The Adulation of Man in The Purpose Driven Life
By Richard Bennett – former Dominican Order Roman Catholic (RC) priest(Published with the written permission of the author. http://www.bereanbeacon.org)
Degrading the nature of God to the level of a doting person who craves for a relationship with sinful mankind is part of what one finds in Rick Warren's The Purpose-Driven Life movement. Reading the Bible is displaced by the advice to “gather a small group of friends and form a Purpose-Driven Life Reading Group to review these chapters on a weekly basis.”
“The last thing many believers need today is to go to another Bible study.” Most serious of all, in place of the Gospel, Warren merely formulates a whispered prayer and urges one to find one's “true self.”
What is appearing before our eyes is that through this movement, Warren is opening up another access point to perdition—about which the Lord Jesus Christ clearly spoke. He said, in distinction to Himself who is the narrow gate, that…. wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go there.
As pastors and Christian workers, we must show empathy and concern for the countless thousands of people who have been taken up in this movement; and in the power, precision, and light of the true Gospel of the Lord Christ Jesus, we must expose a widespread, humanistic movement that is afflicting many souls.
Rick Warren's The Purpose-Driven Life “is more than a bestseller, it's become a movement.” In the words of the author himself, his megachurch program is a:
Revival awakening or miracle…Over 12,000 churches from all 50 states and 19 countries have now participated in 40 Days of Purpose. Many of these churches have reported that it was the most transforming event in their congregation's history.
Warren is also the founder of Pastors.com. This is a global, Internet community that serves to mentor pastors. Thus, hundreds of thousands of pastors worldwide subscribe to “Rick Warren's Ministry Toolbox.” For example, he states,
As pastors, we're good at ministering to those in need. But there are also times when we need support. In this issue, we'll look at the importance of building friendships with other pastors who understand what you're going through. One way to start is by checking out the new Pastors.com – a place to hang out with ministry leaders, start your own blog, see other people's postings, join groups, and more.
On this webpage Warren states,
Our Purpose is to encourage pastors, ministers, and church leaders with tools and resources for growing healthy churches….
Every resource you purchase helps provide free resources to the over 1.5 million pastors and lay pastors in third world countries. God has allowed us through your support to reach over 117 different countries on all 7 continents.
The movement is becoming a global empire. Warren asserts,
God is a global God…Much of [the] world already thinks globally. The largest media and business conglomerates are all multi-national…
Get a globe or map and pray for nations by name. The Bible says, 'If you ask me, I will give you the nations; all the people on earth will be yours.'
Yet Warren has overlooked the fact that this promise in Psalm 2 was made uniquely to Christ Jesus, and not to pastors and churches. However, even the corporate world is commenting on Warren's business prowess. The well-known business magazine, Forbes, on its website carried the headline, “Christian Capitalism Megachurches, Megabusinesses.”
Maybe churches aren't so different from corporations…
Pastor Rick Warren, who founded Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., in 1980, has deftly used technology as well as marketing to spread his message….
No doubt, churches have learned some valuable lessons from corporations. Now maybe they can teach businesses a thing or two. Companies would certainly appreciate having the armies of unpaid, loyal volunteers.
The “empire of influence” of which Warren boasts is attested to by thousands of pastors and Christian leaders around the world. At least eighteen million copies of his book have been sold since its release in September 2002. It is now selling in many translations. Literally thousands of churches have used the book and the materials that accompany it during special campaigns called 40 Days of Purpose. The book is divided into forty chapters purporting to explain in 40 days the five purposes of one's life. The premise or principal idea of the book is found on p.136,He [God] created the church to meet your five deepest needs: a purpose to live for, people to live with, principles to live by, a profession to live out, and power to live on. There is no other place on earth where you can find all five of these benefits in one place.This is a fabrication. God created the church in the words of Scripturethat every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
It is Christ Jesus' righteousness alone that God will accept as a propitiation for man's sin and his sin nature. This primary need of man is constantly shown in the Bible, but Warren does not even mention this foundational truth in his list of “deepest needs.” Warren's quick switch from God's purpose to man's methods falls under the first temptation ever recorded in the Bible. Satan offered to Eve the forbidden fruit as the way of achieving a spiritual purpose,in the day you eat of it, then your eyes shall be opened and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
Warren teaches that God “created the church to meet your five deepest needs” just as the Roman Catholic Church says, “ The Church is the mother of all believers.” Warren, like Papal Rome, has switched from obedience to the Word and Person of the Living God to teaching and instituting submission to a church to achieve one's needs. It is the oldest and cleverest temptation known to man.
Warren Exchanges the Gospel of Christ for a Lie
Paul the apostle showed the need for the Gospel by the fact that the whole world is guilty before God; he declared,Now we know that whatever things the law says, it says to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.13
All are “by nature children of wrath.”14
Guilt before God shows the need for the Gospel and, as such, is the basis for the Gospel. Conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit drives the sinner to truly trust Christ Jesus alone, as demonstrated in the parable told by the Lord when the publican cried out, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”
With Warren, this conviction of guilt by the Holy Spirit is replaced by a psychological condition of “unconsciously punishing of oneself.” Thus he states,Many people are driven by guilt…. Guilt- driven people are manipulated by memories. They allow their past to control their future. They often unconsciously punish themselves by sabotaging their own success. When Cain sinned, his guilt disconnected him from God's presence, and God said, 'You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.' That describes most people today—wandering through life without a purpose. (pp. 27-28)Cain never showed any conviction of guilt, only a regret of his punishment.
