Monday, October 11, 2010

Rick Warren: Did He or Didn't He?

The fallout from Desiring God 2010 continues, and seems to have taken a rather curious turn.  Rick Warren recently "tweeted" the following:

Now, those who know Rick Warren's "law heavy" teaching know that the above tweet is a dig at discernment writers (like Ken Silva, Ingrid Schlueter, and Pirate Christian Radio talk show host Chris Rosebrough) who - according to what Rick Warren is saying in this tweet - don't "do" anything, but focus too much on doctrinal correctness.  And what, according to Rick Warren, is the correct way to "do" things?  Well, in his own words, Rick Warren has said he thinks Christianity needs a “second Reformation” that would steer the church away from divisive politics and be “about deeds, not creeds” (i.e., helping the poor, the sick, the needy).

Now, not being a "tweeter," I don't really understand how Twitter works, but according to those who do, it is apparently just a matter of backtracking in order to understand from whence a "tweet" originated.  And according to some super sleuths who did a little old-fashioned gumshoe investigating, this particular tweet seems to have originated with Rick Warren.  Why is this significant?  Because "RT" on a tweeter's "tweet" is supposed to stand for a "re-tweet," meaning it has originated elsewhere and is simply being reposted at the borrower's own site.

Now, not being able to sleuth this out for myself, I can only imagine two scenarios for what has happened here:

(1) Rick Warren "retweeted" this rather juvenile dig at writers who are attempting to come alongside Rick Warren and exhort him to doctrinal purity, or

(2) Rick Warren actually originated the "tweet" and then deceptively tried to make it look like he was just reposting what someone else had originated.

So here is our take on this whole mess.  IF Rick Warren really did retweet the above tweet, it's just plain wrong because it's childish and immature.  After all, he is a pastor of one of the world's largest churches, and is in a position of authority and leadership.  People look to him for wisdom and guidance.

On the other hand, if Rick Warren actually originated this "tweet" - and then lied about originating it - that's taking this mess to a whole 'nother level of wrong.  Where in the Bible is there an example of it being okay for church leaders to do such a thing?

And to close, for those who don't understand what the big deal is about "deeds not creeds," the short video below gives a brief teaching on the historic importance of "creeds."  Now, no true Christians are AGAINST helping those in need.  But the problem comes when the focus shifts from sharing the gospel message and helping those in need to ONLY helping those in need, without sharing the true gospel.  Or, in the case of Rick Warren, helping those in need while offering only a non-salvific form of the gospel....a "gospel" that proclaims that God is just waiting for people to come to him so He can help them fulfill their purpose in life......this is not the gospel.

Let me put it this way: if we align ourselves with care organizations that bring aid, but not the salvific message of Jesus' atoning death made on behalf of those who will repent and believe, what happens when these people, who have been made physically comfortable in their poverty or suffering, come to the end of their lives and are face-to-face with a holy God on the Day of Judgment?  Will we have given them something of eternal value that they can take with them into eternity?  Or have we merely filled their stomachs and made them comfortable on their way to hell?

photo credit: Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) via photopin cc

 Additional Resources 

Fighting For the Faith Sermon Review of Rick Warren at Desiring God 2010

Is Rick Warren Lying?

Rick Warren Doesn't Get A "Pass"

Rick Warren: Piper Approved

An Open Letter To Dr. John Piper

Desiring God 2010 (continued)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Don't Look At Him For Too Long Or He'll Work His Voodoo On You

Posted by Christine Pack

(Which seems to be what happened at the Desiring God 2010 "Think Conference" this year.)

If you haven't already, please listen to Chris Rosebrough's very excellent sermon deconstruction (to borrow a postmodern word, sorry) of Rick Warren's keynote address at Dr. John Piper's 2010 Desiring God Conference in Minneapolis, MN.

 Additional Resources 

Rick Warren and Joel Osteen Join Hands With Oprah

Quotes (and A Few Random Thoughts) From Rick Warren's Interview with Oprah

Southern Baptist Seminary President Al Mohler on Yoga: "It's Not Christianity"

reprinted from The Church Report -

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (10/7/10) — A Southern Baptist leader who is calling for Christians to avoid yoga and its spiritual attachments is getting plenty of pushback from enthusiasts who defend the ancient practice.

