Saturday, April 21, 2012

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The Ministry Of Rebuke: Is It Self Righteousness, Arrogance, Or True Christian Love?

My older brother has often asked me to whom I was addressing a particular topic when I was writing. I never pondered about the importance as to whom. More often than not, my writings have resulted as a result of questioning and wanting to gain a deeper understanding of something for myself. The search for that understanding may have been initially inspired by something I heard or read. Sometimes it may have been a conversation or discussion that may have taken place with someone which then led me to seek further insight. At other times, the topic could have arisen out of a sincere concern for loved ones or the way of the world in general. In reflection, I suppose it could be said that what I write about may not really be pointed toward any one person or group, but rather as a journey of learning more about God, who He is, and what it means to have a closer walk with Him. I do share my writings with others, some of whom may be on a path of their own journey in life, either with God or away from Him. In doing so, I know that I am placing myself in a situation that is going to result in agreement with some, but in disagreement, and even scoffing, from others. Ultimately, I pray that what I write and share may result in inspiring others to start, or continue, their own journey of seeking knowledge of and from the one true and living God.

In addition, I must admit that my nature is to try to be a ‘fixer’. I realize that my own maturity level and growth to be more Christ like is glaringly insufficient. And yet, I praise the Lord for having brought me thus far and for His promise never to give up on me. He has promised me, if I will yield to and put my trust in Him, He will continue His work of perfection within me. (Notice I said His work – nope, can’t take credit for any of His wondrous works.) I know, that I know, that I know the difference that He has made in my life. He is so wonderful that there are no words of ours that express how marvelous He is. Because I know I serve a risen Savior, it just boggles my mind when others choose to reject the free gift of salvation for the meager act on our part of just believing in Him as Lord and Savior. Even our faith itself is a gift from God, and yet still some will refuse it and choose to put their trust in self or some other false god. Knowing the joy and peace that only comes from the Lord, it is hard to understand why anyone would turn away from all that He is, all He has done, and from all that He so freely gives.

I do believe that we are living in the latter days. ‘Latter days’ to me is not based on any specific time period as man calculates time, but rather as God has spoken about time, when He refers to a day being as a thousand years, or a thousand years as a day. No one is guaranteed a tomorrow, so if I were to be taken from this world tomorrow, my ‘latter years’ would be today. Realizing that life is short, and knowing that God does not wish that any would perish, I pray that I might be able to do my part, as a servant of the Lord, to plant seeds of faith in the hope that others might be drawn to Him and begin their own journey to eternal life with Him, rather than an eternal life in Hell. We live in dangerous and perilous times, and yet so many of us are living our lives as if our relationship with God is either of very little importance, at best, or completely irrelevant, at worst. So, to answer my brother’s question, why or to whom do I write? I write as a method of furthering my own growth in the Lord, and to hopefully play a part in the big picture of saying to others, “Wake up people, today is the day of salvation,
Tomorrow may be too late!”

As a Christian, there have been those that have accused me, some times to my face and others behind my back, of speaking in a self righteous attitude or manner. I take the accusation seriously and wish to seek understanding if I have rightfully earned that label. I ask the Lord to “search me, O God” to root out and cleanse me of wicked ways. In my heart, I know that this is a constant battle, a life-long process, and not something that is ever going to end until I see my Savior face to face when He has completed His work in me. I realize, and acknowledge whole heartedly, that there is no righteousness within me that is earned or deserved, for I know that no matter how hard I might try I could never attain ‘goodness.’ There is no such thing within me for only God is ‘good’. There is no one, except Jesus, that attained that full measure, and that is because He is God. I can’t even say that I am better than anyone else. God doesn’t look at me and say, “You don’t smoke or drink so you deserve to be labeled as superior to one who does.” No, He has told me, in no uncertain terms, that “all have fallen short of the mark.” What mark? The mark, or full portion, of perfection and goodness as is found only in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The only righteousness that I can boast of is that which is imputed to me by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. I did not earn it, nor do I deserve it. It is mine only because of the infinite mercy and grace of God. Every thing I am, and every thing I have is a gift from God. There is not one thing I can point to and boast of as being my own creation or doing. If I ever excelled in anything, it is simply because God gave me the talent or ability to do that which was done. I can not, and pray that I never have or will, take credit for anything of worth that I have ever done. I can but give all thanks and glory to God, and pray that I yield to His will for His purposes to be accomplished in me and through me as He wishes. As He has taught us, and so I pray, “Thy will be done in earth as it is in Heaven,” and let it begin in me.

