Incrementalsim within the church.
Who is the DREAM GIVER?
by Berit Kjos – May 2005
“Meet Ordinary, a Nobody who leaves the Land of Familiar to pursue his Big Dream. Once the Dream Giver convinces him to escape his Comfort Zone, Ordinary begins the journey of his life — overcoming Border Bullies [which in real life would include concerned parents and skeptical friends], navigating the Wasteland, and battling the fierce Giants in the Land. This modern-day parable will get you started on your own daring adventure…. Bestselling author Bruce Wilkinson will serve as your Dream Coach….”[1, jacket] The Dream Giver
“The Dream Giver… by the best selling author of The Prayer of Jabez, invites readers to follow their hearts and find their destiny in an inspired Life Dream that is uniquely theirs.” 
The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson, the famed author of The Prayer of Jabez, tells us that every person on earth has been given a “Big Dream” to pursue. He prods us to let go of the “Familiar,” stand up against the nay-saying “Border Bullies,” and follow that dream into the Land of Promise. The main antagonists in this “parable” are those concerned parents or pastors who might wisely question an exciting, feeling-based “Dream” or captivating adventure into the unknown.
They might be right, for God tells us that man is easily deceived. A spiritual war rages around us, and we are daily bombarded with enticing lures designed to distract us from truth and weaken our devotion to God. Therefore He lovingly warns us to beware, be sober, be vigilant, be watchful…. That means checking all things by the wisdom of His unchanging Word. And since Mr. Wilkinson’s books have inspired millions of people and influenced countless ministries around the world, The Dream Giver warrants our scrutiny. Four questions we might ask are:
- What kind of a dream is his “Big Dream”?
- Does the Dream Giver in the book present or misrepresent the ways of our Lord?
- Would this Dream-Driven journey be based on our personal strengths and wants or on God’s Grace and Word?
- Who does Ordinary actually represent — any person anywhere (implied) or Christians (those who know and follow God)?
1. What kind of a dream is Mr. Wilkinson’s “Big Dream”?
On the jacket of The Dream Giver, we are told: “Everyone has a dream. You may not be able to describe it. You may have forgotten it. You may even no longer believe in it. But it’s there.” Emphasis added
Does that statement reflect the truth? We know that God has been speaking to His people through dreams and visions ever since the days of Abraham and Jacob. In fact, Mr. Wilkinson uses Israel’s miraculous exodus from Egypt to illustrate that very point — with a subtle twist. He equates God’s unique call of Moses with the supposedly universal gift of Dreams from the divine Giver. He ignores the fact that God usually gave that gift to His chosen servants, not to every person — pagan, atheist or Christian — on earth. Might Mr. Wilkinson be referring to something less miraculous than God-given Biblical dreams?
The Preface of The Dream Giver helps clarify Mr. Wilkinson’s usage of the word, Dream. It states:
“Do you believe every person on earth was born with a dream for his or her life? … I call this universal and powerful longing a Big Dream. Like the genetic code that describes your unique passions and abilities, your Big Dream has been woven into your being from birth…. And you have it for a reason: to draw you toward the kind of life you were born to love!
“If you read The Prayer of Jabez, you met a little-known Old Testament man who refused to settle for less. He desperately wanted to break out of the confining circumstances and expectations he had been born into. So he cried out to God for blessing, for larger borders, and for the power and protection to go with them. And God said yes.
“If you pray that, your life will change. God will expand your borders. He will move your life in a direction where you can thrive, but also where you’ll face greater challenges…. In this book, I call this direction His Dream for you.”
So, that’s it! The Big Dream is the direction of your life — one you “were born to love,” one that “will allow you to thrive.” But that criteria could be misleading, for what someone “loves” in this world may be totally contrary to what God loves. The same can be said for the word “thrive.” Is Mr. Wilkinson simply referring to success and the illusive happiness of the world? Or would his definition include the lives of the humble saints and faithful martyrs of history? They thrived in spite of their suffering and heartaches — not because they loved their life journey, but because they loved their wonderful Savior and Lord. Like Abraham, they knew they were pilgrims and sojourners on this earth, and their treasure awaited them in heaven. But that kind of supernatural thriving doesn’t seem to fit the affirming message of the book. Nor do Scriptures such as these:
“…he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 10:38-39
“If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you…. If they persecuted Me they will persecute you… for they do not know the One who sent Me.” John 15:19-21
Mr. Wilkinson continues with this question: “So let me ask: Did you have a dream as a child that you lost along the way?”
If his dream refers to goals, desires and ambitions, I would answer yes. I wanted to raise horses, monkeys and all kinds of animals. I wanted to be a veterinarian. (Our garage in Norway was often converted to a hospital with boxes for injured animals — mostly birds mauled by cats). I dreamed of climbing mountains. And I wanted to travel around the world as a telegraph operator on a Norwegian freighter and see exotic places such as Shanghai and Rangoon. I am so glad God had other plans for me — plans that I never would have imagined, because I didn’t have the needed talents, strength or courage!
2. Does Mr. Wilkinson’s “Big Dream” match our personal strengths and preferences?
Yes, according to The Dream Giver, that Dream must match your strengths and wants. Though you may fear new challenges and not realize your own strengths, The Dream Giver’s coaching service can give you the confidence and courage needed to triumph over all the obstacles.
To discover your Dream, just ask yourself the following questions:
- What have I always been good at?
- What needs do I care about most?
- Who do I admire most?
- What makes me feel most fulfilled?
- What do I love to do most?
- What have I felt called to do?”[1, pages 80-81]
But from a Biblical perspective, these questions pose a problem. Our personal feelings and preferences are poor indications of God’s will for our lives. Therefore He warns us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) What’s more, He repeatedly calls our human, feeling-driven imagination “futile” or “vain.” Small wonder, since the natural inclinations of our human nature (flesh) are totally contrary to His ways. Yet, none of those warnings are mentioned in The Dream Giver.
“born again” and filled with His Spirit, your victory comes through total surrender to His will and commitment to follow His guidance — no matter how difficult and unnatural that way might seem to our “flesh” or nature. God says,
“Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
“Now the works of the flesh [human nature] are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:19-26
Mr. Wilkinson tells the reader to surrender his Dream to God, then God will give it back. But God doesn’t always work that way in our lives. Much of what we surrender to Him, we were never meant to have in the first place. He frees us from our human wants and cravings [Romans 6:1-13], so that He becomes our goal, our strength and our delight. In other words, those who “walk in the Spirit,” won’t be following the crowded superhighway of popular culture, for God has shown them a very different way. It will be “narrow and difficult, and few there are who find it.” [SeeGod’s Way versus our ways]
His way doesn’t beckon everyone to leave the Familiar and venture out on new adventures. It may mean staying home and trusting His grace in a difficult circumstance. Or it could mean heading out to the ends of the world with His gospel, trusting the Shepherd alone for grace and strength in every weakness. But if the options for such a journey would be limited to what we are “good at,” we would have little need for our Shepherd. Nor would God get all the praise. [See His grace in our weakness]
But that upside down result doesn’t seem to concern Mr. Wilkinson. He might even see parents or pastors who raise such questions as real life “Border Bullies” — like those in his book. To help his readers make that association, he shared the following illustration:
“Once I asked a large group of college students who came to mind first when we talked about Border Bullies. Hands shot up all over the place. And nearly all of them have the same answer: ‘My mom!’ or ‘My dad!'”[1, pages 104]
Where does the fifth Commandment — “Honor your father and your mother” — fit into this new system? Might the second point in this list of “Bullies that you might recognize” apply to your parents or pastor?
- “The Alarmist says, ‘It’s not safe!’ This Bully (Ordinary’s Mother) is motivated by fear….”
- “The Traditionalist says, ‘It’s not the way we do it!’ This Bully (his Uncle) doesn’t like change….” [This apparently points to those who resist today’s pressure to change and are unwilling to bend God’s unchanging truths]
- “The Defeatist says, ‘It’s not possible!’ This Bully (Best Friend) sees problems everywhere….”
- The Antagonist says, “I won’t let you!’ This Bully (the Landlord) uses authority or intimidation….”[1, page 104]
A few pages later, Mr. Wilkinson writes, “The single biggest reason Border Bullies stop most of us from pursuing our God-given Dream is our fear of man. ‘The fear of man brings a snare,’ the Bible says.”[1, page 106]
Yes, but that’s only half of the verse. It continues, “but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.” [Proverbs 29:25] Why would he leave out that important second part? It clarifies why we don’t need to fear man!
3. Does the fictional “Dream Giver” reflect the nature and ways of our sovereign Lord?
Though Mr. Wilkinson tells us repeatedly that the Dream Giver is God, there are some discrepancies. Consider these quotes:
“…one morning Ordinary woke up with these words echoing in his mind: What you’re missing, you already have….
“Could it be? Ordinary looked and looked. And then he discovered that in a small corner of his heart lay a Big Dream. The Big Dream told him that he, a Nobody, was made to be a Somebody and destined to achieve Great Things.
“Jumping out of bed, Ordinary discovered something else–a long white feather resting on the sill of his window…. With a jolt of excitement, Ordinary decided he’d been visited by the Dream Giver.”[1, page 14]
“Ordinary decided to use the long white feather to help him remember the Truth. … Then he dipped the quill in permanent ink and wrote on the first page:
- The Dream Giver game me a Big Dream before I was even born. …
- My Dream is what I do best and what I most love to do.”[1, page 20]
Do those two points reflect the ways of our Lord? I don’t believe so, for His Word shows us a different way:
“God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.'” 1 Corinthians 1:27-30
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
“…a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. Forwhen I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7
When God gives a dream or a vision, He also interprets the message and guides the faithful believer according to His own purpose, not their human ambitions. The Holy Spirit might speak through one of God’s chosen vessels as He did when Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dream or when Daniel explained Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. But those faithful men simply listened to the Lord they trusted. They didn’t need a modern “dream coach” to interpret the dreams or to follow His way.
Near the end of the book, you find a section called “A Closing Invitation.” It shows the next step on the dream journey:
“Of course, living your Big Dream is much more complex and challenging than can be described in a 160-page book. Visit us at www.TheDreamGiver.com to find additionalcoaching tools and resources, including a daily e-mail from me about pursuing and living our Dream…. Now may you devote yourself to His Dream for you. And may heaven describe you as one of these rare people who live to achieve Great Things for the glory of God.”[1, page 157]
That sounds good, doesn’t it? But do the Biblical words actually reflect God’s truth in a Biblical context?
If you follow that link, you come to The Dream Giver website. It welcomes you with this message: “Bestselling author Bruce Wilkinson will serve as your Dream Coach, offering insights and practical solutions.” Next, click on The Dream Giver Coach. This website will gladly “provide you with professional DreamGiver Coaches whose purpose is to give you hope, inspiration, and unconditional support in discovering and living out your DREAM.” It doesn’t mention God or His Word.”
“Are you excited about your Dream Journey, but aren’t sure where to start?” This question is posed by The Dream Assessment support team. It continues with references to DISC, based on the personality theories of two behavioral psychologists, Carl Jung (an occultist inspired by his spirit guide Philemon) and Dr. William Marston. Here you learn that “DISC and the Dream Assessment will give you the tools you need to pursue and achieve your Big Dream. To identify your unique personality type, DISC is a simple, effective tool that has been tested and used by millions of people worldwide. The short, online assessment helps you understand what motivates you, your personal strengths and weaknesses, and how you relate to other people.“ [For more information about Carl Jung, Dr. Marston and modern psychometric tools based on their research, click on Excerpts: DISC and The Dream Giver.” 
Notice again that the psycho-social tools that Mr. Wilkinson promotes as his What’s more concerning, this coaching service relies on the same DiSC technology used by corporate managers in the secular and global arena to test emotional and attitudinal “fitness” for group work and a collective society. They want to know if each team member has the relational skills needed to build synergy and conform to the corporate community or local service groups? That’s a crucial question for today’s success-oriented and purpose-driven managers.
At the Dream Giver website, you will be referred to Christian Financial Professional Network. Its Personal DISCcernment inventory (PDI) is also “based on the time-tested DISC theory that provides powerful insights into your work and social style. … This customized report … describes the unique challenges you will encounter due to your style’s particular strengths and weaknesses. … [D]iscover how to successfully navigate the path to fulfilling your Dream.”
Finally — in case you are totally confused by now — let’s go to What is DiSC? Here we learn that —
“DiSC is a model of human behavior that helps to understand ‘why people do what they do.’ The dimensions of Dominance, Influencing, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness make up the model and interact with other factors to describe human behavior. … The original DiSC model was originally based on the 1928 work of Dr. William Moulton Marston at Columbia University. … He was also the creator, writer and producer of ‘Wonder Woman’ which introduced into comic strips, the role model of a strong female.”
The supposedly “private” DISC personality profiles are gathered and stored in vast — often global — digital data tracking systems. These life-long data files help employers and leaders around the world to continually assess, mold, manage and monitor their “human resources.” It’s sobering to realize that this same system is now used by the mega-churches and Christian ministries to assess their members and place them in various volunteer service “opportunities.” After all, to “grow the church” and win favor from secular leaders — whether in schools, business, politics or media — you must learn to adapt to diversity and “serve the greater whole.”
That’s not all. This kind of tracking lies at the heart of UNESCO’s plan for a global workforce. It enables our global managers to monitor individual progress in “lifelong learning” aimed at global citizenship, then prescribe remediation in areas of resistance. The end point is behavioral control. Remember the statement by Professor Raymond Houghton:
“…absolute behavior control is imminent…. The critical point of behavior control, in effect, is sneaking up on mankind without his self-conscious realization that a crisis is at hand. Man will… never self-consciously know that it has happened.”
This is big business! The DISC assessments will measure, monitor and mold “Human Resources” for the global workforce, for your local community, and for the planned “social sector” with its volunteer welfare service. This global management system has already been writing the behavioral and attitudinal standards for “human resource development.” It intends to assess and monitor everyone to make sure they comply with the planned solidarity or “unity in diversity.” It’s sad to see how churches and “Christian” managers are leading the campaign for bringing people willingly into this massive web of human resource development.
This process trains people to ignore or adapt God’s guidelines to cultural changes. It desensitizes them to the contrary philosophies and values. In other words, it prompts Christians to justify an unbiblical consensus and embrace an Hegelian worldview that blends good and evil, light and dark — all the opposites that God describes in passages such as 2 Corinthians 6:12-18. Many believers will never recognize it for what it is: the world system cloaked in Christian terminology and idealized through Christian ministries. Inspired by Satan, the “ruler of this world,” it distorts our understanding of God and twists His holy truths into positive affirmations and sentiments that please the world.
In other words, the Dream Giver does not represent the God of the Bible! And our true God warns us:
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness….
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” Isaiah 5:20-21
While Mr. Wilkinson tells us to trust and follow a Big Dream, God’s Word tells us to trust and follow God alone. We cannot do both!
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil.” Proverbs 3:5-7
4. Who does Ordinary represent — any person or Christians who know and trust God?
Our God told the Old Testament prophet Joel that “it shall come to pass in the last days… that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams.” As the apostle Peter explained in Acts 2:17, Pentecost was a partial fulfillment of that prophecy. A more complete fulfillment lies ahead, but that wonderful blessing has little to do with today’s churches where only a small minority of “born again” believers take time to study God’s Word and build a Biblical worldview.[See Statistics for the Changing Church]
Instead, truth-twisting has become the norm. Mr. Wilkinson tells us that –
“…your Big Dream was planted in you before you were born. The psalmist David wrote that all the days of his life had been ‘fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” [Psalm 139:16]
Yes, God knows exactly what will happen in each of our lives. He has total foreknowledge. He knows who will trust Him and who will reject Him. But this Scripture has nothing to do with the feel-good, universally given dreams Wilkinson promises everyone. Instead, God warns us that His purposes will not please everyone. He is the sovereign King of the universe — the “Potter” who does whatever He wills with His creation, whether we like it or not:
“Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?” Romans 9:20-24
Those who truly are “born again” can be assured that all our days are written in His book. But that doesn’t mean that our life journey would be spelled out for us ahead of time. While God knows each part, He rarely tells us those steps ahead of time. “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” [2 Corinthians 5:7] Therefore, we need to keep our eyes on Him, our Shepherd, not on our dreams and expectations. Then, day by day, year after year, He will lead us along His perfect plan laid out for us before the “foundation of the world.” Ephesians 1:4
It’s no small matter to misrepresent God, His will and His ways. Yet it happens in churches as well as in schools, movies, politics and the media. We are easily deceived, because Scriptural integrity is no longer emphasized. All too often, our minds are steeped in captivating fiction and entertainment rather than in truth and reality. So when “the deceiver” tempts us to twist God’s truth into a culturally acceptable message, we take the bait — and help him spread those enticing distortions, lies and counterfeit promises. As in Old Testament days, this adversary gladly works through God’s own people when we are not alert to His schemes.
The Bible shows us two very different kinds of people on earth. They follow three different sources of our dreams, visions, and guidance:
- the sovereign, all-knowing God of the universe
- their human imagination and deceitful hearts
- Satan, who masquerades as an “angel of light.” 2 Corinthians 11:13-15  See Biblical Division
The latter two work well together; for both oppose or twist God’s truth. Such counterfeits have deceived God’s people since the beginning of time. Throughout history, so-called “prophets” have shared popular and positive promises from their own “imagination” while claiming to speak for God. They didn’t fear offending Him. Instead, they claimed the honor and authority that came from their identity as a spokesman for the Lord of heaven and earth.
What was God’s response to such mockery of His truth and holiness? Ponder these warnings:
“Behold, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,’ says the Lord, ‘and… cause My people to err by their lies and by their recklessness. Yet I did not send them or command them. So when these people or the prophet or the priest ask you, saying, ‘What is the oracle of the Lord?’ you shall then say to them, ‘What oracle?’ I will even forsake you,” says the Lord. ”…for you have perverted the words of the living God…. I will utterly forget you and forsake you… and will cast you out of My presence.”Jeremiah 23:30-36
“Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you…
They speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of the Lord.
They continually say to those who despise Me, ‘The Lord has said, ‘You shall have peace’;
And to everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say,
‘No evil shall come upon you.’ ” Jeremiah 23:16-17
“I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied….” Jeremiah 23:21
“Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division.” Luke 12:51
“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”
Those are hard words! They clash with the new “positive” gospel taught by Robert Schuller, John Maxwell and Rick Warren. Such “negative” images of God won’t draw the masses into the Church! Instead they offend casual seekers and chase them away! That’s why “divisive” people who might share such Scriptures are often asked to leave today’s purpose-driven churches.
5. Whom do we trust — our human dreams or the sovereign King of the universe?
God’s Word is totally incompatible with today’s human resource development for a global society. Much of the Bible is simply too inflexible and incompatible with the new way of thinking! That’s why “change agents” around the world are training people to “think outside the box” of traditional values. And since many parents still trust in God’s unchanging truths, their children must be freed from parental boundaries. That may sound like a good idea in general, but when “the box” is God’s unchanging truths, this amounts to mutiny against our Lord.
This revolutionary notion of social transformation has been growing for over a century. Professor John Goodlad used the word resocialize. One of the most influential change agents in the global as well as national arena, he served on the governing boards of UNESCO’s Institute for Education and as head of the Institute for Educational Renewal four decades ago. In 1970, he warned his fellow educators that –
“Parents and the general public must be reached… Otherwise, children and youth enrolled in globally-oriented programs may find themselves in conflict with values assumed in the home. And then the educational institution…comes under scrutiny…. Most youth still hold the same values as their parents and if we don’t resocialize, our system will decay.”
Other change agents in the fifties and sixties established “educational laboratories” and behavioral research institutes that would lay the foundation for postmodern society and its rejection of absolute truth. These behind-the-scenes revolutionaries knew well that to transform the world, you also had to transform churches and free their members from the old guidelines found in the Scriptures. [See Steps toward Global Mind Control]
Few noticed the signs of the times. Among those who did discern the trends was A. W. Tozer. As early as 1959, he describes the sobering changes:
“The flaw in current evangelism lies in its humanistic approach…. It is frankly fascinated by the great, noisy, aggressive world with its big names, hero worship, its wealth and its garish pageantry. To the millions of disappointed persons who have always yearned for worldly glory but never attained to it, the modern evangel offers a quick and easy shortcut to their heart’s desire. Peace of mind, happiness, prosperity, social acceptance, publicity, success in sports, business, the entertainment field, and perchance to sit occasionally at the same banquet table with a celebrity—all this on earth and heaven at last. Certainly no insurance company can offer half as much.
“In this quasi-Christian scheme of things God becomes the Aladdin lamp who does the bidding of everyone that will accept His Son and sign a card. … This gross misapprehension of the truth is in back of much of our present evangelical activity. It determines directions, builds programs, decides the content of sermons, fixes the quality of local churches and even of whole denominations, sets the pattern for religious writers and forms the editorial policy of many evangelical publications.
“This concept of Christianity is in radical error, and because it touches the souls of men it is a dangerous, even deadly, error. At bottom it is little more than a weak humanism allied with weak Christianity to give it ecclesiastical respectability…. Invariably it begins with man and his needs and then looks around for God; true Christianity reveals God as searching for man to deliver him from his ambitions.” Born After Midnight
The Bible gives us an even more sobering picture:
“… in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
“…all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned…” 2 Timothy 3:1-14
In the midst of it all, we can put our trust in the true God who has revealed Himself in His Word. When we look to Him and seek His ways, He will surely lead us!
“To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in You;
Let me not be ashamed; let not my enemies triumph over me….
Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day.” Psalm 25:1-5
The end of a dream? On December 19, 2005, The Wall Street Journal published this article about Bruce Wilkinson:
“In 2002 Bruce Wilkinson… moved to Africa and announced his intention to save one million children left orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. In October, Mr. Wilkinson resigned in a huff from the African charity he founded. He abandoned his plan to house 10,000 children in a facility that was to be an orphanage, bed-and-breakfast, game reserve, bible college, industrial park and Disneyesque tourist destination….
“Mr. Wilkinson won churchloads of followers in Swaziland, but left them bereft and confused. He gained access to top Swazi officials, but alienated them with his demands. And his departure left critics convinced he was just another in a long parade of outsiders who have come to Africa making big promises and quit the continent when local people didn’t bend to their will….
“Perhaps Mr. Wilkinson’s most successful venture in Swaziland was a conference in June — funded by a $108,000 grant his group received from the U.S. government — aimed at engaging churches in the fight against HIV.”
1. Bruce Wilkinson, The Dream Giver (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 2003).
<size=3>10.Raymond Houghton, To Nurture Humaneness: Commitment for the ’70’s (The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development of the NEA, 1970), pages 46-47.
17. John Goodlad, “Report of Task Force C: Strategies for Change,” Schooling for the Future, a report to the President’s Commission on Schools Finance, Issue #9, 1971.
18. A. W. Tozer, Born After Midnight (Christian Publications, 1959), pages 22-23.
The Prayer of Jabez
by Berit Kjos
“Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, ‘Oh that Thou would bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast [territory], and that Thine hand might be with me, and that Thou would keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!’ And God granted him that which he requested.” 1 Chron 4:10
“…make the Jabez prayer for blessing part of the daily fabric of your life. To do that, I encourage you to follow unwaveringly the plan outlined here for the next thirty days. By the end of that time, you’ll be noticing significant changes in your life…. Read the Jabez prayer every morning…. Reread this little book once each week during the next month….”The Prayer of Jabez, page 86.
“I have an uncomfortable feeling about The Prayer of Jabez…. The Lord commented unfavorably on repetitious prayer. Please help me sort out my uncomfortable feeling about this ‘movement’. Reading Dr. Dobson’s ‘most important letter he ever wrote’ about Bruce Wilkinson’s book and the effect it has had on future plans of FOTF is disconcerting. Is my concern misapplied?” Ramsay Devereux
During an uneventful time in Israel’s history, a faithful man named Jabez prayed a simple, straightforward prayer and gained the favor and blessings of God. Now, a small book has prompted millions of saints and seekers to memorize and repeat the same prayer daily. After three thousand years of obscurity, Jabez has found surprising favor with the world.
So, what’s the problem with promoting a Biblical prayer that God honored in His Word? After all, our Lord delights in the prayers of His saints — all the daily thanks, praises and petitions that turn our hearts to Him in faith, worship and surrender. Using Bible verses as a basis for prayer and worship is a wonderful habit.Why be concerned?
Because this book — not Jabez’ prayer — promises rewards from God that God doesn’t promise in the Bible. While author Bruce Wilkinson enriches the meaning of Jabez’ prayer in the rest of his book, the first part (many readers go no further) seems to put the book into the unbiblical realm of the “name it claim it” movement. Consider the opening words:
“Dear Reader, I want to teach you how to pray a daring prayer that God always answers. It is brief–only one sentence with four parts–and tucked away in the Bible, but I believe it contains the key to a life of extraordinary favor with God….
Thousands of believers who are applying its truths are seeing miracles happen on a regular basis. Will you join me for a personal exploration of Jabez? I hope you will!” Emphasis added
Millions have joined his quest. Many have testified to miraculous answers which demonstrate God’s love, mercy and intervention on behalf of those who seek Him. But these amazing interventions and anecdotal stories don’t prove that God “always answers” this specific prayer. Nor do they verify that this Old Testament prayer by itself “contains the key” to extraordinary favor with God.
Nor does the Bible suggest that we — God’s people — have the authority or power to “put Jabez’ [or any other] prayer to work,” as Christianbook.com suggests in its publicity statement below. Ponder its invitation to potential buyers:
“Discover how to release the miraculous power of God in your life! …See what God will do for you when you put Jabez’ prayer to work!”
It is hard to see how anyone could conclude that Jabez’ prayer “works” better than the prayers of Moses, David, Elijah and Paul — men used by God to liberate His people, slay giants, restore life to a dead boy and bring sight to the blind. The “miraculous power of God” demonstrated through their lives came, not because of the words they uttered, but because they had consecrated their lives to God, humbled themselves before Him, trusted in His provision for sin, and chose to seek and do His will with all their heart and without compromise.
Therefore God forgave their sins, offered His strength in their weaknesses and — through the Holy Spirit in them — put prayers in their hearts that expressed His will. Because these men took time to know His Word and will, God “spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” (Exodus 33:11) No less amazing, He called David “a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.” (Acts 13:22)
Unlike these friends of God who loved His Word and walked with Him, the church at the dawn of the new millennium tends to be Biblically illiterate. [Chart] Many are too distracted by work, life’s pressures and “the pleasures of the world” to open the Bible. But we all want His help, peace and blessings. In this cultural context, the “positive assurances” and marketing tactics behind Wilkerson’s little book raise some searching questions:
1. Does the Bible justify using “the prayer of Jabez” as a formula for success? If so, why would Jesus give us the model prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 (“Our Father, who art in heaven….”) rather than the prayer of Jabez?
In the days of Jesus, rabbis would often use prayer outlines. Today, many faithful students of Biblical history believe that “the Lord’s prayer” was such a prayer — one that provided a pattern or outline for longer prayers. Then as now, its short parts were reminders that God would be pleased if we would include certain points in our quiet times with Him:
Praise to our heavenly Father who hears and provides.
Confession and cleansing as we bow before a holy God.
Thanks for the goodness and glory of His Kingdom.
Confidence in His perfect plan and readiness to yield to His will.
Trust that our Provider will meet our needs each day.
Faith that through the cross, we have forgiveness for every sin.
Prayer for grace to forgive others and be filled with His love.
Prayer for wisdom to recognize and resist any temptation or evil.
Praise for His sovereignty, love and faithfulness to those who follow Him. See the last part of Heaven is Forever
Though both prayers were pleasing to our Father, their differences are important. Jabez focused on God’s gifts. Jesus emphasized the Giver. Jabez’ prayer reflects the Old Testament context where God demonstrated His love by prospering His people. The Lord’s prayer reflects the New Testament understanding that — because of the cross — we share in the life, suffering, ministry and triumphs of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Since the prayer of Jabez precedes the New Testament call to absolute commitment, it is acceptable to the world. It sounds good whether people serve God or self. Since it doesn’t point to Christ or the cross, it carries no offense. It offers the same blessings to those who pursue a self-made image of God as to those who walk with Jesus.
In a recent interview, George Barna, founder and president of the Barna Research Group, shared his concern:
“One of the frightening things that we find in our research all the time is that even among the tens of millions of born again Christians, about half of them would say that when it comes to Christianity they are not absolutely committed to the faith. …we’ve made it too easy to be part of the Christian church. I think that there is very little sense of privilege and awe and responsibility that comes along in our culture with the notion of being considered a disciple of Christ. It is like, ‘Hey, I got my salvation taken care of, I’ve got my membership card at my church. Now let me go to the country club and do my thing.’ The problem is that Christianity is not just about being a church member. It is about consistently trying to become more like Christ. It is about life transformation.
“… small groups may be doing more to inhibit peoples’ spiritual growth than to facilitate that growth. Part of the reason is that, first of all, in most groups, you have an individual who’s in charge of the group or leading the group who really doesn’t know Scripture very well. So if they’re leading a discussion or trying to teach on things, more often than not, what you wind up with is heresy rather than Christian orthodoxy.” Interview with George Barna, Part I
It’s easy to distort our understanding of God in a culture that prompts people to interpret His Word according to a politically correct consensus rather than by the Bible itself. It’s tempting to seek a feel-good god whose will and ways match human wants and illusions. But to assume that an imagined God will bless our lives and extend our sphere of influence, is presumptuous at best.
“You thought that I was altogether like you,” warned God. “But I will rebuke you….” [Psalm 50:21]
2. How can Mr. Wilkinson assure anonymous readers that God “always answers” this particular prayer in contrast to other prayers? The preface of the book implies that God not only answer this prayer, His answer is always “yes.” That’s a denial of some of the Bible’s guidelines for answered prayer.
