Note: some films cannot be viewed on iPhone or iPad.
Sound files have been included.
Practical Concerns of the Church:
On this page:  A discussion of the Heretical Teaching by
Dallas Willard,
Lewis Smedes,
Margaret Fineberg,
Gene Edwards,
Mark Batterson,
Douglas Webster,
Randolph Richards,
N.T. Wright,
Beth Moore,
Rick Warren

Worship in the 21st Century
Part 2

"The church that can’t worship must be entertained. And men who can’t lead a church to worship must provide the entertainment.  That is why we have the great evangelical heresy here today--the heresy of religious entertainment."

-A. W. Tozer

Is it Biblical to correct False Teachers by Name?  Yes:

"The Care and Feeding of God's Flock" is the address by Phil Johnson at the 2013 Shepherds' Conference.  His message goes to the heart of the current leadership problem of many Churches.

(used with permission).

"How the True Church is Distinguished,"
a Sermon by Baptist Pastor, Dr. Peter Masters
Primary Role of the Pastor, explained by Dr. MacArthur:

Why is it important to know what you believe?

Dr. Michael Horton explains:

Dr. Michael Horton on
How to read the Bible:
When a pastor doesn't properly interpret Scripture or teaches heresy in the pulpit, people can be easily led astray.
As the Bible says in Ephesians 4:14:

"That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive."


When those who attend a service of worship or teaching in the church have not been accurately taught the Bible, they can then be led astray by, say, television programs that appear to be revealing biblical truth. Consider the recent History Channel presentation: "Bible Secrets Revealed." 
Rev. Chris Rosebrough explains:

From the Shepherds' Conference 2016,
Rev. Phil Johnson tells precisely what is wrong with the preaching, worship, and leadership styles of pastors in many of the churches today:
Dr. R. Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, speaks on "The Pastor's Job Description," at the Shepherds' Conference, 2016:
Rev. Phil Johnson speaks at Shepherds' Conference, 2005, on "Programs, Get your Programs...Exposing the Flaws of the Fad-Driven Church":
"What do you think about the state of today's church?"

Confirmation Bias: Why You Are Protecting Your False Beliefs?

-by Steve Kozar, on “Fighting for the Faith”

"Confirmation bias" is the name for a very common trait that all human beings share. When we favor information that validates our pre-existing beliefs but refuse to consider information that threatens our pre-existing beliefs, we are demonstrating confirmation bias; other names are confirmatory bias, myside bias or subjective validation. 

Here's a very short video explanation:

It is very difficult for people to change their mind; this is part of our fallen condition as sinners. There isn't much difference between Christians and non-Christians in this regard; we all tend to stick with our pre-existing ideas (also called our presuppositions, the things we "pre-suppose"). On top of this common human trait is the way we stick to whatever "our group" says; especially when "our group" is closely connected to our essential spiritual development.

 

For example, someone who has become a Christian in a particular church will feel a strong attachment to that church and its particular beliefs, especially if the pastor keeps reinforcing those particular beliefs, week after week. In many churches, the Sunday service is specifically geared towards reinforcing the importance and validity of that church, and its particular beliefs.  How many times have you heard testimonials about how wonderful your church is? Add in some emotional background music to those tearful stories and it becomes almost impossible for anyone to objectively evaluate the things being taught. Is your pastor and/or church teaching sound doctrine that actually comes from the Bible? Most people want to believe that, yes, their church is really Biblical, and usually that's all that is necessary: if you really believe your church is Biblical, you'll never check your Bible to see what God's Word actually says. And if you're presented with Biblical evidence that threatens your beliefs, you'll ignore it and explain it away. To do otherwise would be very uncomfortable.


So an unwavering belief in your church and your pastor is, all too often, a self-contained cluster of presuppositions based on years of personal experience. What does that personal experience entail? Much of it is listening to your pastor at your church tell you how to understand God, the church, the Bible... pretty much everything. This kind of "thought loop" is very hard to escape from; it's a type of blindness that disguises itself as clarity and certainty.

Additionally, the emotional tug of nostalgia often prevents you from learning the truth. If you've formed your essential spiritual beliefs at a church where you have fond memories, you will probably ignore whatever false doctrine you might have learned there; in fact, you will defend that false doctrine regardless of what the Bible says. But please understand:

God's Word is high above the teachings of any man, and your emotional attachment to any pastor, teacher or church needs to STOP at the very point where the two collide.

Are you interested in finding out if what you believe is actually in the Bible (or not)? Here's an article where a bunch of commonly held "Christian" beliefs are compared with the Bible:

 

“Bible believing" Christian?



If you believe it’s important to follow the Bible, wouldn’t you want to “test all things” by God’s Word? Shouldn't you be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11 who kept "examining the scriptures daily to see if these things are so?" Shouldn’t you at least see which ideas have more scriptural support than others? Of course! If we discover that some ideas are NOT Biblical, shouldn't we at least reconsider them? Of course! Below are some questions for you:


In the Bible, which are there more of?


...Bible verses about feeling God's presence (so you can know He's real), or Bible verses about knowing, teaching and following correct doctrine? (This is a trick question; there are no verses about feeling, experiencing or “being intoxicated” by God’s presence. Also, capitalizing the letter “p” in presence comes from the New Age movement.)


...Bible verses that tell us to have a "personal, intimate and emotional encounter with God," or Bible verses that tell us we can know God through His Word and Sacraments? (This is a trick question-there are no verses telling us that we’re supposed to have a personal, intimate and emotional encounter with God.)


...Bible verses about how you need to follow along with the vision of your pastor, or Bible verses about the pastor being a servant and shepherd? (This is a trick question; there are no verses telling you to “follow the vision” of your “vision-casting pastor;” that idea comes from the business world.)


...Bible verses that tell us that "God has planted a dream in your heart so that you can fulfill your destiny?"... never mind, that's so ridiculous that we can go on to the next question (this is a Christian website-not the Disney Channel!)


...Bible verses telling the church to conform to the pagan culture (in order to "win over" that culture), or  Bible verses describing the church as separate and distinct from culture? (This is a trick question; there are no verses telling the church to conform to the pagan culture. The word “church” comes from the word “ekklesia” which means “gathering” or “called out ones.”)


...Bible verses that describe the church as a place for entertainment-style "worship" (so that lots of people will enjoy going there), or as a place where the Bible (and sound doctrine about Christ) is proclaimed, confessed and taught? (This is a trick question; there are no verses telling the church to attract non-believers with flashy and/or emotional music, stagecraft, sermons full of entertaining stories/jokes, etc.)


...Bible verses that teach pastors about effective leadership skills that allow them to direct and manage a large staff (and thus make a huge salary), or Bible verses that say no believer should follow worldly philosophies and pastors should not get rich from preaching? (This is a trick question; there are no verses that describe pastors as businessman CEOs that follow leadership practices borrowed from pagans who want to get rich.)


...Bible verses that describe the Holy Spirit as wanting to get more and more attention (because He's been so neglected), or Bible verses that say He is always pointing us to Christ? (This is a trick question; the real Holy Spirit of the Bible is always leading people to repentance and faith in Christ, He never sends people on bizarre wild goose chases.)


...Bible verses where the Holy Spirit wants to make us act drunk and out of control, or Bible verses where the Holy Spirit wants to lead us to repentance and faith in Christ? (This is a trick question; there are no verses saying that the Holy Spirit wants to make us act drunk and out of control.)


...Bible verses that command us to muster up intense fervor to show how serious we are about serving God (so that He will finally give us something more: more power, more miracles, more success, more influence…), or Bible verses that tell us to simply believe in the forgiveness of our sins through Christ? (This is a trick question; there are no verses telling us to muster up intense fervor so we can show God how serious we are. You can relax now!)


...Bible verses about a great end times revival that features new and better Apostles who will do great healings, signs and wonders, or Bible verses that tell us about an end times falling away, full of false teachers doing great healings, signs and wonders in the name of Jesus? (This is a trick question; there are no Bible verses that tell us to expect a great end-times revival that features new and better Apostles.  All of the Bible verses are warning us about a great falling away with false teachers leading many astray by doing miraculous signs and wonders in the name of Jesus.)


...Bible verses that tell us to go to meetings and conferences in order to "get the anointing,"or Bible verses that tell us we already have all that we need in Christ? (This is a trick question-there are no verses that tell Christians to go somewhere in order to "get the anointing." You can stop throwing away money on travel expenses and conference tickets now!)


...Bible verses that instruct Christians to "speak things into existence?"... never mind, that's so idiotic that we can just go to the next question (this is not an article about witchcraft and sorcery)...


...Bible verses that tell churches to unify regardless of doctrine (so that God can finally "show up"), or Bible verses that tell us to hold fast to correct doctrine? (This is a trick question-there are no Bible verses where God promises to "show up" once we all give up our doctrine and unite for the sake of being unified.)


...Bible verses that tell us it's "all about a relationship, not a religion," or Bible verses that tell us to repent, be baptized and become members of Christ's body-The Church? (This is a trick question-there are no verses that specifically tell us to "have a personal relationship with Jesus," instead, the Bible points to the establishment of the Church and it's specific doctrine. Christianity is, by definition, a religion. You can stop being ashamed of that now. It is the only true religion-and it offers us the only true Good News! And, yes, we can certainly claim to have a relationship with Jesus, but remember, this article is about what the Bible actually says.

On the subject of nostalgia, have you noticed how pastors will preach "sermons" with topics that will appeal to your feelings of nostalgia? "Gag Me With A Spoon: An 80's Approach to Knowing God's Will" is a fake sermon title I just made up, but it might as well be real. The exaggerated claim to "make Christianity relevant" is most often just an attempt to keep you: 

  • showing up (for the entertainment/spectacle/novelty),
  • signing up (because you've been sent on a guilt trip) and finally,
  • shutting up (because you've been told to be an obedient part of the team).

Your function is to conform to the pastor/leader, and then he confirms his particular beliefs week after week (as he waves a Bible around like a prop). This is how your confirmation bias gets well fed.

 

On top of this appeal to your nostalgia is the even more emotional appeal (and near-constant repetition) of the worship songs. Is it really necessary for the praise band to repeatedly play the Dsus, Em7, C2 chord progression quietly in the background while the pastor wraps up his sermon? Yes! How else can a non-Biblical point be reinforced? How else can you "feel" the Holy Spirit? This is Manipulation 101; it's a form of hypnosis.


If you've read this far into this article and these ideas are new to you, you're possibly experiencing some "cognitive dissonance." This is what happens when we try and hold two different beliefs at the same time; it's like saying "I believe two plus two equals four, but I also believe it equals five." Our minds have a hard time doing that (which is a good thing!), but we tend to blame someone or something else instead of admitting that one of the thoughts has to be deleted.


Here's an article that goes into more detail about this:

"Eliminating Cognitive Dissonance and the "Silly Putty" Jesus"

Jesus Christ (the actual God/Man of the Bible) is not a mythical being that we've created; He is the second person of the Holy Trinity-the Godhead. However, the Jesus of Pop American Evangelicalism is too often an ambiguous and subjective creation that adapts and adjusts to us, in order to meet our felt needs. He's like Silly Putty. We can bend him into any shape we want-we can even even press him against any image and he'll take on that image like a cheap copier. He's very accommodating of our every whim and fantasy. There's only one small problem: he isn't real. At all.


     Pop American Evangelicalism should be busy eliminating the "Silly Putty" Jesus; after all, aren't Evangelicals supposed to be the ones following the Bible very closely? Or is that just something that's assumed, without much evidence? Does Jesus really exist to "make our dreams come true?" Did Jesus die on the cross to "give us a sense of purpose and community" or to help us promote "leadership principles?" Did the Sovereign Maker of the Universe come and take on flesh and die on the cross so that we could become:


    "Empowered Dreamers of Destiny?" or

             "Prophets of Global Awakening?" or

                        "Radical Worshipers of the Heavenly Realm?" or,

                                 just insert whatever non-Biblical (yet spiritual sounding) phrase pops into your head...


No, Jesus came to rescue us from sin and death.

     In psychology, "cognitive dissonance" is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values. Dr. Leon Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance (which was developed in the late 1950's) focuses on how humans strive for internal consistency. When inconsistency (dissonance) is experienced, individuals tend to become psychologically uncomfortable and they are motivated to reduce this dissonance, in any number of ways. It's painful to hold two opposing beliefs at the same time. One can either change one's beliefs in order to make them consistent or one can make some other superficial adjustment.


     When confronted with the "Silly Putty" Jesus, Evangelical Christians tend to react in two different ways: they either recommit to their false beliefs with increased fervor (often by invalidating the messenger who delivers the uncomfortable truth; i.e. "that blogger is just a mean jerk!!"), or they give up on Christianity altogether (which they've mistakenly believed was owned and operated by the "Silly Putty" Jesus, and thus, all their dreams have not come true).


     It's very interesting to note that Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance was formulated during research for the 1956 book "When Prophets Fail." Festinger and his collaborators, Henry Riecken and Stanley Schachter, examined conditions under which disconfirmation of beliefs leads to increased conviction in such beliefs. The group studied a small apocalyptic cult led by Dorothy Martin (under the pseudonym Marion Keech in the book), a suburban housewife. Martin claimed to have received messages from "the Guardians," a group of superior beings from another planet. The messages purportedly said that a flood would destroy the world on December 21st.


     As a side note, Dorothy Martin received her messages by utilizing an "automatic writing" (demonic) technique just like Sarah Young, who wrote the "Jesus Calling" book that Evangelicals have made a runaway best-seller.


     Anyway, the three psychologists and several other assistants infiltrated Dorothy Martin's group incognito, where they observed the group firsthand for months before and after the predicted apocalypse. Many of the group members quit their jobs and sold their possessions in preparation for the predicted "End of the World." When the prophesied doomsday came and went, Martin claimed that the world was spared because of the "force of good and light" that the group members had spread throughout the world. Rather than abandoning their discredited beliefs, group members adhered to them even more strongly and began proselytizing with fervor.


     So, these people had experienced tremendous cognitive dissonance when their leader was proven utterly wrong; so they increased activity and fervor in order to compensate for their internal discomfort. Hmmm....


     Doesn't this sound like a lot of church services where the goal is to prop-up shallow beliefs and bad theology with emotionalism and cheer-leading? And in the charismatic American Evangelical church, there have been so many false prophets saying so many false things that it's impossible to even keep track of it all. How many of the "New Apostles" have said false things that don't line up with scripture? All of them have. How many of the "New Apostles" have made false prophecies that haven't come true? All of them have. Yet they keep "preaching" and getting richer. Sound Biblical teaching has been replaced with: "Speaking my dream into existence" and "declaring and decreeing my destiny" and "My time of special anointing is about to be birthed..." These ideas came from the world of sorcery and "Mind Science," but they've been accommodated by charismatic churches for decades and now many Evangelical churches (that were previously non-charismatic) have accepted and adopted these charismatic practices and beliefs without pause. Why? Because it's "what people want" and it "brings in the numbers."

     More recently, another psychological study found that playing pleasant music (Mozart, in the study) can decrease cognitive dissonance. In other words, if one is holding two or more conflicting beliefs simultaneously, the resulting tension can be decreased by listening to soft music. Of course, the best thing to do would be to eliminate whatever false belief is causing all the trouble! And yet, this helps explain why a soft rock "praise band" is a vital part of any Evangelical service nowadays. While the parishioner sits and listens to a sermon that conflicts with Biblical Christianity (usually in a subtle, sneaky way), he is eventually lulled into compliance by an emotional chord progression played repeatedly in the background.


     As an accomplished musician I know about this from playing for many years on the "worship team." We musicians would often be out in the lobby talking and eating donuts during the sermon, but we had to watch for the pastor's signal to come up and play while he delivered his emotional ending plea. Charismatic churches compound this charade by calling any emotional response "The Holy Spirit," or by saying "you could really feel the Holy Spirit fall down during the service this morning!" Do we really believe the Holy Spirit was somewhere (up in the rafters maybe?) and by playing a certain type of music that we can "call Him down" as if we had some kind of mystical God whistle? In truth, emotional music is, well, emotional. That's why can you feel very similar feelings at any concert when certain similar music is being played. In the church, this is plain old emotional manipulation, and it's been a hallmark of American Evangelicalism ever since the days of Charles Finney.


Here are some thoughts on how to fend off cognitive dissonance for good:

1. Diligently eliminate all false teachings from you life.

 This is what God's Word tells us to do. Check out all these Bible verses in the pdf file below.  This will probably take some time and effort-do it anyway. This will also probably make you unpopular with some people-do it anyway. Even though Jesus and the Apostles tell us repeatedly to "watch out for wolves in sheep's clothing" we've been told by Evangelical "experts" to do the opposite; we've been told to just be accepting, non-judgmental and positive. As for me, I've been more at peace than ever before by ignoring all the "experts." If Jesus is the head of the church, shouldn't Jesus be the head of the church? Why are we allowing "vision-casting" pastors to promote the "Silly Putty" Jesus? Probably because he tells us whatever we want to hear. But it's all deception, and true freedom comes from the true Gospel.

2. Question everything.

 Seriously. Question your own presumptions before you even start asking questions. For example: instead of saying, "I want to go to a church where the pastor can really keep my attention with exciting and humorous sermons" or "I want to go to a church that I'm comfortable with" or "I want to go to a church that's relevant to my needs" you should be saying "I want to go to a church that carefully follows God's Word-no matter what!" The pastor who keeps your attention with his exciting and humorous sermons is quite possibly preventing you from hearing about Christ and Him crucified for your sins.  Is hearing a little pep talk about improving your "life skills" a good enough reason to attend church? Do you really expect so little from the God of the Universe? Question everything, but make the Bible your final authority. Which leads to the last point...


3. Stop following the teachings of men. 

Do you want to follow Jesus Christ, the Risen Savior? Great! That means taking up your cross and denying yourself, it doesn't mean "having your best life now." Evangelicals believe that the Bible is God's Word, yet they read it very infrequently, and then they often misunderstand it when they do. It's not a "manual for life" or a set of instructions for "achieving you dreams." It is God revealing Himself through the redeeming Savior, Jesus Christ. He came to earth by taking on human flesh through a virgin birth; He lived an amazing life full of astounding miracles; He had authority and wisdom far beyond any human; He died on the cross where He took our sins upon Himself, and then He was raised from the dead. And then He gave us His Word-His unchanging and objective Word. We need not doubt anymore.

That's enough.


              Actually, that's much, much more than enough!


Why would we add anything to this? What pathetic "new" teaching of man could possibly be better than the true Gospel? When we focus on the shocking, stunning and truly wonderful miracle of Christ's atoning sacrifice for our sins and the complete, final and unconditional forgiveness we've been granted, we won't have any need for the shallow teachings of man to tickle our ears.


Leave the Silly Putty Jesus behind, and find true freedom, forgiveness and hope in the real Jesus!

 

Most Christians will proclaim that they believe the Bible, first and foremost; and they're certain that their pastor or favorite teacher is following the Bible, too. If that describes you, let me issue a challenge to you (see if this applies to you):


When you are confronted with undeniable proof that your favorite pastor/teacher is actually saying stuff that isn't in the Bible at all, and when you discover that they're actually contradicting the Bible, you will say something like, "Well... I know pastor so-and-so, and he knows what he's doing; he's a good man and I trust him!" When you are doing this, you are putting the teachings of a man above the Word of God. You are just exhibiting a spiritualized version of confirmation bias. Many of the most popular and famous pastors/teachers in the world of pop evangelicalism are "teaching for shameful gain the things they ought not" and they are getting away with it, all the way to the bank.


  •  They are getting filthy rich, flying around the world and living like rock stars.
  • They are accountable to no one, except a board full of yes men (often other mega-church pastors).
  • They live luxuriously in gigantic mansions.
  • They teach the false doctrine of "tithing as proven investment scheme" in order to get your money.
  • They manipulate people by constantly claiming to "hear from God," while ignoring and/or twisting God's actual Word.
  • They make millions on the conference/book-selling circuit because they are part of a "club" where they speak at each other's mega-churches and receive sacks full of tax-free cash they call "free will offerings." That's also why they never criticize each other ("you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours"). 
  • They don't actually study the Bible very much, instead they focus on make convincing speeches that continue to suck people into the bondage of false teaching. Hyper-emotionalism, made-up stories, plagiarism, stand-up comedy ripoffs... whatever works.
  • They are driving people away from true Christianity and setting them up for a life of deception, confusion, false promises and a false Gospel.
  • And you're the reason they are getting away with it.
Dr. Justin Peters, Th.D. (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) discusses several False Teachers, including Rick Warren.
(Used with permission)
The problem with Rick Warren's "Purpose Driven Life" philosophy, as endorsed by
many pastors:

Alistair Begg's Message at NRB15 Worship Service

 

Alistair Begg, senior minister of Parkside Church in suburban Cleveland, OH, preached at the open-to-the-public Worship Service that took place Wednesday, February 25, 2015, during the NRB 2015 International Christian Media Convention in Nashville, TN.

"The Portrait of False Teachers"

with Pastor John MacArthur

(courtesy of Grace to You, copyright, used with permission)

"Inerrancy Under Attack"

-Dr. John MacArthur

(speaking at the Shepherd's Conference, 2015, used with permission)

The church in America today is obsessed with being practical, relevant, successful, and well-liked. As a result of this obsession, the American church has capitulated to the norms and values of the contemporary culture and relegated the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the dustbin. In this message, Dr. Michael Horton, explains this “American Captivity of the Church” and why it is such a subtle and deadly danger:

Some of the most popular preaching in America presents a message of positive thinking. The alternative Gospel of Joel Osteen and the prosperity preachers forgoes the cross and advises us to merely "do our best." At its heart, this is pure legalism of the worst variety. In this message, Dr. John MacArthur examines the alternative gospel of the prosperity preachers and explains why legalism-lite is still legalism:
Dr. John MacArthur speaks on the subject
"Hath God Said?"
at the Ligonier Ministries 2002 Conference:

What Is Moralistic-Therapeutic-Deism?

Nick Bogardus interviews Dr. Michael Horton (Westminster Seminary California) of White Horse Inn about Moralistic Therapeutic Deism; Christians lacking a true understanding of the gospel and having secular teachings as their beliefs; i.e. good people go to heaven, God helps those who helps themselves is scripture, etc.

Moralistic-Therapeutic-Deism


The creed of the new American religions, is basically this: God is nice and we are nice, so we should all be nice; and church is where we come together for community. The goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself, and good people will go to heaven when they die. Some who profess this creed also profess to be Christian.  

In this message, Dr. Michael Horton explains how biblical Christianity has been replaced by this vacuous moralistic and therapeutic deism at the 2010 Ligonier Ministries West Coast Conference:

John MacArthur on The Myth of Influence (Part 1):

This lecture will warn the church that we build the kingdom not by looking like the world, but that we are called to be set apart and distinct from the world around us.

John MacArthur on The Myth of Influence (Part 2):


"The Social Revolution"

The impact of the social revolution on evangelical churches and the contrasting advantages of obedience to the biblical pattern of church life.


Rev. John Thackway explains in the video below.


“Principles of Biblical Separation” (Part 1)

                                               Rev. John Thackway

The Distinctiveness of Gospel Churches.
1. Separation in Church Associations and Co-operative Ventures.
Obeying God's call to His people to be separate from churches and organisations that tolerate false teachers. This address challenged today's indifference to the principles of biblical separation, including a rebuttal of the misuse of the terms 'hyper-separatist' and 'guilt by association'.

“Principles of Biblical Separation” (Part 2)
Rev. John Thackway


The Distinctiveness of Gospel Churches.
2. Separation in Personal Life, and in Service for God.
The biblical attitude to Gospel outreach were contrasted with the man-centred methods for success of new evangelicalism, giving special attention to the need for an integrity that rejects pragmatic compromise. An appeal to do God's work in God's way, and for His glory alone.


"Discernment" by a church member can lead to being labeled "Troublemaker"
Dr. R. Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Seminary, appears on a panel discussion and describes the "Seeker Sensitive" Problem
Dr. John MacArthur on the "Seeker Sensitive" Movement
(Courtesy of Grace to You, used with permission)
The "Market-Driven" Church is concerned about numbers of one cultural/segment of society, simplistic sermonettes, unabashed/unapologetic teaching of heresy, more emphasis on an unbiblical "social gospel" than the Gospel message of Jesus, and the importation of worldly entertainment. 

"The Market-Driven Church"
A Look Behind the Scenes:


Dr. Gary Gilley discusses the quest to "discover the will of God," discern the mysterious "prompting of the Spirit,' and hear the voice of God are popular topics in the Christian culture. What does the Bible really say about hearing from God and discovering His will? This session will carefully examine these questions:

The Problem of "Private Revelations"
(Used by "Vision Casting" Pastors.)

Rev. Phil Johnson discusses this problem
at the 2002 Shepherds' Conference:

Dr. John MacArthur offers excellent insight into the Sufficiency of Scripture, from his book, “Our Sufficiency in Christ”

 

It is significant that one of the biblical names of Christ is Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6).  He is the highest and ultimate One to whom we may turn for counsel, and His Word is the well from which we may draw divine wisdom. What could be more wonderful than that? In fact, one of the most glorious aspects of Christ’s perfect sufficiency is the wonderful counsel and great wisdom He supplies in our times of despair, confusion, fear, anxiety, and sorrow. He is the quintessential Counselor.

 

This is not to denigrate the importance of Christians counseling each other. There certainly is a crucial need for biblically sound counseling ministries within the Church, and this need is met by those who are spiritually gifted to offer encouragement, discernment, comfort, advice, compassion, and help to others. In fact, one of the very problems that has led to the current plague of bad counsel is that churches have not done as well as they could in equipping people with those kinds of gifts to minister effectively. In addition, the complexities of this modern age have made it more difficult to take the time necessary to listen well, serve others through compassionate personal involvement, and otherwise provide the close fellowship necessary for the church body to enjoy health and vitality.