Southern Baptist Seminary President Albert Mohler says the stretching and meditative discipline derived from Eastern religions is not a Christian pathway to God.

Mohler said he objects to "the idea that the body is a vehicle for reaching consciousness with the divine."

"That's just not Christianity," Mohler told The Associated Press.

Mohler said feedback has come through e-mail and comments on blogs and other websites since he wrote an essay to address questions about yoga he has heard for years.

"I'm really surprised by the depth of the commitment to yoga found on the part of many who identify as Christians," Mohler said.

Yoga fans say their numbers have been growing in the U.S. A 2008 study by the Yoga Journal put the number at 15.8 million, or nearly 7 percent of adults. About 6.7 percent of American adults are Southern Baptists, according to a 2007 survey by the Pew Research Center Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Mohler argued in his online essay last month that Christians who practice yoga "must either deny the reality of what yoga represents or fail to see the contradictions between their Christian commitments and their embrace of yoga."

He said his view is "not an eccentric Christian position."

Other Christian leaders have said practicing yoga is incompatible with the teachings of Jesus. Pat Robertson has called the chanting and other spiritual components that go along with yoga "really spooky." California megachurch pastor John MacArthur called yoga a "false religion." Muslim clerics have banned Muslims from practicing yoga in Egypt, Malaysia and Indonesia, citing similar concerns.

Yoga proponents say the wide-ranging discipline, which originated in India, offers physical and mental healing through stretching poses and concentration.

"Lots of people come to yoga because they are often in chronic pain. Others come because they think it's a nice workout," said Allison Terracio, who runs the Infinite Bliss studio in Louisville.

And some yoga studios have made the techniques more palatable for Christians by removing the chanting and associations to eastern religions, namely Hinduism and its multiple deities.

Stephanie Dillon, who has injected Christian themes into her studio in Louisville, said yoga brought her closer to her Christian faith, which had faded after college and service in the Army.

"What I found is that it opened my spirit, it renewed my spirituality," Dillon said. "That happened first and then I went back to church." Dillon attends Southeast Christian Church in Louisville and says many evangelical Christians from the church attend her yoga classes.

She said she prayed on the question of whether to mix yoga and Christianity before opening her studio, PM Yoga, where she discusses her relationship with Jesus during classes.

"My objection (to Mohler's view) personally is that I feel that yoga enhances a person's spirituality," Dillon said. "I don't like to look at religion from a law standpoint but a relationship standpoint, a relationship with Jesus Christ specifically."

Mohler wrote the essay after reading "The Subtle Body," where author Stefanie Syman traces the history of yoga in America. Syman noted the growing popularity of yoga in the U.S. by pointing out that first lady Michelle Obama has added it to the festivities at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the front lawn.

Mohler said many people have written him to say they're simply doing exercises and forgoing yoga's eastern mysticism and meditation.

"My response to that would be simple and straightforward: You're just not doing yoga," Mohler said. (AP)

photo credit: lululemon athletica via photopin cc

 Additional Resources 

"Christian" Yoga?

Julia Roberts: "I'm Definitely A Practicing Hindu"

The Yoga Deception

"Therapeutic Yoga" Leads Christian Woman to Mental Institution

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

No Fruit, No Conversion

"Let it be a settled principle in our religion that when a man brings forth no fruits of the Spirit, he has not the Holy Spirit within him. Let us resist as a deadly error the common idea, that all baptized people are born again, and that all members of the Church, as a matter of course, have the Holy Spirit. One simple question must be our rule: What fruit does a man bring forth? Does he repent? Does he believe with the heart on Jesus? Does he live a holy life? Does he overcome the world? Habits like these are what Scripture calls 'fruit.' When these "fruits" are lacking, it is profane to talk of a man having the Spirit of God within him." (J.C. Ryle)
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."(Gal 5:22-25)

 Additional Resources 

Daily J. C. Ryle Quotes

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Desiring God 2010 (continued)

Desiring God 2010 is now underway, with Dr. John Piper giving a big speaking platform (not to mention his stamp of approval) to keynote speaker Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church.  I think we are all concerned for Dr. Piper (in varying degrees) because of this, especially, as I have noted before, because Rick Warren - probably more than anyone else in America - has been the one person who has single-handedly done more to drive true gospel preaching out of today's churches.  And yet, ironically, he has been invited to speak at one of the most respected forums in the nation for putting the spotlight on bringing true gospel preaching back into today's churches.

