Part 4: Leading the Masses into a Spiritual Awakening or a Unity of Spiritual Blindness?
“America’s Most Influential Spiritual Leader”
“What in the World Are Our Pastors and Church Leaders Teaching Their Congregations?”
Simply being a Christian does not automatically immunize us from deception. It isn’t unbelievers that Scripture repeatedly warns with: “Take heed that ye be not deceived” (Luke 21:8); “Let no man deceive himself” (1 Corinthians 3:18); “Let no man deceive you with vain words” (Ephesians 5:6); “Let no man deceive you by any means” (2 Thessalonians 2:3); “But watch thou in all things” (2 Timothy 4:5); “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith” (1 Corinthians 16:13); “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die” (Revelation 3:2); “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12); “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:6); “Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts 20:31) . . .
Scripture’s warnings are meant to be heeded. If Christians could not be deceived, then the Holy Spirit would be wrong about those who will “depart from the faith” (1 Timothy 4:1). On the contrary, the goal of the spirit world in eliminating truth, or what it views as “non-essential doctrines,” is having tremendous success within an anything but watchful Christianity.
Baptist pastor Chuck Baldwin posted an article on June 2, 2005, titled, “Christians No Different from the World,” in which he sadly and beseechingly reported the following:
“Recently, pollster George Barna released his research regarding the beliefs and conduct of today’s Christians. The results are shocking! According to Barna, only 9% of America’s born again Christians have a Biblical worldview. Only 9%!
“To determine a Biblical worldview, Barna used the following 8 point criteria:
•Believing that absolute moral truths exist.
•Such truths are defined by the Bible.
•Jesus Christ lived a sinless life.
•God is the all-knowing, all-powerful Creator and still rules today.
•Salvation is a gift of God and cannot be earned.
•Christians have a responsibility to share their faith in Christ.
•Satan is real.
•The Bible is accurate in all its teachings.
“As any real Christian can see, these 8 points comprise basic Biblical truth. To think that more than 90% of born again Christians would deny any one of these fundamental truths suggests that the vast majority of professing Christians today have no clue as to what being a Christian really means.
“As a result, the obvious question that must be asked is, ‘What in the world are our pastors and church leaders teaching their congregations?’ It would appear that whatever they are teaching, it isn’t the Bible!…
“George Barna summarized his findings by saying, ‘Faith makes very little difference in their [Christians] lives: believers do not train their children to think or act differently [from the world].…’
“The problem with America’s Christianity today is that, for the most part, it doesn’t exist! What passes for Christianity is instead an anemic, spineless, diluted substitute without convictions or principle.…
“No wonder that despite some 300,000 evangelical churches, scores and hundreds of television and radio ministries, and millions of professing Christians, our nation is still on a collision course with calamity!…
“George Barna’s research suggests that the real mission field may not be in heathen lands across the seas but in America’s churches right here at home!” (Brackets in the original; emphasis added)1
Additionally, an article from the November/December 2005 issue of the AFA Journal was recently posted by AgapePress titled, “A Strange Faith -- Are Church-Going Kids Christian?” This article underscores Pastor Baldwin’s concerns as well as indicates the inroads of the (New Age) New Spirituality belief that all gods are ONE:
“Barna, for example, after noting that 86 percent of teenagers claimed that they believed in God, asked, ‘But what is the nature of the God they embrace?’
“A strange god indeed, as it turns out. In his book, Third Millennium Teens, Barna revealed this stunning fact: 63 percent of church-going, supposedly Christian teens said they believed ‘Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Jews and all other people pray to the same God, even though they use different names for their god.’
“In other critical areas of Christian doctrine – e.g., the divinity of Christ, the resurrection, the reality of absolute truth – the majority of church-going teenagers simply do not hold to views that are orthodox.…
“How could teenagers who go to church so often know so little – or at least believe so little – of the historic Christian faith? And whose fault is it?…
“Apparently, many church-going teens are not being challenged by the preaching and teaching of the true Gospel. How else can one explain the overwhelming assumption among teens that they are Christian, when they clearly are not?…
“Unless Christian leaders want to contemplate a future – much like that unfolding in Europe – in which their youth abandon Christianity in droves, there must be a brutally honest re-examination of how we do church.” (Bold added)2
The masses are being led into a unity of spiritual blindness, thanks to purpose-driven leaders who believe the proper beliefs are already in place so all we need is a new Reformation of purpose and behavior.
