Copyright © September, 2010
III. American churches take the first step into pragmatic religion
IV. Religious liberalism comes to America
V. Today’s American churches
VI. Theology and psychology merged
A. The Purpose-Driven Church Movement birthed by Rick Warren
B. The standard megachurch gospel
- It’s all about you
- Jesus and salvation
- Metaphysical techniques, infiltration, ecumenicalism
- Unbiblical dress, music, “Bibles,” doctrine
- Big business and the emerging church
Note. Go directly to blue articles, books, etc. by left clicking.
“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col. 2.6-8).
In an article on heresy and apostasy, “On Jack Hyles’ Sermon, ‘The Treasure is in a Field,’” the author pointed out that Dr. Hyles missed a preeminent principle in the Word of God as to the organization of God’s churches in his sermon, “The Treasure is in a Field”. As a result of his error, the chickens have come home to roost at the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana (referred to hereinafter as “First Baptist”). As the author has long pointed out, when a church and pastor compromise basic biblical principle regarding separation of church and state, that church has dishonored her love relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and has headed down the road to heresy and apostasy. An unrepentant compromising church dishonors God, walks toward apostasy, and will be led by another who will further compromise biblical truth.
- In the next article in this series, “Jack Schaap, First Baptist of Hammond, Heresy and Apostasy,” the author pointed to some heretical teachings at First Baptist which Dr. Hyles would never have tolerated, and – in Part II of that article – summarized biblical teaching on heresy and apostasy in God’s churches.
As a result of the first two articles mentioned above, pastors and Christians sent e-mail letters expressing their support or opposition to the articles mentioned above. Some of those letters and my responses may be read in the third article in this series, “Letters from pastors regarding Hyles/Schaap and other articles.”
This teaching segment traces the heresies and apostasies in American churches beginning in the early history of the United States of America.
The thinking that sacrifices truth for unity and superficial peace is not biblical. Christians are instructed to examine doctrinal differences in light of Scripture. Christians have a duty to expose and condemn unbiblical teaching and behavior. Paul rebuked people by name (Phil. 4.2-3; 1 Ti. 1.20; 2 Ti. 2.17). John condemned Diotrophes, a church leader who rejected the apostolic letters and authority (3 Jn.).
Believers are to speak the truth in love. This series on heresy and apostasy does just that. The ultimate goal is to glorify and please our Lord by presenting truth in the hopes that some Christians and churches will wake up, reject heresy and apostasy, place themselves solely under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, and again proclaim the Gospel with power in order that more souls will be saved. Does not the Lamb of God deserve the reward of His suffering? Should Christians not bear their cross for the glory of the One who gave His all for them?
Spiritual treasure is being lost and abandoned and no one seems to know why. This article will show why by looking at the growth of heresy and apostasy in American churches and the results thereof that are now exemplified in the church growth and emerging church movements. Considering the scope of the subject and information, this article is relatively short.
The accompanying sermon, “Conquering the Kingdom of Self” was delivered by James Hoffmeister, missionary to Trinidad on September 12, 2010. As evidenced by his sermon, Brother Hoffmeister loves our Lord and preaches the truth on these matters in love. One may hear uncompromised biblical preaching which honors our Lord in love by going to “Sermons by Pastor Jason Cooley.”
The Bible teaches that leaven always corrupts. “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (See 1 Co. 5.6 and Ga. 5.9). Leaven is defined by our Lord as evil doctrine: “How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees” (Mt. 16.11-12). “And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod” (Mk. 8.15).
“Leaven Summary: (1) Leaven, as a symbolic or typical substance, is always mentioned in the O.T. in an evil sense (Gen. 19.3, refs.). (2) The use of the word in the N.T. explains its symbolic meaning. It is ‘malice and wickedness,’ as contrasted with ‘sincerity and truth’ (1 Cor. 5.6-8). It is evil doctrine (Mt. 16.12) in its three-fold form of Phariseesism, Sadduceeism, Herodianism (Mt. 16.6; Mk. 8.15). The leaven of the Pharisees was externalism in religion. (Mt. 23.14, 16, 23-28); of the Sadducees, skepticism as to the supernatural and as to the Scriptures (Mt. 22.23, 29); of the Herodians, worldliness—a Herod party amongst the Jews (Mt. 22.16-21; Mk. 3.6)” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 4 to Mt. 13.44, p. 1016).
Many American Bible believing churches and Christians (dissenters in the colonies) who had fought long and hard for religious liberty added a little leaven to their church bodies almost immediately after they achieved religious liberty through the First Amendment to the United States Constitution (See Sections IV and VI of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (reproduced on this website in both PDF and online form. See Review of Books by Jerald Finney and Order infomration for books by Jerald Finney for information on this and other books by Jerald Finney; Click Link to preview of God Betrayed to preview God Betrayed and also, An Abridged History of the First Amendment). They did this by uniting with the state through incorporation, acting against the sound biblical advice of men such as Isaac Backus. Although they remained true to other fundamental Bible principles, they had started down the road to further heresy and apostasy.
III. American churches take the first step into pragmatic religion
When a church does not love the Lord enough to make sure that she does everything to keep wicked doctrine out of the church and to keep herself totally under her Husband, the Lord Jesus Christ, a little leaven has entered that church and successive steps away from true biblical doctrine inevitably follow. This principle was seen in the Old Testament when the people of Israel chose to take themselves from under God and demanded a king. The direction for Israel from that point was only downward. She ultimately became totally apostate. As taught in both the Old and New Testaments, the only remedy for apostasy is God’s judgment.
Churches in America began to dishonor the Lord shortly after the ratification of the Constitution (and even before the ratification of the Constitution). As shown in Section VI of God Betrayed, many Bible believing churches in America, in not studying, understanding, and/or applying biblical principles concerning Christ and His church and biblical principles concerning the relationship of church and state, started the downward slide of God’s churches almost immediately after the ratification of the United States Constitution. They took the first step into pragmatic religion. In one way they said, “Our goal will not be only the glory of God; an additional goal will be the happiness of man.” Churches decided to be practical, to do that which was right in their own eyes. They incorporated, thereby introducing a little leaven into the relationship between church and state. They did this although warned by men such as Isaac Backus.
