WHEN WILL THE CHURCH WAKE UP?
BIG CLAIMS OF MEGA-CHURCHES SO MUCH WIND!
At the Baptist World Alliance's (BWA) Centenary Congress in Birmingham, England, in July, Rick Warren called the Southern Baptist Convention's withdrawal 'silly' and 'a mistake' ('Warren: Global Baptists Are in This Together,' Kentucky Western Recorder, July 27, 2005). It would appear that some, at least, have woken up to the truth about a liberal movement that is a home to deceivers who deny that the Bible is the infallible Word of God. Warren's liberal theology has a greater love for wolves in sheep's clothing than Jesus Christ does (see Mat. 7v15-17). 'Keynote speaker' - what a joke! - Warren declared that Baptists should have 'unity without uniformity.' This is as stupid as the liberal garbage we hear in Cardiff where the ecumenical leaders preach 'love' and 'unity' of a kind not found in the Bible. Paul instructed the churches, '... that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment' (1 Cor. 1v10). Despite the apostles clear warning to separate from unbelievers and declaration that division proves who has the truth (Romans 16v17; 2 Cor. 6v14-18; 2 Tim. 3v5; 1 Corinthians 11v19 etc.), Warren said: 'I see absolutely zero reason in separating my fellowship from anybody.' If he read from an accurate Bible instead of the paraphrases that he resorts to in order to support his un-Scriptural views his eyes might be opened to the truth! Warren warned that Baptists are often 'known for what we're against rather than what we're for.' Does he not recognise that it is Biblical to state what you don't believe? Many of the creeds were written to fight off the attacks on the truth of the Deity of Jesus. Paul spent much of his time preaching against sin and error, both in the book of Acts and in the epistles. The Lord Jesus Christ preached on the dangers of being consigned to Hell more than any other writer in the New Testament and He was known for His opposition to the Sadducees and Pharisees, the Warrenites of His day! Rick Warren adopts the contemporary 'positive' philosophy and errors of the heretics he derives ideas from in his books, so that he measures ministries by these 'standards' rather than by the pure Word of God. He claims to be praying for a second reformation of the church that will focus more on deeds than beliefs - while true believers will know that the Bible balances both perfectly! You cannot have right deeds before God if you do not have the right doctrine.
There was an uproar when Anglican archbishops told about 2,500 Episcopalians meeting in Pittsburgh that they might have to leave the Episcopal Church unless its leaders 'repented' at the church's General Convention for consecrating the openly homosexual bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. When Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti, of Recife, Brazil, was ousted by his own archbishop for siding with American conservatives, he warned those who sided with him: 'Don't be afraid of your bishop. Don't be afraid of losing your jobs, of losing your salaries. ... Many times the law of men needs to be broken so the law of God is obeyed.' Incredibly, Rick Warren, whose movement has spawned colossal Mega-churches with corporate headquarters, up-market shopping malls, large bookstores, bowling alleys, basketball courts, exercise gyms, spas, extensive eating areas/food courts/multiple vendors (e.g. Starbucks and McDonald's franchises), 'jumbotron' high-tech multimedia screens in the sanctuary to 'reach the lost through whatever turns them on,' offered this advice:
'What is more important: your faith or your facilities? ..... [Jesus Christ] didn't die for buildings, He died for people. He died for people, not a steeple.'
