Saturday, March 20, 2010

Is God Purpose Driven?

I probably should not blog today... I'm in a bad mood. (that's another story) However, I only intend to copy and paste something I wrote a few days ago, so maybe it won't be horribly wretched.

Recently on facebook a couple friends and I somehow got on the subject of Rick Warren and his Purpose Driven materials/agenda. I have strong feelings on the issue, as I do most things about Church life. Anyway, I started a follow up comment that wound up being way too long, so I put it in a word doc., not sure what to do with it. Then one of these friends asked to read it so I thought I'd put it here. Before I post it I'll mention an interesting coincidence... Yesterday while chatting with Jared on skype, he was telling me about a paper he has to write for Hermeneutics class, which includes finding current examples of bad hermeneutics... Jared researched possibilities and wound up choosing Rick Warren's use of scripture (or should I say 'mis-use') in the book 'The Purpose Driven Church'. He didn't even recall my dislike of the 'Purpose Driven Progrom', ha ha. Well... here, in italics, is my long winded aborted facebook response on the subject.

I never thought much about Warren's teachings till we went through the things we did with our previous Church 3 years ago. I'd never been a fan of the whole 'seeker sensitive' mega church movements but I had read Purpose Driven Life when it came out, because I like to keep abreast of 'Christian fads' (usually finding they have little long term merit) I thought 'meh'.. Christianity light and airy, but could see some positive potential for the book as an introduction to Christian themes. However, Warren’s use of obscure translations (usually paraphrases) with NO verse references throughout the text annoyed me and raised a little red flag. Later when studying the whole Purpose Driven methodology deeper I learned that in many (if not nearly all) cases Warren uses Bible verses out of context to support his own points, rather than using his writing to expound Scripture's message. (somewhere on the web is a pdf chart of every verse Warren uses in 'The Purpose Driven Life' which compares them with truer to the original translations (NASB or NIV) in context to show how Warren abuses scripture to validate his personal message) It's clear pretext creating in many cases. In her book 'Teach Me to Study the Bible in 28 Days' Kay Arthur says... "Observing the context is an absolutely critical step to accurately interpreting Scripture. The Latin root con means 'with', so context means 'with (the)text'. Context is the critical setting that rules all interpretation. We must never take God's words out of their context. If we do, then we'll have a pretext -- something false that conceals the truth." I'm currently reading 'How to Read the Bible for All It's Worth' by G.Fee and D. Stuart, which also warns repeatedly about the importance of 'in context' interpretation, and the extreme dangers of 'out of context' teaching.

The next thing that turned me off to the Purpose Driven Church agenda was when our Church was merged (our pastor was declined a sabbatical and essentially forced to resign) with another in the same denomination which happened to have Warren's books and products everywhere in their campus store, as well as loads of Emergent and mystical authors. Our 'new' pastor was following the Purpose Driven church methodology to a large degree along with a mixture of other 'philosophies of ministry' (therapeutic, pep talk, target audience members of the lowest common denominator (unsaved), must not be offensive, etc).

We noticed several of the paid staff were biblically illiterate and exhibited immaturity as Christians, & nearly all were women, who were enamored of this pastors emotive style. I was asked to help plan the Women's retreat and in a first meeting the female Associate Pastor announced her plans to have the ladies walk a labyrinth and participate in Lectio Divina (a meditative mystical usage of scripture for prayer) I had previously done extensive research on Contemplative Spirituality/Centering prayer and it's mystical (make that 'demonic') roots in zen Buddhism, which is often the suggested next step after mystics get you to participate in Lectio (Lectio itself may be simply biblical meditation or it may be tweaked to be something entirely different, subjective and dangerous, it depends on the exercise and 'teacher'). Ron and I met with the pastor and voiced our concerns about the use of these mystical devices with the pastor and he pulled the plug somewhat on the activities. But it quickly became obvious that we were then labeled reactionary, negative, fearful, oppositional members of the churches agenda and we were marked out to be pressured by manipulation and rejection. At the same time we had just learned that Ron’s mom had terminal cancer and we didn’t have the time and energy to confront the vast amounts of error that were being dumped on this congregation from week to week. At one point the pastor made a point of treating us in an ‘ugly manner’ (not sure how else to describe was shocking), shaming us for caring about biblical truth, it seemed like he was following a plan which apparently was the case; The Purpose Driven Church plan. We learned subsequently that Warren’s plan includes alienating ‘resisters’ in the hopes of forcing them to be quiet, or driving them out of the Church. Often times these are members who've loved and served in that particular Church for years and years, and never been 'trouble makers'.;

Before the whole Church merger, I had already been researching (due to some things Jared was experiencing in Portland while trying to find a Church near his College) the 'Emergent Church' also dubbed 'postmodernism' and its effects in the western Church, I was learning about leaders / authors / teachers like Rob Bell, Brian McLaren as well as mystics like Brennan Manning and many others who are bringing pagan practices into the Church by mixing them with Christian terms and fooling the immature into falling for these subjective experiences. Rick Warren popped up often and has endorsed most of those teachers and practices.

We’d begun reading Bob DeWaay’s website and shortly after leaving our Church we ordered ‘Redefining Christianity’ which is an exposure of all the unbiblical methodology within the Purpose Driven movement, which basically results in creating ‘another gospel’. So, ever since all this research I have become highly suspicious of Warren’s methods. It’s sad to see a supposed Christian minister bring so much mixture into the church, I wonder if he is the type of teacher we are warned about in 2 Timothy 3, as ‘having a form of godliness but denying it’s power.’