Acting or speaking in a self righteous manner can be a deep and ugly pit. As I understand it, the definition of the term self righteous is as follows: Piously sure of one’s own righteousness; moralistic; exhibiting pious self-assurance: self- righteous remarks. It all boils down to pride in self. It is exhibited in attitudes and behavior that suggest that mankind can rely upon him self as he believes in his own goodness. Anything that exalts man’s own ability to attain goodness is self righteousness. If one is relying on his own abilities to gain salvation then that is pride, self righteousness. It is often exhibited by such expressions as: “I do the best I can.” “I follow the Ten Commandments and go to church every Sunday.” “I never go to bars or drink like my neighbor does.” “I work hard at being kind and understanding of others.” “I never criticize others, gossip, or cheat on my spouse like that person does.” All of these things may be very good in their outward appearance. That is not the point. It is the inference that ‘in comparison’ to someone else, you are better and therefore you can put your trust in your own abilities to earn, or deserve, salvation. This attitude of self centered assurance is the real source of self righteousness for it denies a need for God.

Let’s face it, Christians are not perfect. We still have to fight against our old nature daily. That being said, Christians do need to be wary of falling into the pit of “self righteousness,” for we must be ever mindful that there is no righteousness aside from that which is given to us by the mercy and grace of God, through faith in the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Righteousness can not be attained by what we do, but depends solely on what God has done for us. The Christian can never act morally superior to another. We must always remember ‘There, except for the grace of God, go I.’

There is a history of alcoholism in my family. I know the devastation caused by it. Because I have not fallen prey to it, does that give me the right to become ‘holier-than-thou’? Absolutely not! If anything, it should move me to a greater compassion for one who has. Does it mean that I should sit idly by, saying and doing nothing, watching another go down the path of destruction? Again, absolutely not! The Bible instructs Christians to warn each other about behavior that is not based on God’s standards as a means of helping one another escape from the snare of the enemy that seeks to destroy us. We are to do this out of sincere care and love for each other, not with an attitude of sanctimonious superiority. This is a part of the ministry of rebuke within the body of Christ.

The ministry of rebuke is vital and important to the lives of believers and to the health of the church. It is not an easy or popular ministry, and yet we are all called to be an instrument of rebuke from time to time. The Bible tells us that it is good and necessary to give, receive, and even invite rebuke as a tool to help each other grow and mature in the faith of the Lord. (Rom. 15: 14 – 16; Acts 20: 17 – 38) If we make no attempt to help one another by at least giving a warning, we become partially responsible for their demise. If a parent does not teach a child about the dangers of fire, then the harm that comes to the child is very much the consequences of an uncaring and negligent parent. Of course, the Christian who gives the warning (admonition, or confrontation of sin) must realize that the person on the receiving end may, or may not, be receptive to even considering the validity of what has been imparted. If we truly love one another, shouldn’t we take the risk?

All too often, we are unwilling to take part in the ministry of rebuke for fear of appearing arrogant, or as though we have everything together in our lives while there is a plank protruding out of our own eye. Then too, we are afraid that in telling the truth, we may place ourselves in a position that opens the door for someone to accuse us of being self righteous, and incur rejection from the very ones that we love and care about. However, I think the more important question is, are we to do that which pleases man, or focus on that which pleases God? I remember my Mama telling me that she would give me advice from time to time. At the same time, she also told me, it was up to me as to what I might decide to do with it- act on it, ignore it, or store it away to refer to at a future time. She was a pretty wise woman. She never demanded that I obey her advice, but only suggested that I might want to at least take it under consideration. That’s pretty much what God does. He gives us His Word and His Holy Spirit to advise and teach us, and then He leaves it up to our free will to either obey or disobey. We then “reap” what we “sow.” Christians are taught to lead godly lives, not as a means to earn our way to heaven, but to glorify God in all our ways.

