An Expose Of Rick Warren & The Purpose Driven Teachings
Collated with editorial comments by B. Michael Bigg (MB)
Published on The Washington Post’s website (www.washingtonpost.com), is a January 2006 Rick Warren and Purpose Driven promoting article, A Global Ministry of “Muscular Christianity” (“Purpose Driven Life” Author Taking on Poverty, Disease), which states:
“The New Testament says the church is the body of Christ, but for the last 100 years, the hands and feet have been amputated, and the church has just been a mouth. And mostly, it’s been known for what it’s against,” Warren said during a break between services at his Orange County church campus. “I’m so tired of Christians being known for what they’re against.”
Fresh from preaching to 38,000 congregants during Christmas week services, Warren was looking to the future by invoking the past.“One of my goals is to take evangelicals back a century, to the 19th century,” said Warren, 51, shifting painfully in his chair because of a back sprain suffered during an all-terrain-vehicle romp with his 20-year-old son, Matthew. “That was a time of muscular Christianity that cared about every aspect of life.”
Not just personal salvation, but social action. Abolishing slavery. Ending child labour. Winning the right for women to vote.It’s time for modern evangelicals to trade words for deeds and get similarly involved, Warren contends. At the end of his second sermon on that recent Sunday, he reminded his largely affluent Orange County audience: “Life is not about having more and getting more. It’s about serving God and serving others.”
That, simply put, is his message: Give your life to God, help others, spread the word. It is the same message that Christians have been preaching for 2,000 years. Warren has updated the language, added catchphrases and five-step guides, but he readily admits, “there is not a new idea in that book”.
“The Purpose Driven Life” has sold more than 24 million English-language copies since 2002, with millions more in other languages. It has been popular with Lutherans, Catholics, Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians. Pastors and priests use it as a Bible study handbook.
Striking points in the Washington Post article, to me, include:• “for the last 100 years, the hands and feet [of the church] have been amputated, and the church has just been a mouth … mostly … known for what it’s against”,• “one of [Rick Warren’s] goals is to take evangelicals back a century, to the 19th century … that was a time of muscular Christianity that cared about every aspect of life … not just personal salvation”, and• “it’s time for modern evangelicals to trade words for deeds and get similarly involved”
Notably though, the Washington Post article points out that Rick Warren’s book is popular, not just with the protestant denominations—such as Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians —but also, ironically, Catholics. Or is the ‘irony’ that a pro-Catholic “evangelical” preacher’s book is popular with modern evangelical denominations whose forefathers of 100 years ago would in no uncertain terms tell all—including Rick Warren—that they are definitively against Rome, Catholicism and the Papacy. Rick Warren’s sleight of hand (or is it sleight of tongue) is a “post-reformation” reformation to lead the protestant churches back to Rome; back to the whore of Babylon, back to the fornicator, back to slayer of the saints and away from true “personal salvation”.
Is the West decadent? Yes. Is the West self-indulgent? Yes. Is the West self-absorbed? Yes. But, to imply that God’s true church, in the West, has not been active in the past 100 years, but merely idle tongue-wagging whingers is an affront to the missionaries, social workers, and the like, not to mention their moral and physical supporters, whose words are backed up by action. Rick Warren’s claims of relevance are in fact a misnomer; for by chasing the idea of being relevant to the world, the church is merely pandering to the current trends and ideas of the world. To give an extreme (or, at least I hope one can call it extreme) example, what do we say of being relevant to the extent of extending anti-discrimination laws such that paedophiles can’t be discriminated against (nor their police records checked) in seeking employment at primary schools and the like; or the church can’t “discriminate” against a non-Christian person (such as an ardent atheist, Muslim or Buddhist) seeking employment as a pastor. But what? The world says homosexuals shouldn’t be discriminated against concerning the institution of marriage, adoption of children, and availability of invitro fertilisation services … and yet, (to use atheistic society’s own evolutionary ideas against them) creation points to the union of males and females to produce families.
That some churches and denominations ordain and marry homosexuals (of which it must be stated that Rick Warren and Saddleback church are not included) shows that the pursuit of relevance means the abandonment of what the church stands for and stands against. “Saddleback is a Southern Baptist church”; but Saddleback “doesn’t advertise the fact”. As such, one has to question whether those things, which are openly stated, as well as those that are not advertised, are merely to avoid offending people because the Southern Baptists are generally known for what they are for and against?
We are told that “Warren’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all preachers” but one has to wonder whether they would agree with his push for relevance and Romanism? Let us compare Rick Warren’s preaching for relevance and Romanism with the “evangelicals … [of] the 19th century … [the] time of muscular Christianity”!
“If we are true disciples of Christ, we must bear a continual testimony in the midst of an evil world. We must testify to the truth of our Master’s gospel, the graciousness of our Master’s heart, the happiness of our Master’s service, the excellence of our Master’s rules of life, and the enormous danger and wickedness of the ways of the world. Such testimony will doubtless bring down upon us the displeasure of man. The world will hate us, as it did our Master, because we “testify of it that its works are evil” (John vii. 7.) Such testimony will doubtless be believed by few comparitively, and will be thought by many offensive and extreme. But the duty of a witness is to bear his testimony, whether he is believed or not. If we bear a faithful testimony, we have done our duty, although, like Noah, and Elijah, and Jeremiah, we stand almost alone.”
