Moriel Ministries and Jacob Prasch take extreme exception to the long statement highly critical of Chuck Smith, various Calvary Chapels, Roger Oakland and Dave Hunt by Richard Abanes of Saddleback Church in reaction to their expressed position regarding the Purpose Driven agenda of Rick Warren. Mr. Abanes wrote as an apologist for Rick Warren and the Saddleback Purpose Driven ethos.
The response by Mr. Abanes was an exercise in circumlocution failing centrally and candidly to address the various concerns voiced to the unbiblical nature of the Purpose Driven agenda. These are well-documented in a series of well-researched and strongly lucid books and presentations by Warren Smith, Ray Yungen, Roger Oakland, Bob DeWaay, and others.
The caveats raised by Chuck Smith and various Calvary Chapel ministers, by Roger Oakland and Understand The Times, and by Dave Hunt and The Berean Call, are scripturally based objections to a compromise of biblical doctrine, biblical standards, and the nature of the biblical Gospel itself.
The Purpose Driven agenda combines the programmatic approach of marketing guru of the late Peter Drucker (a non-believer) with a plethora of consumer psychology, New Age, and an ecumenical and interfaith pattern of compromise on essentials of the Christian faith – even advising rabbis who reject their true Messiah how to grow bigger synagogues without the Gospel of Yeshua (Jesus). Mr. Abanes’ attempted defense of Purpose Driven involvement with Yoga as mere “stretching exercises” are directly balked at by Christian evangelists saved out of Hinduism such as Tom Chacko, and reflects the incipient New Age infiltration of the church in addition to the more general influences of New Age figures such as Ken Blanchard.
From Mr. Warren’s applause of a pro partial birth abortion presidential candidate as “the epitome of compassionate liberalism” to his false gospel that confuses justification with sanctification – warning us not to tell the unsaved to repent but just to accept Jesus in direct contradiction to the New Testament, the reasons for opposition to Mr. Warren’s new brand of paradigm shifted Christianity are very well in order.
Rick Warren & The Emergent Church
Of more concern however still is the Rick Warren and Purpose Driven partnership with Emergent Church leaders such as Brian McLaren who believes the use of imagination is the hermeneutical key to parable interpretation; this is pure gnosticism. Mr. Warren has closely co-operated with McLaren at least since the National Pastors Conference in San Diego in 2004. Mr. Warren co-authored the forward to Dan Kimbell’s book on the Emergent Church with Brian McLaren.
McLaren’s rejection of propositional truth as the basis of Christian faith stands in direct rejection of the Pauline doctrine that propositional belief in the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus is the crux of Christianity; McLaren’s position relegates him to the status of heretic. McLaren’s further call for a moratorium on debate of the morality of homosexuality and lesbianism in the church renders him a purveyor of unadulterated moral and doctrinal apostasy.
The Emergent church is an exercise in mysticism that redefines Christianity as a postmodern faith. With its contemplative exercises, icons, and pseudo-spiritual sensuality, it does not re-contextualize the gospel to evangelize a postmodern worldview but is rather an exercise in revived Patristic and medieval mysticism that redefines Christianity as a spiritually abject postmodern religion, and PURPOSE DRIVEN is merely the door into this demonically orchestrated delusion. McLaren’s “Generous Orthodoxy” is but blatant heterodoxy.
Rick Warren‘s joint activity with McLaren, such as joint authorship of a major book promulgating “Emergence” can in no sense be dismissed as mere affiliation. McLaren and Warren are fellow architects of a new kind of church whose blue print is not biblical and whose ecclesiology is neither biblically apostolic or in accordance with the teachings of Christ concerning the nature of the church and its mission. Such scriptural principles are at best subordinated to the ideas of men (many of them non-believers); at worst, biblical principles are not uncommonly negated or else ignored. This is the essence of so-called “Emergence”.
As a non-Cessationist who takes a conservative biblically grounded understanding and praxis of charismatic gifts, I have in times past been appalled at the Word of God being relegated to a back burner in the face of an avalanche of emotionally charged experiential theology disguised as “new spirituality”. At times, this has amounted to virtual demonic deception as in the spiritual counterfeits in Toronto and Pensacola that failed to deliver the promised revivals. I likewise witnessed the lunacy of the Kansas City false prophets and their failed prophetic predictions before one of their leaders was discovered in serious immorality while another was admitted to be a homosexual and an alcoholic – after the Bible was relegated.
