Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Daniel Chew on Recapturing The Vision of The Centrality of The Gospel

Rick Warren, a megachurch pastor and philanthropist in Saddleback Valley, who is courted by political and church leaders worldwide, says he thinks Christianity needs a "Second Reformation" that would steer the church away from divisive politics and be "about deeds not creeds". Here is one of the expert diagnosis which concern over Warren's treatment of Scripture in his "Purpose Driven books" and the "Forty Days Program". I can hear the author's voice from it's crying heart in this paper. Daniel Chew, who is the co-organizer of this blog conference, and the author of Driven Away By Purpose, his paper can be accessed here. An Excerpt:

Within Evangelicalism, many churches have for various reasons embraced in part or the whole of the Purpose Driven paradigm within the life of the Church. As Christians, we are to evaluate everything according to the Word of God (Acts 17: 11-12; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Jn. 4:1), so how does this paradigm measure up to Scripture? More importantly, since Christianity is about Christ and the Gospel, how does the Purpose Driven paradigm measure up to Scripture in this respect?

Rev. Peter Wong, graduate from London Reformed Baptist Seminary, whom is currently a minister of Brunei Reformed Baptist Churh. His review can be read here.

Dr Rick Warren renowned , popular Pastor and author of Purpose Driven Church 1995 and the subsequent devotional book Purpose Driven life 1994 , has created quite another wave of new ways of looking at church growth and Christian life since the 1960s modern church growth movement.

[This paper is now opened for discussion.]

48 comments:

Augustinian Successor said...

Daniel is absolutely right.

The centrality of the Gospel and the centrality of Scripture are inextricably related to each other. The one is the MIRROR of the other.

Gideon Teo said...

Daniel, a passionate paper, though I must say you sound a little unreasonable to Warren when credit is due...

1) Under your paragraph of "distorting the gospel message", you mentioned that his gospel presentation is anthropocentric. However, I feel that your criticism is "picking and choosing" his view. Notice that

a) His gospel presentation is presented in the larger context of Living for God's glory alone. In fact, the whole point for chapter 7 is to challenge us to like for God alone and not for ourselves. "Who are you going to live for- yourself or God?" (pg 58). Warren does challenge us to deny self-centeredness. To neglect this would be to miss Warren altogether.

b) While your quote of his gospel presentation does not mention a specific confession of sin, it does presuppose it. My emphasis is the word “presupposed”. This is because the context of his presentation is Chapter 7, which does include the mentioning of Sin. Pg 55 "(sin) is failing to give God glory. It is loving anyone else more than God. Refusing to bring glory to God is prideful rebellion..." Warren is presupposing his readers would be reading his views of sin before reading his gospel presentation. I think you have to give Warren that credit.

2) Under "distorting the gospel of grace", you have rightly corrected Warren's dismissal of creeds. However, your criticism of Warren's view, "right doctrine does not lead to right living" needs rethinking. "Right doctrine" does not equate to "living to creeds by faith". You are correct to reproach Warren for his lack of concern for creeds. However, he is correct to point out the hypocrisy of creed-holders who simply talk and not living our faith. His observation is a valid one as hypocrisy and sin is still present. Creeds are very important; but confessing creeds does not guarantee right living. It is helpful to consider Warren through the eyes of James, where faith and works goes together.

One final note before I end: I agree with you most part that Warren had dangerously watered down the gospel, and I doubt he is a 5 point Calvinist. However, Warren does try to present a gospel to the best of his knowledge which I do appreciate.

Hope these comments are helpful

PuritanReformed said...

Gideon:

1a) Denying self-centeredness is not the Gospel. Islam teaches that also.

b) It has been said that "assume" makes an "ass" out of "u" and "me". I can grant this however. Nevertheless, since Warren clearly targets unbelievers in chapter 7, in especially professedly "Christian" America, how many people will overtly say that they do not believe in God or Jesus?

2) I have addressed this issue I think in the later part of that section quoting from Michael Horton's book Christless Christianity.

