is an online map of the conference site:

View Larger Map

Prices include all food and accomodation.
Adults: 700 Danish Kroner
Students: 400 Danish Kroner
Ages 0-6: 150 Danish Kroner
Ages 7-14: 300 Danish Kroner
Ages 15-20: 400 Danish Kroner

PRICE UPDATE 13 July 2011:
Since the conference accommodation is now fully booked the following prices apply for those who can make other sleeping arrangements. Remember - all evening meetings and coffee are free!

All Four Days
Adults: 400 Danish Kroner
Students: 250 Danish Kroner
Ages 0-6: Free
Ages 7-14: 150 Danish Kroner
Ages 15-20: 250 Danish Kroner

Day Visit
Adults: 200 Danish Kroner
Students: 150 Danish Kroner
Ages 0-6: Free
Ages 7-14: 50 Danish Kroner
Ages 15-20: 150 Danish Kroner
(Half Day is half price)

Dr. Voddie Baucham will be expounding Paul's letter to the Ephesians covering eternal salvation, the Gospel of free grace, the Gospel driven family, and spiritual warfare. Dr. Baucham will also be making an apologetic presentation of the trustworthiness and authority of the Bible. There will also be extensive question and answer sessions where you will be welcome to throw your toughest questions at the keynote speaker. Evening meetings will be open to the general public.

The meetings will have Danish translation. The question and answer sessions will be in English only. Mikael Thomsen will be doing all the translation.

Because Reformation Resurrection 2011 is a family camp, there will be teaching and activities for the children.

For further information and travel advice please e-mail:
Henrik Mortensen -

Europe has an amazing heritage of godly men who thunderously and fearlessly preached the Gospel. Thus it is entirely appropriate that this years guest speaker is a man cut from the same die (those of you who have not had the chance to sit under the teaching of Dr. Baucham will be able to do so by viewing the sermon video we have posted below). Voddie Baucham ( wears many hats. He is a husband, father, pastor, author, professor, conference speaker and church planter. He currently serves as Pastor of Preaching at Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, TX. He has served as an adjunct professor at the College of Biblical Studies in Houston, TX, and Union University in Jackson, TN. He has also lectured at Southern Seminary.

Voddie’s area of emphasis is Cultural Apologetics. Whether teaching on classical apologetic issues like the validity and historicity of the Bible, or the resurrection of Christ; or teaching on biblical manhood/ womanhood, marriage and family, he helps ordinary people understand the significance of thinking and living biblically in every area of life.

Voddie Baucham holds degrees from Houston Baptist University (BA in Christianity/BA in Sociology), Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (D.Min.), an honorary degree from Southern California Seminary (D.D.), and additional post-graduate study at the University of Oxford, England (Regent’s Park College).

Voddie and his wife, Bridget have been married since 1989. They have seven children, Jasmine, Trey (Voddie, III), Elijah, Asher, Judah, Micah and Safya. They are committed home educators.

Voddie Baucham has written numerous books including The Ever Loving Truth, Family Driven Faith, The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World, What He Must Be, and Family Shepherds.

For those of you who like to feast on great preaching here is an entire sermon preached at a pastors conference where Voddie Baucham took it upon himself to respond to the man centered and moralistic preaching by the previous speaker. This will give you a great feel for the privilege we are in for at this years conference:

Voddie Baucham from Rasmus Gade on Vimeo.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Just Added - The Big Three

Henry Morris III's defense of the historicity of the early chapters in the book of Genesis has now been added to my resource directory!

Henry Morris III

Category: Creation/Evolution
Click Here To Order
Creation, The Fall, and The Flood with the promise of Christ. They are cornerstones of the Christian faith, they are events that literally changed the world forever. Yet, the foundations of these biblical truths are rooted in Genesis, a book that too many in the Church now treat as an allegory or a metaphor, as anything but the precise and inerrant Word of God. The Big Three refutes all of the popular compromises and much of the baggage that goes with it. Dr. Henry Morris III reveals a consistent and powerful thread throughout the Word of God. After Eden, the Gospel message became the overreaching message of the Scripture; after Eden, the Creation became the foundation for the Gospel message; after Eden, the promise contained in Creation became the hope of the Gospel.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hillsong Update - Hillsong Explain Why They Edit Bible Verses

In the latter half of last year I had a running series on Hillsong (pastored by Brian Houston) in which I contended with them over their practice of deleting lines from Bible verses and presenting the gospel in a manner that clearly contradicted their faith statement regarding repentance. The two issues were interconnected because they deleted a line from 2 Chronicles 7:14 (turn from their wicked ways) that spoke of repentance. You can read a good summation of it here or click on the "Hillsong Saga" label under this post and scroll through all the previous posts. It does make for shocking/intriguing reading.

One of the standout features of the series and the correspondence that occurred between both Robert Fergusson (their chief theologian) and Joel A'Bell (executive pastor) was their constant refusal to even engage the issue of the altered Bible verse - they seemed to hope it would go away by ignoring it (which is a great way to demonstrate your theological credentials). Today, I am giving an update on this saga because one of my regular readers (Glen from New Zealand) took the initiative to write to them and ask the same questions - and much to my surprise he actually got an "explanation" from Paul Aylett who is the customer service manager for Hillsong Music Australia - and that is a big organization.

Here is the correspondence with Glen's words in bold and Paul Aylett's words in italics.

To whom it may concern,

It's been brought to my attention that the verse 2 Chronicles 7:14 has been incorrectly quoted on the insert of the Hillsong Live: Mighty to Save CD.

As quoted on the insert, the words (that seem to be most commonly translated to English as): "and turn from their wicked ways" have been removed from the verse. From what I can see, there is a slight gap between the first part of the verse and the second part where the missing words should be.

As a Christian, I take the Bible very seriously. And find the removal of these words grieving. I would like to quote Revelation 22:19 (NIV):

"And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book."

I appreciate that mistakes can happen; but as Hillsong represents the church I would like, at the very least, to have this mistake acknowledged, and all future publishing of the insert to have the missing words added (true to the translation the verse was taken from).

Sincerely, Glen

Paul Aylett then wrote back:

Hi Glen,

Thank you for your email to Hillsong Music.

We at Hillsong also honour the Word of God. Please see this excerpt from our Statement of Belief,

"We believe that the Bible is God's Word. It is accurate, authoritative and applicable to our everyday lives."

The intent was to represent the Scripture within the parameters provided. A close examination of the verse will reveal that the words ‘I will hear’ has also been removed to allow for the verse to meet the allocation available on the jacket.

Please understand our heart in this matter.

Once again, thank you for contacting us, we appreciate your diligence and rigour with the Word of God.