For example, Psalm 66:18 tells us that “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.” And Proverbs 21:13 warns, “Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.”
James 4:3-4 explains another reason for unanswered prayer: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?“
God’s will and guidelines overrule the desires and requests of those who don’t know Him. Perhaps some people need to learn humility, surrender, obedience and faith based on Scriptures before they excel in “daring” prayers? For, throughout the Bible, God shows us that the state of a believer’s heart is as — if not more — important than the particular words used.
“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16
3. Could a formula prayer raise false expectations of what God might do and therefore bring disappointment, doubt and disillusionment rather than faith and thankfulness?
Bruce Wilkinson makes more staggering claims. “Join me for that transformation,” he writes on page 91. “You will change your legacy and bring supernatural blessings wherever you go. God will release His miraculous power in your life now. And for all eternity, He will lavish on you His honor and delight.”
He will? In a chapter called “Welcome to God’s Honor Roll,” Wilkinson writes,
“You don’t reach the next level of blessing and stay there. You begin again — Lord, bless me indeed! Lord, please enlarge…! And so on. As the cycle repeats itself, you’ll find that you are steadily moving into wider spheres of blessing and influence, spiraling ever outward and upward into a larger life for God…. You will know beyond doubt that God has opened heaven’s storehouses because you prayed.”
Wilkinson mentions the “mostly ordinary, easy-to-overlook people” listed in Hebrews 11 who won honor from God. But Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah and Moses hardly fit that description. Then he fails to mention the faithful men and women who received the opposite of honor and blessing in this world:
“…others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy.” Hebrews 11:35-38
God shows us that suffering — not prosperity, power or influence — is an essential part of our life in Christ. We cannot be one with Jesus without sharing His battles as well as triumphs. “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,” wrote Paul to the Philippians (1:29)
Jesus told us to “count the cost” of discipleship — not the blessings of the world:
“If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you…. for they do not know the one who sent me.” (John 15:20-21)
4. Could an habitual prayer such as the prayer of Jabez, distract from hearing and praying according to God’s will for the day? The Bible tells us that ” we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us…. according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27) Remember, Jesus always prayed and served according to His Father’s will and purpose on each occasion. If we give ourselves unreservedly to do the same, He will answer our prayer:
“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” 1 John 5:14-15
5. Might some readers be seeking the power of prayer rather than the power of God? There’s a significant difference between the two, and the former has always been far more alluring to human nature than the surrender and obedience involved in ongoing Biblical prayer. Most people would rather memorize and repeat a formula prayer that “works” than take time to seek to know the heart of God. It’s easier to imagine “what Jesus would do” than actually study His Word and know His will — then to submit will to His.
Formula prayers dominate in pagan religions. Compare Mr. Wilkinson’s preface and the Christianbook‘s publicity statement with the following quote from Medicine Buddha Sadhana, a small book given to thousands of people who attended a May 2001 a “Medicine Buddha Empowerment” workshop led by The Dalai Lama:
“To recite the Medicine Buddha Mantra brings inconceivable merit. … If you recite the mantra every day, the buddhas and bodhisattvas will always pay attention to you, and they will guide you. All your negative karmas will be pacified and you will never be born in the three lower realms…. and all your wishes are fulfilled.”
Sounds tempting, doesn’t it? It appeals to human nature and its “felt needs.” Who wouldn’t want to recite a prayer or mantra that promises easy access to higher powers that will fulfill your dreams and satisfy your wants?
But God knows that our finite dreams and human wishes fall far short of His wonderful plan for us. His rocky road to victory includes hardships and humiliations that rarely find a place in our hopes and prayers. Therefore, knowing the inclinations of our human nature, He shows us the way:
“And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done….” Matthew 6:7-9
The issue here is your motive — your reason for repeating certain words. Do you believe that repetitions will add strength to a prayer? Then you may be trusting mere words more than your all-powerful, sovereign God.
For instance, the customary words used to “put on the armor of God” could be little more than a “vain repetition” if you merely and mindlessly recite the familiar steps: “Now I gird my loins with truth… I put on the breastplate of righteousness… the sandals of peace…” There’s no magic in those words alone. Instead they remind us to actively — by faith — “put on” Christ’s truth (His Word), righteousness (includes confessing sins), peace, etc.
But it’s no “vain repetition” to pray through the steps listed in Ephesians 6:12-17 (see The Armor of God), giving Him thanks for each vital part and praising Him for the protection He offers you in Himself. For when you turn to Him in love, faith, humility and surrender — “pouring out your heart” to your Father and King — then He will surely hear and answer according to His perfect plan for your life.
6. Can we assume that a step toward victory in one battle will work the same way in another battle? For example, God told Joshua to march around Jericho 7 times. Victory involved obedience to those specific guidelines. They don’t apply to other battles.
A generation earlier, God had told his faithless people to enter the promised land. Fearing the giants in the land, they refused. God didn’t give them another opportunity. But when they faced the consequences of their disobedience, they made a belated decision to do what he said. But it was too late. The grace that came with God’s command, couldn’t be applied at will. So they lost both the battle and their lives. (Numbers 13-14)
7. Is it Biblically accurate to expect that the evils that surround us not touch and “grieve” us? In Christ, we are “more than conquerors.” But that doesn’t mean escape from the wounds and griefs that are part of life in this fallen world. Its various evils will touch us, even as we walk by faith. We are no more immune to persecution and cruelty than the faithful martyrs who, through the ages, have faced all kinds of deadly onslaughts. But they didn’t bear the assaults alone, and neither will we. When we stand equipped with His truths and promises, He will lead us in His triumph — a triumph that would look anything but triumphant to those who expect the world’s peace and prosperity. See The Armor of God and prayerfully consider 2 Corinthians 4:7-10,
“…we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are
- hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed;
- we are perplexed, but not in despair;
- persecuted, but not forsaken;
- struck down, but not destroyed
- always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.”
In Christ, we are “more than conquerors.” But that doesn’t mean escape from the wounds and griefs that today’s warfare inflicts on God’s soldiers. As long as we live in a fallen world and walk with Him, evil will touch us. But we won’t bear its assaults alone. When we stand equipped with His truths and promises, He will lead us in His triumph — a triumph that would look anything but triumphant to those who expect the world’s peace and prosperity. See The Armor of God and prayerfully consider 2 Corinthians 4:7-10,
“…we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are
- hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed;
- we are perplexed, but not in despair;
- persecuted, but not forsaken;
- struck down, but not destroyed
- always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.”
If we are one with Jesus, we must set our hearts — not on blessings in the world but on fellowship with our King — as did Peter, James, Paul and countless other saints and martyrs who, through the ages, have relinquished earthly comforts and popularity for a far greater eternal treasure. Paul said it well,
“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings….
“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me…. One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus….” Philippians 3:7-14
On December 19, 2005, The Wall Street Journal published this article about Bruce Wilkinson: “In Swaziland, U.S. Preacher Sees His Dream Vanish.”
“In 2002 Bruce Wilkinson… moved to Africa and announced his intention to save one million children left orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. In October, Mr. Wilkinson resigned in a huff from the African charity he founded. He abandoned his plan to house 10,000 children in a facility that was to be an orphanage, bed-and-breakfast, game reserve, bible college, industrial park and Disneyesque tourist destination….
“Mr. Wilkinson won churchloads of followers in Swaziland, but left them bereft and confused. He gained access to top Swazi officials, but alienated them with his demands. And his departure left critics convinced he was just another in a long parade of outsiders who have come to Africa making big promises and quit the continent when local people didn’t bend to their will….
“Perhaps Mr. Wilkinson’s most successful venture in Swaziland was a conference in June — funded by a $108,000 grant his group received from the U.S. government — aimed at engaging churches in the fight against HIV.”
Whom do we serve?
by Berit Kjos
“Warren… unveiled the church’s commitment to a new reformation in Christianity and vision for a worldwide spiritual awakening in the 21st Century through the PEACE Plan that he believes will mobilize one billion foot soldiers … by the year 2020.”
“The first Reformation was about belief; this one’s going to be about behavior…. The first one was about creeds; this one’s going to be about our deeds. The first one divided the church; this time it will unify the church.” Rick Warren
“The last thing many believers need today is to go to another Bible study. They already know far more than they are putting into practice. What they need areserving experiences….” Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Life
As you saw in Part 2 of this series, Rick Warren’s PEACE Plan fits right into the global march toward social solidarity. The widening web of communitarian systems envisioned by Peter Drucker (Warren’s mentor) is now embraced by pastors, politicians, rulers, and community leaders around the world. Like Pastor Warren, they all seem to agree that the rising global welfare system requires a worldwide army of “volunteer” servers.”
It makes sense! In September 2005, Pastor Warren was invited to speak at the United Nations and at the Council of Foreign Relations — two powerful organizations determined to unify the world under a new set of social rules and systemic controls. Both pursue a peaceful transformation that would stifle the “divisive” truths of the gospel and conform Christian beliefs to UNESCO’s Declaration on the Role of Religion. Both recognize the need to draw churches into their worldwide network of partners and servers. Both realize that Rick Warren — a most magnetic Pied Piper for their transformational agenda — can serve their grandiose purposes well.
President Bush knows it, too. He met with Rick Warren and other “social entrepreneurs” at the White House on June 1, 2004. After a strategic dialogue, his new “army of compassion” was introduced to attendees at the First White House National Conference on Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. The President announced,
“I came from a — what we call a roundtable… where I met with some healers, and doers, and community changers: … Pastor Rick Warren, of Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, California — (applause)…. Jim Sprouse, the pastor of Trinity United Methodist…. Where there is despair, we must work to provide hope.”
Remember, President Bush has promised billions of dollars for fighting AIDS in Africa. Not only did he usher the U.S. back under UNESCO’s socialist umbrella two years ago, he has been working closely with the United Nations in order to fulfill America’s commitment to help end poverty and develop human resources in Africa. Warren’s PEACE Plan serves his purpose.
In Parts 1 and 2, we looked at the first two points in Warren’s PEACE Plan: (1) Plant Churches and (2) Train Leaders. You met Ken Blanchard, Pastor Warren’s chosen agent for training purpose-driven leaders around the world. Now, in Part 3, we will look at the next two points: (3) Assist the poor and (4) Care for the sick.
The drumbeat for social action aroused the masses early in July 2005. That’s when Rick Warren and World Vision joined Bono, Madonna (who promotes the mystical/occult Kabbala), Beatle idol Paul McCartney, Snoop Dog, Faithless, Bon Jovi, Slash (of Velvet Revolver), and many other famous or infamous supporters of “ONE – The Campaign to Make Poverty History.”
“I deeply believe,” said Warren, “that if we as evangelicals remain silent and do not speak up in defense of the poor, we lose our credibility and our right to witness about God’s love and Word.”
“What common cause could unite Pink Floyd and Rick Warren?” asked Mindy Belz in her article, “Whose jubilee?” She continued –
“Meet Live 8, ONE, Make Poverty History, and the Long Walk To Justice…. The campaign, timed to arm-wrestle world leaders ahead of next month’s G8 summit into canceling debt against certain poor countries and increasing public aid, became so fierce last week that it reunited the ’70s band Pink Floyd and hauled Purpose Driven Life author Rick Warren onto the bandwagon….
“But offstage a band of leading economists and scholars says the G8 plan is not only misguided but harmful, particularly for church-based poverty-fighting efforts. ‘Debt forgiveness rewards the corruption and inefficiency of governments who have mishandled loaned funds.'”
A few weeks later, Rick Warren flew to Birmingham, England to participate in the liberal, interfaith Baptist World Alliance Centenary Conference (BWACC). “God has called us to enjoy and fellowship with each other and work together,” he told reporters, adding a popular slogan for the envisioned solidarity: Baptists can “celebrate our diversity and celebrate our unity…. The first Reformation was about beliefs. This one needs to be about behavior.”
Jimmy Carter, another keynote speaker at the BWACC, would probably agree to minimize those “divisive” old Scriptures that identified sin and called for separation. “There is an intense hunger among Christians around the world for a healing of the differences that now separate us from one another,” the former president told reporters. “…All major faiths – Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Islam – hold to the basic principles of peace, justice, hospitality, truth and alleviation of suffering.” As a solution to separation, he suggested “interfaith dialogue…. We need to come back together.”
Back together? Leaving behind the true gospel? How would an interfaith dialogue aimed at consensus deal with the centrality of the cross and the resurrection of our Lord? Persecuted Christians have given their lives for those vital, saving truths! Would today’s “Christian” leaders prefer to trade Biblical faith for an illusion of solidarity?
Many are doing just that! Rev. Dr Michael Taylor, former Christian Aid chief executive and Baptist minister, gave this closing message:
“The only potentially realistic way to get western governments to tackle these issues is to build the strongest, most proactive networks of activists around the world. This will mean linking with other Christians and with people of other faiths, working together in different ways for the common good.”
Does this sound more like the “social gospel” than the Great Commission? Has physical wellbeing becoming more important to church leaders than the truth about God and His grace? Is the fight against social, political and economic villains rather than against the “principalities… powers… [and] spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places?” [Ephesians 6:12] If so, it’s a losing battle! 
Of course, our God cares about the poor, and so must we. But in New Testament days, compassionate care for unbelievers was joined to evangelism — a vital ministry that Ken Blanchard, Warren’s chosen leadership trainer, apparently has abandoned. “…he said he is not interested in evangelism,” said Rebecca Barnes, editor of ChurchCentral.com.
The early disciples knew well that their greatest gift to the poor and needy was the gospel, which brings conviction of sin, prompts God-given repentance, and opens the door to an eternity with Jesus. Their compassion would not only demonstrate God’s love in a harsh and hostile world; it would plant in hearts the glorious promise of God’s eternal Kingdom. That’s why the early Christians faced persecution. As Jesus explained, “…because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:19)
Martyrs who were caught speaking God’s “offensive” truths could easily have escaped torture and death. Some were told only to worship other gods along with their own, but that was unthinkable to those who loved Jesus. They would rather die than betray their Lord! The stirring witness of such uncompromising faith drew countless more into the caring arms of the Church.
In the early Church, compassionate service to the poor and needy focused primarily on their own spiritual family — the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ. God’s Word tells us:
“…the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’”Deuteronomy 15:7-8, 11
“…I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?’….And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” Matthew 25:35-40
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10
“Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord… distributing to the needs of the saints….” Romans 12:9-13
But everything is changing! Marketing, manipulation, compromise, top-down standards, and intrusive assessments have become the norm. And the United Nations leads the way. [See The U.N. Plan for Your Community] UNESCO’s “Management of Social Transformations” (MOST) Programme is one of its more innovative programs. In the quote below, notice Peter Drucker‘s three-legged communitarian stool: Partnerships between public sector (government, which sets the standards), private sector (business), and social sector (civil society, especially churches). Ponder the words: social exclusion.
“Best Practices, in the MOST Database, are model projects or policies aimed at improving the quality of life of individuals or groups suffering from poverty or social exclusion. They are typically based on the cooperation between national or local authorities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and local communities, the private sector….
“MOST concentrates its activities on the  management of change in multi-cultural and multi-ethnic societies;  the study of cities as the sites of accelerated social change;  local management of economic, technological and environmental transformations; and  the eradication of poverty and social exclusion.”
Apparently, PEACE Plan churches will serve the first and last of those four UNESCO goals. And the key part of the transformational process will be facilitated small groups trained todialogue, compromise (synthesize diverse beliefs) and seek an ever higher “common ground.” Formed under the banner of fellowship, healing, and discipleship, these dialectic groups will prompt members to trade individual thinking for collective thinking. And the more responsive members will be chosen to lead others into this new global paradigm envisioned by the UN, the CFR and the Bush administration.
For all must be one! “Social exclusion,” like poverty, must end. All forms of social separation — whether based on beliefs, sexual preferences, moral values or anything else — must yield to solidarity. The masses will go along with the program, for only those who embrace the “responsibility” to conform will have the “right” to be free. And the war on poverty and AIDS will be used to justify this un-American transformation.
4 – Care for the sick .
This goal touches my heart. Long ago, I chose the nursing profession because I wanted to care for the sick. My “career” ended when our first child was born, but one of our sons entered medical school with the same longing to serve God by ministering to the sick. So I can understand why Rick and Kay Warren were touched by the great needs in Africa.
On a webpage titled “Personal P.E.A.C.E. Plan,” Rick Warren answers the question, “What I can do?” In the section on “Care for the Sick,” he gives the following answer:
- Do an act of practical kindness to someone I know who is sick: take them a meal, offer to shuttle them to the doctor, do errands or shopping for them, watch their children, or send an encouraging note.
- Pray for healing, strength, comfort, and peace with those I know who are physically suffering.
- Commit to praying daily for two weeks for that person.
- Communicate genuine concern by following up with that person.”
He probably has a far more extensive plan for his ministry to those who suffer from AIDS in Africa. I just hope it doesn’t mean compromising God’s moral guidelines and justifying promiscuity. For He alone can lift people from spiritual bondage into liberty in Jesus Christ! But His gift of faith and freedom comes only after conviction of sin and genuine repentance. Such conversion is aborted when the true gospel is replaced with positive assurances that God sympathizes with our sins and heals our hurts no matter how stubbornly we defend our behavior.
Yet the consensus at recent international conferences on AIDS seems dead set against such “judgmental” beliefs. And Christian ministries that serve in the public limelight will surely face opposition if they spread such “moral certainties.” Indeed, the following reports illustrate the growing consensus that AIDS workers must condone rather than question sexual immorality. As you read them, remember how teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases multiplied with the demise of the stigma tied to promiscuity:
World AIDS Campaign (WAC): “…the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS… set out specific commitments the international community would work to fulfill… including prevention campaigns, reducing stigma… and ensuring treatment, care and respect for people living with HIV or AIDS. … As Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General, said… ‘All of us must recognize AIDS as our problem.'”
Building partnerships is about working with others to achieve our goals [Notice the communitarian framework]: “Partners need to be united from both within and beyond the health sector, from government, non-government and the private sector, to work together towards a common goal of improving responses to AIDS…. The WAC is establishing partnerships at the international, regional and local levels. These include alliances with… faith groups, like the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance.
“Do not be afraid” – Act for peace: “The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance is compelled by the Gospel to call upon all churches, related organizations and people of faith to fulfill their role as peacemakers…. We have taken up this task with a special focus on overcoming stigma and discrimination against people affected by HIV/AIDS.”
I care, do you? The Churches say YES! “Fight HIV and AIDS-related stigma and discrimination.”
Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance: “Christians believe that all are created in the image of God and understand that the recognition of and respect for the dignity of each human person, regardless of circumstance, is the starting point for all our actions and responses. By protecting the rights of people living with HIV and AIDS and promoting an attitude of care and solidarity which rejects all forms of stigmatization and discrimination, their dignity as human beings is best protected.
“We are called, too, to break down the barriers of “us” and “them” and join with people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS…. In response to God’s gracious and inclusive love for all of humanity, the church is called to model acceptance for all…. Certain vulnerable people who may be prone to high risk behavior (… men who have sex with men, sex workers of both sexes) require particular attention, compassion, trust, and accompaniment….
“In their prophetic role, churches should not be afraid to offer visible and strong social support for effective methods of prevention…. [Meaning: Don’t hesitate to encourage condoms, but don’t mention sin!]
“Promote full participation of positive people within faith-based organizations, civil society, and governmental responses….
“…a 12-member Strategy Group… will develop strategies, monitor the implementation….”
Vital to the implementation of this “health” system are the marketing strategies — usually surveys, force-field analysis, and high tech data systems for monitoring compliance, measuring “progress,” and analyzing “what works.” As in recent totalitarian regimes, well-chosen compensations distract the masses from the anguish of surveillance and control. In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley describes the seductive ‘feelies’ that compensate for the loss of freedom and privacy in the collective or “healthy” community. First among them is sexual license:
“As political and economic freedom diminishes, sexual freedom tends compensatingly [sic] to increase. And the dictator… will do well to encourage that freedom. In conjunction with the freedom to daydream [shifting focus from reality to fantasy or imagination] under the influence of dope, movies and the radio, it will help to reconcile his subjects to the servitude which is their fate.” See Serving the Greater Whole
Aldous Huxley was no prophet, but as a Fabian Socialist in the utopian atmosphere that preceded World War II, he was well acquainted with global visions and utopian dreams. In fact, his brother Julian Huxley was chosen as the first head of UNESCO, the education and cultural arm of the United Nations. Since then, most of the warnings in Brave New World have become reality.
Rick Warren seems to have joined another group of visionaries: those who embrace a dominionist view of end times. Describing his “P.E.A.C.E. plan” as a “revolution’ for global Christianity,” he said, “I’m looking at a stadium full of people who are telling God they will do whatever it takes to establish God’s Kingdom ‘on earth as it is in heaven.’” [See The Second Reformation]
But human dreams and collective deeds can never “establish God’s Kingdom ‘on earth as it is in heaven.” What counts are God’s ways, not our ways, and He has shown us an entirely different picture of the end. That’s why Jesus warned us to be alert — always watchful for the actual signs of end times (before He, not we, makes all things new). They include –
- More wars and destruction. (Matthew 24:7-8)
- A totalitarian world government. (Revelation 13)
- An intrusive “mark” that would identify the purchasing power of each person. (Revelation 13:16-17)
- Many false shepherds and prophets. (Matthew 24:24-25)
- A “falling away” from Biblical faith. (2 Thessalonians 2:3)
Universal faith in the Biblical God is not part of the end-time picture, though mighty miracles will astound the masses. Yes, our God is a miracle-working God! But He warns us to “test the spirits” and be alert to deceptions:
“The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:9:12
“…when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8
God has promised that a faithful remnant will see the glorious day when He comes for his own. By His amazing grace they will endure persecution and resist pressures to conform to the ever-changing consensus of the masses who follow the “wide” and popular ways of the world. For “narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”[Matthew 7:13] Therefore,
“…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross….” Hebrews 12:1-3
1. Rick Warren hits home run with announcement of global peace plan at http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/s05040087.htm. See almost identical statement athttp://www.bwanet.org/Congress/congresstoday29f.htm
2. Ken Camp, “Second Reformation’ will unify church, Warren tells Dallas GDOP,” 2005, at http://www.pastors.com/article.asp?ArtID=8280
3. Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), page 231.
5. “Council of Foreign Relations” at www.crossroad.to/Quotes/globalism/cfr.htm. “Rick Warren Speaks about Purpose at United Nations,” (Sep. 14, 2005) atwww.christianpost.com/article/society/1835/section/rick.warren.speaks.about.purpose.at.united.nations/1.htm and Council of Foreign Relations
6. See “Local Agenda 21: The UN Plan for Your Community” at http://www.crossroad.to/text/articles/la21_198.html
8. “The ONE Campaign: An Advocacy Letter From Rick Warren,” the text of a letter, signed by high-profile evangelicals, challenging Pres. Bush to change U.S. policy toward the poor. June 3, 2005, at http://www.beliefnet.com/story/168/story_16821.html9. Mindy Belz in her article, “Whose jubilee?” June 25, 2005, at http://www.worldmag.com/subscriber/displayArticle.cfm?ID=10764
<size=3>10. Trennis Henderson, “Rick Warren: Global Baptists are ‘all in this together,” July 30, 2005 at http://www.bwanet.org/Congress/congresstoday29f.htm
11. John Hall, “Baptist World Congress: Baptists can help in fight against terrorism,” Texas Baptist Communications, July 32, 2005, at http://www.bwacongress2005.org.uk/information.asp?id=849
14. Rebecca Barnes, “No evangelism?” at http://www.churchcentral.com/dcforum/DCForumID7/68.html
16.”Rick & Kay Warren heard the call,” at http://www.purposedriven.com/en-US/Events/AIDS/Overview.htm
17. “Personal P.E.A.C.E. Plan,” at http://www.purposedriven.com/en-US/PEACE/Personal_PEACE_Plan.htm
18. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley (New York: HarperCollins, 1932), xvii.
Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. Plan and UN Goals – Part 2
Equipping Leaders to ‘Lead like Jesus’?
by Berit Kjos, September 2005
“Ken [Blanchard] has signed on to help with the Peace Plan, and he’s going to be helping train us in leadership and in how to train others to be leaders all around the world. In fact, he was here this week and I’ve asked him to just give a little video greeting.”  Audio tape of Rick Warren introducing the PEACE Plan and Ken Blanchard to Saddleback Church.
“Dear Saddleback Family… don’t miss this first encouraging message in 40 DAYS OF PEACE which begins now!!! …This week I shared part of this message in New York City where I spoke at the United Nations, and also to The Council on Foreign Relations. I love you and thank God for you! Pastor Rick.” Group email sent on September 17, 2005.
“Various churches and denominations claim to be undergoing ‘transformation.’ This word no longer refers to the humble sanctification of the individual believer. Rather, it now refers to an orchestrated, systemic and revolutionary overhaul of the global church, including the ‘transformation’ of cities, societies, cultures, marketplaces, and more.” Lynn and Sarah Leslie.
“American Christianity is going through a second reformation,” wrote Rick Warren back in February 2003. Then he repeated his transformational theme, which sounds a lot like the “social gospel” with its presumptuous disregard for God’s unchanging Word:
“The first Reformation clarified what we believe. This reformation is all about how we act and operate in the world. It involves the key components of purpose, decentralization, lay mobilization, use of technology, and continuous learning. Churches that change are thriving and growing more effective. Churches that refuse to change will miss the reformation, and are dying.”
Warren’s rousing threat has alarmed many pastors and leaders around the world. They don’t want to miss the bandwagon to success! So they join the world’s quest for popular acclaim, positive affirmations, digital data, and manipulative processes — including the psycho-social strategies pushed by UNESCO. And they look to Rick Warren rather than God’s Word to show them how to “act and operate in the world.”
The first part of this series outlined the key points of Rick Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. Plan and the UN Millennial Goals. Remember, Pastor Warren is subject to global guidelines as he functions within the structure of the UN global management system. But that’s no problem to “America’s pastor.” His “soft” version of God’s Word, avoidance of offensive truths, and tolerance for popular culture fit right in.
So, instead of shunning him as a Christian, globalist leaders court him as a useful asset. After all, they had already planned to link the world’s churches to their agenda. They needed a Pied Piper who could draw the masses into the envisioned global solidarity. Small wonder Warren was invited to speak at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) on September 12 as well as to UN leaders at a UN interfaith prayer breakfast on September 13. His P.E.A.C.E. plan is a perfect vehicle for meeting UN goals:
1. Was Plant churches (the focus of Part 1), now changed to: Promote Reconciliation. The purpose-driven management system, mentored by Peter Drucker, serves UN goal #8: “Develop a global partnership for development.” The two systems use the same technologies, techniques, psycho-social processes, and monitoring technology to train and monitor the “human resources” needed for change and development.
2. Equip servant leaders (the focus of this article). Today’s leadership training — as you will see in this series — fits in the world as well as in the church. Church volunteers are essential to the UN quest for global solidarity.
3. Assist the poor. This matches UN Goal #1: “Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.”
4. Care for the sick. This matches UN Goals #4: Reduce child mortality, #5: Improve maternal health, and #6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
5. Educate the next generation. This matches #2. Achieve universal primary education
Equipping “servant leaders”
In Part 1, you met Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, the target country for the PEACE campaign. Apparently, Rick Warren had prepared him well for their joint “ministry” in this small, embattled nation in Africa. The president’s statement to Saddleback church last April bears repeating, for it outlines the structure for global change: “Rick and I agree,” said Kagame, “thateach partner – the church, the government, and businesses have a role to play and we are better together….”
Peter Drucker, Rick Warren’s mentor and a key architect of his purpose-driven management system, would fully agree with the three-fold alliance affirmed by President Kagame. According to the Drucker Foundation (renamed Leader to Leader Institute), the world is already divided into three sectors: public (government), private (business) and social (civil society includingchurches). Since the government sector lacks the resources needed to establish the envisioned global welfare system, the work must largely be handled by volunteers from the social sector. And, as Pastor Warren continues to remind us, only churches (primarily purpose-driven churches) are organized and equipped to meet the world’s need for servers, coaches and trainers.
Ponder these three statements from Drucker’s Leader to Leader Institute. Notice the reference to the Rockefellers, who have been funding and founding globalist, transformational and socialist programs throughout the last century:
“The Leader to Leader Institute will chart the future path for the social sector to become the equal partner of business and government in developing responsible leaders, caring citizens, and a healthy, inclusive society. [This is where the small groups and dialectic process enter in]
“The Foundation will bring the best leadership and management voices from across the world to people of the world with a focus on providing social sector organizations with the ideas and tools that enable them to better serve their customers and communities.
“Packaging knowledge and experience into tools for social sector leaders in critical areas such as: fund development, marketing, volunteer management,collaboration, self-assessment, innovation, and measuring results….”
“A Symposium organized by The Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management, sponsored by The Rockefeller Brothers Fund [December 1996]….
“As government cuts back social spending, many people expect the social sector to absorb much of the anticipated need for services…. We are now talking about a true partnership to build community and produce people who are needed by healthy businesses and a healthy society.”
Purpose-driven leaders fit right into this system of community building and human resource development. By emphasizing deeds rather than doctrine, they avoid conflict with their two partners — government and business. The fact that President Kagame, Warren’s government partner in Rwanda, works with the Clinton Global Initiative as well as with UNESCO adds secular support (as well as publicity) to their projects.
According to UN treaties and declarations, humans everywhere must be trained to think collectively (in facilitated small Groups) and to follow the ground rules. These include politically correcttolerance, feeling-centered — not fact-based dialogue, and the all-important authenticity (openly “confessing” assumptions and feelings so that the group can “correct” and realign them through dialogue and consensus). Continual assessment will measure progress and compliance.