This is laughable when you know that Warren's '40 Days of Purpose' has been used by Coco-Cola, Ford, Wal-Mart, the NBA, LPGA, NASCAR, professional baseball teams, etc., because they recognise worldly methods that work! This is a major problem with the 'church growth movement' - and another clear indication that it was never inspired by the Holy Spirit, but taken from the world. Warren partners marketing agencies like CMS in Covina, California, a company that helps giants like Isuzu Motors and Quaker Oats 'grow their businesses,'
( ref.: www.christian-ministry.com/aboutus_who.htm )
and follows the advice of secular business guru Peter Drucker, with whom he has engaged in a bi-annual consultation for 20 years. Drucker teaches churches and charities to behave more like corporations and Warren has adapted many of his ideas (Fortune Magazine, April 5, 2004, p.110). While the Drucker Foundation has a 'Self-Assessment Tool' for business leaders, Warren has a 'Health Assessment Tool' for readers of his Purpose Driven Life! Business methods appear all through Warren's writings in 'Christian' garb. Forbes Magazine publisher, Rich Karlgaard said of The Purpose Driven Church: 'This is one of the greatest entrepreneurial books I've ever read, and if you merely substitute the word 'business' for 'church', it's just a terrific guide that can be taken to a secular and business audience' (CBS News, Early Show, 22 Mar 2005; ). Bob Buford, another friend of Warren and Hybels and founder of the Leadership Network in Dallas, Texas, has spent over 20 years integrating Drucker's business ideas into churches, calling himself 'the legs for his [Drucker's] brain' (Jack Beatty, The World According to Peter Drucker (New York: The Free Press, 1998), p. 186).
On a recent Sunday at Willow Creek Community Church, a Christian rock band joined by dancing children powered up in the cavernous main hall, their images ablaze on several gigantic screens as thousands of worshippers enjoyed the powerful sound system. This church near Chicago, and others like it, number their congregations in the thousands on any given Sunday in stadium-size sanctuaries. California's Saddleback Church, Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois, and Houston's Lakewood Church, each draw 20,000 or more on a weekend. Rick Warren told a seminar, held earlier this year by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, that about 20 churches in America have more than 10,000 in weekend attendance and:
'These churches can do a ton of things that smaller churches can't ....'
Really? Nancy Ammerman, professor of the Sociology of Religion at the Boston University School of Theology reported:
'They have the resources to produce a professional-quality production every weekend, with music (often specially composed for the occasion and backed by a professional ensemble) and video and lighting and computer graphics and a preacher who knows how to work a crowd ...' [emphasis added].
But, Ammerman added, they also support 'dozens, or even hundreds, of specialized opportunities for people to get involved in doing things with a small group of others. If you want someone to talk to who really understands what it is like to parent an autistic child, you may find a whole support group in a mega-church.'
SUPPOSEDLY CHRISTIAN ORGANISATION WORKING IN THE MIDST OF THE CORRUPT ORGANISATION THAT IS THE UN?
Richard and Nancy Sauser of Schaumburg, Illinpois, have been members at Willow Creek for more than 10 years and attend regularly with their daughters, ages 5 and 7. The 30-year-old church draws 20,000 weekend worshippers and Sauser said: 'Anything they put their minds to, they can pretty much do.' Marvelling at the power inherent in size, he added: 'Willow Creek has the resources to effectively execute on multiple facets of church life,' through more than 100 different ministries. Sauser said he does not attend Willow Creek for its size but for the teaching and the ministry, for when the thousands at Willow Creek break into smaller groups for Bible study, the men's ministry, the special needs ministry and the adult ministry, a lot of life change occurs: 'In the small groups, that is where it really gets good.' What do they mean? Ministries, programmes and small groups must be introduced to meet people's needs for counselling about poor self-esteem, depression, infertility, singleness, weight loss, co-dependency, addictions, etc.?
Is it a surprise to find 'it really gets good' in 'small groups'? After all, historical churches have obviously always been relatively small! The very sociological factors that have always existed in the world mean that God must have always provided every divine gift His people required in every body of believers - whatever their size and wherever they existed - through His Spirit! (Romans 12v6; Ephesians 4v11; 1 Corinthians 4v7; 12). This fact makes all the big claims of mega-churches so much wind!