I also watched as the positive-thinking psychology of Norman Vincent Peale was repackaged for Evangelicals by Robert Schuller in further relegation of the Word of God. I then observed yet another level of the relegation of Scripture when individuals such as C. Peter Wagner and Bill Hybels effectively nullified major areas of the eternal truths of scripture, replacing divine and apostolic concepts of church growth contained in Scripture with a usurping system of programmatic strategies of purely human design.
I then looked in almost disbelief as men like Chuck Colson and J.I. Packer endorsed Peter Kreeft‘s book Ecumenical Jihad, among other things, demanding ecumenical unity with Islam to morally redeem society, once again at the expense of the teaching of God’s Word.
Purpose Driven is but the natural next stage in this progression, following the same identical pattern of a relegation of the contextually exegeted Word of God to an inferior level of authority in favor of the devices and doctrines of mere men. As an evangelist to the Jews, it is my conviction that as the New Testament teaches in Matthew 15, this was condemned by Christ and did not work for Israel, and it is still condemned by Christ and likewise cannot work for the Church. Purpose Driven will not bring revival anymore than Toronto, Pensacola, or any the other doctrinally flawed attempts.
While Rick Warren‘s Purpose Driven agenda is again simply the next stage in this downward progression, it is not the final stage. It is rather setting the stage for the next stage – the Emergent Church.
More serious than his working associations with Mr. McLaren however have been Mr. Warren’s working associations with Leonard Sweet and the recorded “Davos” address by Mr. Warren placing him firmly at the forefront of an across the board departure from many of the most fundamental tenets of biblical Christianity.
The published Sweet position is that the biblical and propositional (doctrinally and historically factual) and the relational (personal relationship to Christ) components of Christian faith are mutually exclusive. Plainly, the scriptural position conversely is that the two are not only mutually dependent and complimentary, but hypo-statically united in that “Jesus is ‘The Truth’ incarnate”, yet simultaneously and co-equally as the Logos, “Jesus is ‘The Word’ incarnate”. Warren has been tied to Sweet and his aberrational views since 1995. Mr. Warren’s Davos address moreover is both irrefutable and incontrovertible in its clear and unambiguous contra-biblical content and thrust standing in basic contrast to scriptural dogma.
Books or “The Book”?
It is hardly the first time
Long before Rick Warren‘s Purpose Driven Life and Purpose Driven Church, I also have seen other books amplified in emphasis above scripture including The Prayer of Jabez, and God Chasers. The latter went so far as to teach Scripture is where God once was, but the epistles are dusty old letters to ancient churches. Neither became the panacea for woes their aspirants hoped. I also watched as Promise Keepers promoted The Masculine Journey as its guidebook by Robert Hicks. It taught that “Jesus was tempted to have sex with other men” and that our young children losing their virginity outside of holy wedlock and coming home drunk or stoned should be seen as “a right of passage with the next generation being congratulated for being human”, which the author tried to deny was placing a benediction on sin. Needless to say, that Promise Keepers after similarly relegating God’s Word to a companion digest for The Masculine Journey, also similarly failed to stem the tide of spiritual and moral decline as it professed it could.
The Purpose Driven books of Rick Warren fit into the same groove and merely constitute the next phase of the same kind of books. Warren’s books are simply the next in line only engulfing even more Christians and churches then predecessors trends in Christian book sales that were its harbingers. As with the others, much of the postulating in the book is incompatible with that of scripture thus functionally eclipsing the Bible and often rendering it to a position of supplemental reading.
There is one partial difference with the books of Rick Warren however. In the previous trends, deduction took precedent over induction and the routine was to manipulate scripture passages out of “context”, in isolation from “co-texts” in order to form a “pretext”. This facilitated a devious means to substitute exegesis (taking out of Bible texts what is in there) with eisegesis (reading into it something not there). With the assistance of Eugene Peterson and a cultic hermeneutic of his own invention using the translocation of Bible verses, Rick Warren outperforms the previous generation of false teachers who prepared the way for him, as he himself now prepares the way for Emergence.
As his premise is demonstrably void of biblical substance, it is obvious why Rick Warren resorts to The Message, a deranged paraphrase of Holy Writ bearing little translational fidelity to the original Greek and Hebrew texts. Not only does the authentic Word of God very often not support Mr. Warren’s presuppositions, but on the contrary, Scripture quite frequently mitigates directly against key elements of Mr. Warren’s Purpose Driven /market driven mind set.
