Purpose #2: You Were Formed for God’s Family
“The Local Church Is the Body of Christ”
There definitely is a global transformation taking place. Rick Warren’s extremely popular Purpose-Driven Paradigm is greatly facilitating the transformation of Christianity into Churchianity; his comments about Jesus Christ notwithstanding. Christ is being replaced with community.
Because true Christianity follows Christ, Jesus Christ is the foundation of what is done and taught. On the other hand, Churchianity is about “doing church,” so the church is the focus of everything that is done and taught. Following the same path as Roman Catholicism, today’s Churchianity is increasingly propagating the false gospel that complete salvation is only found in and through belonging to a church.
“A church family identifies you as a genuine believer. I can’t claim to be following Christ if I’m not committed to any specific group of disciples.” (PDL; p. 133; emphasis added)
Think carefully about this. In other words, we can only be genuine believers who follow Christ if we commit to a local church! On the contrary, the true and unchanged Gospel of Christ clearly declares that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ—not faith + commitment to a local church—is the means by which we become followers of Christ. So by continuing in His Word we are truly His disciples.
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.” (John 8:31)
Nevertheless, Churchianity prefers defining the Body of Christ as the local church, rather than as individual believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Acts of Mercy was founded on four spiritual pillars:…
“The local church is the Body of Christ, and is the best instrument to accomplish Christ’s ministry in the world.” —Rick and Kay Warren, Founders of Acts of Mercy1
Again, think carefully about this. If this “spiritual pillar” was true, then the Body of Christ would only exist in local congregations, and anyone not part of a local church would only be deceiving themselves into thinking they are genuine believers following Christ. In other words, this pillar supports Rick Warren’s previous unscriptural declaration in The Purpose-Driven Life.
But this pillar goes even further because unbelievers easily slip into membership of local churches, and according to Rick Warren “every church is filled with pagans.”2 So if “the local church is the Body of Christ,” then the Body of Christ would be filled with “pagans”!
Contrary to what is being disseminated, individual churches are not the Body of Christ—the Lord Jesus Christ’s true Church. This is especially so as a result of this worldly Purpose-Driven Paradigm, which is working very hard to help unbelievers (“the unchurched”) feel comfortable in its churches so they will keep coming.
The true Body of Christ consists only of each and every individual person, scattered all over the world, who is a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and truly born again by God’s definition found in God’s Word. The Body of Christ does not consist of a group of people who decided to meet together in the same local church building and commit to a relationship with each other, despite whether there is any adherence to God’s truth.
“The importance of helping members develop friendships within your church cannot be overemphasized. Relationships are the glue that holds a church together.” —Rick Warren3
“God wants his family to be known for its love more than anything else. Jesus said our love for each other—not our doctrinal beliefs—is our greatest witness to the world.…
“Relationships must have priority in your life above everything else.” (PDL; p. 124)
Churches that are “filled with pagans” are unable to rely on the Holy Spirit to keep them together since unbelievers and pagans cannot know or receive Him. So like communities and churches in other religions (faiths), such as Mormonism, they must rely on relationships within these churches to keep them together. Incidentally, Mormonism developed as it similarly pedestaled and followed its own founder and leader Joseph Smith. Paul Proctor, Christian columnist for NewswithViews.com, perceptively draws the comparison:
“The Latter Day Saints have been selling themselves like this for years - hiding their heresy behind a friendly facade of family, familiarity, amusement and marketing; like craftily using The Bible and its touching stories on television to promote The Book of Mormon as if the two go hand in hand. No wonder their churches are growing like weeds!
“Baptists call them a cult; yet, when The Purpose Driven Life is presented as a companion to the Bible by a Southern Baptist pastor and his publishing company, it is proclaimed a miracle of God because of its wondrous bounty of tasty tares! And, I have no doubt that just as many newly converted Mormons, as Purposites would be ready and willing to tell you how much their lives have been dramatically changed and transformed by the writings of Joseph Smith, as those who credit Rick Warren for his teachings.”4
It’s all relative in the realm of relationships, experiences, and pragmatism.
