Friday, September 23, 2005

The Purposeless God of the Purpose Driven Church

Many I'm sure have heard about the interview earlier this month where ABC's Good Morning America spoke with best selling author Rick Warren in regards to Hurrican Katrina. The following is an excerpt of Warren's interview:

Roberts: Rick Warren is the best-selling author of “The Purpose-Driven Life.” He’s also the pastor of Saddleback Community Church…. In my hometown of Pass Christian, [sic] I ran across a woman who came up to me and she said, Robin, it’s, it’s as if God tried to wipe us off the face of the earth. You know there are some people that look and see this destruction and, and say, where, where is whatever it is, or whomever they, they, they look to…

Warren: Right.

Roberts: …for guidance in a higher way?

Warren: Right. Well, first thing we need to understand that not everything that happens in this world is God’s will. I have a will, you have a will, we have a free will… And so, we have a lot of things that go bad… But what God wants to do is he wants to comfort us. Somebody asked me when I was actually on the floor of the, the, the Houston Astrodome talking to people and praying with people, said, where is God in all of this? And I’ll tell you where God is, he’s in thousands of lives of people who love him and follow him, and they are the hands and feet of God…

Roberts: Yeah.

Warren: …You know Robin, we have nearly 4,000 Purpose Driven churches that have done the “40 Days of Purpose” program in the Gulf states. And we know at least four to 500 of them were, lost their buildings completely. And yesterday, I met with…

Roberts: Okay Rick. Thanks you very much… you take good care of yourself. Thank you Rick Warren. We appreciate your time this morning. Always good to talk to you.


He begins with an utter lie. I don't know what else to call it. "Well, first thing we need to understand that not everything that happens in this world is God’s will." Really? Maybe Warren hasn't read the Scriptures concerning this matter. Maybe he just pulls up certain words that he likes in his bible program and thinks on those things. It's highly unlikely that he has ever done serious study on God's sovereignty and His decrees. Many verses come to mind:

"Daniel 4:34 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: 35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?"

"Ephesians 1:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will."

"Ps. 33:Ps 33:11 The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations."

"Ps. 135:Ps 135:6 Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places"

"Isaiah 46:Isa 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: 11 Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it."

"Isaiah 14:Isa 14:24 The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand: 25 That I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders. 26 This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations. 27 For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?"
Men forget that God has purposes that He is accomplishing. Nothing happens without purpose on God's part. We could cite numerous passages. One that we quoted above was His clear use of the Assyrians in order to discipline his people. Their desires were sinful in what they did, but God's intentions were holy in the fact that He loved His people and chastened them for their sin. Assyria simply desired Israel harm. We could speak to the issues surrounding the Fall in that God had a good purpose even in Adam's sin: that was to demonstrate His judgment and wrath against sin, His holiness, His mercy & grace, His integrity and a whole host of things. Ultimately He is the One who has made all things and those things are made for Him and His glory.

"I have a will, you have a will, we have a free will… And so, we have a lot of things that go bad… But what God wants to do is he wants to comfort us. Somebody asked me when I was actually on the floor of the, the, the Houston Astrodome talking to people and praying with people, said, where is God in all of this? And I’ll tell you where God is, he’s in thousands of lives of people who love him and follow him, and they are the hands and feet of God…"

What in the world does this have to do with anything? What does our will have to do with the hurricane? He is obviously trying to say that our wills somehow made the hurricane come. I guess he might agree with many of the far left political activist who claimed President Bush caused the hurricane. Clearly our wills have something to do with it: we bring upon ourselves the judgment of God, but it is not our wills that form hurricanes. That is simply the outworking of God's incredible power over His creation and His using that creation to demonstrate His wrath against sin. It is because our wills are sinful and bring about sinful behavior towards God and our fellow man. Therefore, we desire to rebel against God and thus He must judge sin. What is amazing is that even insurance agencies identify things such as hurricanes as "acts of God". At least they attribute them correctly to Whom they should be attributed. Man and his often "deified will" is nowhere to be found in the providential acts of God.

Indeed, no wonder his books sell so well. He is not the least bit intimidating at all. He is not even coming close to proclaiming any sort of biblical truth here. Yes, I know, the network would just crucify someone who might speak the truth about God's wrath being revealed, but tell me, if you can, who would the person be clearly identified with? "Mt 10:25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?" If they crucified Christ, are we above our Master, even if it would be just a political or media crucifixion?

How one can squander that incredible opportunity to speak the truth in love and call men and women to repentance and to turn to God through Jesus Christ is beyond me. Yet, my brothers, don't we often fall prey to the temptation to be silent or to blunt the edge of the sword of the Lord? How many times have we sat silent, when the truth was at stake. Let's remember our own failings, but let us not rest in them. For we are called of our Lord to take the gospel to every creature.