“The last thing many believers need today is to go to another Bible study. They already know far more than they are putting into practice.” (PDL; p. 231; bold added)
“You see, we know all the right things. We don’t need a Reformation of belief.… we need a Reformation of not creeds but deeds, not beliefs but behavior, to be doers of the word.… It’s about our mission, and will we be the church.” —Rick Warren (Emphasis added)3
This new way of “doing church” is so focused on man’s teachings on purpose that God’s teachings on truth are being destructively neglected. Christianity is being transformed into a religion of doers who don’t know the truth.
Pastor Baldwin questioned, “What in the world are our pastors and church leaders teaching their congregations?” Another new survey by The Barna Group has revealed that Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church are respectively the two “most helpful” books among pastors. And in the category for “most influential authors” among pastors, “not surprisingly, Rick Warren was king-of-the-hill in this listing …”4
Not only are pastors using his books to teach their congregations, but it repeatedly gets pointed out—and is easily seen on the Internet on many church sites—how pastors are using his sermons as well. Yet Rick Warren thinks he’s improving pastors and making them into “a hero” by helping them out with his own sermons. The following quote, from FORTUNE magazine, is in reference to small-town pastors:
“‘That guy’s out flipping burgers or working as a mechanic during the week, and then, in four hours, trying to come up with something to say on Sunday.… If I can help that guy, if I can move him from a C to a B preacher, so be it. I’ll make him a hero.’” —Rick Warren (Ellipsis dots in the original; emphasis added)5
What are our pastors teaching their congregations? Instead of men of God who studied the Word of God and faithfully spoke sermons as led by the Spirit of God, we now have clones of Rick Warren who buy and download the word of Rick Warren and “heroically” speak sermons as given by Rick Warren. Rick Warren is rescuing preachers from their “four hours” of having to study the Word of God and “trying to come up with something to say.” Remember when the “Office” of preachers used to be called their “Study”? How times have changed in the new Paradigm.
Now, according to advertisements in Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox™, pastors can “get help from Rick Warren himself!” (exclamation point in the original).6 Contrary to one of these advertisements, sermons are not a “game”:
“Looking for ideas for a holiday sermon this year? Check out these 34 holiday sermon transcripts from Rick Warren. Not only will you find Christmas sermons, but you’ll be ahead of the game when Easter comes around!” —Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox™, 11/23/057
Sermons are supposed to be the timely messages of the Holy Spirit through the study of God’s Word, not the reproduced messages of Rick Warren through the study of his words. Instead of sitting at the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ, pastors can sit at the feet of Rick Warren and pay to “get help from Rick Warren himself!”
“Are you looking for help to prepare a holiday message this year? Get help from Rick Warren himself! Click here to check out the special price …” —Pastors.com (Emphasis added)8
“Having to prepare sermons for holidays can often be difficult and sometimes even distracting. Let this great resource tool of 34 Holiday Sermon Transcripts help you. This CD rom contains some of Rick Warren’s most effective HOLIDAY messages.” —Pastors.com (Emphasis added)9
“The busyness of Christmas and New Year’s can make sermon preparation difficult. This holiday season, we hope to make your preparation a little easier!…
“34 holiday sermon transcripts for only $99 ($238 value!) …
“Order one for yourself and others to give as Christmas presents!” —Pastors.com e-mail10
Incidentally, the Holy Spirit is free and perfectly effective. But He might as well go home because today’s Christianity has laid Him off and replaced Him, which is clearly evidenced in the growing unity of spiritual blindness.
Rick Warren may include things such as Barna’s 8-point criteria for a biblical world view in his teachings. But he so frequently waters down and contradicts and negates any truth he gives that his Purpose-Driven Paradigm is a huge part of the problem instead of part of the solution. Nevertheless, this Paradigm is being taught by hundreds of thousands of pastors to their churches and is being adopted and praised by governments and businesses and religions (faiths) of the world.