Twisting God’s Word to implement “a human relationship paradigm” is a denial of what God repeatedly and clearly said throughout His Holy Scriptures. Dean Gotcher, founder and director of the Institution for Authority Research, describes this process well:
“The leadership of the church is shifting its paradigm from didactic to dialectic in addressing the problems found in its own fellowship and in the world. Tools utilized by Satan in his deception of Eve are being utilized by the Church Growth agenda today. What makes this process so lethal is its utilization of scriptures to cover its agenda. It no longer focuses upon translation which is built upon the word ‘Is’, it has moved through interpretation which is built upon the phrase ‘I feel,’ to where it is now extrapolation (picking and choosing and then redefining) from the word of God those scriptures which justify its desired outcome, that being the rebuilding of the church on a human relationship paradigm.” (Bold added)5
God never separates love from the truth, which includes His doctrine, and never elevates relationships above His Word. On the contrary, the Lord God has magnified His truth above even His own name:
“I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.” (Psalm 138:2)
With relationships (community) given top priority, as is evidenced throughout the Purpose-Driven Paradigm, the broad way’s relativism and pragmatism inevitably become the prevailing “new way of thinking and acting.” But on the narrow way, relationships never supercede the truth, which is a sword of division. In actuality, exalting human relationships “above everything else” can prevent a person from being a true disciple or follower of Christ:
“Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:51-53)
“But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:33-37)
“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)
There is no true unity apart from the truth and belief in it. The Lord Jesus Christ even acknowledged this in His prayer in John 17 about believers being one. This prayer is one which many leaders in Christianity reference while commonly and conveniently leaving out the key aspects of His prayer regarding belief and truth, such as:
“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.… Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one …” (John 17:17, 20-21)
This truth is reiterated in the following Scripture:
“But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-15)
Jesus Christ’s true Church is bound together in godly unity for all eternity by the Holy Spirit, through a common belief in the truth, not by human efforts of focusing on common ground and striving toward “right relations.” Only the individuals who are true believers within that local church building are part of the true Church, the true Body of Christ. To refer to local churches, that consist increasingly of unbelievers (which includes nominal “Christians”), as the body with which we must remain connected is to not understand what the Body of Christ truly is.
Through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, God becomes our Father and adopts us into His family as His children (e.g., see John 1:12; Galatians 3:26, 4:4-6; and Ephesians 1:3-7). We never have to worry about being “orphans” because our Father promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us (e.g., see Hebrews 13:5), and His family is eternal.
Nevertheless, in The Purpose Driven Church in a chapter on membership (p. 314)—as well as in his Ministry Toolbox Issue for September 21, 2005 titled, “Turning attendees into a part of the family”6—Rick Warren declares:
“A Christian without a church family is an orphan.”
But the message hasn’t changed, or so they keep telling us.
Is it Through the Blood of Our Redeemer Jesus Christ or
the Lifeblood of a Local Church That We Have Spiritual Life?
In Churchianity, commitment to a local church is imperative.
“The Bible says a Christian without a church home is like an organ without a body, a sheep without a flock, or a child without a family. It is an unnatural state. The Bible says, ‘You belong in God’s household with every other Christian.’ [endnote: Ephesians 2:19b (LB)]” (PDL; p. 132; bold added)
Actually, Rick Warren’s first instance of “the Bible says” has no endnote because this is not what God’s Word says! Going ahead and claiming “the Bible says” when it does not say so is scriptural malpractice. His second instance of “the Bible says” is from one of the versions that has changed God’s Word.
“For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” (Ephesians 2:18-19)
Because of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit indwells us and makes us a part of the household of God, the true Body of Christ, which is not the local church. Fellowship with other believers, which is important, does not require a local church for it to take place. Yes, fellowship in a local church is ideal, when there is one available that isn’t trading in the Word of God for popular false doctrines sweeping Christianity today. But man-centered, purpose-driven Churchianity takes committing to a local church to a whole new level in its replacement of Christ with community.
“You must be connected to a church fellowship to survive spiritually.” —Rick Warren’s 40 Days of Community Workbook (Emphasis added)7
“Any organ that is detached from the body will not only miss what it was created to be, it will also shrivel and die quickly. The same is true for Christians that are uncommitted to any specific congregation.” —Rick Warren (Bold added)8
“If an organ is somehow severed from its body, it will shrivel and die. It cannot exist on its own, and neither can you. Disconnected and cut off from the lifeblood of a local body, your spiritual life will wither and eventually cease to exist. [endnote: Ephesians 4:16 (no version listed)]” (PDL; p. 131; emphasis added)
The local churches are not the source of “lifeblood” that gives life to our spirit! Ephesians 4:16 says absolutely nothing of these outlandish claims. If our spiritual life ceased to exist because we didn’t attend a local church, then the local church would be God’s redeeming agent in salvation.
Contrarily, true spiritual life is the eternal life we are given when our spirit is born again. True spiritual life is the life that Jesus Christ lives in us through His indwelling Holy Spirit, when we receive God’s free gift of salvation by believing the Gospel of Christ. This true spiritual life is sustained by the Lord God, not by the local church! And if this life ever ceased to exist, that person would have no salvation. It is through the blood of our Redeemer Jesus Christ, not the lifeblood of a local church, that we have spiritual life and are delivered from death. But “the message hasn’t changed”!