Bruce Wilkinson, author of The Prayer of Jabez and The Dream Giver, shares Rick Warren’s vision for Africa and reliance upon high tech tools for success-driven leaders. In fact, he offers his services as a “dream coach” who can provide all the strategic tools needed for success:
“Are you excited about your Dream Journey, but aren’t sure where to start? DISC and the Dream Assessment will give you the tools you need to pursue and achieve your Big Dream.
“To identify your unique personality type, DISC is a simple, effective tool that has been tested and used by millions of people worldwide. The short, online assessment helps you understand what motivates you, your personal strengths and weaknesses, and how you relate to other people…. There is a fee for the assessment…”
Since Mr. Wilkinson depends on high-tech management tools rather than the Holy Spirit to fulfill his “Big Dream,” one might wonder about the source of it. Of course, he is not the only celebrated leader relying on these assessments, which happen to be based on “the proven psychological principles found within the works of Carl Jung and William Marston.” Popular management guru and author, Ken Blanchard, who often provides speaking platforms for Christian leaders such as John Maxwell and Rick Warren, describes the same basic assessments on one of his websites.
Notice that the work of the Holy Spirit is not included as a factor in the DISC self-assessments. It’s designed to honor man, not God, for human strengths and accomplishments:
“The Online DISC Profiler is a powerful tool that can help you significantly improve your work effectiveness. With the unique Self-Assessment and Observer Assessment, it is designed to give you a comprehensive view of how you interact with others in everyday situations. The goal is to understand your personal chemistry in order to enhance your relationships. Once you know your behavioral style characteristics, it is easy to see what drives those around you….”
Ken Blanchard — P.E.A.C.E. Plan leadership trainer
Do you wonder who will actually train the leaders for the vast purpose-driven transformation of Rwanda, Africa and the world?
Pastor Warren has chosen Ken Blanchard — “one of today’s most sought-after authors, speakers, and business consultants”  — to lead the “leaders all around the world.” Co-author of The One Minute Manager and co-founder of the Center for Faithwalk Leadership, Blanchard sounds like a Christian: “After studying both the theory and practice of leadership for more than 35 years, I have found that Jesus is the greatest leadership model of all times,” he tells us on a page promoting his Lead Like Jesus Celebrations. He continues:
“Lead Like Jesus will equip you, your church, and your community to experience Jesus in a powerfully different way — to grow to trust Him as the perfect leader for all time.”
How will Ken Blanchard equip people to “experience Jesus in a powerfully different way”? Will he present God’s truth so that people might be convicted of sin and regenerated through the Holy Spirit?
Apparently not! Speaking “to about 2,000 leaders during the annual Southeast Christian Church Leadership Conference” last year, Mr. Blanchard echoed Warren’s philosophy: emphasizebehavior, not beliefs:
“From my standpoint, at the end of Matthew when [Jesus] says, ‘Go and make disciples,’ I think people emphasize the evangelism part of that and … forget what discipling means. It’s a follower, somebody who does what I say. As leaders you’re all influencing people’s thinking, beliefs and all. He [Jesus] has a mandate for us to be servant leaders…. People ask me if I’m interested in evangelism. I’m not. I think the next big evangelism movement will be driven by behaving differently.”
Since Rebecca Barnes, editor of ChurchCentral.com, had quoted Blanchard in the above report, “Serving to lead like Jesus, she was asked by Bud Press to verify what she wrote. Ponder Ken’s response to her question:
“I spoke with Ken Blanchard… and he said he is not interested in evangelism. He quoted Ghandi, who said if everybody in the world would act like Jesus everybody in the world would want to be a Christian.”
How then can Mr. Blanchard guide Rick Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. Plan goal #1: Plant churches? Without evangelism, might those “churches” be filled with unregenerated members? Would the people even know God’s revealed truths about Jesus? What kind of spirits might they “experience” if they have never heard the true gospel (including its “divisive” message of sin, judgment, redemption and victory through the cross)?
This radical departure from Jesus’ Great Commission may not surprise those who know that Mr. Blanchard serves on the Advisory Board of The Hoffman Institute (last checked on 8-26-05).Other members of the Advisory Board include –
“Joan Borysenko… Former Director of the Mind/Body Medical Institute at Harvard University… [and] the author of… Fire in the Soul: A New Psychology of Spiritual Optimism.”
“Margot Anand Larkspur… Founder of Sky Dancing Tantra International, and author of several internationally best selling books, including The Art of Sexual Ecstasy, The Art of Sexual Magic…. She has also had extensive training in Gestalt therapy….”
“Rev. Hal Milton… a Unity Minister… trained extensively in body therapies, movement education and Rolfing….”
“Claudio Naranjo… one of the early staff members at Esalen Institute… is a leading international authority on the enneagram and has authored numerous important books on consciousness including his recent The End of Patriarchy.”
This Quadrinity Process was conceived by “an American psychic” named Bob Hoffman. “Renowned for his intuitive capacities, Hoffman was dedicated to awakening people to the awesome power of love that dwells within each of us. He believed that unconditional love was the birthright of every human being. He wrote that The SPIRITUAL SELF is the pure non-programmed, non-mediated aspect of self that is… resonating in harmony with the Universe.”
That sounds decidedly New Age rather than Christian! Yet Mr. Blanchard himself claims to have benefited from this process. In a promotional endorsement at hoffmaninstitute.org, Blanchard gushes, “The Hoffman Process brings forth spiritual leadership in a person. It made my spirituality come alive.”
An interview with Raz Ingrasci, President of the Hoffman Institute, sheds more light on his faith in this New Age force:
Ken Blanchard (KB): “People are looking for some higher power to help them…..
RI: There is also the sense that when one acts in alignment with a higher power, the action is more likely to lead to both success and satisfaction….
RI: So, people bring spiritual values into their businesses first by bringing spirituality into their everyday lives…. How does the Hoffman Process help with this?
KB: “The Hoffman Process actually brings forth spiritual leadership in a person. Since taking the Process, my title at our company has become Chief Spiritual Officer. Now, I’m working on creating a Center for Chief Spiritual Officers. …
RI: “In the Process, people shed their false selves to reveal a true and loving, noble servant within, which we call your Spiritual Self….
KB: “Yes…. The essence is to let this spirit into your heart so you become a different person from the inside out…. It gave me a way to have my spirituality be at the center of my life.
RI: “What importance do you find that tithing, service, or charitable giving can have in a person’s business life?
KB: “I think it is all important, it is about energy. If all you do is take energy, you’re an energy drainer. Tithing, giving back, being thankful, sends energy out and you get more energy back. John Templeton tells people that the best money practice in the world is to give 10% of what they earn away.“
I can’t help but wonder what “spirit” Mr. Blanchard has “let into [his] heart.” Is he totally blind to the unbiblical nature of the “spirituality… at the center” of his life? The Quadrinity Process isincompatible with Biblical truth! In fact, Jesus died on the cross to free us from the dark forces that drive the Hoffman Process. The two are as contrary as night and day!
Yet the celebrated leadership trainer for Warren’s PEACE Plan seems to believe that the two fit together. This strange paradox reminds me of a wise statement in A Time of Departing by Ray Yungen:
“Satan is not simply trying to draw people to the dark side of a good versus evil conflict. Actually, he is trying to eradicate the gap between himself and God, between good and evil, altogether.”
On the other hand, the Bible tells us, “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” Ephesians 5:11
Yet, the fellowship and connections between Blanchard and New Age spirituality is twined together like a web. One of the National Board Members of Blanchard’s Lead Like Jesus is Mark Victor Hansen, co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series. In an Interview with The Hoffman Institute, he like Ken Blanchard, exuded enthusiasm for the Hoffman Quadrinity Process:
Hoffman Institute: Your books have sold over 60,000,000 copies and you are one of the most popular speakers in America. From your perspective, what’s going on in our culture?
Mark: “We’ve got the most prosperous culture in human history and we’ve also got the biggest spiritual hole in human history…. To fill that hole you need something like the Hoffman Process, where you clean up your act and go deep inside to find out that your core essence really is important, that you do matter, and you can make a difference…. One of the places I’m encouraging absolutely everyone to go is The Hoffman Process….”
“…we were number one in the New York Times with Chicken Soup for the Sports Fan Soul. All of us have infinite potential but most of us are self-sabotaging. You need theHoffman Process to get out of a lot of your self-sabotaging behaviour.”
“I think the great livers, the people who are fully self-actualizing and alive, are the great givers. I can pick hundreds of role models, but I’ll pick three – Nelson Mandela has just given to a whole country. Mahatma Gandhi (and Mahatma of course means Great Spirit) was riddled through to the end with lots of pain, and he strove to unify and free a subcontinent….”
“As our mutual friend Dr Ken Blanchard… said ‘Feedback is the breakfast of champions.’ Everyone needs feedback and most of us don’t like it…. You have to replenish yourself individually, and we have to do it collectively, and then we have to replenish the planet.”
Hoffman Institute: “So tell me, Mark, is the Hoffman Quadrinity Process Chicken Soup for the Soul?”
Mark: “The Hoffman Quadrinity Process is a Banquet for the Soul!”
Lead Like Jesus’ list of Board Members also includes Rick Warren, Bob Buford, John Maxwell, Steve Douglass [President of Campus Crusade for Christ], Bill Hybels [Willow Creek], andLaurie Beth Jones, author of Jesus in Blue Jeans and Jesus CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership. In the latter book, she wrote:
“For me to refer to God as ‘She’ would unfortunately put this work beyond the boundaries of acceptance and understanding for too many people. We must search for an all-inclusive terminology.” (p. 305).
“Jesus regularly visualized the success of his efforts … Jesus was full of self-knowledge and self-love. His ‘I am’ statements were what he became.” (p. 7, 8)
In his endorsement of The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by New Ager Deepak Chopra, Blanchard wrote, “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success make wonderful guiding principles for anyone attempting to create a productive and satisfying life or human organization.” Do they? For a Christian?
“Something big is happening,” wrote Dr. Thomas Hohstadt, who also calls himself a devoted Christian. “…the way we think is changing. And — as a result — the way we believe is changing. That belief, of course, is not a different ‘Word,’ it’s a different understanding of the Word. For spirituality is converting to new sympathies. Faith is transmuting to new sensitivities. And this Spirit-birthed age is birthing new spirit!”
Dr. Hohstadt is right about the transformation — but tragically deceived about God and His Word. Yet, since his summary gives us a glimpse of today’s “new thinking” and global reformation, ponder his next points:
“Even church leaders are ‘thinking’ differently. What was once a ‘subculture’ is now mainstream. What was once embarrassing is now respectable…. We are co-authors more than bystanders. Our world is more a ‘Creating’ than a ‘Creation.’… The quantum world promises we can make the Holy Spirit offers He can’t refuse.’… When our decisions and God’s will mutually move each other, the role of divine action takes on totally new meaning…. Today, our imagination is being baptized, and our windows on God’s miraculous presence are reopening.”
Everything seems to be turning upside-down! Is that what this global “transformation” is all about? Leaders can claim to be a Christians and speak the Bible’s assuring affirmations — even as they dismiss the reality of absolute truth in order to follow the latest blend of feel-good spirituality, self-exalting psychology, New Age affirmations, and pragmatic psychological strategies.
Thank God for His wonderful Word! It brings us back to reality! It also reminds us that Satan is more than willing to repeat his tempting tactics age after age, for human nature doesn’t change. But in the midst of the spiritual battles, our Lord has armed us with His truth and Spirit so that we may discern deception and walk in His triumph!
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness….
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” Isaiah 5:20-21
“…the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things…” 2 Timothy 4:2-5
“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ!” 2 Corinthians 2:14
Note: At the UN interfaith prayer breakfast on September 13, Rick Warren concluded with what seems to be his standard salvation prayer. He had already told the presidents, ambassadors and other distinguished attendees that God loved each one and had a purpose for them. But his message excluded the gospel. He explained neither the obstacle of sin nor the victory of the cross — the ultimate expression of our Savior’s love. Then he prayed:
“Father… there are some here today who have been living the good life, not realizing that there is even a far better life — a life of purpose…. Forgive us for shallow living thinking only about temporary things that are on this side of eternity. I pray that today many will step across the line to a better life a life of purpose and power and peace….
“You might want to pray to God just in your own words. It doesn’t matter what you say…. He knows your thoughts…. I’ll say something and if it represent the prayer of your heart, you just say in your mind, ‘Me, too, God.
“Dear God. Thank you for making me, for creating me, and for loving me. I want to fulfill the purposes that you made me for. Starting today I want get to know you and love you and trust you. And I want my life to bring you pleasure. Thank you for sending Jesus Christ. Help me to understand it more. As much as I know how I want to open up my life to your love and your purpose. In your name I pray. Amen.” [See Widening the Gate to the Kingdom]
1. http://www.saddlebackfamily.com/peace/Services/110203_high.asx. (Last accessed in July 2005. )
2. Lynn and Sarah Leslie, “What Is Transformation?” at www.crossroad.to\articles2\05\sarah-leslie\transformation.htm
14. Rebecca Barnes, “Ken Blanchard: Serving to lead like Jesus,” 5-20-04 at http://www.churchcentral.com/nw/s/id/19303/printable/yes/template/Article.html
15. Rebecca Barnes, “No evangelism?” at http://www.churchcentral.com/dcforum/DCForumID7/68.html
20. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing (Silverton, OR: Lighthouse Trails Publishing Company, 2002), page 101.
22. Hoffman Institute’s Interview with Mark Victor Hansen
23. Dr. Thomas Hohstadt, “Something Big Is Happening” (2005) at http://www.futurechurch.net/archives_view.asp?articleid=51#N_1_
Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. Plan & UN Goals – Part 1
The Emerging Global ‘Church’
by Berit Kjos, August 2005
“The first Reformation was about belief; this one’s going to be about behavior…. The first one was about creeds; this one’s going to be about our deeds.” Rick Warren
“Citizenship for the next century is learning to live together. The 21st Century city will be a city of social solidarity…. We have to redefine the words… [and write a new] social contract.”  Federico Mayor, former head of UNESCO.
“A sea change of transitions and transformations is birthing a whole new world,” wrote Dr. Leonard Sweet, whose books are often quoted in Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox. “God is birthing the greatest spiritual awakening in the history of the church…. Are you going to show up.”
If you love truth, you may want to say no! For in his book Soul Tsunami, Dr. Sweet, a popular leader of the Emerging Church, tells us to flow with the currents of change and leave God’s unchanging gospel behind. “Postmodern culture is a change-or-be changed world,” he continues. “Reinvent yourself for the 21st century or die. Some would rather die than change.”
Would Rick Warren agree? Probably, since he wrote this glowing endorsement for the front cover of Sweet’s book: “Soul Tsunami shows us why these are the greatest days for evangelism since the first century!”
What kind of evangelism does Warren envision? Would it be based on God’s Word or on “good” works? Apparently, the latter. In a world that has traded Biblical absolutes for changing values and feel-good experiences, God’s “divisive” truths face a rising tide of hostility. But few will argue against helping the poor and sick. Perhaps that’s why Pastor Warren keeps repeating this statement: “The first Reformation was about belief; this one’s going to be about behavior.”
The new focus is on unity — a worldwide oneness reflected in the growing union between the East and West. Leonard Sweet’s online book, Quantum Spirituality, sheds some revealing light of the envisioned global “church” for the 21st century. In his view, the offense of the cross has been replaced with a passion for interfaith peace and possibility thinking. To illustrate this point, Dr. Sweet quotes Thomas Merton, the popular Catholic author who popularized mysticism and died in Asia searching the depths of Tibetan Buddhism: ‘We are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity.'”
Seeking that illusive solidarity, today’s success-driven church leaders are rushing into the postmodern age of flexible “truth” and relational pleasures. Unbounded by any solid anchor in God’s unchanging Word, they dash forward — hand in hand with the world — toward an imagined future attainable through practices long hidden in secret societies and Eastern religions. These include meditative rituals, dialectical synthesis and systems thinking. Add service learning to the last two and you have the transformational strategies first tested by Communist tyrants, then incorporated into the UN – U.S. education system, which intentionally undermined factual, rational learning and established the postmodern ways of thinking.
We need to understand this amazing worldwide revolution — and the subtle compromises caused by today’s pragmatic “Christian” alliances. Therefore, the next two articles in this series will look more closely at the social manipulation behind “community service” and “lifelong learning” — two programs driven by global standards, continual assessments and remediation. Meanwhile, you can find helpful background information on the following pages:
But first, let’s examine Rick Warren’s celebrated P.E.A.C.E. Plan and its links to the United Nations.
Like most other UN documents, its Millennium Goals sound kind and compassionate. They are designed to appeal to noble instincts and caring hearts — and they do! That’s why nations, corporations, organizations and churches have joined the global campaign. Who would disagree with these eight lofty goals?
1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
2. Achieve universal primary education.
3. Promote gender equality and empower women.
4. Reduce child mortality.
5. Improve maternal health.
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
7. Ensure environmental sustainability.
8. Develop a global partnership for development.
Of course, there’s more to this list than nice-sounding words. The motivational vision of a worldwide welfare system may have captured hearts around the world, but it actually serves the grandiose aims of socialist change agents who have little concern for human suffering. (Just look how government leaders are treating the victims of hurricane Katrina!) Yet, no other program has more effectively linked the evangelical church to the UN management system, which, from its birth, declared war on Biblical truth and values. And no other program has more effectively drawn Christians into a process designed to manipulate the masses, undermine traditional values, silence resisters, synthesize beliefs, trade individual thinking for collective thinking, and train global citizens to serve the “greater whole.”
An interview titled, “Pastor [Warren] lays out a global vision,” summarizes parts of that plan:
Q: Your book is a mega-seller and there are 82,000 names on Saddleback’s church rolls. What’s next?
Warren: “In the 21st century we are going global and mobilizing the American church to help internationally. … President Kagame will welcome us to Rwanda for a joint project among the government, business and the church….
Q: How will Saddleback tackle these huge problems?
Warren: With our PEACE plan…. P is for plant a church or partner with an existing one in every village. We’ll work with everyone who wants to help. I’ll work with an atheist who wants to stop AIDS. E – equip local leaders. A – assist the poor. C – care for the sick. And E – educate the next generation. …
Q: What is your greatest hope for all this?
Warren: A second Reformation. The first one was about belief. This one will be about deeds.”
Compare this celebrated P.E.A.C.E. Plan with the United Nation’s Millennial Goals. Keep in mind that both purpose-driven churches and their strategic leadership programs require training inmind-changing processes and assessment technologies that support the UN vision for human resource development around the world.
Warren’s PEACE Plan
Millennium Development Goals:
|1. Was: Plant churches Changed to: Promote Reconciliation||#8. Develop a global partnership for development. (The leadership training for purpose-driven churches parallels thedialectic process, Systems Thinking and team development prescribed by various UN agencies involved in human resource development.)|
|2. Equip servant leaders||#8. Develop a global partnership for development. Actually “Lifelong Learning” has been the major UNESCO education goal since the UN agency was founded.|
|3. Assist the poor||#1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger|
|4. Care for the sick||#4. Reduce child mortality|
|#5. Improve maternal health|
|#6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases|
|5. Educate the next generation||#2. Achieve universal primary education|
|The implied aims of UN Millennium Goals #3 and #7 are certain to be included in each of Warren’s five programs – especially in P, E, A and E.||#3. Promote gender equality and empower women|
|#7. Ensure environmental sustainability|
Now, let’s look more closely at each P.E.A.C.E. Plan objective:
1. Plant churches. The first point sounds good. But what will those church plants look like? Will they be clones of Saddleback Church in California — or of thousands of other churches that follow the purpose-driven model?
Not exactly. Today’s change agents will carefully adapt their transformational strategies to each new cultural setting. But at the heart of this global revolution we see the same key elements:Total Quality Management, psycho-social leadership training, promotion of a positive (compromised) gospel and a permissive (feel-good, non-judging) God, continual high-tech assessments and remediation, and the dialectic process operating through facilitated small groups.
The mission field is the entire world. As Pastor Warren says,
“‘Billions of people suffer each day from problems so big no government can solve them…. ‘The only thing big enough to solve the problems of spiritual emptiness, selfish leadership, poverty, disease, and ignorance is the network of millions of churches all around the world….
‘The Scripture shows us that Jesus shared the Good News, trained leaders, helped the poor, cared for the sick, and taught the children… ‘Our P.E.A.C.E. Plan will just do the five things Jesus did while he was here on earth.'”
But Pastor Warren’s comparison with Jesus couldn’t be more misleading. Jesus never used the psycho-social strategies or the manipulative management systems that drive today’s social and spiritual transformation!
Warren’s initial thrust is into Africa, where the P.E.A.C.E. Plan will fit well. It already has a foothold in Rwanda, where the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi minority shocked the world. But according to Time Magazine, its president Paul Kagame had not been friendly to Biblical Christianity:
“Kagame has repeatedly stated his disdain for religious organizations. Thus a buzz went up in Kigali’s Amahoro Stadium last month when Kagame allowed Rick Warren… to throw an arm over his shoulders and ‘pray for the President.’… Kagame has committed his government to cooperation in a five-to-seven-year self-sufficiency project staffed by Rwandan volunteers but initiated, advised and at least partly funded by Warren’s network of ‘purpose-driven churches.’ Warren talks of turning Rwanda into ‘the first purpose-driven nation.'”
Do you wonder why a somewhat anti-Christian African president would enter into such an agreement? Kagame answered that question when he spoke at Saddleback Church in April:
“…they also told us about the vision of the PEACE plan…. It is a vision with a big goal, which is to confront the world’s major problems; but it is practical and simple in strategy because it is built on using average people rather than just the elite. Rick and I agree that each partner – the church, the government and businesses have a role to play and we are better together and more effective when we cooperate.”
“More effective” in what way? In planting Biblical churches — or in “Capacity Building” and “developing” people who think collectively and fit the UN vision? Will cooperation with “government and businesses” actually help establish Christ-centered churches with faithful “born again” Christians who — by God’s grace — love and follow His Word? Or will it spread compromise and deception? Will it please God or man?
Will it fulfill what Warren presents as God’s five main purposes for the Church? Or might those purposes all be redefined under the banner of church growth, church health, and success-driven service through church/world alliances? Partnerships face problems when one partner controls the money or political power. The controlling member will be in a position to set the rules and define the terms, forcing the other member(s) to submit or leave.
Actually, Rick Warren’s five purposes have already been compromised. “Warren presents some basic teaching regarding Gods purpose to glorify Himself and what man should do in relation to God,” wrote Richard Bennett in an article titled “The Purpose Driven Life: Demeaning the Very Nature of God.” “The fact that none of these purposes is presented in a biblically accurate way makes Warren’s work all the more dangerous to the true understanding of Who God is and His Gospel in Christ.”
Worship: Postmodern worship forms are designed to stir happy feelings and human excitement, not worship inspired by the Holy Spirit. They point to a positive and permissive God who — like our human team members — will cheer our self-centered nature and excuse our unholy ways. Such celebrations clash with genuine expressions of a Spirit-filled heart that freely praises our wonderful holy God without emotion-raising, man-centered programs. (See Spirit-Led or Purpose-Driven)
Fellowship: Purpose-driven “fellowship” tends to follow today’s dialectical guidelines. These push group members toward unbiblical tolerance, feeling-based rather than fact-based “sharing,” and silence with regard to Biblical absolutes. In contrast, Biblical fellowship happens when we come together with common delight in His Word, His will and His ways — loving and encouraging each other with His Word and by His Spirit.
Discipleship: The new church management systems call for training in submission and loyalty to “the group” and the new social ethics — not to God and His Word. It requires participation in collective thinking and “service learning” and fun team building activities. It shuns God’s narrow ways and divisive truths, and twists God’s call for Biblical oneness into an invitation to join the world on its highway to corruption.
Ministry: The shape and structure of purpose-driven ministries are increasingly defined by new management gurus, personality assessments, community surveys, and group appeal, not by Biblical teaching nor God’s actual purposes. But the Bible shows us that our main focus should be on building up believers by preaching and teaching His Word, and by exhorting and serving one another. We are called to live and work together by His Spirit — not by group thinking and politically correct tolerance. In the true Church, all the members know and follow Jesus Christ, the King of all! He is not a reinvented god acceptable to the world, but the holy, almighty God who revealed Himself through the Scriptures.
Evangelism: Today’s soft, non-offensive gospel focuses on God’s supposed passionate love for people who are naturally lovable, not on His loving mercy for depraved sinners. (See Ephesians 2:1-4) When “Christian” change agents train the masses to “think outside the box” of God’s unchanging Word, they are spreading a false gospel and blinding people to the only truth that can set us free.
The assumption that “the ends justify the means” has already blinded a critical mass of “Christian” leaders. Many don’t realize that the promised “end” is merely an illusion. Trained to accept a compromised gospel, they spread it to a world that wants to share in God’s blessings without conviction of sin or genuine repentance. The non-Christian masses are more than willing to join, for A gospel purged of its offensive parts the world. the movement without Biblical conversion.
This radical reformation becomes all the more concerning when church leaders like Rick Warren link hands with Bono, Ellen DeGeneres, and other UN supporters in their evangelistic crusade and war on poverty. Since these noble aims fit right into the United Nations’ efforts to “develop” nations, train human resources, build social capital, and establish its global management system, we cannot ignore its basic philosophy.
What’s more, today’s soft, social “gospel” conforms easily to UNESCO’s guidelines for religion in the new world order. Remember Pastor Warren’s words, “The first [Reformation] was about beliefs. This one will be about deeds.”
It all makes sense. The true gospel offends people. It reminds us that we are fallen creatures in bondage to sin apart from God. That’s why God’s Word warns us that “we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life.”(2 Corinthians 2:14) It reminds us not to expect popularity in the world when we are true to His Word! Instead we are called to follow His narrow, difficult road, no matter what the cost:
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you…. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you… because they do not know Him who sent Me.” John 15:18-21
In contrast, humanitarian deeds will win the world’s applause. So will a whitewashed gospel, cleansed of offensive truth, and focused on man’s worth rather than God’s righteousness. This new gospel fits the vision of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) as summarized in its Declaration on the Role of Religion in the Promotion of a Culture of Peace. Notice that it uses the evils committed by false or “cultural Christianity” to justify its criticisms of genuine Christianity and to press all religions into accepting its guidelines for global service in its new world order:
1. …We are all interdependent and share an inescapable responsibility for the well-being of the entire world.
2. We face a crisis which could bring about the suicide of the human species or bring us a new awakening and a new hope. We know that religion… has an indispensable role to play….
6. Religions have… led to division, hatred, and war. Religious people have too often betrayed the high ideals they themselves have preached.
8. Peace entails that we understand that we are all interdependent…. collectively responsible for the common good.
11. We must… cultivate a spirituality which manifests itself in action…
13. We commit ourselves to … assure a truly humane education for all. We emphasize education for peace, freedom, and human rights, and religious education to promote openness and tolerance.
19. Our communities of faith have a responsibility to encourage conduct imbued with wisdom, compassion, sharing, charity, solidarity, and love; inspiring one and all to choose the path of freedom and responsibility. Religions must be a source of helpful energy.
20. … We should distinguish fanaticism from religious zeal.
21. We will favor peace by countering the tendencies of individuals and communities to assume or even to teach that they are inherently superior to others …
22. We will promote dialogue and harmony between and within religions … respecting the search for truth and wisdom that is outside….
23. …We call upon the different religious and cultural traditions to join hands… and to cooperate with us.”
Whether consciously or simply out of success-oriented pragmatism, the purpose-driven church movement has answered the call. With management guru Peter Drucker as his mentor, Rick Warren’s quest for reformation and transformation serves the UN vision very well. In fact, the two seem to march to the same drumbeat. Like Warren’s vision of transformation, UNESCO Culture of Peace Programme calls for total transformation to its global system of assessments and control –“a process of individual, collective and institutional transformation.”
Those who have studied UN literature realize that its envisioned “Culture of Peace” would happily embrace a compromised form of Christianity that would serve the world system. But Biblical Christianity, so despised by the world, would be banned — just as Jesus warned His disciples:
“…they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (Matthew 24:9-13) See Signs of the times
A small group of faithful missionaries, working quietly among the African poor, might by God’s grace, be able to share the whole gospel beyond the watchful eyes of the new global managers. But the publicity-hungry PD movement with its popular agenda will be carefully scrutinized for compliance with the UN ideals. To succeed within this global framework of control, it must conform, comply and ultimately serve the global agenda. And its fury may well be focused on those uncompromising missionaries and faithful Christians who would rather suffer persecution at the hands of intolerant “peace-makers” than betray their beloved Lord.
Two Scriptures would be worth remembering in the challenging times ahead:
“…the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me.” John 16:2-3
“But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.“ Acts 20:24
1. Rick Warren hits home run with announcement of global peace plan at www.assistnews.net/Stories/s05040087.htm. Find a similar statement at “Rick Warren: Global Baptists — ‘We’re all in this together,’ at www.bwanet.org/Congress/congresstoday29f.htm. “The first Reformation was about beliefs. This one needs to be about behavior.… We’ve had a Reformation; what we need now is a transformation.”  Rick Warren
5. Ken Camp, “Second Reformation’ will unify church, Warren tells Dallas GDOP,” Pastors.com, 2005, at www.pastors.com/article.asp?ArtID=8280
6. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, entire book available online at Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic
7. See “The International Agenda at http://www.crossroad.to/Books/BraveNewSchools/2-International.htm#1-wcefa and Small Groups and the Dialectic Process athttp://www.crossroad.to/articles2/04/3-purpose.htm. See also http://www.undp.org/eo/ADR
8. “Millennium Goal: Conforming the world to Socialist Solidarity” at www.crossroad.to\articles2\TwoSummits.htm
<size=3>10. “Serving the ‘greater whole‘” at www.crossroad.to\Books\BraveNewSchools\6-Service.html and “Social Change and Communitarian Systems” at www.crossroad.to/articles2/04/6-purpose-communitarian.htm and “Molding Human Resources for the Global Workforce at www.crossroad.to/text/articles/HumanResources.html
11. “Pastor [Warren] lays out a global vision,” [registration required]:
14. David Van Biema, “Warren of Rwanda,” Time magazine, August 22, 2005 at http://www.time.com/time/archive/preview/0,10987,1093746,00.html
Re-Inventing the Church – Part 2
by Berit Kjos – 2002
“Thus says the Lord: ‘Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ Jeremiah 6:16
A “change agent… should know about the process of change, how it takes place and the attitudes, values and behaviors that usually act as barriers…. He should know who in his system are the ‘defenders’ or resisters of innovations.” Ronald Havelock, A Change Agent’s Guide to Innovation in Education.