I can concede that Warren is sincere. Trouble is, sincerity does not determine truth. I am also of the opinion that there is an Arminian evangelistic method and message, and a Calvinist evangelistic method and message, which are two different things altogether. So, I don't believe that Warren has presented the Gospel but a distortion of it.

Gideon Teo said...

Sorry for deleting my previous posting for typo. =)

Haha... ass of you and me. =)

1) Brother, you know as well as I do that Warren is not advocating for Islam. He specifically states in that same page "Real life begins by committing yourself completely to Jesus." Again, his context for "self-denial" is within chapter 7 of living for God's (specifically the Christian God's) glory. Your response is under the belt and out of Warren's (and my) context.

2) Presupposing is NOT assuming. =) If I am commenting about the second paragraph, I would be expected to have first read the first; hence, it is presupposed (Not assumed) that the understanding of the second paragraph depends on the first paragraph. Hope you see the difference b/w "presupposition" and "assumption", for truly I don't want you to be an ass, and neither do I! =)

3) I agree with you that Warren is Arminian, and yes, Arminians have distorted the gospel. This is why we will ultimately disagree with Warren. I too wish that Warren would be more serious about total depravity. However, we still need to give Warren some credit as he does confess elements of the reformed faith such as soli deo gloria. He is preaching about Jesus and not prophet Muhammad. The problem, of course, is that he lacks a full theology on repentance, God's sovereign election, and other elements of Calvinism. Thanks for helping the rest of us see his fallacy, though I wish you could be a little more charitable to those whom you disagree. =)

Hedonese said...

With Gideon I felt the treatment of Rick Warren was less than fair
:(

I distinctly remember that his Purpose Driven Life chapter 1 that says "It's not about you" and starts with a John Piper quote "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him" hehe

PuritanReformed said...

Gideon:

1) I was using a technique called reductio ad absurdum, which it seems you did not notice ...

2) I have shown in my book (pp. 33-34) how Warren's "Sinner's prayer" could be prayed by a New Ager in total agreement, yet without true biblical faith. The fact of the matter is that those words "failing to live for God's glory" has no context to be understood by most people. A phrase without context means little. In an apologetic encounter, the important thing is to ensure that what you say will be understood by the other person, NOT to talk past others using "Christianese". That is my objection on the basis of "assumption". The average person on the street is NOT going to be bothered about "failing to give God glory". So what if he "fails to give God glory"? Which "God"? Which "Jesus"? In what manner? And why should anyone cares even if that is true?


I see we have to agree to disagree with this nebeulous thing called "charity". I hope that you and Dave would be be just as loving to the many victims of the PD paradigm who have been demonized and kicked out of their churches for opposing the PD franchise.

PuritanReformed said...

Dave:

I have Warren's book in front of me now, and I don't see Piper's quote anywhere. May I know where have you seen it? Thanks.

Yes, I know that phrase "It's not about you" is there on the first chapter first paragraph first line. The problem is, Warren says one thing and then says its opposite in the same book. In PDL page 69, and chapter 9 in general, the entire tone was anthropocentric. "Noah was a pleasure to the Lord" and "makes [God] smile" (p. 69)? Really? "In the entire world, no one but you [Noah] thinks about me [God]" (p. 70)? What is the point of starting with an excellent phrase "It's not about you" when the entire book goes back to being about you (antropocentric)?

CREDO500 said...

Thanks for these various comments. Daniel’s position is clear and prophetic. Meanwhile, I appreciate Gideon’s probing and sympathetic observation as well. Hope we would end up on the same side.

Doctrine is practical, while pragmaticism is not Biblical nor Christianity at all, it’s Dewey’s philosophy in 20th century that shapes American culture today and Chinese churches tomorrow, this is extremely unacquainted with the reformation spirit.

The content of our faith is crucial, sincerity is not sufficient. Can’t wait to draw a line with those lip services of worldly practitioners. Remember the lesson of the Trojan horse, we need to build a mature church, rather than just a healthy church.

Just a random reflection on “marketing the church” (in Chinese) here: http://tw.myblog.yahoo.com/jonahttm-reformed/article?mid=2901&prev=2902&next=2890&l=a&fid=20

Cheers guys,
Jonah

Hedonese said...