“Secular America’s Favorite Evangelical Christian”
“‘Rick Warren is arguably the most influential pastor in America.’” —RickWarren.com, quoting The Economist11
“‘The Purpose Driven Life is the epicenter of a spiritual shockwave taking root across America … It has become a movement.’” —RickWarren.com, quoting ABC News12
“‘Business and political leaders across America are turning to Rick Warren for guidance.’” —RickWarren.com, quoting The Times (London)13
“‘Movie stars and political leaders aren’t the only ones turning to Rick Warren for spiritual guidance. Millions of people - from NFL and LPGA players to corporate executives to high school students to prison inmates - meet regularly to discuss The Purpose Driven Life.’” —RickWarren.com, quoting TIME14
“How do you explain a book by a pastor selling now over 25 million copies? And that’s in English. The book has sold over 30 million copies worldwide.” —Rick Warren15
“More than three years after the book was published … it remains on the New York Times best-seller list. It has also been translated into 56 languages.” —Newsweek, 12/15/0516
“Selling at up to 1 million copies per month, it [The Purpose-Driven Life] has been the best-selling new book in the world since 2003.” —Christianity Today, October 200517
“… offers are regularly coming in from government, the business world, and even Hollywood, seeking Warren’s help in understanding The Purpose Driven Life.” —Florida Baptist Witness, 5/6/0418
“He [Rick Warren] also leads the Purpose Driven Network of churches, a global coalition of congregations in 162 countries. More than 400,000 ministers and priests have been trained worldwide, and almost 157,000 church leaders subscribe to the Ministry Toolbox, his weekly newsletter.” —RickWarren.com19
“In the 1990s I trained about a quarter of a million pastors. It’s now gone, as I said, to over 400,000 … and we’re talking about all kinds of different groups, including priests in the Catholic church, and including rabbis.” —Rick Warren20
“As a global strategist, Dr. Warren advises leaders in the public, private, and faith sectors on leadership development, poverty, health, education, and faith in culture. He has been invited to speak at the United Nations, the World Economic Forum in Davos, the African Union, the Council on Foreign Relations, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, TIME’s Global Health Summit, and numerous congresses around the world. TIME magazine named him one of ‘15 World Leaders Who Mattered Most in 2004’ and in 2005 one of the ‘100 Most Influential People in the World.’ Also, in 2005 U.S. News & World Report named him one of ‘America’s 25 Best Leaders.’
“As a theologian, Dr. Warren has lectured at Oxford, Cambridge, the University of Judaism, the Evangelical Theological Society, and numerous seminaries and universities.” —RickWarren.com21
“One of the things you guys need to be aware of is the exploding purpose-driven movement on universities. And it’s under the ground right now. But it is really starting to explode in universities. And actually Starbucks, near universities, are actually doing these Purpose Driven Life reading groups. And they actually – Starbucks asked me to write a little thing that they’re gonna put on the back of their cups. It’s a quote from Purpose Driven Life. It’s gonna go on the back of Starbucks cups in April because so many of these Purpose Driven Life reading groups are using Starbucks places. And as a result I’ve accepted invitations. So this year I spoke at Harvard. I spoke at Oxford. I spoke at Cambridge. I spoke at the University of Judaism. I’ve got Yale coming up. And it’s just amazing what’s happened. It’s a story you guys ought to be aware of.” —Rick Warren22
“All of a sudden I’m going up on Capitol Hill and talking to guys. Producers in Hollywood are asking me to come up and discuss the book with eight or nine major studio producers.” —Rick Warren23
“And then I flew to Philadelphia where this last weekend I was the chaplain for Live 8. Try being a chaplain for rock stars; that’s a lot of fun. That’s a lot of fun.” —Rick Warren24
“During his 12-day tour [‘marking the two-year anniversary of the book’s release’], Warren will speak to a variety of East Coast audiences in 16 events about what he describes as ‘the renewal of purpose happening in America -- the grassroots spiritual awakening that has been reported in dozens of national newspapers.’…
“Warren plans to use the tour to speak to different groups of what he calls ‘cultural influencers,’ including the media and entertainment industry in New York City, military and government leaders in Washington, D.C., and business leaders, philanthropists, psychologists, religious leaders and university students in other locations -- and the national convention for Mothers of Preschoolers in Nashville, Tenn., where three children’s Purpose Driven books will make their debut.…
“Stops on the tour include:
“Sept 17 -- Washington, D.C., including an event at the Pentagon.