IV. Religious liberalism comes to America
With the advent of religious liberalism in the nineteenth century, liberal churches rejected the truth and inerrancy of Scripture, the divinity of Christ, biblical salvation, and other biblical principles. The philosophy of those churches was humanism and the goal of humanism is the happiness of man. Although liberal theologians did not believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, the deity of Christ, heaven and hell, or any of the other cardinal principles of the Bible, they employed a lot of people and needed a way to justify their continued existence. So they said, “We don’t believe in an eternal happiness, but we do know that you have to live 70 years on earth. So come and let us help you enjoy the ride. Let us show you how to be happy while you are alive.” They set out to teach man how to be happy here on earth and to help others who were less fortunate so they also could be happy—the social gospel. Instead of preaching from the authority of the Bible, they read poems, “preached” smooth things and appealed to the self. Liberal “Christianity,” then as now, was a feel-good religion. God became, for the liberal, a means to an end, a way to achieve happiness while on earth. Liberal “Christianity” is man-centered. (A great sermon that gives the history of religious modernism is Paris Reidhead, “Ten Shekels and a Shirt,” January 1, 1980.)
Humanism, or liberalism, affected even many fundamental churches. While many churches at first departed from the biblical doctrine of separation of church and state, most adhered to other major biblical doctrines. They preached inerrancy of Scripture, the depravity of man, the holiness of God, repentance from sin, and salvation by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But with time, since the atmosphere was humanism, the goal of many fundamental churches became the happiness of man, not the glory of God. They said, “We believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, the deity of Christ, and heaven and hell.” But the goal became humanistic—the eternal happiness of man in heaven. Again, the God-given goal for man is the glory of God, not the happiness of man, which is just a by-product of salvation and not a goal. Some fundamentalists began to preach God as a means, not an end, forgetting that it’s not what God can do for the believer but what the believer can do for God. The God-given goal is to preach the gospel so that the Lamb of God may receive the reward of His suffering. (Ibid.-Paris Reidhead, “Ten Shekels and a Shirt,” January 1, 1980.)
God sends his children to the heathen to preach the gospel because He desires to save every person from his or her monstrous sins:
“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes…. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Ro. 3.10-18, 23; see also, e.g., De. 31.27; Job 20.11; Ps. 26.10, 53.1-6; Ec. 7.20; Is. 1.5, 64.6; Jer. 17.9 and 23, 22.17; Ro. 7.18; 2 Co. 3.14; Ja. 3; 2 Pe. 2.14; etc.)
The principle of man’s total sinfulness runs throughout the Bible and explains why every man, to be saved, must repent and trust Christ to save him from those sins. Every person deserves hell. The attitude of the believer should be: “I will serve Him my whole life, even should I go to the hell which I deserve (which is not possible) because He is worthy. He did it all for me because of my monstrous sins.” Believers are a reward for the Savior who died a horrible death on the cross in order to pay the penalty God requires for the sins of every person. (Ibid.)
So eventually many fundamental churches, in the humanistic earthly and spiritual atmospheres in America, began to preach, “Come, add Jesus to your life, and you will have eternal happiness in heaven.” The goal became humanistic. When someone made a verbal profession of adding Jesus to his life, someone would slap him on the back, congratulate him, and welcome him into a church. Yes, a saved person goes to heaven, but that is not his goal. The goal is the glory of God. Many “Bible believing” churches no longer preach that man is sinful, that men are monsters of iniquity, that man deserves hell, that God saves men because He endured the agonies of torture and crucifixion for them, and that He deserves the reward for His suffering (that is, He deserves those for whom He died). Christianity says, “The end of all being is the glory of God.” Humanism says, “The end of all being is the happiness of man.” “One was born in hell, the deification of man; and the other in heaven, the glory of God” (Ibid.). Humanism may or may not bring temporary happiness. Some professing Christians do not respond to God’s calls for service because to do so would not make them happy. When one’s goal is the glory of God, he responds to God’s call whether he believes it will make him happy or not. True Christianity brings eternal happiness, but only as a side effect, and not as a goal.
The advance of apostasy accelerated in Europe and America starting in the mid-eighteen hundreds. As a result, only a small remnant remains in Europe, and the deception engulfs the church in America more and more each day. Since the birth of religious liberalism, which developed the idea that rationalism is superior to revelation, in the mid-nineteenth century, “the contest between those polarities grows hotter, suggesting that this contest may be the final battle of human history” (Dave Breese, 7 Men who Rule the World from the Grave (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1990), pp. 89-104). Until perhaps the mid-eighteen-hundreds, “the Bible was the authoritative book, the government was to be respected, order in society was to be kept—that’s the way it was” (Ibid., p. 90). But things were changing quickly, and one of the most fundamental changes was within the Christian religion:
“That change was so dramatic, so fundamental, so far-reaching that it can be said that because of it the Christian religion, though retaining its external form, became a fundamentally different thing on the inside. At the close of the century, the churches were still there, the choirs still sang, the babies were still baptized, and the candles continued to burn, but the substance, the core—yes, the life—of Christianity was gone. The idea that God was in the midst of it all and that He had revealed Himself in His inspired, infallible Word—that idea, that life, slipped through the fingers of an unsuspecting church in those days” (Ibid., p. 91).
In the nineteenth century a German rationalist scholar named Julius Wellhausen stepped to the fore and religious liberalism came into being. “Before Wellhausen came on the scene, the Bible was generally accepted as the revealed, true, and inerrant Word of God; and Christians everywhere believed that all of Scripture was given by inspiration of God.” The German rationalists, with Wallhausen at the forefront, changed all that. Wallhausen taught that human reason was totally dependable and insisted that the Bible could not be trusted (Ibid.). A cold wind of doubt, distrust of God, and spiritual disquiet, influenced by the coming of Darwinism and Marxism, began to blow through the churches, the schools, and the homes of Germany and Europe. “From that point, the advent of anti-revelational liberalism, Christianity ceased to be a religion based on divine revelation but rather became a set of composite religious views anchored in human reason.” “The Christian religion became a complex set of human rationalizations, rather than the revealed truth of God” (Ibid., p. 92).
Initially, the effect of his new theology upon a Christian culture was on the schools, churches, and scholarship of Europe. Quickly, the state-churches embraced the rationalistic point of view, lost the concept of divine revelation and faith in the Bible; and Europe lost its soul (Ibid.). The result in Europe—as of 1990, less than one percent of Europe was evangelical Christian (Ibid., p. 102).