The warning, advice, or rebuke, can often have a bite to it. No one ever truly enjoys having our sin pointed out to us. However, it’s all a part of the discipline of life. I may not always receive every criticism as being a ‘Thus saith the Lord’ moment, but even if it hurts, I believe it is wiser to consider it and then seek the Lord’s wisdom in dealing with the possibility of its truth in my life. I have favorite Bible verses that have helped me whether I have had to be on the receiving end of the criticism, or warning, or on the giving end. I have even ‘invited’ someone to tell me when or if they have thought I was in the wrong. In inviting such a rebuke, or correction, I was prevented from falling into an even bigger problem. The following are a couple of verses that have helped me many times over the years. “Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil which shall not break my head…” (Psalm 141: 5) “The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise.” “He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.” ( Prov. 15: 31, 32 ) Far better to receive rebuke from one who loves you, than flattery from someone more interested in telling you what you want to hear, rather than caring enough about you to tell you the truth, even if it hurts. The one who loves you will remain by your side to help you through to the other side of the problem, if you so desire. The one who is more interested in ‘pleasing’ you by refraining from imparting truth, regardless of harmful consequences, will be content to sit on the side lines and watch you go slowly down the path of destruction and even death.

Read the Book of Proverbs and you will receive jewels of truth to live by. Oh, that we would all hunger and thirst after His Word that He could fill us with His wisdom. I truly am sorrowful for the children of this day whose parents see little or no need to bless their children by bringing them up under the nurture and admonition of the Lord. They are not even given the opportunity to “taste and see that the Lord He is good.” Children are robbed of the joy, peace, and sense of security that comes from praying and seeking God’s wisdom together as a family. Thank you Lord, ‘there, but for the grace of God, go I.” Lord, thank you for my parents, brothers, and sisters who all planted seeds of faith that I might be rooted and grounded in the Word of the Lord. That is my prayer for my children and their children. May the seeds of faith find fertile soil in the heart of each one.

Before we accuse someone of being self righteous, be willing to consider whether they are speaking truth that exalts the Lord, or are they simply stating their own opinions and thereby exalting themselves above God and His Word. Christians are, more often than not, criticized of being self righteous when simply proclaiming the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If in proclaiming Jesus as The Way, The Truth, and The Life, one is labeled as a self righteous person, then that Christian is in pretty good company. That proclamation came from Jesus Himself. He was ridiculed, scoffed at, persecuted, and crucified for having done so. If one is self righteous for saying that there is no other name by which one can be saved, then again, that proclamation came from Jesus when He said no one could come to the Father except through faith in Him. Giving all honor and praise to the Lord can not be equated as being self righteousness, though many make that assertion. When one gives all glory and honor to God for who He is and what He alone has done that can only be deemed as ‘Christ’s righteousness,’ not self righteousness. Jesus said: “It is written; man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”(Matt.4: 4) Either Jesus is who He said He is, or He is the biggest bigoted liar that has ever lived on earth, or He was a complete lunatic. He can’t be considered as a prophet or a ‘good’ man if He is a liar or a lunatic.

I believe the ministry of rebuke is an important biblical tool provided by God to contribute to one’s growth and maturity into the image of God. If we love one another, we must be willing to take the risk to receive and give admonition to one another in love. How will the child grow into a loving and caring person if he never receives correction along the way? The easiest way, for each individual to receive rebuke, is to be willing to recognize and condemn our own sinfulness, confess it to God, and ask Him to teach and correct us through His Word by the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s what I call being ‘Holy Spirit disciplined.” Also, before accusing another of being self righteous, shouldn’t we first be willing to at least consider the possibility that the word of warning or criticism may actually be given for our own good, as a reminder of what is acceptable in the sight of the Lord? It may sting us to the very core, but if it opens the door of correction to set us free from slavery to sin, isn’t it worth it? I personally owe a big thanks for all the times that my brothers and sisters have been willing to rebuke me in love. Sometimes they were not even aware that they were being used of the Lord, but I did. I can not count the times they have saved me from some disaster just by giving me a simple warning. When Christians care enough to tell one another that a certain behavior does not meet God’s standards (based on God’s Word, not man’s opinions), it is not to try to be sanctimonious or superior, but rather to warn them of the danger to their soul in light of their thoughts, words, or deeds.