 

Churches have looked to psychology to fill the gap, but it isn’t going to work. Professional psychologists are no substitute for spiritually gifted people, and the counsel that psychology offers cannot replace biblical wisdom and divine power. Moreover, psychology tends to make people dependent on a therapist, whereas those exercising true spiritual gifts always turn people back to all-sufficient Savior and His all-sufficient Word.

 

A Psalm on Scripture’s Sufficiency

Psalm 19:7-9 is the most monumental and concise statement on the sufficiency of Scripture ever made. Penned by David under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, these three verses offer unwavering testimony from God Himself about the sufficiency of His Word for every situation and thereby counter the teaching of those who believe that God’s Word must be augmented with truth gleaned from modern psychology. In this passage David makes six statements, each highlighting a characteristic of Scripture and describing its effect in the life of the one who embraces it. Taken together, these statements paint a beautiful picture of the sufficiency of God’s Word.

 

Scripture Is Perfect, Restoring the Soul

In the first statement (v. 7), David says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul.” This word “perfect” is the translation of a common Hebrew word meaning “whole,” “complete,” or “sufficient.” It conveys the idea of something that is comprehensive, so as to cover all aspects of an issue. Scripture is comprehensive, embodying all that is necessary to one’s spiritual life. David’s implied contrast here is with the imperfect, insufficient, flawed reasoning of men.

 

God’s perfect law, David says, affects people by “restoring the soul” (v. 7). To paraphrase David’s words, Scripture is so powerful and comprehensive that it can convert or transform the entire person, changing someone into precisely the person God wants him to be. God’s Word is sufficient to restore through salvation even the most broken life—a fact to which David himself gave abundant testimony.

 

Professional psychologists are
no substitute for spiritually gifted
people, and the counsel that psychology
offers cannot replace biblical
wisdom and divine power.


Scripture Is Trustworthy, Imparting Wisdom

David further expands the sweep of scriptural sufficiency in Psalm 19:7, writing, “The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” David’s use of the word “sure” means that the Lord’s testimony is unwavering, immovable, unmistakable, reliable, and worthy to be trusted. It provides a foundation on which to build one’s life and eternal destiny.

 

God’s sure Word makes the simple wise (v. 7). The Hebrew word translated “simple” comes from an expression meaning “an open door.” It evokes the image of a naive person who doesn’t know to shut his mind to false or impure teaching. He is undiscerning, ignorant, and gullible, but God’s Word makes him wise. Such a man is skilled in the art of godly living: He submits to Scripture and knows how to apply it to his circumstances. The Word of God thus takes a simple mind with no discernment and makes it skilled in the issues of life.

 

Scripture Is Right, Causing Joy

In verse 8, David adds a third statement about Scripture’s sufficiency: “The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.” Rather than simply indicating what is right as opposed to wrong, the word translated “right” has the sense of showing someone the true path. The truths of Scripture lay out the proper path through the difficult maze of life. That brings a wonderful confidence. So many people are distressed or despondent because they lack direction and purpose, and most of them seek answers from the wrong sources. God’s Word not only provides the light to our path (Psalm 119:105), but also sets the route before us.

 

Because it steers us through the right course of life, God’s Word brings great joy. If one is depressed, anxious, fearful, or doubting, the solution is found not in self-indulgent pursuits like self-esteem and self-fulfillment. The solution is found in learning to obey God’s counsel and sharing in the resulting delight. Divine truth is the fount of true and lasting joy. All other sources are shallow and fleeting.

 

Scripture Is Pure, Enlightening the Eyes

Psalm 19:8 gives a fourth characteristic of Scripture’s utter sufficiency: “The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.” This word “pure” could better be translated “clear” or “lucid,” and it indicates that Scripture is not mystifying, confusing, or puzzling. God’s Word reveals truth to make the dark things light, bringing eternity into bright focus. Granted, there are things in Scripture that are hard to understand (2 Peter 3:16), but taken as a whole, the Bible is not a bewildering book. It is clear and lucid.

 

Because of its absolute clarity, Scripture brings understanding where there is ignorance, order where there is confusion, and light where there is spiritual and moral darkness. It stands in stark contrast to the muddled musings of unredeemed men, who themselves are blind and unable to discern truth or live righteously. God’s Word clearly reveals the blessed, hopeful truths they can never see.

 

Scripture Is Clean, Enduring Forever

In Psalm 19:9, David uses the term “fear” as a synonym for God’s Word: “The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.” This “fear” speaks of the reverential awe for God that compels believers to worship Him. Scripture, in this sense, is the divine manual on how to worship the Lord. The Hebrew word “clean” speaks of the absence of impurity, filthiness, defilement, or imperfection. Scripture is without sin, evil, corruption, or error. The truth it conveys is therefore absolutely undefiled and without blemish.

 

Because it is flawless, Scripture endures forever (Psalm 19:9).  Any change or modification could only introduce imperfection. Scripture is eternally and unalterably perfect. It needs no updating, editing, or refining, for it is God’s revelation for every generation. The Bible was written by the omniscient Spirit of God, who is infinitely more sophisticated than anyone who dares stand in judgment on Scripture’s relevancy for our society, and infinitely wiser than all the best philosophers, analysts, and psychologists who pass like a childhood parade into irrelevancy. Scripture has always been and will always be sufficient.

 

Scripture Is True, Altogether Righteous

Verse 9 provides the final characteristic and effect of God’s all-sufficient Word: “The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.” The word “judgments” in this context refers to ordinances or divine verdicts from the bench of the Supreme Judge of the earth. The Bible is God’s standard for judging the life and eternal destiny of every person. Because Scripture is true, it is “righteous altogether”(Psalm 19:9). The implication of that phrase is that its truthfulness produces a comprehensive righteousness in those who accept it.

 

Contrary to what many are teaching today, there is no need for additional revelations, visions, words of prophecy, or insights from modern psychology. In contrast to the theories of men, God’s Word is true and absolutely comprehensive. Rather than seeking something more than God’s glorious revelation, Christians need only to study and obey what they already have. Scripture is sufficient.

 

(Adapted from John MacArthur, Our Sufficiency in Christ (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1998). For a fuller treatment of the sufficiency of Scripture, consult this resource.)

In many American churches, the Good News of what Jesus Christ has accomplished for us has been replaced with Good Advice about what we can do for God. We have replaced the proclamation of Christ and Him crucified with an easy-listening legalism of "do more and try harder."


In this message, Dr. R.C. Sproul explains the crucial difference between the law and the Gospel and why it is absolutely necessary for Christians to know this difference:

Americans are incurably "spiritual," but this spirituality expresses itself in ways that are incompatible with biblical Christianity. It expresses itself in ways that are essentially Gnostic. The American church has not been immune to the influence of this American Gnosticism.
 
In this message, Dr. Peter Jones compares this private, mystical, and inward religious mentality with the corporate, doctrinal, and visible faith of orthodox Christianity:
"What a Biblical Church is Like"
Dr. Peter Masters

Proving the New Testament Pattern. - Promoters of new methods for church growth adopt the sin-connected culture of the world and dismiss the sufficiency of Scripture. This address will review the essential features of the New Testament pattern church, so derided by today's innovators, but vital in God's plan and purpose. These biblical principles are the basis of true blessing.

Biblically-Anemic Preaching: The Devastating Consequences of a Watered-Down Message

Jeremiah 8:11; 2 Timothy 4:2

-Dr. John MacArthur

(Grace to You, copyright, used with permission)

Those who are familiar with my ministry know that I am committed to expository preaching. It is my unshakable conviction that the proclamation of God’s Word should always be the heart and the focus of the church’s ministry (2 Timothy 4:2). And proper biblical preaching should be systematic, expositional, theological, and God-centered.

Such preaching is in short supply these days. There are plenty of gifted communicators in the modern evangelical movement, but today’s sermons tend to be short, shallow, topical homilies that massage people’s egos and focus on fairly insipid subjects like human relationships, "successful" living, emotional issues, and other practical but worldly—and not definitively biblical—themes. These messages are lightweight and without substance, cheap and synthetic, leaving little more than an ephemeral impression on the minds of the hearers.

Some time ago I hosted a discussion at the Expositors’ Institute, an annual small-group colloquium on preaching held at our church. In preparation for that seminar, I took a yellow legal pad and a pen and began listing the negative effects of the superficial brand of preaching that is so rife in modern evangelicalism.

I initially thought I might be able to identify about ten, but in the end I had jotted down a list of sixty-one devastating consequences. I’ve distilled them to fifteen by combining and eliminating all but the most crucial ones. I offer them as a warning against superficial, marginally biblical preaching—both to those who stand behind the pulpit and to those who sit in the pew.


1. It usurps the authority of God over the soul. Whether a preacher boldly proclaims the Word of God or not is ultimately a question of authority. Who has the right to speak to the church? The preacher or God? Whenever anything is substituted for the preaching of the Word, God’s authority is usurped. What a prideful thing to do! In fact, it is hard to conceive of anything more insolent that could be done by a man who is called by God to preach.

2. It removes the lordship of Christ from His church. Who is the Head of the church? Is Christ really the dominant teaching authority in the church? If so, then why are there so many churches where His Word is not being faithfully proclaimed? When we look at contemporary ministry, we see programs and methods that are the fruit of human invention, the offspring of opinion polls and neighborhood surveys, and other pragmatic artifices. Church-growth experts have in essence wrested control of the church’s agenda from her true Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. Our Puritan forefathers resisted the imposition of government-imposed liturgies for precisely this reason: They saw it as a direct attack on the headship of Christ over His own church. Modern preachers who neglect the Word of God have yielded the ground those men fought and sometimes died for. When Jesus Christ is exalted among His people, His power is manifest in the church. When the church is commandeered by compromisers who want to appease the culture, the gospel is minimized, true power is lost, artificial energy must be manufactured, and superficiality takes the place of truth.

3. It hinders the work of the Holy Spirit. What is the instrument the Spirit uses to do His work? The Word of God. He uses the Word as the instrument of regeneration (1 Peter 1:23; James 1:18). He also uses it as the means of sanctification (John 17:17). In fact, it is the only tool He uses (Ephesians 6:17). So when preachers neglect God’s Word, they undermine the work of the Holy Spirit, producing shallow conversions and spiritually lame Christians—if not utterly spurious ones.

4. It demonstrates appalling pride and a lack of submission. In the modern approach to "ministry," the Word of God is deliberately downplayed, the reproach of Christ is quietly repudiated, the offense of the gospel is carefully eliminated, and "worship" is purposely tailored to fit the preferences of unbelievers. That is nothing but a refusal to submit to the biblical mandate for the church. The effrontery of ministers who pursue such a course is, to me, frightening.

5. It severs the preacher personally from the regular sanctifying grace of Scripture. The greatest personal benefit that I get from preaching is the work that the Spirit of God does on my own soul as I study and prepare for two expository messages each Lord’s Day. Week by week the duty of careful exposition keeps my own heart focused and fixed on the Scriptures, and the Word of God nourishes me while I prepare to feed my flock. So I am personally blessed and spiritually strengthened through the enterprise. If for no other reason, I would never abandon biblical preaching. The enemy of our souls is after preachers in particular, and the sanctifying grace of the Word of God is critical to our protection.

6. It clouds the true depth and transcendence of our message and therefore cripples both corporate and personal worship. What passes for preaching in some churches today is literally no more profound than what preachers in our fathers’ generation were teaching in the five-minute children’s sermon they gave before dismissing the kids. That’s no exaggeration. It is often that simplistic, if not utterly inane. There is nothing deep about it. Such an approach makes it impossible for true worship to take place, because worship is a transcendent experience. Worship should take us above the mundane and simplistic. So the only way true worship can occur is if we first come to grips with the depth of spiritual truth. Our people can only rise high in worship in the same proportion to which we have taken them deep into the profound truths of the Word. There is no way they can have lofty thoughts of God unless we have plunged them into the depths of God’s self-revelation. But preaching today is neither profound nor transcendent. It doesn’t go down, and it doesn’t go up. It merely aims to entertain.

By the way, true worship is not something that can be stimulated artificially. A bigger, louder band and more sentimental music might do more to stir people’s emotions. But that is not genuine worship. True worship is a response from the heart to God’s truth (John 4:23). You can actually worship without music if you have seen the glories and the depth of what the Bible teaches.

7. It prevents the preacher from fully developing the mind of Christ. Pastors are supposed to be under-shepherds of Christ. Too many modern preachers are so bent on understanding the culture that they develop the mind of the culture and not the mind of Christ. They start to think like the world, and not like the Savior. Frankly, the nuances of worldly culture are virtually irrelevant to me. I want to know the mind of Christ and bring that to bear on the culture, no matter what culture I may be ministering to. If I’m going to stand up in a pulpit and be a representative of Jesus Christ, I want to know how He thinks—and that must be my message to His people too. The only way to know and proclaim the mind of Christ is by being faithful to study and preach His Word. What happens to preachers who obsess about cultural "relevancy" is that they become worldly, not godly.

8. It depreciates by example the spiritual duty and priority of personal Bible study. Is personal Bible study important? Of course. But what example does the preacher set when he neglects the Bible in his own preaching? Why would people think they need to study the Bible if the preacher doesn’t do serious study himself in the preparation of his sermons? There is now a movement among some in ministry to trim, as much as possible, all explicit references to the Bible from the sermon—and above all, don’t ever ask your people to turn to a specific Bible passage because that kind of thing makes "seekers" uncomfortable. Some churches actively discourage their people from bringing Bibles to church lest the sight of so many Bibles intimidate the "seekers." As if it were dangerous to give your people the impression that the Bible might be important!

9. It prevents the preacher from being the voice of God on every issue of his time. Jeremiah 8:9 says, "The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken. Behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord; so what wisdom do they have?" When I speak, I want to be God’s messenger. I’m not interested in exegeting what some psychologist or business guru or college professor has to say about an issue. My people don’t need my opinion; they need to hear what God has to say. If we preach as Scripture commands us, there should be no ambiguity about whose message is coming from the pulpit.

10. It breeds a congregation that is as weak and indifferent to the glory of God as their pastor is. Such preaching fosters people who are consumed with their own well-being. When you tell people that the church’s primary ministry is to fix for them whatever is wrong in this life—to meet their needs, to help them cope with their worldly disappointments, and so on—the message you are sending is that their mundane problems are more important than the glory of God and the majesty of Christ. Again, that sabotages true worship.

11. It robs people of their only true source of help. People who sit under superficial preaching become dependent on the cleverness and the creativity of the speaker. When preachers punctuate their sermons with laser lights and smoke, video clips and live drama, the message they send is that there isn’t a prayer the people in the pew could ever extract such profound material on their own. Such gimmicks create a kind of dispensing mechanism that people can’t use to serve themselves. So they become spiritual couch potatoes who just come in to be entertained, and whatever superficial spiritual content they get from the preacher’s weekly performance is all they will get. They have no particular interest in the Bible because the sermons they hear don’t cultivate that. They are wowed by the preacher’s creativity and manipulated by the music, and that becomes their whole perspective on spirituality.

12. It encourages people to become indifferent to the Word of God and divine authority. Predictably, in a church where the preaching of Scripture is neglected, it becomes impossible to get people to submit to the authority of Scripture. The preacher who always aims at meeting felt needs and strokes the conceit of worldly people has no platform from which to confront the man who wants to divorce his wife without cause. The man will say, "You don’t understand what I feel. I came here because you promised to meet my felt needs. And I’m telling you, I don’t feel like I want to live with this woman anymore." You can’t inject biblical authority into that. You certainly wouldn’t have an easy time pursuing church discipline. That is the monster that superficial preaching creates. But if you are going to try to deal with sin and apply any kind of authoritative principle to keep the church pure, you must be preaching the Word.

13. It lies to people about what they really need. In Jeremiah 8:11, God condemns the prophets who treated people’s wounds superficially. That verse applies powerfully to the preachers who populate so many prominent evangelical pulpits today. They omit the hard truths about sin and judgment. They tone down the offensive parts of Christ’s message. They lie to people about what they really need, promising them "fulfillment" and earthly well-being when what people really need is an exalted vision of Christ and a true understanding of the splendor of God’s holiness.

14. It strips the pulpit of power. "The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword" (Hebrews 4:12). Everything else is impotent, giving merely an illusion of power. Human strategy is not more important than Scripture. The showman’s ability to lure people in should not impress us more than the Bible’s ability to transform lives.

15. It puts the responsibility on the preacher to change people with his cleverness. Preachers who pursue the modern approach to ministry must think they have the power to change people. That, too, is a frightening expression of pride. We preachers can’t save people, and we can’t sanctify them. We can’t change people with our insights, our cleverness, by entertaining them or by appealing to their human whims and wishes and ambitions. There’s only One who can change sinners. That’s God, and He does it by His Spirit through the Word.

So pastors must preach the Word, even though it is currently out of fashion to do so (2 Timothy 4:2). That is the only way their ministry can ever truly be fruitful. Moreover, it assures that they will be fruitful in ministry, because God’s Word never returns to Him void; it always accomplishes that for which He sends it and prospers in what He sends it to do (Isaiah 55:11).

 

Where do many "seeker sensitive" pastors get their flawed ministry methods?  They are found in the Rick Warren book, "The Purpose Driven Church."

Book Review: "The Purpose Driven Church," by Rick Warren

-by Rev. Paul Alexander, Capitol Hill Baptist Church

 

I) INTRODUCTION

Every so often a book makes itself a must read simply because of the sheer number of people being influenced by it. Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Church (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995) fits this bill to a “T”. While most evangelical authors struggle to sell 5,000 copies of a single title, Warren’s 1995 release has sold over a million, with rave reviews from evangelicals of all stripes. Warren’s has become a household name among pastors everywhere, many of whom are implementing the Purpose Driven model with reportedly astounding results.


His understanding of salvation is biblical, he trusts in the sovereignty of God, evangelistic zeal pulsates from his heart, he affirms the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture, he believes in regenerate church membership, and he has been practicing church discipline for 21 years now. In fact, his beliefs and values are ours in so many ways that we are wary of questioning his methods lest we be seen as turning our turrets on our own trenches. What’s more, his evident productivity in evangelism is nearly unrivaled, which makes his methods seem sacrosanct, and critically evaluating them taboo.


But McLuhan’s dictum is still instructive: The medium is the message. The methods we use to spread the gospel and build the church will not just be determined by our understanding of gospel and church. The relationship is reciprocal – our methods will in turn play a subtly formative role for our thinking on gospel and church (or at least the thinking of those converted under our ministries). The Purpose Driven concept is more than just an isolated idea or discrete curriculum that takes its place among a pantheon of programs. It is an overarching method for Christian ministry – a way of going about spreading the gospel and building up the church. As such, its implementation will contribute to our understanding of the gospel and the church. The magnitude of popular influence wielded by the Purpose Driven method, coupled with the enormity of its reported success among professing evangelicals, makes asking all the more important: what should we think of a church driven by purpose?

Before posing the question, let’s be careful to understand the author in his own words.


II) SUMMARY OF THE BOOK

Warren’s primary thesis is that “what is needed today are churches that are driven by purpose instead of by other forces” (p80). His paradigm consists of a perspective that looks at everything through the five New Testament purposes of the church, and a process for fulfilling those purposes (p80). The five purposes are taken directly from the Great Commandment in Mt 22:37-40, and the Great Commission in Mt 28:18-20, and are therefore non-negotiable in the application of the model:

1.    Worship – “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Mt 22:37).

2.    Ministry – “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt 22:39).

3.    Evangelism – “go therefore and make disciples” (Mt 28:19).

4.    Fellowship – “baptizing them” (Mt 28:19, identification with the Christian community).

5.    Discipleship – “teaching them to obey all that I command you” (Mt 28:20).


According to Warren, the foundation of such a healthy church is laid “by clarifying in the minds of everyone involved exactly why the church exists and what it is supposed to do. There is incredible power in having a clearly defined purpose statement” (p86). After the foundation of biblical purpose is laid, Warren encourages the pastor to define his purposes, communicate his purposes, organize around them, and apply them.


Having presented the theological and theoretical perspective, Warren then explains the process of implementing that perspective, walking the pastor from targeting his evangelistic audience, to attracting an un-churched crowd, and finally to building up the church.


Maximum evangelistic effectiveness, according to Warren, requires that a local church strategically target the segment of the local population that best matches the current make-up of the church. “The more your target is in focus, the more likely it is that you will be able to hit it…. The people your church is most likely to reach are those who match the existing culture of your church” (pp172, 174). Warren grounds his strategy in Jesus’ practice of targeting the lost sheep of Israel (p158; Mt 10:5-6; 15:22-28), the practice of Peter and Paul in targeting the Jews and Gentiles, respectively (p158; Gal 2:7), and the target audiences of the four written gospels (p158). He then specifies that we must target our audience geographically, demographically, culturally, and spiritually (pp161-169). This target analysis is then used to develop a strategy that will enable us to evangelize people on their terms, making it “as easy and attractive as possible” for them to become Christians (p185, cf. pp189, 193). While warning the reader never to compromise the message (pp62, 157-158), Warren encourages us to “change methods whenever necessary” (p199), and to “use more than one hook” as we fish for men (p200).


If we want to attract an unbelieving crowd, Warren advises us to follow the example of Jesus by loving people, meeting their needs, and teaching them in interesting and practical ways (p208). Once we’ve got them gathered, we need to make the most of the opportunity by being seeker sensitive in our worship, which Warren believes is commanded by 1Cor 14:23 (p243). Method may therefore vary, as long as the message remains biblical. “The spiritual food is unchanged in a seeker sensitive service, but the presentation is more thoughtful and considerate of the guests present” (pp243-244). What this means for Warren is that we need a separate weekly service that is designed particularly to appeal to unbelievers. “Create a service that is intentionally designed for your members to bring their friends to. And make the service so attractive, appealing, and relevant to the unchurched that your members are eager to share it with the lost people they care about” (p253). The music style should therefore be that preferred by the target audience (p280), and the preaching should focus on those passages that require no previous understanding and that “show the benefits of knowing Christ” (p298). The biblical justification for such a service is to “make the teaching about God our Savior attractive’” (Titus 2:10, pp269-270, emphasis his).


In seeking to build up the church, Warren encourages pastors to make local church membership meaningful by implementing a mandatory new members’ class, asking people to sign a membership covenant, and encouraging them to participate in small groups. Spiritual maturity is then “simply a matter of learning certain spiritual exercises and being disciplined to do them until they become habits” (p334). But in order to develop vibrant lay ministry, “you must set up a process to lead people to deeper commitment and greater service for Christ” (p367). Establishing a ministry placement process and providing on the job training are likewise encouraged, along with the delegation of decision-making authority as a logical and necessary complement to delegated responsibility. Warren closes by encouraging the pastor to focus on fulfilling the purposes of the church while expectantly trusting God to cause the growth. This is then coupled with an encouragement to emulate David in serving God’s purposes in our own generation (Acts 13:36, quoted on p395), along with a definition of successful ministry as “building the church on the purposes of God in the power of the Holy Spirit and expecting the results from God” (p397).


So, what do you make of it? Should churches be driven by purposes? Should we change our evangelistic methods if they don’t work? Is seeker sensitivity in worship a biblical command? Should we use audience analysis to make it easy and attractive for people to become Christians?


III) HELPFUL INSIGHTS

Warren’s model is appealing both because it has enjoyed so much apparent success and because he gives us so much with which we can agree. His results are impressive – Warren started from scratch with one other family besides his own, and fifteen years later, his church boasts 10,000 attenders, 7,000 of whom gave their lives to Christ during that period through the evangelistic efforts of the church Warren pastors, Saddleback Community in Lake Forest, CA (p46). Perhaps the greatest evangelical strength of the book is that it clearly directs the reader to Scripture in order to discover God’s purposes for the church. “It isn’t our job to create the purposes of the church but to discover them. . . . As the owner of the church, [Christ] has already established the purposes, and they’re not negotiable” (p98). Chalk one up for the sufficiency of Scripture!


Second, Warren makes helpful comments on the identity and practice of the church. He rightly recognizes that the church is God’s chosen institution for blessing the nations with the gospel of Christ (p21); he realizes that the church is a living organism, and as such should be growing if it is healthy (p16); he reveals the unnecessarily bureaucratic nature of committee structures (p377); and he explodes models of ministry that expect the pastor to do everything (p377).


Third, Warren confronts the radical individualism rampant in American culture with a robust biblical understanding of local church membership, making membership a meaningful commitment by using a church covenant (pp309-310, 320-322) and practicing church discipline (p54).


Fourth, Warren emphasizes the importance of conversion growth over against growth by transfer or natural birth (p63).


Fifth, in an age when many churches are aspiring only to the level of mediocrity, Warren models deliberateness in ministry by continually evaluating everything that the local church does (p276). And even more central to his main assertion, the purposes of the church that Warren points out are all patently biblical and distinctively Christian.


IV) DIFFICULTIES

A. Interpretive Difficulties
In assessing any ministry model, we need to look at the way Scripture is interpreted and then employed to construct it. The constructive criticism that might be offered here is that the Purpose Driven model seems to draw conclusions and applications from texts that don’t necessarily support them. A few instances are worth mentioning.


1. The Purpose Driven paradigm takes Jesus’ ministry as a model for our own in meeting felt needs as a platform for evangelism.