“There is no privacy in the church. We are called together to work out our salvation with fear and trembling…. Leaders are change agents.”  Jim Van Yperen, The Shepherd Leader.
“Think in wholes, not in parts…. God views sin as a community responsibility. When one person in the community sins, the whole community bears the guilt.” Jim Van Yperen, Leaders on Leadership.
Bill Liniewicz and his family can no longer share in the fellowship at Chain of Lakes Community Bible Church (CLCBC) in Illinois. Like other members who questioned the new church management, he has been banned from the communion table. By declining a series of “counseling” sessions and by failing to attend a “Solemn Assembly” — a special congregational meeting for the purpose of public confession, brokenness, reconciliation and healing — he supposedly proved his “unwillingness to submit” to his spiritual authorities. There’s only one way that “insubordinate” people like Bill would be welcomed back into fellowship: they must follow the steps to “reconciliation” determined by the new interim pastor.
For Bill, reconciliation would mean compromise, for he could neither trust the new leadership nor agree with the proposed program. And disagreement was, apparently, unacceptable to the new leadership. As Jim Van Yperen, the “intentional interim pastor” would soon teach, “There’s not a lot of things you have permission to disagree about.”
What, then, was Bill’s initial sin? During one of many “adult group forums” held to introduce and discuss the new church agenda, he had shared his lack of peace, called for spiritual discernment and asked some challenging questions about the psychological strategies that might be used to produce change. He had reasons to be concerned.
It all began with some unresolved issues in the church. The last senior pastor had left and CLCBC continued to struggle with disunity. The old-timers still saw Bible teaching as the main focus, while others preferred the feel-good relational “church growth” approach to “doing church.” When the assistant pastor suggested outside consultation, the board agreed. It soon met with Metanoia Ministries, headed by Van Yperen. His team assessed the congregation, presented a diagnosis and proposed a solution.
You met Jim Van Yperen in Re-Inventing the Church, Part 1. He wrote a chapter titled “Conflict: The Refining Fire of Leadership” for George Barna’s book, Leaders on Leadership, and is a respected “change agent” for churches. “A leader of leaders,” George Barna tells us in his book by that title. He is “a marketing strategist and communications consultant,” who “has worked with a wide variety of churches, parachurch ministries and non profit organizations in the areas of vision development, strategic planning, communications, resource development and conflict resolution.”
As expected, the results of Van Yperen’s surveys, interviews and assessments showed serious conflicts — or more specifically: “systemic, structural problems.” The conclusions were presented to the church body, which hired Van Yperen as “intentional interim pastor.”
“I invite you into a process where, in this church, we will practice salvation,” Van Yperen told the congregation in his Sunday morning sermon on March 10, 2002. “We will grow up together to the glory of Jesus Christ.”
What does that mean? We tend to hear Biblical words through the mental filter of the traditional church, but the new postmodern context changes the old meanings. So when the “intentional interim pastor” promises to “lead a spiritual/discovery/change process that seeks to understand and to embody what it means to be the church,” some might wonder what to expect. But, as Bill discovered, not all questions are welcome.
Van Yperen’s workbook, Making Peace, presented some goals of the ministry — and introduced some phrases central to the new church management system. Keep in mind, whoever defines, discovers, dialogues and decides the terms will help steer the change:
“Define what God’s Word says about conflict and community,
“Discover how these principles apply to your church community,
“Describe what it would look like to practice redemptive community,
“Discuss what would have to change in your church to be redemptive,
“Decide how God would have you change your mind,
“Do it! Start making and practicing peace.”
So, how does Van Yperen make and practice peace?
One of his sources of inspiration is M. Scott Peck who wrote The Road Less Traveled and The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace. The latter book gave Van Yperen his model for “four levels of community,” which supposedly illustrate and guide the journey from “fake community” to “real community” — the place of true peace. Chaos and conflict are essential to this upward journey.
“Peck would say, ‘The only way to deal authentically with chaos is to live in it for a while,” explained Van Yperen during his weekly leadership training session (5-13-02) “Which means brokenness, not trying to get rid of this [the chaos] too soon.”
To understand Peck’s vision of the world, consider his introduction to The Different Drum:
“…the human race today stands at the brink of self-annihilation. …. Because so few have a vision of community and so many know that peacemaking must be the first priority of civilization, initially I thought this book should be titled ‘Peacemaking and Community.’ But that would put the cart before the horse….
“I am dubious, however, as to how far we can move toward global community– which is the only way to achieve international peace — until we learn the basic principles of community in our own individual lives and personal spheres of influence.” [more]
Does Van Yperen share Mr. Peck’s vision of global peace and solidarity? Probably not. Unlike Peck’s writings, his sermons proclaim the Lordship of Christ. His teachings on the cross and resurrection show a true understanding of Biblical salvation. And his ultimate hope seems to rest in an eternity with Christ, not an earthly paradise of man-made peace.
Yet, his continual emphasis of “community” and “change” seem to follow the tracks made by Peck and other modern visionaries. And the “change process” he uses to resolve conflict and transform churches resembles the Hegelian dialectic process which is central to the fast-growing networks of global systems. Used in the Soviet Union to mold compliant citizens, this process has been perfected by behavioral psychologists and embraced by schools, corporations, governments and other organizations intent on “developing” people for the envisioned global community. These world citizens would think and act collectively, not individually.
This manipulative program doesn’t belong in the church. Yet, many Bible studies and other small groups in churches, schools and homes across the country have adopted its rules for dialogue and its dubious approach to “common ground.” It produces an illusion of unity, but the unity is based on submission to the group consensus rather than submission to God.
Van Yperen is a gifted teacher and leader. His articulate sermons bring Biblical encouragement. Most of his teaching on love, obedience, fellowship and submission sounds Biblically sound. But some of it turns sharply off its Biblical course and merges with the postmodern emphasis on group thinking and social solidarity. And his insistence of unqualified submission  to the “spiritual authority” of “shepherd-leaders,” who interpret and adapt “negotiable” Scriptures for group “discussion,” should raise deep concerns.
For example, in his sermon on March 3, he told the congregation that, “Ninety-five percent or more of Scripture was written for and to be heard by a people, not individuals. It was not given for your personal edification and devotion. That is not the primary purpose of Scripture.”
The following Sunday, March 10, he said:
“[W]e live by the Spirit… we sow to the Spirit — all of which are commands for a people, not an individual. As we collectively…. walk in the Spirit and grow with Him, we will, in the interactions of our lives, grow salvation….
“God…. wants you to grow by receiving His Word in the fellowship of believers and in the interpretation of that. And in the coming together in the discussion of it. In the coming together and saying, ‘God speak to us,’ we grow.”
Some might argue that American churches have over-emphasized the individual at the cost of church fellowship and oneness. True or not, it’s still wrong to swing the pendulum into the opposite realm — that of mandatory agreement and unity. Throughout history, God has spoken to individuals as well as nations and churches through His Word. Forbidding dissent destroys accountability. And discouraging individual Bible study in order to produce community oneness would only undermine the genuine unity which grows out of each believer’s personal walk with Christ. God calls each of us to come to Him in a solitary place [see Matt. 6:6], find comfort in His Word, be filled with His life and bring His love to one another.
Even so, Christians are tempted to let a new group consensus — facilitated by leaders trained to “manage change” — interpret Scriptures and redefine its values. According to Van Yperen, “Learning comes through dialogue rather than presentation,” and this pattern for transformation is fast changing churches around the world.
“It’s an organic movement of God,” he told the congregation in his leadership class on April 22. And it demands a shift in emphasis –
- “from knowing to interpreting”
- “from methods to discovery”
- “from individualism to community”
- “from knowledge to character”
- “from telling to inviting”
- “from salvation out of hell to an invitation into a way of life.”
Please consider each of these points in the light of God’s timeless and unchanging Scriptures. The Berean believers modeled the kind of Biblical scrutiny needed in our times. “…they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:10-11) They didn’t just listen to Paul’s teaching; they also checked to make sure it lined up with Scriptures. Should we do any less?
1. From knowing to interpreting. In a weekly teaching session with church leaders, Van Yperen explained his view of Biblical truth:
“We’re not going to negotiate whether Jesus is the Christ. We know that…. But there are relatively few non-negotiables. After those top five or six or seven or ten, whichever way you count them, there’s a lot of the Word out there that we have to interpret through faith and listening….”
Few “non-negotiables”? While God — by His sovereign will — has left many questions unanswered, it’s not up to us to clarify mysteries He hasn’t revealed yet. We don’t “have to interpret” or “negotiate” those uncertainties for Him. When we try to describe what He hasn’t shown us or explain what He hasn’t fully revealed, we risk adding to a growing body of divisive speculations and deceptive myths.
Whether we understand a passage or not, it “is written” with the Spirit and authority of God. Therefore it is absolute and unchanging. Yet, Van Yperen continues with this strange statement:
“There is nothing we know absolutely because we are not absolute. So I think it’s presumptuous when any of us say, ‘I know something you must follow because I know it.’ Even when we do know and we’re right, it is a little bit presumptuous — perhaps spiritually arrogant — to claim such a thing. Rather, I do think you can say ‘I believe this. … Will you come with me to prove it?'”
Does that sound familiar? Those who understand the dialectic (consensus) process know that its ground rules ban both absolute truth and statements such as “I know.” Factual knowledge or absolute certainty would hinder the required compromise and could offend the group. On the other hand, words such as “I think” or “I feel” imply a more flexible attitude — a willingness to conform and bend one’s beliefs in order to reach the preplanned “common ground.” In a context that “negotiates” God’s truth and adapts Scriptures to the need, even the words “I believe” become non-threatening. Stripped of the certainty that upsets skeptics, they no longer offend the group.
This process demands a willingness to put more faith in the group and its evolving consensus than in the unchanging nature of God’s Word. Stephen Shields, part-time pastor and technology manager for USA Today, summarized this evolving trend in his article, “Christian discipleship in Postmodernity: Toward a praxis of spiritual friendship.” He wrote, “One of the strands of postmodern reflection worth considering in this connection is the importance of community and relationships in establishing truth. … There are few things more powerful than when Christian has faith in Christian.”
But God warns us not to put our faith in people. Well aware of our compromising nature, Jesus modeled that caution. He “did not commit [or entrust] Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.” John 2:24-25
While he walked on this earth, Jesus took His Father at His Word. He memorized Scriptures, quoted what “is written” and spoke what His Father told Him. Few understood His teaching at the time, but He knew that the Holy Spirit would soon make His words alive in individual hearts. Today’s popular paths to collective “understanding” — such as Hegel’s group consensus, simplistic interpretations or feel-good cultural adaptations — would have been unthinkable.
Jesus told His followers, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32.
2. From methods to discovery. Van Yperen’s shift from old ways to new ways may sound wise and helpful. But, like other change agents, he seems to be trading the old ways of teaching, preaching, fellowship and service for Total Quality Management, the worldwide formula for managing and conforming people to the global vision of solidarity. Adding Biblical words and phrases to validate the planned change, he persuades the church to implement the world’s latest pathways to group “discovery.”
“Leaders are visionaries who see the big picture, envision great goals and inspire bold work,” writes Van Yperen in The Shepherd Leader. “Gifted leaders are spiritual entrepreneurs. They are risk-takers and motivators. A compelling vision needs a gifted leader….”
Van Yperen’s expertise in “conflict resolution” fits right in. The perceived conflict helps the congregation accept the need for change, embrace the “compelling vision” and conform to the new way of thinking.
The two — conflict and vision — are essential to “managed change.” A felt or perceived conflict — along with a strategic vision of a great future — is needed in order to make the new resolution palatable to Christian groups. As Mary Poppins sang, “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.” The collective “discovery” of a better world or church will hardly motivate people to accept radical change unless they also sense a current crisis.
Like Georg Hegel’s dialectic process, today’s more sophisticated forms of brainwashing are designed to expose continual conflict and produce nonstop tension. Both conflict and tension are essential. They fuel an ongoing demand for continual resolution. In other words, the contrived tension drives and sustains the process of change.
The initial conflict becomes a convenient catalyst to start this process, but it must not be resolved too quickly. After all, it takes time to reach the ultimate goal: a personal and communal transformation in the way people think, perceive reality, communicate their feelings and relate to one another. [See “Paradigm Shift: Total transformation“]
As Van Yperen wrote in Leaders on Leadership, “When a leader arrives too early at ‘the answer,’ it is usually by focusing on parts of the problem or individual events instead of the deeper issues underlying the conflict.”
In the context of the above chapter, the “deeper issues” refer to a blend of theological, structural and relational problems. But whatever the conflict, it provides an opportunity to turn once again to the consensus process for a resolution. “What matters is that the root issue is revealed so that it can be explored in dialogue,” explained Van Yperen.
Of course. Ongoing conflict and dialogue. Both are essential to the process. It takes time to lead people to the new “discoveries,” examine “root issues” and — through group dialogue — rethink their “core values and beliefs.” Minds must be “unfrozen” — flung open to the new ways of thinking, relating and interpreting the Scriptures. Then, when the new mental habits have been established, the leaders must “re-freeze” their changed minds. There can be no turning back!
In his manual on leadership, Van Yperen explains this constructive conflict with an illustration from the writings of Dr. Peter Senge, founder and Chairman of MIT’s Society for Organizational Learning, a “global community of corporations, researchers, and consultants.”
“Peter Senge,” says Van Yperen, “writes about the tension between vision and current reality by describing two poles linked by a rubber band. The rubber band stretches between the vision and the reality, causing tension.”
In light of Dr. Senge prominence in the world of business management and Jim Van Yperen’s promotion of the new church management, it might be helpful to compare the two parallel processes. The two sides of the coin — the sophisticated strategies used to build collective communities both in the world and in the church — are amazingly similar. And both change agents know how to utilize that constructive tension between a current conflict and an inspiring vision of a better future on earth.
That’s not surprising. Van Yperen’s hearty endorsement of Dr. Senge’s 1995 bestselling book on systems thinking, The Fifth Discipline, leaves little doubt that Senge influenced his views on organizational change. He specifically credits Senge’s book with his understanding of “the roots of conflict” and the effect of theology, structure and relationship on social and behavioral change.
3. From individualism to community. “Only with the support, insight, and fellowship of a community can we face the dangers of learning meaningful things,” wrote Peter Senge in his article, “Creating Quality Communities.”
Van Yperen uses slightly different words to teach the same message. Remember his earlier statement from Spiritual Leadership Formation, “Learning comes through dialogue rather than presentation.” That dialogue takes place in a group, a community. “The church is not and never will be the church outside of a gathered community,” he wrote in “Shepherds as Leaders.”
Is that true? Has God not gathered to Himself believers “out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation”? Rev 5:9 Most of us will never meet in this life, yet we are brothers and sisters in Christ, members of the the Body of Christ for all eternity!
Van Yperen goes on to say, “Sheep always graze together. In fact, an animal that feeds alone is usually a sign of sickness. So it is in the church…. There are no lone ranger Christians.”
Actually, God’s “lone ranger Christians” are scattered around the world. Many have left the churches they loved because they couldn’t submit to compromising leaders. Most have sought Bible teaching churches in their community but found only shallow, feel-good messages stripped of truths that might offend. Some have established house churches, while others continue to seek genuine fellowship in Christ.
God will surely use those solitary times to draw His people close to Himself. As we look to Him and the Biblical teachers He provides, He deepens our love for Him, our dependence on Him and our understanding of His truth. Thus He trained the apostle Paul during the solitary years that followed his conversion. [Galatians 1:17-23]
He trained Moses, David, and Jeremiah through years of aloneness to put their trust in Him. And countless missionaries in distant places found their only comfort in Christ as they sought the lost, shared God’s love, and endured hostility and persecution. Trusting His Word, they can say with Jesus,
“I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me.” John 8:16
Our Shepherd cares for the needs of His people — whether they travel alone or in the great company of fellow believers. In contrast, Van Yperen’s assertion that “the needs of one submit to the greater need of all,” suggest a communitarian philosophy — the belief that the individual needs must be swallowed up in the “Greater Whole” of the collective.
That philosophy fits right into Dr. Senge’s worldview. The article, “Peter Senge and the Learning Organization” mentions Senge’s emphasis on dialogue and shared vision.” It suggests a “link here with the concerns and interests of communitarian thinkers.” 
The dialectic process, which is vital to communitarianism as it was to communism, can build the appearance of Biblical unity through intimidation, manipulation, compromise and facilitated consensus. In contrast, true unity comes from each believer’s personal faith in our One Lord. As we study His Word, trust His promises and follow His ways, we become one. We share one hope, one goal, one blueprint for victory, one source of strength and one Spirit to guide us along the way.
“Fulfill my joy,” wrote Paul, “by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” Philippians 2:2-3. That’s His goal for us, and He doesn’t need today’s psycho-social strategies to accomplish it.
4. From knowledge to character. “Building learning organizations requires personal transformations or basic shifts in how we think and interact,” wrote Peter Senge in Personal Transformation. “…And the only safe space to allow for this transformation is a learning community.” (more)
Or, as Van Yperen says, “It is impossible to grow godly character outside the church, that is, the fellowship of believers.”
Actually, today’s church “fellowship” may even hinder godly character. Leaders who love the world and fear offending potential members often ignore the Biblical boundaries and disciplines that help build Christian character. In many churches, conformity to the culture in the name of tolerance has become more important than self-denial and self-discipline. In those settings, a Spirit-led choice to stand alone and refuse to compromise will do more than any human effort to conform their character to that of Christ.
In spite of their quest for “community,” some leaders show little tolerance for those who — like Bill Liniewicz — resist the process and ask hard questions. So, on March 3, Jim Van Yperen used the parable of the sower to validate a new standard for submission. Remember, in the gospels, Jesus gave us His interpretation to the seed that fell among thorns:
“Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” Mark 4:18-19.
Compare the words of Jesus with Van Yperen’s interpretation, one that supports his ban on individual “knowledge”:
“Third, we have the seeds that fall among thorns. … These are the seeds who hear and roots take form, but the hearing is always in the form of knowledge — that now I know something. And so I assume something and form opinions about something. And the word does not become fresh in God’s work and hands to change us but becomes something that we possess and sometimes use against others to prove how we are right and they are wrong. It’s a thorny kind of hearing.”
God calls us to love one another, not use His Scriptures as forceful clubs to press others into conformity. On the other hand, we need to know and follow His Word in order to grow in the character of Christ. For
“all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Our character must be rooted in truth — on God’s guidelines for right and wrong. When we sin against God we must confess our sin to God. When we sin against one or more persons, He calls us to confess to those we hurt by our sin. Repentance is primarily a personal issue between the sinner and our God. “Against You, You only, have I sinned,” said David in his heart-broken appeal to God’s mercy. Psalm 51:4
Van Yperen sees sin in a different way. “Think in wholes, not in parts…” he wrote in Leaders on Leadership. “God views sin as a community responsibility. When one person in the community sins, the whole community bears the guilt.”
That was true in Old Testament days. But God promised us, through the prophet Ezekiel, that the time would come when the guilt of personal sin would be borne by the individual sinner, not by others:
“The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.” Ezekiel 18:20
5. From telling to inviting. “’Leader as teacher’ is not about ‘teaching‘ people how to achieve their vision,” wrote Peter Senge. “It is about fostering learning, for everyone. Such leaders help people throughout the organization develop systemic understandings. “
“Preaching is not shepherding. Teaching is not feeding,” says Van Yperen. “… Leaders must see their flock…as sheep who hurt and need understanding and guidance to help one another. Our preaching and teaching must nourish the flock, not answer the intellectual questions….” He illustrates his point with a story about a pastor who apparently violated this principle. Van Yperen had visited his church and heard his sermon:
“For the next 45 minutes the pastor spoke from Genesis about Noah and the ark. ‘There are two questions we must answer,’ he said in defense of Scripture. ‘Was there really a global flood?’ and “Could the ark really fit two of every species?’
The pastor had done his homework. He shared volumes of archaeological evidence, scientific data and meteorological facts. He was earnest to answer these questions because, as he stated, ‘if we cannot accept this story as true we would have to doubt all of Scripture.’
The pastor was obviously passionate and sincere. Some of his sermon was even interesting. … Like so many young ministers, this well-meaning pastor was answering a question none of us ever had or cared about….”
Whether Van Yperen cared or not, many Christians do want answers to those “intellectual questions.” When challenged by pseudo science and anti-Biblical persuasions, they want to respond with love, truth, facts and logic — trusting that God will use the faith and knowledge He has provided. He tells us to
“always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you….” 1 Peter 3:15.
While our hope is based on the finished work of Jesus Christ, others may not hear His promises until some of the world’s confusing barriers and “scientific” disinformation have first been removed.
6. “From salvation out of hell to an invitation into a way of life.” That invitation is summarized in the introduction to Making Peace: “All believers are called into a way of life that makes peace. The place God has given for this is the church — the called out, called together community of believers. The Church is God’s agent for reconciliation in the world.”
But what does he mean by peace? Peace and reconciliation between God and people? Between Christians? Or peace between the Christians and the world?
To global leaders it means unity in diversity – breaking down barriers between cultures, religions, lifestyles and values.
Unlike “seeker churches” that ignore words like “sin” and “guilt” for fear of offending visitors, Van Yperen rightly identifies sin as the culprit that destroys peace. He calls for confession  as a means to healing and unity. That’s good, as long as confession flows from genuine conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit and isn’t used to manipulate people into submission to unbiblical guidelines.
The problem? God’s truths have been put into the context of the new vision of community — a vision that reaches beyond the Biblical church to the world’s idea of a managed community. This vision changes both the emphasis of confession and the meaning of sin. So in spite of God’s promise in Ezekiel 18:20, he defines “sin” according to today’s demand for universal participation in the collective:
“As we submit to one another and learn to love one another and forgive one another and confess our sins to one another, we practice salvation…. Sin is never private. There is no private sin in the church. If there is sin in the body, it is our sin.”
“Ninety-five percent or more of Scripture was written for and to be heard by a people, not individuals. It was not given for your personal edification and devotion. That… we have called that its primary purpose and looked and acted like lone ranger Christians, each with our private study Bible by our our private personal pastor and never interacted with others, is a sin.”
It could be a sin, if pride drives our personal study. God calls each of us to communion with Himself. Christians who can’t find a Biblical community that loves His Word can always find fellowship and peace in His wonderful presence. To discourage the personal study needed for a personal relationship with Christ would seem to be a greater sin.
It’s easy to see the Bible through familiar filters which show a preferred but slightly unbiblical perspective. When taught by a persuasive and articulate leader like Van Yperen, that filter will affect how the group thinks, acts and views itself, the Bible and God. Individual Christians who search God’s Word themselves can be strong corrective influences in authoritarian churches that deemphasize “facts” but do emphasize new interpretations of a “negotiable” Bible.
It’s no secret that cults through the years have twisted truths, denied privacy, redefined sin and pressured people to participate in group confession. So did Communist leaders and trainers in China and the former Soviet Union. In his testimony before the Committee on Un-American activities, Edward Hunter, an respected authority on Communist psychological warfare, explained the process which included constant “self-criticisms… confessions and the ultimate indecent and humiliating disrobing of minds.” And in his 1956 book, Brainwashing, Hunter wrote,
“‘Learning’ and ‘confession’ are inseparable from brainwashing. Everyone has to participate in them, whether a party member or not…. Confession is an integral part of the rites. In China there are no exceptions from it for anyone, any more than for attendance at “learning” classes. The retention of his own individuality by a single person is recognized as a deadly menace by the whole monolithic structure.”
Brainwashing blurs the line between fact and distortions, between truth and lies. Without facts and absolute truths — and the mental discipline to cling to those certainties throughout the horrendous assaults on their minds and bodies — the POW who faced brainwashing in Asian concentration camps quickly broke down. In contrast, the prisoners who knew the absolute certainty of God’s Word were able to endure and triumph in the midst of terrible oppression.
In light of our need as Christians for truths and facts in this changing world, Van Yperen’s message is all the more troubling.
“We are not called to know facts about God, but to know Him,” he told the congregation. “Knowing things about God is not knowing God.”
The last part is true, but the first part is not. Yes, we want to “know God” personally and intimately both as individuals and as the Body of Christ. Anyone with a Bible can learn facts, even demons: As James (2:19) wrote,
“You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!”
But if we don’t study and know the facts that God has revealed about Himself, we can’t know Him as He wants to be known. Apart from the God-given truths, it’s all too easy to lose perspective, follow the world’s suggestions and accept an unbalanced or twisted view of our Lord. We need to understand His wrath as well as His love… His judgments as well as His wonderful promises. We must remember that — by His wisdom and love — He can be both “jealous” and “angry” when we turn to alternative sources of strength and wisdom, yet He is neither “tolerant” nor “permissive” as many like to believe.
The Biblical facts — even the less popular aspects of His nature — increase our delight in His wonderful attributes. Together, they enable us to love Him with all our mind and strength as well as heart and soul. They equip us to resist deception and stand firm in Christ. And they prepare us to follow Him without compromise or hesitation, as He intended when He chose us to be His friends forever.
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season….” Psalm 1:1-3
Personal explanation: It has not been easy to write this article. I have agonized before my Lord concerning the rightness of criticizing a pastor who desires to serve God’s people and heal His church. Many times over the last half year, I have tried to put this project aside and ignore these hard issues. Then this morning, as I again prayed for guidance and confirmation, God seemed to give me a clear answer, both in His Word and through Van Yperen’s taped April 21 morning message. Though I am not a member of his local church, I am a member of the Christ’s worldwide church — the Body of Christ. Therefore, we are called to minister to one another — as Van Yperen makes abundantly clear in this teaching:
“Some believe it is more loving to keep silent. But I suggest to you that in the Church, silence is not golden. It’s deceitful. If you know of someone who’s been in sin — or you know of a sin — you are called to go, either to confess or to confront. And to do so in a loving way. Keeping silent never helps….
“Am I my brother’s keeper? The answer is: Yes you are. You are your brother’s keeper. Denying truth is not a redemptive Christian response to good or bad….
You need to learn how to speak the truth. It is more hurtful to keep silent than not to. … If you are paralyzed by fear and doubt, ask God for the faith and the strength. Take courage. Believe.”
This report shows only a small part of the picture. It focuses primarily on the strategies used to change conservative Bible teaching churches, which differ from those used to mold the church-growth-oriented churches. But both use the dialectic (consensus) process to conform minds to the new vision of unity. Today’s leaders, whether in churches or the world’s organizations, are trained to adapt their process to diverse settings.
We plan to follow up with a glossary of new words and meanings that might help explain today’s persuasive language and the subtle new messages behind traditional words.
I pray that God will use this report to show the dangers of bringing the world’s ideology, visions and systems into God’s churches. By His grace, may He awaken His people to the envisioned transformation, the unbiblical processes and the ambiguous language that blind our eyes and twist the truths that we love.
4. Jim Van Yperen, Sunday evening, April 14, 2002. Teaching on submission: “It’s sin not to submit. … By my refusal to admit it is sin, its a further problem. That’s what Satan wants to do. He wants to separate us. And if he can give me the idea that I’m right and you are wrong so I’m not going to submit to you because you are crazy or I don’t like you or I’m not going to listen to you or I’m won’t come to church… that’s an act of sin. Its rebellion. Its sin. It needs to be confessed repented of and forgiven. Most of what happens in the church that get us into trouble are these relational sins that we want to minimize and say, ‘No I just disagree.’ We’ll talk about disagreement. There’s not a lot of things you have permission to disagree about.”
5. Jim Van Yperen, CLCBC Proposal, Metanoia Ministries, Jan. 25, 2002.
10. Stephen Shields, “Christian discipleship in Postmodernity: Toward a praxis of spiritual friendship.”
19. Peter Senge in Personal Transformation.
23. Peter Senge 1990: 356
25. Confession has been used in many parts of the world to produce brokenness and submission to totalitarian leaders. Please read “Brainwashing and “Education Reform’.”
Re-Inventing the Church – Part 1
by Berit Kjos – 2002
“Thus says the Lord: ‘Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ Jeremiah 6:16
“The Church seems afraid to invest in new modes of being the Church, breaking free from antiquated models and irrelevant traditions toward living the gospel in a twenty-first-century context.” George Barna, Leaders on Leadership
“Our common future will depend on the extent to which people and leaders around the world develop the vision of a better world and the strategies, the institutions, and then will to achieve it.” The UN Commission on Global Governance
“…there is a substantial critical mass of people and churches that are already moving.’ …While acknowledging that there are still many unhealthy churches, there is a justified‘change in basic premises, basic attitudes, basic mind set… on the whole, we are on the march….” “Peter Drucker on the Church and Denominations,” Leadership Network.
A strange distortion of truth has spread like a grass fire on a windy day through churches around the world. It calls God’s people not just to understand our changing times from the world’s perspective, but to actually blow with the wind and help fuel the transformation. This Church Growth Movement (CGM) uses familiar old words to persuade the people, but it conforms God’sWord as well as human thinking to politically correct views of unity, community, service and change.
Behavioral laboratories, schools, UNESCO and liberal churches all helped light that fire during the 20th century. Hidden from sight, their subversive efforts seared America’s Biblical foundations and prepared the masses to believe a lie.