The world is never going to accept Jesus as the only path to God. They imagine that they can make their own path to God because then they can also set their own standards, or lack thereof. A world view without the one true God enables man to forever sink into the mire of believing that “a man’s ways are right in his own eyes.” When self is the center and focus, it is exalted to position of god and there is no room for the true God. Christianity is the only religion that has a Savior. He alone came to earth, died and paid the price to redeem us from sin. He loved us first and provided the path to salvation and eternal life in heaven. Faith is the key to receiving salvation and the righteousness of Christ. All other religions depend on man’s own ability to ‘work out’ their own path to any god as they see fit according to their own opinions and vain imaginations. Jesus told us that He was going to be crucified. He said He would arise from the tomb and did so, as witnessed by the disciples and over five hundred other witnesses who saw Him over a period of forty days after His resurrection. Jesus said, “After I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you may be where I am.” (John 14: 3) Witnesses saw Him as He was taken up in a cloud to return to Heaven and take His seat at the right hand of God the Father, and thereby forever intercede for us. Either He did all of this, or He did none of it. His Word is true and forever will stand. If that wasn’t enough, He has sent His Holy Spirit to indwell all who believe in Him, to lead and guide us into all truth. It is the Holy Spirit that calls to our hearts, and pleads with us to hear the Word of the Lord and receive Him as Lord and Savior.

Furthermore, He has told us to watch and be ready for His return. He is coming back to receive us unto Him. This life is but a small part of a journey which either leads us to our real home with Him, or eternal damnation without Him. We will either choose to believe in Him, or reject Him and go our own way. There is no other option. I stand on the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The world may deem that as proclaiming ‘self righteousness’, but I stand firm, without compromise, that it is not ‘self’ but rather ‘Christ Righteousness.’

When I was a little girl, I was given a book of Bible stories. It was my favorite book. One of the pictures was of Jesus standing and knocking on the door. I loved that picture then and now. My sister pointed out that something was missing on the door – it has no doorknob on the outside. Why, because Jesus does not enter unless He is invited in by the owner of the house. So it was and still is today, He stands at the door of your heart and waits for you to open the door, and for you to invite Him to come in to be your Savior and Lord. Won’t you open the door? Are you willing to tell Him that you are a sinner and that you need Him to forgive you? He wants to be Lord in your life and not just a convenient guest from time to time. He loves you and wants to be there with you at all times, and not just an occasional experience or visitor like a mere acquaintance.

Below are two entrees written by Max Lucado, a preacher and author, in his daily devotional book “Grace for the Moment, Volume 1”. I hope they will touch your heart as they have mine.

Sole Provider, Sole Comforter
(pg. 82)

“As long as Jesus is one of many options, he is no option.

As long as you can carry your burdens alone, you don’t need a burden bearer. As long as your situation brings you no grief, you will receive no comfort. And as long as you can take him or leave him, you might as well leave him, because he won’t be taken half-heartedly.

But when you mourn, when you get to the point of sorrow for your sins, when you admit that you have no other option but to cast all your cares on him, and when there is truly no other name that you can call, then cast all your cares on him, for he is waiting in the midst of the storm.”

The Only Path
(pg. 125)

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.” (John 14: 6)

“Tolerance. A prized virtue today. The ability to be understanding of those with whom you differ is a sign of sophistication. Jesus too was a champion of tolerance:

Tolerance of the disciples when they doubted.
Tolerance of the crowds when they misunderstood.
Tolerant of us when we fall.

But there was one area where Jesus was intolerant. There was one area where he was unindulgent and dogmatic. . .

As far as he was concerned, when it comes to salvation, there aren’t several roads…there is only one road… There aren’t several paths…there is only one path. And that path is Jesus himself.