Jesus attracted crowds by meeting people’s needs…. Jesus frequently asked people, “What do you want me to do for you?” God uses all kinds of human needs to get people’s attention. Who are we to judge whether a person’s interest in Christ is for the right reason or the wrong reason? It doesn’t matter why people initially come to Jesus, what matters is that they come…. It is my deep conviction that anybody can be won to Christ if you discover the key to his or her heart…. The most likely place to start is with the person’s felt needs. As I pointed out earlier, this was the approach Jesus used. (p219, emphasis his)


This is a common way for proponents of various seeker-sensitive models to understand and apply the ministry of Jesus. But a more careful reading of the gospels reveals that almost all the healing miracles were intended to function as messianic identity markers – acts that prove Jesus is in fact the divine, promised Messiah – not primarily as a model for our ministry. So, for example, in Mt 8:14-17, Matthew follows the general healings and exorcisms performed by Jesus with the interpretive comment “This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: ‘He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases,” which is symbolic of His becoming “sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2Cor 5:21; cf. Isa 53:4; cf. also Mt 11:1-6, Luke 7:18-23; Mark 2:1-13; John 6; 9:32-33). Jesus works miracles not simply to meet people’s felt needs as an example of how we should do ministry. He works them fundamentally to attest his Messianic identity (Acts 2:22).


Warren argues that Jesus often begins an evangelistic encounter with the question “What can I do for you?” But Jesus is only recorded as saying this five times in all four gospels combined, three occurrences of which are the healing of the blind man Bartimaeus, and perhaps a companion (Mt 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-51; Luke 18:35-43). In each of those passages, His question is a response to the blind men’s request “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David! Son of David, have mercy on us” (or a similar variant). In each passage the men twice acknowledge Jesus as the Son of David – they already believe He is the Messiah. Jesus’ question, then, is not intended as an evangelistic foray. He’s proving their faith is well placed, and rewarding it. When Jesus poses the question in Mark 10:35-45, it is in response to the disciples’ desire for status in the kingdom – no replicable ministry method here. John 1:38 comes closest to making Warren’s point, when Jesus asks his eventual disciples “What do you seek?” They ask where he’s staying, and he tells them to “come and see.” But “what do you seek?” is too broad to necessitate a felt needs oriented interpretation.


It is better to say that when Jesus sensed that crowds were showing up to get their felt needs met, he left and preached elsewhere (Mark 1:35-39). Jesus did not view Himself as having come for the purpose of meeting felt needs. He would not be viewed as a sensational miracle worker, or a source of physical blessing, that people could manipulate for their own ends. His purpose in coming was to preach the gospel (cf. Mark 1:14-15). He actually rebuked the crowds for coming to hear Him just because he met their felt needs (John 6:26), which contradicts the Purpose Driven assumption that it does not matter why people come to Christ.


2. The Purpose Driven model claims that Jesus attracted the crowds by teaching in interesting and practical ways.

Warren cites Mt 7:28; 22:33; Mark 11:18; and Mark 12:37, where the crowds are variously amazed or pleased by His teaching. But in every case, the reaction is to the authority of Jesus’ teaching, not His style (Mt 7:29; Mark 11:15-17; 12:37). Jesus was ready to offend his listeners if it meant clarifying the gospel. He said things in evangelistic sermons that actually made people want to murder Him (Luke 4:14-30). We cannot, then, justify the Purpose Driven method of preaching evangelistically by presenting only the benefits of knowing Christ, or by appealing to the felt needs and tastes of unbelievers.


3. The Purpose Driven model interprets 1Cor 14:23 as a mandate for seeker sensitivity in worship.

“Therefore if the whole church assembles together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad?” Warren concludes from this verse, “God tells us to be sensitive to the hang-ups of unbelievers in our services. Being seeker sensitive in our worship is a biblical command” (p243). But the context of 1Cor 14 is the edification of the church (vv3, 4, 6, 12, 17, 26), and specifically the superiority of prophecy over tongues for corporate edification (vv22, 24, 31). Warren is right to see an application for the way we treat unbelievers in our services, but Paul’s primary solution to the apparent madness of tongues in the assembly is neither linguistic translation nor cultural accommodation. It’s prophecy – what we would today call preaching. Also, the specific issue in 1Cor 14:23 is translation, not idiom or worldview, as Warren applies it. Paul has already told the Corinthians that the Gospel will seem foolish to unbelievers no matter how we present it (1Cor 1:18; 2:14). They need more than sensitivity to see the gospel as attractive – they need the Spirit.


4. The Purpose Driven model cites 1Cor 10:32 as proof of Paul’s seeker sensitivity.

“Give no offense either to Jews or Greeks or to the Church of God” (1Cor 10:32). Warren comments, “Although Paul never uses the term ‘seeker sensitive’, he definitely pioneered the idea. He was very concerned about not placing any stumbling blocks in front of unbelievers” (p243). Warren is right to see the context as having implications for evangelism (v33 “so that they may be saved”). But the passage is not addressing how a preacher should get the gospel across in corporate worship; it is addressing how a Christian should live the gospel to the glory of God in all of life (v31). Paul wants seeker-sensitive lives, not seeker-sensitive services.


5. The Purpose Driven model cites Luke 5:38 (new wineskins for new wine) as proof that new generations require new ministry methods (p121).


Most seeker-sensitive models use this image to prove this point. But the point of the image is the proper reaction to the Messiah’s physical presence, not the need for new ministry methods in new generations (Luke 5:33-39). Jesus is making a point about His messianic identity and the implications of His incarnation. His physical presence was a time for feasting, not fasting (v35). That is the point that the image illustrates – not the need for new ministry methods as each new generation rises.


In short, the hermeneutic often overlooks context and comes away with a different point than the one the text makes.


B. Methodological Difficulties

1. Only the Gospel Has Driving Power for the Church.

Warren’s primary claim is that churches need to be driven not by programs, tradition, or even by the seekers themselves, but by purpose (pp75-80). The negative part of this statement is true – nothing from personalities to seekers can drive the church, and many of us need to hear that point and quit our fascination with worldly methods. Yet the Bible does not ascribe driving power to purposes – even God’s purposes.


Warren quotes Proverbs 19:21 at the head of his chapter on the driving power of purpose: “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purposes that prevail.” True, but how do the Lord’s purposes prevail? God accomplishes His purposes by His Word. Four times in Gen 1 we read “God said…and it was so” – not just “God purposed…and it was so.” God clarifies this distinct relationship between His word and His purposes in Isa 55:10-11:

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return from there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.


Isaiah teaches not only that God’s word accomplishes God’s purposes, but also that God Himself distinguishes between His word and His purposes, such that the two cannot be equated. The New Testament specifies that driving power for the church is only available in God’s word as we find it in the gospel. Paul is “not ashamed of the gospel of Christ [precisely] because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16; cf. 1Cor 1:18; James 1:18, 21; 1Pet 1:23-25).


The purposes that Warren highlights are altogether biblical, but they do not have driving power for the church. God’s Word is what provides driving power for His purposes. We do not need more purpose driven churches. We need more gospel driven churches.


2. Method and Message are Biblically Inseparable.

Warren encourages us not to “confuse methods with the message. The message must never change, but methods must change with each new generation” (pp61-62; see also p200). Yet God’s commitment to accomplishing His purposes by His word means that method and message are inseparable. God’s message is His method (Isa 55:10-11; Rom 1:16).


Separating method from message leads to a “whatever works best” mentality when it comes to deciding how to do things, which is sometimes softened with the language of blessing. “You must figure out what works best to reach seekers in your local context” (p248). “I’m in favor of any method that reaches at least one person for Christ – as long as it is ethical…. We should never criticize any method that God is blessing” (p156, cf. p62). But what then is the standard for effectiveness or blessing? It is the number of people apparently reached. Numbers measure evangelistic and ministerial success.


At Saddleback, we identify the results we expect to see coming from fulfilling each of the five purposes of the church. For each result, we can ask questions like: How many? How many more than last year? How many were brought to Christ? How many new members are there? How many are demonstrating spiritual maturity? . . . How many have been equipped and mobilized for ministry? How many are fulfilling their life mission in the world? These questions measure our success and force us to evaluate if we are really fulfilling the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. (107-108, emphasis mine)


If numbers add up to success, then it would only stand to reason that numbers would best function to justify the method – and that’s exactly how they are used. (178-179; 248)


The model tells the pastor not to concentrate on numerical growth, but on purpose (p394). Yet numerical growth is exactly what the seeker service is designed to promote.


Increasing the size of your church does not require the intelligence of a rocket scientist: you must simply get more people to visit!…. What is the most natural way to increase the number of visitors to your church?…. The answer is quite simple. By creating a service that Christians want to bring their unsaved friends to, you don’t have to use contests, campaigns, or guilt to increase attendance. Members will invite their friends week after week, and your church will experience a steady influx of unchurched visitors. (253)


Aren’t these the kinds of questions we should be asking? Isn’t this the kind of creativity we’ve been looking for? Perhaps. But what would we say to Jeremiah or Ezekiel if numerical growth were the key index of success in evangelism and ministry? What would we say to Stephen in Acts 7, who was stoned to death for preaching the gospel? Was Stephen unsuccessful in ministry because he didn’t see three thousand immediate converts in one day like Peter did at Pentecost in Acts 2:41?


What would we say to Adoniram Judson, and myriad other faithful missionaries like him who struggled for years to see appreciable fruit from their ministries, if any at all? And have we forgotten about the function of the preached gospel as that which hardens recalcitrant men and women in their refusal to repent (2Cor 2:15-16)?


Faithfulness is the measure of the minister, not numerical results.


3. Building on Purpose Leads to False Unity.

Uniting around purpose before uniting around a biblical understanding of the gospel is what led many evangelicals into false ecumenism with liberal churches in the latter half of the twentieth century (see Iain Murray’s Evangelicalism Divided [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth], 2000). Once the purpose of evangelism replaced the Gospel as “the main thing”, the Gospel ceased to regulate our participation in those purposes. We united with liberal Protestants in the purpose of evangelism; but since they were not in fact preaching the same gospel, we weren’t really accomplishing the same purpose.


The Purpose Driven idea of building on unity of purpose rather than on unity in the gospel is moving in the same direction, leading to a unity that is, at best, sub-Christian. We should unite around the gospel before uniting around God’s purposes because the gospel is what enables, regulates, and empowers our participation in God’s purposes.


4. The Evangelistic Method of the Seeker-Sensitive Model.

At this point, the advocates of seeker sensitivity and the Purpose Driven model might well respond, “Of course! We believe that the gospel is primary too. But it’s how you package the gospel for the unbeliever that increases evangelistic effectiveness.” So let’s take a look at a Purpose Driven packaging of the gospel.


The first two points of the vision statement of Saddleback Community Church read like this: “It is the dream of a place where the hurting, the depressed, the frustrated, and the confused can find love, acceptance, help, hope, forgiveness, guidance, and encouragement. It is the dream of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with the hundreds of thousands of residents in south Orange County” (p43). Warren has five more dreams listed in the vision statement, but never defines what the gospel is, or that it requires repentance and belief. This statement is what he read at the trial run service before Saddleback got started. His aim was “to try to paint, in attractive terms, the picture as clearly as I saw it” (p42, emphasis mine). When he mailed out his promotional letter to unbelievers announcing his first service, he surveyed the community for their perception of their own needs, and their major complaints about churches. His findings? The messages are irrelevant, the members are unfriendly, the church just wants my money, and child care should be better (pp192-193). So in his promotional letter, he announces that “At Saddleback Valley Community Church you

  • Meet new friends and get to know your neighbors
  • Enjoy upbeat music with a contemporary flavor
  • Hear positive, practical messages which encourage you each week
  • Trust your children to the care of dedicated nursery workers” (p194)


The rationale for such an upbeat approach is that “[Jesus’] message offered practical benefits to those who listened to Him. His truth would ‘set people free’ and bring all sorts of blessings to their lives” (p224). But the call to take up our cross is part of evangelism, not just discipleship. We find Jesus preaching the necessity of repentance and belief right from the outset of His ministry (Mark 1:14-15), and He demands that the rich young ruler part with his possessions on their first encounter (Mt 19:16-26). Jesus preached a message of cost and cross (Mt 16:24; Mark 8:34-38; Mark 10:17-27), not just a gospel of prosperity and blessing. Again,


Crowds always flock to hear good news. There is enough bad news in the world that the last thing people need is to hear more bad news when they come to church. They are looking for anyone who can give them hope and help and encouragement…. A good salesman knows you always start with the customer’s needs, not the product. (225, emphasis his; cf. also 271)


But are sales techniques and positive thinking required to be “effective” in evangelism? The evangelistic preaching of the apostles regularly accused the unbelieving Jews of crucifying Jesus (Acts 2:37; 3:13, 26; 4:2, 10; 5:29-30; 7:52), resulting in Peter’s imprisonment (Acts 4:1-3) and Stephen’s stoning (7:54-60). But “the word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem…” (Acts 6:7; cf. 13:24; 19:20). We are called to simply and clearly preach the gospel, and to call people to genuine repentance from their sins and belief in Christ for forgiveness.


The way the Purpose Driven model packages the gospel assumes that audience analysis is the key to influencing people. “Anybody can be won to Christ if you discover the key to his or her heart” (p220). What does this mean for the evangelistic preaching at the seeker sensitive service? “We like to use passages that don’t require any previous understanding. We also like to use passages that show the benefits of knowing Christ” (p298).


But doing evangelism the way Warren suggests here poses sobering difficulties.


a. It obscures the gospel. Presenting the benefits of the gospel is a fine thing to do, as long as the benefits are accompanied by the costs. But Warren is suggesting we present only the benefits, whereas true gospel preaching includes the demand of repentance (Mark 1:14-15). For this reason, it is difficult to see how presenting the unbeliever with only those texts that show the “benefits of knowing Christ” does not end up as a bait and switch when the seeker is finally told weeks later that biblical Christianity actually requires a lifetime of continual repentance from sin.


b. It leads to false assurance. If the “gospel” is presented this way and people are “reached for Christ,” then encouraging them to be assured of their own salvation is really just a happy damnation. If unbelievers have not been clearly urged to repent and believe, then they do not know how to respond properly to the gospel, and are therefore “still in their sins” (1Cor 15:17). No one becomes a disciple without taking up the cross of self-denial.


c. It misunderstands man’s inability and God’s sovereignty in conversion. The assumption that “anybody can be won to Christ if you discover the key to his or her heart” (p220) fails to recognize either the inability of the natural man to understand the gospel of grace, or the sovereignty of God in dispensing that saving grace. The gospel is such foolishness to unbelievers that only the Spirit can make it look attractive to them (1Cor 1:18; 2:14), and the Father Himself is sovereign in giving to the Son those whom He intends to save (John 8:43-47; 10:26-29). It simply cannot be true, then, that anyone can be won to Christ if you discover the key to his heart. Allowing this assumption to drive our evangelistic methods is actually to depend on manipulation to convert people, which we are sure is not Warren’s intention.


d. It builds on a worldly perspective. Warren suggests that “We must learn to think like unbelievers in order to win them” (p189; see also p186). At the same time, Warren himself acknowledges that “baby believers don’t know what they need” (p311). How much less, then, do complete unbelievers know what they need! So why base a whole evangelistic method on suiting their tastes and meeting their needs as they define them? But this is the very foundation of the seeker sensitive service. “Once you know your target, it will determine many of the components of your seeker service: music style, message topics, testimonies, creative arts, and more” (pp253-254, emphasis mine).


When Paul talked about becoming all things to all people in 1Cor 9:19-24 (p197), he did not mean that he was willing to “think like an unbeliever” (p189) in order to make the gospel attractive to unregenerate minds (1Cor 2:14). He meant that he was willing to give up his freedom from Jewish ceremonial law in order to win Jews to Christ, and that he was willing to use that freedom when with Gentiles in order to win them to Christ. And when he becomes “as without the law”, he qualifies that with “though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ” (1Cor 9:21), such that he constrains his evangelistic method by the parameters of the true gospel. His method was still to preach plainly the cross of Christ – not just the comforts (1Cor 1:18-2:5) – to both Jew and Gentile. What Paul was indifferent to was the Jewish ceremonial law (for us, perhaps the weaker/stronger brother issues of Romans 14) – as long as it was clear that the cross of Christ is what saves, not observance of Jewish ceremony.


e. It tries to make the gospel appear attractive on the world’s terms. The Purpose Driven evangelistic method is built on the perceived need to “exegete the community.” “I must pay as much attention to the geography, customs, culture, and religious background of my community as I do to those who lived in Bible times if I am to faithfully communicate God’s Word” (p160). At one level this is true. If the gospel and its requirements are not to be misunderstood by our hearers, then we must clarify where it contradicts culture, and where culture has made it hard to understand the implications of the gospel for our everyday lives.


But this is not what Warren means. Warren’s purpose in cultural exegesis is to make the gospel appear attractive on the world’s terms, as we’ve already seen. But is it possible to make the exclusive cross of Jesus Christ attractive and appealing to a religiously pluralistic, morally relativistic culture by structuring our approach on the blueprint of their preferences? Unbelieving Americans do not believe in absolute truth, or universally binding morality, or that exclusive claims of truth in religion can even be made – nor do they believe in sin. But the gospel requires that we contradict every one of these cultural assumptions. It is difficult to see how we can remain faithful to the content of the biblical gospel and yet allow our method of presentation to be “determined” (pp186, 253) by advice from such an anti-gospel culture.


5. Worldly Necessities.

There is one other aspect of the model that is less central to the thesis but still important to address. The Purpose Driven model states the necessity of worldly elements for effective evangelism. In other words, it seems to make secondary things primary. From multiple services and programs (200-201), to the arrangement of the chairs (266), to sanitized nurseries (268), to the building itself (269), Warren insists that churches won’t grow if these things aren’t in place. “In America, it takes parking to reach people. . . . If you don’t have a place for their car, you don’t have a place for them” (254).


Such elements are helpful, but they certainly are not primary. Acts never mentions the necessity of a nursery in the growth of the nascent church, nor does Paul advise Timothy and Titus to offer multiple programs simply because unbelievers expect them.


Warren goes on to claim that “explosive growth happens when the type of people in the community match the type of people that are already in the church, and they both match the type of person the pastor is” (177). But then how was Paul, a Jewish Pharisee, so incredibly fruitful in evangelism to Gentiles – one of the broadest categories of mankind available? Explosive growth can happen even when people are different. In fact, when it does, it bears testimony not to their common demographics, but to their common Savior.


Warren attributes the same necessary significance to music style. “The style of music you choose in your services…may…be the most influential factor in determining who your church reaches for Christ and whether or not your church grows. You must match your music to the kind of people God wants your church to reach” (p280). The assumption is that the audience of our worship in an evangelistic service is unbelievers. But worship has an audience of One. Choosing music in worship is not about pleasing ourselves or an unbelieving audience. It’s about pleasing God, and choosing music that serves the intention of God-centered lyrics. That is why matching the style of your music to the preferences of your evangelistic audience is unwise.


Pagans cannot know what pleases God in corporate worship because they are God’s enemies (Rom 5:10). Warren acknowledges that “unbelievers usually prefer celebrative music over contemplative music because they don’t yet have a relationship with Christ” (p287). But that’s just the point – they don’t yet have a relationship with Jesus Christ. So what are we doing asking them for advice on how to worship Him?


6. Conversion and the Seeker Sensitive Service.

The Purpose Driven model raises problems for the doctrine and experience of Christian conversion. “Making a service comfortable for the un-churched doesn’t mean changing your theology, it means changing the environment of the service” (p244). But comfort is the least of the unbeliever’s spiritual needs. He needs to feel uncomfortable in his sins in order to repent and believe in the gospel.


Repentance never happens comfortably – and yet it is precisely the response that the gospel unbendingly requires. Comfort is the very thing that must be overcome in order for conversion to take place. This is why an evangelistic service cannot be at the same time comfortable for unbelievers and faithful to the message we’ve been given to share with them – because part and parcel of the gospel message is the requirement of repentance. What this means, however, is that making a service comfortable for the unchurched does mean changing your theology – it means changing your theology of conversion. If you’ve made the service so comfortable for the unbeliever by gearing it to meet his every felt need that repentance from his sins is the last thing on his mind, then your theology must change to allow for conversion by some response other than repentance and belief.


V) CONCLUSION

Warren has done us a great service by calling us back to the biblical purposes that God designed the church to fulfill. In admitting that we discover the purposes of the church in the Word rather than create them ourselves, he models a submission to Scripture that we readily applaud. That submission to Scripture leads Warren to a joyful commitment to thoroughly evangelical doctrine. We can lock arms with him in a common commitment to every-member ministry, to conversion growth, to making membership more meaningful by using church covenants, to church discipline, to the continual growth and up-building of the church. 


While his passion for biblical fidelity and evangelical commitment are obvious and infectious, we fear that his interpretive methods lead to applications that do not always represent the intention of the text he’s using to support his model. While his evangelistic zeal is exemplary, his evangelistic methods tend to make genuine repentance unlikely and can have the effect of rounding off the naturally sharp edges of the Gospel. Sharing his desire for numerical growth, we are reticent to use numbers as a barometer of God’s blessing. Realizing the relative safety of rooting his model in the biblical purposes of the church, the tendency of purpose to replace the primacy of the Gospel has implications for the life of the church that we are confident Warren would not intend.


J. Ligon Duncan, Senior Minister at First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, MS, makes a striking observation. “Liberalism says that the gospel won’t work unless the message is changed. Some evangelicals say that the gospel won’t work unless the method is changed. But biblical Christianity believes that the gospel will work, and that God has given us both the message and the method.”


As a result, we are less optimistic than many regarding the usefulness of the Purpose Driven model as a paradigm for local church ministry.

Should your Church implement the "Purpose Driven Church" Model?

The endorsement of false teachers is another problem with Rick Warren.

 

Rev. Ken Silva, a Southern Baptist Pastor, explains:

CHRIS ROSEBROUGH on RICK WARREN AND LAVERNE ADAMS

 

By Ken Silva pastor-teacher on Oct 20, 2010, featured Rick Warren of the Southern Baptist Convention, endorsing a “Word Faith” heretic.

 

Apprising Ministries has been among the online apologetics and discernment ministries covering Piper-Warrengate when Dr. John Piper made the dubious decision to feature Purpose Driven Pope Rick Warren, with his quite elastic orthodoxy and twistable multi-translation Play-Doh Bible, as a keynote speaker at the DG 2010 conference Think: The Life of the Mind & the Love of God.

 

I also pointed out in Decade Of Destiny With Rick Warren that by carrying posts like Desiring God Selling Bible Study Method Of Rick Warren!?, Rick Warren—Scripture Twisting Is Not ‘Doctrinal And Sound’, and Rick Warren: Piper Approved!, I was bringing to you what some of the finest writers in field had to say about Warren’s pragmatic self-help lecture at DG 2010.

 

You likely recall that in Apprising Ministries, Rick Warren, & Twitter I showed the following childish tweet where Warren takes a swipe at Chris Rosebrough, host of Fighting for the Faith on Pirate Christian Radio. Apparently Rosebrough’s searing sermon review, where he thoroughly exposed Warren’s Pelagian Heresy position, and showed that Rick Warren didn’t even make an attempt to sound Reformed, touched a nerve:

You’ll notice that Warren wasn’t even man enough to take responsibility for this tasteless tweet, where he also includes Ingrid Schlueter of the Crosstalk Blog, and myself, and attributes it to some spiritually spineless anonymous mocker of this labor in the Lord. In the days to come, this will undoubtedly prove to be a real tactical error by the PDL pope as I bring out the information I’ve been accruing concerning him.

 

Some of which I’ve been bringing out in posts like Decade Of Destiny With Rick Warren and Rick Warren Presents Us Our Destiny Doctor where I’ve shown you that Warren has done the foreword to a book called Driven By Destiny: 12 Secrets to Unlock Your Future (DBD). I happen to have this particular work and it’s filled with the whacked "Word Faith" mythology of its author, "pastrix" Dr.LaVerne Adams, who bills herself as The Doctor of Destiny.

 

Why, apparently Doctor Destiny has even developed the power to speak things into existence:

I’ve previously pointed out that Doctor Destiny tells us in DBD how she’s grateful to the Lord “for Dr. Rick Warren” because, says "pastrix" Adams, “by divine providence” Warren was brought into her life when he:

 

    "just happened upon one of my articles in the African American Pulpit, while going to be the first Caucasian preacher at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Dr. Martin Luther King’s Day 2009. His prompting to reach out to me for counsel affirmed my calling and destiny as spiritual advisor to great people.

 

    "Ours is truly a divine connection as I have always been impressed with his ministry and literary work. And now our destinies have been miraculously aligned and driven with purpose."[1]

 

There does seem to be some kind of connection between these two as we’ve also noted that her DBD dropped 10/10/10, which just happened to be the day when Rick Warren kicked off his own Decade of Destiny shtick at his highly influential Saddleback Church:

As another example of what pastor Bob DeWaay calls Rick Warren’s “file card orthodoxy,” out of one side of his mouth, Warren tells Dr. John Piper that women elders aren’t Biblical. But then, out of the other side, Warren took it upon himself to “reach out” to Dr. Destiny “for counsel”; and to lend her some of his status in the mainstream evangelical community by recommending her work. And this, even though "pastrix" Adams is absolutely in violation of God’s Word, as well as in conflict with the position of the Southern Baptist Convention; of which Warren happens to be a member:

 

    "Women participate equally with men in the priesthood of all believers. Their role is crucial, their wisdom, grace and commitment exemplary. Women are an integral part of our Southern Baptist boards, faculties, mission teams, writer pools, and professional staffs.

 

    "We affirm and celebrate their Great Commission impact. While Scripture teaches that a woman’s role is not identical to that of men in every respect, and that pastoral leadership is assigned to men, it also teaches that women are equal in value to men."