Now, at the dawn of the new millennium, “conservative” and “evangelical” churches are following suit. Worldwide “Christian” networks provide trained leadership and management consultants to guide God’s people along this alluring superhighway to a new world order. Forget the old narrow way that leads to life. Today’s “change agents” hope to popularize Christianity so effectively that whole nations will join their crusade.
Forget solid Bible teaching and “the offense of the cross.” To win the masses “for Christ”, the church must be re-cloaked in a more permissive and appealing image. It must be marketed to the world as “a safe place,” purged of the moral standards that stirred conviction of sin and a longing to separate from the world’s immorality. So they re-imagined a feel-good church stripped of offense – one the world could love and claim as its own.
Their march to a “better world” is well under way. In this new church, group thinking, compromise, conflict resolution, the dialectic process and facilitated consensus are in. Uncompromising conviction and resistance to group consensus are out. For God’s way seems far too intolerant to fit the managed systems of the new millennium. [To better understand these terms, please read Brainwashing in America and The People’s Church]
Guiding the revolution
“Dissatisfaction with existing conditions seems to be a prerequisite for intentional change. ….dissatisfaction should not be regarded merely as a factor operating to furnish initial motivation. It should be utilized at all stages of the process to keep crystallization from setting in.” (See Utilization of Dissatisfaction)
Hard to believe? Then listen to the leadership team chosen by George Barna, founder and president of Barna Research Group, to write his revolutionary 1995 book, Leaders on Leadership. I call it revolutionary because it is. It actually invites a revolution in the Church and shows a new brand of leaders how to manage it.
Doug Murren, former senior pastor of Eastside Foursquare Church, wrote a chapter titled, “The Leader as Change Agent.” In it, he explains the first step in the psycho-social process of “managed change.” Notice that he takes his cues from an experienced “change agent” at Stanford University which — like MIT, Harvard and Teacher’s College at Columbia — is a major research institution in the area of social change, persuasive propaganda and psycho-social manipulation:
“Arnold Mitchell, a social psychologist from Stanford, has spent years studying the attitudes and behaviors of Americans. He contends that three ingredients are necessary for change to occur. First, Mitchell notes that change comes from dissatisfaction…. Effective change agents assess the chances for change by evaluating the level of dissatisfaction within the group. If dissatisfaction is strong, the potential for change exist….
“To be effective, a leader must also deliberately develop dissatisfaction.”
“Preparing people for change sometimes takes what seems like forever…. I shared startling or even embarrassing statistics about where we were as a church body and where we needed to be, seeking to create the right level of dissatisfaction.”
“Positive change rarely intimates ‘returning to the way it used to be.’ Most positive change I have witnessed has been about creating a better future rather than returning to a cherished past.”
The Stanford psychologist’s second and third ingredients are “a terrific amount of emotional and physical energy” and “insight” evidenced by “a well-conceived strategy for making things better.”
Notice that Pastor Murren’s “three ingredients” for changing people have nothing to do with God’s guidelines or standards. They have everything to do with deceptive human visions of how elite “change agents” can control the masses. Their manipulative methods have become so familiar that their subjects barely notice what is happening. Lest you forget, take another look at the initial steps:
1. Assess (survey) the attitudes, values and wants of the people. Your personal assessment will be the benchmark for measuring planned change in the months and years ahead.
2. Stir dissatisfaction with the old ways so that the seeds of revolution can grow without regrets. Actually, the survey itself initiates the “dissatisfaction”, since a “good” church survey would contain anxiety-producing questions that suggest internal problems and prompt public dialogue and complaint.
This tactic was explained in a 1951 manual on “group development” written by such infamous psycho-social change agents as Kurt Lewin. Titled Human Relations in Curriculum Change, it includes a chapter on “Utilization of Dissatisfaction, which states:
“Dissatisfaction with existing conditions seems to be a prerequisite for intentional change…. Yet, it is not a simple matter to make dissatisfaction function actively as a motivating force in our complex modern society. … In utilizing dissatisfaction as a factor in producing change the student of society must learn to deal with these two types of conservatism, the conservatism with those with a stake in the present arrangement and the conservatism of those who do not wish to be bothered with change….
“Fortunately for human progress, thee is a fourth group of persons in whom already exists dissatisfaction of such nature that they are ready to be utilized at once as motivation toward action…. This group can be counted on a nucleus for hasting the process of change….
“… dissatisfaction should not be regarded merely as a factor operating to furnish initial motivation. It should be utilized at all stages of the process to keep crystallization from setting in. Groups should be encouraged to make use of valuable solutions to problems only so long as they serve a useful purpose.” [pages 58-59, 63. Emphasis added]
3. Offer an inspiring vision of “a better future.” That better future must be a here-and-now future — one that man can create with his imagination. It’s the opposite of the glorious future God offers us for all eternity. In this context of worldly change, heaven serves no earthly purpose. Only visions that motivate collective efforts and drive transformation can advance the revolutionary plan.
To guide this process, well trained leaders are needed. That’s why Mr. Barna gathered “a team of experts that is as awesome as any of you can imagine” to write his manual for the church. “Fifteen people have contributed chapters to this book,” he wrote. “I believe that the cumulative efforts of this team have demonstrated the meaning of synergy.” emphasis added
Mr. Barna wrote the chapter on “The Vision Thing” himself. In it, he explains that vision “is a view of the kind of world God wants us to live within, a world He can create through us if all those He has called as leaders would lead according to the guidance provided by His Spirit.”
Does that statement sound like an oxymoron? It is. Mr. Barna seems to imply that God will recreate the world around us if today’s “change agents” would walk by the Spirit. But these leaders of “managed change” have been trained to follow a formula never given by Holy Spirit. Man may shoot himself in the foot, but God will not give us tools that clash with…
Biblical absolutes (Isaiah 40:8)
His call to trust Him, not human ways and philosophies. (Proverbs 3:5-7)
His call to share in Christ’s suffering and persecution (John 15:18-21)
For example, Mr. Barna calls for “evaluative tools prepared so you can assess how well you are doing along the way, fine-tuning your implementation efforts as you go along….”
But God doesn’t tell us to continually assess and evaluate our progress. He tells us to love Him, study His Word and follow His ways, then leave the result with Him. He will produce the fruit. He knows that if we continually measure our successes, we may shift our focus from His will and sufficiency to our own vision and achievements. That’s why David was punished severely when he disobeyed God by measuring (assessing) the size of his victorious army. (2 Samuel 24)
God’s Word and Spirit must guide our daily steps, not our human standards and measurement for success. And His ways tend to clash with the world’s vision of prosperity, numbers and success. But that matters little to mentors of “managed change” whose minds are tuned to effective methods rather than to their Maker.
Molding Truth to fit the vision
Mr. Barna introduced Jim Van Yperen, another change agent on his team of experts, as “a marketing strategist and creative communications consultant.” Van Yperen has “worked with a wide variety of churches, parachurch ministries and non profit organizations in the areas of vision development, strategic planning… resource development and conflict resolution.”
Note those buzzwords. They help us identify the change process whenever we see it.
Mr. Van Yperen is consultant, not a pastor, but he has been “serving several churches as Intentional Interim Pastor.” He hires himself out as Interim Pastor after leading a church through the initial phases (assessment, dissatisfaction, vision, etc.) of the change process. Using his strategic surveys to assess church attitudes and needs, he facilitates group dialogues and “diagnoses” the health of the church.
Since he speaks persuasively and manages this process well, he can soon inform the members that their church has some good qualities yet current conflicts and dissatisfaction demand drastic measures. To become a “healthy church,” it needs new leadership, new structures, new schedules, a new way of thinking and a new emphasis on spiritual growth through group relationships.
He also teaches a new way of understanding the Bible. His chapter in Mr. Barna’s book, “Conflict: the Refining Fire of Leadership,” contains a section called “Affirm Truth in Community.” It helps set the stage for the consensus process by suggesting that the Bible can best be understood in groups where members pool their thoughts and shape their consensus. Notice how his guidelines minimize the New Testament emphasis on a personal love relationship with Jesus and maximize the world’s view of the collective:
“Nearly all of Scripture is written to and for groups of people, not individuals. We must learn to read our Bibles this way. Instead of asking, ‘What is God saying to me?’ we need to ask ‘What is God saying to us?’
“Responding to power with truth places Christ at the center and builds bridges with our brothers and sisters. It acknowledges that no one person knows the truth completely, so we need each other. It opens up the opportunity to own our assumptions honestly, state our convictions directly and allow others to give perspective openly.” [See Creating Community – a New Way of Thinking]
Today’s change agents don’t really want everyone to “give their perspective openly.” Some facts and group observations can topple their plan. They want “dissatisfaction” but not dissent. They want tolerance toward the things of the world, but they stir intolerance toward “uncooperative” or “divisive” church members. Those who are found to be enemies to their manipulative process must be disciplined, expelled or changed. [See Dealing with Resisters]
I have talked with many humble and faithful Christians who were labeled “divisive” or “critical” by the new leadership in their beloved church. Some were given a simple choice: leave or stop asking hard questions. Others were told that “confession” — including confessing the “sin” of questioning the change process instead of submitting to it — and counseling under an assigned change agent would be a prerequisite for permission to stay and continue their ministry.
In contrast to the critic, the perfect group member is flexible, cooperative and open-minded — especially toward new and different ways of interpreting the Bible.
Thinking outside the box and Bible
Church reform, like education reform, calls for “critical thinking,” but few church members know the real meaning of this phrase. To pacify parents, public school teachers might define it as“teaching students to think for themselves.” They know that the revolution in education will proceed far more smoothly if parents never realize that “critical thinking” means criticizing and challenging traditional beliefs, values and authorities.
Former pastor, Kenneth O. Gangel, is academic dean and Vice president of Academic Affairs at Dallas Theological Seminary. A prolific author, he wrote “Competent to Lead” and is considered an expert on this topic. A natural choice for Mr. Barna’s book team, he wrote a chapter titled “What Leaders Do.”
One of the six tasks of a leader, says Pastor Gangel, is to “think.” Of course, we all think. But, in the context of managed change, thinking isn’t really thinking unless your thinking fits the new formula.
Pastor Gangel quotes Stephen Brookfield who, for ten years, was Professor in the Department of Higher and Adult Education at the liberal Teachers College at Columbia University. While traveling as keynote speaker to national, and international education conferences around the world, Brookfield continues to serve as Adjunct Professor at Columbia. The statement Pastor Gangel used to support his own teaching came from Brookfield’s book, Developing Critical Thinkers:
“Central to critical thinking is the capacity to imagine and explore alternatives to existing ways of thinking and living. … Critical thinkers are continually exploring new ways of thinking about aspects of their lives….
“Critical thinking is complex and frequently perplexing, since it requires the suspension of belief and the jettisoning of assumptions previously accepted without question.”
Did you catch the message? “It requires the suspension of belief and the jettisoning of assumptions previously accepted without question.” That’s the essence of “critical” thinking! Church managers can’t establish the new view of “reality” without first undermining the old Biblical beliefs. Before they see success, the group must let go of the old absolutes and dare to flow with the winds of change.
Linking the old mental hindrances to negative feelings speeds the process and brings lasting change. That’s why each group member must learn to associate the “poor thinking” of the past — including Biblical absolutes that can’t be bent to fit our times — with something unpleasant or unacceptable. [See illustration] On the other hand, “good thinking” must feel good and be linked to the “right” things such as unity, small group fellowship, or fun entertainment such as Harry Potter. This illusion of freedom without consequences is illustrated by a set of Middle School lessons published by the curriculum branch of the mighty, liberal National Education Association:
Does the phrase “suspend judgment” remind you of Dr. Brookfield’s call for “suspension of belief.” It should! The two phrases make the same point. They also show that the new breed of church leaders are simply taking the world’s pedagogic formulas and psycho-social strategies and peppering them with Christian words to veil the unbiblical sources and diffuse opposition.
Do you wonder how Pastor Gangel, the academic dean at Dallas Seminary, could use Dr. Brookfield — a globalist change agent — as a model and authority? I do, and it grieves me to see such deception in high and trusted places.
It’s no secret that Columbia’s Teachers College embraces the UNESCO education agenda and leads the world in training teacher-facilitators for the new global management system, which has no tolerance for Biblical truth. As in the former Soviet Union, the education goal is nothing less than developing a new kind of person — not with facts and logic but with the latest high tech versions of the mind-changing strategies first used to manipulate and monitor the Soviet masses.
Taking our stand
This is spiritual war, dear friends. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood,” writes the apostle Paul, “but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Paul tells us how to “stand” in the victory Christ won for us on the cross: “…take up the armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Standtherefore, having girded your waist with truth….” Ephesians 6:12-14
The main truth has to do with the nature of God Himself. We need to know Him as He has revealed Himself through His Word. We need to know…
His justice in order to understand His mercy
His wrath in order to appreciate His amazing love
His mighty power so we trust Him in our weakness
His wisdom so we can let Him be our guide always.
The second truth of the armor deals with our imputed righteousness in Christ. If you indeed have “been crucified with Christ” and filled with His Holy Spirit, you belong to Him. You are already a “new creation” blessed with a personal relationship with the King of the universe! As you set your heart to follow Him, He will speak to you through His Word and guide you by His Spirit through the challenges of each day.
Jim Van Yperen may tell us that the Bible must be understood in groups — as something “written to and for groups of people, not individuals.” Don’t believe it.
Like the serpent’s deceptive arguments in the garden, those misleading words sound believable because the message is cloaked in a half-truths. We do need each other, but each of us can best encourage others when we know Jesus as our life and His Word as our guide. Then, even if we must stand alone for His name’s sake, His loving presence will be enough. Many tortured and persecuted martyrs can testify to the sufficiency of Christ when all other help is gone.
What we don’t need is dependence on a group that would divert our hearts and attention away from Jesus to hollow alternatives. The facilitated group consensus that Van Yperen promotes trains people to compromise their understanding of truth under the noble banners of relationship, “conflict resolution” and “common ground.” While God wants us to practice standing firm in our faith, such groups press members into oppressive re-learning sessions which force everyone to practice — over and over — conforming their convictions to that of the group.
As His ambassador and earthen vessel, I must follow His narrow and rocky way. But it’s easy and sweet when He takes my hand. I must refuse to compromise, but I’d rather have Jesus than the world’s fame and fortune. An old hymn summarizes the disciple’s walk well:
When I survey the wondrous cross
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
1. George Barna, editor, Leaders on Leadership (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1997), page 29.
2. Our Global Neighborhood, The Report of The Commission on Global Governance (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1995), page 12.
3. “Peter Drucker on the Church and Denominations“. This pdf file is posted on the Leadership Network website at http://www.leadnet.org/allthingsln/archives/netfax/1.pdf
4. Doug Murren, “The Leader as Change Agent,” Leaders on Leadership (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1997), pages 204-206.
5. George Barna, editor, Leaders on Leadership (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1997), page 7.
6. Ibid., page 48.
7. Jim Van Yperen, “Conflict: The Refining Fire of Leadership,” Leaders on Leadership (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1997), pages 246-247.
8. Stephen D. Brookfield, Developing Critical Thinkers (San Francisco: Jossey Bass, 1987), pages 8-10. Cited by Kenneth O. Gangel, “What Leader Do,” Leaders on Leadership (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1997), page 40.
9. Alan A. Glatthorn and Jonathan Barron, “The Good Thinker,” Developing Minds: A Resource Book for Teaching Thinking (Alexandria, Virginia: The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1985), 51. Included in Caught in the Middle: Educational Reform for Young Adolescents in California Public Schools, Report of the Superintendent’s Middle Grade Task Force (Sacramento: California State Department of Education, 1987), 14.
10. Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:17.
11. Van Yeperen, page 246.
13. Abide with me; fast falls the eventide/ The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide./ When other helpers fail and comforts flee,/ Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
The Shepherding Movement Comes of Age
By Lynn and Sarah Leslie
There is a new twist in the old Shepherding Movement and it is coming soon to your church, if it hasn’t already. This new twist is presented to pastors wrapped in silver gilding, and looks quite reasonable and rational. Should a discerning pastor, or one who steeps himself in the Word, take a second look, the gild disappears and in its place will appear rust and corrosion.
Across the country, parishioners are now being challenged to take oaths, perform vows and sign covenants. These things would have been unheard of in generations past for one simple reason. These things used to be forbidden, or only permitted under the gravest of circumstances. A few decades ago churches founded their beliefs sturdily upon the rocks of historical creeds, documents that have withstood the test of time and human whim, and which have imparted to each new generation an understanding of the major tenets of the Gospel faith. Now, in our latter days of dumbed-down Christianity, a minimal number of people in the pews know the creeds, have studied them, or even know about them!
And it is no wonder. A few years ago a pastor told a particularly grievous story. He had attended a meeting with pastors from his conservative denomination. At the meeting the men were handed paper and pencils and asked to come up with their own creeds. This pastor was duly horrified! Courageously he stood to speak against this. The great historical creeds of Christianity, he stated, were wrought in the fires of persecution, under great seriousness and solemn efforts to preserve the Truth of the Gospel. Wasn’t this a frivolous, touchy-feely kind of exercise? Should a handful of men in an auditorium even dare to presume to be able to come up with such a ponderous document in a few short minutes with paper and pencil, he asked. His protest, sadly, was greeted with scorn and ridicule.
The New Covenants
Churches which have come under the influence of Rick Warren, Lyle Schaller, Bob Buford, or any of the other church growth business-model experts, have undergone profound changes. They will have adopted a Mission Statement, Core Values, and Vision, often through a “consensus” and “dialogue” technique. In order to become a member of these churches, parishioners are required to sign an oath to uphold their church’s covenant. The word “covenant,” which used to have biblical significance, is now applied liberally to this new church structure, apparently to give it credibility.
These churches post their covenants on the internet, presumably so that “seekers” will read about their church. Each church which has adopted this new model of membership is exactly like each other church. They are all cut from the same mold. “New Age” Unitarian churches have adopted the same plan as Presbyterian Reformed churches. Baptist, Assembly of God, Nazarene…. the list could go on and on. The new church structure is cross-denominational. Everybody’s plan looks exactly like everybody else’s plan, even though some churches have been led to believe that they had reached their own “original” or “grassroots” plan. This new plan came from on high, and it was carefully calculated to lure pastors and leaders into its new system of church governance.
This emergent church is hierarchical in nature. It is a top-down management structure, resembling the old shepherding models of the 1970s. There is an over-emphasis on “leaders” and “leadership” and “leadership potential.” In many of these churches, leaders are given complete authority over the lives of those in their flocks.
The Valley Church Servant Leader Covenant is a typical model. The aspiring leader makes a commitment with the church:
“As a servant of God in The Valley Church, I want to unite with my fellow servant leaders at this time to undertake commitments appropriate for leadership. These commitments are made in the first place between me and the Lord, and in the second place between me and this community. Realizing that I may fail at times to fully keep these commitments, I think it is important that I purpose in my heart and confirm publicly my desire to keep them. Although this covenant may be changed in coming years this is where we presently stand as a church.”
A list of “Spiritual Commitments” includes a daily prayer life; regular time in God’s Word; active involvement in a small group (usually a cell group); responding obediently to God’s discipline; purposing to discover, develop and use spiritual gifts; living a moral life, maintaining a healthy family life; attending church services; tithing; and supporting the leadership. Most church covenants emphasize the word “all” or “everyone” in their statements such as “Everyone involved in a weekly or ongoing ministry” or “everyone involved in discipleship experience.” No one is excepted.
Each church covenant includes a section pertaining to resolution of conflict. These examples are noteworthy in their extreme application of Matthew 18, in which the parishioner must agree to never speak “evil” of anyone or any leader in the church, including “negative” or “critical” statements about church policies or doctrines. Also, the conclusion of any dispute will be resolved by the leadership of the church, and the parishioner must agree beforehand to submit to their discipline.
Membership is described as the “gateway to leadership.” Everyone is presumed a potential leader. Aspiring leaders must make additional commitments, usually called “responsibilities,” which have to do with evangelism, promoting church programs, discipling others, agreeing to be held accountable, and undergoing periodic “continuing education.”
There is a signature line and a date at the bottom of these covenants for people to sign, indicating their commitment to abide by this new church structure. Some churches require that their members sign the covenant yearly. Others only require it upon membership. Some churches require strict adherence to the oaths, and promise that they will hold the members accountable. Other churches leave wiggle room for people who fail. One church states:
“While nothing is set in stone, nor do we track your fulfillment of the covenant items, this Covenant does give you an idea of the level of commitment we consider membership to be here.”
Some churches reveal that their covenants may change, although it is not specified whether the parishioners will be able to participate in this process, or be given a chance to re-sign the oath at that time.”
The use of New Age terminology is often mixed with biblical-sounding language. One church explains why it is necessary for its parishioners to sign a “pledge”:
“…a pledge is a solemn promise (which is an indication of future excellence) characterized by deep thought. That is exactly the kind of spiritual practice I would have us engage in! To make a pledge is to enter into an agreement, and to agree is to be of one mind. A pledge holds more potential than I ever realized…. Let us consider making and keeping agreements that express that harmony and oneness.”
Another church explains that their “collective consciousness on social issues” is “not enforced legalistically but members agree to embrace them….” Yet another church states that a “membership covenant implies a clear ownership of the core values, beliefs, vision, and mission that function as the DNA of congregational life embedded into every leader” for a “shared identity.”
A few churches, which were originally founded upon a congregational model, give slightly more freedom to lay people in leadership and decision-making roles. However, this new church structure is markedly characterized by the demise of congregational forms of church governance. In fact, some churches have re-written their bylaws, and make them part of the actual church covenant which must be signed. In these cases the parishioner is then signing a legal contract as well as joining a church body.
ThatChurch! is probably the scariest example of the new covenant, found on a brief internet search:
“Congregational members do not have the right to vote in business matters of the church….All governmental authority in the church shall be vested in the Director of Ministries, the Board of Directors, and the Leadership Team as set forth in the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws of the Church.”
The leaders can prescribe that members take any courses of study at any time. Members are accepted into the church at the sole discretion of the “Director of Ministries” and must fulfill “responsibilities” such as “follow and support the leadership of this church as they follow the Lord.” In exchange they are offered “rights and privileges” which include permission to attend worship services; entitlement to receive Christian teaching, personal pastoral care, and prayer support; and opportunities to grow in the Lord.
In an ominous revivification of the shepherding movement, ThatChurch!’s bylaws indicate, “Grounds for discipline will be determined by the leadership of the church.” Many paragraphs later, after incredibly detailed explanations of how disciplinary functions will be carried out, it becomes evident that the church leaders retain the right to bar members from the “rights and privileges” listed earlier in their bylaws. But, it isn’t over yet. Each member must consent in advance “to the exclusive jurisdiction of the church in resolving any matter involving church discipline.” Further, there is an elaborate explanation of mediation/arbitration and “outcome” of such discipline, including agreeing to “specifically and expressly [waive] any right to sue in a civil court on any matter covered herein.”
Rick Warren Driving the Church
Dr. Robert Klenck, an orthopedic surgeon, has been speaking out at conferences around the country about the origination of this new covenant agenda. He explains that Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose-Driven Church, has sold over a million copies and that over 150,000 pastors and church leaders have been trained in his model.1 Rick Warren was mentored by Peter Drucker, a corporate management guru with strong ties to the New Age/New World Order. Drucker “influenced the start and growth of Saddleback Church.”2
Drucker has dedicated much effort into bringing the church into conformance with the “systems” model of governance, which is known as Total Quality Management in the corporate world. In this model, parishioners are “customers.” The focus shifts to “outcomes” which means that people will have to be held “accountable” for “performance.” Certain rewards (“rights”) and “responsibilities” accompany these outcomes, and a small group structure like cell groups is a perfect way to ensure that people are meeting these “outcomes.” These “outcomes” or expectations are driven by people, not by the Lord or His Word. By implication, if one doesn’t meet the “outcomes,” there may be “penalties” such as the ones prescribed by ThatChurch!
According to Klenck there are rapidly developing networks for “21st century churches” and “best practice churches.” These networks are databasing churches and parishioners. Chief among the organizations spearheading this change is the Leadership Network, which provides “technical assistance” for orchestrated “continuous” change in churches, fitting churches neatly into the business model.
Peter Drucker grew up under the influence of the German philosophies of the 1800s. His “systems” theories are based on “General Systems Theory” (GST) which is esoteric, derived from a merger of social Darwinism and eastern mysticism. GST believes that man is evolving to a higher-order. In order for this to occur, man must become unified and of one consciousness. Drucker developed the theory of a 3-legged stool – Corporate, State and “private sector” (Church). The first half of his long life (he is 94 years old) was devoted to merging Corporate and State into one “system.” The second half of his life has been devoted to merging Church with Corporate, and Church with State into one comprehensive system. He has been wildly successful.
Drucker is a communitarian, which is a modern “communist” who has effectually distanced their views from the old communists. In his communitarian model of governance, the State is in reality the only leg of the stool. The Corporate and the Church subsume their identities and comfortably merge with State into one comprehensive “system” of governance for mankind. Drucker’s ideas gave rise to the faith-based institution movement of the last decade.
Indeed, it is noteworthy that the highest concentration of the new “covenant” style churches can be found in the faith-based arena. The federal bills in Washington that originally began dispersing funds to churches that were doing welfare reform, job training, etc. required that these churches exhibit “ecumenicity.” Churches receiving federal dollars must be held “accountable” One significant way to achieve this goal is to transform the churches into the Corporate/State mode of governance, using the “systems” model.
It is not uncommon, therefore, to find that faith-based, government-financed “covenant” churches are requiring even more of their members. Members at one such church in Pennsylvania must participate in daily e-mails from the pastor, evening worship several nights a week, daily intercession activities, cell group activities, and up to 5 hours per week of “community service” in any of over a dozen state-funded, community-based “ministries.” Churches like this one have become “centers” for State charity work. They then become “accountable” to the “State” for the monies that they receive. When one signs an oath to uphold the covenant of this type of church, they are also agreeing to uphold the State/Church relationship!
What Does God’s Word Say?
“Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” (Matthew 5:33-37)
“But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.” (James 5:12)
According to Webster’s, a “covenant” is a “binding, and solemn agreement made by two or more individuals, parties, etc. do to or keep from doing a specified thing.” Covenants can be legally binding contracts. “Covenant” can also mean “an agreement among members of a church to defend and maintain its doctrines, polity, faith, etc.” Covenants are supposed to be irrevocable, unchanging and binding on those who made it. It is the strongest expression of a relationship.
An “oath” is a “ritualistic declaration, typically based on an appeal to God or a god,or to some revered person or object, that one will speak the truth, keep a promise, remain faithful, etc.” An oath, therefore, is a sworn promise to keep the terms of a covenant or agreement. The oath is a verbal statement or pledge to keep the covenant. Related to the word “oath” are the words “vow” and “pledge.”
The issue of taking oaths came up a few years ago when the men of Promise Keepers were making seven promises. It is possible that PK broke the ground on this matter, desensitizing Christians to the whole idea of taking an oath. On the one hand, the “promises,” like those of PK, seemed like 7 “suggestions” and trivialized the whole idea of keeping commandments. On the other hand, it is important to realize that in the spirit world, there is great significance to these matters. There are rituals that accompany these activities, and it is believed that curses accompany broken covenants or failure to keep an oath or vow. Pagans would invoke the name of a deity to set evil in motion. Secret societies such as freemasons require oaths. This explains one major reason why the Lord Himself would state the issue so strongly in His Sermon on the Mount.
Historically, Christians have agreed with these Scriptures and opposed oath-taking. These verses from Scripture were considered to be so vital for a Christian that at the time of the Reformation both the Anabaptist and Reformed branches of the church addressed them in their creeds. From the Reformed branch, from which arose churches such as Congregational, Lutheran, Anglican and Presbyterian, came the Westminster Confession of Faith, Article 22:
Of Lawful Oaths and Vows.
“I. A lawful oath is a part of religious worship, wherein upon just occasion, the person swearing solemnly calleth God to witness what he asserteth or promiseth; and to judge him according to the truth or falsehood of what he sweareth.
“II. The name of God only is that by which men ought to swear, and therein it is to be used with all holy fear and reverence; therefore to swear vainly or rashly by that glorious and dreadful name, or to swear at all by any other thing, is sinful, and to be abhorred. Yet, as, in matters of weight and moment, an oath is warranted by the Word of God, under the New Testament, as well as under the Old, so a lawful oath, being imposed by lawful authority, in such matters ought to be taken.
“III. Whosoever taketh an oath ought duly to consider the weightiness of so solemn an act, and therein to avouch nothing but what he is fully persuaded is the truth. Neither may any man bind himself by oath to any thing but what is good and just, and what he believeth so to be, and what he is able and resolved to perform. Yet it is a sin to refuse an oath touching any thing that is good and just, being imposed by lawful authority.
“IV. An oath is to be taken in the plain and common sense of the words, without equivocation or mental reservation. It can not oblige to sin; but in any thing not sinful, being taken, it binds to performance, although to a man’s own hurt: nor is it to be violated, although made to heretics or infidels.
“V. A vow is of the like nature with a promissory oath, and ought to be made with the like religious care, and to be performed with the like faithfulness.
“VI. It is not to be made to any creature, but to God alone: and that it may be accepted, it is to be made voluntarily, out of faith and conscience of duty, in way of thankfulness for mercy received, or for obtaining of what we want; whereby we more strictly bind ourselves to necessary duties, or to other things, so far and so long as they may fitly conduce thereunto.
“VII. No man may vow to do any thing forbidden in the Word of God, or what would hinder any duty therein commanded, or which is not in his own power, and for the performance of which he hath no promise or ability from God. In which respects, monastical vows of perpetual single life, professed poverty, and regular obedience, are so far from being degrees of higher perfection, that they are superstitious and sinful snares, in which no Christian may entangle himself.”
