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