Lighthouse Trails, Apprising Ministries, Bob DeWaay and Gary Gilley have extensive online resources discussing Warren’s version of Christianity and Church growth and ministry. I don't agree with everything at these websites, but have found them helpful for research as they offer large quotes of Warren's articles, books and audios without having to go out and pay for them. Here is a wonderful resource tool that contrasts Warrens 40 Days verse usage with their in context meaning, for use side by side;

I find no pleasure in being a critic of a popular Christian leader, however we have seen this stuff at work in our former Church (we were happy participating members for over 6 years, before these changes came with a new pastor)  and know that people are being hurt, deceived and led astray sometimes through these things.  It is confusing to Christians and dangerous to the 'Faith delivered once for all to the saints'.  Please Christian friends check these things out in the word of God.  If you are in a Church that has not taught you how to read, study and understand scripture, then you must do this for yourself, to become a mature believer, who can discern, encourage and exhort faithfully.  To God be the glory, not to man, not according numbers, not worldly definitions of 'success'.  Faithfulness to God and His word from the love He has poured into our hearts is what matters.   Micah 6:8

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Guilty Pleasures

Decided to do a quick entry about two little guilty pleasures that I have recently discovered.  I don't really feel guilty about them. ;P   The first is discovering one of my very favorite types of cookies, which I have not had since moving here 14 years ago!   These 'Little Dutch Boy' butter cookies.  I used to get them regularly at Stater Bros. in California and after a few years of searching decided that Arizona must be under some awful anti Dutch cookie law.  Well around the Holidays I happened into a  'day old' bread store of all places, and there they were!   (insert angel song and harps)   So now I can eat them until I  balloon up to a ridiculous weight. Only problem I see.... I had only eaten one cookie since buying these and when I took this picture, there were about 3 more gone.  Hmmmm, apparently Jesse likes them too.   

The second discovery is this wine from Chile... Brand: Gato Negro (black cat) Type: Carmenere (? never heard of this before).  I only drink an occasional glass of red wine, usually Cabernet or Merlot... and most taste crummy after half a glass.  This stuff is yummy all the way through.  ;O)  Here's what the back of the bottle says about it; "Colour: intense violet with blackish tones, very dark.  Aroma:  spices, mild green pepper, some tobacco, very fruity and fresh    Taste:  a pleasant wine, ample, velvety medium bodied, with a pleasing finish, a very different wine capable of surprising the consumer with its first impression."  It's all true!  A  red wine with out any bitterness, but not overly sweet.  It's delish....and I paid less than $4 for it at Sprouts.  Very Nice!  If I catch Jesse dipping into this, he'll be in a world of hurt.  ;o)                                                                               

Monday, March 15, 2010

Free Food for the Soul/Spirit!

Okay, I know it's been way too long since I've 'blogged' but that's probably going to be my modus operandi!  To splatter my blog with several entries and then not post for weeks.  My life is kind of like that.  But I do want all 2 or 3 of you to know that I actually have at least 3 blog topics percolating in my head and heart.  One will be a lengthy consideration of the topic of what is Church supposed to be/do/look like.  Prompted by yet another Church upheaval in our lives.  I find myself considering, praying and asking God for wisdom again on this topic...wanting our family to make a decision based solely on the word of God, as that is what we believe would be in line with His specific will for our family.  He has already informed us through His word on what He intends His church to be 'doing and being', we don't need a fleece or to cast lots in order to follow His will.  Okay...but that's for LATER!

The other entry brewing is some boring chit chat about my garden, with photos, perhaps.  ;o)

THIS post is supposed to about some FREE food for the soul and spirit.  I recently learned about this website from my homeschooling friend Nancy; which offers FREE AUDIO books every month.  AWESOME!  Currently, through the end of March you can download Dietrich Boenhoeffer's 'The Cost of Discipleship';  John Piper's 'Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die' and at the moment also a new audio book  'Pilgrims Progress Retold'  (a modern rendition of John Bunyan's timeless classic).  I already downloaded Bonhoeffer's book and plan to copy it onto cd's to play in the car.  Just downloaded Pilgrim's Progress which I'll compare to another audio version of the tale I have, to see which I prefer.  ;o) And I am about to download Piper's book, as I think it will be a perfect thoughtful listen as we near 'Easter' (which I prefer to call 'Resurrection Sunday'). 

So, would you like to get in on the free stuff?  Then go to  (if you click on this blog post's title, you will be directed to Christian audio) 
Create a free account and click on the 'free download' links.  ;o)  Then you just go through a short check out process, enter the special free download code and whala!  You'll get a link to a page where you can download the audio files, with your choice of a couple of formats:  mp3 or some type suited for Apple products. 

Christian Audio has all kinds of other goodies to browse and buy, some are very good deals!  But be sure to go for solid biblical authors, since they also sell materials by some so called 'teachers' that I wouldn't give a moment of your time or mine to ingest their influence.  A lot of what I'd call 'popular poo poo' is out there, so don't read any of that stuff!  And if you don't know which is the safe stuff and which is the trash, ask a trusted discerning, mature believer.  And if you don't know any of those people, you need to find some new mentors and maybe a new church... and I'd be happy to give you MY opinion on various authors.  ;o)