“Sept 19 -- West Point, N.Y. at the U.S. Military Academy.” —Baptist Press Staff25
“That week [April 11, 2005], he [Rick Warren] joined Chuck Colson, founder of the world’s largest prison ministry, in signing an historic partnership between Prison Fellowship and Purpose Driven to place 40 Days of Purpose and Celebrate Recovery into every prison in the world.” —PD Staff26
“But then this last year it [40 Days of Purpose] hopped over and all of a sudden corporations started doing it, voluntarily. Coke corporation, Disney did it, Wal-Mart did it, Ford did it. All of the professional basketball and baseball teams.” —Rick Warren27
“Another trend that I see is this 40 days phenomenon – this 40 Days of Purpose, which of course I’m right in the middle of.… it spread to corporations … and they started doing 40 Days of Purpose. And then it spread to all the sports teams. I spoke at the NBA All-Stars this year because all of the teams were doing 40 Days of Purpose. LPGA, NASCAR, most of the baseball teams – when the Red Sox were winning the World Series, they were going through 40 Days of Purpose during the Series.… The Purpose Driven Life is not just the best-selling book in American history; it’s the best-selling book in about a dozen languages. It’s in about 30 languages right now and that’s why I was at this meeting last night with the Spanish [‘in Miami speaking to this huge international convention of all of the Spanish-language publishers and they gave me the city key to Miami’].
“The next phase that you’re going to see is we’re actually doing citywide 40 Days of Purposes.” —Rick Warren28
“Warren talks of turning Rwanda into ‘the first purpose-driven nation.’…
“Warren says he was ‘looking for a small country where we could actually work on a national model,’ and Kagame [president of Rwanda], impressed by The Purpose-Driven Life, volunteered Rwanda in March. In July Warren and 48 other American Evangelicals, who have backgrounds in areas like health, education, micro-enterprises and justice, held intensive planning meetings with Rwandan Cabinet ministers, governors, clergy and entrepreneurs. One dinner was attended by a third of the Rwandan Parliament.” —Time, 8/22/0529
“… Rick Warren left Rwanda on the presidential jet to attend a meeting of African leaders in Senegal, then he went on to other meetings in Europe.” —Christianity Today, October 200530
“I’ve had two state dinners in China in Tienanmen Square and People’s Hall with their government, with the bureaucrats there, with the Cabinet members. I’ve actually had them in our home and had them in our church, and they’ve given me pretty much carte blanche in China for some reason. I don’t know why they trust me …” —Rick Warren31
“My wife recently met with President Arroyo of the Philippines, and she said, ‘We want to be the first purpose-driven nation.’ She said, ‘We have taken this book [The Purpose Driven Life] as a book for values and ethics, and we are requiring government leaders to read it. And they’re teaching it in public schools.’
“I sat at a table the other day with the Minister of Commerce from Paraguay, and he didn’t speak English. And I was trying to explain to his wife what I did, and I handed her my card, and she spoke English. When she finally translated the term ‘purpose-driven’ to her husband, he said, ‘Oh, tell him I’m on day 38.’ And he said, ‘The President and I are going through this.’ And I’ve heard this story a thousand times over around the world.” —Rick Warren32
“Last night I signed a book for Viktor Yuschenko, who asked for a copy of The Purpose Driven Life. A few months ago, I signed a Purpose Driven Life for Fidel Castro, who asked for one.…
“I’ve probably signed books for, oh, probably 30, 40 different governmental presidents, you know, and I didn’t ask them. They just asked me. So I’m interested in influencing influencers, but I’m not a politician.” —Rick Warren33
[Regarding the Council on Foreign Relation’s Influential Forum] “Each year, the Council organizes more than 200 events for members in New York and Washington, including … conversations with authors of important new books …” —Council on Foreign Relations brochure34
“September 12, 2005
A Conversation with Rick Warren
Author, The Purpose-Driven Life, best-selling hardback in U.S. history. Called ‘America’s New People’s Pastor’ by Time Magazine”
—Council on Foreign Relations, An Influential Forum35
“I spoke this morning with a representative from the organization that sponsored the Interfaith Prayer Breakfast [in conjunction with the United Nations’ 60th Anniversary World Summit 2005], the Christian Embassy. According to him, there were around 200 ‘high level’ delegates, including four presidents of foreign countries attending the event where Rick Warren spoke on Tuesday morning (13th) [September 2005].” —Ingrid Schlueter (producer and co-host of VCY America’s Crosstalk Radio Talk Show)36
“The influence of the book keeps amazing me everyday as I get requests for autographed copies. I have signed books for 1) All the Supreme Court Justices 2) One for Fidel Castro (!) 3) One for the President of Peru …, and I even got a note saying that everyone on Air Force One was reading the book recently.