Scott Thuma, a sociologist of religion at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, said his research indicates there are at least 1,200 U.S. Protestant churches which claim more than 2,000 weekly attendees. Mega-churches are supposedly addressing the needs of Americans who are disinterested in 'traditional church' yet want to 'deepen a sense of meaning in their lives' [Barna's figures, quoted earlier, reveal the truth behind these fatuous claims!]. Classes and volunteer ministry opportunities lead to a deeper commitment, he said: 'They have opened worship to the seeker and the unsaved rather than reserving Sunday worship for the saved and sanctified.' Since when did real fellowships 'reserve' the things of the faith and exclude others? Certainly, the church in the West has often been pathetic in recent years - but who in their right mind could believe it has always been striving to present the complete historical gospel of Christ when it has been in that mode? On the other hand who, having examined the methods of Warren, can believe that his 'Purpose Driven' mega-church methods have something that has been missing from the gospel? The tawdry un-Biblical philosophies that are infiltrating Christianity through this consumer and market driven approach offer high-tech music, production and the latest gadgetry. But none of that can ever come close to the power that comes from the simple preaching and teaching of the Word of God. What a contrast all the worldliness of Warrenism is to Paul's key message to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20. He never mentions marketing, growing or adapting but, instead, warns them to teach the whole counsel of God (20v27), to beware of false teachers (20v29-30) and to preach the gospel of faith and repentance (20v21). This introduces another major problem in the 'church growth movement' - the corruption of the gospel message.
The three largest churches in the West are Saddleback, Willow Creek and Houston's Lakewood, but Warren seeks to deflect criticism by pointing out 'far larger churches' in the mammoth Christian congregations of Nigeria, South Korea and elsewhere. Of course, it is not the size of churches that is necessarily a problem. There is also the fact that these other mammoth churches are not necessarily run on Purpose Driven lines. David (Paul) Yonggi Cho, the heretical leader of the widely reputed 'largest church in the world' in South Korea, certainly follows Word-Faith/Buddhist visualisation heresies rather than Warren's brand of error! Warren claims U.S. Protestants have returned to the 19th century roots of the evangelical movement, emphasizing social issues such as caring for the sick, the poor and the powerless, and not just concentrating on personal salvation. 'The small group structure is the structure of renewal in every facet of Christianity, including Catholicism,' Warren said recently. His church apparently has 9,200 lay ministers leading more than 200 different ministries all over southern California with 2,600 small groups in 83 cities. But, whether they meet in large or small groups, if they are being fed Warren's errors, they are certainly no better off than the weak vacillating fellowships that preceded them.
Rick Warren spoke at the Interfaith Prayer Breakfast, the Christian Embassy, at the UN on 13th September, 2005. There were apparently around 200 'high level' delegates, including four presidents of foreign countries attending the event. But this 'Christian' organization, an offshoot of Campus Crusade for Christ, exists at the UN, not to proselytize, but to 'serve those at the UN and help them be successful.' This a direct quote from a 'Christian' representative whose greatest concern was that their platform at the UN might somehow be jeopardized. Many will ask why proclaiming the message of exclusive salvation through Christ alone isn't their mission? Apparently praying for the success of the 60th General Assembly session at the UN was their chief objective. Why is this supposedly Christian organisation working in the midst of the corrupt organisation that is the UN? An organisation that attacks Israel for daring to protect her land from terrorists while the laughably mis-named Security Council of the UN pressures her to give up more land for peace? Where was the UN when Jordan was killing Palestinians in September, 1970, driving them and their terrorist organisations out of their territory and into the camps they have existed in ever since and virtually causing everything that has followed! Why didn't this feeble bunch of gravy-train lovers force Jordan to take back their 'Palestinians' then? No - their agenda seeks to squeeze God's people out of the land He gave them. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were promised by God that their descendants would possess forever a land bordered on the south by 'the river of Egypt' in the Sinai, by the Euphrates on the north, the Mediterranean on the west and reaching into Jordan on the east (Gen 12v1-7; 13v15; 15v7; 18-21; 17v7-8; 26v3-5; 28v13-14; 35v9-12; 50v24; Ex 6v2-8; 33v1-3,16; Lev 20v22-26; Deut 32v49; 34v4; Neh 9v8; Psalm 89v28-36; Jeremiah 30v3,10,11; 31v7-12,35-36; 33v20-21; Ezekiel 37v21-28; Amos 9v13-15, etc.). That area has thus been known as 'the promised land' and belongs to Israel by God's decree. Yet this is exactly what is denied by the Arabs and has been ignored by George W. Bush, Rome, the UN, and the other so-called leaders in the Middle East 'peace' negotiations. The unelected body of world bureaucrats that is the UN is so choked with internal corruption that billions have been subverted for terrorist and anti-American and anti-Christ causes. God wants Christians to pray that He should bless this? May God save us from the international agenda of the United Nations and what it means to the true victims of despotism and tyranny all over the world.