Rather than sin being shown to be an evil of infinite significance because it is committed against the infinite Holy God, Warren's pop psychology defines sin as acts of people “sabotaging their own success.” He continues,God won't ask about your religious background or doctrinal views. The only thing that will matter is, did you accept what Jesus did for you and did you learn to love and trust him? (p. 34)If you learn to love and trust God's Son, Jesus, you will be invited to spend the rest of eternity with him. On the other hand, if you reject his love, forgiveness, and salvation, you will spend eternity apart from God forever. (p. 37)
Biblically speaking, it is absolute folly to tell an un-convicted sinner merely to “learn to love and trust God's Son, Jesus, in order to spend eternity with Him.” The Bible does not base an invitation into heaven on the requirement that sinners first learn to love and trust Jesus. Rather, the Bible teaches that no one can be saved without recognition of his own sin personally against a Holy God, and without repenting from that sin. So, while it is true that it is important to learn to love and trust Jesus, this love and trust is impossible unless the Holy Spirit has convicted a person that he is a depraved sinner without any hope of doing anything for his salvation.
The Fraudulent Message Persists
Warren's deceitful message gets worse as he proceeds in the book. He assures his readers,Real life begins by committing yourself completely to Jesus Christ. If you are not sure you have done this, all you need to do is receive and believe. The Bible promises,
'To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.' Will you accept God's offer? (p.58)
What Warren has neglected in his teaching of John 1:12 is in the following verse thirteen, which explains how a person is born again:
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Warren has completely ignored the fact that to receive and believe is not of the will of man, but of God. It is the grace of God alone that makes a person willing to believe, because the heart is changed by God's power alone. Leaving out this essential point alters the focus from God to man. Such a change of focus from God to man is lethal to salvation because there is no power within man to change himself. This grace must come from God alone. If, however, Warren were to teach his readers to look to God for His grace alone, he would not have a worldwide, ready-made message that is marketable and profit making. But Warren has deemed it profitable to leave out…. not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.17
By deleting this essential factor of the Gospel, he is in fact able to teach as doctrinal truth the very thing that this verse of Scripture absolutely rules out! For Warren, “Real life begins by committing yourself… .” In Scripture, real life begins by the will of God, which is shown in His love and grace. The Lord proclaims in His Word,I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy.18
Eternal life is bestowed on a person not because he begins by committing himself, or by attempting to learn to love and trust Jesus, but because God gives salvation out of His mercy and grace. Such is the written purpose of God. Warren's written purpose is just the opposite. Warren advances in his counterfeit message. He writes,First, believe. Believe God loves you and made you for his purposes.
Believe you're not an accident. Believe you were made to last forever. Believe God has chosen you to have a relationship with Jesus, who died on the cross for you. Believe that no matter what you've done, God wants to forgive you.Second, receive. Receive Jesus into your life as Lord and Saviour. Receive his forgiveness for your sins. Receive his Spirit, who will give you the power to fulfil your life purpose. 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 I receive you.' Go ahead. If you sincerely meant that prayer congratulations! Welcome to the family of God!” (p. 58-59).
According to Warren's teaching, it is this prayer that one whispers that changes a person for eternity. Instead of magnifying the enormity of sin and setting forth its eternal consequences, Warren says, “Believe that no matter what you've done, God wants to forgive you.” With one broad sweeping, sweet lie he attempts to wipe out all the teaching of the prophets of the Old Testament, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the apostles of the New Testament. Consistently, the Bible teaches God's abhorrence of sin and a person's need of repentance.
Warren merely gives a whispered prayer in place of the Gospel.It is difficult to envisage a greater insult to the Lord Jesus Christ, whose perfect life and perfect sacrifice are the basis of genuine salvation. Before God granted mercy and forgiveness, sin had to be punished and true righteousness established. God's holiness demanded the perfect life and perfect sacrifice of Christ Jesus to satisfy His wrath against sin. But for Warren, as we have seen, guilt over one's sin is said to be “sabotaging [your own] success.” The whole concept of sin having to be punished and true righteousness being established, is totally missing from Warren.
This omission makes it possible to delete the concept of grace as the means of obtaining that perfect righteousness. According to Warren's imaginary salvation, one need only, “Bow your head and quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity.” In Scripture, salvation is God's action based on Christ's finished work on the cross that is credited to the true believer,…. being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.19
God's direct action shows His grace so that our eyes are fixed on Him in faith.Understanding Warren's counterfeit message, and outrageously presumptuous “welcome to the family of God,” fits as an example under the words of the Lord Jesus,…woe to you…for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men.
Warren exchanges the Gospel for a lie. He deletes repentance and inserts a whispered prayer, which insults the meaning and application of redemption. This replacement of Warren's purpose for God's purpose has dreadful consequences. As Paul the apostle warned,…. though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
Christ Jesus the Lord and His Gospel cannot be insulted with impunity.Richard Bennett's MP3s are easily downloaded, and some of his DVDs can be seen on Sermon Audio at: http://www.sermonaudio.com/go/212Visit http://www.bereanbeacon.org for a full range of his MP3s and DVDs