Friday, December 19, 2008

A purpose-driven bridge, or selected theological conservative opinions on Rick Warren

So, how do we tell whether she is made of wood?

Build a bridge out of her.

Ah, but can you not also make bridges out of stone?

(from the script of Monty Python and the Holy Grail"

For much of my professional life, I have served as a "bridge" between various groups (for example, software engineers and software customers).

(from my LinkedIn profile)

My bridged-ness (or whatever you want to call it) was more in evidence on Thursday than it has been in some time. This particular blog, as well as some of my associated writings, are read by a very diverse group of people.

Let me illustrate by quoting from two comments to things that I had written.

Earlier today, I wrote a post about the two camps of opposition to Rick Warren - those from the LGBT community who oppose his support of Proposition 8, and those from some quarters of the conservative Christian community who oppose his theology and his perceived syncretism.

In the course of my post, I quoted something that I had written previously:

Enter Rick Warren, who is doing his best to be disliked by everybody. (Perhaps that means he's right.)

That particular statement caught the attention of John at True Discernment, a blog from which I have quoted from time to time (including in my post earlier today).

Now John certainly has his opinion on the theology of Rick Warren. For those who feel that Warren is representative of the entire conservative Christian community, you might want to take a gander at the titles of some of John's posts:

Saddleback founder Rick Warren driven to expand his Ego!

Pot calls kettle black - Warren says: Social gospel is “Marxism in Christian clothing”

Rick Warren to Headline at Muslim Event

And those are just the most recent posts. More importantly, look at some of the tags that John applies to the Rick Warren posts, and you'll get a good idea of John's opinion of Warren:

Anti-Christ, Apostasy, False Christians, Humanism, Mega Churches, Moonbats, Post-Modernism, Religious Babylon, Rick Warren, Signs of The Times, Wolves, abominations, Babylon, Christian Persecution, Discernment, Molech, One World Government, Persecuted Church, Synchretism, prophetic

Even non-Christians can easily see that terms such as "Babylon" are not necessarily meant as compliments. ("Molech" is especially damning, since it refers to an ancient religious practice of child sacrifice, which is why the term is often used by people who oppose abortion.)

So, considering John's view of Rick Warren, he didn't exactly agree with my statement that Warren must be doing something right. And he let me know. If you didn't see his Disqus comment, let me reprint it in full (incidentally, the reference to "hate" is in response to my statement "there are significant portions of the conservative Christian community that Rick Warren"):

you said:

"Enter Rick Warren, who is doing his best to be disliked by everybody. (Perhaps that means he's right.)"

I say:

If that is what you believe makes someone right, then Adolf Hitler might have to be in the top running as being "right" as well.

Someone who claims to be a Christian leader is considered right when what they teach lines up with God's Word without the need to manipulate God's Word to make what they say seem right and good.

And in regards to me hating Rick Warren. I do not hate Rick Warren. I do not hate anyone, I just recognize that what he teaches is not Biblical, therefore he is a false teacher. It would seem that you have fallen for the post modern delusion that if you show that what someone is teaching or doing is wrong it means you hate them.

Under the post-modern misinterpretation of what hate is, then I must hate my chidlren as I teach them against bad and wrong behavior.

As far as Biblical Christian Theology goes, Rick Warren is dead wrong. His theology is not based on the Bible but secular marketing techniques and secular atheist psychology. And those who teach according to a fallen humanist ideology do not understand the things of God therefore they operate under the same premises and fallen logic that those who d onot know Christ operate under.

As the Apostle Paul says in 1 Coirinthians 2:13-14:

These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

The problem today is that most people, and it seems yourself included get their "education" via "googling". they are slaves to the fallen humanistic media culture. Their idea of a "great man of wisdom" is one who puts on a good polished media persona, and gives them goose bumps!

I will go so far as making a suggestion, If you do not strongly believe in anything, you would do well to delete this blog as all you are contributing is that much more luke warm on the fence worhless pulp to the internet.

(In case you're interested in my response, it is here.)

Now the depth of "false prophet" feeling about Rick Warren is something that I've been around for years, and so therefore I often take it for granted that EVERYONE knows that Warren is considered as a non-Christian by some. But then I remember that a lot of people are unaware of this group of opposition to Warren. This hit home when I read this Duncan Riley post in the Inquisitr:

President-elect Barack Obama has defended his decision to invite Pastor Rick Warren, an opponent of gay marriage rights, to deliver the invocation at his Inauguration in January.