“Soon after it came into being, liberalism leaped the ocean and began to be preached in the old-line denominational churches, colleges, and seminaries of the eastern seaboard of the United States” (Ibid., p. 97). J. Greshcham Machen, a great scholar, discussed those days and the coming of liberalism to the Methodists, Anglicans, and especially the Presbyterians, reminding us of what liberalism truly is. “Machen wrote Christianity and Liberalism in 1924, but for many institutions, the old-line denominations, it was too late because the arguments of liberalism had already subverted many educational establishments” (Ibid., p. 98). Happily, one can now look at the record and rejoice in the fact that liberalism, although it became firmly rooted in America, did not win the day in the United States, carrying everything before it as it had done in Europe and to the significant extent in England (Ibid., pp. 99-101).
“[I]ts insistence in calling itself Christian. While denying the inspiration of the Bible, the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, the true nature of faith, and most of the other cardinal Christian doctrines, the liberals still want conservative Christians to think of them as ‘one of us.’ As a consequence it is almost a rule of life that the liberals do not leave the visible church. [Even though] they tell of plans to open new churches, start new seminaries and the like, alas, that does not happen. There is a severe strain of dishonesty about this reluctance to leave, this maintaining a pretense of Christianity by those who deny the faith. Great clarity could be wrought by liberals if they called their religion by another name than Christianity and set up shop on their own” (Ibid., p. 103).
Franklin Hamlin Littell observed in 1962 that American churches, once faithful and disciplined, had in their prosperity settled back into the world, and that America would seem well on the way to secularization and faithlessness. Most American church members in 1962 were first-generation, or at best second-generation Christians who but vaguely grasped the implications of Christianity (Franklin Hamlin Littell, From State Church to Pluralism: A Protestant Interpretation of Religion in American History. (Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company, 1962), p. viii). At that time the problems of the church were promiscuity and depreciation of the integrity and authority of the family, materialistic standards of success, racialism (the practice of religion as a tribal cult), and widespread theological illiteracy (IbIbid., ix). Always the “new Christians” have brought over into the church some of the habits of their unbaptized condition (Ibid., p. 82). [I]n America the “new Christians,” whose conversions were not followed by class meetings and careful instruction, either fell back in a short time into the old way of life or were gathered up in new prophetic cults started by, among others, Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, Norman Vincent Peale, Marcus Garvey, and Father Devine which blended tribal wisdom with selected or corrupted Christian teachings (Ibid., pp. 83-85). Joseph Smith’s message, for example, offered a solution to those who had looked in vain to the revivalists for food to sustain their awakened spirits, for a new pattern of community to express their new faith (Ibid., p. 85). Camp meetings and revivalists worked through the area year after year, converting & reconverting, without giving clear and careful guidance to newborn men & women as to how to continue their pilgrimage in responsible churchmanship (Ibid., p. 86).
It was perhaps inevitable that, as “converts” remained unchanged in life, eventually even the verbal phase should be softened & accommodated to popular opinions (Ibid., p. 125). In the latter half of the 19th century, various professional evangelists turned from dealing with major issues in society, proclaiming the Lordship of Jesus Christ over all of life, calling upon men to repent, convert, and be healed and introduced a new style of message; avoiding any offense to the ruling elements in the cities, their patrons, they concentrated on the “sins” of the workingmen: drinking, swearing, gambling, and joining unions (Ibid., pp. 125-26). The decline in great preaching—i.e. proclamation of the Word that convicts & converts, that moves to repentance and to turning again to the Lord of nations & generations—is one of the most striking measures of the deterioration of the Free Churches into culture-religion (Ibid., p. 126).
The ordinary members who never have had the discontinuity between life in Christ and life in the world brought home to them are less at fault for the inadequate training than the leadership of the churches, who—though sworn to uphold the form of sound words and doctrine—neglect catechetical instruction and concentrate solely on the acquisition of more and new members at any price (Ibid., p. 134). These problems are greatest in the churches which have grown most—Baptist, Methodist, and Churches of Christ (Ibid., p. 135). In the most live theological circles in America, however, even as early as 1962, there was growing up the realization that the 19th century had ended with the rise of the most terrible apostasy & mass defections experienced by Christendom since Islam swept through & captured the ancient strongholds of Christianity in North Africa (Ibid., p. 165). Theologically and ecclesiologically those who are determined that the American churches shall bless “our way of life” stand exactly where the collaborators with the Nazis, the “German Christians,” stood in the 1930s and 1940s. Theirs is the same curious mixture of creedless “spirituality,” of treason toward the … church (Ibid., p. 166).
Thus, by 1962, apostasy had taken its toll on American churches. The nineteenth century ended with “mass defections from the churches of Europe. In her decline, Christianity “spawned the most monstrous ideologies and political religions.
“The warning that comes to America, that is declared to her by her ablest theologians, is that ‘Christendom’ is no longer a viable concept, that the nineteenth-century continuum is split apart. Nevertheless, it is serious error—though a common one—to bracket the churches in America & the churches of Europe in a common destiny. True, the most serious challenge confronting the faith in America is also tribal religion, Protestant nativism, apostasy of the sort that many of the churches in Europe also have had to struggle with. The words of Professor Edmund Schlink on the condition of religion in pre-Hitler Germany might be transferred without amendment or alteration to popular religion of the present in America:
“‘… people had grown accustomed to regard God primarily as the protector of ordered family life, a help in the education of children and a friend in the events of life such as leaving school, marriage and death. He had become the guarantor of national and civic security, in the midst of the insecurities of this world’” (Ibid., pp. 165-166 citing Schlink, Edmund, ‘The Witness of the German Church Struggle,’ in the Universal Church in God’s Design (London: SCM Press, 1948), p. 99).
V. Today’s American Churches
In today’s American churches, as always, Satan is using the same technique he used to attack and draw people away from the Word of God in the Garden of Eden where he started the deception by saying, “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden” (Ge. 3.1)? Eve then answered, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die” (Ge. 3.2-3). She erroneously added to God’s Word “… neither shall ye touch it” (Ge. 3.3).
- The “‘Yea, hath God said…?’ strategy may be the Serpent of Old’s most deadly. The process involves weaning evangelical Christians away from the knowledge of, and understanding of, and a dependence upon the Word of God. The objective is to produce biblically shallow Christians who are functionally illiterate regarding what the Bible teaches, and who therefore have no accurate basis for, or interest in, discerning biblical truth from error….