 

Below, right from her Driven By Destiny website, is what Rick Warren would write in his foreword to "pastrix" LaVerne Adams’ book:

Now you have the proper background from which to see just how far out on a limb Rick Warren has actually gone. With this all in mind, I’ll point you to the October 18, 2010, Fighting for the Faith program "Why Would Rick Warren Endorse Dr. Laverne Adams?" In the segment below, Chris Rosebrough—whom Rick Warren dubbed a pirate who does nothing—provides Biblical commentary during his review of a sermon by "pastrix" Adams called "God’s GPS."

 

As he gets to the heart of the matter, Rosebrough reminds us there’s

    
  "Prophetess LaVerne, you know, just exposing people’s sins—left and right—because, well, God had a little conversation with her over at the local Starbucks…this is Dr. LaVerne Adams. You know, Dr. Laverne Adams, the lady who Rick Warren sought out;…this is the woman who authored the book about your divine destiny that Rick Warren wrote the foreword to—you know, put his stamp of approval [on]. [He] said, “you need to listen to this woman.” So she begins this God GPS sermon by basically saying, “God’s told me all of your dirty laundry, and you better be glad I’m not telling everybody; you know, in front of the congregation, what your dirty laundry is”…

 

    "This is an interesting theology, but notice, none of it’s grounded in the Bible. You know, it comes back to my question: Why would Rick Warren write the foreword to this woman’s book? That’s an endorsement of her and her teaching. Why would Rick Warren—you see, this isn’t “guilt by association,” this is guilt by endorsement. What is Rick Warren doing promoting this woman?…

 

    "God’s GPS by, now, Dr. LaVerne Adams whose book about divine destiny, the foreword was written by Rick Warren…we didn’t hear any Biblical teaching there, did we. So, again, I come back to the question, ok—this is not guilt by association… It’s not like I’m saying,  “Oh, what is Rick Warren doing associating with LaVerne Adams?” No, no, this is guilt by endorsement. Why is Rick Warren endorsing the teaching of Dr. LaVerne Adams?"

 

Well, to paraphrase Dr. John Piper: I’m gonna need help to know why we should feel anything but bad about his decision to expose Rick Warren to the Reformed camp when he promotes this kind of fool.

Endnotes:

[1] Dr. LaVerne Adams, Driven By Destiny: 12 Secrets to Unlock Your Future [Dr. LaVerne Adams, 2009], ix, emphasis mine.

"False Teachers"
a sermon presented
by Dr. Alistair Begg:

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY, speaking on "Inerrancy and Hermeneutics":
"Why Moralism Is Not the Gospel — And Why So Many Christians Think It Is"
-Dr. R. Albert Mohler, President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Rev. Phil Johnson interviews
Dr. John MacArthur, who explains. And, I might add, it is chilling to hear him describe what happens to a "Seeker Sensitive" pastor who tries this failed methodology; and then, what happens to the church, when he picks up and leaves, going from church to church.

"Changing How a Southern Baptist Church is Organized"

 

            In the “Seeker Sensitive” movement, “community” and “missional” are the buzzwords today… and if you claim to be a “missional community,” you are really on the cutting edge.  Many pastors are working hard to design “community” through small groups, centered around felt-needs; the “Seeker Sensitive” “Church Growth” methodology of Rick Warren.

 

            “Church growth” is all the rage. The focus is on leadership. For laymen, on “reaching people.” In the church world, church-growth is the standard of success. If a church “reaches people,” and the pastor is a “visionary leader,” then the church will be considered a success. If a church makes it into somebody’s bogus “Fastest Growing Church” list, then the growth frenzy continues with the sheep flocking to check out what innovation has been initiated to reach the masses for Christ.  I think the Emperor has no clothes.  I reject the church-growth and church-health principles taught at almost every pastor’s conference, and expressed in almost every church.

 

“Social Gospel” Ministry+“Missional Theory”=Shallow Worship & Theology

The Christian is not so much to engage his society, but to come out from it, yet the church is becoming filled with those who are both in the world, and of the world; who are organizing to change the world into a kinder, gentler “community.”  But the success rate is not there: Society is more liberal and godless than ever before, with no end to its decline in sight. The “missional church” will continue to gather in their entertaining “worship,” and pat themselves on the back for their “victories.”  Building “missional community” will only produce a feel-good atmosphere. Although church members are being assured that they are going to be people of impact, as part of a “community,” they fail to really make any difference. They fool themselves into thinking the Emperor’s clothes are superb.


              I reject the “missional-community church-growth movement” because it is deceptive. Participants in these churches feel like they are stalwart conservatives in a Bible-believing, Gospel-proclaiming, Hell-reducing, Kingdom-expanding church. They consistently proclaim, “My preacher really preaches the Bible.” True, their preacher does hold up a Bible and talk about how true and authoritative it is. He even quotes from the Bible fairly consistently (“I know the plans I have for you…I will never leave you nor forsake you…I am come that you might have life more abundantly…(and, of course) bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse”). What these church members do not know is that they have adopted the leftist agenda (socialism) or neo-con agenda (reconstructing a Christian society), which is as empty as it has always been.

"Missional" and "Community" is the flawed theological philosophy at the core of the
"Social Gospel."


Rev. Jesse Johnson, a Southern Baptist pastor, discusses why this philosophy is not biblical, and what the real purpose of the church is.  He mentions two individuals (Ed Stetzer and Mark Driscoll) and proves why those two are also wrong in understanding the mission of the church. Rev. Johnson spoke in a seminar at the
2011 Shepherds' Conference, titled,
"Missional Madness":

Dr. John MacArthur tells why the "Social Gospel" is not the "Gospel" of Jesus Christ:
"Selling Jesus"

This discussion deals with the subject of the modern-day church using marketing schemes to influence society rather than faithfully preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The speakers are Michael Horton, Ken Jones, Scott Clark, and Rod Rosenbladt:

"VISION CASTING"
What does Proverbs 29:18 really mean?
"Vision Casting" is a formula for doctrinal and theological drift; it leads to transforming a church that becomes a mad house of works, rather than a place where you can sit, rest, and be fed God's Word.


No congregation should have it's own separate, unique mission vision statement; that vision has already been given to the church as a whole.

Individual churches are tasked as a whole to baptize and disciple. Look at the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20:  notice the words "...teaching them all that I have commanded you..."  if Christ hasn't taught it, if it's not verified in Scripture, then it's not to be taught in church.  "baptizing and teaching all that I have..." right? So if Jesus didn't teach it, why are heretical ideas being taught in "seeker sensitive" churches?

Some pastors use the business model "Management by Objective" which may be alright in the business world, but is not to be used in a church.  

There is no authority in the Bible given to a congregation to do this.


Rev. Rosebrough explains:
"Vision Casting" is Employed by
Seeker-Driven Pastors, and used by the "Growing Healthy Churches" movement.

 
Dr. John MacArthur answers the question of "What does it mean to cast a vision for your church?"
(Source: "Grace to You," used with permission)
Most "Seeker Sensitive" pastors use "Vision Casting" to 'lead' and
manipulate
their congregations

If you listen carefully, at the beginning of the following video, you will hear heretic Mark Batterson, endorse heretic David Yonggi Cho, disgraced 'pastor' of the world's largest megachurch, located in South Korea, (a former Buddhist, who claimed he had a vision from Jesus), and is now serving time in jail, along with his son (who was in collusion), for embezzling $12 million from the church.  You'll hear Batterson claim that he heard Cho speak, and got the idea for "Vision Casting" from him.
Perry Noble, Vision Casting Leader (and not a pastor in any sense of the word) of NewSpring Church, S.C. teaches the false doctrine of "Vision Casting"

Perry Noble removed as "pastor" at NewSpring

for personal behavior related to alcohol abuse


The Rev. Perry Noble, who started NewSpring Church nearly 20 years ago, is no longer its senior pastor.  (source: Greenville Online):


Early in Sunday's 9:15 a.m. service, Executive Pastor Shane Duffey announced that Noble had been removed as pastor on July 1, 2016, after the NewSpring board of directors had "made a difficult and painful decision" to make a change. Duffey said the termination by the state's largest and richest church came after Noble "had made unfortunate choices," and that the board members had confronted Noble on numerous occasions regarding his use of alcohol.


The announcement came three days after a closed-door, unscheduled meeting of church officials that fueled rumors throughout the community that the 45-year-old Noble was at odds with church hierarchy.


Noble, in a statement read by Duffey, said "I wish this were a joke, and part of a sermon illustration, but it is true."


He also confirmed an "overuse of alcohol," in the statement, adding that he has "come to depend on alcohol instead of Jesus." He also said that there was no infidelity or abuse in his marriage.


"No one is more disappointment in me than I am in myself," said Noble, the only senior pastor in the 16-year history of the church.


Noble also manages a personal blog/website (perrynoble.com) that he once used to convey frequent messages about his personal life and Christian topics. The blog has grown quiet in recent months. Noble made 51 posts in the first three months of 2016 but made only nine in April, six in May, and none in June or July.


Duffey announced that Clayton King will serve as interim senior pastor. Cooper delivered the primary message Sunday morning.

Noble was one of 22 pastors listed on the church's website. In addition to the 17 campus pastors, Noble led a staff that includes Brad Cooper as executive pastor of ministries, Duffey, Howard Frist as executive pastor of campuses, and Michael Millikin as executive pastor of operations.


NewSpring unofficially began in 1998 when Noble, an Anderson native, began holding Bible study on Wednesday nights at his apartment in Anderson. Eight people came to the first meeting. Within six weeks, the crowd had grown to 150.  The next summer, Noble was at a restaurant when a friend asked him: "What would you do for God if you knew you could not fail?"  Noble's answer: Start NewSpring Church

.

The church's first service was held on Jan. 16, 2000, in the Sullivan Building at Anderson University. About 115 people showed up.

The congregation grew tremendously after that, and by 2004, NewSpring was building a campus near Concord Road and S.C. 81 North in Anderson.  The congregation moved into the 2,460-seat auditorium there in 2006, and the church's membership soon doubled from 4,000 to 8,000 people.


Now, NewSpring has 17 campuses across South Carolina and more than 30,000 people attend its weekly services. In 2015, NewSpring's income was more than $64 million, according to an annual report posted the church's website.


NewSpring is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, but leaders of the organization have criticized Noble over the church's use of secular music. Noble's messages have also been controversial at times — including one last year in which he stated that the Ten Commandments were not commandments.

A similar controversy erupted in 2009, when the NewSpring band opened the Easter service with the rock song "Highway to Hell."


Why give space to this news about
Perry Noble?

Because many pastors are in the "Seeker Sensitive" mold, and if you listen carefully to the description in the audio that follows, you will hear the similarity in the non-preaching style between these.

Andy Stanley
(son of Dr. Charles Stanley, but not like his father at all)
is one of the premier Vision Casting pastors.

The following audio program describes the techniques used by "Seeker Sensitive" pastors.  Listen carefully to how this type of sermon is presented to a congregation, who are not aware of what is going on:

Andy Stanley (son of Dr. Charles Stanley) has been teaching a new false doctrine, "The Temple Model," and has publicly stated that he has encouraged other "Seeker Sensitive" pastors to use his material, by putting it on the internet.

Andy Stanley proclaims that Church has become resistible to people because of all of the baggage that comes along with it; baggage like clear doctrine, and traditional, edifying worship. By removing these things that are “holding the Church back” we can now make church attractive to people and give people a “better life.”

 

Much like Joel Osteen, the “Prosperity Gospel” Heretic, he isn’t concerned with the eternal salvation of people’s souls, rather he wants to give people “their best life now.” So let’s do away with doctrine that teaches people about sin and repentance and the merciful loving grace of God. Let’s not teach people about the consequences of sin (Hell), but let’s just teach people to come in and sing rock and roll music, follow some of the red-letter teachings of Jesus about loving one-another.

 

Then people can walk out of here on Sunday mornings temporally fulfilled, have a better life, and perhaps the pockets of wolves like Andy Stanley will be lined with the dollar bills of these lost sheep and/or goats.


Rev. Chris Rosebrough explains the false doctrine being taught, in the two sermon reviews below:

THE "TRANSITIONED" CHURCH
The root of the problem
at many churches

 

Rev. Chris Rosebrough, who produced and narrates the program, writes: "Below is a Special Edition of the "Fighting for the Faith" radio program, that exposes the Cult-Like Hostile Takeover Tactics of Dan Southerland's Purpose-Driven Church Transitioning Seminar. The list of cult-like tactics employed by Southerland is long. They include:


1. Flat out lies and manipulative double speak

2. Blatant Scripture Twisting

3. New & Direct Extra Biblical Revelation and Visions from God

4. Flat out intolerance for anyone who questions or challenges these "new" Extra Biblical Revelations and Visions that are supposedly from God.


All of these cult-like tactics are exposed and discussed in this special edition of "Fighting for the Faith."  Furthermore, I cannot emphasize enough the fact that Dan Southerland's Church Transitions company has been the "go to" company used by Rick Warren's Purpose-Driven businesses to train pastors into Warren's Druckerite leadership methodologies. 


Pastors are taught to preach eisegetical and narcigetical sermons, that subtlety inculcate (to implant by repeated statement or admonition) his "vision" for where he wants to lead the church, and the methods he wants to use.  He will often berate the congregation with scripture taken out of context that seems to support his position.  Individuals, who do not agree with the pastor, will often find themselves as unnamed illustrations in those sermons. Sometimes he will use illustrations from his own past experience that remain "hot button" unresolved issues, and are verbally expressed with psychological anger and cynicism, in an attempt to admonish the congregation that he is correct about a certain matter.


Some pastors also learn methods  that bypass scriptural teaching on church discipline, especially when staff are found to be in serious sin, known among the congregation; with the pastor playing a CEO disciplinarian role.

How a church is "Transitioned," and the techniques used, are discussed in the following audio documentary:
 
(Courtesy of "Fighting for the Faith" radio/podcast)
This is the book (with the forward written by Rick Warren) containing the methods which are studied in training conferences and courses, by those pastors who want to "transition" their churches into being "Seeker Sensitive" and "Purpose Driven." This is the program that lays the foundation for: "Contemporary Praise," "Praise Teams," "7-11 Hymns," "Doing church for the Un-churched Pagan," "Pastor's Vision," "Social Gospel," "Prosperity Gospel," and "Eisegetical Preaching."

A church doesn't need a "vision statement" or "mission statement" cast in stone at the sole direction of a pastor.

Long-range planning studied and agreed upon through pastor-church collaboration is fine, but it can be misused, when the document becomes a device used by a pastor to dictate what he wants the church to be.
It can be especially disconcerting when there is no document at all, and things move along at the pastor's whim.  Of course, the basic "mission statement" of the church has already been given to us; it's found in the Bible.
How Dan Southerland takes Scripture out of Context:

How to tell if your church is in the throes of Transformation

(reprinted with permission)


“Transformation” is the end-goal of a process that moves from TRADITION through TRANSITION to TRANSFORMATION. This is sometimes called a “Paradigm Shift,” which means that Transformation shifts one’s worldview (paradigm) from the old to a new. This is a dialectically unfolding PROCESS in which the THESIS is continually challenged by ANTITHESIS, evolving into ever-unfolding SYNTHESES. Transformation is engineered, orchestrated and/or manipulated. Transformation involves changing over a person’s values, opinions, beliefs, attitudes, and even their behaviors to that of the new paradigm/worldview.

How to tell if it is “Transformation” –

Characteristics of TRADITION:
1. Education (teaching) is didactic
2. Cognitive
3. Right and Wrong
4. Focus on “what is”
5. “I know” statements
6. Facts, TRUTH
7. Respond to change by standing on THESIS

Characteristics of TRANSITION:
1. Education is facilitation
2. Affective (feelings), psychological
3. Must “determine” right and wrong (up for grabs)
4. Experience (dialogue)
5. “I think” or “I feel” subjective statements
6. OPINIONS
7. Respond to change by adapting to new SYNTHESIS

Characteristics of TRANSFORMATION:
1. Education is modeling, spiritual formation, mentoring
2. Esoteric (mystical)
3. No absolutes
4. Common ground, coevolution, collective unconscious
5. Intuitive, “I sense,” imagery, imagination
6. ANTITHESIS supplants THESIS
7. Continual, perpetual change

How to spot the PROCESS of “Transformation.” Look for:

A. New Language:
1. Newly coined words, terms, phrases, slogans
2. Old words given new meanings
3. Old definitions discarded
4. Intentional deception, misleading statements, half-truths, ambiguity

B. New Worldview/Paradigm
1. A new way of seeing or interpreting reality—events, circumstances, history, causes and effects, etc.
2. Creating a new reality using envisioning activities
3. Revisionist history: altering the facts, distorting prior events to fit new paradigm
4. Creating a new reality through psycho-social change mechanisms

C. New Structure
1. New authority structure, system of governance, new forms of accountability
2. New physical structure
3. New forms, formulas, formats, formations
4. New liturgies not based on doctrine or Scripture

D. New Mission/Vision
1. Subjective, constantly changing, relative
2. Strategic
3. Not tied to Biblical absolute Truth or Word of God
4. Subject to continual urgency, crisis, acceleration, etc.

E. New Values
1. Subjective, relational, situational, abstract
2. Irrational, illogical, irreverent, irrelevant
3. Tolerance for everything but absolute Truth
4. “The end justifies the means”

F. New Methods
1. Bait and switch, marketing, manipulation, machinations
2. Statistics, census-taking, databanking, assessing, monitoring
3. Orchestrated consensus, common ground, deceptions
4. Peer-driven, compulsive, coercive

G. New Doctrines
1. Man-oriented, culturally relative, contextualized, programmed
2. Anything that erodes the sovereignty of God
3. Utopian-sounding
4. Authoritarian in implementation

Rick Warren's "Purpose Driven Church" (discussed earlier on this page)
also incorporates the basics of Dan Southerland's "Transitioning."  Warren shows how any pastor can use his "Church Growth" and "Church Health" principles, to increase numerical results, without real Christian followers of Christ.

Rick Warren and The Purpose Driven Life: A Discussion (White Horse Inn):

How the Church Growth, "Growing Healthy Churches" Movement

Drives the Gospel and Bible truth,

out of Churches:

CHURCH TAKEOVERS:
A TRUE VIRGINIA BAPTIST STORY
In the two articles that follow, listen to the pain of some Virginia Baptist church members who have experienced attempts, some successful, and some unsuccessful, by so-called "ultra-conservatives" to take over their churches and move them out of the Baptist General Association (BGAV) of Virginia. 

Today's Liberals, were yesterday's Conservatives; i.e., those who perpetrate all the "Seeker Sensitive/Purpose Driven/Pastoral Vision Casting" nonsense, (which is generated by the "Purpose Driven" philosophy and "Growing Healthy Churches" Network) are Liberal; not Conservative Bible-believing, teaching Pastors. 

Many pastors are not telling Pulpit Committees the truth when they are interviewed; they cover up their true feelings, gloss over their theological beliefs, hide problems in their former pastorates, claim to be a Southern Baptist, but support a "splinter" group like the SBCV, instead of the real Virginia Southern Baptist state group, the BGAV; and, worst of all, what they plan to do in changing the direction of the church under consideration.  Many congregations are finding out, much to their sorrow, that they have called a man who has a hidden agenda.
 
Of all the Southern Baptist Seminary presidents I have heard speak on this subject, they have all roundly condemned this "Seeker Sensitive" and "Purpose Driven" nonsense.  Why?  Because it is not Biblical.

SEEKER SENSITIVE METHODS
(for a full discussion, see the webpage: "Seeker Sensitive Heresy")

The following film clip (with Dr. R.C. Sproul, Dr. Douglas Wilson, Dr. John Piper, and Dr. R. Albert Mohler) describe the problem with "Seeker Sensitive" Methods:

The detrimental effect of the "Seeker Sensitive" methodology

on the church, is discussed by

Dr. R. Al Mohler, Jr., (President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), Dr. R.C. Sproul, and Dr. Ravi Zacharias:

It's not about
"Church Numbers and Growth"
(Mark Dever speaking at City North Baptist Church, Queensland, Australia
And one of the founders of the "Seeker Sensitive" model, Bill Hybels, made this "confession" recently:

True ministry is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit of God. As Pastors, we are not called to pander to the culture of the world, trying to be "relevant." The comfort and the admiration of the un-churched is not suppose to be our paramount concern.  We are not called to engage the culture.  If we try to engage the culture, the result will be an adjustment OF the Gospel. The greatness of God is not measured by the size of the crowd we accumulate.

 

Rev. Phil Johnson discusses this problem at the 2014 Shepherds' Conference in the following video:

(Courtesy of GTY, used with permission).


“The ways of destroying the church are many and colorful. Raw factionalism will do it. Rank heresy will do it. Taking your eyes off the cross and letting other, more peripheral matters dominate the agenda will do it-admittedly more slowly than frank heresy, but just as effectively over the long haul. Building the church with superficial ‘conversions’ and wonderful programs that rarely bring people into a deepening knowledge of the living God will do it. 

Entertaining people to death but never fostering the beauty of holiness or the centrality of self-crucifying love will build an assembling of religious people, but it will destroy the church of the living God. Gossip, prayerlessness, bitterness, sustained biblical illiteracy, self-promotion, materialism-all of these things, and many more, can destroy a church. And to do so is dangerous: ‘If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple (1 Cor. 3:17).’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

Dr. D.A. Carson, Professor of New Testament, Trinity International University; formerly Dean, Northwest Baptist Theological Seminary. A conservative theologian who was written more than 50 scholarly books for pastors and seminarians.

Education:

BSc, McGill University
MDiv, Central Baptist Seminary, Toronto
PhD, University of Cambridge

Expositional Imposters

-Paul Alexander, Capitol Hill Baptist Church

Rev. Mark Dever rightly describes Expositional Preaching as “preaching that takes for the point of a sermon the point of a particular passage of Scripture.” However, I have heard many sermons that intend to be expositional, yet fall somewhat short. Below are seven pitfalls that one might try to avoid. Each of these pitfalls either doesn’t correctly make the message of the passage the message of the sermon, or doesn’t make it a message to that congregation at all.


1) THE POINT OF THE PASSAGE IS MISUNDERSTOOD: THE ‘UNFOUNDED SERMON.’

This is where the preacher says things that may or may not be true, but that in no sense came from the passage, when understood correctly. This can happen either by carelessness with the content of the text (e.g. the sermon on “production, prompting, and inspiration” from the NIV of 1 Thessalonians 1:3, though each word has no parallel in the Greek) or carelessness with the context (e.g. the sermon on David and Goliath, that asks ‘who is your Goliath, and what are the five smooth stones that you need to be prepared to use against him?’).

If a preacher is not deeply mining the truth of God’s Word to determine the message of his sermons, they are likely being driven by his own preferences. For “When someone regularly preaches in a way that is not expositional, the sermons tend to be only on the topics that interest the preacher” (Nine Marks, 41). Thus the congregation doesn’t receive all that God intended. The lesson? Preachers must give themselves to thoroughly understanding the text before setting out to write their sermons. A cursory reading is not enough. Preachers must allow God to determine the sheep’s diet so as to prevent an insufficient feeding.


2) THE POINT OF THE PASSAGE IS IGNORED: THE ‘SPRINGBOARD SERMON.’

Closely related is the sermon where the preacher has understood the center of the text, pays lip service to it, and then becomes intrigued by something that is a secondary or tertiary point, fixing his attention on that for the remainder of the sermon. What he says does come from the text, but is not the main point of the text (e.g. the sermon on John 3 that focuses primarily on the lawfulness of Christians drinking alcohol).


3) THE POINT OF THE PASSAGE REMAINS UNAPPLIED: THE ‘EXEGETICAL SERMON.’

Some preaching that claims to be expositional is rejected as boring and irrelevant…and rightly so! One could just as well be reading from an exegetical commentary. Everything that is said is true to the passage, but is not really a sermon; it is merely a technical lecture on the passage. Much might be learned about Paul’s use of the Genitive Absolute, but little about the character of God or the nature of the human heart. There is no application to anything but the congregation’s minds. True expository preaching will surely first inform the mind, but also warm the heart and constrain the will.


4) THE POINT OF THE PASSAGE IS APPLIED TO A DIFFERENT CONGREGATION: THE ‘IRRELEVANT SERMON.’

Too much preaching promotes pride in the congregation by throwing bricks over the wall towards other people’s greenhouses.Either the point of the passage is applied only to non-believers, suggesting that the Word has nothing to say to the church, or it is applied to problems that are rarely seen in the congregation that is being preached to. Thus the congregation becomes puffed up, and like the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable ends up thankful that they are not like others. The response is not repentance and faith but, “If only Mrs Brown heard this sermon!” or “Umpteenth Baptist Smorgsville, Pennsylvania really ought to have this sermon preached to them!”


5) THE POINT OF THE PASSAGE MISAPPLIED TO THE PRESENT CONGREGATION; THE ‘MISFIT SERMON.’

Sometimes the hermeneutical gap between the original passage and the present congregation may be misunderstood, so that the application to the original context is wrongly directly transferred to the present context. So, if the preacher does not have a correct biblical theology of worship, passages about the Old Testament temple might be wrongly applied to the New Testament church building, rather than being fulfilled in Christ and his people.


6) THE POINT OF THE PASSAGE IS DIVORCED FROM ITS GENERIC IMPACT: THE ‘DOCTRINAL SERMON.’

God has deliberately spoken to us ‘in many and diverse ways.’ Too many sermons ignore the genre of a passage, and preach narrative, poetry, epistle, and apocalyptic all alike as a series of propositional statements. Whilst all preaching must convey propositional truths, they should not be reduced to them. The literary context of the passages should mean that a sermon from the Song of Songs sounds different than one from Ephesians 5. The passage may have the same central point, but it is conveyed in a different way. Such diversity is not to be flattened in preaching.