Hi Daniel,

You can see the Piper quote here in pg 56
http://tinyurl.com/ydzny8x


In chapter 1, Rick Warren also said
"It's not about you. The purpose of your life is greater than your own personal fulfilmment, peace of mind, or even your happiness"

That doesnt sound very anthropocentric :)

As far as i can tell, he preaches the gospel of justification thru faith alone in christ alone by grace alone to the glory of god alone. He may not be consistent abt it, (like John Wesley) but he deserves more christian charity frm reformed folks

Augustinian Successor said...

"Doctrine is practical, while pragmaticism is not Biblical nor Christianity at all, it’s Dewey’s philosophy in 20th century that shapes American culture today and Chinese churches tomorrow, this is extremely unacquainted with the reformation spirit."

How true, how true indeed.

Augustinian Successor said...

"According to Warren, church health is measured when the church balances five purposes: Outreach,
Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship and Service17. A Purpose-Driven church is therefore one that has
and balances all five purposes in a church, such that each church practices all of them."

The church is by NATURE missional (outreach), sacrificial (worship), ecclesial (fellowship), baptismal (discipleship) and social (service). Thus, the 'division' of the church's calling into the five areas by Warren reflects an Enlightenment attitude towards faith and practice.

If a church lacks any one of the areas, then the fault lies with a faulty understanding of the GOSPEL/WORD. We are back to doctrine. To be sure, this surely INCLUDES the REFORMATION (and REFORMED) also.

PuritanReformed said...

Hi Dave:

oh, I thought you were referring to page 1 or around there. OK, I saw the quote. The problem with Warren's PDL is not that he does not make statements which could be construed to be theocentric, but that when read in the overall context, they are anamolies in an otherwise anthropocentic work.

PuritanReformed said...

Dave:

I will put a few excerpts from Pastor Bob DeWaay's excellent book on the PD paradigm Redefining Christianity, in which he expresses this particular aspect very well.

======

What The Purpose Driven Life presents is what Ray Comfort aptly rejects as "life enhancement preaching". The idea is that there are many wonderful benefits to becoming a Christian. Warren has promised satisfaction, focus, simplification, purpose, and motivation. And beside all these great benefits, one gains eternal life as well. All they have to do is accept what Jesus did for them.

One searches in vain throughout Warren's book to find clear articulation of the gospel, but rather bits and pieces of certain gospel truths scattered throughout. These facts are so scattered that the uninformed could never put them together into a cogent description of the gospel. People who are already Christian can scour through the book and find some gospel truths, but the people with the greatest need to hear the truth could never put it all together. (p. 93)

...

Rather than telling people of the wonderful benefits of accepting Christ, we need to proclaim the law and the gospel. We cannot know for sure that someone's life will get objectively better if they become a Christian. Down through the centuries the opposite has been the case for many who have believed. ... the Bible never claims that a person's relative well-being vis-a-vis others is a sign of true faith. What we do know is that God's absolute law shows that all are sinners facing the just penalty for sin, which is death and eternity in hell. We also know that the Bible claims that Jesus satisfied God's wrath against sin through the blood atonement for all who believe. We can preach with certainty that those who truly repent and believe will be forgiven. (p. 95)

...

The gospel of The Purpose Driven Life is not the same as the gospel of the Bible. The Purpose Driven Life gospel is inoffensive, attractive, winsome, popular and easy to believe. The gospel of the Bible is offensive and heard to believe. It is a narrow gate and narrow path with few adherents (Matthew 7:13, 14). The danger, of course, is that many who are entering the wide gate offered by The Purpose Driven Life will falsely assume they have become Christians when they have not. (p. 104)

...

The issues of truth or error, life or death, pleasing God or pleasing man are too important to allow The Purpose Driven Life to be the new "Christianity" that evangelicalism is presenting to the world (p. 105)

Augustinian Successor said...