The choice of Warren has outraged GLBT, liberals and moderate religious leaders due to Warren’s role in supporting Proposition 8, and his anti-abortion stance.

And that, as far as Riley knew, was the extent of the opposition to Warren. Riley and I obviously travel in different circles. I pointed this out on FriendFeed:

Duncan, you only got half the story. There are some conservative Christians who REALLY hate this decision, not because they believe Warren is a Bible thumper, but because they believe Warren has no regard for the Bible and would just as soon use the Quran or an MBA textbook. In their view, Warren's desire to pray for an abortion supporter proves his apostasy. When I blogged that if Warren's getting hate from both sides he's doing something right, a commenter encouraged me to quit blogging...

Riley responded:

...Ontario, I wasn't aware of the criticism the other way: I did some digging on his beliefs and came up with a list, but didn't see right wing criticism....

So, for those who haven't seen it, here are some of the selected theological conservative criticisms of Rick Warren (I say "selected" because some theological conservatives consider Warren to be orthodox, just with the wrong emphasis).

I've already cited the True Discernment post, Rick Warren to Headline at Muslim Event, taken from one of John's favorite sources, Slice of Laodicea. (Which reminds me: I should probably elaborate on my Laodicea-Berea comparison at some point.) Here's of that post:

Rick Warren is headlining at the 8th Annual Muslim Public Affairs Counsel convention coming up on December 20th in Long Beach, California....Rick will not be there to proclaim Christ crucified, the only hope for the world. He will not be there to warn the Muslims that they worship a false god who will lead them to hell. He will give them instructions on how they can link arms with Christians to make the world a jollier, nicer place....

Rick Warren is doing what he has always done so well—obscuring the truth by giving half truths and promoting works righteousness for non-believers. At every turn, this man has had opportunities to lift up the name of Jesus Christ and His atoning work on the cross. He has chosen, instead, to promote a new, false gospel of good works, without Christ or the cross, while millions perish in their sins. This is why I will continue to warn, with the loudest voice, that Rick Warren is a false prophet with a very distinct role to serve.

But on the Obama invocation, look at the reaction documented on CBN (i.e. Pat Robertson's mouthpiece):

Liberals and gay activists aren’t happy with Barack Obama for choosing pro-life and prop 8 supporting pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at Obama’s inaugural. But pro-life readers seem to be equally upset at Rick warren for agreeing to it.

The Brody File has been flooded with emails and most of them absolutely rip Pastor Warren for doing this.

I've already quoted from one disappointed Christian, Billy ("A little leaven leaveneth the whole loaf, and Mr Warren should realize that the leaven of compromise is the beginning of unending compromise"). That was one of the milder reactions.

From Larry:

I was saddened to read that Dr Warren will be praying at the inauguration. I different with him on almost all areas of theology, doctrine and church polity, though he holds himself out as a evangelical. I was devastated by the election. Not that a Democrat was elected, I'm more of a person not a party voter. Not that President Elect is a mixed race. I was devastated by a number of reasons and one grieves me most when I think of Dr Warren praying at the inauguration. As the result of one Supreme Court Decision, over 50 million babies have been murdered to date. The President Elect has in no uncertain terms pledged to continue the pro abortion agenda. How could around 54% of Catholics, 96% of African Americans, many who claim to be professing Bible Christians, @ 100% of Jewish Voters, who apparently have forgotten about the Holocaust and probably 50% or more of all kinds of other professing Bible Christians vote for the President Elect in light of his pro-abortion agenda? How? The same reason Dr Warren is going to pray at the inauguration. There is no real moral outrage in our Nation about Abortion. "Just words, just words," as the resident Elect said often in his campaign about his opposition. Words, but not real outrage and action.

From Pat:

This is terrible; this man call's himself a Christian????Barack H. Obama is the most PRO-DEATH president America has ever elected!!!!! He has said that as president he is going to pass the "Freedom of Choice Act" how can our country get any better with this type of MURDER?????? Mr. Warren school be ashamed of himself, protection of the unborn is the MOST IMPERATIVE issue as a Christian!!!!! For without life do we continue to have a society at all??? I think not!!!!!