Regards, Paul Aylett

Glen wasn't satisfied (of course) and had another try:

Hi Paul,

Thanks for the prompt reply.

I like the excerpt from the statement of belief you quoted. I agree.

Are you saying that the words were removed from the verse so it would fit on the CD jacket? Is the jacket allocation more important than quoting a Bible verse correctly? There is clearly enough room on the CD jacket for the whole verse.

I honestly don't understand Hillsong's heart in this matter. I don't understand why Hillsong would intentionally remove important words from a Bible verse.

Can you please explain?

Sincerely, Glen

Paul responded and If you read ever so carefully you might spot some hypocrisy - see if you can pick it up:

Hi Glen,

Thank you for your reply.

At Hillsong we place the highest importance on Scripture as previously stated, and in no way are we devaluing Scripture.

Once again, thank you for your feedback.

Regards, Paul Aylett

Three questions/comments immediately spring to mind as I read this dialogue:

1. It is true that "The intent was to represent the Scripture within the parameters provided", if by that they mean that they were using an incomplete Bible verse for an incomplete gospel.

2. How exactly does editing Bible verses to meet the requirements of your own "parameters" reflect that "in no way are we devaluing Scripture"? Putting Scripture at the feet of your own agenda is Scripture devaluation of the highest order.

3. Is this correspondence evidence that repentance is not only absent from their gospel presentation, but also absent from the Hillsong culture?

Please write to Hillsong and voice your protest at this disgraceful behavior - the most disgraceful of which is their refusal to even acknowledge that they have done something wrong . . .

Tom Hanks summed up the problems at Hillsong best when he said those famous words "Houston we have a problem!"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Behold The Great Humility Of Rick Warren - Rick Warren's Sermon At Desiring God (Part 6)

The following commentary corresponds to the following video from 21:45 to 23:30

Here we see a small sampling of a lot that lies ahead. Rick Warren admonishes his audience that the one necessary quality they need to be learners, and hence disciples, and hence leaders (you know, that vast biblical doctrine of "leadership") is humility. Within the space of less than two minutes Warren makes both a clarion call to humility and a brazen statement about how he is so much smarter than his enemies. Arrogant and jerk are strong words but I can't think of anything stronger so they will have to suffice for now. I just cannot believe that Rick Warren can continually act like an arrogant jerk in these large forums and not get taken to task.

Most likely, the enemies Warren is referring to are those who have been critical of his theology and practice. Not only did Warren give an apt demonstration of his staggering humility by pronouncing himself "smarter than" his "enemies", he also dumped on his many discerning critics saying that they are people "who only learn from themselves" - lacking the clear Yoda like qualities Warren has gained through his advanced learning abilities. Unbelievable - is he that delusional that he cannot hear what he is saying? Four of Warren's strongest critics who immediately spring to mind are Michael Horton, John Macarthur, Tim Challies, and James White. So is Rick Warren saying that these guys are dumber than he is? Is he saying that they are unlearned and only read their own work? Is he saying that he is way more humble than they are? Michael Horton, John Macarthur, Tim Challies, and James White are four giant intellects who grace the evangelical landscape with outstanding biblical exposition, depth of knowledge, and razor sharp apologetics. These are not the kind of guys to shoot from the hip and when they level criticism at Warren it is not unfounded nor ungrounded. Some of that has been on display as this series has progressed revealing that they are very aware of Rick Warren's "theological content".

But does Rick Warren really learn from his critics? The three most common and serious charges leveled against him would be:
1. His failure to preach the Gospel.
2. The fact that he continually twists Scripture and is overtly willing to use poor Bible translations in instances where they lend credence to his own ideas.
3. His regular failure to distinguish between believers and unbelievers when applying covenants and promises found in Scripture.

These are very serious grievances. The chorus of criticism did reach the point where Pastor Warren felt it necessary to write a book that would respond to the critics and set the record straight. He hired an apologetics attack dog by the name of Richard Abanes to harass websites and blogs that were critical of Warren as well as write the book "Rick Warren And The Purpose That Drives Him". So Rick Warren devoted a whole book to respond to the many criticisms leveled at him. And what did he have to say in response to those "big three" grievances mentioned above? Nothing - absolutely nothing! While Warren devotes plenty of energy in downplaying his friendship with Robert Schuller and his connections with the emergent church, he dances around the strongest objections raised against his ministry - in a book devoted to responding to these critics! Rick - this is not a great advertisement for how much you learn from your critics.

Tim Challies had this to say about "Rick Warren And The Purpose That Drives Him":

The single most common concern raised about Warren (at least in my experience) is his use (or misuse) of Scripture. This comes in two forms. First, Warren often quotes verses out of context or in ways that are advantageous to the point he is trying to make. He will often quote only a half of a verse if the second half does not support what he wants to say. Second, he uses poor translations and translations that say what he wants the Bible to say, rather than what God intended for it to say. There are times when this may be an honest mistake, but there are other times when it is clear that Warren has deliberately twisted a verse or taken it from its context to make it work for his purposes. Despite these two areas being of prime importance to those who are concerned with Warren's ministry, Abanes gives this no attention whatsoever. None. Not a sentence.

Another common criticism is Warren's prayer in the seventh chapter of The Purpose Driven Life. He leads the reader to pray, "Jesus I believe in you and I receive you" and then welcomes to the family of God anyone who prayed that little prayer sincerely. Yet this was before the person was provided any significant information about sin or repentance. It would be easy to assume that the person was praying to receive purpose more than to receive Christ. This is a very common criticism, yet one Abanes does not address. (online source)

All that from the man who sets new standards in humility. The pastor who is so much smarter than his critics because he learns so much from them - the very same critics who "only learn from themselves". Think about it, America's Pastor is pretty impressive. He was able to lecture us about humility, trash his opponents, and dazzle us with his smartitude all in the space of two minutes of video.

More to come . . .

Go On To Part 7
Go Back To Part 5
Go Back To Part 1

Monday, January 17, 2011

How To Do A Hermeneutical Hack Job - Rick Warren's Sermon At Desiring God (Part 5)

The following commentary corresponds to the following video from 20:50 to 21:45

Pastor Warren is now on a roll and my head is in a spin after the avalanche of information he has given out. Let's eat this elephant (no, not the invisible one in Rick Warren's living room) one piece at a time because there is no way we can digest the entire content of principle three in one sitting. This is so loaded with platitudes, cliches, moralisms, and bad hermeneutics (all filed under "Warrenisms") that I am struggling to process it all. Warren also dazzles his audience with breathtaking examples of his own immense humility. I only have time to serve up one piece of elephant today but what a vital piece of purpose driven elephant it is!