Especially note Sections VI and VII, in which oaths were to be voluntary, a personal matter of conscience, unto God alone, not contrary to the Word of God, and in utter dependence upon God to keep. Also of relevance is Article 20, Section II, which pertains to blind obedience, destruction of liberty of conscience, and loss of reason:
“II. God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are in any thing contrary to his Word, or beside it in matters of faith on worship. So that to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commandments out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience; and the requiring an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also.”
The new oaths and covenants run counter to the historical Reformed church on many counts. Whereas previously the Ten Commandments would have been taught, now they are replaced by new church laws which are subjective and potentially heretical. Previously these churches would have taught that Christ won on the cross liberty from the laws of men, and that the conscience is subject to God alone. The Reformed church used to teach that man lives by faith, and through His strength man is able to keep His commands. Now a new structure has been erected, with man-made laws, and man-directed accountability.
The Anabaptist branch of the Church, from which came Baptists, the Pentecostals, and modern evangelicals, historically took a stronger stand and opposed taking oaths altogether. The Anabaptist beliefs can best be summarized by the Dordrecht Confession of Faith (1632):
“XV. Of the Swearing of Oaths
Concerning the swearing of oaths we believe and confess that the Lord Christ has set aside and forbidden the same to His disciples, that they should not swear at all, but that yea should be yea, and nay, nay; from which we understand that all oaths, high and low, are forbidden, and that instead of them we are to confirm all our promises and obligations, yea, all our declarations and testimonies of any matter, only with our word yea, in that which is yea, and with nay, in that which is nay; yet, that we must always, in all matters, and with everyone, adhere to, keep, follow, and fulfill the same, as though we had confirmed it with a solemn oath. And if we do this, we trust that no one, not even the Magistracy itself, will have just reason to lay a greater burden on our mind and conscience. Matt. 5:34, 35; Jas. 5:12; II Cor. 1:17.”
The Schleithheim Confession (1527), Article 7 states, in part:
“Seventh. We are agreed as follows concerning the oath: The oath is a confirmation among those who are quarreling or making promises. In the Law it is commanded to be performed in God’s Name, but only in truth, not falsely. Christ, who teaches the perfection of the Law, prohibits all swearing to His [followers], whether true or false, — neither by heaven, nor by the earth, nor by Jerusalem, nor by our head, — and that for the reason which He shortly thereafter gives, For you are not able to make one hair white or black. So you see it is for this reason that all swearing is forbidden: we cannot fulfill that which we promise when we swear, for we cannot change [even] the very least thing on us.”
Even today the conservative Mennonites and Amish descendants of the original Anabaptists will not take an oath, but will instead “affirm.” Churches used to teach, even a generation ago, that any words that served no useful function should not be spoken, that it was wrong to “curse” (oaths, swear words), and that “minced oaths” were sinful (“Gosh,” “Gee,” “darn,” etc.). It used to be taught that even portions of oaths, such as “Well, I’ll be…” or “So help me…” were wrong to speak. In today’s loose climate of speech, action, and morality it is no wonder that oaths have now gained a foothold. Remember when a man’s word was “as good as gold”? Few remember or adhere to the old ways of integrity, honesty and forthrightness.
The Trouble With Taking Oaths
Shall men take an oath or make a promise that they have no intention of keeping? Shall they sign on to a covenant that they may break? Not only is this forbidden by Scripture, but in days past this would have been dishonorable and disgraceful act. One Christian writer, Paul Shirk, in his book, Come Out of Her My People, has expressed it well:
“We…however much we swear, can never guarantee a course of action, therefore we say, ‘if the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that,’ for we know not what may be on the morrow.
“Our yes and no should represent the honest intentions of the heart and will, but above that we risk falling into condemnation (James 5:12) for our inability to perform an oath. Originally the oath was used to commit the will to the proper course of action; now, men that have the Spirit of Truth are to simply affirm it with a “yes” and stand by their word.”3
Matthew Henry, in his Commentaries on James 5:12, addressed this topic:
“…those who swear commonly and profanely the name of God do hereby put Him upon the level with every common thing. Profane swearing was customary among the Jews. Some of the looser sort of those who were called Christians might be guilty also of this. But why above all things is swearing forbidden? Because it strikes most directly at the honor of God and throws contempt upon His name and authority. …Let it suffice you to confirm or deny a thing, and stand to your word, and be true to it, so as to give no occasion for your being suspected of falsehood. Then you will be kept from the condemnation of backing what you say or promise by rash oaths, and from profaning the name of God to justify yourselves.”
The new oaths and covenants put a pressure on church people – a pressure that comes, not from God but from man. Peer orientation, fear factors, and the demands to conform or meet expectations prevail. The focus is on self-mastery, not God-directed discipline. Some will do the bare minimum just to “get by.” For others, good deeds that were formerly done in secret, arising out of love and compassion, are now done openly and boldly so that leaders will see and approve.
This new “gospel” of “works” requires one to neglect the unseen duties of life. One must perform visible deeds in order to meet requirements of “accountability” – even to the detriment of their God-given responsibilities. Women will especially suffer under this odious system, developed by corporate businessmen and perpetuated by institutional church men. Caring for elderly parents, nursing babies, chasing toddlers, raising handicapped children, homeschooling, or other family-oriented personal deeds of self-sacrifice and love which are performed on a hourly basis every day of the week, will go unnoticed and unrewarded in this new “system.” Fulfilling the onerous requirements and obligations of these types of covenants will be well-nigh impossible for those who are elderly, infirm, or duty-bound to others. Should these churches establish two tiers of membership – one for the “do-ers” and the other for the “be-ers”? Or are those who are less able or unable to meet the stringent requirements unwelcome?
Indeed there is a certain elitism about the new church structure. Pastors who are true shepherds, quietly feeding their flocks on the hillsides of life, ministering to their births, deaths, illnesses and crises, can’t compete in this new system where everything is “purpose-driven.” This new style of church is for the Type-A personality who is “driven” by “results.” Everything is programmed according to modern business methods The little church in the vale isn’t good enough anymore – everything has turned into a “volunteer mobilization unit.”
A Still Small Word
There may be a reason for the upsurge in oaths and covenants. It may have to do with the agenda of Peter Drucker and his management gurus who wish to transform the Church into the likeness of the Corporation and the State. Historically, “citizens were required to take an oath of fealty. Starting from the year 1066, every English male took an oath of allegiance to the King of England. When the Protestants had established their power in England in 1688, additional oaths were required denouncing the Pope’s authority and the doctrine of transubstantiation.”4 In other words, States have required oaths and the Churches, whenever or wherever they have reigned supremely, have required oaths.
“Wherever the nationally established Christian religions have taken root they have tried to use religious oaths as a means to bind the wills and consciences of men to their own expediency and have used various methods to argue that Christ never meant what he plainly said concerning the taking of oaths.”5
Oaths and covenants are a new form of legalism entering the church like a flood. They require more of us than Scripture requires. It is a horrible new form of bondage, accomplished in the name of a new church for the 21st century. This is a “transformation” not a “reformation.” It would return the church to the dark ages of oppressive State Church. This movement did not arise from God, but from the rapacious desires of evil men.
If you have been caught up in this whole extravaganza, and are marching in this parade, it is time to slow down, stop and reflect. If you have taken an oath to one of these new covenants, you can repent. The Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ does not require so much of us:
“The Lord do so to me, and more also,” is God’s form of Old Testament oaths – a binding of judgment upon the soul. From this shackle the Lord frees us when He asks us to “Swear not at all.” If free from condemnation, why should we invite the judgment by taking the oath? (S.F. Coffman)
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
“Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.” (2 Thess. 2:16-17)
1. For solid documentation on Peter Drucker and his work with Rick Warren and others in the church growth movement, readers are referred to Readings In the Dialectic: Papers Presented at The Institution for Authority Research Diaprax Conferences, “How Diaprax Manifests Itself in the Church (Growth Movement),” Dr. Robert E. Klenck. This booklet is available for $15 plus shipping from the Institution for Authority Research, Box 233, Herndon, KS 67739, email@example.com.
3. Come Out of Her My People by Paul Shirk, page 164. This book, which is a scholarly apologetic work which effectively counters modern dominionist theology, is available from Discernment Ministries (PO Box 254, High Bridge, NJ 08829 – 0254) for $11.00 plus postage.
Spirit-Led or Purpose-Driven? Part 1
by Berit Kjos, November 2003
“There are some really good things and points that Rick Warren brings out. But they always seems to be mixed with so many confusing and theologically weak points that you go crazy trying to keep it all straight. You will read a great point and then he’ll throw in a quote from Mother Theresa or Aldous Huxley and your mind reels. There’s a push to paint God as a smiley face in the sky – but you have to ignore His justice and anger! Plus, when you are the only ‘naysayers’ in a group it gets old – especially when no one else seems to have anything but praise for the book.” David, a visitor to our website.
“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But yoube watchful in all things….” 2 Timothy 4:1-5
Our website began to receive requests for information about The Purpose Driven Life last year. So Andy and I bought the book, read it quickly and were troubled by some of its claims, promises and paraphrased “Bible” references. But we also found many true and encouraging pages. Since we didn’t want to criticize Rick Warren or confuse those who apparently were helped by his book, we left it on the shelf.
By this fall, Rick Warren’s manual on the Christian life had become the topic of discussion in churches around the world. The letters from concerned visitors multiplied. After reading the book again, we could no longer ignore its subtle distortions, its half-truths, its conflicting messages or its pragmatic permissiveness: if it works (i.e. brings people into the church), it’s okay! “God loves variety!”
Nor could we accept Pastor Warren’s “rules for growth” which tells us to “never criticize what God is blessing.” Implying that church growth and changed lives prove God’s delight in our human methods, it cancels His call to “be on guard” and to discern deception. Some may say, “don’t touch God’s anointed,” but we don’t believe any leader is so “anointed” that his teaching is beyond Biblical accountability. While only God can judge the heart of a person, we are called to help each other follow His guidelines, not be driven by today’s new management systems.[see Driven or Led?] Praying that God would guide us, we began our response with the following background information.
As most of you know, Rick Warren, the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California, has been leading the way and breaking new ground in today’s Church Growth Movement. With over 50,000 names on his church roll, he models the success of the church management process he outlined in his earlier book, The Purpose-Driven Church.
He also founded pastors.com, “a global Internet community that serves and mentors those in ministry worldwide.” This website tells us that “over 60,000 pastors subscribe to Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox, a free weekly email newsletter.” Then it summarizes his ministry:
“Rick Warren is well known as the pioneer of The Purpose-Driven Church paradigm for church health. More than 250,000 pastors and church leaders from over 125 countries have attended Purpose-Driven Church seminars in 18 languages. Peter Drucker calls him ‘the inventor of perpetual revival.’ Rick’s previous book, The Purpose-Driven Church, has sold over a million copies in 20 languages. Winner of the Gold Medallion Ministry Book of the Year, it is used as a textbook in most seminaries, and was selected as one of the 100 Christian Books That Changed the 20th Century.”
Notice the reference to Peter Drucker. What this legendary management guru began teaching large corporations decades ago has now been applied to God’s churches as well as to communities and governments around the world. Since the new methods seemed to “work” equally well for churches as for corporations — and since the measured results offer statistical “proof” of “success” — pastors from countless nations have embraced and implemented Drucker’s marketing approach to “doing church.”
In a 2002 article in Business Week titled “Peter Drucker’s Search for Community,” Ken Witty describes the world view that drives Drucker’s plans and purpose:
“He brings a communitarian philosophy to his consulting…. He said that what he’s all about is this search for community, the search for where people and organizations find community for non-economic satisfaction….
“A lot of his ideas have become so accepted that it’s hard for anyone to understand how original they were at the time he introduced them. It’s sort of like Freud and psychoanalysis. Peter was the first, for example, to help managers understand that they had to define their businesses from a customer’s perspective.”
Focusing on the “customer’s perspective” brings success. People feel satisfied. They come and they buy. When this process is applied to churches, it works! With polls and surveys, a church can easily uncover the “felt needs” of the unbelievers in the local community — then target their services to their intended consumers. Pastor Warren learned that lesson early from Robert Schuller — the “possibility thinker” who called Mikhail Gorbachev a Christian despite the protests of this unrepentant Communist. The people-pleasing methods that worked so well at the Crystal Cathedral would prove just as effective at Saddleback.
You might still wonder why pastors would focus on the felt needs of unbelievers rather than the true needs of God’s family. Doesn’t this strategy turn God’s principles upside down?
Yes, but it also attracts the spiritual diversity needed for the dialectic process — the heart of today’s transformation in churches as well as in business, education, government and other organizations. Dr. Robert Klenck summarizes it in his report on “The 21st Century Church:”
“…in this movement, it is imperative that unbelievers are brought into the church; otherwise, the process of continual change cannot begin. There must be an antithesis (unbelievers) present to oppose the thesis (believers), in order to move towards consensus.(compromise), and move the believers away from their moral absolutism (resistance to change). If all members of the church stand firm on the Word of God, and it’s final authority in all doctrine and tradition, then the church cannot and will not change. This is common faith. Soon, we will see why these “change agents” are pushing so hard for change to occur in the church.”
Pastor Warren’s current tutor in this management process is CMS, a “full-service custom marketing and communications agency head-quartered in Covina, California.” It’s website shows its mission:
“At CMS, we view it as our mission to help our clients grow their businesses. We do this by working with each client identifying opportunities and developing innovative, creative and profitable services which assist them in the execution of effective marketing, sales and communications program…. We are best able to serve clients when they allow us to act as partners…. CMS is made up of a team of talented individuals whose dedication and expertise have earned them a solid reputation for creating results.”
Shouldn’t we credit God, not clever marketing, with “creating results?” After all, the Bible tells us that the “wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” Man’s “wise” ways may fit our human purpose, but they clash with God’s purpose. [1 Cor 3:19-20; Prov. 3:5-7]
While CMS’ partners includes secular giants such as Quaker and Isuzu Motors America, it also serves clients such as the City of West Covina, “Purpose Driven Ministries,” “Saddleback Valley Community Church,” “Smalley Relationship Center” and “Walk Thru the Bible.” The latter was founded and led by Bruce Wilkinson, author of the well marketed bestseller, The Prayer of Jabez.
Part of CMS’ success lies in the surveys, polls and tracking that characterize the 21st Century management systems:
“…collecting, organizing and managing data is essential to understanding, evaluating and planning of any successful promotion. That is why we developed our CMS IntelligentRedemption System. It is sophisticated proprietary software that allows us to program and initialize data…. Our purchasing standards and fulfillment procedures build-in tracking and accountability…. CMS Fulfillment Center specializes in direct mail projects, new product introductions, and promotion launches.”
No wonder curious visitors are flocking to Purpose-Driven churches. Small wonder pastors around the world are watching, listening, ready to follow.
This fall, “over 13,000 ministers and students” heard Pastor Warren explain the ways of a purpose-driven church at SuperConference 2003, held at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. Speaking on ‘Attracting a Crowd to Worship,’ Warren shared some basic principles behind church growth. He aimed his words at those who were “stuck in the past:”
“I believe that one of the major church issues [of the future] will be how we’re going to reach the next generation with our music,’ he said, admitting, ‘You can make more people mad with music than anything else in church….
“To insist that all good music came from Europe 200 years ago; there’s a name for that – racism…. Encourage members to re-arrange and rewrite. New songs say God is doing something awesome.” Emphasis added
Do they? Or might the new songs reflect man’s desire to please the crowds? It’s all too easy to justify our attempts to meet “felt needs” and demonstrate success. We simply reinvent God’s character and will, claiming that our purpose is His purpose. Assuming that He loves the same things we love, we assign Him an image more like our own. But in Psalm 50:21, God warns us against such shortsighted assumptions about God’s nature. “You thought that I was altogether like you,” He told His people, “but I will rebuke you….”
Pastor Warren again claimed divine approval during a “Building a Purpose-Driven Church” seminar held at Saddleback Community Church in January, 1998. Basing church growth strategies on personal wants, not on the guidelines of God’s Word, he said,
“Now, at Saddleback Church, we are unapologetically contemporary… I passed out a three-by-five card to everybody in the church, and I said, ‘You write down the call letters of the radio station you listen to.’ I wasn’t even asking unbelievers. I was asking the people in the church, ‘What kind of music do you listen to?’ When I got it back, I didn’t have one person who said, ‘I listen to organ music.’ Not one…. So, we made a strategic decision that we are unapologetically a contemporary music church. And right after we made that decision and stopped trying to please everybody, Saddleback exploded with growth….
“I’ll be honest with you, we are loud. We are really, really loud on a weekend service…. I say, ‘We’re not gonna turn it down.’ Now the reason why is baby boomers want to feel the music, not just hear it…. God loves variety!”
Does God really love today’s cultural “variety?” I doubt that God is pleased when we feed our cravings and strengthen our “need” for emotional stimuli. When ancient Israel became bored with God’s Word and embraced a wide variety of cultural and spiritual thrills, God disciplined them severely. He even compared his wayward people with a “wild donkey… that sniffs at the wind in her desire.” Jeremiah 2:24
When church leaders use energizing music, emotional stimuli and short, light messages to satisfy the flesh with its “felt needs,” they tend to obscure our deeper spiritual needs. Fed a diet of simplified sermons designed to please everyone, both seekers and believers may lose their appetite for the solid Biblical teaching which — by His Spirit — produces conviction of sin, genuine repentance, actual regeneration, true spiritual renewal and the continual joy of walking with Jesus.
Widening the gate to the Kingdom
The phenomenal success of Rick Warren’s books and marketing skills has both popularized and accelerated the Church Growth Movement (CGM). Around the world, seekers and believers are reading The Purpose Driven Life and discussing its 40 chapters. Following its guidelines, they share their thoughts, express their feelings and “bounce ideas off each other.” [1, page 11] They sign contracts and hold each other accountable to the social and spiritual ideals of the 21st Century Church community. And, says Pastor Warren, their lives are being transformed.
I am sure many are. Pastor Warren has written some encouraging pages about God, His glory, our walk with Him and our fellowship with one another. I especially appreciate the sections that show the delight of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. But I was a little concerned when he invited all his readers to “quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity: ‘Jesus, I believe in you and I receive you.'” [1, page 58]
You might ask, what could possibly be wrong with that short prayer? Why question his promise that it would open the gate to God’s Kingdom and “change… eternity” for all who prayed? Don’t we want to bring as many as possible into God’s eternity?
Yes, of course we do! And God could surely use those nine words to draw His chosen ones to Himself. But the promises and assumptions that accompany the prayer could also produce serious problems in the church. For many will pray the prayer with little or no awareness of the holy nature of God, of the unholy power of sin, or of the deep chasm between the two. In our times of easy believism and Biblical illiteracy, anyone can personalize and claim God’s promises without any prompting by the Spirit, genuine conversion (spiritual rebirth) or lasting inner change. Where people learn to tolerate evil and flow with the crowd, true repentance is rare and faith often becomes presumption. Still unregenerate, many happily accept the group’s consensus: You prayed the prayer, therefore you must be a Christian.
Pastor Warren agrees. “If you sincerely meant that prayer, congratulations!” he tells the reader. “Welcome to the family of God! You are now ready to discover and start living God’s purpose for your life! [1, page 59]
Thousands of small groups using Saddleback’s study guide and Teaching Video for the 40 Days of Purpose are led in a slightly longer prayer. They hear Pastor Warren speak these words:
“Do you have a relationship with Jesus Christ? If you aren’t sure of this, I’d like the privilege of leading you in a prayer to settle the issue. Let’s bow our heads. I’m going to pray a prayer and you can follow it silently in your mind:
‘Dear God, I want to know Your purpose for my life. I don’t want to waste the rest of my life on the wrong things. Today I want to take the first step in preparing for eternity by getting to know You. Jesus Christ, I don’t understand it all, but as much as I know how, I want to open my life to You. I ask you to come into my life and make yourself real to me. Use this series to help me know what You made me for. Thank you. Amen.’
“If you just prayed that prayer for the very first time, I congratulate you. You’ve just become a part of the family of God.”
Is this a response to the gospel? Where is repentance, acknowledgement of need, or confession of personal sin? Where is the cross? The Bible tells us that saving “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” [Romans 10:17-18] But none of the Scriptures that show the gospel are mentioned in this first lesson. Biblically illiterate friends and neighbors who join the group would pray this prayer without any real knowledge of the cross, of the Savior, or of God’s view of sin. In fact, the meaning of salvation isn’t included in the first lesson. And if it had been there, the context of the lesson would suggest that we are merely saved from a purposeless life — not from bondage to sin.
For the first lesson deals with “the consequences of not knowing your purpose” — not with Jesus Christ. It warns the group that “without knowing your purpose, life will seem TIRESOME… UNFULFILLING… UNCONTROLLABLE.” And it repeats the positive (but not particularly Biblical) promise that “knowing the purpose of your life will –
- “give your life FOCUS.”
- “SIMPLIFY your life.”
- “increase MOTIVATION in your life.”
- “PREPARE YOU FOR ETERNITY.”
Even so, all who pray the prayer will be affirmed and celebrated as new members of the family of God. But are they? We don’t know. Yet, statistics suggest that most people who call themselves Christians have little understanding of the gospel.
It’s not surprising. Today’s “positive” gospel emphasizes love, minimizes doctrine and ignores divine justice. The essential Biblical truths that prepare hearts for genuine conversion no longer fit. A postmodern “believer” may be full of self-confidence but woefully short on spiritual awareness. A recent study by pollster George Barna bears this out:
“…relatively few people have a biblical worldview – even among devoutly religious people. The survey discovered that only 9% of born again Christians have such a perspective on life. The numbers were even lower among other religious classifications….
“For the purposes of the research, a biblical worldview was defined as believing that absolute moral truths exist; that such truth is defined by the Bible; and firm belief in six specific religious views. Those views were that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life; God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and He stills rules it today; salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned; Satan is real; a Christian has a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with other people; and the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings……
“Upon comparing the perspectives of those who have a biblical worldview with those who do not, the former group were 31 times less likely to accept cohabitation; 18 times less likely to endorse drunkenness; 15 times less likely to condone gay sex; 12 times less likely to accept profanity; and 11 times less likely to describe adultery as morally acceptable. In addition, less than one-half of one percent of those with a biblical worldview said voluntary exposure to pornography was morally acceptable (compared to 39% of other adults), and a similarly miniscule proportion endorsed abortion (compared to 46% of adults who lack a biblical worldview). 
“At least Christians are not the only ones addled by their culture into holding contradictory beliefs,” writes Gene Edward Veith. “Atheists are just as confused about their theology. … They believe that accepting Christ can bring eternal life, even though they don’t believe in Jesus Christ. Just like ‘nonevangelical born-agains.'” 
But they’re all coming together under the worldwide ecumenical umbrella of the Church Growth Movement. As I wrote in Re-Inventing the Church, the 21st century vision of global oneness is drawing diverse churches and people into vast “Christian” networks that provide trained leadership and management consultants. Rick Warren’s communitarian management guru, Peter Drucker, described it well. Quoting him in a 1994 report, the “Leadership Network” wrote,
“The Spirit is moving…. there is a substantial critical mass of people and churches that are already moving.’ … While acknowledging that there are still many unhealthy churches [those that don’t conform to the new, inclusive pattern], there is a justified ‘change in basic premises, basic attitudes, basic mindset… on the whole, we are on the march….” [emphasis added]
As you saw earlier, this diversity is essential to the mind-changing dialectic process that Drucker has helped establish in organizations everywhere. (We will take a closer look at it in Part 7 of this series) Remember Robert Klenck’s words: “…in this movement, it is imperative that unbelievers are brought into the church; otherwise, the process of continual change cannot begin. There must be an antithesis (unbelievers) present to oppose the thesis (believers), in order to move towards consensus. (compromise), and move the believers away from their moral absolutism (resistance to change).” If the church member continues to resist change, they may be asked to leave. Many concerned and uncompromising Christians can testify to the pain of being expelled under the banner of “church discipline.”
Unlike some church leaders today, Pastor Warren does try to define sin. Before introducing his salvation prayer, he wrote, “All sin, at its root, is failing to give God glory. It is loving anything else more than God. Refusing to bring glory to God is prideful rebellion, and it is the sin that caused Satan’s fall–and ours, too. In different ways we all lived for our own glory, not God’s. The Bible says, ‘All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” [1, page 55]
That’s true. But this general sin which applies to all of humanity will hardly cause postmodern unbelievers to sense any genuine guilt or a personal need for the cross. Unlike former generations of Americans, few have been taught the basic truths about our Biblical God and His moral standards. Many simply dismiss the notion of “sin” as old-fashioned legalism and shut their eyes to its corrupting power in their own lives. When faced with today’s non-offensive teaching on sin, many translate it into a more comfortable half truth: “Sin is a normal part of life, and I’m just as good as everyone else — maybe a little better. Besides, God understands and loves me as I am.” In other words, there’s no sense of guilt, fear or brokenness before our eternal Judge! Like ancient Israel, “They were not at all ashamed; nor did they know how to blush.” Jeremiah 6:13-15
In contrast to this postmodern norm, Jesus shows us a heartfelt response that pleases Him. While dining at the home of the self-satisfied Simon, He explains the blessing of a truly repentant heart:
“Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” Luke 7:37-47
This precious woman was familiar with God’s moral law — what the Bible describes as “our tutor to bring us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.” [Gal 3:25] While that uncompromising law  exposed her guilt and depravity, it also caused her to treasure God’s wonderful forgiving grace with all her heart. Unlike those who ignore God’s standard and their own sinful inclinations, she was overwhelmed with gratitude to the One who forgave her sin and set her free from the weight of the law and from bondage to her “flesh” (sinful human nature).
God had prepared her heart and she humbly gave herself to her beloved Lord — heart, mind and soul. Jesus, in turn, held her up as an example to others.
Her response to God’s loving mercy illustrates the fourth category in Jesus’ parable of the sower. Remember, the sower (God) scatters the seed (the “word of the kingdom”) which fall into four types of soil (or heart conditions):
Type 1. By the wayside: The person “hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.”
Type 2. On stony ground: “he hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.”
Type 3. Among thorns: “he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.” The gospel of Luke adds “the desires for other things.”
Type 4. On good ground: “he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” Matthew 13:20-23
All four hear the life-giving word of truth, but only two receive it. Both the second and the fourth appear to have entered into the Kingdom, but only the fourth proves faithful and wins the prize: God’s gracious sufficiency and His abundant fruitfulness. Only the last group “understands” God’s Word, demonstrates His enduring strength and knows the hope of eternal life with Christ. Those gifts are only given to those who are truly “born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:13
This saving faith will be tested. New believers will face struggles, temptation, suffering and persecution — all normal for those who are called to share in the suffering of Christ. They will fall, fail, grieve and repent, but they will always return to the One whose Word and Spirit have transformed their hearts. In contrast, others will leave this narrow way when life gets tough or the world too tempting — not because God has revoked His saving grace, but because they were not truly changed in the first place. Look at the next Scripture:
“And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast….” Col 1:21-23
Pastor Warren seems to minimize the sobering reality behind God’s warnings and inflate God’s promises. To back his assertion that all who pray his prayer are automatically transformed by the Holy Spirit, he quotes a phrase from a “Scripture” from The Message, a paraphrased Bible translation by Eugene Peterson that promises, “Whoever accepts and trust the Son gets in on everything, life complete and forever!” [John 3:36a] The chart below shows the whole verse in the three standard translations (the second half is italicized):
|“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” John 3:36||“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” John 3:36||“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”John 3:36||“Whoever accepts and trust the Son gets in on everything, life complete and forever!”[John 3:36a] [1, page 58]|
Do you wonder what the open-ended phrase, “gets in on everything,” means? Written in “present tense,” it could mean just about anything someone might imagine. To contemporary seekers who think they know God, it could imply an exciting and irresistible heavenly life here on earth — a blissful offer that few would reject.
But when you compare that version of John 3:36 with any standard translation, you find that Mr. Peterson had added that alluring phrase in spite of God’s repeated command not to add to — or delete from — His unchanging, Spirit-breathed Word.  The result is another misleading half-truth that obscures the fact that walking with Jesus means sharing His suffering. We forget that some of God’s most faithful servants have faced poverty, hardships and torture that defy our comfort-centered Western comprehension, yet they endured the pain for the greater joy of serving their beloved King now and forever.
Pastor Warren starts the next chapter (8) in his book with this feel-good assurance for all who prayed the prayer:
“The moment you were born into the world, God was there as an unseen witness, smiling at your birth…. You are a child of God and you bring pleasure to God like nothing else he has ever created.” [1, page 63]
This “positive” gospel will surely meet man’s “felt need” for affirmation, identity and a sense of belonging. The masses are more than willing to believe in this new tolerant, non-judging God who fits their postmodern culture. But God doesn’t promise to make us comfortable and pamper our feelings. While He does promise the resources needed to meet each day’s challenges, some of those spiritual resources have little to do with today’s “felt needs.” Instead His path for us may be lonely and rough, full of steep climbs and “impossible” challenges. Yet, as we persevere in faith, we will hear His sweet voice whispering, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” [2 Cor 12:9]
Did you hear that? God will use our weakness, not our strengths! No need for management consultants and surveys that measure our natural abilities in order to discover our spiritual gifts[1, page 57] and God’s purpose for us! The Shepherd will lead us along His chosen ways, narrow and winding paths that may differ radically from our human plans and purposes!
But those who have not yet been “crucified with Christ” and filled with the Holy Spirit will neither hear the Shepherd nor “comprehend the Scriptures.”. That’s one of the reasons why today’s spiritual diversity demands simplified Bibles that have been paraphrased, reinterpreted and made appealing to the natural mind.