God Bless & MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
From Anonymous:

I have had about all I can stand of Rick Warren's double standards. WHOSE side is he really on anyway? I'm beginning to think all he cares about are his questionable political connections. When I saw your article announcing his participation in "that one's" so called inauguration ceremony it absolutely sickened me. It isn't enough Obama is so full of himself that he "thinks" he's God. - Apparently now Rick Warren believes he is too. This is a complete mockery of all things sacred.

Why did so many Christians end up opposing Rick Warren? Not because of his initial book about how to study the Bible, but because of the book that put him on the map - The Purpose Driven Life. Here's a sampling of what the Fundamental Evangelistic Association thinks about the book.

Even before opening the book to analyze the content of this spiritual journey, the discerning believer will question the doctrinal soundness and spiritual integrity of the book when confronted with the theologically diverse list of denominations and churches that have publicly endorsed the book and
churches that have publically endorsed the book and hosted a 40 Days of Purpose campaign....Immediately, one should seriously question whether or not the same spiritual journey embraced by a Seventh-Day Adventist, Nazarene or United Methodist is a spiritual journey that is faithful to God's Word and, therefore, worthy of his use....

The Purpose-Driven® Life is seriously flawed, hermeneutically speaking, in three ways: First, Warren completely misinterprets and misapplies certain texts; second, Warren presupposes his own ideas and beliefs and then "proof-texts" his points rather than exegeting the Scriptural text in order to discover its true meaning; and third, several paraphrases and translations used by Warren may prove his points, but they fail to relate even remotely the true meaning of the underlying Greek or Hebrew text....

The Purpose-Driven® Life cannot claim to be a Scripture-only approach to living the Christian life. Throughout the book, Warren supplements Scripture with psychological principles and speculation in order to allow the reader to better analyze and understand human behavior....Clearly, Warren has integrated psychological principles and speculation into his understanding of living the Christian life. The Bible does not support the idea that one must understand his "shape" and personality in order to effectively minister. The Bible does not support the idea that a believer's "most effective ministry will come out of [his] deepest hurts" or that the things he is most embarrassed about and ashamed of are "the very tools God can use most powerfully to heal others." The Bible does not support the idea that "most conflict is rooted in unmet needs," for the Bible describes man as a sinner who does not even truly know what he "needs." The Bible does not support the idea that we "prove our worth" when we understand our purpose for existence. And certainly, 2 Corinthians 1:8-10 does not support the idea that the apostle Paul experienced clinical or psychological "bouts of depression" just as the Old Testament does not describe Gideon's weakness as "low self-esteem" and "deep insecurity." Warren has clearly forced his own understanding of humanistic psychological principles upon the Biblical texts. Such an approach is certainly not a healthy, sound part of any spiritual journey....

Consider several individuals to whom Warren refers and quotes in a positive manner in order to support his own principles:

C. S. Lewis—although loved and lauded by many Evangelicals today, Lewis' theology of the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture and even the doctrine of salvation is unorthodox....

Mother Teresa—a Catholic nun who believed that her service to others and sacrificial manner of life procured the favor of God.

Billy Graham—a renowned evangelist who has publicly committed to working with Catholics, Orthodox, theological liberals and others who embrace and propagate all manner of false doctrine....

Yet, despite the significant criticism, there are still groups that are using Warren's The Purpose Driven Life. For example, here's a church in Indianapolis, Indiana that is using the program.

Are you affected by HIV/AIDS? Are you looking for ways to find support and grow spiritually? Welcome to the Positively + Oasis! Please plan to attend with a heart attuned to learning what plans God has for your future! We will look at ways to grow and praise God.

We will begin meeting the first week in December on Wednesday evenings at the Church. The Group is open to anyone who is affected by HIV/AIDS. For the first few meetings, we will get acquainted, share stories, and decide together how the Group will function.

Then we will study The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, with an emphasis on how those affected by HIV can look forward and determine God’s purpose for their lives.

What's notable about this isn't the fact that PDL (gotta learn the acronyms) is being used in an HIV/AIDS ministry. What's notable about this is that this church happens to be a Metropolitan Community Church - a very gay-friendly church, to say the least.

So apparently not every gay will be tuning out the Inaugural invocation.

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