I don't think anyone is going to argue that a true disciple is someone who is constantly learning. I think it goes without saying, since a true disciple is someone who has repented of his man centered pride and knowledge, and submits to the Omniscient Lord and His inspired Word. But it doesn't take long for Warren to try and use this principle to fire a biblically incompetent cheap shot at those who dare to criticize his seeker sensitive philosophy. Here Warren contends that Matthew 11:28-30 is actually about coming to Jesus with our "felt needs" (Bill Hybels/Rick Warren language for the carnal desires of unregenerate sinners). But what does the text say:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Though Warren's main point from this section of Scripture is "learn from me", he can't help but take a poke at his reformed critics by pointing out that the "heavy laden" and "rest" described here are "felt needs". This is a great example of Warren at his deceptive best. If you twist a verse or proof-text at high speed you get the benefit of sounding theologically impressive while you do a snow job on your audience. Warren regularly proof-texts and gets away with it. But to try this stunt at a Desiring God conference is insulting to the many faithful Bible expositors in the audience. But why can't Warren go the conventional route of finding actual biblical support for his seeker sensitive views? Because there is no biblical support. The whole seeker sensitive movement is built upon a false premise that Scripture clearly repudiates the idea in Romans 3:11 with the words "no one seeks after God"

Have you ever met someone who is not a Christian and yet "feels the need" for the imputed righteousness of Christ? Lost sinners are dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1) and unable to perceive what their true spiritual needs are - unless the Spirit of God does a supernatural work in that valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1-10, John 6:44). What a sinner feels and desires is always at odds with what their real needs are (hello - Romans 3!). Any good commentator will point out many vital truths from these verses in Matthew 11 but you won't find anyone describing "rest" and "burden" as the felt needs of an unregenerate sinner. On the contrary, John Macarthur, in his commentary on Matthew 11:28-30, had this to say:

There is an echo of the first beatitude (Matthew 5:3) in this passage. Note that this is an open invitation to all who hear - but phrased in such a way that the only ones who will respond to the invitation are those who are burdened by their own spiritual bankruptcy and the weight of trying to save themselves from keeping the law. The stubbornness of humanity's sinful rebellion is such that without a sovereignly bestowed spiritual awakening, all sinners refuse to acknowledge the depth of their spiritual poverty. That is why, as Jesus says in v27, our salvation is the sovereign work of God.

No this is not nit picking. This is just one small example that draws attention to a continual pattern of behavior and we need to watch out for it. Tim Challies has rightly pointed out that:

Warren has proven repeatedly that he does not and will not honor the Bible. He preaches from the Bible, he knows vast amounts of Scripture and I’m sure he loves studying the Bible. But his ministry makes clear that he does not truly honor it in the way he uses it. I hardly even know where to begin here. Turn to any of Warren’s books and you will see that this is the case. Time and time again he has misused and abused the Bible. Years ago I read The Purpose Driven Life day-by-day and blogged my way through each chapter. I looked up each and every Bible reference. And in almost every chapter I found that Warren had used Scripture poorly, stretching its meaning, choosing translations that, more than being true to the text, furthered his intended meaning. This is the way he always has used Scripture and the way he continues to today. Turn to just about any review of his books and you’ll find multitudes of examples.

John Piper, on the other hand, has a long history of ministry in which he seeks to extend the utmost care to the Bible. He preaches verse-by-verse, carefully expositing the Word of God, seeking to be absolutely faithful to the text. And few preachers have done a better job of this over a long pulpit ministry.

The contrast between these two preaching styles and, even more so, these two ways of using the Bible, could not be more stark. John Piper honors the Bible, Rick Warren very often does not. What frustrates me is that I know Warren knows better! For some reason he does not seem offended by what he must know is his own misuse of the Bible. (online source)

I only covered a small portion of video today but addressed a big part of Rick Warren's modus operandi. Something that we need to be aware of and to warn undiscerning sheep about . . . and bury our heads in bewilderment at why John Piper would invite Rick Warren to come to this conference and serve up his usual hermeneutical hack job. "America's Pastor" would do well to heed his own advice here - never let up on learning - and heed the counsel of the many faithful expositors who have called on him continually to stop twisting Scripture in order to make it endorse his pragmatic consumer driven philosophies. It is God's Word - not a cheap buffet!

More to come . . .

Go On To Part 6
Go Back To Part 4
Go Back To Part 1

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Just Added - War Of Words

Paul Tripp's excellent work on biblical God honoring communication has just been added to my resource directory!

Paul Tripp

Category: Church, Marriage, Parenting
Click Here To Order
Getting to the heart of your communication struggles. A biblical look at our words and our God. Few of us really think about the power, the blessing, the gift, the effect, and the dangers of our words." "Filled with searching, realistic & honest illustrations coupled with large doses of biblical truth. One thing we do daily is talk. Communication is the lifeblood of a good relationship and the deadly weapon of a bad one. If you've ever said anything you've regretted - this book is for you. Few of us really think about the power, the blessing, the gift, the effect, and the dangers of our words. War of Words is filled with searching, realistic and honest illustrations coupled with large doses of biblical truth. Learn about your words and your God. Obtain biblical insight and tools for change as you get to the heart of your communication struggles.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Nail These To The Door Of Saddleback - 95 Theses Against Consumer Driven Churches

Many people trace the initial explosion that started the reformation back to the day that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg church in opposition to the scandalous Roman Catholic practice of selling "indulgences". Greg Gordon of Sermonindex (which is a good sermon download sight) recently wrote his own 95 Theses to the modern evangelical church. Though I would have liked Gordon to be more specific in some of his theses, there is a lot to like about this. Especially its suitability to nail to the door of Saddleback church in California where Rick Warren pastors. I thought this to be very appropriate in light of the current series I am going through analyzing the preaching of Rick Warren. Have a look through Greg Gordon's 95 Theses and see what you think:

1. The “church” at large has forgotten that the chief end of man is to glorify God. (Rom 16:27; 1Cor 6:20; Mt 6:9; 1Cor 10:31)

2. Christians ignore most of the methods, practices and principles found in the book of Acts. (Acts 2:42,44; Acts 2:46; Acts 2:38)

3. Many treat “church” like any other social club or sports event that they might attend. (Acts 2:46; Heb 10:25; Acts 1:14)

4. We’ve made Christianity about the individual rather than the community of believers. (Rom 12:5; 1Cor 12:12; 2Tim 4:16)

5. In most “churches” the priesthood of all believers isn’t acknowledged and the role of pastor is abused. (1Pt 2:9; 1Cor 12:12; Eph 4:11-13)