Jesus moreover, in the Olivet Discourse, issued an unmistakable warning of specific prophetic events Christians were to anticipate and recognize as indications of His return. Those failing to heed His instructions, Jesus warned, would be unprepared for this “parousia” or the apocalyptic events that will usher it in. The final book in the canon of scripture is devoted exclusively to this theme, as are major sections of both Testaments. Yet, what Rick Warren openly teaches the church in no uncertain terms, is to ignore the clear teachings of Jesus in this regard and avoid End Time prophecy as a “diversion”. This is delusional and is proposed by Mr. Warren by a literal trans-location of Bible verses from Matthew 24 into the text of Acts 1 to make the text state the exact diametric opposite of what Jesus actually taught. He actually removes a verse from one book and interposes into another to take the place of a verse he deletes. It is actually a computer age “cut & paste” style of biblical interpretation, except that he is not the original author.
Jesus provided a detailed litany of End Time events to watch for. Either we believe and abide by the plain instruction of Jesus, or we believe and abide by the directly contrary teaching of Rick Warren. We cannot believe and adhere to both. Only one teaching can be true; the other must be false. Either Jesus teaches error or Warren does.
Prophecy or politics
Underlying the disparity between Chuck Smith, Roger Oakland, and Dave Hunt -and Rick Warren‘s Purpose Driven crowd is series a fundamental dichotomies between the doctrine and authority of Scripture and the philosophies and popularity of men.
No place is this perhaps more evident than in the sphere of biblical prophecy. In Calvary Chapels, the prophetic significance of contemporary world events from the moral deterioration of society, to deception in the church, to trends towards a one-world currency, to the constellation of forces aligned in the Middle East with the same countries important in the ancient world of the Bible now at the center of world events again, all represent a scenario pointing to the return of Jesus. This stance has always been a cornerstone of the ministries of Chuck Smith, Dave Hunt, and Roger Oakland. But, it is at inevitable odds with the “keep away from End Time prophecy” urging of Rick Warren to his followers.
More to the point, biblical evangelism requiring a faith and repentance is the divine “PEACE PLAN” of Scripture preached by Calvary Chapel (Isaiah 52 and Ephesians 6). Again, in Rick Warren‘s model, the need for repentance is downplayed with a message of “Just get Jesus into your life”, while biblically, without repentance, Jesus is not coming into someone’s life.
In Rick Warren‘s “PEACE” plan of “Planting Churches, Equipping leaders, Assisting the poor, Caring for the sick, and Education” – there is no biblical definition of evangelism. Rick Warren‘s is largely a social-political gospel. Biblically, social benevolence aimed at helping the poor and sick (and I write this as director of a ministry operating orphanages for AIDS babies in Africa) is both derivative from and subsequent to the salvation message predicated on faith and repentance; No Christ – No Peace. Indeed, in the estimation of some, biblical prophecy specifically warns against the advent of something along the lines of Rick Warren‘s Peace plan (1 Thessalonians 5:3).
This is to say nothing of Mr. Warren’s shameful antics in Syria singing the praises of a terrorist regime responsible for the death of tens of thousands of its own citizens, that is additionally party to the slaughter and displacement of countless Lebanese Christians and massive rocket and missal attacks on Israeli civilians in partnership with radically Islamic Iran in 2006, only a few weeks prior to Rick Warren‘s visit. Warren’s blasting of those who decried his actions as being “more interested in politics than the gospel” are doubly hypocritical, as he himself certainly conducted no evangelistic campaign in Syria, but pursued a kind of political agenda of his own. A biblical expositor, biblical pastor, or biblical evangelist Rick Warren most certainly is not. A consummate theocrat and theocratic politician however – Rick Warren most certainly is. Nevertheless, this seems to be all that he truly appears to be; just another motivational speaker masquerading as a Bible preacher.
A Sincere Offer To Open And Fair Debate & A Sincere Endorsement Of The Unjustly Accosted
My own willingness to debate Rick Warren publicly in an open properly formatted and filmed webcast debate stands. While I place no judgment on their motives, theologically I can only regard him and his accomplices to be, wittingly or non-wittingly, agents of a deception concocted in Gehenna and perpetrated against God’s people.
I thank God for the pastoral integrity exhibited by Pastor Chuck Smith and other Calvary Chapel pastors in protecting the flock of Christ, as I also thank the Lord for the efforts of Dave Hunt, Roger Oakland and others to rightly warn the church.
The polemic of Mr. Abanes reads like a flawed tome evading and avoiding the cardinal issues highlighted above.
We stand with Chuck Smith, Dave Hunt, and Roger Oakland solidly. My challenge to publicly debate Rick Warren and/or Brian McLaren also stands.