"A Gospel presentation that emphasizes the assurance of heaven as the benefit of salvation
will probably be ineffective in ministering to a young adult who thinks he has his entire life
in front of him. He’s not interested in the afterlife. He’s consumed with finding out if there
is any meaning or purpose to this life. One national survey showed that less than 1 percent
of Americans were interested in the answer to the question, 'How do I get to heaven?'
A more effective way to witness to a young adult would be to show how we were made to
have fellowship with God now through Christ. On the other hand, many elderly have a very
great interest in being prepared for eternity because they know their time on earth may be up
at any moment."

If I may add to Daniel's comments in his paper, again we see here a dichotomy, the SEPARATION (instead of a distinction) between the life here and now and the after-life.

The Christian life here and now draws its life from the life to come. Justification is the SOURCE of the Christian life. That is to say, without the after-life, there is no CHRISTIAN life to speak of in the first place.

'The first shall be the last; and the last shall be the first.'

Hence, justification as the eschatological verdict is WHOLE sum of the Christian life.

Thus, this belies Warren's attitude towards the Gospel as anthropocentric. The Gospel is not EXTERNAL, extra nos but internal, subject to the needs of the individual.

Therefore, instead of being incorporated into the HISstory of the Bible, the Bible is incorporated into the personal history of the individual - subjectivism. This is why the Gospel/Word is distorted by Warren.

Anthropocentrism.

PuritanReformed said...

Dave:

>he preaches the gospel of justification thru faith alone in christ alone by grace alone to the glory of god alone.

I disagree with you. Warren may use the same terms, but his preaching is works-righteousness legalism, both explicitly and by logical implication. The Gospel is about salvation from sin, nothing more and nothing less. It is not about "behaving like a Christian" (however true it is), nor is it about "missions" and "serving in church", as if service in church earns you merit before God. Warren has reversed the Reformation order of the indicative and the imperative, placing believers under a yoke of bondage.

My contention is that Warren denies Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Scriptura, and by logical implication deny Solus Christus and Soli Deo Gloria. Just like when dealing with the Federal Visionists like Douglas Wilson, mere mouthing the words and phrases of the Reformation is insufficient.

PuritanReformed said...

Just a note, at a limit of around 5000 words, this article is not exhaustive. It would be helpful to read the books like Bob DeWaay's Redefining Christianity, Michael Horton's Christless Christianity, and mine (Driven Away By Purpose) just to list a few.

Augustinian Successor said...

"Warren has reversed the Reformation order of the indicative and the imperative, placing believers under a yoke of bondage."

Yes, indeed.

Hedonese said...

Hi Daniel

While not a big fan of Rick Warren myself, I found as people passionate for truth for the need to be accurate in our critique esp with serious charges of heresy

The below is found in Rick's church website regarding

"Salvation is a gift from God to man. Man can never make up for his sin by self-improvement or good works – only by trusting in Jesus Christ as God’s offer of forgiveness can man be saved from sin’s penalty. Eternal life begins the moment one receives Jesus Christ into his life by faith." (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8, 9; John 14:6, 1:12; Titus 3:5; Galatians 3:26; Romans 5:1)

This is not works righteousness or legalism.

We may say that his teachings elsewhere are consistent with that statement of belief and we may well have a case here (let him whose doctrine is perfectly consistent throw the first stone) but these inconsistencies can also be interpreted as anomalies in an otherwise protestant/evangelical/arminian gospel :)

PuritanReformed said...

Hello Dave:

can I say that you are essentially saying that: as long as one professes orthodoxy (ie an orthodox Confession or Statement of Faith), then one is to be regarded as being essentially orthodox and inconsistent if one teaches otherwise elsewhere?

Please do inform me how you would handle the case of James Armius and the Remonstrants since they claim fidelity to the Belgic Confession of Faith and the Heidelberg Catechism. Also, how would you handle the case of Moise Amyraldius, since he even claim fidelity to the Canons of Dordt? What is your opinion of Pierre du Moulin, Amyralt's fiercest opponent?

Augustinian Successor said...

That Warren is orthodox according the creeds cannot be denied.

That Warren is heterodox according to the confessions also cannot be denied.

Net result: The church must discern Warren's diagnosis from his panacea.

;-/

Mejlina Tjoa said...