6. The “church” as a whole has lost the concept of their being grafted into the promises given to Israel. (Rom 11:15, 17-18, 20, 25)

7. There needs to be a recovery of teaching the whole counsel of God, especially in expository form. (Acts 20:27; 1Tim 4:6, 2Tim 2:15)

8. We take it too lightly that we have the blessing and honor of having God’s Scriptures in our possession. (Ps 119:16; Acts 13:44; Neh 8:9)

9. There has never been more access to the Word of God, yet so little reading of it. (1Tim 4:13; Neh 8:1-3; Ps 119:59)

10. Some read the Scriptures to attain knowledge, but do not practice what they read. (Jam 1:22; Mt 7:21; 3Jn 4)

11. Worship has become an idol in many “churches.” The music often resembles that of the world. (Amos 5:23; Phil 4:8; 1Jn 5:21)

12. The world is shaping the views of the “church” more than the “church” shaping the world. (Rom 12:2; Mt 5:13; 1Cor 1:22-23)

13. The “church” spends more money on dog food than on missions. (2Cor 9:6; Lk 21:2; Acts 4:34-35)

14. We take lightly the cost of discipleship laid out by Jesus Christ and do not deny our lives. (Lk 14:33; Lk 14:26-27; Mt 8:19-20)

15. There is a lack of true discipleship and making others to be obedient disciples. (Mt 28:20; 2Tim 2:2; 2Tim 2:14)

16. Many subscribe to the error that parts of life are to be spiritual while others are to be secular. (1Pt 4:2; Col 3:3; 1Jn 2:6)

17. Modern Christians often find Jesus’ command to sacrifice and serve abhorrent. (Phil 2:21; Jam 3:16; Rom 12:1-2)

18. Self disciplines in the Christian life such as fasting and praying are considered legalistic. (2Tim 2:21; 2Tim 1:8; Mt 6:17)

19. Little thought and contemplation is put towards the lostness of men, the seriousness of the Gospel. (Phil 3:8; Gal 2:20; Heb 10:34)

20. We are living with an epidemic of cheap grace with flippant confession and shallow consecration. (Lk 14:28-30; Lk 14:26; Jam 4:8)

21. Since the inception of the Church, the Gospel had the requirements of repentance and discipleship. (Acts 2:38; Lk 14:26; Jn 8:31)

22. Now forgiveness is offered without repentance, discipleship without obedience, salvation without sanctity. (Heb 10:29; 4:11; Lk 13:24)

23. Introspection, counting the cost, godly sorrow over sin, are all foreign to many in the “church.”(Acts 2:37; Ps 119:9; Heb 6:1-2)

24. The modern church loves itself more than its neighbor. (1Cor 3:3; Gal 5:13; Phil 2:3)

25. The church must repent of its idolization of personality, and of business principles. (2Cor 2:17; 1Cor 3:5; 1Cor 12:23)

26. Many elders and pastors of the “church” sadly are fleecing the flock to supply their own wants. (Jn 10:12-13; 1Pt 5:2-3; Rev 2:15)

27. The qualities most in demand in today’s pastorate are frequently foreign to the Scriptures. (1Tim 3:2-3; 1Tim 3:5; 1Tim 1:5-7)

28. The professionalization of the pastorate is a sin and needs to be repented of. (2Cor 11:13; Gal 3:1; Gal 2:6)

29. There must be repentance for the ambitious desire and idolization of the celebrity pastorate. (3Jn 9; Jer 17:5; 1Cor 12:22)

30. Pastors must trust the Spirit, not statistics. (2Sam 24:1; 1Cor 1:25; Rom 8:14)

31. Modern day prophets are being stoned by criticism and neglect. (2Tim 4:3-4; Gal 1:10; Jer 1:7-8)

32. God’s prophets are ill-treated and shunned by most “christians” who consider them too extreme. (Jer 6:10; Isa 6:9-10; Gal 4:16)

33. The prophets prophesy falsely, priests rule by their own power; and my people love to have it so. (Mt 24:4, 11-12; 1Cor 1:19, Jude 8 )

34. There are many false gospels being preached from pulpits in our day. (2Cor 11:4; Gal 1:8-9; Jude 16)

35. There is an epidemic of a “mock” salvation message. It is correct in doctrine, but false in reality. (2Cor 3:6; 1Jn 5:11-12; Rom 8:9)

36. A salvation that does not make men holy is trusted in by a deceived multitude. (Jude 4; Rom 8:1; Rom 6:17-18)

37. There is a needed perseverance in the truths of the Gospel without unbelief. (Eph 1:1; Heb 6:11-12; Heb 10:26-27)

38. A great need is to see “christians” become saints in actual experience. (1Jn 2:29; Col 3:5-8; Tit 3:8)

39. Many professors of religion are forbidding people to be a part of the holy body of Christ. (Mt 23:13; Ps 119:1-2; 2Pt 1:3-4)

40. Preaching has become all about the happiness of man and not the glory of God. (Jn 6:26; Rom 4:20; 1Pt 4:11)

41. Preachers give smooth words to entice men, yet very few give any words of correction or rebuke. (Jer 6:14; Pro 1:23; 1Tim 5:20)

42. Run from gospels that focus on our success and prosperity in the name of Jesus Christ. (Jn 2:16; Acts 20:33; Jer 6:13)

43. Run from gospels that focus on self-improvement. (1Tim 6:5; Heb 12:14; Jam 4:14)

44. Run from churches where men, and not Christ, are glorified. (Col 1:18; Jude 25; Jn 16:14)

45. Run from churches where there is no Bible, no cross, no mention of the blood of Christ. (1Pt 1:18-19; Eph 3:13; Rev 1:5)

46. Run from churches where the worship leaves you cold, where there’s no sense of God’s presence. (1Cor 5:4; Ps 80:14-15; Jer 12:11)

47. Run from churches where you’re comfortable in your sin. (1Cor 14:25; Heb 10:30-31; Heb 4:13)

48. Run from churches that use the pulpit of God for a personal agenda. (Jude 10-11,19; 3Jn 9)

49. Run from those who preach division between races and cultures. (Jam 2:4, Gal 3:28, Rev 5:9)

50. Run from ungodly, spasmodic movements and endless empty prophesying. (Jer 5:13; 1Cor 14:33, 1Jn 2:16)

51. Run from preachers who tell mostly stories and jokes. (Eph 5:4; Tit 1:8; 2:12)

52. Run from those that are only after money, who use one gimmick after another to get your money. (2Pt 2:3; 2Cor 12:14; 1Cor 9:18)

