November 12, 2008

Salve for Itching Ears: Rick Warren & Saddleback

Dear Guests:

Earlier today I interjected a parallel thought in a thread at the pseudo-fundamentalist blog
Sharper Iron (SI) titled The Small Church and American Fundamentalism by Joel Tetreau. Because a Mr. John Brown, who is a passionate apologist for Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven philosophy, posted a comment in the SI thread in regard to, but without identifying Warren’s Saddleback church, I inserted a needed clarification and caution. Following is an edited version of what I inserted in Joel’s thread.

comment #20 John Brown is speaking in reference to and in support of Rick Warren and the Saddleback church. Brown wrote:

I have no doubt that what you relate is absolutely true. But on the other hand, the large mega I attended, 22,000 in weekend attendance, offered 14,000 hours of free counseling to church members, the community, and yes, referrals from several other churches. It also offered substance abuse and anger management classes that local judges ordered those prosecuted for such actions to attend. Mega’s have the capacity to care for the member as much as the mini if it is a priority.
Brown was responding to this from Joe Roof wrote,
In this area where there is 750,000 people in a 15 mile radius of our church, there is only one church that has ever reached mega-church status (at least 2000 people). It is interesting that there are a number of people in that church that call me for counseling because they cannot get an appointment with their minister. Wow!
John Brown is a former staff member at Saddleback. Brown has posted at SI before as an apologist for Rick Warren and the Saddleback philosophy and practice of ministry.

Allow me to supply a box quote from John MacArthur’s
The Truth Wars, p. 147.
Many church leaders have radically changed the way they look at the Gospel. rather than seeing it as a message from God that Christians are called to proclaim as Christ’s ambassadors (without tampering with it or changing it in any way), they now treat it like a commodity to be sold at market.
In a section titled, The Assault on Divine Authority (pp. 146-147), MacArthur names Rick Warren in connection with the above box quote. There is more:
Maintaining a positive image has become a priority over guarding the truth.

The PR-Driven church. Somewhere along the line, evangelicals bought the lie that the Great Commission is a marketing mandate. The leading strategists for church growth today are therefore all pollsters and public relations managers.
In the words of Rick Warren, ‘If you want to advertise your church to the unchurched, you must learn to think and speak like they do.’ An endless parade self-styled church-growth specialists has been repeating that same mantra for several decades, and multitudes of Christians and church leaders now accept the idea uncritically. Both their message to the world and the means by which they communicate that message have been carefully tailored by consumer relations experts to appeal to worldly minds. (bold added)
Rick Warren’s Saddleback church is one of this generations most stark fulfillments of the Apostle Paul’s prophetic statement,
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables,” (2 Tim. 4:3-4).
On 2 Tim. 4:3 M. R. Vincent wrote,
[They] shall invite teachers en masse. In periods of unsettled faith, skepticism, and mere curious speculation in matters of religion, teachers of all kinds swarm like the flies in Egypt. The demand creates the supply. The hearers invite and shape their own preachers. If the people desire a calf to worship, a calf is readily found.
Wiersbe wrote,
They want religious entertainment from Christian performers who will tickle their ears. We have a love for novelty in the churches today: emotional movies, pageants, foot-tapping music, colored lights, etc. The man who simply opens the Bible is rejected while the shallow religious entertainer becomes a celebrity. And verse 4 indicates that itching ears will soon become deaf ears as people turn away from the truth and believe man-made fables.”
When you read the following select samples of Warren’s methodology you then understand why large crowds of folks, with ears that want to be tickled, flock to Saddleback and its satellites.
Warren embraces deliberate pragmatism of the worst kind. He believes that anyone one can be reached based on “finding the key to that person’s heart.”

Warren routinely misuses Scripture. The Bible is a tool that Warren manipulates to cover his own ideas with a veneer of divine authority.

Warren promotes extreme ecumenism. He has forged ties with the Roman Catholic Church, the Baptist World Alliance and the United Nations. Warren said, “I see absolutely zero reason in separating my fellowship from anybody,” Noting he has theological differences with many of the diverse denominations that invite him to speak, Warren added, “That doesn't stop me from fellowshipping with them.” When he heard of the SBC's withdrawal, he added, “I thought, ‘This is silly! Why would we separate ourselves from brothers and sisters in the world?’”—Rick Warren at the Baptist World Alliance- Global Baptists Are in This Together.

Warren redefines ministry in terms of social activism. Warren’s Global Peace Plan for “Purpose Driven Nations” includes involving himself with the UN, Council on Foreign Relations, etc. in order to rid the world of “poverty, disease, and illiteracy” by forming entangling alliances between churches, secular businesses, and governments. This is an agenda completely foreign to and for Warren replaces the Great Commission and the New Testament church as laid out in Acts and the Pauline Epistles.

Warren accepts the worst sort of evangelistic reductionism. “Wherever you are reading this, I invite you to bow your head and quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity: ‘Jesus, I believe in you and receive you.'’ If you sincerely meant that prayer, congratulations! Welcome to the family of God!”(PDL, p. 74).

Warren said, “
I am praying for a second reformation of the church that will focus more on deeds than words. The first Reformation was about beliefs. This one needs to be about behavior. ... We’ve had a Reformation; what we need now is a transformation.”—July 2005 at the Baptist World Alliance with Tony Campolo and Jimmy Carter.

For additional examples of Rick Warren’s philosophy and the Saddleback Church please read-

Rick Warren's Second Reformation

Purpose Driven's Compromise of Scripture

Rick Warren's Foray Into the United Nations

No Laughing Matter!

Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers,” (Titus 1:9).
Saddleback in NOT a New Testament church! Don’t listen to the voices or printed words of compromise and betrayal. Reject and refute any attempts by the apologists for Rick Warren to legitimize the methods and ministry of his (Warren’s) Purpose Driven philosophy.

When you encounter the philosophy of and/or apologists for the Church Growth, Seeker and Emerging Church movements such as Bill Hybel’s Willow Creek Community Church and Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, remember that these are ministries lead by men who have compromised and run roughshod over the inspiration and infallibility of Scripture to build and keep their following. Don’t listen to the voices or printed words of compromise and betrayal.


Your First Step Won't be Your Last: Avoiding the Path to Compromise for related reading.

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