7) THE POINT OF THE PASSAGE IS PREACHED WITHOUT REFERENCE TO THE PASSAGE: THE ‘SHORTCUT SERMON.’

Another sermon might have wonderfully appropriate application to mind, heart and will, yet the congregation will leave unaware of how it is appropriately applied from the text. The opposite of the exegetical sermon, this kind of preaching shows no exegetical ‘working’ at all. Though the Lord has set the agenda by his Word, only the preacher is fully aware of that fact. The congregation may well end up saying, ‘what a wonderful sermon’ rather than ‘what a wonderful passage of Scripture.’


Expository preaching is so important for the health of the church because it allows the whole counsel of God to be applied to the whole church of God. May the Lord so equip preachers of His Word that His voice may be heard and obeyed.

"Want some false doctrine in your life?  Try these handy tips!"

by Steven Kozar

Don't be shy about it-admit it: false doctrine is fun and, well, it just feels good. Here are some handy tips to keep you fully deceived and incapable of discernment:

 

1.  Always think to yourself: "I know what he meant" when false teachings are taught; don't listen to the actual words themselves. Pretend you are giving someone the "benefit of the doubt" when you're actually permitting bad teaching. Also, bad teaching isn't so bad if the pastor tells an emotional story to drive home the heresy; and he must be telling the truth if he starts to cry, especially at the same point of the story in multiple services!

 

2. Here's a handy saying: "No church is perfect!" The assumption here is that it's not of any value to carefully examine doctrine because all churches are wrong in one way or another, so just accept anything. If you go to the church because "you feel comfortable there" and the "worship team really rocks" you'll probably never have to think much about doctrine anyway. This can also be modified as: "No pastor is perfect!" False teachers and mediocre pastors really appreciate it when you think this way.

 

3. Focus on your feelings rather than the clear teachings of Scripture. Because you're a sinner, this will be very easy. For added validation of your false beliefs, convince yourself that God told you to disobey Him and somehow violate His word; but don't use such obvious language. For example, say: "I really feel that God spoke to my heart, that's why I believe it's okay to       (fill in the blank with whatever sin and/or false doctrine you want). A great little catch phrase to instill this principle would be something like this: "Theology will never change a man as much as a direct encounter with God." Of course, if you really had a direct encounter with God you'd probably be dead...

 

4. Allow false doctrine from a teacher because "he has some good things to say, too..." A handy little phrase to repeat is: "Chew on the meat and spit out the bones." Although this concept isn't Biblical, pretend that it is. It will probably help you to imagine yourself "open-minded" and "non-judgmental" when you repeatedly ignore God's clear instructions to hold fast to correct doctrine.

 

5. Consider "doctrine" the same thing as "religiosity" or "legalism." If you realize that doctrine is just another word for teaching (and the Bible demands correct teaching) you might decide to become more discerning, and remember, false teachers everywhere are counting on you to stay ignorant and gullible.

 

6. Promote false teaching "for the sake of the un-churched." You want to have lot's of new people coming to church, don't you? Well, give the public what they want and watch attendance skyrocket! Remember, the unrepentant sinners out there will show up if they are promised something to appease their selfish desires. Better sex? Bigger paychecks? Well-behaved children? God can give your un-saved neighbor all of that-and more! The seeker-friendly pastor already knows this dynamic growth program, and with your blind support (and weekly tithe checks) he will craft emotionally appealing motivational speeches to convert pagans into regular attending members! And let's not forget that these same pastors ("leadership experts") will provide your community with a sense of purpose and identity (and a six-figure salary for themselves), so don't bog them down with Biblical requirements that would stunt the growth of the organization.

 

7. "Group Think" is a major component of false doctrine, so, "go with the group!" Fortunately for you, there are plenty of groups that are teaching and promoting false doctrine, so just pick the one you're most comfortable with and buy into their twisted version of Christianity. Here are some of your choices:

 

            First, there's the "What do we believe this month?" "Emerging", Post-Modern church (think: Rob Bell, Brian McClaren, etc.). Millennials love this one; it's hip and it only get's hipper as it dumps Biblical doctrine in favor of pagan mysticism and cultural sensitivity (which is usually just capitulation to the culture). Remember, you're never actually believing false doctrine, you're just "having a conversation!" Wink wink, nudge nudge.

    

           Second, for the suburban soccer-mom crowd, there's the "seeker-friendly" mega church (think: Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Andy Stanley, etc.). These churches are a mash-up between a cinema-plex, a shopping mall and a Starbucks. Bigger is better, right?! And if you ever (accidentally) start to question whether anything lines up with Scripture, you can just take a look around the vast auditorium: this many people can't be wrong! As long as you think so, you clever little conformist!

    

            Thirdly, for the truly adventurous, you can find a vast number of Charismatic churches that aren't even close to orthodox Christianity! (Think: Bill Johnson, Rick Joyner, T.D. Jakes, etc.) What's not to like about a church that believes anyone can come up with new doctrine anytime by hearing directly from God?! Oh sure, they give lip service to the Bible, but with proof-texting, they can make the Bible appear to say anything! Does God just want you to be rich, happy and successful? Sure He does! Do we just have to "speak that into existence?" Sure we do! Remember, the Holy Spirit is your personal genie in a bottle, and after you've swayed back and forth with the praise band for an hour or two, you'll actually start to believe that. Key words and phrases: "Woooo!" "Fire!" "More, Lord, more!" "Shaba!" "I feel a releasing of the anointing that is beginning to shift the atmosphere, and the mantle of His presence is about to come down so that the glory of His anointing can release His presence into the manifold destiny of His glory..."

 

HERESY
Heresy enters a church congregation when there is no discernment; and people refuse to judge false teaching.
"Heresy and Heretics"  -Dr. R.C. Sproul

Heresy and false teaching must be confronted, especially that which is being taught in the pulpit.  The people of God need to stand up to any pastor who does not preach the true Gospel of Jesus and the Bible. 


It's time for the people who claim to know and believe the Bible, read the Bible, and attend church, to confront pastors who are teaching false doctrine(s).

 

Justin Peters, a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (Th.D.) gives Biblical answers to those in the church, who are not open to discernment, and want to criticize those who are discerning:

From a sermon "The Preacher in his Pulpit," delivered on
May 21, 1957,
by Rev. Frank Hughes, Jr.
 
The Sermon, was based on Jonah, chapter 3.
He tells, in the above illustration, of a professor who told a group of young preachers: "Remember that you need to give to the lost person God's Word, not yours.  He has promised to bless His Word, not yours, and it is His Word, not yours that will not return void." 

For the life of me, I cannot understand why a pastor, who says publicly, that he is trying to win the lost to Christ, would teach heresy in the church.

The Heresy Train has no Brakes:
once Heresy is allowed into a church, and is not confronted by a discerning congregation or leadership, that church is destined to lose it's witness to the community, and eventually die.

“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Genesis 3:1, KJV) (Above photo courtesy of "Museum of Idolatry")

"The Circle Maker"
(Is an example of Heretical teaching)

Mark Batterson, the "lead pastor" (a CEO/business term) of National Community Church in Washington, D.C., made his debut in Christian publishing with "In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day" and followed that up with several other titles, including "The Circle Maker." He is part of the "Emergent" Church and "Word of Faith" movements.

 

         "The Circle Maker" finds its title and inspiration in Honi Ha-Ma'agel, a Jewish scholar who lived in the first century B.C. and who is described in the Talmud. The book's examples and illustrations are largely drawn from his own life, from the dreams, goals and desires that he has seen fulfilled. He speaks of drawing a large circle around an area of Washington by walking around it while praying; before long he had a successful and growing church within that circle.

 

         Batterson writes about circling a building he wanted for his church, marching around it, laying hands on it, even going barefoot on its 'holy ground,' until it was his.

 

         But, God is not a "Let's-Make-A-Deal" God; He doesn't work that way.  I am not a legalist, but the book is not only silly, it's not based on Scripture.  It's absurd, and an insult to people who have heard, read, or studied Scripture.

 

         Mark Batterson teaches "a new way" of praying, and he presents a "new gospel."  It's a Gospel Jesus did not preach.  It's a Gospel the Apostles did not preach.  It's a Gospel the Old Testament Prophets did not preach.


Dr. Randy White, a Southern Baptist pastor, gives an excellent review of "The Circle Maker" and tells why it is pure heresy:
Exposing "The Circle Maker"
with Principles of Spiritual Discernment
by Dr. Randy White
The following video concerning "The Circle Maker" book is instructive:
False Teaching in the book "The Circle Maker":

Dr. Charles Stanley tells why the "Name it, Claim it" is a false "Prosperity Gospel" theology, and has no place in the church.  This is the basic concept of "The Circle Maker" book.

 

Dr. Stanley responds to this popular view that a believer can name a need or desire, and expect God to deliver it, in the following video.

(Courtesy of In Touch Ministries, 2011)

Is the practice of drawing a circle in chalk around specific prayers something we as Christians are supposed to be doing? Ever since Mark Batterson’s popular Circle Maker book began sweeping Christendom, we’ve been warning people against pursuing this non-Christian practice, because it is rooted in the occult, and Jesus very specifically showed us what prayer looks like.

(Picture: Mark Batterson drawing a "prayer circle.")
Debunking Mark Batterson's The Circle Maker,
A Non-Biblical Teaching (Courtesy of "Fighting for the Faith" with Rev. Chris Rosebrough):

Author of "The Circle Maker" has changed the scripture:


"The Circle Maker"
an in-depth review:
"The Circle Maker" book: a form of
"The Prosperity Gospel" Heresy
Dallas Willard.....a man who believes in the heresy of "Universalism":
DALLAS WILLARD:  A "UNIVERSALIST" Heretic:
"Was Dallas Willard a Christian?"
Rev. Chris Rosebrough explains the theological problems of Dallas Willard


Dr. Willard (1935-2013) studied at William Jewell College, Tennessee Temple College, and Baylor University before earning a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin.  He did not graduate from any SBC Seminary.

(Willard appeared on the platform of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, being interviewed in front of the congregation by John Ortberg).

Any Born-again Christian in a church, can discern the heresy in Dallas Willard's theology:

The Dangers of "Spiritual Formation" and "Spiritual Disciplines"

A Critique of Dallas Willard and The Spirit of the Disciplines

by Bob DeWaay

DISCIPLINES TO DECEPTION IN THE

SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION

By Rev. Ken Silva, Southern Baptist pastor-teacher, Jul 14, 2009

“Hearing God, (by Dallas Willard) Developing a Conversational Relationship With God”
by Rev. Gary Gilley



The danger of Willard’s imaginative teachings on hearing from God through an inner voice can hardly be exaggerated. Rather than turning people to the inspired authoritative Scriptures for God’s word today, Willard turns us toward the subjective, unreliable self. The result is a people who believe they have heard from God even as they turn from the Word of God itself.

"Dallas Willard: Contemplative Mysticism: A Powerful Ecumenical Bond"
by Rev. David Cloud

A Review of Dallas Willard's book, "Hearing God"
The Connection between Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, and Rick Warren:
Douglas Webster: another author of heretical teaching:
"Finding Spiritual Direction: The Challenge and Joys of Christian Growth" by Douglas Webster, a Presbyterian who received his Ph.D. at the Catholic University of St. Michael's, Toronto, Canada. He currently works as an associate pastor in Central Presbyterian Church, N.Y.C. and lectures at many non-denominational and Episcopal churches.

          In "Finding Spiritual Direction," Webster used a study of the book of James to provide a basis for the essential practices of anyone wanting to provide spiritual direction to others; he sees "spiritual directors" as "physicians of the soul" (page 14); as "parents" (page 16); and as "farmers who love the land and understand their work" (page 171).

 

          Webster wants to avoid a subjective view of the will of God and seems to demean others' means in which God communicates to us today, when he states, "We depend too heavily on personal impressions, inner urges and fuzzy feelings to justify dubious actions as God's will. There is an inherent conflict of interest in looking to our own feelings for direction when we should be following the straightforward counsel of God's will." (page 129).

 

          Webster’s aim in "Finding Spiritual Direction" is to encourage church members to identify problems that are not in line with God’s will. (He doesn't say why church members should become so involved in other members' lives, to the extent that the "spiritual directors" he advocates the members become), assist other church members to discern evil motives and selfish pursuits within their lives and the church body; that members should challenge those who are angry, and yet themselves are righteously angry when God’s word is being violated. He bases this on this on James 5:1-6, which is taken out of context.  This is not scripturally correct.

 

          Webster seeks to use an unbiblical model of what a "Spiritual Director" does, through limiting his statements to the teachings of the book of James. Therefore, as one would expect, there are Scripture quotations and citations throughout the book. But he limits his reference of past spiritual leaders of church history to Bonhoeffer.  (It would later be revealed that the pastor highly endorsed Detrich Bonhoeffer, in a Sunday sermon).

 

          Training members of the church to be "Spiritual Directors" is not based on scripture. This is Heresy!  I was first introduced to the "Spiritual Directors" false theology when an Episcopal Army Chaplain unsuccessfully attempted to coerce other chaplain clergy into using this methodology.

 

Background information about the author, Douglas Webster, is instructive:

 

          When he was pastor of a Presbyterian church in San Diego, California, he wrote a review, which was published in the book, "Evaluating the Church Growth Movement." He enthusiastically supported Dr. Donald McGavran, who was a key player in starting the "seeker sensitive/purpose driven/church growth" movement. Webster praised "contextualization" and McGavran's book, "The Bridges of God," a heretical work that laid the foundation for the "Church Growth," movement which was incorporated into the "Purpose Driven" heresy.

 

          He went on to praise the "Market-Driven Church," as the only way to grow a church. Although this is the place I would state that Pastors should always investigate the author of any book they intend to teach in their church.

 

          Church members should discern and examine carefully any new teaching or worship style that is not in keeping with the Scriptures. I like what Billy Sunday said: "Jesus did not call us to multiply “members” but to make disciples.  Churches don't need new members half so much as they need the old bunch made over."

    

          Donald McGavran----Founding professor of Fuller's School of Missions whose influence has reshaped globally the  "mission" of the "church".  McGavran taught that the job of the church is not to save individuals or disciple them. (In fact, to save one person out of the "context" of his sociological 'unit' is a setback to global evangelization according to him: dubbing the traditional evangelism of one soul "extraction evangelism."  (Please read the statement in red print again.  Do you understand what this is saying?) 

 

          His personal philosophy is that when Jesus said to make 'disciples of the nations', He meant literally, the NATIONS, i.e., governments were to be discipled.  This is what is called "reconstruction theology." He developed a methodology of "people movements" that is taught in the 'Perspectives' program globally. He developed the idea that cultures were to be "redeemed" ....the gospel was to be "contextualized" for each culture and adapted by the use of "redemptive analogies" to be acceptable in each culture...syncretism to the utmost, this perverted the gospel into a 'culturally relevant' message that anyone could adapt to...anyone that is except a truly born again believer.

    

          The paganism, so blatant in this movement, is a direct result of this teaching.  They boast in how they can incorporate pagan practices into Christianity.

          

(McGavran's book "The Bridges of God" originally titled, "How Peoples Become Christian" was published in the early 50's, and laid the groundwork of his heretical philosophy).


Another author of heresy: LEWIS BENEDICTUS SMEDES

He is a now-deceased former professor of ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary.  But, you may ask, isn't this the same seminary founded by the late Dr. Charles E. Fuller who preached the Bible on the "Old Fashioned Revival Hour?" Yes it is, but wait....there's more.
Back in 1976, when I was pondering the Lord's direction on which Seminary to attend, the Fuller Seminary was discussed within the family.  But my father discovered what you will see now, that Fuller had changed.

David Cloud researched the following excellent article about Fuller Seminary, past and present.

Fuller Theological Seminary’s quick slide into apostasy is a loud warning to Fundamentalists today. When Fuller Seminary was formed in the late 1940s, it was a fundamentalist institution. Founder Charles E. Fuller of the “Old Fashioned Revival Hour” was a Fundamentalist, and he wanted to establish a school to defend the New Testament faith.


Harold Lindsell, who was one of the school’s first four faculty members, said: “From the beginning it was declared that one of the chief purposes of the founding of the seminary was that it should be an apologetic institution. … It was agreed from the inception of the school that through the seminary curriculum the faculty would provide the finest theological defense of biblical infallibility or inerrancy.”


As we have seen, this objective was quickly abandoned. By neglecting biblical separation and focusing on scholarship rather than simple faith in God’s Word, the school became a hodge-podge of spiritual and doctrinal compromise and apostasy instead of a bastion of biblical truth.


This is precisely what will happen to every fundamentalist church and school that refuses to practice separation today.


Fuller Theological Seminary wields vast influence. When it was formed in 1947 it held that the Bible is infallibly, inerrantly, verbally, plenarily inspired, but within a short time this was rejected. Fuller quickly became a hotbed of New Evangelical compromise, adopting a philosophy of doctrinal neutrality, positivism, pride of intellect.


Its first president, Harold John Ockenga, claimed to have coined the term “New Evangelicalism” in 1948 at a convocation in connection with the seminary. Ockenga stated that New Evangelicalism “differed from fundamentalism in its repudiation of separatism.” Friends, if you repudiate “separatism,” you repudiate the Scriptures!


Current Fuller president Richard Mouw says: “Early on, the school backed away from the separatism and dispensationalism that had been associated with fundamentalism of the 1940s, adopting a more conciliatory posture” (Christianity Today, October 6, 1997).


Having rejected biblical separation from its inception and having adopted the unscriptural philosophy of dialogue and infiltration, it is no surprise that Fuller Seminary was quickly infected with worldliness and unbelief.


By 1976, Harold Lindsell, who served as a professor and vice-president of Fuller, raised his voice against Fuller’s apostasy. In his book The Battle for the Bible, Lindsell devoted an entire chapter to “The Strange Case of Fuller Theological Seminary.” Nowhere in his book does Lindsell discern the root of Fuller’s error, which was the rejection of biblical separation, nor does he call upon evangelicals to separate from Fuller’s apostasy; but he does document the end product of Fuller’s error. He stated:

“In or about 1962 it became apparent that there were some who no longer believed in the inerrancy of the Bible, among both the faculty and the board members” (Lindsell, Battle for the Bible, p. 108).


Lindsell names the names of many of these faculty and board members: C. Davis Weyerhaeuswer, Daniel P. Fuller (son of the school’s founder), Calvin Schoonhoven, David Hubbard (who became president of the school), James Daane, and George Ladd.

In the early 1970s, Fuller Seminary changed its doctrinal statement to more accurately reflect the position held by members of its faculty. The original statement the Bible is “plenarily inspired and free from all error in the whole and in the part... (and is) the only infallible rule of faith and practice.” The new statement dropped the words “free from all error in the whole and in the part.” This leaves room for heretics who believe the Bible errs in matters such as “science” and history. Many liberal evangelicals have tried to make a distinction between the Bible being infallible and being inerrant, claiming that it is infallible but not inerrant. This is scholarly nonsense.

If the Bible is infallible, it is inerrant, and that is precisely what the Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostles taught. Jesus said “the Scripture cannot be broken” (see John 10:35).


The change was encouraged when Daniel Fuller (son of founder Charles E. Fuller) returned from Europe where he had studied under neo-orthodox theologian Karl Barth. He had accepted the neo-orthodox view that the Bible is only inspired in matters pertaining to spirituality but not in matters of science and history.


Since then, Fuller Seminary has gone from bad to worse in this matter. It is doubtful that there are any professors at the school today who believe the Bible is the inerrant, verbally-inspired Word of God without error “in the whole and in the part.” Fuller Seminary is infatuated with scholarship and has drunken deeply from the wells of modernism.


Now, let us look at the key players in the downslide of Fuller Seminary:


PAUL KING JEWETT

Paul Jewett was Professor of Systematic Theology at Fuller Seminary. In 1975 he published Man as Male and Female. The foreword was written by Virginia Mollenkott, chairman of the Department of English at William Paterson College in New Jersey. Mollenkott is a lesbian who moves in the most radical of pro-abortion feminist circles. In 1978 she co-authored (with Letha Scanzoni) the book entitled Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? in which she called for nondiscrimination toward homosexuality. Her book argues that the Sodom account in Genesis does not teach the evil of homosexuality, but the evils of violent gang rape and inhospitality to strangers. The book also claims that “the idea of a life long homosexual orientation or ‘condition” is never mentioned in the Bible” (p. 71), and that Romans 1 does not “fit the case of a sincere homosexual Christian” (p. 62).


In the June 1991, issue of the Episcopal monthly entitled The Witness, Mollenkott testified, “My lesbianism has always been a part of me. ... I tried to be heterosexual. I married myself off. But what I did ultimately realize was that God created me as I was, and that this is where life was meaningful.” In her 1994 book, The Divine Feminine: The Biblical Imagery of God as Female, Mollenkott calls God the “One Mother of us all” (p. 19) and suggests that the Lord’s prayer might be addressed to “Our Father/Mother who is in Heaven” (p. 116).


In the book Man as Male and Female, Fuller professor Paul Jewett admits that he has been influenced by modern biblical criticism and claims that the Bible contains error because it was written by men:

“Historical and critical studies of the biblical documents have compelled the church to abandon this simplistic view of the divinity of Scripture [the traditional doctrine that the Bible is the Word of God without error] and to take into account the complexity at the human level of the historical process by which the documents were produced. Instead of the simple statement, which is essentially true, that the Bible is a divine book, we now perceive more clearly than in the past that the Bible is a divine/human book. As divine, it emits the light of revelation; as human, this light of revelation shines in and through the ‘dark glass’ (1 Corinthians 13:12) of the ‘earthen vessels’ (2 Corinthians 4:7) who were the authors of its content at the human level” (Jewett, Man as Male and Female, p. 135). Jewett is wrong. The Lord Jesus Christ knew more about the Scripture than modern textual critics, and He never hinted that there is any error in it. He plainly stated that “the scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35) and that the very jots and tittles are authoritative and preserved by God (Matthew 5:18). When the Apostle Paul stated that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16), he obviously understood that there is a human element in Scripture, but he knew that God controlled the writers of Scripture in such a manner that the product is the inerrant Word of God. Any doctrine of the Scripture that disagrees with that taught by Christ and the Apostles is heresy.


CHARLES SCALISE

Another example of how Fuller professors have capitulated to modernistic views of the Bible is Charles Scalise. He is associate professor of church history and academic director of Fuller Theological Seminary in Seattle’s M. Div. program. In his book From Scripture to Theology: A Canonical Journey into Hermeneutics (InterVarsity Press, 1996), Scalise argues for accepting the conclusions of biblical criticism while at the same time accepting the Bible as the “canonical Word of God.” He proposes the “canonical approach” of Yale Professor Brevard Childs who follows Karl Barth. Scalise uncritically describes how “the ‘postcritical’ hermeneutics of Karl Barth assists Childs in charting his way across ‘the desert of criticism’” (p. 44). It is true that modern biblical criticism is a desert, but instead of rejecting biblical criticism as the unbelieving heresy that it is, the modern Evangelical scholar tries to reconcile it with a way to allow the Bible to remain authoritative in some sense. In the first chapter of his book, Scalise plainly and unhesitatingly rejects the “facts-of-revelation” approach to Scripture that accepts the Bible as the historically accurate record of God’s infallible revelation (pp. 28-31).


Scalise does not believe Moses wrote the Pentateuch under divine inspiration or that the Old Testament record of miracles is accurate. He believes the Pentateuch was written by unknown editors centuries later (p. 56).


He believes the Bible’s accounts of miraculous events are exaggerated. For example, he believes that the Egyptian chariots pursuing Israel got “stuck in the mud” (p. 39) rather than being overwhelmed by God’s miraculous dividing and undividing of the waters. He agrees with Karl Barth that the book of Numbers contains both “history” and “storylike saga” (p. 49). He believes portions of Amos were added by an unknown editor (p. 56). He believes that to view the Bible as historical is dangerous (p. 79). He does not believe the Psalms are historical writings (p. 78). He does not believe that the Apostle Paul wrote the book of Ephesians nor that it was originally addressed to the church at Ephesus, and he doesn’t believe it matters (p. 58). Scalise wants to allow the Catholic apocryphal books to be accepted as canonical (pp. 60, 61).


He commends an approach to biblical canon which has “A FIRM CENTER AND BLURRED EDGES” (p. 60). Scalise says, “The Bible is the Word of God because God speaks through it” (p. 22). That is a false, subjective Barthian view of Scripture. In fact, the Bible is the Word of God because it is the Word of God, regardless of whether man feels that God is speaking through it. Scalise does not like the “negative view of tradition” that comes from the Protestant Reformation, and he believes the Protestants and Catholics simply misunderstood one another (p. 73). He believes it is possible to reconcile the differences by requiring that the Bible be interpreted within the context of church tradition (p. 74). In fact, if the Bible must be interpreted by tradition, the tradition becomes the superior authority. In the preface to his book, Scalise notes that he was guided into his critical views of the Bible during studies at Southern Baptist Theological and at Tubingen in Germany.


Fuller began to approach Roman Catholic seminaries in the 1970s in search of students. One of the first Roman Catholic students to attend Fuller was Paul Ford, who went on to become a professor of theology and liturgy at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, California. In Fuller Seminary’s alumni paper Theology, News and Notes for March 1993, Ford describes his experience at Fuller and described how pro-Catholic it was. He said Fuller professors David Hubbard and Jack Rogers visited his Catholic monastery and that Fuller professor Paul Jewett was a speaker there during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. A 2002 edition of Fuller Seminary paper Focus featured an interview with a Catholic nun about her experience as a student at Fuller. She said, “I think Fuller is a great place for a Catholic woman to study who wants to be taken seriously as a woman in ministry.”