53. The phrase “accept Jesus as your personal Saviour” is not found in the Scriptures. (Rom 10:9-10; Col 1:13; Acts 26:20)

54. Evidence of true conversion does not seem important to modern day Christians. (1Jn 2:6; 1Jn 4:17; Mt 7:20)

55. Thousands of sinners think of God as having only one attribute: Love! But they continue in sin. (Rom 1:18; Acts 5:11; Ps 2:12)

56. “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life!” has hindered true evangelism. (Rom 3:19; Acts 26:18; Phil 3:18-21)

57. A Gospel of love and grace only, without the law of God being preached. This is a doctrine of Satan. (2Tim 4:3-4; Rom 2:4-5; 3:19)

58. There has clearly arisen a careless mixture of 20th century reasoning with God’s revelation. (Col 2:8; Rom 1:25; Gal 1:6)

59. Decisionism and the “sinner’s prayer” has been a major cause of false conversions in the “church.” (2Pt 2:1-2; Eph 2:4-5; 2Cor 5:17-18)

60. Many will be surprised to hear Jesus say, “I never knew you, depart from me.” (Mt 7:22-23; 1Cor 6:9-10; Gal 5:19-21)

61. Men have taken the place of the Holy Spirit in confirming men in their supposed salvation. (1Jn 2:3-5; 2Ths 1:8; Gal 6:12-15)

62. The doctrine of hell and eternal suffering is something little grasped by most professing “christians.” (Mt 13:42; Jam 5:1; Ps 9:17)

63. The judgment seat of Christ is perhaps one of the most neglected topics in the modern pulpit. (2Cor 5:10; Rom 14:10; 1Cor 3:13)

64. The second coming of Christ needs to be re-instated as the church’s general thrust and burden. (1Jn 3:2-3; Col 3:4-6; 1Ths 4:14-17)

65. The church has lost the fear of God and has over emphasized the love of God. (Heb 12:28-29; Lk 12:5; Heb 10:31)

66. The church has left evangelism to a few trained professionals. (Acts 8:1,4; Acts 4:29; Rom 10:14)

67. Repentance is considered a one-time act in modern evangelism rather than a way of life. (Rev 3:19; Heb 12:17; 2Pt 3:9)

68. The Lordship of Jesus Christ is something that is not taught in many pulpits. (Acts 2:36; 1Cor 12:3; Rom 6:18)

69. Many in “churches” are not open to correction, church discipline or rebuke. (1Cor 5:5; 1Cor 11:31-32; Heb 12:7-9)

70. Some preach salvation as a theory instead of persuading men to come to Christ. (Jn 5:40; Col 1:28; 2Cor 4:5)

71. There has been a loss of the fullness and majesty of the gospel. (1Tim 1:11; Jude 25; Rom 15:29)

72. There is little mention of sin or the depravity of man from “church” pulpits. (Jn 3:20; Gal 5:19-21; Eph 5:5)

73. Covetousness, consumerism, and coddling of the world’s goods does not appear wrong. (Jer 22:17; 1Jn 2:15-16; 1Tim 3:3)

74. Little is made of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in churches or in evangelism. (1Cor 15:14-15; Acts 4:10, 33)

75. The “church” has relied more on technology than God. (Zech 4:6; 1Cor 1:21; 2:4)

76. The prayer meeting is considered one of the least important meetings in the “church.” (1Tim 2:1; Acts 4:31; Phil 4:6)

77. Pastors have never prayed less than they do in the “church” today. (Jer 10:21; Phil 2:21; Eph 6:18-19)

78. Very few are waiting on God for His direction and purpose for His Church. (Eph 1:11; Ps 37:7; Isa 40:31)

79. The “church” has many organizers, but few agonizers. (Phil 3:18-19; Rom 9:1-3; Jer 9:1)

80. We need to have the gifts of the Spirit restored again to the “church.” (2Tim 4:2; 1Cor 14:39; 1Cor 12:31)

81. A serious, sober, self-controlled Christianity is very seldom found or preached. (2Pt 3:11; 1Pt 4:7; Jude 3)

82. The “church” at large has forgotten how to pray. (1Jn 3:22; Acts 6:4; 1Ths 5:17)

83. Many “churches” are more dependent on tradition than the leading of the Holy Spirit. (Mk 7:13; Acts 16:6; Acts 13:2)

84. Multitudes of professors preach and teach: that you cannot be freed from sin. (Rom 16:18; Rom 6:1-2; 2Pt 2:1)

85. The Apostles and Christ always preached the possibility to walk free from the bondage of sin. (Tit 2:11-12; 1Pt 1:14-16; Rom 6:19)

86. Sinners are not saved to sin, but rather, saved to holiness and good works. (Rom 6:13; Eph 2:10; 2Pt 3:14)

87. Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. (2Tim 2:19; 1Pt 4:17-18; 2Tim 3:12)

88. A baptism of holiness, a demonstration of godly living, is the crying need of our day. (1Tim 6:3; 2Ths 3:6; 2Ths 2:13)

89. Many are confused about obedience and the good works that are readily mentioned in the Scriptures. (Tit 3:8; Jn 10:32; Rev 3:15)

90. Little emphasis is put on the plan of God to make us like Jesus Christ in “churches.” (1Pt 1:14-16; 1Jn 2:6; 1Pt 4:1)

91. Christ did not die on the cross to obtain a worldly “church” but for a “glorious Church.” (Eph 5:27; Tit 2:14; Col 4:12)

92. Christ does not come into an unregenerate and impure heart as many contemporary theologians say. (2Cor 5:17; Mt 5:8; Eze 18:31)

93. A holy Church is God’s blessing to the world; an unholy “church” is God’s judgment upon the world. (Mt 5:14,16; Eph 4:1; 1Ths 2:12)

94. If Christianity is to make any headway in the present time, it must be proved to be more than a theory. (2Ths 3:6-7; 1Ths 4:1,11-12)

95. Unbelief has gagged and bound us as risen Lazarus! We need release in this final hour! (Heb 3:12-14; 1Cor 3:21-23; Heb 11:6)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Confusing Indicatives With Imperatives - Rick Warren's Sermon At Desiring God (Part 4)

I don't know why it is, but there are some great Christian leaders and thinkers who just seem to be unwilling to take Rick Warren to task. No one said boo to him at Desiring God - at least publicly. Why is this? Is he a sacred cow? This hurts many of us who have watched in censored silence as our churches have been invaded by the Purpose Driven juggernaut. This is the major reason why I am embracing this task, to take a closer look at the "sermon" Rick Warren preached at Desiring God. From it we can learn much of what is wrong in the world of mainstream seeker sensitive evangelicalism. We can also sharpen our discernment skills as we grasp the cleverly packaged man centered theology. And there is also the issue of Warren being held to account. I am just a small voice, but I hope that a bigger voice might find this ball, pick it up, and run with it. I am also aware that many small voices can make a loud noise. So if this series is resonating with you, please feel free to use it to sound the alarm in your local churches.