Case in point: Rick Warren recently tweeted the following:
"When someone says 'We worship the same God' reply 'Really? My God is Jesus Christ' It instantly clears up confusion."

 And yet, Rick Warren, when invited to speak at Sinai Temple's Shabbat services in Los Angeles, CA "managed to speak for the entire evening without ever mentioning Jesus," according to writer Rob Eshman, writer of Jewish  And that was a good thing, according to Eshman, a Jewish writer attending the service who speaks glowingly of Warren's "eloquence, charisma and passion," calling the Jesus-less message "a testament to (Warren's) savvy message-tailoring."

Writes Eshman, "Warren told (Rabbi Ron Wolfson, organizer of the event) his interest is in helping all houses of worship, not in converting Jews. He said there are more than enough Christian souls to deal with for starters."
"(C)ertain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord." (Jude 4, my emphasis)
So the question is, with the influence and power that Warren has, why would he not take every opportunity to boldly proclaim Jesus Chris and him crucified, such as the opportunity presented to him when he stood in a Jewish temple in front of an entire audience of lost people? This is a denial of the gospel, a denial of Jesus Christ our Lord, and Christians must not yoke with this man and thereby give credibility to his soul-damning, Christless Christianity.  It doesn't matter what Rick Warren tweets to his followers on Twitter.  The problem with Rick Warren is that he's not clearing up any confusion at all......though his tweet rather pompously makes it look like he is orthodox, evangelical, and ready to trumpet Christ at every opportunity. But what about all those people in the room when he spoke at the temple? He wasn't standing up at that podium declaring the narrowness and the exclusivity of Christ....he was being ecumenical. He cared more about being accepted than he cared about their souls. What's going on with Rick Warren is "file cabinet orthodoxy," a phrase coined to describe a pastor who is solid on paper, a pastor who, when pressed, will pull an orthodox doctrinal statement out of his file cabinet, but who, in practice, routinely diminishes or outright denies the gospel message.  Why is Dr. John Piper yoking to such a man?  Where is the discernment?

photo credit: via photopin cc

 Additional Resources 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Rick Warren Gets John Piper's Stamp of Approval?

Posted by Christine Pack

The Desiring God 2010 National Conference is now underway at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis, MN.  The Desiring God conferences that John Piper hosts annually are known for bringing together some of the best and brightest thinkers, teacher and pastors in American Christianity.  The key note speakers for this year's conference are listed as:
John Piper
R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
R. C. Sproul
Thabiti Anyabwile
Francis Chan
Rick Warren
No, that last name is not a typo, and yes, for some reason that many cannot fathom, Rick Warren has been invited to be a keynote speaker at this conference.  Rick Warren, the preacher who has single-handedly done more to drive true gospel preaching out of today's churches has been invited to speak at one of the most respected forums for putting the spotlight on bringing true gospel preaching back into today's churches.  Oh, the irony.

Rick Warren - who could not be at the conference in person due to family illnesses - kicked off the conference via a video message.  Here are a few sound bytes that jumped out at me:

"Nothing happens till somebody starts dreaming. What we need today are great dreamers."

Rick Warren, who brought us the Purpose Driven Life explosion, sounds like he's going in a Word of Faith direction with this line of thinking: exhorting Christians to go ahead and dream their big dreamy dreams, because God is just waiting for them to come up with something BIG so He can bless them.  But this really the biggest problem today in American Christendom?  Americans just aren't dreaming dreams that are "big" enough for their lives?  American Christians just don't think about themselves and their lives quite enough?  It's hard to imagine a more self-focused, self-absorbed, narcissistic, man-centered culture than ours, but that is not, apparently, how Rick Warren sees it.