Apology to comment before reading Daniel's paper (will do so soon, promise! =)).

I thought to make quick comments here because I've read, digested and tried to implement some suggestions from a few of Rick Warren's books (Purpose Driven Church, Purpose Driven Life, Purpose Driven Youth Ministry). Have also listened to his lectures to pastors and read a few of his articles.

I personally think that there are plenty of things we can learn from Rick Warren, particularly from common grace point of view. His leadership, passion and charity are commendable. And I think he is a sincere believer too.

But as for Christian ministry, lots of problems I'm afraid. Too commercialised. I can literally see the MBA marketing frameworks I learnt being applied in his ministry when he tried to hit the 3000 number of baptisms to replicate what happened on the day of Pentacost.

That PDL is fine when it starts with "It's not about you. It's about God." But while it's about God, the God he portrays seems more like a very man-centered God, quite off-balanced from the God portrayed in say WCF.

Gideon Teo said...

Daniel wrote,

"I see we have to agree to disagree with this nebeulous thing called "charity". I hope that you and Dave would be be just as loving to the many victims of the PD paradigm who have been demonized and kicked out of their churches for opposing the PD franchise."

Daniel, your passionate (or "prophetic" quoting Pastor Jonah) voice comes across really well. I struggle because I hear your voice more as a snarl than someone who wants to converse. That you want to be heard, and is willing to dismiss and use sarcasm about me "be just as loving", as if I am unconcerned of those who are hurt from wrong leadership of the church.

While I am sympathetic to those who are unreasonably kicked out of their churches, my sympathy is also for those who desires to proclaim the gospel but are also getting it wrong. The reformers desire to help those in error see their wrong doctrine. However, the Reformers themselves were deeply grieved about the splitting of the church; Luther himself did not wish to split but Reform the church from within.

My desire is not only to proclaim the errors of Arminians, I also desire to be apologetic to help them see the errors of their ways. To do so, "let (our) conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that (we) may know how to answer everyone." Col 4:6. That is what I mean by charity.

Hedonese said...

How would I treat Jacob Arminius and other Arminian Christians? Well, Jesus' command to love them as I love myself would be a start :)

Basically I would treat Arminians who hold to all the sola's the same way George Whitefield would treat his co worker John Wesley. There's story about Spurgeon or Whitefield upon being asked abt whether he would see Wesley the Arminian in heaven and the reply in effect was "No, he'd be so close to God that I can't see him in heaven".

PuritanReformed said...

Gideon:

I am surpised you are taking this so personally. Aren't we discussing obejctive truth here, not people?

PuritanReformed said...

Dave:

1) you are confusing Classical Arminianism with Evangelical Arminianism. The Arminianism of the Wesleys is different from the Arminianism of the Remonstrants. For example, Wesley affirmed Total Depravity, while the Remonstrants did not.

2) Again, you are confusing issues with people. Nobody is saying that we are to hate Arminians and others. I am asking you the question on the ecclesiastical level. Are you saying that being "loving" means you can tolerate them teaching error in the church? Was Paul unloving in condemning the Judaizers to hell in Gal. 1:8-9? Was Jesus unloving in pronouncing woe on the Pharisees and the Scribes? Where did you get your definition of "love" from?

valleyofvision said...

Hi all,

I am reminded of a story recorded on Volume 1 of Iain Murray's biography of MLJ. There's a conversation between MLJ and T.T.Shields of Canada and how MLJ was pleading with Shields to focus on preaching the gospel rather than waging war against the liberals. (Suffice to note here that for anyone who reads Lloyd-Jones will know that he does not suffer liberal theology lightly. So the issue is not that of compromise or not.)

There's a particular line in that conversation which struck me, that all people, especially Reformed folks, need to remember:

"You can make a mincemeat of liberals and yet be in trouble in your own soul."

regards
Edward
P.S. Yes, "You can make a mincemeat of those who make a mincemeat of liberals and yet be in trouble in your own soul." So my point is not to criticize criticism, but to raise a point which many (myself included) are prone to forget.

Augustinian Successor said...