The following commentary corresponds to the following video from 13:55 to 20:50

Principle 2: Guard Your Mind From Garbage
Here we see an example of Warren's love for obscure, unusual, or faulty Bible translations that support his premise. This is exposition upside down and we need to watch out for it in our local churches. In this particular instance of Proverbs 15:14 from the New Living Translation it doesn't deviate too far from the Hebrew meaning. But Warren has a propensity for treating Scripture and the many various modern translations as a giant buffet that he can pick and choose from as he pleases. Warren has been roundly criticized for this in the past and refuses to respond or relent. This very issue became a problem as my old church dived into the Purpose Driven program and continually had to deal with heavily twisted Scripture particularly emanating from paraphrase translations.

For example, on page 68 of The Purpose Driven Church, Warren uses a verse from The Living Bible to biblically substantiate his conviction that intelligent Christians should be open to “new ideas”: “The intelligent man is always open to new ideas. In fact, he looks for them” (Proverbs 18:15).

But what is the literal translation of this verse? In the King James Version it reads: “The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.” If you look knowledge up in the Hebrew it means knowledge! And the knowledge that true Christians pursue is the eternal unchanging counsel of God found in Scripture.

Tim Challies had this to say on the very subject of Warren's handling of Scripture and penchant for bad Bible translations (especially if they support his agenda):

Warren has proven repeatedly that he does not and will not honor the Bible. He preaches from the Bible, he knows vast amounts of Scripture and I’m sure he loves studying the Bible. But his ministry makes clear that he does not truly honor it in the way he uses it. I hardly even know where to begin here. Turn to any of Warren’s books and you will see that this is the case. Time and time again he has misused and abused the Bible. Years ago I read The Purpose Driven Life day-by-day and blogged my way through each chapter. I looked up each and every Bible reference. And in almost every chapter I found that Warren had used Scripture poorly, stretching its meaning, choosing translations that, more than being true to the text, furthered his intended meaning. This is the way he always has used Scripture and the way he continues to today. Turn to just about any review of his books and you’ll find multitudes of examples. (online source)

There is a serious impact to Warren’s use of so many translations. It shows his view of the inspiration and sufficiency of Scripture. It seems that he does not believe that the Bible as God wrote it is sufficient for people today. He must believe that a very loose paraphrase like The Message can impact people in a way that the real translations cannot. He shows that he is not a faithful expositor of the Bible. (online source)

Anyway back to principle 2 - guarding our minds from garbage. In much the same way that a broken clock gets it right twice a day so too Rick Warren occasionally makes good points. We do need to guard our minds from the corruptions of the outside world that seek to permeate our lives. Warren does make excellent points about television and other influences, counseling wisely that we can be "so open minded that our brains fall out". But again, a subject like this is well served with a strong focus on human depravity, God's Holiness, and constantly seeing the kindness of Christ in His finished work on the cross.

Warren does dish out plenty of advice here and gives some strategies for guarding our minds, but as usual, his moralism gets in the way of a Christ centered solution. The best example of this is when he turns to personal ministry success as a major motivating force in this goal of guarding our minds. He certainly anticipates the objection that I would give - God calls for faithfulness rather than successfulness. But he makes a complete hash of his rebuttal to this objection by saying that we are called to faithfulness plus fruitfulness. The fact that Warren equates success with fruitfulness is debatable in and of itself. But I want to zero in on a far bigger issue here - Warren's understanding of conversion. This is another example of Warren confusing the imperative with the indicative. He is telling his audience that the imperative is to bear fruit whereas Jesus described fruit as an indicative when He said "by their fruits you shall know them". Luther understood this when he spoke of the distinctions between faith and works when he pointed out (my paraphrase) that the fruit does not make the tree but the tree makes the fruit. Fruit is a valuable indicator of whether a persons faith is genuine. Let's go back to Jesus quote in Matthew chapter 7 (which interestingly is the same chapter where we find the oft used/oft abused "judge not lest ye be judged"):

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Matthew 7:15-20)

The faithful are the fruitful. Jesus also said to produce fruit in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8) - in other words, genuine repentance produces genuine fruit. I am laboring the point here but it is of critical importance and lies at the heart of Warren's bad understanding of conversion and the distorted gospel it produces. Mathematically stated it looks something like this:

Warren's formula is faithfulness + fruitfulness = purpose driven success
Jesus' statement is faithfulness = fruitfulness

If Warren understood this then he would withdraw a lot of his books from sale, change his preaching, and treat unfruitful church goers with a Gospel related solution rather than giving them more moralistic advice. Warren would be well served at this point to shut up and sit in the audience being taught by John Piper. False conversion is perhaps the greatest crisis that lies beneath the gleaming surface of most seeker sensitive churches today. Making the narrow gate into a wide gate might get more people through the door but it doesn't put more fruit on the tree.

Speaking of confusing indicatives and imperatives - perhaps we should stop seeing Warren's "success" as an imperative to creating a healthy church culture. But instead treat Warren's "success" as an indicative of an unhealthy church culture - cancerous some would say.

Stay tuned . . . more to come . . .

Go On To Part 5
Go Back To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1

Monday, January 10, 2011

Rick Warren Believes In The Sovereignty Of His Audience

I have been greatly encouraged in recent times by a New Zealand brother called Glen who has been devouring posts on this blog and commenting all over the place. Glen has asked for some specifics concerning my criticism of Warren because I usually critique on the premise of pointing out specific factual issues. Glen's impression of this series may have been that my criticism is more general and as such I may be being a little harsh on "America's Pastor". I am now informed by Glen that he has read through a lot of my other material on Rick Warren and I am sure he has found a lot more specifics on the chameleon like behavior of Warren. I think a lot of these will resurface as this series progresses but I thought I might take some time today to reiterate some of the big issues as to why Rick Warren is so dangerous.

First of all, the book that made him famous. Purpose Driven Life and the rest of the Purpose Driven series has sold tens of millions of copies. In a Christian book about human purpose you would think that the Gospel would take center stage since, in the words of Question 1 in the Westminster Catechism - "What is man's purpose? Answer- to glorify God and enjoy Him forever". You will not enjoy God forever if you are not a Christian. So is the Gospel center stage in Warren's book? No! Is it in there at all? Well there is one obscure passage where you get the gospel according to Rick Warren. I'll let John Macarthur explain (if you haven't already seen this video - watch it!).