"I want us to have a covenant together. It’s a mental covenant for the mind...."

Okay, we have yet another covenant from Rick Warren.  And incidentally, it was his first covenant in the Purpose Driven Life book that flagged my husband that something might not be quite right about Rick Warren and this wonderful book that everyone was raving about.  We were brand new Christians in a seeker sensitive church that had just begun a 40-day churchwide Purpose Driven Life Bible study.  On pages 12-13 of the Purpose Driven Life, the reader is asked by Rick Warren to sign a “covenant” to agree to read the entire book over the course of 40 days (or a chapter per day). My husband leaned over in church and whispered to me: "What about let your 'yes' be 'yes' and your 'no' be 'no'?"  Later at home, he told me this verse from the gospel of Matthew had popped into his head when we got to this covenant in our Purpose Driven study:
"Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one." (Matthew 5:33-37)
This was very sobering for both of us.  We were brand new - and I mean brand new - Christians.  But we both were very concerned about doing what was right in God's eyes and according to God's Word.  And here was "America's Pastor" exhorting us to go against what Jesus himself had plainly taught.  This was probably the first inkling we had that, no matter how well-regarded a teacher or book might be, we must always hold ALL teaching given in the name of God to the Word of God.  But on to the "mental covenant" that Rick Warren wants us to make together:
Test every thought.
Helmet your head.
Imagine great things.
Nourish a godly mind.
Keep on learning.
With a cute little acrostic. That Rick Warren just loves a snappy little acrostic, doesn't he?  After all, he's already given us P.E.A.C.E., his global initiative for bringing about - hey, you guessed it! - world peace.  Then came C.H.U.R.C.H, Rick Warren's initiative for addressing HIV/AIDS.  R.E.C.O.V.E.R.Y. was designed to help addicts gain freedom from their "hurts, hang-ups and habits."  And then there was S.H.A.P.E., another man-centered, psychologized program for further self-focus and self-assessment, and which promises the following benefits:
Reducing stress
Increasing success
Determining how you learn
Deepening satisfaction
Building self-esteem
Wow!  Sounds great.....except that most of these things can't really be considered to be the legitimate blessings of Christians as promised in Scripture.  In fact, I've heard one pastor say something to the effect that he sees his main purpose as being that of a "self esteem buster." Meaning, his desire is to make sure anyone listening to him deliver a sermon is completely stripped of self esteem (and to be sure, that is no easy feat in the American culture).  But, it is only in our brokenness and in coming to the realization that we have nothing, absolutely nothing, to offer the Lord of glory, that we can then come as we ought, as beggars, with empty hands outstretched in humble submission. "Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the Cross I cling."

And now we've got T.H.I.N.K. - Rick Warren's clever little acrostic that he apparently came up with just for the DG 2010 "Think Conference" (get it? "T.H.I.N.K." for the "Think Conference?")
Test every thought.
Helmet your head.
Imagine great things.
Nourish a godly mind.
Keep on learning.
Okay, that sounds great and mostly right.....except for the "I." "Imagine great things?"  Again, is that something Americans really need to be exhorted to do?  Don't we already imagine and map out magnificent, marvelous road maps for ourselves that we would then like to present to God for rubber stamping?  But this is not the yielded life of a true Christian as taught in Scripture....coming up with big dreams and then looking for God to give us the "go juice" to accomplish what we desire.  In thinking this way, we create an idol in our minds of a "God" who is reduced to being the "power in our engines" and the dog that jumps through the hoops of our choosing.  No, the way we come to the Lord is with our hands open, humbly submitting our dreams, plans, wants, and desires to His perfect will (Matt 6:10).