This event at the UN was controlled the media so tightly that only one news organization that was there, the Christian Post, has been confirmed. Apparently, four 'Christian' ministries were involved with this breakfast but wanted completed anonymity or their ministries would be 'destroyed'. The reason these ministries felt that way is not revealed, but the female representative from the Christian Embassy who revealed this also disclosed that the true sponsoring organizations are a complete secret. No wonder 'conspiracy' theories abound in some circles. There are few circumstances in which such secrecy should be sought by Christians. But the UN was long ago exposed as the refuge of many anti-Christian elements. The naiveté of those currently fellowshipping with such elements is astounding, but expected in the full light of the Word of God which has been rejected by so many. Should we even be surprised that Rick Warren is present in such circumstances? Truly the time will soon come when such 'believers' will know what it is to suffer from a famine of the Word (Amos 8v11-12):
AM 8:11 'The days are coming,' declares the Sovereign LORD, 'when I will send a famine through the land - not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD. AM 8:12 Men will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the LORD, but they will not find it.
Apparently, at the UN meeting, Rick Warren used his standard approach (i.e., one used in various interviews, including with Larry King) at the breakfast: 'I'm willing to stake my life that Jesus was right. I invite you to do so too.' This is not the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ! Others are willing to 'stake their lives' that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and the Book of Mormon is true - or on the 'New Age Jesus'. If you don't clearly proclaim that Jesus Christ is the only way to God and eternal life and that, without him, eternal hell awaits the unbeliever - then you are not preaching the Gospel. Failure to present the Bible as the entirely trustworthy Word of God and the objective standard of truth leaves hearers being 'invited' to accept Warren's opinion as the criteria. This is as weak as the effort made on TV by Nicky Gumbel when thrown the line: 'Do you believe that Jesus is the only way to God?' The obvious invitation to state the truth was feebly spurned. Shouldn't we expect true men of the Word to clearly present the exclusive message of the cross without fear? The most the UN could do is politely spurn any further invitation.
The New Age worshippers at the UN will happily accept the enfeebled 'Jesus' of Warren. Warren's associate, Ken Blanchard, and many other New Age authors, use the 'leadership lessons of Jesus', 'ancient relationship traits of Christ', and 'Jesus Habits', etc., to promote 'personal success'. Blanchard has clearly strongly supported New Age ideas in the past, yet it is now claimed he is a follower of Christ. Questions have been asked concerning the actual nature of his 'belief' in Christ - but these have not yet been answered. We will see, in time, where the truth lies and whether he has simply embraced the New Age view of 'Jesus'. Since the entire 'Purpose Driven' trend is plainly 'market driven,' rooted in psychology, New Age, and ecumenical compromise, it is not Biblical Christianity and we do not yet have reason to accept assurances of Blanchard's 'conversion'.
Without hearing we are all sinners who have rebelled against God, and that Christ is the only Saviour, the UN delegates who heard Warren are also utterly lost. Why did Warren not give a message about sin, repentance and redemption? Anything less is a false Gospel and the UN, and others, need to hear of the real, historical Jesus. The 'Christ' teacher/figure being promoted by groups like Share International speak of a world teacher. These people are familiar with the term 'Jesus', but ignorant of the exclusive message of the atoning sacrifice of the sole Redeemer of the world who died at Calvary. Tragically, these 'New Spirituality' proponents seek to usher in the false 'Christ' of the New Age who the UN will, no doubt, welcome as the bringer of 'world peace'.
(Continued on page 205)