That should be enough for any discerning Christian. I could go on for a very long time with countless other problematic issues concerning Warren but I will mention just a few more because they are big ones. The massive Fox television network has given Warren an hour of their air time more than once at Christmas. Think about it, a secular network with tens of millions of viewers offers a pastor an hour of their prime time to preach about the meaning of Christmas. So what did Warren say with this unbelievable opportunity? I cannot put into words my disgust and contempt but I'll let Todd Friel carve this one up . . .

Todd continues . . .

One other thing of the many I could mention is Warren's continual failure to advocate Jesus Christ at the many "interfaith" forums that he speaks at. That Warren can speak for hours to Jews, Muslims, and other religions without mentioning Jesus Christ is staggering. The editor in chief of the "Jewish Journal" magazine had this to say about an address Warren made to a large gathering of Jews:

“Warren told [Rabbi Ron] Wolfson his interest is in helping all houses of worship, not in converting Jews……Warren managed to speak for the entire evening without once mentioning Jesus — a testament to his savvy message-tailoring.”

Here is just one short video example of Warren's astounding ability to avoid the subject of the Savior whenever it suits his chameleon like pragmatism, and dazzle the audience with his amazing "humility":

Not only did Rick Warren graciously point out that his book was the best selling book ever in the history of the universe, he also managed to identify himself as a Brother to a Muslim. So Rick that leaves just one question - are you a Muslim Christian or a Christian Muslim?

I'll leave it at that for today. There are so many other things I could bring up such as Warren's prayer at Obama's inauguration; his applauding the Syrian government for their treatment of Christians, then denying it; his backflips and denials over the gay marriage vote (prop 8) in California; his heroes change from Ghandi to Johnathan Edwards depending on whether he is talking to Larry King or John Piper. Go digging around on this blog and elsewhere if you really want to torture yourself with more. But the point is that Warren is dangerous because he is actually theologically educated and pragmatic. We don't really know what he believes because the audience is always sovereign in Rick Warren's world. We'll get back to critiquing Warren's sermon at Desiring God on wednesday . . .

And Glen, I hope this post cleared up some things for you. Thanks for your encouragement.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Just Added - Spurgeon Gold

Ray Comfort's compilation of golden nuggets from the preaching of Charles Spurgeon, has just been added to the resource directory!

Ray Comfort (Editor), Charles Spurgeon
Category: Heroes, Puritans, And Reformers
Click Here To Order
Books about the life and ministry of “The Prince of Preachers” are not uncommon. However, Spurgeon Gold takes a unique approach. It has isolated the great preacher’s deep passion for the lost, many of his powerful gospel proclimations, and his convincing exhortations to Christians to share their faith. Spurgeon was an immense and prolific writer and this book will whet the appetite for much more of his writings. Furthermore, Spurgeon Gold is a literal goldmine of riveting, theologically profound, accessible, and inspiring treasures from the deep well of Charles Spurgeon's deep well of material - bound to wear out any highlighter pen!

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Avalanche Of Advice Begins - Rick Warren's Sermon At Desiring God (Part 3)

Rick Warren is a big time "tweeter" and uses this forum to hand out endless thoughts of sage advice. Just recently he tweeted:

If you need ideas for Christmas sermons, I've got 30 years of them to share thru Saddleback Resources

The web link he gives is to a place where people can buy his sermons. Sorry that I was a bit late on sharing this but you can always avail yourself of this tweet and get in early for next Christmas . . .

Anyway, back to Warren's sermon at last years Desiring God conference.

The following commentary corresponds to the following video from 7:45 to 13:55

I am amazed that Rick Warren has studied this subject for 33 years. Especially when it has produced a big pile of man centered advice on how to fix our lives and the conclusion that the mind is the believers greatest asset. Actually, when I say believer I am assuming that is what Warren means because it is hard to find him ever differentiating between believers and unbelievers - which is a MAJOR problem in his book "Purpose Driven Life" where biblical covenants are applied without this differentiation. We'll probably get to that issue later on . . .

Here it is, eight minutes in and we have our first "six principles" that all pastors "must teach" their congregations (he's also going to lecture them about the necessity of humility, yes it's coming).

Principle 1: Don't believe everything you think
Perhaps Warren should take his own advice on this one when he uses terms such as "you need to hear my sermon" and "you must teach these six principles". Don't believe everything you think! I think I had that principle nailed when I was six and hit a schoolyard full of wise guys. Warren is sitting there lecturing an audience that is predominantly Calvinistic on this point. Calvinism is usually defined in the five point acronym "TULIP" (though it is much broader than this). And what does the T stand for - total depravity. Perhaps if Warren took counsel from some of these reformed guys he is lecturing here, he might start substituting his self esteem/self help pop psychology with instruction on man's total depravity. If you know you are depraved then "don't believe everything you think" becomes a big no-brainer! The fact that Warren thinks this is so important to teach may well be a reflection of the biblical literacy of his own congregation - the one he shepherds! Furthermore, if Warren really understood human depravity, then he would probably spend a lot more of his pulpit time offering Christ centered solutions instead of a big list of things we need to do.

Warren does use this principle to touch on the subject of our depravity but it becomes the supporting point when it should be the main point. Also, when he talks about sin it reminds me of diet coke. A lightweight version of the real thing and with a bad aftertaste of lameness. We can only hope that he proclaims the sinfulness of sin with far greater force in his own congregation although this is not a usual "felt need" for a pagan.

I just can't believe that John Piper, who authored the immensely profound "Desiring God", would invite this guy. Reformed pastors actually paid to hear this . . . more to come . . .

Go On To Part 4
Go Back To Part 2
Go Back To Part 1

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Believers Most Valuable Asset Is His Mind? - Rick Warren's Sermon At Desiring God (Part 2)

The following commentary corresponds to the following video from 2:08 to 7:45

It is a big claim to not only tell the hearers that you have a message from God, but also to say that their lives depend on this message. That must be an awfully huge burden on Pastor Warren's shoulders. I am intrigued to see how this message develops and reveals my life dependancy on it.

From the outset here Warren lays out the central focus of his message which is the mind. I imagine this would be mainly due to the conference being themed on the word "think". Now that words are getting mentioned and Warren is speaking I guess I had better give out a large acronym and rhyming alert, I'm sure they are coming. I had also better issue alerts for "four points", "five steps", and "six principles" because I can already see the avalanche of advice coming down the hill. Also, is it just me, or are there more important assets than our mind? I'd be gunning for Christ's imputed righteousness . . . that's a possession of believers.