Since the 1970s, Fuller Seminary has been heavily influenced by and associated with Pentecostals and Charismatics. Russell Spittler of the Assemblies of God has been a faculty member since 1976. In 1996 he was elected the provost and vice president for academics. He is an ecumenist who is frequently involved in dialogues. In the early 1980s, Fuller invited John Wimber to teach a course entitled “MC510, Signs, Wonders, and Church Growth.” He encouraged the students to seek after signs and miracles and taught that every believer should lay hands on others and heal them. John Wimber opened the floodgates to many errors by downplaying the importance of biblical discernment. He warned against being “too rigid” and “too heavily oriented to the written Word” (Counterfeit Revival, p. 109). One would say something like that only if he were attempting to promote things which were not in accordance with the Word of God. The Psalmist said the written Word “is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path(Psalms 119:105). It is impossible to be too strongly oriented toward the Bible! In his healing seminar, Wimber made the following statement, “It’s evil when you hide behind doctrinal beliefs that curtail and control the work of the Spirit. … The Church today is committing evil in the name of sound doctrine. And they are quenching the work of the Holy Spirit” (Wimber, Healing Seminar Series, cited from Testing the Fruit of the Vineyard by John Goodwin). Wimber had a large influence through his books, conferences and through the Vineyard Fellowship of Churches that he led until his death in 1997.


Another Fuller professor, C. Peter Wagner, supported Wimber in his false doctrine and has gone on to become one of the most influential voices in the spiritual warfare movement. I heard both Wagner and Wimber speak in 1990 at the North American Congress on the Holy Spirit and World Evangelization in Indianapolis. They were perfectly at home with the 10,000 or so Roman Catholics who were in attendance. The closing message of the conference was delivered by Catholic priest Tom Forrest, who said in one his messages that he praises God for purgatory because he knows that it is the only way he can get to heaven.


Wagner’s 1998 book New Apostolic Reformation promotes charismatic heresies such as tongues (actually gibberish), prophecy, spirit slaying, spiritual mapping, territorial demons, and binding the devil. Wagner wrote the preface to one of Robert Schuller’s books saying, “I am personally indebted to Robert Schuller for much of what I know and teach.” Schuller has redefined the gospel in accordance with his self-esteem theology. He said that defining sin as rebellion against God is “shallow and insulting to the human being” (Schuller, Self-Esteem: The New Reformation, p. 65). According to Schuller, born again means that we must be “changed from a negative to a positive self-image” (p. 68), sin is “any act or thought that rob myself or another human being of his or her self-esteem” (p. 14), hell “is the loss of pride that naturally follows separation from God (p. 14), and Christ “was self-esteem incarnate” (p. 135).


During the 1984-85 school year, Raymond Brown was a lecturer at Fuller Seminary. Brown was a liberal Roman Catholic who denied the deity of Jesus Christ and was active in the World Council of Churches.


In 1984 Fuller professor Lewis Smedes published a book entitled Sex for Christians. He claims that “thousands of homosexual people live highly moral and often deeply religious existences” and that the homosexual “should simply refuse to accept a burden of guilt for his condition” because he is “a victim either of biological accident or someone’s else’s folly” (Sex for Christians, pp. 65-71).


Smedes sees nothing wrong with homosexuals living together in a "covenant marrage."


In November 1986, Fuller Seminary opened the David du Plessis Center for Christian Spirituality. Du Plessis, who died in 1987, was a key figure in breaking down the walls of separation between Pentecostals and theological modernists and Roman Catholics. He was the only Pentecostal invited to attend the Catholic Vatican II Council in the 1960s, and he claimed that God melted his resistance to the mass, prayers to Mary, and other Catholic dogmas. In fact, he was deluded and was following Pentecostal “visions and voices” more than the Scriptures. Du Plessis was the only non-Roman Catholic ever to receive the Benemerenti Award, the highest honor that a pope can bestow.


Fuller Seminary has held ecumenical talks with the Roman Catholic Church since 1987. In 2001 the committee in charge of the talks got two congregations to join in the dialogue by sharing in a common worship service (Calvary Contender, Aug. 1, 2001).


Fuller Seminary has long promoted women pastors. Fuller Seminary president David Hubbard joined 200 prominent evangelical leaders in signing a 1990 declaration affirming the equality of men and women. The statement appeared in Christianity Today, April 9, 1990. It said that “in the church, public recognition is given to both women and men who exercise ministries of service and leadership.” An article in The Independent, Huntington Beach, California, for Nov. 20, 2003, contained the testimony of Jude Secor, who grew up believing that a woman should not be a pastor. After she attended Fuller “she was surprised to find that she was the only one at the seminary who still held a prejudice against women pastors.” Thus she became the co-pastor of Goldenwest Vineyard Christian Fellowship and when her husband died, she continued as the senior pastor.


Siang-Yang Tan, director of the Doctor of Psychology program at Fuller Seminary, was one of the attendees of the national conference on Personal Spiritual Renewal in October 1991. It was hosted by Renovare, an organization founded by Richard Foster. Speaking in the evening sessions, Foster praised Pope John Paul II as a “powerful asset of the Catholic movement” and called for unity in the “body of Christ” through the “five streams of Christianity: the contemplative, holiness, charismatic, social justice and evangelical.” He promoted occultic meditative techniques such as guided imagery and visualization. Another speaker was Renovare Steering Committee member Sister Bernard, a Catholic nun who is involved in the Buddhist-Roman Catholic dialogue. Fuller professor Tan “stressed the need to integrate psychology with spirituality” and “advocated inner healing, healing of the memories, and other occultic visualization techniques” (Christian Information Bureau Bulletin December 1991).


In October 1993, Donald Hanger was installed at Fuller as the “George Eldon Ladd Professor of New Testament.” In his installation address he said, “It is hard to imagine anything more debilitating to the work of the Biblical scholar than the a-priori insistence on inerrancy,” and he expressed his thanks that the seminary discarded that “unreasonable, unnecessary and misleading” doctrine (Theology, News and Notes, June 1998). He also said, “One does not have to affirm inerrancy to be or to remain evangelical.”


In December 1995, Fuller Seminary hosted a meeting of the World Council of Churches, one of the most theologically liberal organizations in the world. Fuller professor Arthur Glasser has for decades been at the forefront of trying to unite evangelicals with the World Council. He was a voting delegate at the WCC meeting in Bangkok in 1973. The November 1993 World Council-sponsored Re-imagining conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, featured speakers such as Delores Williams who said: “I don’t think we need a theory of atonement at all. ... I don’t think we need folks hanging on crosses and blood dripping and weird stuff ... we just need to listen to the God within.” And Virginia Mollenkott, who said, “I can no longer worship in a theological context that depicts God as an abusive parent [referring to Christ’s death on the cross] and Jesus as the obedient, trusting child.” And Chung Hyun Kyung, who said, “My bowel is Buddhist bowel, my heart is Buddhist heart, my right brain is Confucian brain, and my left brain is Christian brain. ... If you feel very tired and you don’t have any energy to give, what you do is ... go to a big tree and ask it, ‘give you some of your life energy.’” The WCC-sponsored conference featured a standing ovation for a group of some 100 “lesbian, bi-sexual, and transsexual women” who gathered on the platform. On Sunday morning the conferees joined together in repeating a prayer to Sophia: “Our maker Sophia, we are women in your image. ... Our guide, Sophia, we are women in your image.”


The Seventh Assembly of the World Council, which met in February 1990, in Canberra, Australia, opened with pagan Aborigines in loincloths and feathers, their bodies painted, dancing around a pagan altar to the beat of drums. One of the speakers was the aforementioned Chung Hyun Kyung, who summoned the spirits of the dead and “the spirit of Earth, Air, and Water.” Chung said, “I also know that I no longer believe in an omnipotent, Macho, warrior God who rescues all good guys and punishes all bad guys.”


In 1991, Wesley Ariarajah, who was the director of the WCC’s Inter-Faith dialogue, said that all religious faiths are one with God. “Therefore it is inconceivable to me that a Hindu or a Buddhist, or anybody, is outside God. My understanding of God’s love is too broad for me to believe that only this narrow segment called the Christian church will be saved. If you are a Christian you must be open and broad, not narrow and exclusive” (Ariarajah, quoted in The Australian, Feb. 11, 1991). This is the type of thing that Fuller Seminary has yoked up with in its fellowship with the World Council of Churches.


In January 1997, Fuller Seminary hosted a two-day seminar that explored “the theology of pluralism. The seminar featured Donald Theimann, dean of the radically liberal Harvard Divinity School, and Rabbi A. James Rudin, Both agreed that “no religion has a monopoly on God’s truth” (Foundation magazine, Jan.-Feb. 1997).


The following is a firsthand report by a pastor who visited Fuller Seminary in 1999: “My wife and I visited Fuller Theological Seminary on July 27, 1999. … We attended a class taught by Dr. John Goldingay of the School of Theology. Dr. Goldingay had very good rapport with the class and is one of the most popular professors on the campus. He told the class that there is no archeological evidence that the city of Jericho existed or that the walls came tumbling down. Referring to the Biblical account he said, ‘Perhaps this is a parable.’ This is evidence that unbelief and denial of the Scriptures is alive and well on the Fuller campus today. Hebrew 11:30 states, ‘By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.’ The Bible is correct and Dr. John Goldingay is in error” (Dr. Arthur B. Houk, Hayden, Colorado, houk@springsips.com).


In January 2001 an ecumenical venture named The Foundation for a Conference on Faith and Order in North America was established at Princeton Theological Seminary. Executive board members include Catholic archbishop William Keeler, Greek Orthodox archbishop Dimitrios, and Fuller Seminary president Richard Mouw. The Foundation is committed to expanding its borders and enlisting “new partners in the ecumenical venture.”


In 2001, the liberal Presbyterian Church USA elected former Fuller professor Jack Rogers as moderator. At the same meeting, the PCUSA voted to lift its ban on ordaining homosexual clergy. Harold Ockenga said the New Evangelical is committed to infiltrating liberal denominations rather than separating from them. We can see the good fruit of this! Rogers rejects the historicity of Genesis 1-3.


In January 2003, 50 church leaders from 30 denominations gathered at Fuller Seminary to launch a new ecumenical alliance called Christian Churches Together in the USA. “The new alliance will be the broadest ecumenical coalition ever formed in the history of the United States, representing Episcopalian (Anglican), Evangelical, Orthodox, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic and Protestant churches” (Foundation, March-April 2003). Roman Catholic Bishop Tod Brown, who participated in the meeting, said, “I don’t think there has ever been anything like this attempted before in this country.”


A WARNING TO FUNDAMENTALISTS

Fuller Theological Seminary’s quick slide into apostasy is a loud warning to Fundamentalists today. When Fuller Seminary was formed in the late 1940s, it was a fundamentalist institution. Founder Charles E. Fuller of the “Old Fashioned Revival Hour” was a Fundamentalist, and he wanted to establish a school to defend the New Testament faith. Harold Lindsell, who was one of the school’s first four faculty members, said: “From the beginning it was declared that one of the chief purposes of the founding of the seminary was that it should be an apologetic institution. … It was agreed from the inception of the school that through the seminary curriculum the faculty would provide the finest theological defense of biblical infallibility or inerrancy.”


As we have seen, this objective was quickly abandoned. By neglecting biblical separation and focusing on scholarship rather than simple faith in God’s Word, the school became a hodge-podge of spiritual and doctrinal compromise and apostasy instead of a bastion of biblical truth.

This is precisely what will happen to every fundamentalist church and school that refuses to practice separation today.


Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” (1 Corinthians 5:6; Galatians 5:9).

Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Lewis Smedes made this statement:
that the church ought to embrace "homosexual people who live faithfully in covenanted partnerships."


Dear friends, let me say, that an author who approves of homosexual marriage, should not have his books studied in a Southern Baptist Church nor taught by a Southern Baptist pastor. Period!


That statement (above) was one that Lewis Smedes addressed particularly to the Christian Reformed Church (CRC).

Writing in the May, 1999 issue of "Perspectives," Smedes urges the acceptance of practicing homosexuals in the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) denomination. He exhorts his own CRC denomination to "embrace," that is, accept as members of the church in good and regular standing, "Christian homosexual people who have committed themselves to a monogamous partnership" (all quotations in this editorial are from the article by Lewis Smedes in the May, 1999 issue of "Perspectives," pp. 8-12).

"Perspectives" is a religious periodical, sub-titled, "A Journal of Reformed Thought." It is edited and largely written by theologians, teachers, and other prominent, influential persons in the Reformed Church in America and in the CRC.

Dr. Lewis Smedes was a minister of the gospel in the CRC.


Smedes' Plea for Homosexual "Marriage" is refuted in the Bible.


My critique of Smedes' plea for approval of homosexual sex would note that the learned Dr. Smedes professes ignorance, as presented in that same article he wrote, as to the meaning ofo the Holy Spirit in thos passages of the Bible that treat homosexuality, particularly Romans 1:18-27.  Smedes does not know who they are, who are described in the passage, and states..."Nobody knows for sure." Nor does he know what is meant in the passage by "against nature".  The doubt of our unbelieving age that increasingly prevails in the churches, has blinded Smedes' mind to the clear testimony of the Word of God. 


Let me be crystal clear:  the people spoken of in Romans 1:18ff, are men and women who perversely lust for people of the same gender and then perversely engage in sexual acts with them as best they can.  The practice of homosexual sex is "against nature" in that it contradicts the will of God for sex as made known in creation itself.  This will of God is writ large in nature in the physical characteristics that distinguish male and female by virtue of God's creation of the human race; is sexual relations between a man and a woman in marriage.


One, like Lewis Smedes, who is uncertain about these basic things of divine revelation and the Christian religion, is disqualified to be a teacher of the church on sexual and marital ethics.


The argument for approving homosexual relations in the church is effectively answered by a church's faithful, biblical stand on marriage, sex, divorce, and remarriage. The plain teaching of the Bible is the authoritative rule for the thankful life of the believer in marriage. The difficult marital circumstances of some are not allowed to compromise, much less negate, the Word of God. The true church refuses to "factor human reality into its reading of the Lord's words."

And then, there is this little "gem" by Smedes where he not only says that it's perfectly all right for two homosexual men to have a relationship that's within the toleration of God...whatever that means; but that it is okay to do sexual activities such as sexual petting....heavy petting, and including sexual intercourse, depending on your circumstance.  Then he states it is okay for the husband to look at porn as long as he isn't comparing that porn to his wife and other things.?  What????

I hope you understand that this book is fatally flawed in that the author does not rely on the Bible for his information, but uses instead, his own reasoning to draw his conclusions. Unspoken assumptions in this book are staggering, with few references to the Bible; with, instead his referral to using his "discernment" to define boundaries.  His rhetoric is tiresome and baseless because it sidesteps the Bible in lieu of his own reasoning.

The central problem with Lewis Smedes is that he does not affirm the absolute authority of Scripture.  That is something that cannot be compromised.  The Bible is constantly being attacked in the 21st Century.  If you want to hold the views of Smedes, all you have to do is just eliminate the Bible; very, very convenient.  And if you're a professor in seminary, (albeit a liberal one) as Smedes was, it seems to me to be somewhat inconsistent to be training young men to minister the Word of God, while you deny it.  But that's where we are.
And then, we have to consider that
Lewis Smedes was on the founding board o
f "Renovare"

'Renovaré' is Latin for 'to renew' or to 'restore'. It claims to be a Christian organization set up to help individuals and organizations to be more Christlike through 'spiritual formation'. This is growth and development of the 'whole person' by concentrating on one's inner life and spirituality, societal interaction and spiritual practices. These are supposed to deepen faith and encourage spiritual growth... but any mature believer will immediately be made suspicious by the term 'spiritual practices'.


Every aspect of Renovaré needs deep examination, for many godless groups use the same words, but with vastly different meanings. Renovaré's ministry team draws from Anglicans, Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Roman Catholics and Quakers, amongst others. Headquartered in Colorado, Renovaré is present throughout the world.


Renovaré's Board of Reference include such men as Tony Campolo, Faith and Roger Forster, J.I. Packer, C. Peter Wagner and the late John Wimber – hardly people to recommend or to follow! Is this just a Roman Catholic spin-off or a deliberate Catholic activity used to ruin Protestant truth? After all, it claims that we can know God better through spiritual disciplines... which goes way back to Loyola and the Jesuits. It is also charismatic and Quaker, both of which are heinous to true faith.


One of Renovaré's associates' teachers teaches "Reiki," an occult practice, as part of their course entitled 'Incarnate Presence for God: Body Prayer'. This teacher is also a Quaker. One of her colleagues teaches 'Presence Through Sacred Image: Icon Prayer Group'. She teaches that by gazing at Eastern Orthodox icon pictures we can come to enter the spiritual realm. All of these can be found regularly in a wide variety of New Age, Gaia-worship pagan groups.


One of the founders, Richard Foster speaks of 'center down', which sounds more like Transcendental Meditation to me. It 'focuses on the silence of the universe' and other ludicrous but occult, New Age practices.


Earth worship features in Renovaré's occultism, along with pantheism, as adherents are encouraged to focus on some part of creation – a tree, a bird, leaf, cloud, etc. The act of meditation is also given a New Age twist, as people are told to use 'imaginational prayer.' An example is given of how Foster used this kind of false prayer to supposedly heal a little girl. It sounded exactly like 'imaging' and dream interpretation found among charismatics, an occult technique. "Astral projection" (flying in the spirit) is also taught.


Foster teaches that God "constantly changes His mind in accord with His unchanging love"! He places emphasis on humanism. There is even a Renovaré Bible. It includes the Apocrypha, which, it says, is almost equal to scripture; it says Moses did not write Genesis, which is regarded as 'mythical' anyway; it denies that the Book of Daniel is prophetic or that Daniel wrote it, basing much on the falsity of Higher Critical Analysis.


Renovaré is one of many false movements entering the churches today, and shares parity with such 'acclaimed' things as the Alpha Course. Because so many Christians are superficial, with little biblical or theological knowledge, they are easily duped by Renovaré. There are also many unsaved people in our churches, and they will readily follow a system rather than scripture itself, because most people love to be told what to do! They also love the idea that they can 'reach' God through spiritual exercises, thus bypassing salvation.  Dallas Willard, is a devotee of Renovare.


Whatever the system, whether the Alpha Course (See the webpage: "The Alpha Course Heresy" on this site) or Renovaré, you should shun it. Systems are put in place of truth and the Holy Spirit guidance of each individual soul. As such they are dangerous and spiritually damaging, if not occult. Renovare is filled with New Age and Roman Catholic mysticism and I see no worth in it.

Southern Baptist Pastor, Rev. Ken Silva, discusses the latest heresy eminating from Renovare by way of Richard Foster (with the links left in the document, so you can "fact-check" it for yourself):
Margaret Fineberg: an example of a "New Age" -- "Emergent" writer who has endorsed heretic Rob Bell:

Fineberg was recently on the stage of the Emergent Church/Seeker-Driven "Catalyst West 2010" conference, where she was billed as a "New-Ager."  She appeared on the same platform with known heretics: Dan Kimball, Carlos Whittaker, Louie Giglio, Mark Driscoll, John Ortberg, Don Miller, and Dallas Willard.


The Emergent Church movement is a progressive Christian movement that attempts to elevate experience and feelings on a par with Christian doctrine.  Many do not believe man can know absolute truth, and believe God must be experienced outside of traditional biblical doctrines.


     (See the webpage, "The Emergent Church" for complete information about this heretical movement).
Who is Margaret Fineberg?

First, we look at who has endorsed her, and what other books with heretical theology, she has written. 

Her book, "The Sacred Echo," is endorsed by known heretic, Mark Batterson, of "The Circle Maker" heresy.

I believe that Ms. Feinberg has a sincere desire to serve the Lord and encourage others in their personal walk with the Lord. She no doubt is a talented writer.

I found a few things to be untrue. Ms. Feinberg speaks of unanswered prayers. God answers EVERY prayer. He may not answer it the way we desire for Him to or in our timing, but He does answer our prayers. All of our prayers are heard if we truly are believers and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. She seems to lack an understanding about what prayer is and is constantly talking about how to get the Lord to answer prayers as the petitioner wants them to be done. The emphasis in assertion of that person's will over the Lord's, and encouraging others to figure out what prayer will get the Lord to do as you wish.

Our main focus should be to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by conforming to His will not our own. We need to be equipped in the knowledge of His Word. To not only read it but to study to make sure that we are not tossed to and fro with winds of doctrine.

With that being said, I am very disappointed that yet another writer and publisher have fallen into the false doctrine of the "Emerging Church."  (See "The Emerging Church" for more information about this heretical movement).

Does anyone study their Bible anymore? Or do these "Christians" just go with the latest trend or whatever makes them feel good? 2 Timothy tells us in Chapter 3, verses 16-17:

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work"

I would also like to mention the fact that Ms. Feinberg brings up how she and her husband were amazed and disgusted by the mega churches and their Miracle-Gro formulas, yet she endorses Rob Bell, one of the largest deceivers in the Emergent movement. 
I am grieved that more people will be deceived by the Emerging Church and that this book by Fineberg was even considered to be published.



Now, let us look at another of her books, "Organic God," here reviewed by Marsha West, April 2016:


Who is Margaret Feinberg?  "Charisma" magazine claims she’s one of the 30 voices who will lead the Church in the next decade.  According to Wikipedia, Feinberg has written over two dozen books and Bible studies including the critically acclaimed “The Organic God.”  The liberal media promotes Feinberg and her books: CNN, MSNBC, Chicago Tribune, L.A.Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Salon.com, to name a few.  April 15-16, 2016, she will headline a Georgia Baptist Convention event in Jekyll Island.  So even if you haven’t heard of her, she’s big.  Apparently many women have been buying her books and recommending them to family and friends. But is her teaching biblical?  “Umm.  No,” says Bud Ahlheim.  In fact, he has some serious concerns about this writer which he lays out in…

 

“Margaret Feinberg: ‘Bible Teacher’ sans Bible?”

One of my favorite verses from Scripture, one that reveals a truth of fundamental importance for me as a believer, is John 8:31.  Jesus, speaking to the believing Jews in His audience, said, “If you abide in my word, truly you are my disciples.”
 
The greatest desire of my life, and hopefully yours, is to be His disciple.  I abhor the casual Christianity proclaimed from so many pulpits.  I have great disdain for any teaching that takes focus away from “my word” and dares suggest other modes, other practices, regardless how “Christianized,” that are extra-biblical.  If we desire to be His disciple, we will be in His Word.
 
The problem with modern motivational preaching is that it offers little more than a theistically-salved form of positive thinking by adding Jesus to your life.  Having done just a little bit of “abiding in my word”, you’ll discover that this notion is as far from the authentic discipleship that Jesus taught as was Judas from winning the “disciple most likely to succeed” award.  You don’t add Jesus to your life; He IS your life.  “I am the way, the truth, and the LIFE” isn’t just a pithy phrase of helpful encouragement; it is veracity with a capital “V”.
 
But, these days, pithy phrases and flowery, emotion-inducing prose take preeminence in our pulpits, from our leaders, and from presumed “Bible teachers.”  Margaret Feinberg occupies this latter category, a self-applied label highlighted in a tagline on her website.  That Feinberg wields well-turned phrases is uncontested.  However, that they yield much worthwhile truth remains, at best, a spurious assumption.
 
In doing research for her book, Scouting The Divine: My Search for God In Wine, Wool, and Wild Honey (see how oozingly warm and fuzzy she can be?), Feinberg describes her process of seeking Biblical illumination through a decidedly unbliblical hermeneutic.
 
(FYI, Feinberg’s book is endorsed by Ed Stetzer, Executive Director of the SBC’s LifeWay Research.  That alone should warn you away from it.  These days, if the SBC endorses something, it should cause discernment alarms to go off  for you.)
 
"Scripture is written in an agragrian context, but I’m a total city girl.  Harvest, pruning, and livestock are things I see in movies and are especially difficult to grasp when I can’t even keep my living room plant alive.
 
A few years ago, I decided to do something about it.
 
I traveled to Oregon and spent time with a shepherdess to learn more about sheep and leadership.  Southern Colorado to spend time with a beekeeper and explore the world of hives and honey.  Nebraska to visit a farm and learn about harvesting, and California to learn about viticulture and fruitfulness from a grape-grower.
 
Along the way, I asked how each person interpreted passages of Scripture in light of their work.  Their answers illuminated the Bible in a whole new light and resulted in the book … "

(She proceeds to provide a link so you can not only buy her book, but also a 6 session DVD “Bible” study based on it.)
 
Now, there’s much that is worrisome from Feinberg’s comments, but let’s just hit the highlights.
 
For the believer - and I mean the authentic believer - there is this wonderful, doctrinal truth about Scripture.  It’s called the perspicuity of Scripture, and, paradoxically, the word “perspicuity” means clarity.  The Bible – for the believer – is clear.   We do not require special knowledge (you may recall the heresy of Gnosticism; it yet remains today, my friends.) to understand Scripture.  We do not need special training, or seminary degrees, or a solid grasp of hermeneutical techniques.
 
Well, why not?  You already know this (hopefully).  We have the Holy Spirit.  Upon our regeneration, one of the great assurances we have of our miraculous re-birth, is not only a new craving for God’s Word, but also the unique reality that, now, we actually understand it.  Like the resurrected Lord walking aside those two disciples on the Emmaus road, the Holy Spirit illuminates the Scriptures.  Those two disciples, you may recall, commented that “he opened the Scriptures to us.”  Same thing for us today.
 