That is why it is so hard for people to believe in Jesus. It is much easier to consider him one of several options rather than the option. But such a philosophy is no option.”

Ginger Rahn

Thursday, April 19, 2012

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Rick Warren And The “Purpose Driven” Lifestyle

         Before writing this I read “The purpose Driven Life[1]”, “The Purpose Driven Church[2]” and “The Dark Side of the Purpose Driven Church[3]”.  I also searched the internet and received information from Christian TV. 

          Before reading the books, through information I was hearing, I was under the impression that Pastor Rick Warren was the worst thing since sliced bread.  What I actually found was very interesting.  The books, generally, were based in scripture and Pastor Warren seems to have done a spectacular job in getting people to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord.  The figures I found showed that Saddleback Church is responsible for the conversion and baptism of many thousands of souls.  Pastor Warren does seem to see himself as knowing better than the majority of traditional churches, fundamentalists and evangelicals.  The premiere problem with the “Purpose Driven” approach is not in Pastor Warren’s books but rather his haughtiness and the application of his precepts in other churches. 

          In my opinion, the way Pastor Warren recommends a church be set up is good and effective for a new congregation.  The problems seem to be when these same tactics are tried in established churches.  The Saddleback Church is apparently affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, although there seems to be some friction in this relationship.  It is my studied opinion that Pastor Warren does not accept criticism, or correction, well. 

          I have seen testimony after testimony of how a small group in a church is encouraged to take control of the church without consulting the congregation.  In some cases it is recommended that the congregation not be told of the planned changes until step four is reached, thereby making it too late for the congregation to object.  The “pillars” of the established church are seen as “holding things up”, as in wanting to keep things the way they like them and impeding progress.  These are most often the members who contributed to the building of the church but are no longer wanted there.  This, in some cases can encompass the majority of the congregation.  This subterfuge is, in my opinion, one of the most serious fallacies or faults in expanding Pastor Warren’s tactics and influence. 

          Jesus said He would build His church upon the rock of His Lordship, and salvation; not that we the people will build His church through modern marketing and sales techniques.

          Some things I found in the Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church seemed to be slightly off, scriptural.

1. Pastor Warren seems to think that there will be one judgment, conducted by God the Father[4].  In reality, Jesus said: “all judgment is given to me[5]”.  There will in fact be two separate judgments: one for the believers, and another for nonbelievers.

2. “Jesus stood at a fork in the road. Would he fulfill his purpose and bring glory to God, or would he shrink back and live a comfortable, self centered life?”[6]  In fact Jesus made His decision before He came to earth.

3. Pastor Warren’s salvation prayer is simplistic and fails to include repentance.[7]

4. “When we worship, our goal is to bring pleasure to God, not ourselves.”[8]  It is my opinion, the purpose of Worship is to build a closer relationship with God; this would be a two way street.

5. Pastor Warren indicates that you should follow what you believe to be from God, immediately and without exception[9].  The Bible says that every Spirit should be tested[10].

6. “But fear of God, not friendship, was more common in the Old Testament.”[11]  In reality, the Old Testament ‘fear’ of God meant respect and reverence for God.

7. “You have heard people say, ‘I can’t make it to the meeting tonight, but I’ll be with you in spirit.’ Do you know what that means? Nothing, it’s worthless! As long as you are on earth, your spirit can only be where your body is.”[12]  Pastor Warren obviously doesn’t know that it is an expression of solidarity and unity. Jesus is not physically here with us now, but is here in Spirit.  Paul said that although he could not be with the Colossians in body, he would be with them in spirit.[13]

8. “In utter desperation, you cry out, what’s the matter with me? The truth is, there is nothing wrong with you!”[14] In fact, this is an excellent question to ask God.[15]

9. “My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Phil.4:19 NIV[16]Emphasis is wrong here: should be, by Christ.

10. “Jesus said our love for each other - not our doctrinal beliefs”[17]  Love for each other is a doctrine of Jesus.

11. “For over 2,000 years Christians have been regularly gathering in small groups for fellowship.”[18] This book was copyrighted in 2002.  There were no Christians when Jesus was a baby.