- “Conditioned by a subversive weaning process, these biblically shallow Christians have little or no concern about doctrine. They major in the experiential, with their feelings almost exclusively determining what they believe. [As the apostle Paul said,] ‘For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables’ (2 Ti. 4:3, 4).
- “Today, experiential Christianity has extended far beyond the bounds of what was considered a fringe evangelical element[, the extreme Charismatics and Pentecostals]. It now pervades the entire church, including those denominations and movements once known for their conservative doctrinal views and biblical adherence. They have vigorously blocked the lying signs and wonders seduction at their front doors while opening wide their side entrances and youth rooms to the purveyors of the experiential in less obvious yet equally disastrous forms.
- “… [T]rue Christianity is both doctrinal and experiential….
- “The chief error today in the evangelical church is that experiences (feelings, emotions, passions, intuitions, etc.) have become the guide for entering into and attempting to establish true spirituality. Rather than subjective feelings and emotions being present as a result of one’s adherence to sound doctrine, they have become the judge of whether or not something is truly Christian. Instead of testing a teaching or practice or situation by the Word of God, the arbiter becomes ‘how one feels about it.’ This puts the human imagination in the seat of judgment….
- “‘… There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death (Pr. 14.12; 16.25).’ ‘To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them (Is. 8.20).’
- “Experientialism (what feels right to man) is a leaven working its way through the entire church as it undermines biblical truth. Today there are many infectious manifestations, with heavy emphasis upon the following: signs and wonders, faith-healing and prosperity, logos vs. rhema, the new apostles and prophets, kingdom-dominion, redeeming-the-culture missions, strategic spiritual warfare, inner-healing, 12-steps, Christian psychology, evangelical social-activism; ecumenism, church growth, purpose-driven, emerging church, contemplative mysticism, church entertainment, contemporary worship, culturally accommodating Bible versions, and visually translated Bibles. All these movements are in opposition to the clear teaching of God’s Word, yet multitudes follow them eagerly.
- “… All these diverse endeavors, while giving lip service to the Scriptures, … whether through ignorance, self-delusion, or planned deceit, critically subvert its teachings” (T. A. McMahon, “Weaning Evangelicals Off the Word—Part I,” The Berean Call, Vol. XXII, No. 2, February 2007, pp. 1-2. Search www.THEBEREANCALL.ORG for related articles or the books offered for explanations of the movements listed in the quoted material.).
Satan is using this “Yea, hath God said” strategy in today’s churches in a variety of ways. This article will look at a few. Today, “[t]he true Christ and the true faith of the Bible are being replaced rapidly with diseased substitutes offered by a group of teachers who belong to what has been labeled the “Faith Movement” (Hank Hanegraaff, Christianity in Crisis (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers 1993), p. 11; this statement is true, but Hank Hanegraaff is heretical about some very important matters). Multitudes who name the name of Christ have adopted a wildly distorted perception of what it means to be a Christian.
“Under the banner, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ multitudes are being duped by a gospel of greed and are embracing doctrines straight from metaphysical cults….” Eternal truths from the Word of God are being perverted into bad mythology—and all the while Christianity is hurtling at breakneck speed into a crisis of unparalleled proportions (Ibid.).
Spiritual leaders are teaching that Satan conquered Jesus on the Cross, that they are God and Jesus, that we should not pray such “faith-destroying words” as “If it be thy will,” that we are in control and God has to be given permission to work in the earth realm, and that man was created equal with God and can stand in God’s presence without any consciousness of inferiority (Ibid.).
In Christianity in Crisis Hank Hanegraaff [En1] chronicles a composite of erroneous teachings of individuals such as Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Frederick Price, and many others. Many of the followers of these false teachers are sincere, born again believers who love the Lord. En2 Hanegraff points out the chief teachers of this movement, noting that “the bulk of their theology can be traced to the cultic teachings of the Faith Movement and that much of the theology of the Faith Movement can be traced to such cults as Religious Science, Christian Science, and the Unity School of Christianity” (Ibid, p. 29). These men “point to Scripture,’ produce ‘miracles,’ and operate under the banner of ‘Jesus is Lord’” (Ibid., p. 39).
“Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in they name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Mt. 7.21-3). Jesus said “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn. 6.40).
Many of the churches in the Faith Movement are cults or cultic (Hanegraaff, pp. 42-45). One definition of a cult is: “[A]ny religious movement which claims the backing of Christ or the Bible, but distorts the central message of Christianity by 1) an additional revelation, and 2) by displacing a fundamental tenet of the faith with a secondary matter. A primary characteristic of cults in general is the practice of taking biblical texts out of context in order to develop pretexts for their theological perversions” (Ibid., p. 43).
Although cults use biblical terms, the meanings they attach to those terms are erroneous. Most or all cults, for example, do not believe that Jesus was the only Son of God or that the Son of God was also God. Islam, for example, believes that Jesus was a great prophet, but that he was not God; Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus was the Archangel Michael.
Satan, through his false teachers, says to Christians seeking to solve their mental, emotional, and behavioral problems, “Yea, hath God said?” and then points out that the “science of psychology” will show them how to love themselves and overcome those problems. Many churches have “turned from God’s Word to psychology, that is, to man’s bankrupt theories in attempting to resolve mental, emotional, and behavioral problems;” in other words, to doctrines of devils which are designed to undermine what is taught in Scripture (See T. A. McMahon, “Psychology and the Evangelical Church,” The Berean Call, Vol. XXI, No. 3, March 2006, pp. 3-4; T. A. McMahon, “Psychology and Prophecy,” The Berean Call, Vol. XXI, No. 4, April 2006, pp. 3-4; T. A. McMahon, “Psychology and the Doctrines of Devils,” The Berean Call, Vol. XXI, No. 10, October 2007, pp. 3-4. Search http://www.thebereancall.org/ for articles and books offered to examine various issues concerning psychology in the church today. Some titles: Psychotherapy, The End of Christian “Psychology;” Psychobabble: the Failure of Modern Psychology;, Hypnosis: Medical, Scientific or Occultic; Four Temperaments: Astrology & Personality Testing; Competent to Minister: The Biblical Care of Souls; 12 Steps to Destruction: Codependency Recovery Heresy; James Dobson’s Gospel of Self-Esteem & Psychology.). Since many Christians are biblically illiterate but well-informed in the teachings of Satan through the public schools, the secular and “Christian” institutes of higher learning including most Bible colleges and Christian seminaries, the secular media including secular books and magazines, much of the so-called “Christian” media, worldly friends and relatives, and perhaps their own pastors, psychology has had little resistance in most “Christian” circles to prevent it from becoming a very effective “Yea, hath God said” technique used to infiltrate the church today.