“But all this is not about us. God’s intention is much bigger than the book. It’s all about the global glory of God! We intend to leverage the attention that the Purpose Driven Life has garnered to bring about a whole new way of thinking and acting in the church about our responsibility in the world.” —Rick Warren (Exclamation point in the original)37
“America’s new superstar pastor wants to rebrand evangelical Christianity. He’s got the management genius to do it. Here’s where he’s leading his troops.…
“In part by campaigning for the job, Warren … has become secular America’s favorite evangelical Christian. This year he has spoken at Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, the Aspen Ideas Festival, the Young Presidents Organization, a Pew Foundation forum for religion writers, and the University of Judaism. (The rabbis wanted to get his advice on how to increase their market share.) He has gone before the Council on Foreign Relations to pitch his newest idea: a breathtakingly ambitious project to mobilize American Christians to fight poverty, illiteracy, and AIDS in Africa.
“A protégé of management thinker Peter Drucker, Warren is also cultivating corporate executives. He calls himself Rupert Murdoch’s pastor, he has entertained Jack Welch at his home, and he will meet Bill Gates at a Time magazine conference on global health, where they are both scheduled to speak. He also has forged ties with celebrity activists like Bono, who arranged to make him official pastor of the Live 8 concert last summer in Philadelphia. (‘The only thing I remember about that concert is Linkin Park and a sweet smell in the air,’ Warren joked to his congregation.) If a middle-aged Baptist minister can be said to possess that elusive quality called buzz, Rick Warren has it right now.” —FORTUNE Magazine, 10/05 (All parentheses in the original; emphasis added)38
“Business experts also speak in reverent tones about one of the greatest branding leaders in a generation: Rick Warren of Saddleback Church.
“Rich Karlgaard, publisher of Forbes magazine, in 2004 declared Warren’s ‘The Purpose-Driven Church’ the best book on entrepreneurship, business and investment he’d seen in years.
“Warren followed that with his mega-best-seller ‘The Purpose-Driven Life.’ His purpose-driven success has spawned a whole purpose-driven department at Saddleback … and Warren’s friends tease him publicly about what might be coming next: purpose-driven toothpaste?
“Warren has his sights set much higher: making Africa the first purpose-driven continent.” —The Orange County Register, 12/9/0539
“‘I’ve got a target,’ he [Rick Warren] says. ‘It’s called the globe: The whole Gospel for the whole world.’” —USA TODAY, 7/21/03 (Emphasis added)40
“He’s been often named ‘America’s most influential spiritual leader’ and ‘America’s Pastor.’” —RickWarren.com41
“Bob Buford said just a few moments ago he [Rick Warren] is also perhaps the pivotal figure in American Christianity today.” —David Gergen42
“Call it open-source evangelism. ‘We’re kind of the Linux of Christianity,’ Warren says.” —FORTUNE Magazine, 10/0543
The Lord Jesus Christ made it clear that His narrow way is hated by the world. Yet Rick Warren’s “purposes of God” are acceptable, and even “important,” to other religions (faiths), Communists, the Pentagon, the U.S. Supreme Court, the Council on Foreign Relations, the United Nations, and the truth-hating world. Clearly, his purpose-driven message is too watered down to have enough of the Lord God’s truth and Gospel to be recognized by the world. This does not bring “global glory” to God.
“I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” (John 17:14)
“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.” (John 15:18-21)
“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” (Matthew 24:9)
“And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Mark 13:13)
On the other hand, tickle itching ears with man-centered teachings, and the world will love you.
“Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.” (Luke 6:26)
In the name of purpose, the intention “to bring about a whole new way of thinking and acting in the church about our responsibility in the world” has been largely accomplished. Change is neutralizing today’s Christianity. It used to be obvious that the message of Jesus Christ runs contrary to the world.
“As soon as you try to turn the flock everybody says you’re against everything. Of course, I’m against the devil, I’m against sin, I’m against worldliness, I’m against the flesh and I’m against Christianity that pretends to be Christianity and isn’t. I’m against spiritual ignorance that tries to harmonize Christianity with the world. It’s absolutely futile to try to do it.