Softening God’s Word
Unregenerate “believers” who love the ways of the world will want a church that fits that world. To make them feel at home — and to satisfy curious seekers — the church must now re-invent itself. Since no one can really understand God’s truth unless the Holy Spirit reveals it to their hearts [see 1 Cor 2:9-16], God’s Word must be simplified so that everyone — Christian or not — can relate to it.
It’s not surprising that Pastor Warren quotes passages from The Message (a paraphrased “version” of the Bible by Eugene Peterson) over ninety times. Many of those simplified passages alter both the words and the meaning of the Scriptures. But they fit the points Pastor Warren is trying to make. So do other paraphrased Bibles that he uses.
Please compare Today’s English Version‘s interpretation of Isaiah 26:3 with the corresponding passages in three generally accepted Bible translations: the King James Version (KJV), the New King James Version (NKJV) and the New International Version (NIV). While I don’t personally use the NIV, the three translations illustrate the gap between standard translations and modern paraphrases. Today’s English Version’s (TEV) seems to fit Pastor Warren’s need here — perhaps because it uses the word “purpose:”
|“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Is 26:3||“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Is 26:3||“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.”Is 26:3||“You, LORD, give perfect peace to those whokeep their purpose firm and put their trust in you.” Is 26:3 (page 32)|
“Knowing your purpose focuses your life,” he assures us. “It concentrates your effort and energy on what’s important. You become effective by being selective.”[1, page 32]
But the early Hebrew documents promised God’s “perfect peace” to those “whose minds were stayed on” Him, not to those who merely “kept their purpose firm.” In fact, the main message of Isaiah 26:3 is not an exhortation to “keep their purpose firm.” Instead, it tells us to stay continually focused on God Himself. Though He calls us throughout the Bible to trust Him, He only promises His wonderful gift of “perfect peace” to those who — by His Spirit — will stay with Him.
“One thing I have desired of the Lord,” sang David (God’s beloved shepherd-king),” that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.” Psalm 27:4
Think about it: Wouldn’t God (as He has revealed Himself through His Living Word) be a more reliable focus for our lives? Doesn’t His Word suggest we be led by our wonderful Shepherd, not driven by standardized purposes which are now being used around the world to define and assess our spiritual gifts, our spiritual growth, our spiritual devotion, our spiritual fruit and our group fellowship?
Pastor Warren encourages us to memorize and meditate on God’s Word. But he also suggests that we select Bible verses out of his book which begins and ends with quotes from The Message. On page 325, he explains why:
“…we often miss the full impact of familiar Bible verses, not because of poor translating, but simply because they have become so familiar! We think we know what a verse says because we have read it or heard it so many times. Then when we find it quoted in a book, we skim over it and miss the full meaning. Therefore I have deliberately used paraphrases in order to help you see God’s truth in new, fresh ways…. [emphasis in the original]
“Also, since the verse divisions and number were not included in the Bible until 1560 A.D., I haven’t always quoted the entire verse, but rather focused on the phrase that was appropriate. My model for this is Jesus and how he and the apostles quoted the Old Testament. They often just quoted a phrase to make a point.” [1, page 325]
His first argument doesn’t match reality. Those who are truly “born again” treasure God’s Word as it is written. The more familiar it becomes, the more precious it is! He brings the words we have “hidden in our heart” to our awareness day and night as we need it for comfort, strength and joy in Him. “Your words were found, and I ate them,” said Jeremiah, “and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by Your name, O Lord…” Jeremiah 15:16
Second, are we free to attribute the authority of the actual Scriptures to short sound bytes of paraphrased passages in order to validate our own points? Yes, Jesus, who was Himself the Living Word, had the absolute authority to speak His own message as He willed. But we are not God! That’s why He warns us repeatedly not to alter or add to His holy Word in any way.
“If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book,” He tells us in the Book of Revelation ( 22:18-19), “and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life….”
Those are strong words. That’s why many postmodern leaders consider them intolerant and exclude them from their teaching. But God considers the accuracy of His Word so vital to our walk with Him that He repeated this warning several times throughout the Bible.
“You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it,” He told us through Moses in Deuteronomy 4:1-2. And in Proverbs 30:5-6, He warned: “Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.”
Yet, man’s incessant quest for “new, fresh ways” has always made us vulnerable to temptation. From the beginning, Satan has offered both pleasure and wisdom to those who would rephrase or revise God’s timeless Word — blending lies with truth that hide the deception. Back in the garden, it led to Eve’s disobedience and the alienation of humanity. Through the Middle Ages, it led to horrendous heresies and cruel persecution of those who took their stand on God’s unchanging Word. In our times, the rise of pragmatism and postmodernity has led to another round of revisions. And with the postmodern rejection of unchanging absolutes, there is no end in sight.
See how The Message has altered the meaning of God’s Word in the following passages. Though the first two references are not mentioned in the Purpose Driven Life, their precious familiarity helps us discern the contrast and realize how human additions and deletions distort His truths. The third reference is the last “Bible” verse Pastor Warren quotes in his book. Notice its new tone and attitude:
|“Our Father which art in heaven,Hallowed be thy name.” Matt. 6:9||“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be Your name.” Matt. 6:9
|“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.” Matt. 6:9
|“Our Father in heaven, reveal who you are.” Matt. 6:9|
|“my Father is greater than I.” John 14:28||“My Father is greater than I.” John 14:28||“… the Father is greater than I.” John 14:28||“The Father is the goal and purpose of my life.”John 14:28|
|“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power….” Rev 4:11||“You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power….” Rev 4:11||“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power….” Rev 4:11||“Worthy, Oh Master! Yes, our God! Take the glory! the honor! the power!…” [1, page 319]|
|“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Romans 8:6||“For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Romans 8:6||“The mind of sinful man is death, but themind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:6||“Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life.” [1, page 18]|
Ponder the last section. To be “carnally minded” means far more than “obsession with self.” It involves the spiritual blindness and death of a person who lives and thinks according to his own capricious human nature — separated from God’s grace and Spirit. He may claim to be a Christian, but his finite mind cannot grasp God’s truths, heart or will. A simpler, modified Bible, stripped of its deeper and harder truths, doesn’t help. God never intended that the Bible should be understood apart from His supernatural work in the hearts of His chosen people. [Matt 13:13; Luke 8:10; Jer 5:21; Acts 26:18]
The other parallel follows. To be “spiritually minded” means that, through the Holy Spirit, the believer’s mind has been opened to understand Scriptures. God’s life-changing Truth has renewed his heart and enabled him to know and love God. It has given him the joy and endurance needed to follow the Shepherd — not along that spacious highway that draws the crowds — but on the narrow unpopular way which draws us ever closer to Him. Matt 7:13-14
Since the Bible is the foundation of our faith, we had better follow its clear and timeless guidelines. They alone enable us to maintain the purity and accuracy of His Word even as we translate it into all the world’s different languages. In its totality, the Bible reveals the nature of God, the nature of man — both in Christ and apart from Him. Made alive by His Spirit, it reveals His guidelines for our lives, His promises of each day’s challenges, His hope for eternity. It is the foundation of our faith and the standard for our lives.
But Pastor Warren sees a slightly different foundation. As in The Purpose-Driven Church, his format shows us five purposes:
1. Worship: You were made for God’s pleasure.
2. Connect (fellowship): You were formed for God’s family.
3. Grow (discipleship): You were created to become like Christ.
4. Serve (ministry): You were shaped for serving God.
5. Share (evangelism): You were made for a mission. [1, contents]
Those statements are all true, but they are incomplete as guidelines for all of life’s challenges. Later he tells us:
“Knowing your purpose simplifies your life. It defines what you do and what you don’t do. Your purpose becomes the standard you use to evaluate which activities are essential and which aren’t. You simply ask, ‘Does this activity help me fulfill one of God’s purposes for my life?’
“Without a clear purpose, you have no foundation on which you base decisions, allocate your time, and use your resources.”[1, page 31]
What does Pastor Warren mean by “a clear purpose?” A blend of his five stated purposes?
Neither the five purposes, nor any other single purpose, can replace Jesus Christ, the Living Word, as the “foundation on which you base decision, allocate your time and use resources.” Christ’s Life in us — speaking through His Word revealed to us — is our supreme, unrivaled foundation and guide. The Living Word remains “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” no matter where His chosen purposes or unseen paths might take you and me for the duration of our lives on earth.
The Spirit of Worship
In The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren wisely points to the importance of worship and surrender. “Worship must be based on the truth of Scripture, not our opinions about God,” he writes.[1, page 101] That’s so true! Yet, his book offers both opinions and illustrations that undermine that truth — including some misleading assumptions about God and what He loves.
“Worship must be both accurate and authentic,” he writes on page 102. “God-pleasing worship is both deeply emotional and deeply doctrinal…. The best style of worship is the one that most authentically represent your love for God, based on the background and personality God gave you.” He then gives the following illustration:
“My friend Gary Thomas noticed that many Christians seem stuck in a worship rut — an unsatisfying routine — instead of having a vibrant friendship with ‘God, because they force themselves to use devotional methods or worship styles that don’t fit the way God uniquely shaped them.’
“Gary wondered, If God intentionally made us all different, why should everyone be expected to love God in the same way?… In his book Sacred Pathways, Gary identifies nine of the ways people draw near to God: Naturalists are most inspired to love God out-of-doors, in natural settings. Sensates love God with their senses and appreciate beautiful worship services that involve their sight, taste, smell and touch, not just their ears…… Ascetics prefer to love God in solitude and simplicity. [Later in the book, Warren tells us that only those who participate in today’s organized church can grow spiritually.]... Activists love God through confronting evil, battling injustice, and working to make the world a better place…. ” [1, page 103] Emphasis added
Does Pastor Warren equate “activists” with the social and political activists that push churches and nations toward a global welfare system based on UN standards for social solidarity? Liberal churches and the World Council of Churches are major forces in this accelerating movement of “faith-based partnerships” that — under the banner of love and tolerance — serves the needy while silencing the gospel. But Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” John 18:36
“There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to worship and friendship with God,” continues Pastor Warren. “God wants you to be yourself.” That’s true. Then he validates his point with a quote from The Message: “That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship.'” Compare the three standard Bible translations below with Eugene Peterson’s paraphrased Message. Notice the clash of words and meaning:
KJV: “…the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.” John 4:23
NKJV: “…the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” John 4:23
NIV: “…a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” John 4:23
Message: “That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship.” (page 103) Emphasis added
While God demands absolute honesty from His people, the word “truth” here implies far more than being “simply and honestly themselves.” The central truth tells us about our wonderful Lord. Worship is our response to what His Word and Spirit have revealed to us about His glory and goodness. And Pastor Warren knows that very well. In spite of his pragmatic promotion of cultural compromise under the banner of church growth, he also includes some beautiful descriptions:
“Where is the glory of God? Just look around. Everything created by God reflects his glory in some way. We see it everywhere, from the smallest microscopic form of life to the vast Milky Way, from sunsets and stars to storms and seasons…. The Bible says. ‘The heavens declare the glory of God….’ [1, page 54]
“We cannot add anything to this glory, just as it would be impossible for us to make the sun shine brighter. But we are commanded to recognize his glory, honor his glory, declare his glory, praise his glory, reflect his glory and live for his glory. Why? Because God deserves it! We owe him every honor we can possibly give.”[1, page 56]
So true! But while Warren reminds us that “Worship is a lifestyle,” he bases his description of God on his own personal presumptions, not on Biblical revelation:
“Worship has nothing to do with the style or volume or speed of a song. God loves all kinds of music because he invented it all — fast and slow, loud and soft, old and new. You probably don’t like it all, but God does!” [1, page 65]
He does? Including the throbbing beat of hard rock? Or the pulsating sensuality of other forms of rock and hip hop? Or the hypnotic tones of New Age music?
While all parts of the universe were created by our sovereign Lord, he lets us use His raw materials according to our own inclinations — whether they honor or profane his name. But when we become part of His family and Kingdom, He holds us accountable to His high and holy standards — and to what He has revealed about Himself in His Word.
Again Pastor Warren seems to agree. He says, “I must choose to value what God values. This is what friends do — they care about what is important to the other person. The more you become God’s friend, the more you will care about the things he cares about, grieve over the things he grieves over, and rejoice over the things that bring pleasure to him.”
That’s a great summary. Warren goes on to say that “Paul is the best example of this. God’s agenda was his agenda and God’s passion was his.” Then he backs his statement with another quote from The Message, one that leaves out a key point: that God is a “jealous God.” His holy jealousy is expressed through Paul in his concern for the church. To show you the context, we included the next verse as well:
KJV: “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 3But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted….” 2 Cor 11:2-4
NKJV: “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted…” 2 Cor 11:2-4
NIV: “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him . 3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray….” 2 Cor 11:2-4
Message: “The thing that has me so upset is that I care about you so much–this is the passion of God burning inside me!” 2 Cor 11:2 (page 97) Emphasis added
Probing God’s “passion,” Warren asks: “What does God care about most? The redemption of his people. He wants all his lost children found! That’s the whole reason Jesus came to earth. The dearest thing to the heart of God is the death of his Son. The second dearest thing is when his children share that news with others. To be a friend of God, you must care about all the people around you that God cares about.”
Yes, that sounds right. But it’s only a half-truth. Pastor Warren apparently quoted the above words from The Message to validate his point about “passion.” But the standard Bible translations based on early Greek sources actually refer to a different issue: God’s zeal for purity and holiness in the Church. Paul was warning the Corinthians against corruption in His Body — a major concern in both the Old and New Testament. The apostle highlights this purpose again in his letter to the church in Philippi:
“…that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.” Philippians 2:15-16
In other words, God calls us to be different from the corrupt world around us. He has made us a holy people — set us apart for Himself. “They are not of the world,” said Jesus, “just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” John 17:15-18
Pastor Warren’s emphasis on passion hides this point. The issue of purity is replaced with the more contemporary issue of personal relationships. Thus feel-good relational guidelines become more important than the spiritual need for repentance and holiness in Christ.
Please don’t think I would diminish the all important command to “love one another” as Christ loves us. But when corruption and worldliness seep into the church, God’s agapao love — an expression of the Holy Spirit in us — is quenched. We may replace it with more human love such as phileo (friendship, affection, brotherhood) love, but it no longer fulfills the above command. (In spite of Pastor Warren’s frequent reference to our “friendship with God,” the Bible never uses the word phileo in any of the commands that we love God. It always uses the word agapao, God’s supernatural love flowing through His faithful people.)
In the context of Peter Drucker’s management and marketing philosophy, Pastor Warren’s emphasis makes perfect sense. The new relational guidelines are designed to build group loyalty, teach “respect” for all opinions, and block unpopular truths that expose error and corruption. The latter are simply too divisive. “Fellowship” between spiritually diverse people is all important, even if it clashes with God’s Word [2 Cor 6:14–18] and forces believers to compromise. That’s why many committed but heartbroken Christians are leaving the “seeker-friendly” churches they have faithfully served. They simply cannot agree to discard “offensive” Biblical guidelines in order to pursue the new vision of unity and community.
God’s people must heed their Spirit-taught conscience. If we claim His name and promises, we had better follow His ways rather than our feelings or popular marketing schemes. If our worship is an expression of our human nature rather than His truth and Spirit, it is worthless. It’s all too easy to “quench the Spirit” and become blind to His light. Trying to make Christianity more acceptable to the world, we may forget Jesus’ sobering warnings to His disciples:
“If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you….” John 15:19-21
“Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:19-24
“The style of music you choose to use in your services will be one of the most critical (and controversial!) decisions you make in the life of your church,” wrote Rick Warren in an article titled“Selecting Worship Music“. “You must match your music to the kind of people God wants your church to reach…. The music you use ‘positions’ your church in your community. It defines who you are…. It will determine the kind of people you attract, the kind of people you keep, and the kind of people you lose.“ Emphasis added
Pastor Warren’s choice in music flows with today’s major currents of change — in culture and business as well as churches. Our world is becoming increasingly uniform even as our choices multiply. While we have countless options in food, books, religions and music, the vast networks of corporate management systems around the world follow the same marketing strategies. Their key to “measurable success” is monitoring and manipulating the “felt needs” of the masses — a shrewd strategy that requires continual polls, surveys, assessments and digital data systems. Together, as parts of a holistic system, they not only expose the wants and vulnerabilities of “consumers” everywhere but also nurture and manipulate those “needs” and cravings.
And it works! That’s why governments, schools, medical systems and large churches are all reinventing themselves in order to follow the established tracks of corporate America. They may call their particular version of this system Total Quality Management, Outcome Based Education or Purpose Driven Churches; it doesn’t matter. All follow the same pragmatic blueprint, aim for “measurable results,” call for teams, dialogue, facilitators, “lifelong learning,” contracts and continual assessments of “progress” toward the planned outcome. All must conform or leave the system.
In Part 1, you saw that Pastor Warren polled his congregation to discover the most popular contemporary music. Now he uses more sophisticated surveys and tracking software. As you saw in Part 1, one of his management consultants is CMS, a “full-service custom marketing and communications agency” that helps its “clients grow their businesses.” It explains that“…collecting, organizing and managing data is essential to understanding, evaluating and planning of any successful promotion.”
So when Pastor Warren offered the music most people wanted, they flocked to the church. But “measurable success” doesn’t prove that God ordained or inspired this particular plan. In fact, God warns us not “to seek to please men” [Galatians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:4]. Popularity in the world has never been a sign of God’s approval. More often — throughout the Bible as well as history — popularity proves the opposite. “If you were of the world, the world would love its own,” said Jesus. “Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:19
When Pastor Warren tells us that “God loves all kinds of music” and that “God loves variety,” do you wonder where he would he draw the line? Would that vital dividing line bend with our changing culture? Or with the growing tolerance for all kinds of spiritual and Scriptural variations? These are crucial questions, for music has become a driving force in the Church Growth Movement. As Pastor Warren says,
“Music is an integral part of our lives. We eat with it, drive with it, shop with it, relax with it, and some non-Baptists even dance to it! The great American pastime is not baseball – it is music and sharing our opinions about it!”
“…when I read about biblical worship in the Psalms, I see that they used drums, clashing cymbals, loud trumpets, tambourines and stringed instruments. That sounds a lot like contemporary music to me!”
“Saddleback is unapologetically a contemporary music church. We’ve often been referred to in the press as ‘The flock that likes to rock.’ We use the style of music the majority of people in our church listen to on the radio.”
These statements beg at least two responses. First, Pastor Warren wrote: “…in the Psalms, I see that they used drums….” None of the standard Bible translations mention drums, but they do mention timbrels which are sometimes translated tabrets or tambourines. Apparently, these were small, round wooden rings or frames covered with animal skin and usually carried by women or “maidens” in dance, praise or “merriment.” Some Bible commentaries describe them as small hand drums, “examples of which have been found in Egyptian and Mesopotamian excavations.” Obviously, they were not like today’s large, throbbing percussion instruments which the Bible neither forbids nor approves. Nor were they listed in 1 Chronicles along with other instruments prescribed for temple worship.
Second, our Father Himself prepares the hearts of His chosen ones to respond to the saving truth of the gospel and the demonstration of His love. He doesn’t need our clever business schemes. “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him,” said Jesus. [John 6:44]
But can’t God use contemporary music to draw us to Himself? Of course He can! He can use anything He chooses! Again and again, He brings blessings out of our human choices, be they wise or foolish or in between. But His wonderful grace and mercy never justify our disobedience. He repeatedly warns His people to guard against the seductive forces of the world system [Rom. 12:2, 1 John 2:15; Psalm 1:1-3], and “Christian” music now rests squarely in the hands of the world’s corrupt entertainment establishment.
Two of the most popular Christian musicians are Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant. Both are under contract to Word Music Company which is owned by Word Entertainment, the Christian Music division of Warner Music Group, a Time Warner company. This may explain why some of the popular pied pipers of the church cross over to the other side, drawing millions of fans with them. When that happens, the emotional highs that had been linked to God are transferred to the new themes that exclude God and exalt lust.
Steven Curtis Chapman may be the most famous artist with Sparrow Records, a part of the Sparrow Label Group owned by the British EMI Music Publishing, the world’s largest secular music publisher. Having introduced America to the Beatles back in the sixties, it now owns labels such as Capitol, Angel, Blue Note, Priority and Virgin. Featuring approximately 1,500 artists, it markets every kind of popular music: rock, rap, jazz, Christian, country… According to Music Publishing,
“EMI [owns the] rights to more than one million musical compositions and has offices in 30 countries…. Composers and writers represented by EMI include David Bowie, Janet Jackson, Carole King, Queen, … Savage Garden, Sting, … Aerosmith….
“A&R, the art of identifying the next great writer, the next great song, is the single most important function EMI performs.”
EMI’s website features a page on Social Responsibility which tells us,
“At EMI we believe business should be both profitable and beneficial to society. … We are committed to equal opportunity for all employees regardless of gender, ethnic or national origin, religion, disability, age, marital status or sexual orientation…. We support and uphold the principles contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.…”
If you read our article, “Trading US Rules for UN Rules,” you will find that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is hostile — not helpful — to Christians and others who question the UN philosophy and its blueprint for global solidarity.
In April, 2003, both EMI and Time-Warner executives participated in a conference dealing with topics such as “Things you need to know to get noticed” and “The spiritual future of Christian music.” The goal of the first “roundtable,” moderated by the Senior Director of A&R, Warner Brothers Records, Christian Division, was to “share what they are currently looking for in a signed artist today.” Do you wonder if the panelists — including the General Manager of Simple Records, a Senior Director at Sparrow Label Group, and the Director of Gospel A&R and Warner Brothers Records — would allow lyrics that expressed some of the more “offensive” truths of the Bible? Would they even consider God’s will for Christian music and worship?
Probably not. Their concern is marketing music in cultures around the world. It’s up to us to know such as 2 Corinthians 6:14-17, which warns us, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? … Come out from among them and be separate….”
“Why do you think music is used so extensively in movies and every kind of television show from news intros to romantic love scenes?” asks Chris Long in his excellent article, “Should Christian Music Rock?” He goes on to say,
“Music alone does drastically effect people’s emotions, which in turn, more often than not directly affects their outward behavior. Music can delve into the depths of the human heart (…the heart of your being which contains your innermost desires and tendencies) and dredge up feelings and even actions that we may not even have consciously realized were there….
“I have observed my own children at even their smallest toddling age. They were never taught to dance or anything at all about music at the time, but their natural reaction when certain musical scores with a “rock beat” were played… the child naturally began to move their body in a carnal worldly manner. If an adult were to do the same, it could most certainly incite within others natural sensual thoughts. Melodious Christian music does not produce this effect.”
In the article, “A New Song – Part 2,” author and former musician Paul Proctor summarizes the meaning and purpose of Christian worship:
“As I understand it, worship is coming before the Lord as a holy and ‘peculiar people’, in obedience, humility, reverence, repentance and faith with an attitude of gratitude, to sing His praises, hear His Word, glorify His name and honor Him with all of our being for Who He is and what He has done.
“Contrary to popular trends, worship is NOT getting together with anybody and everybody to party in Jesus’ name and feel good about ourselves with intoxicating music and psychotherapy.”
Saddleback members may not call their brand of music intoxicating, but that’s not the issue here. What does matter is the nature of the driving force in the church. It’s easy to list a set of Biblical purposes that seem to indicate where the church is headed. But do good purposes or “ends” justify “means” or methods that might violate the standards God gave us in His Word?
The answer doesn’t matter to those who embrace pragmatism — the belief that truth is relative and that the ends do justify the means. It’s sad to see that within much of the Church Growth Movement, the main standard for good or bad methods — or for what “God is blessing” — seems to be measurable success, not obedience to His actual Word. The foundational management question seems to be: “Does it work?” We should be asking: “What does the Bible (not preferred paraphrases) tell us?”
The answer to the first question is, yes, it does work. But few church members really understand general systems theory, the philosophy and worldview behind the controlling systems that steer this worldwide transformation. Many of its enthusiastic supporters don’t realize how it squeezes the Holy Spirit out of the decision making process. But we can recognize its mind-changing process by its innocuous labels (they should be red flags) such as assessments, databanks, facilitator, dialogue and planned or continual change. Lynn Stuter, a respected researcher and columnist with NewsWithViews, summarizes it well:
“Systems philosophy or general systems theory… says that we can create our future by building systems and leveraging those systems into balance with all other systems in a conceptually wholistic model, (also referred to as systemic change) using a system infrastructure that is analogous to all systems. Scientists refer to systems philosophy as a syllogism — how to bring about planned change systemically. Under systems philosophy, the system and leveraging of the system into balance with all other systems, is paramount above all else. That leveraging is achieved via analyzing DATA FEEDBACK attained from the subjects of the system established, be it an agency, a classroom, or an individual. This explains the privacy invasive databanks being built on all systems — health care, education, justice, military… [and churches]
“…you start out by developing your vision of the created future…. The vision is then defined in terms of exit outcomes. In the case of education reform, the exit outcomes are the state essential “academic” learning requirements (EALRs). [In the purpose-driven movement, it would be related to “purpose”]
“In the Schools for the 21st Century (the foundation of education reform in Washington state and the basis of American 2000) resource document, content is defined asexcellence in terms of the change agenda; process as the product … the destination … what learning is about; and emotionality and affectivity as the means by which content and process will be achieved….
“The measure of that mastery is the assessment…. If a few children fail the assessment, they are remediated to bring them in line. The assessments also assess classroom teachers. The assessment provides DATA FEEDBACK to the system….”
It’s comforting to assume that God loves all growth-producing methods and feel-good stimuli that we love. But it isn’t true.
“’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.'” Isaiah 55:8-9
Then He gives us a sobering glimpse of what He is pleased to see in His people: “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.” Isaiah 66:1-2
“For since the beginning of the world,
men have not heard nor perceived by the ear,
Nor has the eye seen any God besides You,
Who acts for the one who waits for Him.
You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness,
who remembers You in Your ways.” Isaiah 64:4-5
Forgetting “the fear of God”
Long before David wrote his treasured psalms or King Solomon penned the Proverbs, Job knew the secret of wisdom and friendship with God. In the midst of excruciating pain and loss, he said, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding.” Job 28:28
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,”echoed the wise men who wrote Psalm 111:10 and Proverbs 9:10.Centuries ago, God’s rebellious and presumptuous people thought they could follow their own sensual inclinations, participate in the rituals of their idolatrous neighbors, and sacrifice their children to gain personal favors — without losing God’s favor and protection. Even the priests thought they were following His ways. They were wrong. Our holy God, who is the same “yesterday, today and forever,” warned His foolish and presumptuous people,
“Therefore I will number you for the sword,
And you shall all bow down to the slaughter;
Because, when I called, you did not answer;
When I spoke, you did not hear, but did evil before My eyes, and chose that in which I do not delight.” Isaiah 65:12
Pastor Warren has little to say about such godly fear — the blessed fruit of a deep awareness that God is our Judge and Avenger as well as our Father and Love. God’s anger and wrath don’t fit into today’s affirmative, seeker friendly church environment.
Since Today’s English Version, like the J. B. Phillips version, may be considered a translation rather than a paraphrase, the differences below may be less distinct. Yet, they illustrate a reluctance among many contemporary Christian leaders to use the word “fear” when referring to God. While we certainly must (by His Spirit) reverence our holy and almighty God, this more “positive” word removes any subtle (or embarrassing) reminder that our loving Father is also a “jealous” God — an uncompromising Judge who has little tolerance for our lukewarm “obedience” and self-pleasing “worship.”
KJV: “The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.” Ps 25:14
NKJV: “The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant.” Ps 25:14
NIV: “The Lord confides in those who fear Him; he makes his covenant known to them.” Ps 25:14
Living Bible: “Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence him.” Psalm 25:14a
KJV: “The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.” Ps 147:11
NKJV: “The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his mercy.” Ps 147:11
NIV: “The Lord delights in those who fear Him; who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Ps 147:11
Today’s English Version: “He takes pleasure in those that honor Him; in those who trust in His constant love.” [page 71]
In other words, the word “fear” clashes with today’s attempt to market God to the postmodern masses. To a lesser degree, so do the words “righteous” and “merciful.” Both remind us of our sin and inadequacy. They bring the discomforting suggestion that God indeed is “holier than thou” — an unpleasant notion for those who prefer to believe that God is and thinks like me.
Instead, Pastor Warren introduces a more likeable God — a smiling father who resembles today’s permissive parent rather than the righteous and merciful God of the Bible. Whether you are part of God’s family or not, Warren speaks confusing half-truths that assure you that —
“the moment you were born into the world, God was there as an unseen witness, smiling at your birth… your arrival gave him great pleasure.”[1, page 63]
“You are a child of God, and you bring pleasure to God like nothing else he has ever created. The Bible says, ‘Because of his love God had already decided that through Jesus Christ he would make us his children — this was his pleasure and purpose.“[1, page 63-64]
“God enjoys watching every detail of your life, whether you are working, playing, resting, or eating.“[1, page 74]
Do you feel good about yourself yet? Do you feel comfortable before your holy God?
Perhaps we feel too comfortable. Maybe our holy God doesn’t “enjoy watching every detail” of our lives. Although His Word assures us that He delights in us when we trust and follow Him, it also shows us that He grieves over our foolish choices. And if we indeed have been “born again” of His Spirit, we would grieve with Him whenever we obey our own lusts rather than His Word! We would repent — turn around and run back into His arms!
Yes, He waits for us. Yes, our patient and merciful Lord continues to love us deeply and eternally. Yes, in Christ, all our sins were nailed to the cross. But He doesn’t minimize our natural rebellion as we do. Instead, he tells us to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13
The New Testament brings some sobering reminders of a side of God we often prefer to forget. Take the story of Ananias and Sapphira. They were part of the early church community where people shared their belongings with each other. You probably remember the story:
“Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?… Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all…
“Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter answered her, ‘Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?’ She said, ‘Yes, for so much.” Then Peter said to her, ‘How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.’ Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband. So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.