Scripture warns: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves….” (2 Ti. 3.1, 2). Although men have, since the Garden of Eden, been self-seeking and self-serving, “it has only been since the rise of modern psychology that self has been proclaimed as the solution to all of our mental, emotional and behavioral ills” (T. A. McMahon, “Psychology in Prophecy,” p. 3). With the theory of evolution which, if believed, eliminated the need for God, mankind is left only with “self” and must solve all his problems (Ibid.). This requires man, of course to be innately good, since it would be impossible for man to help an innately sinful person (Ibid.), for a man to love an innately sinful person. The Bible teaches that man already loves himself to the point where he is selfish.
The great commandments are, according to Jesus, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment (Here, the Lord quotes De. 6.5). And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (This quote is from Le. 19.18)” (Mt. 22.37-40; Mk. 12.28-34; Lu. 10.25-28).
Thus, Jesus indicates that we already love ourselves, something that is consistent with the view of man as seen in all Scripture, and the view of man presented by reality. Would one really get down on himself if he did not love himself?
The key for the disciple of Christ is to learn to love God so much that he gives up all that he has and, by comparison, he hates himself and others: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Lu. 14.26-27). In context of Scripture, Jesus was saying that although one is to love others, and although one loves himself, that love, compared to the love one is to have for God, is equal to hate. In other words, a disciple is to put God far above anyone, including himself. Jesus also said, “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Lu. 14.33).
- Whereas the Bible teaches that man is sinful by nature, “[a]ll the psychotherapeutic selfisms, from self-love to self-esteem to self-image to self-actualization to self-realization—and ultimately to self-deification—are predicated upon the innate goodness of one’s nature.
- “Humanistic psychology—to which all psychotherapies are related—is the pseudo-scientific belief system of the Antichrist, who is the personification of human evil. The bases of his religion were introduced to mankind by Satan in his seduction of Eve (turning her away from obedience to God and toward her own self-interests, even godhood—Genesis 3) and culminate in a man, the Antichrist, setting himself up in the temple of God to be worshiped as God (2 Thesallonians 2:4). It’s all about the worship of self….
- “Only biblical Christianity stands against the exaltation of self that ties all other religions together. The Bible declares self to be evil and hopeless and says that man’s salvation can come only from God as it is received by faith in Jesus alone, who satisfied divine justice by His full payment for the sins of mankind, according to the Scriptures. All other religions look to self to obtain salvation, ultimately through one’s own efforts, whether by rituals, sacraments, meditation, liturgies, good works, and so forth” (T. A. McMahon, “Psychology in Prophecy,” p. 3).
Even though, from a biblical perspective, psychotherapy is an antichristian, religious counterfeit, the evangelical church is a primary referral service for counseling psychologists and psychiatrists, and many large churches have licensed psychotherapists on staff (T. A. McMahon, “Psychology and the Evangelical Church,” p. 3). And in spite of the fact that psychotherapy, according to numerous scientific studies, rarely works (and then only superficially) and is known to be harmful, “[m]ost evangelicals are convinced that psychotherapy is scientific and is necessary to supply what is lacking in the Bible regarding man’s mental, emotional, and behavioral needs” (Ibid.). By mixing psychology and Christianity in the hope of merging “science” and faith, Christians have ignored biblical principles and common sense (Ibid., pp. 3-4). Psychology is not a science nor can it be Christianized (Ibid.). Although the situation in the church is serious, Scripture tells us it will far exceed what we can imagine: “The apostle Paul is emphatic in his warning that ‘in the last days’ man’s condition will be ‘perilous’” (Ibid., p. 4, citing I Timothy 3.1-2.).
VI. Theology and psychology merged
Norman Vincent Peale pioneered the merger of theology and psychology. His blasphemous humanistic views were then spread throughout the “Christian” community by Robert Schuller, and even by many conservative evangelical preachers and teachers of note such as Chuck Swindoll, Charles Stanley, Josh McDowell, Anthony Hoekema, and Norm Geisler who “bought into, taught, Christianized, and further popularized the concepts of self-love, self-esteem, self-worth, and self-image.” “… [[S]welling numbers of highly regarded, degreed professionals teach the church what they have gleaned from ‘the counsel of the ungodly.’]” Rick Warren, a pastor with great influence in churches and in America today lists in an article in Ladies Home Journal five humanistic unbiblical truths: accept yourself, love yourself, be true to yourself, forgive yourself, believe in yourself (T. A. McMahon, “Psychology in Prophecy,” p. 4).
“Rick Warren’s 30 million copies of The Purpose-Driven Life include Jungian concepts, such as Psychological ‘types.’ Saddleback Church’s ‘Celebrate Recovery’ program (See TBC Oct ’05), which has been exported to 4,500 churches and Prison Fellowship Ministries, is based on A.A.’s 12-Step principles. A.A. co-founder Bill Wilson received the 12 steps during the time he was in contact with spirit entities. He later wrote a personal letter to Carl Jung thanking him for his influence…. Warren is not the only witting or unwitting promoter among evangelicals of what Jung learned from demons. He is just the most successful and the best known” (T. A. McMahon, “Psychology in Prophecy,” p. 4.).
“Psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung, the son of a Protestant pastor who seriously doubted his professed faith, was more popular among professing Christians than was Sigmund Freud (an atheist) because of his perceived affinity for religion and things spiritual. However, Jung was anti-biblical and resentful of organized Christianity from his youth. His early symbolic visions revealed Jesus as a Dark Lord and God defecating on a cathedral. His mother’s side of the family was heavily involved in spiritualism…. Jung’s teachings are doctrines of demons, gleaned directly from seducing spirits…. Jung promoted all things occult, including astrology, alchemy, the I-Ching, mysticism, necromancy, visualization, dream interpretation, the active imagination, yoga, meditation, etc.” (T. A. McMahon, “Psychology and Doctrines of Devils,” p. 4).