Reader, if ever there was a time in the world when churches were put upon their trial, whether they would hold fast the truth or not, that time is the present time, and those churches are the Protestant churches of our own land. Popery, that old enemy of our nation, is coming in upon us in this day like a flood. We are assaulted by open enemies without, and betrayed continually by false friends within. Roman Catholic churches, and chapels, and schools, and conventual and monastic establishments are continually increasing around us. Month after month brings tidings of some new defection from the ranks of the Church of England to the ranks of the Church of Rome. Already the pope has parcelled our country into bishoprics, and speaks like one who fancies that by and by he shall divide the spoil. Already he seems to foresee a time when England shall be as the patrimony of St Peter’s, when London shall be as Rome, when St Paul’s shall be as St Peter’s, and Lambeth Palace shall be as the Vatican itself. Surely now, or never, we ought all of us to awake, and “hold fast that which is good”.
We supposed, some of us, in our blindness, that the power of the Church of Rome was ended. We dreamed, some of us, in our folly, that the Reformation had ended the popish controversy, and that if Romanism did survive, Romanism was altogether changed. If we did think so, we have lived to learn that we made a most grievous mistake. Rome never changes. It is her boast that she is always the same. The snake is not killed. He was scotched at the time of the Reformation, but was not destroyed. The Romish Antichrist is not dead. He was cast down for a little season, like the fabled giant buried under Aetna, but his deadly wound is healed, the grave is opening once more, and Antichrist is coming forth. The unclean spirit of popery is not laid in his own place. Rather he seems to say, “My house in England is now swept and garnished for me; let me return to the place from whence I came forth.”
Now, notice the next step of decision: “Put away the strange gods, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord.” The mere outward reformation was not enough. They might have torn down every idol in the land, and have been no nearer God for that. See, in France today, how the people, who have for long bent the knee in superstition and idolatry, have, many of them, flung away their vain worship, only to sink into infidelity. What better are they, when they exalt the “Goddess of Reason” where before stood the altars of the papacy, when the heart is untouched, and God is not in all their thoughts? Still, there are many in that land, as, I trust, there are many here, who are lamenting after God, and only await the preparation of the heart, which comes from him, to bow in allegiance before his throne.
And not to mention the preacher of the centuries before Ryle and Spurgeon.
Now, where these things are, a season is perilous, — … They are perilous in the consequence; which is, the judgments of God. When men do not receive the truth in the love of it, but have pleasure in unrighteousness, God will send them strong delusion, to believe a lie. So 2 Thess. ii. 10, 11, is a description how the papacy came upon the world. Men professed the truth of religion, but did not love it,—they loved unrighteousness and ungodliness; and God sent them popery. That is the interpretation of the place, according to the best divines. Will you profess the truth, and at the same time love unrighteousness? The consequence is, security under superstition and ungodliness. This is the end of such a perilous season; and the like may be said as to temporal judgments, which I need not mention.
The blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sin. It is an universal remedy. Whatsoever has the nature of sin, sins against the law and sins against the gospel. It absolves from the guilt of sin, and shelters from the wrath of God. The distinction of venial and mortal sins has no footing here; no sin but is mortal without it, no sin so venial but needs it. This blood purges not some sort of sins, and leaves the rest to be expiated by a purgatory fire. This expression of the apostle, of all sin, is water enough to quench all the flames of purgatory that Rome has kindled; what sins are not expiated by it are left not to a temporary, but an eternal death; not to a refining, but a consuming fire. So that we see these words are an antidote against fears arising by reason of our infirmities, a cordial against faintings, an encouragement to a holy walk with God. It is a short but a full panegyric of the virtue of the blood of Christ.
Rick Warren’s deriding statement that, “for the last 100 years, the hands and feet have been amputated, and the church has just been a mouth. And mostly, it’s been known for what it’s against … I’m so tired of Christians being known for what they’re against” is in stark contrast to the muscular Christianity prior to the 20th century, where the preachers openly stood against moral social decline, Rome, slavery and the like.
The problem is that Rick Warren’s word smithing is an illusion, a cheap smoke and mirrors trick. As the saying goes, the best form of defence is attack … get your opposition on the back foot, get others into the defensive position, get them to defend what they are “doing” and saying. Rick Warren’s smoke and mirrors is to make the agenda social issues, so that the church fails to see Rick Warren’s Papal Driven Reformation. There is but one Vicar of Christ, and that is the Holy Spirit, and not the papacy … which, when one considers the implications, is a man standing in the place of God; the man (or men) who would be god. Is this Rick Warren’s alliance? Is this where his allegiances lie?
In the decadent Roman societies of the first centuries, the apostles’ letters stood starkly against the popular and common social practices of the day. Compromise and relevance had no part in the teaching of the apostles. Paul’s letters, notably, highlighted what Christianity was for, and what it was against. First century Christians declaring, “Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords”, went to their deaths before the emperors; Rick Warren, on the other hand, seeks to bow the knee and have us welcomed “home”—the prodigal sons of Rome.
The Purpose Driven Churches page on Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven website includes a link for Catholics. But rather than providing links to help Catholics find true salvation in Jesus Christ, it includes a Helpful Links page to other Catholic websites. If Rick Warren is prepared to trample the memories of the reformers, trample the blood of the martyrs, to compromise the doctrines of biblical Christianity, then where will he stop? If Rick Warren calls Catholics “Christians”, then what does that make him? It is Jesus who is the way, the truth and the light. Not Rome, not the pope, not Rick Warren and neither his Purpose Driven and 40 Days of Purpose program.