Dear Daniel,

I don't think Gideon is taking it personally. I believe that differences is not so much on doctrine but the *approach*. Your approach (and *mine* too) is confessional, if I may put it. The framers of the Canons of Dordt called classical Arminianism the Pelagian heresy from hell. The president, Franciscus Gomarus denounced the Remonstrants in no uncertain terms.

On the other hand, Dave also highlighted Whitefield's attitude towards Wesley. How the Church of England has *changed* by then. Imagine this to be just 150++ years ago, that is from the 18th to 16th and even 17th century.

But at the end of the day, *contending* for the truth is what we have to do.

Hedonese said...

Hi Daniel, in that case Rick Warren would be more evangelical Arminian than the classical type too :)

Somehow whether intentionally or otherwise a couple fence sitters and even reformed folks who follow this blog seem to feel that we are being less than charitable with people like Rick Warren here. So I thought Jesus' command to love our neighbor as ourselves and even love our enemies seem applicable.

Well, there is much room for tolerance in a church when it comes to less than perfect views (errors?) on mode of baptism, music styles, spiritual gifts, evangelistic methods, church growth methods, errors come in different shapes and sizes. I dun expect all my christian brothers to score 100 in a theological exam.

and there isn't a single error-free pastor that I know of (that includes myself!)

The key is to be united on the essentials, think and let think on the non essentials, and charitable in all things.

Discernment calls for us not to over-react on the ecclesiastical level too.

Is Rick Warren a 'judaizer'? Is his error on same level as that of Mormon, JW or even RC?

I really dun see how someone who teached ""Salvation is a gift from God to man. Man can never make up for his sin by self-improvement or good works – only by trusting in Jesus Christ as God’s offer of forgiveness can man be saved from sin’s penalty" can be justly called a Judaizer.

PuritanReformed said...

Jason:

maybe. I do think the Zeitgeist is also at work subconsciously.

PuritanReformed said...

Dave:

which is why I asked you about the case of Jacobius Arminus. Arminius professed to believe in the Belgic Confession. This is what the Belgic Confession teaches:

Article 23: The Justification of Sinners

We believe that our blessedness lies in the forgiveness of our sins because of Jesus Christ, and that in it our righteousness before God is contained, as David and Paul teach us when they declare that man blessed to whom God grants righteousness apart from works.^54
And the same apostle says that we are justified "freely" or "by grace" through redemption in Jesus Christ.^55 And therefore we cling to this foundation, which is firm forever, giving all glory to God, humbling ourselves, and recognizing ourselves as we are; not claiming a thing for ourselves or our merits and leaning and resting on the sole obedience of Christ crucified, which is ours when we believe in him.

That is enough to cover all our sins and to make us confident, freeing the conscience from the fear, dread, and terror of God's approach, without doing what our first father, Adam, did, who trembled as he tried to cover himself with fig leaves.

In fact, if we had to appear before God relying-- no matter how little-- on ourselves or some other creature, then, alas, we would be swallowed up.

Therefore everyone must say with David: "Lord, do not enter into judgment with your servants, for before you no living person shall be justified."^


Since Arminius professes Orthodoxy, and the Canons were not written at that time, was it right to point to his profession of faith as being orthodox and take his actual writings as being "merely inconsistent"? Similar to the case of Warren, will you therefore say that it is wrong to call Arminius a heretic prior to 1618-19?

Augustinian Successor said...

"I do think the Zeitgeist is also at work subconsciously."

Yeah, I agree.

Gideon Teo said...

Daniel and Augustinian Successor:

I'm not trying to express that I am taking this personally. (Thanks Augustinian Successor for clarifying this for me.) What I am "contending" (as you put it) is that our methodology stems from our epistemology. What I am concerned is that while we are discussing objective truth about Warren's theology, we still need to give him grace while critiquing his views. As Daniel puts it, there is a difference b/w an Arminian evangelistic method and message, and a Calvinist evangelistic method and message. Warren's message may be wrong, but his method is commendable. I believe that Daniel's and A.Successor's message are correct, and I hope that our method may also be as apologetic while not compromising the gospel.