“There was a day when our religious leaders were made fun of and laughed at and opposed, even put in jail and driven out of town, but nowadays they are riding on the shoulders of the mobs and the multitudes because they are trying to make Christianity as much like the world as possible in order to win the world.… Don’t we know that the message of Jesus Christ runs contrary to man and not in favor of man?” —A.W. Tozer44
“Ministering to Hurting People [Is] More Important
than Maintaining Purity”
Rick Warren believes that local churches that do not change according to his New Reformation are “dying.” And not only are they “dying,” but he says they are dying on the vine:
“This reformation is all about how we act and operate in the world. It involves the key components of purpose, decentralization, lay mobilization, use of technology, and continuous learning. Churches that change are thriving and growing more effective. Churches that refuse to change will miss the reformation, and are dying.” —Rick Warren (Emphasis added)45
“We’ve all heard speakers claim, ‘If you’ll just pray more, preach the word, and be dedicated, then your church will grow.’ Well, that’s just not true. I can show you thousands of churches where pastors are doctrinally sound; they love the Lord; they’re committed and spirit-filled and yet their churches are dying on the vine.” —Rick Warren (Emphasis added)46
This statement completely disregards what Scripture says about “the vine.” The Lord Jesus Christ said:
“I am the true vine … Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:1, 4-5)
It is not the churches “on the vine” that need to be warned. Not every church that thinks it’s alive actually is:
“And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write … I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.” (Revelation 3:1-3)
And it is not the churches that are refusing to change that need to be warned.
“My son, fear thou the Lord and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change: for their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the ruin of them both?” (Proverbs 24:21-22)
These churches that are “thriving” in the Purpose-Driven Paradigm of change toward unity and diversity are filled with “pagans,” etcetera. Nevertheless, they are deemed “healthy” as long as they are “purpose driven”:
“Every church is driven by something … But to be healthy, it must become purpose driven.…
“No church is perfect but you can be healthy without being perfect.” —Rick Warren47
“Health doesn’t mean perfection.… There will never be a perfect church this side of heaven, because every church is filled with pagans, carnal Christians, and immature believers.
“I’ve read books that emphasize, ‘You’ve got to reinforce the purity of the church.’ But Jesus said, ‘Let the tares and the wheat grow together, and one day I’ll sort them out.’
“We’re not in the sorting business. We’re in the harvesting business.…
“Jesus demonstrated that ministering to hurting people was more important than maintaining purity. When you fish with a big net, you catch all kinds of fish.” —Rick Warren48
So in other words, don’t be concerned with destructive, unscriptural (and pagan!) doctrinal convictions and sinful behaviors. In the new way of thinking, purpose-driven ministry is more important than purity, obedience, or what a person believes. This clearly says that temporal issues are more important than spiritual ones. This is all upside down to God’s Holy Scriptures. Besides, nowhere in all of God’s Holy Scriptures does God even imply that unholiness is healthy!
“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 Corinthians 7:1)
Given all that we’ve seen so far, clearly, being purpose-driven in and of itself doesn’t guarantee “health.” When purity isn’t part of one’s purpose, conforming to the world is to be expected.
The parable of the tares of the field that Rick Warren refers to here in his justification of disregarding impurity has nothing to do with “maintaining purity” in the churches. Nor is this parable about ministering to “hurting people.” The Lord Jesus Christ Himself explains this parable, so to change the interpretation is to change the Lord’s words. (See Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 for the whole parable and explanation given by Him.)
“The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:38-42)
The field where the tares are being sown is the world, not the church. Of course we’re not supposed to sort the tares from the world. That is God’s task at His judgment, which in this parable is the harvest. The tares in this parable are not “hurting people” who need to be gathered into the churches, ministered to, and harvested for salvation. These are the people who refuse to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and will be harvested for God’s judgment of fire. When this harvest comes, it will be too late for salvation.
It is scriptural malpractice to use this parable as an excuse for avoiding true scriptural discipline, exhortation, admonishment, correction, reproof, separation, and so forth, which are to elicit holiness and to help keep the churches and the Body of Christ obedient to the faith. Purpose-driven defenders cry foul repeatedly when they believe the critics of their Paradigm have taken Rick Warren’s statements out of context. Yet it is amazing that they are largely silent, therefore don’t appear to be bothered, when their Paradigm consistently takes God’s Word out of context. Again, priorities are just a tad backward here!
The Word of God even declares the end result of twisting Scripture or going along with it:
“As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:16-18)
The only sure foundation is the truth, which is Christ Jesus Himself and the rightly divided Word of God. People tend to be lulled into a false sense of security when they automatically assume that books which quote Scripture are scriptural. Not seeing any need to be a Berean leads to a failure to notice when “Christian” books or other teachings are contrary to the truth, or when any truth they give is also negated, contradicted, twisted, and synthesized into error elsewhere.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker …” (2 Timothy 2:15-17)
Return to Chapter 10 Proceed to Chapter 12
1. “Christians No Different from the World” by Pastor Chuck Baldwin, NewsWithViews.com, June 2, 2005, http://www.newswithviews.com/baldwin/baldwin239.htm.