That Feinberg needed the aid of a shepherd, or a beekeeper, or a winemaker, whom she says “illuminated the Bible in a whole new light”, suggests a pragmatic hermeneutic that is unnecessary for Biblical understanding nor condoned by the Word itself.  Her technique implies that what we need to know from Holy Scripture can’t merely be learned by the Holy Spirit’s illumination alone;  we must go outside Scripture to understand the truth of Scripture.
 
Umm. NO. 
 
It’s one thing to learn about the metaphors used in the Scripture, but the point of their presence in there is not the metaphorical content itself.  It is, rather, the truth to which those metaphors point.  And the Holy Spirit teaches those truths.  You don’t need to understand the daily life of a sheep to grasp the relationship of Christ to His Church.  There is no value in those “sheep”; there is, however, tremendous value of the relationship of our Lord to His church … after all, He died for it.

Just as a doctor does not have to make himself sick in order to tend to his ailing patients, neither do we need to engage in seeking understanding of the metaphorical details to actually understand the truth of the metaphor.  You don't have to go fishing to understand becoming "fishers of men."  It's ludicrous, but, slathered in sufficiently witty word-smithing, it apparently sells.
 
So, tending to sheep, drinking wine, and risking bee stings are not fundamental methods for Feinberg (or anyone) in her “search for God”.  This “search for God” phrase is, for her sake, particularly worrisome.  If she can’t, doesn’t, or won’t find God in His Word, her “search” surely smacks against a truth that Paul wrote in Romans 3:11, “no one seeks for God.”  You only start seeking God once you're His.  But, the way in which He is to be found is in His Word.  Why?

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16-17

 If Feinberg knows God, why is she crisscrossing the country searching for Him on farms and vineyards?  She should know He speaks to us in His Word.  Any natural revelations available to the unregenerate, and there are many, are, at best, insufficient for the authentic knowledge He has for the believer in His Word.  The world, cursed and tainted by the fall, is not the first place to seek illumination; indeed, it is the last place.  A believer, obedient to Scripture, knows this.  For Feinberg to suggest going beyond Scripture is very, very problematic.  Frankly, it’s only something false teachers do.
 
(In yet another expected display of a lack of discernment by the SBC, Feinberg is a headliner, at an upcoming Georgia Baptist Convention event in Jekyll Island, April 15-16.  It’s unclear if, leading those women on a similar search for God, Feinberg will be seeking salty Biblical knowledge about fishing from the once vibrant shrimping industry on the island.)
 
While touting her own extra-biblical “search for God”, and tacitly endorsing it for others, Feinberg has launched yet farther from the Word by producing and encouraging the use of “adult coloring books”.  Indeed, on the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association list of best-selling, “Christian” books, four of the top ten slots are currently occupied by adult coloring books.
 
IF, and that is an emboldened, highlighted “IF”, the endeavor of coloring is undertaken as a hobby, then perhaps it’s harmless enough.  Hobbies are not necessarily problems, unless they begin to take an idolatrous priority in our lives.  However, they can, like “adult coloring,” be “Christianized,” “spiritualized,” and used in a way that detracts from the Word itself.
 
When it comes to adult coloring, by way of disclaimer, let me quote the Apostle Paul, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”  1st Corinthians 13:11
 
Just so you know, that’s where I stand.  Never will you find me coloring as a past-time.  However, when one pursues this “hobby” in a contemplative manner, to the disregard of Scripture and prayer time, then it is a tool of the enemy successfully keeping you from the Word.  This seems to be the intent of Feinberg and her coloring.


Consider her tweet from April 6 that contains another of her pithy, fuzzy quotes: “When words fail us, I’m so thankful that we can still paint His words on the tablets of our hearts.”

Huh?

 

Now, if “words fail us” means “I just don’t feel like praying, I think I’ll color instead,” then that is disregard for the apostolic imperative “Pray without ceasing.”  If it means, “I don’t know what to say to God,” it reflects woeful engagement with the Word itself.

 

When I read Scripture, I can’t help but pray my way through it.  It either convicts me, prompting me to repent and ask forgiveness; it encourages me, prompting prayer of praise and thanks; or, if a particular text is difficult for me, it prompts prayers for further illumination.  The mind saturated with Scripture finds itself lacking precious little in the way of words.

 

Michelle Lesley’s website has a very worthwhile read, and warning, when it comes to this whole “contemplative” or “meditative” coloring endeavor.  Please take time, particularly if you find yourself drawn to “adult coloring”, to read this article, http://michellelesleybooks.com/2016/03/15/guest-post-adult-coloring-and-meditation-what-every-christian-should-know/.

 

The author of the article, Jessica Pickowicz,  includes this appeal to women:

 

“Please do not use these coloring books in conjunction with prayer and meditation, contemplative or otherwise.  Do not empty your mind.  Ladies, please do not sit down to color and wait for a word from God!

 

Please do not chant over and over (as in a mantra) a declarative ‘life-verse’ from a page in your Scripture coloring book.  Do not allow yourself to be entranced through the exercise of meditative color.  These practices are pagan.  They are the very thing Scripture warns against.”

 

Following Feinberg’s “Christian” coloring, you are encouraged to disregard prayer, put the Bible aside, and engage in a spiritualized hobby, knowing that you may still “paint His words on the tablet of your heart.”  No.  Just no.

 

Ask yourself, why would a self-proclaimed “Bible teacher” encourage you to do something INSTEAD of Bible reading and study?  The only reason is the promise of mystical experiences, esoteric (and entreatingly diabolical) influences, and, frankly, for her profit.  (One tweet offers a special deal on her coloring books!  Buy now!  Limited Time Offer!  Again, just don’t!)

 

If it seems just to harsh to criticize Feinberg for her flowery prose and encouragement for mindless hobbies, consider this.  She not only weaves words of her own creation, going outside of Scripture for Scriptural truths; she even goes beyond the domain of accepted “Christian” literature to presumably seek wisdom.

 

Consider her tweet below, quoting "wisdom" from the world by the Catholic, female erotica author Anais Nin:

Folks, a “Bible teacher” who finds the need to align with “wisdom”  (trite, worldly “truths” are not, mind you, God’s “wisdom”)  from such sources is hardly a “Bible teacher” worth our time.  In disobedience to Paul, when he wrote to the Corinthians “not to associate with sexually immoral people”, Feinberg finds encouraging truth from such sources; truths to be lauded, and tweeted to her 32,000 followers.

 

But, there’s a truth that the crayon wielding Feinberg, mucking through the sheepfold or imbibing on the fruit of the vine, missed in her “search for God” because it’s found only in Scripture:

 

“Let no one deceive himself.  If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is folly with God.”

 

Feinberg’s pursuit of God from seeking wisdom from the world, rather than wisdom from the WORD, makes her a “Bible teacher” sans Bible.

 

And what’s the point of that?

 

The rise of the feminine Church of Eden

by Jeff Maples

Still another look at Margaret Feinberg:


"Christians duped by manipulation trick No. 703"

By Jim Fletcher
Margaret Feinberg has endorsed heretic Rob Bell:

Rob Bell is a known heretic who believes in the heresy of "Universalism" and sees nothing wrong with homosexual marriage! 


(See "The Emergent Church" webpage for complete information about this man, who's books were carried in Rick Warren's 'Saddleback church'; even Rev. Franklin Graham has publicly denounced Bell as a heretic, when interviewed by Bill O'Rilley on FOX News). Thankfully, LifeWay bookstores run by Southern Baptist's have pulled his books from their store shelves.

Todd Friel examines the problem with Rob Bell and talks about pastors who were fired from their church positions for teaching Bell's heresy:
A brief description of the "Emergent Church" Movement, to which Margaret Fineberg belongs:

A SHEPHERD GUARDS HIS FLOCK

By Rev. Ken Silva, Southern Baptist pastor-teacher, Jul 9, 2012

 “And you’ve heard the rumor, that Pastor Jim killed the Beth Moore trip. Let me clarify that rumor: I killed the Beth Moore trip.” -Pastor Jim Murphy


Thank you to a friend of mine at First Baptist Church, Johnson City, NY, for sending me the sermon preached this past Sunday by his pastor, Jim Murphy. I thank God for pastors today, like Jim Murphy, who are boldly taking a stand and, lovingly and with great graciousness, and yet firmly, warning their flocks of false teaching. I am also thankful for pastors who recognize that the church is not “theirs” but belongs to God, and was purchased by the blood of Christ. It is an institution wholly unlike anything else on earth. It is not a business or a social club, and should always be dealt with with the utmost care. I’m thankful that there are at least a few pastors out there who do not fear man, who tremble at God’s holy Word, and who are seeking, often against the tide, to fulfill their God-ordained responsibilities in shepherding their flocks:


“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” Acts 20:28, my emphasis

“(An elder) must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” Titus 1:9, my emphasis

“I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.” Acts 20:29-31, my emphasis


As we have mentioned, it’s not like deception waltzes in with a sign hanging round its neck, announcing its intent. Deception is deceptive.


In this sermon warning and exhorting his flock to train themselves in discernment that they might not be deceived, Pastor Jim Murphy does not hold back and names names in his sermon entitled, "The Subtlety of Satan":


Shane Claiborne

Doug Pagitt

Rob Bell

Tony Campolo

Rick Warren

Bill Hybels

Beth Moore

Dallas Willard

John Piper

Richard Foster

Margaret Feinberg

Francis Chan

Looking at this list, you might be thinking: are you saying that all of the above are false teachers? In truth, some of them are straight up false teachers. But some of them, while they are perceived to be solid, have begun embracing the mysticism of Spiritual Formation and the Contemplative Spirituality movement, both of which borrow heavily from Roman Catholic Monastic mysticism. (And again, I have to repeat something I feel I say far too often: what could lost, cloistered Roman Catholic monks dabbling in occultism, eastern mantra meditation and mysticism possibly be able to teach true, born again, in-dwelt Christians of today about deepening their relationship to God? But I digress….)


In this sermon Pastor Murphy also exhorts his congregation to “connect the dots,” between the many dangers we are warned about repeatedly in Scripture and what is being taught under our noses in many churches and by many Christian authors and leaders today.


”The mood is that if you have a reformed soteriology you get a pass on everything else.”  -John MacArthur


I would also add the warning not to give an automatic pass to pastors perceived to be solid. We must always be Bereans, and we must always be holding all things being taught in the name of God up to the actual word of God. But please, don’t just take my word for it, or Pastor Murphy’s word for it, or even John MacArthur’s word for it: all that I have written about here is a matter of public record for those who want to know the truth about what is being taught, and by whom. It’s there for the finding for anyone who looks.


“And as Jesus sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?’ And Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘Take heed that no man deceive you.'” Matthew 24:3-4.


“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” Colossians 2:8.


“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.

"The Subtlety of Satan"
- Rev. Jim Murphy

How to Ignore "Discernment Bloggers"

and Stay Comfortably Clueless

(with my thanks to Fighting for the Faith.)

(See "Spiritual Discernment" webpage, for full discussion on this subject.)

Want to stay comfortable in your (theologically shallow & Biblically illiterate) Christian beliefs? Even if those beliefs are not really based on God's Word?? Of course you do! Here's a guide that will keep you in the dark, and will help you to avoid the bothersome content of whichever discernment bloggers are currently bugging you:

 

1.    Start with this assumption: There aren't any false teachers. With this handy starting point everything else falls comfortably into place. Just tell yourself that people who proclaim a different Gospel are just... different. It's like the difference between hotdogs and hamburgers. If there are no false teachers, then it logically follows that all discernment bloggers are wrong. Now you won't have to consider what they say!

2.    Go with the group. If the majority agrees with you, you must be right. Remember, Jesus wants you to follow the most popular teachers, even when they twist the Bible. Discernment bloggers are not popular, so they must be wrong. Now you won't have to consider what they say!

3.    Lump them all together. It's true: some discernment bloggers are too extreme and exaggerate too much, or they go off on some crazy bunny trails; therefore you can ignore everything that every discernment blogger says (see points 1 & 2).

4.    They are mean and angry, therefore, they are wrong. If you think they're mean and angry... well, that means they are mean and angry. Now you won't have to consider what they say! 

5.    Criticize their criticism. Discernment bloggers are not speaking in love when they call out false teachings and teachers, therefore you can ignore the actual content of what they say. Once you understand this you can freely criticize them, because it's not unloving when you and your group does it.

6.    Say something like this: "The Holy Spirit leads me-I don't need all this theological stuff." Remember, the Holy Spirit leads us, but He does it by using God's Word. So if you want to remain clueless, just focus on the thoughts that pop into your head, and avoid the Bible (and it's theology) at all costs. If you do decide to read your Bible, make sure to avoid the actual meaning of passages, which can be determined by simply understanding the context. Instead, use your Bible like a divining rod or a crystal ball, that way the Bible will always agree with you and your ideas!

7.    Give them a label. This is a great thought-stopper. Label all discernment bloggers with a generic and meaningless label so you can comfortably ignore them. Examples:


"He's into those Christian conspiracy theories now, it's really sad." (Hint: never define "Christian conspiracy theory;" this way people who make convincing theological arguments using scripture can be grouped together with Bigfoot hunters and UFO hobbyists.)

 

 "She used to be a regular Christian, but now she's into all that weird stuff." (Hint: You get to define what's weird, in order to pacify your pre-existing beliefs)


"He's one of those judgmental, Bible-thumping Christians now. He's a religious Pharisee; he's always quoting Bible verses." (Hint: never define "judgmental" or "Bible-thumping" or "religious Pharisee."  Also, you get to determine the exact number of Bible verses that can be properly quoted before extremism sets in; also, when in doubt just quote "Judge not!")


"Ever since she's been reading those discernment articles she's gotten too negative. God's in control, right? Why worry so much?!" (Hint: if you ever realized how brain-dead the church has become, you'd be "negative" for a while, too. So keep ignoring all the proof that surrounds you, and stay away from your Bible, which repeatedly warns you to watch out for false doctrine!)


Okay, in all seriousness, there is a lot to say on this important topic, and yes there are a lot of wacky "discernment bloggers" out there. Here's a pretty in-depth conversation between Chris Rosebrough, Amy Spreeman and Steve Kozar: “Discerning Discernment” on Fighting for the Faith, which appears below this article.


“I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!”

— Galatians 1: 6-9

 

“Currently, anyone who insists that pure doctrine is a very important matter is immediately suspected of not having the right Christian spirit. The very term ‘pure doctrine’ is considered taboo and is outlawed. If anyone holds fast to pure teaching and attempts to fight against any false doctrine, he is put down as a heartless and unloving fanatic. The era in which we live is what the apostle refers to when he says of false teachers that they are ‘always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.’ The spirit of our time is the same as in the era of Pilate, to whom the Lord had testified that He was the King of Truth in a kingdom of truth and who sneered, ‘What is truth?’

To hate pure doctrine is to hate the truth, for pure doctrine is nothing but the pure Word of God-plain and simple. When people hate pure doctrine, that is proof that we are living in a terribly miserable era. ”

— C. F. W. Walther "Law & Gospel-How to Read and Apply the Bible" Written in 1878

 

The "Church Health" -- "Church Growth" deception:

"Guarding the Pulpit"
by Cameron Buettel
(Copyright by Grace to You, used with permission)

Understanding
"Narcigesis" and "Eisegesis"

When the Bible becomes about you..........

When the pastor will force the Bible to mean that he is at the center of the story, and when the congregation are taught that every teaching, every command and everything God asks His people to do, becomes about the pastor's own personal faith journeys; that is what is known as narcissistic eisegesis, and it is a type of teaching prevalent in the Seeker Friendly movement sweeping the United States and the world.


NARCIGESIS [nahr- si -jee’ -sis]

[(From: narcissus; 1540–50; < Latin < Greek nárkissos plant name, traditionally connected, by virtue of plant’s narcotic effects, with nárkç numbness, torpor; probably from a pre-Gk. Aegean word, but associated with Gk. narke “numbness” (see narcotic) because of the plant’s sedative effect.) (From: eisegesis; 1890–95; < Greek eisḗgesis, equivalent to eis- into + ( h ) çge- (stem of hçgeîsthai to lead) + -sis -sis {C19: from Greek eis into, in + -egesis, as in exegesis}.)]

 

ORIGINS:

Classical Mythology: a mythological youth (Narcissus) who fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool and wasted away from unsatisfied desire, whereupon he was transformed a plant bearing his name, commonly associated with an amaryllidaceous plant of the Eurasian genus Narcissus, esp N. poeticus, whose yellow, orange, or white flowers have a crown surrounded by spreading segments.

Classical Psychology: “Narcissists” are people completely absorbed in themselves. (See narcissism.) Inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity.

 

Noun:

1.        The reading of one’s own life experiences and/or that of another’s life experience, into the text of Scripture; the need to make the Bible all about themselves.

2.        An interpretation of Scripture based on the interpreter’s self-authority, particularly driven by self-esteem, self-actualization, mystical experiences and/or the interpreter’s “felt needs.” (See Sola Experientia)

3.        A personal and/or mystical interpretation of Scripture based on the interpreter’s own ideas, biases, opinions, feelings, attitudes, beliefs, experiences, impressions, dreams, revelations, or the like, rather than based upon the plain meaning of the text.

4.        The reading of one’s own doctrinal theories into Scripture (as opposed to exegesis, which is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text or portion of biblical text), particularly as a result of personal experience. (See Sola Experientia)

5.        Self-centered, self-defined and self-authenticating biblical interpretation, application and counsel.

6.        The reading of one’s own interpretation into Scripture based upon the egotistic belief that all things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; and that only the learned, the elect, or the leadership elite (of which the interpreter considers himself), may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them. (See Plura Scriptura)

7.        The egotistical drive to invent new theologies, doctrines, revelations, applications and philosophies about Scripture, often manifested in self-aggrandizement activities such as book publishing, conferences, setting up organizations and websites, money-making schemes and publicity drives.

8.        Oxymoron: Subjective exegesis.

adjective: narcigetic, narcigetical

 

 


Examples are prevalent at South Norfolk; when the sermon becomes more about the pastor, than the biblical text; when the pastor "parachutes" himself into the text, which has been taken out of context, and the congregation is none the wiser;  as when he starts out a sermon with a story about "a broken bowl," "a broken cup," "a bag of garbage," "a piece of toast," "a car repair shop encounter," "buying an iPhone," "a broken lock," or "visiting grandfather's farm house."  A lot of personal folksy stories, very little Bible teaching, and no exegesis of the text, which has been taken out of context, to bolster one philosophical/psychological self-help idea of his; especially his constant "Social Gospel" theme.


(Again, full discussion of many, many other examples of narcissistic-type eisegetical sermons by "Pastor David" can be found in the introductory "Worship in the 21st Century at South Norfolk Baptist Church" PDF document found at the beginning of this page.)

Rev. Chris Rosebrough explains the technique that many “Seeker Sensitive” teachers and pastors use:  reading a few verses, then they launch into stories about themselves; life-stories that seem to be connected to the Bible; but connected in some torturous manner; usually with no connection at all.

 

Beth Moore is a good example of one who uses this method; and she is good at hiding true exegesis of scripture.  This type of  teaching is full of twists and turns.

 

Many of these so-called ‘sermons’ are allegorizing the biblical text; making the verses say things that they don’t say.  Those preachers who use this simplistic methodology, don’t pay any attention whatsoever as to what a scripture text really says. They are not handling God's Word. They’re more interested in talking about themselves.


And people who sit under this type of teaching, think that they are being taught sound biblical doctrine; they think that they are being good disciples of Jesus and are learning what the Bible says.  But they’re not; they’re not learning what the Bible says at all.  They’re learning narcissistic nonsense; which is exactly what that is.  This is no way to learn God’s Word and know what it really says.  It works against the goal of teaching sound doctrine and what Christ really said and taught; what the Bible is really about, and what it means.


Rev. Rosebrough explains:

Another book that promotes heresy.

More information about the heretical teachings found in "A Tale of Three Kings," and the philosophy of author Gene Edwards, yet another Southern Baptist who pastored only 2 churches in 3 years, then left the denomination, stating that he thought a church should only exist as a "House Church;" then went around the United States trying to start "House Churches" (a sort of "cottage prayer meeting" on steriods; they eventually failed), appeared twice on a television program with heretic Benny Hinn, and finally taught in public school for 10 years, before retiring to Florida.
What ever happened to Prayer Meeting?

"A Tale of Three Kings"........Book Review

By Rev. Casey

 

When you're the object of attack, what do you do? Retaliate in kind? Duck and cover? A Tale of three Kings: A Study in Brokenness attacks that question specifically within the context of the Christian community, drawing on the biblical stories of three Old Testament kings: Saul, David and Absalom.

Mad King Saul chased his God-anointed successor, King David, until Saul's death, but David refused to attack Saul even when given ample opportunity. According to the biblical text, David refused to "touch the LORD's anointed," even if that anointed one was quite obviously way off course. David later faced a similar situation when his own son, Absalom, led a coux. The author works this into an imaginative new fictional narrative of the actual biblical stories.

The narrative is a creative attempt to face all too common church divisions, specifically focusing on the relationship of submission to leadership within the Christian community. What do you do when attacked by a Christian leader? What do you do when your pastor, who may once have been solidly in line with God's will, goes far astray? Gene Edwards answers, "Even when Christian leaders err (or abuse?), do not raise your voice or revolt. Submit to your leaders."

I applaud the creative use of the biblical stories about these three kings but "A Tale of three Kings: A Study in Brokenness" does not do justice to the issues. Certainly Christians need to take far more seriously the Christian virtues of submission and have a proper respect for the office of pastor. But in an age when once-hidden abuses of the clergy (and I speak as a pastor), it's ludicrous to simply say, "Endure poor pastoral leadership and submit to unethical behaviors from those God has placed in authority over you." There must be a fuller account of how Christians can resist evil and address wrong-doing within the congregation.

I give the book some credit for creativity and an occasionally entertaining style, but the one-sided theology wouldn't allow the narrative to hold my attention long. Paul Michael did a great job narrating the audiobook edition (which I "read"), adding characterization to the many voices of the story.

But overall, it was a mediocre story with lopsided theology. I don't recommend "A Tale of three Kings: A Study in Brokenness."

Book Review

By G.T. Howellon

 

In "A Tale of Three Kings" author Gene Edwards examines two relationships in the life of David - Saul and Absalom - and from them he draws insights that believers can apply to their own authority-related issues. Instead of approaching these Scriptural accounts like a traditional devotional writer, he retells the stories in a semi-fictionalized fashion. This approach yields some beautiful, moving prose that almost reads like poetry in places, but it also leaves the door open to the author inserting his own conjecture into the story. I'm willing to accept a little artistic license, but Edwards goes over the top in my opinion. For example, in the prologue he spins a pure fable in which God tells Gabriel to allow the yet-to-be-born spirits of David and Saul to choose their destinies. This "Mall of Unborn Destinies", as Edwards calls it, sounds more like Mormonism than Biblical Christianity. I doubt that the author meant it that way, but it illustrates the pitfalls of the fictionalizing approach.

Aside from style-related problems, Edwards does cull some meaningful insights from the story of David and Saul in Part 1. David's refusal to rebel against Saul, especially when he had the chance to kill him, is a powerful illustration of how we need to react to our authorities, even those who are abusing their position. The author makes some excellent points about how God used David's suffering to bring him to a point of brokenness, and how David always treated Saul as God's anointed despite his wicked behavior.

His observations in Part 2 are less helpful. He makes some good points about David's humble heart and how we need to examine ourselves and trust God when someone is challenging our authority, but he wrongly portrays David's reaction to Absalom's rebellion. When Joab asks David how he plans to respond, David says he plans "to do absolutely nothing" (p.72). As presented here, David knows about Absalom's rebellion before it happens, but refuses to do anything to forestall it; he just puts everything in God's hands and quietly leaves Jerusalem so God can reveal His will.

Edwards closes the book with this passive withdrawal, but the rest of the Biblical account gives some needed balance. Yes, David was submitted to Gods' will (cf. 2 Sam 15:25-26) but the Biblical text makes it pretty clear that David's departure was not a gracious withdrawal - Absalom had blindsided him, and he was fleeing for his life! "Arise, and let us flee; or else we shall not escape from Absalom. Make haste to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly and bring disaster upon us" (2 Samuel 15:14, NKJV).

After escaping capture, David sends several allies back to Jerusalem as spies (2 Samuel 15:27-37), and in 2 Sam 18:1-6, he organizes his loyal forces and sends them to attack Absalom's army. David was hardly doing "absolutely nothing"!

To sum it up, "A Tale of Three Kings" is skillfully written and has some helpful insights, but it overlooks the fact that a rebel can be confronted without being either a spear-throwing Saul or a complacent pacifist.

Book Review

By Melanie R. Sudermanon


This book, in my opinion, is very misleading and could be harmful to anyone under the authority of a pastor who is abusive or misusing his authority. It makes an interesting point that we cannot know if someone has been placed in leadership by God or by their own doing. But it goes on to teach that you should always submit to such a leader and just hope that God will change the situation (as David did not get involved in Saul's removal as king). However, the New Testament is full of instruction on confronting and correcting sin, in love, even of our pastors. They are representing God and should only hold their positions if they are emulating Jesus, the Good Shepard. To do nothing in response to an abusive leader, is not love or godly submission at all.

Another Review of Edwards' book by Stephen Smithon:
Gene Edwards appeared
with heretic Benny Hinn

Benny Hinn’s interview with Gene Edwards on “This Is Your Day program (4/27/04), proves that it does not matter if someone is close or far off in their Biblical teaching, as long as it tickles the ears of the listeners. This is not the first time Gene Edwards has been on Hinn’s program. 
The following article clearly documents key heretical teaching by Gene Edwards:
Gene Edwards has placed a link to his personal website for access, on the "Restoration Ministries Website," a website where one can "link into" other like-minded heretics, such as Benny Hinn, Bill Johnson, John Crowder, Heidi Baker, Mike Bickle, Patricia King, Rick Joyner, "Bishop" T.D. Jakes, et.al.