12. Pastor Warren says that Jesus said: “The details of my return are none of your business.”[19] Really! Why did Jesus give lots of details, lots of times? Before His crucifixion, he told the disciples, at least nine times, what was to happen to Him. He would not have us to be ignorant. He related the times and seasons so that we would be aware and waiting[20].

13. Pastor Warren says you should be able to bring the unsaved into your church “without embarrassment[21]”.  I have never been embarrassed to bring anyone into churches I have attended, whether they were Baptist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Assemblies of God or any other.

14. Members of his church are required to sign a membership covenant[22].  Apparently being a member of the body of Christ is not sufficient.  I do realize that, generally speaking, denominations are simply clubs set up by man for the purpose of fellowship.  Clubs can set up whatever rules they like, as long as the rules are legal.

15. Jesus said He would build His church: not He will depend on the skills[23] of men.

16. “Are you being faithful to God’s word if you if you insist on communicating in an outdated style?”[24] What is outdated, the style of the Apostles, the early church or the different ‘styles’ developed over the years?  As Pastor Warren likes to say; different people respond to different things.

17. The Apostles were really not pastors, but rather evangelists.  They started churches and visited them, but left the locals in charge.  Small groups are not the same thing.  In the early church days, the groups were small and met in peoples homes: they were not mega churches.

18. Disagreement with church authorities is ridiculed[25].  The ‘whiners’[26] are anyone in the congregation who challenges the leadership, and therefore not respected members?

19. “After you define your church purposes, you must communicate those purposes to everyone in your church – on a regular basis.”[27] This sounds good but in reality it will only be done after step four of the church takeover.  There are eight steps in all.  “If your church is in the initial stages of change (music or the first 40–day program), your church could be saved by talking to other church members, and with activist intervention by 10–20 percent of the membership. If nothing is done at this early stage, then by the time the program advances to step four, there is little that can be done except look for another church. Your church has become a Purpose Driven entity in association with Saddleback Church of Orange County or Willow Creek of Chicago”[28].  

20. “Today, very few Christians would recognize George Whitefield’s name.”[29]  That is true, for those who have not studied the foundation and history of our country.

21. Speaking of traditional type churches, Pastor Warren says: “Most churches of this type have less than 200 members, since that’s about all one pastor can personally care for.”[30] He goes on to criticize most of the existing churches that ‘specialize’.  I agree that a pastor can’t properly fulfill his duties in churches with more than 200 families.  I don’t really care for the MEGA church with its delegation of pastoral duties.  Jesus instructed us to feed His sheep, both physically and spiritually.

22. It is hard to tell if he was having 10,000 in attendance total, or if it was 10,000 in the “crowd” category; or even if these figures were for one service or over their four services.

23. Pastor Warren’s resume differs in the “The Purpose Driven Life” book and the “Purpose Driven Church” book.

24. Much of what Pastor Warren describes as methods of establishing a Purpose Driven Church are tried and true sales techniques, along with types of mind control. 

25. The Pillars of a church; the elderly – grounded members, those over 50, the mature in Christ, those who are set in their ways, tend to interfere with and hold up progress in the new church undertakings.  "Be willing to let people leave the church. And I told you earlier the fact that people are gonna leave the church no matter what you do. But when you define the vision, you're choosing who leaves. You say, "But Rick, yes, they're the pillars of the church." Now, you know what pillars are. Pillars are people who hold things up ... And in your church, you may have to have some blessed subtractions before you have any real additions."[31] Respect for elders has always been a biblical principal.[32]  In Acts 8:12 Peter, James and John were referred to as pillars of the church.

26. “Focus on progress not perfection.”[33] Aren’t we to be perfected in Christ?  How about a balanced approach?  

27. “The traditional approach to beginning a new church is to build a committed core of mature believers first, and then start reaching out to the community.  The problem I have found with an ‘inside out’ approach is that by the time the church planter has ‘discipled’ his core, they have often lost contact with the community and are actually afraid of interacting with the unchurched.”[34]  Really?  I guess we should just jump in the lake and get swimming lessons later. What about being grounded in the word?