2. “A Strange Faith -- Are Church-Going Kids Christian?” by Ed Vitagliano, news editor of AFA Journal, November/December 2005 issue, reprinted in AgapePress, November 15, 2005, http://headlines.agapepress.org/archive/11/152005a.asp.
3. Rick Warren, speaker at the Baptist World Centenary Congress -- “Cleansing Water,” July 30, 2005, transcribed from Congress Internet Video Streaming, http://www.bwacongress2005.org.uk/feature.asp?id=832#; (can also be ordered at http://www.bwanet.org/Congress/).
4. “Survey Reveals The Books and Authors That Have Most Influenced Pastors,” The Barna Update, May 30, 2005, http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=189.
5. As quoted in “POWER PASTOR: Will Success Spoil Rick Warren?” by Marc Gunther, FORTUNE Magazine, October 2005, http://www.fortune.com/fortune/print/0,15935,1118645,00.html; (now at http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2005/10/31/8359189/index.htm).
6. Sidebar advertisement, “Holiday Sermon Series CD,” in “Three things to remember this Christmas” by Rick Warren, Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox™, Issue #238, 12/21/2005, http://www.pastors.com/RWMT/?id=238&artid=7511&expand=1; and Sidebar advertisement, “Holiday Sermon Series CD,” in “Sing along with Handel” by John Fischer, Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox™, Issue #236, 12/7/2005, http://www.pastors.com/rwmt/?artid=8946&id=236.
7. On the Links, “Holiday sermons,” Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox™, Issue #234, 11/23/2005, http://www.pastors.com/RWMT/?ID=234.
8. Sidebar advertisement, “Holiday Sermon Series CD,” in “Three things to remember this Christmas” by Rick Warren, http://www.pastors.com/RWMT/?id=238&artid=7511&expand=1.
9. Holiday Message Transcript Collection CD, http://www.pastors.com/pcom/sermons/holidaysp.asp.
10. “Holiday Sermons and More!”, an e-mail Pastors.com sent on December 12, 2005 to its subscribers.
11. About Rick Warren, RickWarren.com, http://www.rickwarren.com/about.html.
15. As quoted in Discussion “Myths of the Modern Mega-Church,” May 23, 2005, the Pew Forum’s biannual Faith Angle conference on religion, politics and public life, Event Transcript, http://pewforum.org/events/index.php?EventID=80.
16. “‘We’re Made for More Than Success,’” an interview of Rick Warren by Jennifer Barrett, Newsweek, December 15, 2005, MSNBC.com, http://msnbc.msn.com/id/10495711/site/newsweek/.
17. “Purpose Driven in Rwanda” by Timothy C. Morgan, posted 9/23/05, Christianity Today, October 2005, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/010/17.32.html.
18. “Legislators welcome Rick Warren in session’s final week” by James A. Smith Sr., Executive Editor, Florida Baptist Witness, May 6, 2004, http://www.floridabaptistwitness.com/2523.article.
19. About Rick Warren, RickWarren.com, http://www.rickwarren.com/about.html.
20. Rick Warren, Keynote Address, 2005 RNA Annual Conference in Miami, Friday, September 30, 2005, Religion Newswriters Association, http://www.rna.org/programschedule.php. Transcribed from the audio available in the RNA conference archives at http://www.rna.org/meetingdates.php; below Friday, Sept. 29 [sic] -- “The Rev. Rick Warren.” The audio is also available at Lighthouse Trails Research Project, Rick Warren Transcripts, Audio and Video Clips, Audio Sessions, #6 -- “RW at the Religious Newswriters Association” -- at http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/warrenclips.htm.
21. About Rick Warren, RickWarren.com, http://www.rickwarren.com/about.html.
22. Rick Warren, 2005 RNA Annual Conference in Miami, Friday, September 30, 2005. Transcribed from the audio available at http://www.rna.org/meetingdates.php; below Friday, Sept. 29 [sic] -- “Questions and answers.”
23. As quoted in “Rick Warren’s Second Reformation,” part two of this “exclusive” two-part interview with Rick Warren, by David Kuo, Beliefnet, http://www.beliefnet.com/story/177/story_17718.html.
24. Aspen Ideas Festival, The Aspen Institute, July 6, 2005, “Discussion: Religion and Leadership,” with David Gergen and Rick Warren, http://www.aspeninstitute.org/site/c.huLWJeMRKpH/b.901097/k.C0C7/Agenda.htm. Transcribed from the audio available at Lighthouse Trails Research Project, Coming From the Lighthouse Newsletter, November 2005 -- “Aspen Festival of Ideas Audio (Large File)” -- at http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/newsletternovember05.htm.