Here Warren zeroes in on 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 as his key text in what he calls the battle of the mind. I would contend that the surrounding verses here provide some important context that is being missed. That aside, I am intrigued that He claims the reason there are "so many ineffective Christians" is that they don't know how to fight this battle of the mind. And he then blames pastors for not teaching them how to fight this war. There may be an element of truth to what Warren is saying here but his emphasis (as usual) on the "how to do" rather than the "Who has done" really is getting to where Warren differs so much from Christ centered preachers like John Piper. This is all boiling down to how Warren views conversion and I'm sure this will be a major theme as we progress through this message. Matthew 25 also talks about "ineffective Christians" but uses the word "goats" instead.

Yes, I will concede that the Christian's thought life is a battlefield. I hate some of the thoughts that pass through my mind. But the Scripture describes genuine Christians as people who are "new creatures" (2 Corinthians 5:17) with new hearts and desires (Ezekiel 36:25-27). If there is a "how to" it involves the mortification of sin as Jesus clearly described in Mark 9:

If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 'where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.' (Mark 9:43-48)

But even this sanctification is more of an indicative than an imperative. The ability to mortify sin in our lives, including mental strongholds, is evidence of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. It is fruit of genuine conversion. The spirit wars with the flesh in the life of a true believer but he is always broken, repentant, and deeply desirous to please His Savior. But I wouldn't describe him as "ineffective". Where Warren offers information and education, Christ points to sanctification. And this sanctification is an indication of the Spirit's work. Where there is no sanctification there is no work of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:11), and where there is no Holy Spirit there is no regeneration.

Yes, the believer can benefit from some education in this area and John Owen's classic work on "The Moritification of Sin" is a great place to go for that. And I am not going to label every individual with the same stroke of this broad brush. But the plague that besets the seeker sensitive universe, presided over by Rick Warren and Bill Hybels, is thousands of people who have said a prayer but never repented, acknowledged Christ but never abandoned their sinful lifestyle, and are purpose driven but not Christ centered. By and large the issue is conversion and the solution is the Gospel. It all boils down to meditating on who we are - sinners, Who God is - Holy, and what Christ has done in His finished work on the cross.

That's all for now, but I'm sure we'll talk a lot more about this issue over the coming posts. More to come on Friday . . .

Go On To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1

Monday, January 3, 2011

His "Virtual" Appearance - Rick Warren's Sermon At Desiring God (Part 1)

The new year is upon us and it seems that the theological dust in the blogosphere has settled enough to take a close look at Rick Warren's sermon at the 2010 Desiring God conference hosted by John Piper. I will reiterate once again what I have stated in earlier posts that I love John Piper, I count him as a true minister of the Gospel, and am unable to express my debt of gratitude for the biblical illumination John Piper has poured into my life through his sermons and books. His teaching has been a major factor in elevating me above the mire of the moralistic and therapeutic teaching that dominates mainstream evangelicalism these days.

With that thought in mind, I am absolutely shocked that John Piper would invite Rick Warren as a keynote speaker to the Desiring God conference. The lame man centered preaching that Piper rails against is propagated by men like Warren. In fact, if man centered seeker sensitive church growth methodology was an orchestra, then Rick Warren would be the conductor. No one has been given platforms like Warren in recent years to proclaim the Gospel. As a best selling author, as someone who spoke at the President's inauguration, as someone given one hour of prime time on the Fox Network each year, and as a major speaker at prominent "inter faith" events - Warren has continually perverted, distorted, diluted, and obscured the pure Christian Gospel. I don't have time to labor these claims further here but I have documented them and written extensively on them in many earlier posts which you can explore by clicking on either of the Rick Warren labels located beneath this post.

Many of us who have been elevated into a sense of awe and wonder over God's glory and sovereignty under the ministry of Dr Piper feel like he just dragged us back to the vomit that we gleefully abandoned. Is Piper a heretic for inviting Warren - no! Did Piper do a dumb thing - yes! Does this give Warren a dangerous legitimacy among the undiscerning who currently attend healthy churches with good Christ centered theology - yes! Does this impact negatively on the thousands of pastors who lost their pastorate over their refusal to embrace Warren's Purpose Driven philosophy (or Willow Creeks church growth strategies) - yes! Can this generate confusion over the normally clear lines of division between biblical theology and man-centered methodology - yes!

Warren has preached a lot of his purpose driven propaganda before Desiring God and most likely he will preach a lot more after it. And he is not alone in a landscape plagued by Schuller's, Hybels', and Osteen's. But this sermon can serve as a good litmus test for what is wrong with the message that these gurus proclaim. Warren could protest that he is nothing like Joel Osteen, and in one sense I would agree, but in another sense they proclaim different versions of the same religion - moralistic therapeutic deism. For a riveting expose of that insidious religion, I heartily recommend Michael Horton's book Christless Christianity. But for now, let's embark on a detailed examination of the sermon Warren preached at Desiring God 2010 in the hope that we can learn to better differentiate and discern the difference between being Christ centered and man centered. The difference between being Gospel driven and purpose driven. The difference between self esteem and esteeming Christ. The differences can be subtle but are as stark as the heaven and hell where these different gospels lead to.

The following commentary corresponds to the following video from 0:00 to 2:08

Though many of us were shocked at Rick Warren's invitation we remained massively intrigued as to what would happen when Piper interviewed him in the flesh and took him to task with some tough questions. Well, Warren didn't show up which led to plenty of murmuring that speculated that Warren had "chickened out". As this critique progresses I will be saying some very critical things of Rick Warren. But woe unto me if I venture off the narrow road of objective discernment and onto the freeway of subjective speculation. Here, Rick Warren gives his reasons for his non-attendance and I see no reason not to take him at his word. We should give criticism where it is due without being mean and judgmental about it. We can test the content of Warren's message against the sure plumbline of Scripture, but let's try and put the best construction on areas concerning the thoughts and intents of his heart. This critique is not supposed to elevate myself or my own knowledge - merely to show Scripture's clear and simple rebuke of man made cleverness. If anything, it will show that God has given the simplest of men the sharpest of tools in Scripture. But to speculate on the inner motives in Rick Warren's heart is a no go zone which is not even necessary. Let's take him at his word that he was unable to attend due to his extenuating family circumstances. (But I have to say that the tap dance joke was totally lame!)

Warren closes with his conviction that he has a message from God. I have a message from God too - it's called a Bible and we'll see how Warren's message stacks up against Scripture over the coming weeks starting on Wednesday where we'll pick up from where we left off today.

Go On To Part 2