28. “No member may proceed to the next base until he has committed to the requirements of each covenant.”[35]  Just like a cult.

29. In chapter 9 of “The Purpose Driven Church” he says several times that the message must not be compromised, but in practice he does it a lot.

30. Pastor Warren writes that he wonders why there had to be four gospels to tell about the one life of Christ[36].  Has he ever heard that by two or more a thing is established?

31. Chapter 9’s discussion of ‘targeting’ sounds more like a marketing decision than the leading of the Lord.

32. On page 176, he apparently lauds himself as an intellectual.  He had great difficulty in relating to truck drivers and mechanics.  I have sold in the medical field as well as the auto repair industry.  I never had any difficulty in relating to anyone; from the highest praised medical researcher to the lowest oil change tech.

33. Pastor Warren says that Jesus was being strategic in targeting the audience most likely to respond when he sent out the twelve.  No, Jesus was being prejudiced and exclusive.  He told the twelve to avoid the Samaritans and other gentiles because the message was to be given to the Jew first.

34. Pastor Warren’s lack of understanding of biblical text (or the distorting of it) is exemplified by the following. “Jesus told us not to worry about the unresponsive. Shake the dust from your feet and move on.”[37]  In reality Jesus was saying to curse the inhabitants of a town that failed to receive the Gospel.  Also, what about ‘I stand at the door and knock’?

35. Pastor Warren either boarders on or believes in ‘replacement theology’ where the belief is that the ‘church’ has replaced the Jews with God.[38]  We are not the vine.  We are grafted into the vine.

36. Your neighborhood church is not the body of Christ; it is a member of the body.  The body of Christ is made up of all of the Christians.  Where two or more are gathered, Christ is.  The body of Christ can be in your living room as well as the largest cathedral.  Pastor Warren says that if you are not committed to a specific congregation, you will shrivel and die.[39]  Paul was not a member of a specific congregation, and sure enough, he shriveled and died when he was executed. John was not a member of a specific congregation, and sure enough, he shriveled and died in Ephesus in his 90’s.

37. “Meaningless membership[40]” is defined as not being willing to be totally committed to a church club.  A club church may have Christians in it but it is not the body of Christ.  A club can be Masonic, Ladies Aid, Women’s Aglow, Full Gospel Businessmen, Knights of Columbus and the Moose Lodge.  All the clubs have their own rules and covenants.  A life committed to Christ does not seem to be enough for membership in the Saddleback church.

38. “If we adopt a membership covenant, there will be some who leave our church over it.” “People even walked away from Jesus.”[41] I don’t think I need to tie in the inference here.

          Some observations by Rev. Noah W. Hutchings, founder of Southwest Radio Ministries, and Author of “The Dark Side of The Purpose Driven Church”. 

1. “Initially, a small clique of church staff, possibly including the pastor or a new pastor plans the change without telling the rest of the church membership. Church Transitions, an associate of Saddleback Church in California, trains the clique initiating the change in eight published steps. The church membership is not to be informed of the transition until the fourth step. After the sixth step in the process of change, if there are some in the church who voice concerns, the following is suggested:

  1. Identify those who are resisting the changes;

  2. Assess the effectiveness of their opposition;

  3. Befriend those who are undecided about the changes;

  4. Marginalize more persistent resisters;

  5. Vilify those who stay and fight;

  6. Establish new rules that will silence all resistance.  This means the church membership is not told until it is too late to make a difference.  In other words the members either accept the changes, or leave the church, which they may have served and given to build.”[42]

 2.  “While some PDC initiators may not implement the full PDC format, generally these are the signs indicating that your church may be targeted for a Purpose Driven Church format:

  1. Change in music to a contemporary rock style.

  2. Removal of hymn books; eliminating the choir.

  3. Replacement of organ and piano with heavy metal instruments.

  4. Repetitive singing of praise lyrics.

  5. Dressing down to casual attire.

  6. Eliminating of business meetings, church committees, council of elders, board of deacons, etc.

  7. The pastor, or a new leader with a few assistants, usually four, takes charge of all church business.

  8. A repetitive 40–day Purpose Driven Church study program stressing psychological relationships with each other, the community, or the world, begins.