“And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people….Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women….” Acts 5:1-14
God didn’t hesitate to judge a sin that we might easily overlook. After all, Ananias made a generous contribution to the church, didn’t he?
But God’s standard for holiness among His people is far higher than we are led to believe in our churches. He wants a purified Body, a holy Bride — washed and cleansed by His shed blood. Seeker-services that bring the world into His sacred places compromise His revealed purposes. So does consensus-based fellowship between believers and unbelievers, between His purity and the world’s profanity.
In the early church, God’s judgment [above] spread “great fear.” The surrounding community showed two typical kinds of responses. While “the people esteemed them highly,” only those whom God was drawing to Himself were added to the church. “None of the rest dared join them.” It doesn’t sound like today’s marketing strategies, does it?
The problem is not that Pastor Warren left out the “the fear of God.” He can’t possibly teach all God’s instructions in one book. The problem is lack of balance. By emphasizing God’s delight in “every detail of your life” through most of the book while rarely mentioning God’s anger, holy standard or judgment, he virtually denied the less comforting side of God’s nature.
While God’s love is unconditional, His promises are not. Most are linked — often in the same passage they appear — to guidelines and conditions for their fulfillment. But those conditions and warnings are generally left out. As presented in this book, many of God’s promises to those who — by His grace and Spirit — follow Him become, instead, universal and unconditional assurances to everyone who reads the book. No need to “mourn” our sin, “tremble at His Word,” or repent of our addiction to contemporary thrills, for everyone is okay in the eyes of Him who “passionately” loves all of us as we are.
But God calls us to know and follow His ways, not ours — and to deny ourselves and let the “flesh” be put to death. In our weakness, He will enable us! Our goal must be His goal: that we would be holy as He is holy. Pastor Warren affirms that truth, but by softening God’s revelation about Himself and His ways, he distorts our understanding of holiness. By trivializing the authority of God’s Word, he bends our view of God’s high standard for our lives in Him. Finally, when he quotes (in various forms) God’s promises while ignoring His warnings, he builds presumption, not genuine obedient faith. Many readers would hardly even know what to obey!
They won’t find answers when they turn to the discussion questions in the back of the book. Those questions are patterned to fit today’s consensus process. This process for conforming individuals to the group’s views, involves guidelines such as:
Don’t offend anyone by taking an uncompromising stand on truth or facts.
Don’t use words such as “I know” or “I believe.” Instead use words such as “I think” or “I feel” which show your willingness to compromise and bend your views to fit the group consensus.
Show respect and appreciation for all positions, even those that clash with the Bible.
Most of the questions fit this pattern. Subjective and open-ended, they invite feeling-based opinions, not Scripture-based truths. And some of the questions beg answers that fit today’s communitarian ideals more than truth.
True to form, the first two questions begin with “What do you think….” and “What do you feel…” None looks to the Bible as a reference point. None encourages the reader to seek answers from God’s Word.
The natural outcome of this comfortable, relational dialogue is a group synthesis of the various opinions. In the end, everyone would feel good about themselves, about each other and about God — no matter how He might be portrayed. No cost, no self-denial, no separation, no offense! Postmodern Christianity fits right into the changing world system. (This relational process will be discussed more fully in Part 2 of this series.)
Remember, His ways are not our ways! He is the sovereign King of the universe! To know and follow Him, we need to fill our minds with His true Word, not popular interpretations or feel-good group affirmations. Our wise and wonderful Lord says,
“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him…. If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words….” John 14:21-21
1. Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002). See “Driven or Led?”
2. Dennis Costella, FOUNDATION Magazine, March-April 1998. http://www.fundamentalbiblechurch.org/Foundation/fbcsdlbk.htm. You can find a very similar message in Rick Warren’s article titled “ Selecting Worship Music” ( July 29, 2002 ) at http://www.pastorport.com/ministrytoday.asp?mode=viewarchive&index=18.
The Bible warns against a musical “variety” or usage that serves paganism: “when all the people heard the sound of the horn, flute, harp, and lyre, in symphony with all kinds of music, all the people, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the gold image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.” Daniel 3:7
3. Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995), page 62.
5. Ken Witty, “Peter Drucker’s Search for Community,” Business Week Online, December 24, 2002. http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/dec2002/nf20021224_6814.htm
9. Warren on church music, http://www.sunlandneighborhoodchurch.com/articles_view.asp?articleid=1382&columnid=
10. “A Biblical Worldview Has a Radical Effect on a Person’s Life,” December 1, 2003,
http://www.barna.org/cgi-bin/PagePressRelease.asp?PressReleaseID=154&Reference=A. I have been told that Mr. Barna is becoming skeptical about the Church Growth Movement, which he earlier supported. [See Re-Inventing the Church] I can see why. His own statistics show the tragic consequences of “cheap grace” and salvation prayers without a Biblical foundation.
11. Gene Edward Veith, “Unbelieving ‘born-agains,” World on the Web, Dec. 6, 2003, http://www.worldmag.com/world/issue/12-06-03/cultural_4.asp
12. “Peter Drucker on the Church and Denominations.” This pdf file is posted on the Leadership Network website at http://www.leadnet.org/allthingsln/archives/netfax/1.pdf
14. God’s moral law can neither save us nor give us the strength to obey its guidelines. But it gives us a standard for right and wrong — and it helps us to understand God’s holiness, righteousness, mercy and grace.
15. Many echo this belief: “Sin is a normal part of life, and I’m just as good as everyone else — maybe a little better. Besides, God loves me as I am.” While this statement is partly true, it’s also misleading. The essence of God’s character is not only love. It’s also unbending justice, indescribable holiness and perfect righteousness. Without balanced information about God, we can neither know or follow Him.
16. “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” Deuteronomy 4:1-2. See also Deuteronomy 12:32; Proverbs 30:5-6 and Revelation 22:18-19.
17. “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14
18. In the fall of 2003, Pastor Warren introduced the Saddleback “P.E.A.C.E. Plan –“a strategy to have every small group in our church, and then tens of thousands of small groups in other churches, become engaged in solving the five biggest problems in the world: Spiritual Lostness, Lack of Godly Leaders, Poverty, Disease, and Lack of Education.”
“We believe it is part of the beginning of a Spiritual Awakening, a Global Movement, a New Reformation,” wrote Pastor Warren. “The PEACE Plan will address these five ‘giant’ problems by Planting new churches… Equipping leaders… Assisting the poor…Caring for the sick… and Educating the next generation….
“The bottom line is that we intend to reinvent mission strategy in the 21st century. As I stated, this will be a new Reformation. The First Reformation returned us to the message of the original church. It was a reformation of doctrine – what the church BELIEVES. This Second Reformation will return us to the mission of the original church. It will be a reformation of purpose — what the church DOES in the world.”
God calls us to share His love and resources with the poor and needy. But if Pastor Warren’s PEACE Plan means training church leaders to trust and follow the world’s management and marketing strategies as he does (see Part 1 and 3), he will be serving man’s global agenda, not worshipping God.
19. Today’s emphasis on “passion” and excitement can be misleading. In the King James Bible, passion refers to the suffering of our Lord on the cross. But other standard translations equate passion with “lust” or “inordinate affections.” For examples, see Acts 1:3 (NKJ) and Colossians 3:5 (KJV or NKJV): “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”
20. Selecting Worship Music by Rick Warren at http://www.pastorport.com/ministrytoday.asp?mode=viewarchive&index=18. Since the Bible doesn’t mention drums, it neither affirms nor forbids it. But other Scriptures help us understand God’s view of the use of a throbbing drum beat. Aside from numerous Old Testament warnings against imitating the enticing rituals and practices of pagan and animist “neighbors” (who might have used the speed and volume of rhythms to induce trance possession), Romans 14:15 tells us that “Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love.” Pastor Warren freely admits that the introduction of rock music has been offensive to many Christians in his church. To draw young people, he chose a popular vehicle that would agonize and chase many away. That choice, in itself, seems to violate God’s law of love — a principle Pastor Warren will emphasize repeatedly in the context of small groups and building the new sympathetic consensus community.
21. 1 Chron. 15:16-24; 16:4-6, 42; 25:1-6. page 978-979. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: The Moody Bible Institute, 1981), 978-979.
27. Find Chris Long’s article at http://www.christianbaptistliving.com/Christian-music-1.html
28. Lynn Stuter, “Who Controls at the Local Level?” http://www.learn-usa.com/er018.htm
29. Pastor Warren does mention God’s wrath on page 232, but without a prior explanation of what might considered “sinful.” Instead, the reference to “wrath” fits into the relational context of “service” and “helping others” — a Biblical command that is now being conformed to the global concept of community service and “service learning.” This kind of organized “service” focuses on felt needs and dialogue and often rules out spiritual needs and Biblical truth. This will be explained more fully in Part 2.
Note: “Hope is as essential to your life as air and water. You need hope to cope. Dr. Bernie Siegel found he could predict which of his cancer patients would go into remission by asking, ‘Do you want to live to be one hundred?’ Those with a deep sense of life purpose answered yes and were the ones most likely to survive. Hope comes from having a purpose.” Rick Warren [1, page 31] This illustration suggests that a secular or New Age hope serves the same purpose as the Spirit-given hope we have in Jesus Christ. There can be no true hope or unity unless we stand on the unchanging truth of God’s Word!
Note: While some have translated the Hebrew word yeser as imagination or purpose rather than as mind, that single word is less important than the two conditions: keeping our minds (or thoughts) continually on God and trusting Him. The habit we then learn is continual prayer and communion with Him: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”Philippians 4:6-7
Creating Community – Part 2
Managing Change through a New Way of Thinking
Rick Warren sees a a more inclusive vision of oneness
By Berit Kjos – November 2004
Some of the links in the article below link back to Berit Kjos’ (author of this article) website, www.crossroads.to . I encouraged you to read all of her articles. She is one of the very few people I have talked to that acutally “gets” and “understands” what’s really going on.
“Welcome to another exciting chapter in the history of Saddleback Church as we begin 40 Days of Community this weekend! We anticipate the next 6 weeks to be a…turning point in the life of your small group and in your life personally.” Rick Warren
“But all this is not about us…. It’s all about the global glory of God! We intend to leverage the attention that the Purpose Driven Life has garnered to bring about a whole new way of thinking and acting in the church about our responsibility in the world.” Rick Warren
“Fragmentation, competition, and reactiveness are not problems to be solved — they are frozen patterns of thought to be dissolved. The solvent we propose is a new way of thinking, feeling, and being: a culture of systems. Fragmentary thinking becomes systemic when we recover ‘the memory of the whole,’ the awareness that wholes actually precede parts.” Peter Senge and Fred Kofman
“The challenge to humanity is to adopt new ways of thinking, new ways of acting, new ways of organizing itself in society, in short, new ways of living.” UNESCO
“It changed our church!” “It’s amazing!” “Transforming! “The fellowship is awesome!” “We’re growing!”…
The chorus of praise for Rick Warren’s “40 Days” programs sounds impressive, but it’s not surprising. The dynamics behind the facilitated small group — the heart of the 40 Days process — are both exhilarating and transformative. But they’re neither new nor Biblical. They are merely postmodern adaptations of the old Gestalt Therapy, Transactional Analysis, Esalen-basedencounter groups and all the other expressions of the Human Potential movement that helped transform western culture in the 60s and 70s.
This social transformation had been planned decades earlier. [See Steps toward Global Mind Control] By 1948, when the World Health Organization (a UN agency) had established its anti-Christian “Mental Health” program, globalist visionaries in both Europe and North America were experimenting with behavioral psychology as a means to eradicate traditional values and Biblical absolutes. They hoped to “un-freeze” minds and release them from the old values, promote open-mindedness to their revolutionary ideas, fill minds with pluralistic values, and then “re-freeze” the new collective views in the public consciousness.
They succeeded! Working through UNESCO’s education program, WHO’s global mental health program, national and local governments around the world, the mainstream media and countless private and non-governmental agencies around the world, they fueled the social forces that shaped today’s postmodern mind and culture. Liberal churches were among the first to embrace the postmodern thinking, but soon evangelical churches began to accommodate the rising cultural resistance to absolute truth and moral boundaries. To grow, they argued, churches must trade God’s unchanging Word for feel-good adaptations.
A website focused on “Organization Development” gives us a brief glimpse into the dark history of government mind control:
“In 1947, the National Training Laboratories Institute began in Bethel, ME. They pioneered the use of T-groups (Laboratory Training) in which the learners use here and now experience in the group, feedback among participants and theory on human behavior to explore group process and gain insights into themselves and others. … The T-group was a great training innovation which provided the base for what we now know about team building. This was a new method that would help leaders and managers create a more humanistic, people-serving system….
“Success in these goals depends, to a large extent, on the implied contract that each participant is willing to disclose feelings… and to solicit feedback.”
What’s new in group dynamics is mainly the feedback technology and marketing. Today’s corporations hide their manipulative psycho-social strategies behind nice-sounding organizational buzzwords, while church leaders mask them with Biblical terms and pleasing euphemisms. The guiding assumption seems to be that the ends justify the means. As Rick Warren points out in Purpose Driven Life, “The importance of helping members develop friendships within your church cannot be overemphasized. Relationships are the glue that holds a church together.”
Andy (my husband) and I discovered the seductive power of encounter groups back in 1970, when we were invited to join a “Quest for Meaning” group in the home of a respected business acquaintance. We had no idea what to expect, and we saw no reason to reject the offer. After the first group meeting, we were hooked. The friendliness of the leader/facilitator and the openness of the dialogue disarmed us and made us feel more than welcome. So we returned to this virtual “family” week after week for the next few months. By then, foreign names such asTeilhard de Chardin had been introduced, and our topics included some strange notions about spiritual evolution toward a utopian world of peace and oneness. We began to feel uneasy but were reluctant to turn our backs to this satisfying fellowship. Finally, after a weekend retreat designed to seal the group relationships, we were asked to sign a pledge and formalize our commitment to a common vision. By now, our eyes were opened and we left.
1. A changing church for a changing world.
Not long after our departure, I became a Christian. God immediately led me to a local veterans hospital where I volunteered as part of the chaplain service. Longing to share God’s love and hope with lonely and needy patients, I began my Spirit-led training in speaking His truths and answering challenging questions.
One day, the chaplains told me about an encounter session (a form of Gestalt therapy) recently started for both patients and staff. It called for authenticity, self-disclosure, sensitivity to diverse views and all the other interpersonal skills so important to contemporary group synergy and transformation. Seated in a circle, everyone would vent their feelings and empathize with each other. Any expression — no matter how extreme — would be tolerated and respected. “It really freed me up,” said one of the chaplains one morning as I arrived. “I’m a different person. More open…. You ought to try it.”
I did — without checking with God or my husband. Seated in the circle, I heard the same profanities that bombarded me daily on the medical wards as young veterans tried to shock and challenge me. But something was different. I had entered a spiritual battle zone without wearing my spiritual armor. Since God didn’t send me, He allowed me to face the consequences of my foolish choice. Driving home, I kept hearing in my mind the same vulgar words that had been spoken by the members of the group. I felt polluted and horrified. Though I confessed my sin and prayed for His cleansing, He allowed those profanities and suggestions to torment me daily for nearly three months. Then He suddenly caused them to disappear, but I had learned my lesson.
I know that the process works! Facilitated dialogues, based on a strategic set of well-tested ground rules, feel good to group members who commit themselves to the process. Whether these psycho-social strategies are marketed under business labels, New Age forums, or Christian terminology, they transform the thoughts and values of cooperative participants. Christian or not, people feel they are becoming “better” people because they have chosen to set aside their former assumptions and divisive beliefs in order to empathize with contrary views. They learn to tolerate, accept, respect and appreciate behaviors and expressions that earlier seemed wrong or unjustifiable. They judge nothing [other than people who seem divisiveness or uncooperative] and identify with everything. They praise each person who transcends the old barriers, and they celebrate each new step toward unconditional conformity and unbiblical unity.
Pastors and church leaders seem as eager to implement the new management strategies as schools, community groups, corporations, government and the United Nations. Across the board, leaders and followers are learning the same new ways of thinking, acting, speaking, listening and serving. The “UN Report of The Commission on Global Governance,” titled Our Global Neighborhood, illustrates this worldwide march toward an integrated global management system based on these psycho-social practices:
“By leadership we do not mean only people at the highest national and international levels. We mean enlightenment at every level — in local and national groups, in parliaments and in the professions…. in small community groups and large national NGOs, in international bodies of every description, in the religious community and among teachers… in the private sector and among the large transnational corporations, and particularly in the media….
Pastors and management gurus such as Rick Warren, John Maxwell, Bob Buford and Peter Drucker are promoting this new organizational model around the world. One of Pastor Warren’sMinistry Toolbox Issues commends an influential book by Dr. Peter Senge (the secular/holistic founder of MIT’s Society for Organizational Learning) titled The Fifth Discipline. Rick Warren’s website calls it “one of the best books of the last 10 years on the subject of organizational transitions.” It has nothing to do with Christianity, but it has everything to do with social transformation and the new way of thinking.
“It is interesting that the words ‘whole’ and ‘health’ come from the same root (the Old English hal…),” wrote Dr. Senge in The Fifth Discipline. “So it should come as no surprise that theunhealthiness of our world today is in direct proportion to our inability to see it as a whole.” With that revealing introduction, he goes on to define systems thinking:
“Systems thinking is a discipline for seeing wholes. It is a framework for seeing interrelationship rather than things, for seeing patterns of change rather than static ‘snapshots.’ It is a set of general principles…. It is also a set of specific tools and techniques…. [T]hese tools have been applied to understand a wide range of corporate, urban, regional, economic, political, ecological and even psychological systems….
“I call systems thinking the fifth discipline because it is the conceptual cornerstone that underlines all of the five learning disciplines of this book. All are concerned with a shift of mind from seeing parts to seeing wholes….”
Dr. Senge also co-authored the report, “Communities of Commitment: The Heart of Learning Organizations,” which summarizes the key parts of his highly praised book. This report focuses on the “fragmentation” that keeps us from trading our old Biblical view of reality for a more systemic or holistic perspective:
“Fragmentation, competition, and reactiveness are not problems to be solved — they are frozen patterns of thought to be dissolved. The solvent we propose is a new way of thinking, feeling, and being: a culture of systems. Fragmentary thinking becomes systemic when we recover ‘the memory of the whole‘…. Competition becomes cooperation when we discover the ‘community nature of the self‘….
“In the new systems worldview, we move from the primacy of pieces to the primacy of the whole, from absolute truths to coherent interpretations, from self to community….
“Thus the nature of the commitment required to build learning organizations goes beyond people’s typical ‘commitment to their organizations.’ It encompasses commitment to changes needed in the larger world and to seeing our organizations as vehicles for bringing about such changes.”
Today’s purpose-driven church movement fits right into the worldwide transformation envisioned by secular leaders ranging from community facilitators to the highest levels of national and international management. And two of our earlier articles, “Spirit-Led or Purpose-Driven? Part 2: Unity & Community and Part 3: Small Groups and the Dialectic Process,” show how the purpose-driven model matches this vision of social change and facilitated oneness. Please read them, since I won’t repeat the same information.
Then ponder the following slogans and statements from Saddleback’s 40 Days of Community campaign. These affirmations of collectivism may sound true, but — as you will see in a moment — they imply unbiblical absolutes that clash with actual truth. As you read the quotes below, please remember that (1) the word “we” refers to two or more people, not you and your Lord; and that (2) “lone ranger Christian” in this context would include God’s faithful disciple who is rejected or excluded by a compromising church (see “Dealing with Resisters“):
“‘WE’ is more powerful than ‘me.'”[11, pages 44, 46]
“There is power in partnership…. Evangelism is always a team effort.” [11, pages 44]
“There’s no such thing as a lone ranger Christian…. We’re better together and we belong together.”[12 – CD #1]
“The Bible says we’re better together. We were created for community.”[12 – CD #3]
“Why are we so reluctant to admit our need for each other? There are two powerful reasons: First, our culture glorifies individualism…. Second we have pride…. But there is absolutely no shame in needing others. God wired us that way! He wants his children to depend on each other.”
“We were designed for relationships. We were formed for fellowship in God’s family and created for community.”[11, pages 68]
“God hates loneliness…. You’re not just a believer, you are a belonger….
“…when God calls the church ‘the Body of Christ,’ he has a human body in mind where every part is interconnected and interdependent. … Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body‘ (Romans 12:5a, Msg). And like parts of any living body, it’s impossible for believers to thrive without each other.”
“You must be connected to a church fellowship to survive spiritually. More than that, you need to be in a small group of people where you can love and be loved, serve and be served, share what you’re learning and learn from others.”[11, pages 69]
“We must continually remind ourselves that we belong to each other and need each other.”[11, pages 70]
“Love requires community. We cannot obey Christ’s command in isolation. We have to be connected to each other in order to ‘love one another.'”[11, pages 17]
[Note: Remember the testimonies of persecuted saints both in Roman catacombs and Communist prisons. Those faithful believers proved God’s gracious sufficiency in the midst of solitary confinement and unthinkable pressures to conform to socialist thinking and communal values.]
Pastor Warren wrote the foreword for a fast-selling book by Erwin McManus titled An Unstoppable Force: Daring to Become the Church GOD had in Mind. “To get the most out of this book,” wrote Warren, “pay close attention to the metaphors and stories…. If you change the metaphors, you can change the world! Jesus did…. This book models what a postmodern, purpose-driven church can look like…. I love this book because Erwin loves the Church.”
With such a glowing endorsement, Pastor McManus has caught the attention of church leaders around the world. Ponder his view of unity:
“When God creates, he creates with relational integrity. Everything is connected and fits together. This is not only true in the physical realm, but even more so in the spiritual. The Bible tells us that when man sinned, all creation groaned.
“Those who study science have told us that a butterfly fluttering its wings in South America could, in some sense, be the primary cause of an avalanche in Antarctica. This level of complexity strikes us as new and innovative, and yet the Scriptures have advocated this kind of interconnection for thousands of years….
“According to Scripture, everything is connected, and every action has at least some effect on the whole. In the same way the church is part of the whole….”
Those supposed absolute truths taught by Pastors Warren and McManus sound good, don’t they? But there are at least four Biblical reasons why the above affirmations twist our understanding of God and present one important part of the Christian life as being only option and absolute truth.
(1) Our wise and wonderful Lord wants us to “depend on” Him, not on people. Sometimes He separates us from people so that our reliance will be on Him alone. He is our strength and sufficiency — now and forever! See Psalms 18, 23, 45, 73 and 75.
That’s how God trained David, the shepherd boy who became Israel’s king. His youth was spent herding the family sheep alone in the open pastures of the land. There, in those lonely places, he learned to know and trust the Lord as his Rock and Refuge, Shepherd and King. David was still a solitary shepherd boy when he faced the mighty Goliath and the trembling armies of Israel. Taught by God Himself, the young shepherd had the wisdom to reject the ungodly counsel of those who doubted that a boy with a sling could kill a giant with a sword. Confident that God was with Him even if all others turned away, he spoke the memorable words recorded in 1 Samuel 17:37 — “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine!”
(2) While God will never fail us, people will. That’s why Jesus “did not commit [or entrust] Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.” (John 2:24-25) He alone knows our hearts and all of our spiritual needs; therefore He tells us to trust Him rather than human strength or wisdom. While He can work through human friends and counselors, our ultimate confidence must rest in Him, no one else. (See Guidance)
(3) We belong to God, not man, even when we commit ourselves to serve, work, love and live with one another. He who created us also holds our future in His hands. “…do you not know,” asked the apostle Paul, “that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:19 “For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” Romans 14:7
(4) There can be no Biblical unity between sin and purity, between pagan myths and God’s truth, between our holy Lord and the opposing forces of darkness. See 2 Corinthians 6:12-18 and “Loving evil more than good.”
3. Unity in Diversity?
On the other hand, Pastor Warren’s affirmations of unity would generally be true, if the small groups were made up of committed, regenerated Christians who were truly one in Christ through God’s saving grace — and who loved and followed His Word (including the less acceptable passages about sin, guilt, and self-denial).
But such Bible-focused groups would be incompatible with today’s dialectic groups, for the purpose-driven groups must be diverse and open-minded (free from non-negotiable absolutes) in order to fulfill their hidden purposes. The synergy that supposedly energizes group members is fueled by the dialectic process of reconciling opposing views and values.
Since these strategic small groups are designed to (1) meet felt needs of the unbeliever and (2) build common ground, they cannot meet the true spiritual needs of the believer. Individual freedom to share and delight in Scriptures must be limited, since the very nature of God’s Word is considered divisive. You can’t speak Scriptures that might offend other group members. Since church growth is one of the driving purposes (though it’s not among the official five), you cannot walk in the footsteps of Jesus and risk exposing “the offense of the cross.”
Yes, God does call us to share His love and truth with non-Christians. He also tells to encourage us through fellowship with other believers who love His Word and long to serve Him. But those are two separate functions.
When outreach to unbelievers and fellowship with believers merge into a single practice (the dialectic experience of the mixed group), the Biblical fellowship naturally yields to politically correct, cross-cultural dialogue. The demand for a “safe place” where unbelievers can feel unconditionally affirmed rules out all those precious Bible truths that might bring conviction or sin or sound too inflexible.
Yet, Rick Warren tells us that these small groups that draw thousands of unbelievers into seeker churches are also designed to meet the believer’s need for Biblical fellowship. But he can’t have it both ways! That is, unless his real purpose is more aligned with the world’s purposes than with God’s purposes. Maybe our spiritual “eyes” are so blinded that we no longer notice the direction the world around us is headed. If so, it might be good to consider what UNESCO wrote in Our Creative Diversity, the report from its Commission on Culture and [human] Development:
“The challenge to humanity is to adopt new ways of thinking, new ways of acting, new ways of organizing itself in society, in short, new ways of living…. We have not yet learned how to respect each other fully, how to share and work together…. It means an open mind, an open heart, and a readiness to seek fresh definition, reconcile old opposites….
“Extreme doctrinaire views look to an imagined past, seen as both simpler and more stable, thus preparing the ground… for the intimidation of individuals and indeed entire communities….
“Education everywhere,’ says David Hamburg, president of the Carnegie corporation….’needs to convey an accurate concept of a single, highly interdependent, worldwide species — a vast extended family sharing fundamental human similarities…. The give-and-take fostered within groups can be extended far beyond childhood to relations between adults and to larger units of organization….'”
In the mid-eighties, few of us realized that David Hamburg, President of the globalist Carnegie Corporation, was using his authority to negotiate a binding US – USSR Education Exchange Agreement with the Soviet Union. Signed by Mikhail Gorbachev and President Reagan in 1985, its terms required that we trade our education technology for the brainwashing strategies (primarily the dialectic group dynamics) used to indoctrinate Soviet children, change thinking, modify behavior, and monitor the masses to ensure compliance with Soviet ideology.
Thanks to Peter Senge, Peter Drucker, John Maxwell and Rick Warren, today’s world leaders know that their quest for solidarity — which requires freedom from the old Biblical restraints — can be met through facilitated small groups that join Christians, Muslims, skeptics, pagans, atheists, and all the rest who are simply caught up in the excitement of unconditional acceptance and a sense of belonging. Ponder these statements by Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled, who claims to have become a Christian:
“Incorporating the dark and the light, the sacred and the profane, the sorrow and the joy, the glory and the mud, its conclusions are well rounded…. Be fully aware of human variety, and you will recognize the interdependence of humanity.”
“Community is a spirit– but not in the way that the familiar phrase ‘community spirit’ is usually understood. … The members of a group who have achieved genuine communitydo take pleasure — even delight — in themselves as a collective.”
“The spirit of community is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. This does not mean that community is solely a Christian phenomenon. I have seen community develop among Christians and Jews, Christians and atheists, Jews and Muslims, Muslims and Hindus.”
“Community is integrative. It includes people of different sexes, ages, religions, cultures, viewpoints, life styles, and stages of development by integrating them into a whole that is greater—better—than the sum of its parts…. Community does not solve the problem of pluralism by obliterating diversity. Instead it seeks out diversity, welcomes other points of view, embraces opposites…. It is ‘wholistic.’ It integrates us human beings into a functioning mystical body.”
That mystical body that integrates moral and spiritual opposites is not God’s Church, the Body of Christ. As His people, we cannot trade the spiritual unity we have in Christ for today’ssystems thinking and an extra-biblical view of a human “family” and a humanistic interconnectedness. He makes that very clear to us in His Word:
“…what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’ “Therefore ‘Come out from among them and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you….” 2 Corinthians 6:14-18
“If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing…. From such withdraw yourself.” 1 Timothy 6:3, 5
Spiritual growth occurs when we feed on God’s word, hide it in our hearts and walk in the light of its unchanging truths by the strength of His Spirit. God may lead us in many lonely paths as He did with Paul, Joseph and David as well as Jesus Himself. Or He may surround us with people. Wherever He leads, we must trustfully follow! And when we do, we can count on this wonderful promise:
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39
2. Rick Warren, http://www.saddleback.com/home/todaystory.asp?id=6213
3. Kofman, Fred Senge, Peter M., “Communities of Commitment: The Heart of Learning Organizations“. (Special Issue on the Learning Organization) Organizational Dynamics p5(19) Autumn 1993 v22 n2 at http://deming.eng.clemson.edu/pub/tqmbbs/prin-pract/comcom.txt
5. Organization Development: T-Groups at http://www.orgdct.com/more_on_t-groups.htm
10. Peter Senge and Fred Kofman, “Communities of Commitment: The Heart of Learning Organizations“
15. I have a copy of that agreement, provided by Charlotte Iserbyt. Read more about this education exchange at US – USSR Education Exchange Agreement
16. The Different Drum: Community-Making and Peace (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987), pages 65, 73, 75, 234.