By Paul Proctor
October 15, 2004
In a recent televised interview with Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California and author of The Purpose Driven Life, Dateline NBC’s Josh Mankiewizc told viewers: “…don’t expect to hear any sermons on the evils of homosexuality or abortion rights.”
Mankiewicz: “You don’t seem to talk very much about some of the most divisive issues facing the country; why is that?”
Warren: “We never use the pulpit for politics. I believe abortion is wrong. But, if someone comes to our church who’s had an abortion…what I want her to know is that God loves her; God has a purpose for her life; God forgives her and God has a plan beyond what’s gone on in her life. Why in the world would I hold up a sign saying – you know – I’m against what you’ve already done? It’s – that’s a thing of the past. What I want to know is; let’s look at your future.”
Smooth, isn’t he?
In one clever sentence, Warren transforms two things the Bible repeatedly calls “abominations” into pesky little campaign issues of no relevance to the church. Is it any wonder that kids are being taught in public school how to put condoms on cucumbers; that unrepentant homosexuals are preaching tolerance, diversity and unity from church pulpits, while marrying each other in front of them; and that sucking the brains out of a healthy, half-born baby is now considered a mother’s right?
Who’s objecting? Who’s calling it sin? Obviously not the “Purpose Driven Church.”
I’ll tell you who IS objecting to such abominations and calling them “sin”. It is those fearless and despised folks out on the street who WILL hold up signs “against abortion” and against homosexual marriage. It’s easy to see why Pastor Warren wouldn’t want to be part of such a thing. It would seriously hamper his church’s growth.
He concluded his interview by saying: “Fundamentally, my role in life is to get people into heaven.” Well, I would love to know just how he does that without addressing the issue of sin and one’s need to repent. John the Baptist couldn’t do it. Jesus Himself didn’t do it. And, their message is just as important today as it was 2000 years ago; “Repent: for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2 & 4:17)
Pastor Warren and his supporters may claim that repentance is a part of his Purpose Driven program, but, as his statements above reveal, that part couldn’t be any smaller or more insignificant.
He had a rare opportunity before a nationally televised audience, that few Christians are given, to proclaim the much needed message of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ to the world; but he didn’t take it. He could have looked into that camera and called millions of people, destined for an eternity in Hell, to turn from their worldly ways to the only One who could save them: Jesus Christ. But he wouldn’t do it. Why? Because it goes against the seeker-sensitive/purpose driven etiquette of not offending anyone at any time for any reason – even with the gospel.
The truth is; one cannot faithfully preach the gospel to the lost while coveting their favor and approval. It endangers the relationship and costs you “customers” and Warren knows that. It is a price he and the other leaders of the church growth movement are clearly unwilling to pay.
You see, the god of the church growth movement is and always has been the collective worship of human relationships. Nothing is allowed to interfere with them. It is the new idolatry. If their god had a name, it would certainly be called “Inclusion,” which is exactly what Mankiewizc told his Dateline audience Rick Warren was about. Is that what John the Baptist, Jesus Christ or any of His Apostles were about – “inclusion?” No, they were about repentance.
According to the Warren interview, apparently all one needs to do to receive God’s forgiveness for past sins, like abortion, is show up on Sunday, look to the future and find your purpose. However, if the remedy for sin was to simply put it behind us, then sin is really nothing more than a hang-up – an emotional obstacle to be overcome – something secular psychologists have been trying to teach us for years – not something needing confession or repentance before a just and holy God as declared in scripture.
This reduces the gospel message to little more than “God loves you, so get over it and move on with your life.” How theologically lame and self-serving is that? Nevertheless, such a message plays well in almost any religious setting today. No wonder the Purpose Driven movement has become so popular; there’s not enough truth in it to offend anyone!
Sure, Warren said; “I believe abortion is wrong.” But that’s not proclaiming the Word of God with any conviction as preachers are called to do. He’s merely expressing his own opinion – something anyone can do without much faith or courage. What power and authority does expressing a personal opinion exercise? Certainly not God’s… But proclaim God’s Word from Proverbs 6:16-17 on the abomination of “shedding innocent blood” or the abomination of “a man lying with another man as with a woman” as described in Leviticus 18:22 and pastor, you and your church will NEED the Lord’s provision and protection just to get through a Sunday service.
Furthermore, when “hate crime” legislation is eventually passed in this country and signed into law to silence anyone proclaiming God’s Word on such matters, the Lord’s provision and protection will be needed more than ever just to stay out of jail. The church’s voluntary silence on these controversial issues is bringing us a mandatory silence that will serve as the tragic consequence for decades of cowardice, neglect and idolatry. Our enemies are coming after us in our unfaithfulness just like Israel’s enemies came after them. And, it will serve as a terrifying test to Who and what we love the most; God and His Word or the world and its praise. Christian persecution is coming to America, my friends. In many ways, it’s already here. And, the church has no one to blame but itself.
Now, if you wish to remain in good standing with a sodomized society of self-esteem slaves and salt-free saints; go ahead and water down the Word of God with your tepid thoughts and opinions to win friends and influence people and not only will the world NOT hold it against you, you’ll dramatically increase the chance that they’ll give your church a try. But, what kind of church will they be trying; certainly not one that demonstrates any fear of God or regard for His Word.
But then, the church growth movement is not really about proclaiming God’s Word to bring repentance, is it? It’s about “connecting people” through their feelings, emotions and appetites – a religion of relationships – the horizontal worship and service of each other in order to grow churches and "build community" – something we were never called by Christ to do.
“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” – Matthew 5:13
© 2004 Paul Proctor - All Rights Reserved
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Paul Proctor, a rural resident of the Volunteer state and seasoned veteran of the country music industry, retired from showbiz in the late 1990's to dedicate himself to addressing important social issues from a distinctly biblical perspective. As a freelance writer and regular columnist for NewsWithViews.com, he extols the wisdom and truths of scripture through commentary and insight on cultural trends and current events. His articles appear regularly on a variety of news and opinion sites across the internet and in print. Paul may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
In one clever sentence, Warren transforms two things the Bible repeatedly calls “abominations” into pesky little campaign issues of no relevance to the church. Is it any wonder that kids are being taught in public school how to put condoms on cucumbers