The results of the natural progression of humanistic pragmatism are seen today in the Church Growth Movement and the Emerging Church Movement in America.
A. The Purpose-Driven Church Movement birthed by Rick Warren
Noah Hutchings states that “Perhaps the greatest paradigm shift that has visited the church since the Protestant Reformation … may be occurring at the present time in the Purpose-Driven Church Movement birthed by Rick Warren” (Noah W. Hutchings, The Dark Side of the Purpose Driven Church (Bethany, Oklahoma: Bible Belt Publishing, 2005), p. 7). Rick Warren was influenced by the Church Growth Movement of Donald McGavran. Marshall Davis explains that the Church Growth Movement applies scientific principles to the church, principles which “can be successfully applied to any organization—secular or religious, Christian or non-Christian…. Mormons and New Age religions are welcomed into the seminars, and they successfully employ the principles of church growth taught there” (Marshall Davis, More Than a Purpose (Enumclaw, WA: Pleasant Word, 2006), p. 23).
As a seminary student, Warren studied the one hundred largest American churches in order to discover why they grew so large. He became the champion of the movement. He, like church growth leaders before him, embraces pragmatism, but without restraint of right and wrong—the end justifies the means. In a Christian worldview, God justifies the means. Pragmatism says that any strategy that works is good no matter where it comes from; if it doesn’t work, it is bad. Rick Warren has gone “further and said that if something is working, then it is of God” (Ibid., p. 149.). If a “church” is growing, then it must be of God. For example, the new idea of tolerance attracts people to the “church” whereas the biblical concept of tolerance repels people in this postmodern age. The biblical concept of tolerance says, “Let’s discuss our disagreements amiably in an effort to discover truth. God gives everyone freewill and no one will be forced to accept the truth; every belief, even false beliefs, will be tolerated.” They will be tolerated in society, but a New Testament church cannot accept known unrepentant sinners, heretics and apostates into membership. The postmodern concept of tolerance says, “All lifestyles, beliefs, philosophies, and truth claims are equal; and, since one has no right to say that his are superior to any other, intolerance is the only thing that will not be tolerated.”
“The average American believes that all religions basically teach the same thing. They are not really interested in religious doctrine anyway. They are interested in application, something that will work in their personal lives…. Americans have embraced the idea of religious tolerance and acceptance. They do not want an exclusivist religion that says, ‘My way or the highway.’ They want a form of Christianity that is fun on Sundays and useful on Mondays, and preferably not too time consuming…. The Purpose-Driven Life’s ‘40 days to spiritual maturity’ is just about right” (Ibid., pp. 168-169).
Since the teaching of the anti-biblical concept of tolerance “works,” it must be of God. Nor can a “church” teach theological doctrine with any precision. That would result in offending some who would refrain from coming to “church.” Pragmatism opens the door to all kinds of satanic infiltration including the New Age. Satan is a deceiver. “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Co. 11.14).
In using anything and everything that will work, Warren appeals to the average American who will always be more influenced by the information corresponding with what they have received as Americans than they will be by something new to them like true biblical doctrine. This is true even should they really get saved, as can be seen by looking at the membership of the average “Bible believing church.”
“American seekers do not care if there is a little New Age mixed in with their gospel. They are used to it. They hear it on Oprah. They watch Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra on PBS. They may have read Bernie Siegel. The Saddleback Sams and Sallys targeted by Rick Warren are baby-boomers who went through the 1960s and 70s. They feel comfortable with the ideas of Eastern religions. They take yoga classes and send their children to karate classes” (Davis, pp. 168-169).
“[T]he spiritual foundation of this whole Purpose-Driven Movement [can] be found in the writings and teachings of Robert Schuller’s 50-year ministry” (Warren Smith, Deceived on Purpose, (Magalia, CA: Mountain Stream Press, 2004), p. 171; see also, John S. Torell, “The Destruction of the Southern Baptist Convention,” The Flaming Sword,” Volume 3, 2007, available at http://www.eaec.org.). In turn Schuller’s ministry was greatly influenced by How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale as well as by other teachings of Norman Vincent Peale (Davis, pp. 26-27). Robert Schuller is the real architect of this movement. The following words express the author’s sentiment regarding this movement exactly: “I believe this movement to be one of the worst distortions of the church that American ingenuity, born of an outworn capitalist mentality, could possibly devise” (Hutchings, p. 29). The theology of the megachurches and ultra-churches of the Church Growth Movement purports to be biblical. However, for the most part, at least as pushed by the leaders of the movement, a spattering of biblical quotes from mainly perverted interpretations of the Bible are interspersed in a sea of business, humanistic, and New Age principles, some or all of which are being copied by untold numbers of churches throughout the nation and world. For example, the “Purpose-Driven Life does not use the Bible as an authority. It quotes it [actually, for the most part, interpretations of the Bible] as a supporting witness when it is useful to do so” (Davis, p. 106).
Pastors and Christian leaders, many of whom are apparently solid Bible-believers, flock to Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral to learn principles of “successful church leadership” as did Rick Warren. Schuller reveals an obvious hypocrisy in what he says to Christians and has undeniable ties to the New Age Movement. He promotes Jerry Jampolsky whose life is founded upon the principles of A Course in Miracles and whom Schuller falsely portrays as a traditional Christian when in fact the god of Jampolsky is not the God of the Word of God. Here are some examples of the New Age teaching in which Jampolsky believes:
“Do not make the pathetic error of ‘clinging to the old rugged cross;’ the journey to the cross should be the last ‘useless journey;’ the recognition of God is the recognition of yourself; when God created you He made you part of Him; there is no sin; it has no consequence. The Atonement is the final lesson he [man] need learn, for it teaches him that, never having sinned, he has no need of salvation; and for Christ takes many forms with different names until their oneness can be recognized” (Smith, pp. 88-89 citing Foundation for Inner Peace, A Course in Miracles: Combined Volume: pp. 52, 147, 100, 183, 237 (Text), 88 (Manual)).
“Schuller is revealing himself to be the kind of leader who is willing to compromise and sacrifice God’s truth for the purposes of the New Age and the New Spirituality” (Ibid., p. 99). Yet untold thousands of pastors and “Christian leaders” flock to his seminars and subscribe to some or all of his teachings.