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.… And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” (Romans 8:2-4, 10)
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Galatians 2:20-21)
In addition, rather than the pure and sinless life and blood of Jesus Christ, look at the “lifeblood” that Rick Warren would have us depend on for our spiritual life:
“There will never be a perfect church this side of heaven, because every church is filled with pagans, carnal Christians, and immature believers.” —Rick Warren (Emphasis added)9
“Can you see God’s wisdom in creating the church, a family full of mentors and models for our benefit? This is why being connected to a small group is so crucial to spiritual growth. It’s a regular opportunity to learn from each other.” —Rick Warren’s 40 Days of Community Workbook (Emphasis added)10
Thank God that our spiritual life and growth do not depend on the local church, as Rick Warren claims, but on our faith in the pure and holy, Almighty Lord God and His eternal truth. He is the One Who sustains us.
“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” (1 Peter 2:2-3)
But the gross Scripture twisting and replacing God with community continues:
“For in him we live, and move, and have our being …” (Acts 17:28)
“God challenges us to create a community where we love like our lives depend upon it (1 Peter 1:22, Msg), and where we can each ‘live and move and have our being’ (Acts 17:28, NIV).” —Rick Warren’s 40 Days of Community Workbook (Parentheses in the original; emphasis added)11
Rick Warren is engaging in scriptural malpractice to support his unscriptural Shepherding-Discipleship beliefs.
“A related benefit of a local church is that it also provides the spiritual protection of godly leaders. God gives shepherd leaders the responsibility to guard, protect, defend, and care for the spiritual welfare of his flock.…
“Satan loves detached believers, unplugged from the life of the Body, isolated from God’s family, and unaccountable to spiritual leaders, because he knows they are defenseless and powerless against his tactics.” (PDL; pp. 135-136)
According to God’s Word, the armor of God is given to us to stand against Satan and defend against “all the fiery darts of the wicked” (see Ephesians 6:11-17). Furthermore, the armor of God only includes truth, righteousness, the Gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God. Nowhere is the armor of God said to include “the life of the Body” or the “spiritual protection” of “shepherd leaders.” This is because God is about Christianity, not Churchianity.
On the other hand, Shepherding-Discipleship advocates, who very much want control over Christians, would love to have us believe that if we don’t attend a local church we are not genuinely “following Christ.” They would love to have us believe that apart from local churches we “are defenseless and powerless” and won’t “survive spiritually.” In order for them to gain control over the masses, the masses need to be coerced or intimidated into replacing Christianity with Churchianity. Incidentally, immediately following the previous quote regarding being “unplugged” is the heading, “It’s All in the Church.”
Return to Chapter 4 Proceed to Chapter 6
1. Acts of Mercy, http://www.acts-of-mercy.com/.
2. As quoted in “Rick Warren: purpose-driven balance means more than technique” by Staff, An interview with Rick Warren, https://pastors.com/article.asp?ArtID=4212.
3. “Rick Warren: relationships hold your church together” by Rick Warren, http://www.pastors.com/article.asp?ArtID=3917.
4. “Will Your Church Be Closed for Christmas?” by Paul Proctor, NewsWithViews.com, November 27, 2005, http://newswithviews.com/PaulProctor/proctor83.htm. (Note: Although this quote has since been removed from this article, it has been included here with permission of the author. The article is still posted in full at Moriel Ministries, http://www.moriel.org/articles/notice_board/will_your_church_be_closed_for_christmas.htm.)
5. “Transforming the Church Through the Dialectic” by Dean Gotcher, Discernment Newsletter, March/April 2003, http://www.discernment-ministries.org/NLmarchapril_2003.htm.
6. “Turning attendees into a part of the family” by Rick Warren, Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox™, Issue #225, 9/21/2005, http://www.pastors.com/RWMT/?id=225&artid=4137&expand=1.
7. Rick Warren, General Editor, Better Together: What on earth are we here for?, 40 Days of Community Workbook, (Lake Forest, CA: Purpose Driven Publishing, 2004), p. 69.
8. Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church: Growth Without Compromising Your Message & Mission, p. 310.
9. As quoted in “Rick Warren: purpose-driven balance means more than technique” by Staff, https://pastors.com/article.asp?ArtID=4212.
10. Rick Warren, General Editor, Better Together, 40 Days of Community Workbook, p. 97.
11. Ibid., p. 80.
Copyright © 2006 Tamara Hartzell. All rights reserved.