Warren's comments though show the utter lack of knowledge of the Scriptures. The man is a pastor for goodness' sake. Forget the fact that millions of people have purchased his books and thousands of churches are "purpose-driven", he clearly does not have a "purpose driven God". He has a purpose driven church, a purpose driven life, but not a purpose driven God. That seems utterly unbalanced. How can you truly have this inconsistency, unless the purpose of your life and church, are, well, your own purpose?

Notice that Warren wasn't concerned with the glory of God in bringing judgment and the deomonstration of His wrath, but he was more concerned, it seems to me, with promoting "his purpose driven" stuff. "You know Robin, we have nearly 4,000 Purpose Driven churches that have done the “40 Days of Purpose” program in the Gulf states. And we know at least four to 500 of them were, lost their buildings completely." Oh I'm so sick of the programs and the self aggrandizement of those who proport to speak for God.

God said to Jeremiah in chapter 23:

21I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.

22 But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.

23 Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off?

24 Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD.

25 I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed.

26 How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart;

27 Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal.

28 The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD.

29 Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?

30 Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour.

31 Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith.

32 Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.

When men like Warren has opportunity and mingles the chaff of his own thinking with the wheat of God's Word, there is a price to pay. He will answer for his words. He has not stood in the counsel of God, but has devised schemes and figments of his imagination. He would have been better off not to have spoken and simply answered to God for not answering, rather than to misrepresent with the sovereign Lord does. May God grant him true understanding of His Word and turn Him to the truth.

In all this, I pray that God might raise up those men who have stood in His counsel who will preach the word when it is convenient and when it is not (2 tim. 4:2) and will clearly call sin sin, and speak of God's wrath against sin, and hold men accountable to a holy God and declare to them the glorious gospel of grace found in the active and passive obedience of our Lord Jesus Christ. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen.

6 comments:

ajlin said...

Excellent post (as usual).
I plan to link this tomorrow.
I do wish, however, that you'd supplied a link to the transcript of the Warren interview.

SDG
-Andrew

Tim said...

Andrew,

I tried to find a link to the entire transcript. You can purchase one, though I don't think you would actually want to, for $29.99 at the following URL:

http://www.transcripts.tv/good-morning-america.cfm

I picked up this portion from the Calvinist gadfly. I believe he subscribes to the GMA RSS feed. I asked him if he could send me a link to that particular interview. If he does, I'll get it to you.

Ephraim said...

Tim,

I appreciate the scriptural stand you take. You have a good understanding of YHWH and His words. Are you sure you're a reformed baptist? I tend to think that you are a Messianic Israelite who is coming home. :-)

Shalom

Nathan White said...

Word from the Warren community is that Rick used 'poor wording', and that his *real* views concerning the sovereignty of God can be found in his interview with Modern Reformation (Feb '04).

It’s the same old post-modernism. Nobody wants to take a stand on truth because they are too worried about offending others. Either that or they misconstrue the true meaning of humility to the point that it is prideful to take a stand on absolute truth, thus affirming that others are incorrect in their theology. Nevertheless, Warren is just too afraid that God will be seen in a bad light.

Warren’s actual beliefs are at this point, impossible to know. But one thing for sure, he seems set on riding the fence on any and all doctrine in order to sustain a large audience. Nevertheless, Warren will find some way to reword his comments in order that he stays in good standing with the reformed market niche.

We know what Jesus said when faced with earthly tragedy: REPENT! –or face the same tragic fate in eternity. May we heed this command and not shy down from proclaiming it to the lost community.

SDG

Tim said...

ephraim,

just you wait:) I am sure they'll probably be something we will disagree on, but I have appreciated the spirit in which we can dialogue together as brothers in the Lord.

Nathan,

I agree. There is always backtracking, but my goodness, what that elevation of self can do in order to keep men from loving God more than the approval of men. I confess that I shudder when I think of godly men like Jeremiah who suffered so much just to call his own people to repentance. May God make us Jeremiahs, those who call for our countrymen to repent with tears. Indeed that will be grace from God's hand for us to do that. Amen?

DOGpreacher said...

Thanks for the post Tim. Quality stuff as usual. Did you know that when Cuba Gooding Jr. read for the part in "Jerry Maguire" about 10 years ago, he went to ol' Rick to learn how to say, "SHOW ME THE MONEY"!!!:)

Hybel, Warren, Wilkerson, Schuller, Osteen, O. Roberts, Hinn, Jakes...etc...etc...
[All wolves, just variations on
the way they wear their "sheep
clothes"]