Is a Church Planter absolutely necessary for a Church's existence?

 

There are several things as well that are troubling about Gene Edwards' conception of the "church planter."  The church planter is said to be part of the scriptural pattern, and yet we must question just how closely Edwards and his associates conform to that scriptural pattern. For example, in the New Testament we see church planters evangelizing the lost, and then organizing the infant churches from those converts.


However, a church planter in Gene Edwards' camp rather works with people who already know the Lord. Another example: a biblical church planter never asked people to move to a specific location, unnaturally uprooting their lives, for the sake of an artificially-created community that probably won't last. A third example: a New Testament church planter always traveled in mutually-accountable teams, but quite to the contrary, Gene Edwards and his crew apparently travel solo. But the most egregious way the self-styled radicals deviate from the scriptural practice of church planting is their elevation of the church planter to godlike, guru status.


Kevin Knox tells what it was to be under the failed influence of Gene Edwards and his "House Church" planting:

The Berean Call staff received a copy of a tape recorded speech given by Gene Edwards, at UCLA, California, titled “Eternal Purpose.”  It helped to spark the hippy “Jesus Movement” of the 1970s.  (That message will not be put on this website due to the amount of heresy it contains. It can be found on the web as a podcast.)  Here is their assessment of that speech:

Frank Viola (mentored by Gene Edwards) is a leader in the "Emergent Church" heresy movement.
Frank Viola was mentored by Gene Edwards
and George Barna. 

Consider the following assessment of Frank Viola and George Barna's "take" on The Lord's Supper, Church Buildings, and the order of Paul's letters:

Here is a closer look at Frank Viola and the "House Church" or, as it is sometimes called, "Organic Church" movement:

One reason for the growth of the house church movement as taught by Gene Edwards, is the lack of education in so many churches. The people aren’t grounded Biblically, and are not sufficiently educated about doctrinal error. They are not taught how to interpret the Bible for themselves, and how to deal with the abuse of Scripture by heretics.


Thus they aren’t able to recognize and deal with the error represented by the house church movement. The average member of a professing Bible believing church comes into contact with heretics through Internet blogs, Christian bookstores, Christian radio, the influence of Christian friends, etc., and isn’t able to deal effectively with the error.  Many are impressed with the false teacher’s use of Scripture, not understanding how they take verses out of context, to mean something other than what they truly mean, and otherwise abuse the Word of God.

Rev. Joe McKeever has written insightfully about

"The angry pastor: trouble in the making"

“Now, in the last days, difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self…boastful, arrogant, revilers…ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited…. Avoid such men as these.” (II Timothy 3:1-5)


Veteran Christian workers get this a lot. People tell you of a conversation they had with you years or even decades ago in which you either said the magic words that changed their lives or came out with something that infuriated them then and continues to bug them to this day.


You don’t remember any of it.


In yesterday’s cybermail, I had two such messages, one of each kind. One young minister was thanking me and the other was venting. Both conversations had occurred nearly 10 years ago.


The second letter told of the time the writer sat in my office, seeking guidance for entering the ministry. According to his note, I asked what kind of church position he was interested in.  And that’s what ticked him off.  “I was morally outraged by the question,” he said.

After all, he went on to point out, the issue was finding and doing God’s will, not what he was interested in.


He went on from there, updating me on his situation and asking for prayers, but my attention was riveted on those words: morally outraged. I’m unsure what that term means, to tell you the truth, particularly in this setting.  My dictionary defines “outrage” as a severe insult or affront. But, “morally outraged?”


I could not be more surprised by this than if my question had given him a sudden craving for chocolate ice cream.  One seems to have little to do with the other.

We never know what is going to tick someone off.


Unresolved anger is a scary thing. One never knows when it’s going to rear its ugly head, who it’s going to victimize, and what price the perpetrator may be forced to pay as a result of the damage he causes.


Any minister harboring unresolved anger in his heart is a ticking time bomb capable of doing a lot of damage to a great many people. What’s worse, it’s all done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.


The angry pastor will wreck his relationships with the other staff members, with the deacons, with anyone coming to him with a plea for help, and particularly with anyone bringing a criticism to him.


Earlier today, I asked a group of friends for their response to this question: “What does an angry pastor do?” The answers poured in and piled up in a hurry.

–Angry pastors take their aggression out on their staff.

–They drive people away from the church.

–Their preaching is harsh and graceless. They become “clubbers” from the pulpit, clobbering people with the Word.

–They become vindictive, unforgiving, interested in payback.

–The pulpit becomes a place to vent, to accuse, to belittle, to defend.

–He is harsh to his wife and stern and unloving to his family.

–He blames others for his failings.

–He beats the sheep instead of feeding them.

–He becomes bitter and sarcastic. “All sarcasm is rooted in anger.”

–He crushes the hearts and spirits of the congregation.


A good pastoral counselor can be such a person’s best friend.  We said a “good” one, please notice.  The last thing an angry minister needs is a passive non-directive counselor who will nod and repeat back his own statements. He must have someone who will look him in the eye, call a spade a spade, and hold him accountable for his misbehavior.


This kind of counseling can be painful, is usually costly, and can require numerous sessions over many months. Furthermore, it takes a severe toll on the counselor himself. An hour session with an angry person completely wipes out the counselor.


In many cases, the bitter minister will not be going for counseling, however. The problem as he sees it is everyone else, not him.  The world needs to change, not him. Woe to the poor soul who ventures to suggest he get counseling for his problem.


When a pastor (we’re talking about any minister) admits to his anger problem and seeks out a pastoral counselor, he has taken a major step in the right direction. But to say he’s “halfway there” would be simplistic. Not by a long shot.  He has a long road ahead, but the people who love him most and believe in him strongest will cheer him on and will be there to celebrate with him at the end.


At a gathering of pastors from across denominational lines, various ministers were sharing prayer concerns. An African-American woman said, “I am the pastor of Phillips Memorial United Methodist Church. We are in trouble. In recent days we have learned that our church is built over a toxic land fill. The poisons in the soil are endangering everyone. We are going to have to relocate our entire church. Please pray for us.”


Anger poisons congregations as surely as the worst toxins in the soil.

It’s bad enough when church members bring active, unresolved anger into the congregation. It’s worse when the carriers of such ill-will are leaders of the church. But when the mad men are the pastors and spiritual leaders of the church, the news is all bad.

From then on, it’s all downhill.


Yesterday, I had a phone call from a search committee chairman inquiring about a certain pastor.  Among the things I was able to tell him was this: In spite of a difficult pastorate where my friend now serves, he has retained his joy in the Lord and a healthy perspective on ministry. He is angry at no one, and loves them all.

That’s the kind of person I want as my pastor.

It’s the kind of pastor I want to be.


ADDENDUM.

A friend suggests that Dr. Wayne Oates, longtime seminary professor in Louisville and widely acclaimed teacher of counselors, had something special to say on this subject in his book “Behind the Mask.” (I’ve just ordered a copy of that 1987 book.) The following are notes from my friend’s blog, which he attributes to Dr. Oates….

–The angry pastor wants people to fear him. He is anti-social. Prides himself on his bluntness. Intimidation is his first tool of choice in relationships. He loves a good fight. His motto is “I don’t get angry; I get even.” He’s vindictive and people fear him, are afraid to confront him or cross him.

–Manipulation and coercion become his tools of conquest. Everything is about him.

–How to deal with him:

a) Tell him ‘no’ firmly and solidly.

b) Refuse to be frightened by him.

c) Use gentle humor with him. Gentleness is the believer’s great strength, a lesson this bully has never learned.


I’m grateful for these insights.


(A native of Alabama and the son of a coal miner, Joe McKeever has been saved more than 60 years, been preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ more than 50 years, and has been writing and cartooning for religious publications more than 40 years.  He put in 42 years pastoring six Southern Baptist Churches (most recently the First Baptist Church of Kenner,LA), followed by 5 years as director of missions for the SBC )
N.T. Wright, Bishop of Durham: has re-interpreted the Bible....with heresy:
Rev. Phil Johnson's lecture: "A New Perspective on Paul?"

Dr. Al Mohler Points Out Where Wright Is Right And Where Wright Is Wrong:

A good brief introduction by Rev. John W. Robbins, on the false theology of N.T. Wright invading Presbyterian and other Protestant churches:

What was at the heart of Paul’s ministry and message? Recent attempts to redefine the very heart of Pauline theology make this a timely and critical issue. To help us answer the questions raised by the “New Perspective” on Paul, Dr. Al Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is joined in a studio broadcast with John Piper and Ligon Duncan.

What is at stake with Wright's view of justification? Steven Lawson and Sinclair Ferguson answer this important question:

Why N.T. Wright Is Wrong:

Is "The new persepctive on Paul" a problem? Cameron Buettel interviews Phil Johnson:

A Defense of the Old Perspective on Paul

What Did Paul Really Say?

The following is transcribed from a seminar given by Phil Johnson at the London Reformed Baptist Seminary, meeting at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, on 10 January 2004:

There is an epidemic of Narcissistic Eisegesis infecting churches today. 
(For more on the Narcissistic/Eisegesis style of preaching, with specific examples reviewed, at South Norfolk, see the introductory paper, "Worship in the 21st Century and South Norfolk Baptist Church.")

JOHN MACARTHUR ON THE GIFT OF DISCERNMENT

By Rev. Ken Silva, Southern Baptist pastor-teacher, Feb 14, 2012

Discerning of spirits(v.10)—Satan is the great deceiver (John 8:44) and his demons counterfeit God’s message and work. Christians with the gift of discernment have the God-given ability to recognize lying spirits and to identify deceptive and erroneous doctrine (see Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:1).

 

Paul illustrated the use of this gift in Acts 16:16-18, as Peter had exercised it in Acts 5:3. When it was not being exercised in the Corinthian church, grave distortion of the truth occurred (see v. 3; 14:29).

 

Though its operation has changed since apostolic times (because of the completion of Scripture) it is still essential to have people in the church who are discerning.  They are the guardians, the watchmen who protect the church from demonic lies, false doctrines, perverted cults, and fleshly elements. As it requires diligent study of the Word to exercise gifts of knowledge, wisdom, preaching, and teaching, so it does with discernment. [1]

 

An important gift for the protection of the church is that of discernment, the distinguishing of spirits. The basic meaning of distinguishing has to do with separating out for examination and judging in order to determine what is genuine and what is spurious. Satan is the great deceiver, “the father of lies” (John 8:44), and ever since the Fall he and his demons have counterfeited God’s message and God’s work. All Christians should judge carefully what they hear and read and “not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1).

 

That is what the God-fearing and “noble-minded” Jews of Berea did when they first heard the gospel from Paul (Acts 17:11). They tested Paul’s word against what they knew of God’s Word, and because the two words matched they believed that what he preached was from God and not from demons. That is what every believer should do with every message that claims to be from God. No preacher or teacher of the gospel should resent having what he says judged against Scripture.

 

Those to whom God has given the gift of discernment have a special ability to recognize lying spirits, and this gift is the Spirit’s watchdog. Some ideas that are given as scriptural and that on the surface seem scriptural actually are clever counterfeits that would deceive most believers. Those with the gift of discernment are the Holy Sprit’s inspectors, His counterfeit experts to whom He gives special insight and understanding. The gift was especially valuable in the early church because the New Testament had not been completed. Because of the difficulty and expense of copying, for many years after its completion the Bible was not widely available.

 

The Holy Spirit’s discerners were the church’s protectors.

The gift of discernment is also especially valuable when the church and the gospel are considered acceptable in society. When Christianity is persecuted, counterfeit teachers usually are scarce, because the price for being identified with the gospel is too high. They are much more likely to appear in times and in places where Christianity is considered respectable or at least is tolerated. In parts of the world today, evangelicalism is popular and often profitable. All sorts of teachers, preachers, writers, and counselors claim to be evangelical and biblical.

 

Although any thinking person realizes that all the ideas cannot be biblical, simply because many of them are so contradictory of each other, it is not always easy to know which are true and which are not. Most often they are a mixture. Counterfeit teachers used by Satan usually have some truth in what they say. Unfortunately, many basically sound teachers sometimes undiscerningly pick up ideas from psychology, philosophy, or popular thinking that seem biblical but are not. It is the ministry of those with the gift of discernment to help separate the wheat from the chaff.

 

The Corinthian believers who had that gift either were not using it or were being ignored. Otherwise the perverted ideas and practices that Paul deals with in this letter could not have flourished as they did. Discernment is the gift, along with prophecy, that the Apostle urges the Corinthians to use in relation to judging the use and interpretation of tongues. Those with discernment are to judge even those who prophesy (1 Cor. 14:29).


Obviously, the gift of discernment is valuable to the church in assisting Christians to settle disputes among themselves rather than going to court. That seems to be the gift needed by the person Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 6, the “wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren” (v. 5).

 

Even praise of the gospel can be deceitful and misleading. When Paul and Silas began to minister in Philippi, Luke reports that “a certain slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortunetelling. Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, ‘These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation’ ” (Acts 16:16-17). What the girl said not only was true but seemed to be favorable to the gospel and to those who were proclaiming it.

 

But the purpose and motivation of what she said was exactly the opposite. The demons who controlled her meant to attract the people and, gaining their trust, then ridicule and undercut God’s Word and the work of His ministers. In that case Paul could not judge by what was said, because the girl’s words were true. He knew she was a demonic instrument only because the Holy Spirit revealed the false spirit that controlled her.

 

False teaching can be judged by comparing it with Scripture, but false spirits can be judged only by the true Spirit’s gift of discernment. That gift may be called the Spirit’s gift on gifts, because God uses it to reveal to His church whether or not a manifestation of the other gifts is of Him. All imitation of the gifts is not demonic. Much of it is simply the work of the flesh, carnal Christians trying to serve the Lord in their own power and for their own benefit and glory. Summarizing, it can be said that the gift of discernment is given to tell if the other gifts are of the Holy Spirit, if they are merely natural imitations, or if they are demonic counterfeits.

 

I believe God still empowers some of His people to unmask false prophets and carnal hypocrites. He gives them insight to expose imitations and deceptions that most Christians would take as genuine. The gift of discernment, however, can easily deteriorate into a critical, proud, and self-righteous spirit. It can be judgmental instead of corrective when it is imitated in the flesh. But rightly used it is a great protection to God’s people.[2]

John MacArthur

 

End notes:

[1] John MacArthur. 1 Corinthians (MacArthur Bible Studies) (Kindle Locations 1144-1150). Kindle Edition.

[2] John MacArthur, MacArthur’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1996], 1 Corinthians 12:11.

Rick Warren

and his Connections
to the ecumenical "Third Wave New Apostolic Reformation" (NAR) and "Positive Thinking" Movement:

(Complete information about the heresy espoused by Rick Warren and his connections to the Muslim religion, can be found on "Worship in the 21st Century, Parts 1 & 2; the "Seeker Sensitive" Heresy webpages, with an in-depth look, on the "Church of Tares" film webpage.)
A new webpage, "The Church as a Community" Heresy, has been added, with information of the connection between Rick Warren, Peter Drucker, Mark Driscoll, and the resultant heresy being followed.

Another error-filled book, "Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes." (With thanks to Robert Letham, a lecturer in systematic and historical theology at Wales Evangelical School of Theology in Bridgend, Wales).

First, the bulk of the book’s examples are based on Richards’ experience in Indonesia; however, Indonesia is not Israel in biblical times. Moreover, much of Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes is taken up with the idea of cultural distinctiveness as such. This is a necessary part of the hermeneutical process, but it’s not immediately relevant to the title of the book. As examples of cultural difference, Richards’ recollections of his Indonesian experiences serve to effectively open the question of cultural difference between the world of the Bible and that of the modern West. Nevertheless, the book contains so many that at times it seems more a manual for an intending missionary in Indonesia.


Second, there are a number of lexicographical assertions that are at best highly questionable. In chapter six, the authors draw a fine distinction between words for time such as chronos (which they consider to represent clock time) and kairos (referring to the appropriateness or fittingness of events). Again, we’re told that in the Bible there are four kinds of love, agape love being distinctive. Such assertions were often made in the past but have been undermined by the work of scholars such as James Barr. Perhaps it is significant that Barr isn’t mentioned. That this is no isolated mistake is made clear by the claim that a culture’s thought patterns are reflected in its lexical stock (138-145), a key point also challenged by Barr.


Third, there appears to be a theological deficit. The lack of a coherent covenantal framework leads to a certain relativizing of the law of God, seen in a polarity between law and relationships, with Scripture focusing on the latter rather than the former. This, however, is a false conflict. Adam’s disobedience to the law of God was simultaneously a breach of his covenantal relation to him, a breach demonstrated by his violation of the law God had given. This unfortunate dichotomy repeats itself in a similar polarity between the individual and the collective. Certainly, the West has lost its grasp of the corporate element so vital in understanding Scripture. Nevertheless, the biblical revelation of the corporate—Israel, the church, in Christ—is where the individual flourishes, and non-Western cultures where the individual is submerged by the group are no nearer to biblical balance than is the West.


Finally, Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes is influenced by Krister Stendahl’s thesis on the introspective conscience of the West, influenced (so the story goes) by Augustine. In contrast, Richards and O’Brien argue that the biblical authors had no problems with guilty consciences. David had no pangs of guilt about having Uriah effectively eliminated due to his adultery. His actions were culturally acceptable for a king. It was only when confronted by Nathan the prophet that he was brought to realize the gravity of his sin. Perhaps the authors should read carefully Psalm 32 and kindred passages. Since, as seems probable, the psalms were widely used in Israel’s liturgy, it would appear the effects of suppressed and unconfessed sin aren't peculiar to the post-Augustinian Western world at all.

 

"Practicing the Presence of God"

a growing contemplative trend

Today we are seeing the mystical type of contemplative practices that date back to the eastern practices of Buddhists and Hindus, including a type of mantra-style breath prayer that many say can bring us to a higher consciousness to experience God.


Rick Warren, as evidenced by his Tweet today about this practice, is a proponent and teacher of breath-prayers to reach this level of consciousness.  (SEE BELOW):


The contemplative practice of “practicing the presence” of God dates back to the late 1600s, when Catholic monk Brother Lawrence wrote the book, “The Practice of the Presence of God.” Rick Warren was greatly influenced by Brother Lawrence and wrote about him in his book, The Purpose Driven Life, in which he shares six secrets to become God’s friends. One of those is “practicing God’s presence” by being in “constant conversation” with Him.


After quoting 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (“pray without ceasing”), Warren asks how a Christian can practice unceasing prayer to which he answers, “One way is to use ‘breath prayers’ throughout the day, as many Christians have done for centuries. You choose a brief sentence or a simple phrase that can be repeated in one breath.” Then after providing ten examples of prayers, short biblical phrases that could work as breath prayers, Warren advises “Pray it as often as possible so it is rooted deep in your heart.”


In this context Warren also cites the book of Catholic Monk Brother Lawrence (c.1605-1691), "The Practice of the Presence of God," who advocated experiencing the presence of God in the most menial of circumstances, by praying short conversational prayers throughout the day. The Roman Catholic practice of praying the rosary is also akin to breath prayers.


The popular practice is now encouraged in youth groups in the seeker-emergent churches around the nation and the world.

Other Evangelicals who use breath prayers to practice the presence:


Richard Foster teaches that we can bring Jesus into our presence by the use of the imagination:
“You can actually encounter the living Christ in the event, be addressed by his voice and be touched by his healing power. It can be more than an exercise of the imagination; it can be a genuine confrontation., Jesus Christ will actually come to you.”

Nancy Ortberg: “I started slowly to turn my worries into ‘breath prayers to help practice the presence of God.

Beth Moore, in her book, “When Godly People Do Ungodly Things,” states: “I have picked up on the terminology of Brother Lawrence, who called praying unceasingly practicing God’s presence. In fact, practicing God’s presence has been my number one goal for the last year.”

The Purpose Driven Life methods of Rick Warren:

The Purpose-Driven Life

A Review of Scripture Misuse*

 

If the sense of a passage of Scripture is up for grabs; if your understanding is as good as mine; if a text has more than one meaning and all meanings are equally justified, then why study the Bible at all? Why not think up something you want to teach and then run to the Scriptures to try to find a passage that supports your views? Of course, this has been an all too common practice for years. But now there is a new twist. When a leader wants to develop a certain thesis and ground it in the Scriptures, but no objectively understood passage can support this particular notion, what is to be done? He might force a passage out of context, simply misinterpret it and hope no one notices. Or he might allegorize or spiritualize the passage, adding a foreign meaning. But all of this has been done before. A novel approach, one that might work even better, is to get creative and find a translation or paraphrase that will back your claim -- even if that translation has seriously distorted the passage. With this final methodology, there is the advantage of actually using the Scriptures as the authority and a fair amount of certainty that few will ever bother to check the passage for its accuracy and/or context. All of this brings to mind Peter’s comments concerning the untaught and unstable distorting the Scriptures to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16). The word “distort” in that verse basically means “to torture.” It is the idea of twisting Scripture to make it mean something it was not intended to mean, with the end result being our own destruction.

 

I first discovered this new fad when I visited some market-driven evangelical churches. Here were churches where their worship services were crowded and full of enthusiasm. Spiritual life appeared to flow as the congregations sang praise choruses. But something was missing -- Bibles. I wondered why until I sat through the services and found that Bibles were not needed. The Scriptures were never opened, never read. When the pastor preached, at least he did open his Bible, but he asked no one to open theirs, nor did he expect anyone to do so. He preached a message loosely based on Scripture and throughout his sermon his main points were projected on the overhead screens along with a few Scripture verses. A church with no open Bibles created the scent of spiritual death to me. Many who come to church today are Biblically illiterate. They can barely find Genesis, let alone Ezekiel.


Churches all across the land are following the same methodologies. Apparently the church-growth leaders have been recommending this approach and their disciples have jumped on board -- in many cases, perhaps, without serious evaluation. But it is dangerous for Christians to close their Bibles. What are Bereans to do without their Bibles? What if the leadership of the church has an agenda they want to foster and they misuse the Scriptures to promote it? Who would examine the Word and “see whether these things are so” (Acts 17:11).

 

The Purpose-Driven Life

 About that time, I picked up Rick Warren’s runaway bestseller, The Purpose-Driven Life. Warren’s book promises to be “a guide to a 40-day spiritual journey that will enable you to discover the answers to life’s most important question: What on earth am I here for?” More than that, “By the end of this journey you will know God’s purpose for your life and will understand the big picture -- how all the pieces of your life fit together” (p.9). With this kind of promo, and with Warren’s notoriety, we would expect his book to sell well, and it has. Not only is it the number one best selling Christian book at the time of this writing but thousands of churches are gearing up to take his 40-day spiritual journey.

 

First, we should say a word or two about Warren himself and his book in general. His first book, The Purpose-Driven Church, has greatly influenced churches throughout the world, due certainly to the fact that the church he pastors, Saddleback Church in southern California, is one of the largest churches in America, and a trendsetter among new paradigm churches. Saddleback reports that over 300,000 pastors from over 100 countries have been trained at their leadership conferences. Warren obviously has astounding influence over churches throughout the world. 

 

There are a number of similarities between The Purpose-Driven Church and The Purpose-Driven Life. Both, for instance, offer some good advice, helpful Biblical insight, and practical suggestions -- AND both are riddled with errors throughout. The highly discerning reader can perhaps sift through the wheat and tares and make a good loaf of bread, but most readers, I fear, will swallow the poison along with the substance. This leads me to ask, “Who is Warren’s audience?” I was thoroughly bewildered as to with whom the author was trying to connect. If it is a book for the unsaved, then he fails miserably, for the gospel is never at anytime clearly presented. The closest he came was when he wrote, “Real life begins by committing yourself completely to Jesus Christ” (p. 58). In Warren’s gospel, no mention is made of sin, repentance, or even the Cross. Real life (i.e., a life with purpose) seems to be the reward, and lack of real life (purpose) the problem. The thesis of The Purpose-Driven Life is stated, I believe, on page twenty-five, “We discover that meaning and purpose only when we make God the reference point of our lives.” Warren’s message is this:  Find God and you will find yourself (purpose).

 

We will agree that meaning and purpose will be a reality to the Christian, but they are not the objects of the gospel itself. The gospel is that we as rebellious sinners have offended a holy God, are dead in our sins, enslaved to sin and the devil, and under the wrath of God. But God, rich in mercy, sent His Son to die as our substitute to redeem us from our lost condition and give us eternal life. We receive this gift by faith as we turn to Christ, and from sin (Ephesians 2:1-10). That our life takes on new purpose at that point is absolutely true. However, we do not come to Christ because we sense a lack of purpose, but because God has opened our eyes to our need for forgiveness of sin and a relationship with Him. This is one of the fatal flaws in the market-driven church’s message in which the unbeliever is called to follow Christ in order to receive any number of benefits -- fulfillment, self-esteem, an improved marriage, a thrilling lifestyle, or purpose, rather than freedom from sin and the gift of eternal salvation.

 

If Warren is writing for new believers, which seems the case due to the elementary tone and substance of the whole book, he again misses the mark, for he uses many expressions and Biblical references that would be unfamiliar to the novice. On the other hand, if he is writing to the mature, he has wasted paper, for any semi-well-taught believer will be completely bored with this book. So, while much praise will surely be lavished on The Purpose-Driven Life, it escapes me who will really profit.


As I began reading this book, the problems were so numerous and obvious that I backed up and began marking these errors. I found 42 such Biblical inaccura