Those who think that they can attend Rick Warren’s or Robert Schuller’s seminars or read and study their teachings in any way and not be negatively influenced thereby forget the ample warnings in Scripture such as:
- “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ep. 5.11).
- ”Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us…. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” (2 Thes. 3.6, 14-15).
- “Separation in Scripture includes separation ‘from’ whatever is contrary to the mind of God: and ‘unto’ God Himself. The underlying principle is that in a moral universe it is impossible for God to fully bless and use His children who are in compromise or complicity with evil” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to II Co. 6.17, p. 1234. The principles of separation are found throughout the Bible).
- “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness” (2 Pe. 3.17).
Rick Warren violated this principle of separation. In 1979, Rick Warren as a last year seminary student drove from Texas to California with his wife to attend a Robert Schuller church growth seminar. Warren’s wife is quoted as saying, “‘We had a very stony ride out to the conference,’ she says, because such nontraditional ministry scared her to death. Schuller, though, won them over. ‘He had a profound influence on Rick,’ Kay says. ‘We were captivated by his positive appeal to nonbelievers. I never looked back’” (Smith, p. 104, citing Tim Stafford, “A Regular Purpose-Driven Guy,” Christianity Today, November 18, 2002, Vol. 46, No. 12 (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2002/012/1.42.html), p. 4; see also, Davis, p. 27).
Rick Warren was so transformed that he became a leading deceiver in the “Christian” world. He went back to Schuller’s institute for pastors many times. Warren and Schuller parted ways after Schuller invited Stephen Covey, “a devout Mormon who has publicly ridiculed evangelicals and the Christian gospel,” to speak at the Crystal Cathedral. Although Warren and Schuller have parted ways “Schuller’s legacy remains in the teachings and methodology of The Purpose-Driven Life,” (Davis, p. 28) and in all Warren’s teachings.
B. The standard megachurch gospel
1. It’s all about you
Satan, through his false teachers, says to Christians seeking to solve their mental, emotional, and behavioral problems, “Yea, hath God said?” and then points out that the “science of psychology” will show him how to love himself and overcome those problems. Charles Spurgeon of England, correctly “warned about changing the Gospel to accommodate changing society:
“The idea of a progressive gospel seems to have fascinated many. To us that notion is a sort of cross-breed between nonsense and blasphemy. After the gospel has been found effectual in the eternal salvation of untold multitudes, it seems rather late in the day to alter it; and, since it is the revelation of the all-wise and unchanging God, it appears somewhat audacious to attempt its improvement…” (Hutchings, p. 29, quoting Charles Spurgeon).
The standard megachurch gospel is not the gospel of the Bible. “It is a reincarnation of the old-time liberalism that infiltrated evangelical ranks a hundred years ago” (Davis, p. 110). The emergence of the Church Growth Movement and megachurches is carrying the techniques and principles of religious liberalism plus more to the extreme. Due to the anemic and compromised state of Christianity and Christian pastors, leaders, and other church members in America now, the chance that American Christendom will suffer the same fate as that of Europe after the onslaught of religious modernism beginning in the nineteenth century is great.
Warren begins his book The Purpose-Driven Life with the statement, “It is not about you,” (Rick Warren, The Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2002), p. 17) then proceeds to write a whole book about how “you” can be happy. The preface of the book states that, “By the end of this journey, you will know God’s purposes for your life and will understand the big picture…. Having this perspective will reduce your stress, simplify your decisions, increase your satisfaction, and most important, prepare you for eternity…” (Ibid., p. 9). The book lists “five great benefits of living a purpose-driven life:” [k]nowing your purpose gives meaning to your life,” “simplifies your life,” “focuses your life,” ‘motivates your life,” and “prepares you for eternity” (Ibid., pp. 30-34).
Noah W. Hutchings points out that Rick Warren “belittles pop-psychology then repeatedly promotes it by simply calling it something else. He publicly cuts ties with Robert Schuller, then regurgitates some of the most odious things that Schuller has been teaching for thirty years. He claims commitment to the Scriptures then undermines them at almost every turn. He will tell his followers that he is not tampering with the message but only reengineering the methods, when in fact he has so altered the message as to make it all but unrecognizable” (Hutchings, p. 107 quoting Dr. Gary E. Gilley, “The Gospel According to Warren” available at http://www.svchapel.org).
Warren camouflages the “Yea hath God said” strategy; and only the true biblical believer, student, or scholar can discern the lies of the movement. Warren uses a seeker sensitive approach contrary to biblical principle. Warren also utilizes the idea “of being driven by the purposes of God,” an idea that is foreign to the Scriptures (Davis, p. 41). Such a concept is similar to the Islamic concept—the Muslim is Allah’s servant and the only way he relates to Allah is by submitting himself to Allah’s five-fold purpose for human life: faith, prayer, almsgiving, fasting, and worship” (Ibid., p. 43). There is only works without relationship.
2. Jesus and salvation
Warren is wrong on his doctrines concerning Jesus and salvation. As to Jesus Christ, the doctrinal statement of Warren’s church, Saddleback, neither mentions the virgin birth and that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, nor is there any mention of the substitutionary atonement. Warren never explains the nature and purpose of Jesus nor does he explain how one is saved through Jesus Christ. Although the “Purpose-Driven Christ is a shadowy figure, undefined and unexplained,” “that does not stop Warren from leading readers to commit their lives to Jesus and then assure them that they are eternally saved” (Ibid., pp. 54-64).
As to salvation, Warren’s teaching is totally unbiblical (See Ibid., pp. 63-72; see also John S. Torell, “The Destruction of the Southern Baptist Convention” The Flaming Sword, Volume 3, 2007, pp. 16-18, available at http://www.eaec.org). For example, there is no confession of sin or repentance—just say a little prayer, “Jesus, I believe in you and I receive you,” and “[y]ou’re in the club.” “Just believe a few platitudes, receive an unexplained Jesus, and you are assured of eternal life. What a deal?” (Ibid., pp. 60-66) There is no recognition of who a lost person is—a lost sinner—or who the biblical Jesus is, since one’s concept of who God or Jesus is is of little importance. The Purpose-Driven gospel is nothing more than a postmodern version of the old time liberalism, described by Richard Niebuhr as ‘a God without wrath [bringing] men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross” (Ibid., p. 66 quoting H. Richard Niebuhr quoted in Guiness, Dining With the Devil: The Megachurch Movement Flirts With Modernity (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1994), p. 78).