In closing, let me put forth the troubling idea that, thanks to Dr. John Piper's Desiring God 2010, a whole new audience is now being exposed to Rick Warren's particular brand of Christian narcissism.....with Dr. Piper's stamp of approval.  And so I'll ask a question I've asked before: how far from orthodoxy does Rick Warren have to fall before Christian leaders will begin to "mark him out" and separate from him (Romans 16:17) - rather than continuing to give him a platform for teaching and preaching? Apparently, to Dr. Piper's mind, we're nowhere close.

photo credit: via photopin cc

 Additional Resources  

Friday, October 1, 2010

On Serving One Another in Love

by Jeremy Clarke, Legacy Baptist Church, Northwest Arkansas

The union that believers have with Christ is a union they share with one another.  As we have cited so often these last months, “For by one Spirit, we were all baptized into one body….and were all made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Cor 12) I’ll grant you, this is an abstract thought….but it is nonetheless profoundly true.  However hated identification with Christ’s Church might be, believers enjoy an inviolable union with the Son of God Himself and are therefore ushered into an equally inviolable union with one another.  The people of God are the family of God; and the family of God are joint heirs of heaven.

The bond and union that believers share with one another, therefore, ought to be prized….it ought to be esteemed.  Further, it ought to be diligently cared for, guarded, strengthened, and nurtured.  There is an explicit duty we owe to one another in this way, having first given ourselves to Christ.  Some in the church have a prolific sense of this, don’t they?  They exude esteem and honor for the people of God; no doubt because they remain in a steady state of awe and wonder that they were ever called to join so blessed a family.  Subsequently, the expression of their life among us is a steady diet of humility, meekness, kindness, and compassion among others.  They remain ever watchful for opportunities to serve their blood-bought brother or sister….and are equally watchful not to put a stumbling block before them.  They are ever diligent to be an imitator of Christ; ever diligent to adorn the great doctrine of salvation.

Their light shines so brightly that their rare absence on the occasions we gather together is met with silent mourning.  Rightly so, because their presence seems to robustly radiate the virtues and beauties of Christ. What blessing to the household of faith such saints are!  Radically different are they from those who may profess Christ but whose lives are strangers to grace.  From these persons more often we see self-conceit.  Rarely do they display yieldedness. Rarely do we see them showing preference to another in honor.  Their words are often harsh and impatient…eager to wound, it would seem, and devoid of meekness.  They are strangers to forbearance, irritable, and seemingly eager to provoke resentment rather than induce affection.

Consider this, though: Wasn’t it love pouring forth from God through which He chose you from all eternity?  “In love, He predestined us to adoption as Sons through Jesus Christ” says the Apostle (Eph 1). “In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”  (1 Jn. 4).  These verses teach us that love is seen both in the origin of God’s redemptive purpose, and also in the effecting of that purpose when the Son of God Himself took upon flesh to atone for sin.  Is it any wonder then that we are told to “…be imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us.”  Christian….you do well to zealously nurture this virtue.

While our union with Christ and with one another may seem abstract -- for those who know converting grace, the diligent imitation of the Divine is anything but abstract.  In fact, it is altogether sensible.  Look closely…you’ll recognize them and their fruits.  They are those who rejoice when their brother or sister rejoices. They are those who cannot help but feel the weight of compassion, sympathy, and sorrow when sorrow is visited their fellow pilgrim.  They are those who give of their resources lavishly to relieve the affliction of a fellow, beloved saint.  The constant song on their heart is gratitude; and because that’s true, the constant expression of their life is Divine imitation. They do not need to be “rallied” because they are ever watchful, in the Spirit, to “…do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”   (Gal 6:10).  They are those who are more than eager to “…bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal 6:2).  They are those whom you’ll see “…encouraging the faint hearted and helping the weak” among us. (1 Thess. 5)

After all, to him who “…has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need, and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in Him?”  (1 Jn. 4).  Love toward the saints is to be shown by mortifying a selfish spirit, bearing with one another’s weaknesses, and seeking one another’s welfare.  Immense joy awaits that Christian who zealously nurtures a sincere interest in the interests of his or her fellow sojourners….and silent mourning always accompanies their absence.

 Additional Resources 

Legacy Baptist Church, Northwest Arkansas