Sorry that I sound too "personal". =)

Gideon Teo said...

To Hedonese,

You wrote:
"The key is to be united on the essentials, think and let think on the non essentials, and charitable in all things."

Thanks for being sympathetic to Warren, just I do too. I agree that we have to be united. The problem is, Warren's core doctrines are different than the core doctrines of the Reformed faith... The problem with Warren, as you and I have observed, is that he sounds really "Orthodox", but his Core Orthodoxy is different than ours (like 5 point of Calvinism, 5 solas, etc). Hence, his message sounds similar, but ultimately different.

I do desire to be united as a body. The problem is, while we preach a similar gospel, it's stems from a different Doctrine. Do I believe that Warren is a Christian? Yes. Do I believe he's preaching a full and true gospel? No. That's the unfortunate part. While I agree that no preacher is without error, let's say he's more in error than those in the reformed faith. =) This you can agree, I think.

Robert G. Rhyne III said...

Excellent paper Daniel. I think you are right on the mark with Warren. Warren and the seeker-sensitive movement is firmly in the tradition of American revivalism. His gospel from beginning to end is man-centered in nature.

Salvation is ultimately in the hands of men. There is no special or effectual work of the Holy Spirit that regenerates the heart of the sinner enabling them to respond to the Gospel. This is why the seeker-sensitive movement places such a great emphasis upon 'methods' of evangelism which move the senses and the emotions. The pastor must step in and fill the void left by the Holy Spirit. To do so he seeks to create an 'experience' for the sinner. One which will move them (or manipulate them) to make a 'decision' for Christ.

This has also led them to 'water down' the gospel, and to focus on aspects they believe will be more appealing to the sinner. Again, they step in to feel the void of the Holy Spirit. They treat Christ and the gospel as a comodity which must be marketed and sold to the sinner. They focus upon God's love and grace, and sin is seen as a sickness which keeps the sinner from reaching their true potential.

This has led to churches filled with individuals who have no understanding of the content or true worth of the gospel, and whose 'conversions' are not the result of Holy Spirit but some emotional experience.

Beng said...

As a Methodist (albeit a Calvinistic one, I hasten to add), I must say this:

It's interesting that John Wesley, a professed Arminian, was used by God to bring many more people to Christ than any of us are ever likely to (anyone would like to challenge that?).

But how can this be? (rhetorical question, OK?)

I guess God, in his Sovereign wisdom, can always choose jars of clay to show off his treasure and surpassing power...

I bring this up just for discussion, you understand...

PuritanReformed said...

SB:

God uses all who preaches the true Gospel. Wesley was an Evangelical, and thus he can be used. =)

PuritanReformed said...

Robert:

thanks.

PuritanReformed said...

Gideon:

well, I prefer passionate people to passionless people. =P

Seriously though, I do not see proper labeling (ie heretic etc) as in any way personal. Let's call a spade a spade.

Hedonese said...

Hi Brothers,

With the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, I'd put it this way (though I'd reframe the wordings of that last para a bit):

"No, Arminianism is not itself a heresy. But in saying that, I am defining heresy as something that keeps you from being a Christian at all. If someone is a heretic, I must refuse him the Lord's Supper in my church and must not regard him as a brother. I believe that the logical implications of Arminianism are heretical, but that Arminianism itself usually stops short of heretical implications. In saying this, I am noting that the average Arminian believes on the death of the Lord Jesus for his forgiveness and justification. Whatever problems I have with their views (and I have a lot of problems) I do not question that a sincere Arminian believes on Jesus Christ for his or her salvation. Many of them reject the Reformed teachings because they misunderstand what we actually say (people like Chuck Smith, Norman Geisler, and especially Dave Hunt do much to confuse people as to the actual teachings of the Reformed faith). So often a patient, charitable but clear explanation of the Reformed faith will show a sincere believer that this really is teaching of God's Word."