9. Funded budgeted programs are abandoned, or ignored, with ambiguous financial reports made.

10. Sunday morning, evening, and/or Wednesday prayer meetings are changed to other times; some may even be eliminated.

11. Sunday School teachers are moved to different classes, or replaced by new teachers more sympathetic with the changes being implemented.

12. The name “Sunday school” is dropped and classes are given new names.

13. Crosses and other traditional Christian symbols may be moved from both the inside and outside of the church building. The pulpit may also be removed.

14. In accordance with Dr. Warren’s instructions, new version Bibles are used; or only verses flashed on a screen are referenced during regular services.

15. Purpose Driven Church films, purchased from Saddleback, precede or are used during regular services.

16. The d├ęcor, including the carpets, may be changed to eliminate any resemblance to the former church.

17. The word “church” is often taken from the name of the church, and the church may be called a “campus.” Denominational names may also be removed.

18. An emphasis on more fun and party sessions for the youth.

19. Elimination of altar calls or salvation invitations at the close of the services.

20. The elimination of such words as “unsaved,” “lost,” “sin,” “Hell,” “Heaven,” and other gospel verities from the pastor’s messages.

21. The reclassification of the saved and lost to the “churched” and “unchurched.”

22. The marginalizing, or ostracizing, of all who are not avid promoters of the new Purpose Driven program.

23. Closed meetings between the pastor or chosen staff members without any reports made to the general membership.

24. Open hostility to members who do not openly embrace the new program, or who may have left for another church.”[43]

          Over the years there have been successes and failures when the Purpose Driven methods have been employed.  There has been a problem with the alienation of many of our fellow Christians, by apparently well intentioned people.  We do have to keep in mind that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

          In closing I would like to say that Pastor Warren’s heart seems to be in the right place, and he has been very successful with his own congregation.  He, himself says that trying to make clones of his church is not advisable.  He, however, publishes materials and holds teaching seminars for that very purpose.

[1] By Rick Warren, copyright 2002, Zondervan
[2] By Rick Warren, copyright 1995, Zondervan
[3] By Noah W. Hutchings, copyright 2005,2007,2008,2011, Hutchings
[4] Page 34, The Purpose Driven Life
[5] John 5:22
[6] Page 57, The Purpose Driven Life
[7] Page 58, The Purpose Driven Life
[8] Page 66, The Purpose Driven Life
[9] Page 72, The Purpose Driven Life
[10] 1 John, 4:1
[11] Page 86, The Purpose Driven Life
[12] Page 105, The Purpose Driven Life
[13] Colossians 2:5
[14] Page 108-109, The Purpose Driven Life
[15] Psalm 34: 23-24
[16] Page 119, The Purpose Driven Life
[17] Page 124, The Purpose Driven Life
[18] Page 143, The Purpose Driven Life
[19] Page 285, The Purpose Driven Life
[20] Luke 12: 42-48
[21] Page 48, The Purpose Driven Church
[22] Page 54, The Purpose Driven Church
[23] Page 56-59, The Purpose Driven Church
[24] Page 65, The Purpose Driven Church
[25] Page 92, The Purpose Driven Church
[26] Page 92, The Purpose Driven Church
[27] Page 94, The Purpose Driven Church
[29] Page 121, The Purpose Driven Church
[30] Page 123, The Purpose Driven Church
[31] "Building a Purpose-Driven Church" seminar at Saddleback Church, January, 1998.
[32] Leviticus 19:32, Deuteronomy 32:7, Psalms 4:1-2, 1 Peter 5:5, Job 32:7
[33] Page 137, The Purpose Driven Church
[34] Page 138, The Purpose Driven Church
[35] Page 145, The Purpose Driven Church
[36] Page 158, The Purpose Driven Church
[37] Page 188, The Purpose Driven Church
[38] Page 196, The Purpose Driven Church
[39] Page 310, The Purpose Driven Church
[40] Page 317, The Purpose Driven Church
[41] Page 320, The Purpose Driven Church