25. “Rick Warren tour to mark 2-year point for ‘Purpose-Driven Life’” by BP Staff, https://pastors.com/article.asp?ArtID=7292.
26. “Purpose Driven movement continues to gain momentum” by PD Staff, http://www.pastors.com/article.asp?ArtID=8257.
27. Aspen Ideas Festival, The Aspen Institute, July 6, 2005, “Discussion: Religion and Leadership,” with David Gergen and Rick Warren. Transcribed from the audio available at http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/newsletternovember05.htm.
28. As quoted in Discussion “Myths of the Modern Mega-Church,” May 23, 2005, http://pewforum.org/events/index.php?EventID=80.
29. “Warren of Rwanda” by David Van Biema, Time Online Edition, August 22, 2005 (posted 8/15/05), http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1093746,00.html.
30. “Purpose Driven in Rwanda” by Timothy C. Morgan, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/010/17.32.html.
31. As quoted in Discussion “Myths of the Modern Mega-Church,” May 23, 2005, http://pewforum.org/events/index.php?EventID=80.
32. Rick Warren’s public address, “Election 2004: a New Spiritual Awakening,” March 9, 2005, at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, sponsored by the Kennedy School’s Saguaro Seminar, http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/press/press%20releases/2005/warren_030705.htm. Transcribed from the audio available at The Saguaro Seminar: Civic Engagement in America, at http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/saguaro/; below “In The News” -- “Kennedy School Forum in March 2005.”
33. As quoted in Discussion “Myths of the Modern Mega-Church,” May 23, 2005, http://pewforum.org/events/index.php?EventID=80.
34. “Influential Forum,” Council on Foreign Relations brochure, http://www.cfr.org/content/publications/attachments/Council_brochure.pdf, p. 4.
35. Council on Foreign Relations, An Influential Forum, Past Meetings, http://www.cfr.org/about/what_we_do/influential_forum.html?year=2005. (Note: The specific page with Rick Warren’s meeting of September 12, 2005 keeps changing as pages of more recent meetings keep getting added before it; as of today it is page 11 on this webpage.)
36. “*Update* Rick Warren at the United Nations” by Ingrid Schlueter, Slice of Laodicea, September 15, 2005, http://www.sliceoflaodicea.com/archives/2005/09/update_rick_war.php.
37. “Peace Plan” by Rick Warren, http://www.saddlebackfamily.com/home/todaystory.asp?id=6213.
38. “POWER PASTOR: Will Success Spoil Rick Warren?” by Marc Gunther, http://www.fortune.com/fortune/print/0,15935,1118645,00.html; (now at http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2005/10/31/8359189/index.htm).
39. “‘God branding’ in films gains religious acceptance” by Ann Pepper, The Orange County Register, December 9, 2005, http://www.ocregister.com/ocregister/news/atoz/article_882265.php.
40. “This evangelist has a ‘Purpose’” by Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY, July 21, 2003, http://www.usatoday.com/life/2003-07-21-rick-warren_x.htm.
41. About Rick Warren, RickWarren.com, http://www.rickwarren.com/about.html.
42. Aspen Ideas Festival, The Aspen Institute, July 6, 2005, “Discussion: Religion and Leadership,” with David Gergen and Rick Warren. Transcribed from the audio available at http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/newsletternovember05.htm.
43. “POWER PASTOR: Will Success Spoil Rick Warren?” by Marc Gunther, http://www.fortune.com/fortune/print/0,15935,1118645,00.html; (now at http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2005/10/31/8359189/index.htm).
44. Tozer on Worship and Entertainment, A.W. Tozer, Selected Excerpts Compiled by James L. Snyder, pp. 179-180.
45. As quoted in Saddleback Sayings, Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox™, Issue #89, 2/12/2003, http://www.pastors.com/RWMT/?ID=89.
46. As quoted in “Rick Warren Interview,” Pastors.com, http://www.pastors.com/portal/news/August/RickInterview.asp.
47. As quoted in ibid.
48. As quoted in “Rick Warren: purpose-driven balance means more than technique” by Staff, An interview with Rick Warren, Pastors.com, https://pastors.com/article.asp?ArtID=4212.
Copyright © 2006 Tamara Hartzell. All rights reserved.