Taken from:
http://tinyurl.com/yac9ocs

So I'd definitely not anathemize Rick Warren or the >80% Christians in Msia and Singapore who do not share the reformed faith as 'preaching a different gospel' when they do in fact preach the 5 sola's. We may argue that reformed theology keeps the 5 solas coherent better than other systems but that is not to say that they do in fact reject the gospel :)

I'd also take the position of Charles Simeon when he conversed with the elderly John Wesley (and I believe Rick Warren's answers would be same as his):

"Sir, I understand that you are called an Arminian; and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist; and therefore I suppose we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to begin the combat, with your permission I will ask you a few questions. Pray, Sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved that you would never have thought of turning to God, if God had not first put it into your heart?

Yes, I do indeed.

And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by anything you can do; and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?

Yes, solely through Christ.

But, Sir, supposing you were at first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?

No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.

Allowing, then, that you were first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?

No.

What then, are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother's arms?

Yes, altogether.

And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto His heavenly kingdom?

Yes, I have no hope but in Him.

Then, Sir, with your leave I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election my justification by faith, my final perseverance: it is in substance all that I hold, and as I hold it; and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite in those things where in we agree. (Moule, 79ff.)"

Frm Desiringgod.org

Gideon - I can say Rick Warren do preach a true gospel (since it has the 5 solas) but (at the risk of sounding like a Full Gospel fellow) it is an inconsistent or incomplete one since it misses the tulips hehe :)

A Friend said...

Daniel,

You have a comment from your Antithesis

http://god-antithesis.blogspot.com/2009/09/empty-vessels-make-most-noise.html

Gideon Teo said...

Daniel wrote:
"well, I prefer passionate people to passionless people. =P

That's what I like about you brother. I really appreciate your zeal in Christ. =) Though I must also add that passion needs some tempering. Passion can be both edifying and destructive. Use it wisely.

Gideon

PuritanReformed said...

Dave:

As usual, you still do not get it. Warren is NOT in any shape the same as Wesley. In fact, Wesley himself would denounce Warren as teaching error. Your refusal to differentiate Evangelical Arminianism from the semi-Pelagian Finneyist theology that Warren teaches is extremely regrettable.

PuritanReformed said...

Dave:

and by the way, you may want to stop perusing the blog of Neo-Orthdox heretic codenamed "Antithesis". He knows as much about Arminianism as I know about art, which is to say zilch. It is much more preferable to learn about Arminianism from books and especially the Remonstrant Articles and Opinions and the Canons of Dordt rather than Wikipedia. AT says it well: Empty vessels (himself) make the most noise.

soldierofthecross said...

Brothers, let us not forget that Warren constantly speaks out of both sides of his mouth. He will say one thing to a predominantly Christian audience, another to a "seeker" audience, another to the muslims, another to the Jews, etc. He practices the Hegelian dialectic that synthesis thesis and antithesis. As a side note, he is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a private elitist group whose mission is to create a world government. Beware of Warren...the statement of faith on the Saddleback website may contain some correct doctrine, but I can assure you he does not properly handle the truth and in fact distorts it to the point of heresy. I have been to one of his services and have examined countless interviews, speeches, and sermons he has given and it is far from orthodox Christianity. He is a false teacher that should be rejected; he is destroying the definition of Christianity and his own man-made credo is the new doctrine that is being replicated across the nation (and the world) through his purpose-driven franchises. It is not Christianity but a form of Godliness that is being merged with worldliness, a new religion and spirituality that everyone (except true Christians) can embrace. Some of what he says may sound correct but examine it more closely.

Augustinian Successor said...

Dear Brother,

Thank you for sharing!

Augustinian Successor said...

If I may add, Warren is also an *ecumenist* like Billy Graham. His role in American *civil religion* is very revealing.

A Friend said...

Daniel,

A new comment from your Antithesis:

http://god-antithesis.blogspot.com/2009/09/art-of-christian-necromancy.html

PuritanReformed said...

"A Friend":

please ask AT to come over to discuss the issues himself over here. I will ignore trolls and spammers. Ask him also to prove his wild allegations here with citations from reputable sources, not Wikipedia. There are such things called books, you know.

However, do know that the rules will be enforced. If he comes over here and commits the same type of ad-hominem he does as on his blog, he may very well be sent packing.