3. Metaphysical techniques, infiltration, ecumenicalism
Along with seeker-sensitive techniques which aimed at meeting people’s needs as they saw it, Warren Smith, a Christian who was saved out of the New Age Movement, points out that Rick Warren immediately began to utilize age-old metaphysical techniques which are taught in the New Age movement (Smith, pp. 104-105). Those techniques have been so successful that they are practiced, taught, and emulated by millions in growing churches and in personal lives, to the glory of Satan. Smith’s book, cited herein, should be read for its extensive insights into the New Age teachings within Rick Warren’s writings.
Smith points out that one of Rick Warren’s unstated purposes as a self-proclaimed “change agent,” seems to be to:
“mainstream Robert Schuller’s teachings into the more traditional ‘Bible-based’ wing of the Church. Many believers who seem to trust Rick Warren, ironically, do not trust Robert Schuller. Rick Warren’s ‘magic’ seems to be able to make the teachings of Robert Schuller palatable to believers who would have otherwise never accepted these same teachings had they come directly from Schuller himself. And … one of Rick Warren’s colleagues[, Bruce Wilkinson, (whose book The Dream Giver and whose teachings on dreams are based upon the teachings of Robert Schuller and are contrary to biblical principles] [is] also in the process of doing much the same thing” (Ibid., p. 113; see pp. 115-120 for more on Bruce Wilkinson’s teachings and book The Dream Giver).
Smith points out that Rick Warren wrote on the dedication page of The Purpose-Driven Life: “This book is dedicated to you. Before you were born, God planned this moment in your life. It is no accident that you are holding this book” (Ibid., pp. 20-21, citing Rick Warren, The Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2002), Dedication Page. Warren Smith, on pp. 37-37 states that a King James Bible given him several years before he and his wife realized how deceived they were by A Course in Miracles and New Age Teachings helped save their lives.). This assertion, actually an assertion that it was “meant to be,” has lead many to immersion in the New Age movement.
Only true Bible believing, knowledgeable Christians—thus effectively disqualifying most megachurch pastors, leaders, and members as well as many other pastors and “Christians”—can know what is happening in the Church Growth Movement:
“Imbedded in th[e] ideological framework [of members of the church who are dispensational in their theology and hold to a literal interpretation of Scripture] is also the realization that the church of Jesus Christ is facing a major shift away from the ‘Old Time Religion’ of its fathers and grandfathers. This shift is not a minor adjustment, but rather, a major change that threatens to alter the face of Christianity forever. Tragically, if this shift continues unchecked, the subsequent change will create a new ‘hybrid Christianity’ that will bear little resemblance to the ‘faith of our fathers’ or the church as described in the New Testament. This new hybrid is instead birthing a ‘false Christianity’ that will lead its adherents to a pseudo-faith that will result in their missing the Rapture, believing ‘a lie’ and falling into the arms of Antichrist as gently as the falling petals of an autumn rose” (Hutchings, pp. 19-20, quoting Rebuilding the Tower of Babel, chapter one, “Angel of Light”).
The churches of the Church Growth Movement must be filled with lost people, some members who linger on whether deceived or not, and/or deceived saved people who migrated in or were saved somehow by hearing and responding to the true gospel of salvation from other sources.
These churches propose to bring all denominations together and bring about church growth, not by sound biblical techniques but by using New Age and other satanic and/or business techniques such as: changing perception by viewing people as “churched or unchurched rather than “saved” or “lost;” “‘finding out what impresses the unchurched in your community’ and doing it;” attracting the multitudes by bringing in popular heroes (like, e.g., almost nude wrestlers); using “successful principles and good cash flow;” modeling pastors after businessmen and planning strategically; winning people by building relationships rather than by preaching expository sermons; moving “from a theocentric approach to ministry to a ‘human needs approach;’” deciding not to “convert any other religious people to my viewpoint;” refusing to point out that one “recognize his own personal sin, … need for repentance, … need for crucifixion of self;” teaching that ‘[t]he Christ Spirit dwells in every human being,” that “nothing exists but God,” that “Christ was self-esteem incarnate;” recognizing that “[t]he most destructive thing that can be done to a person is to call him a sinner,” that sin is any act or thought that robs myself or another human being of his or her self-esteem” (Ibid., pp. 21-22 referencing Mac Dominick from his book Outcome Based Religion).
4. Unbiblical dress, music, “Bibles,” doctrine
These churches generally, among other errors, change to unbiblical dress, music, “Bibles,” and false interpretations of Scripture, and eliminate and belittle doctrine in their teaching. “Rick Warren has transformed the worship of God into an informal get together,” (Davis, p. 128. See Sundquist, pp. 98-102 for an analysis of Rick Warren’s teaching on worship) as is exemplified by the clothing and other aspects of worship. Members of a Purpose Driven Church are expected to dress like Rick Warren dresses. Anyone who wears a tie or coat may be “considered mainstream and against the pastor” (Hutchings, p. 137).
The Word of God teaches that all a believer does should be holy and for the glory of God. “And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin” (Mt. 6.28). “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array” (1 Ti. 2.9). One can discern that biblically one should dress neatly and cleanly in a way that glorifies God and that no member should be coerced into dressing like everyone else as long as he dresses according to the directives of the Word of God. Many public schools once recognized the principle that in order to maintain stability, and promote respect for teachers and staff, standards of dress (but not uniformity) and respectful titles were required. Informality in a school or church setting corresponds with contempt, disrespect, rebelliousness, and selfishness.
No comprehensive treatment of music is attempted here, but just a few comments are appropriate. Rick Warren copies the type of music that draws the biggest crowds in the secular world and “proudly reports that Saddleback is known as ‘the flock that likes to rock’” (Davis, p. 120).
“According to a professor of preaching at Emory University, the typical megachurch praise song is ‘simplistic, repetitive, and finally, boring…In the short run, it gets you on your feet clapping your hands, but in the long run it cultivates a monotonic, downsized faith, a faith too naïve and simple to handle complexity, too repetitive to deal with real change.’ Yet in the short run the strategy works. Warren reports that within a year of adopting this popular style of music that his church ‘exploded with growth’” (Ibid., pp. 120-121 quoting a professor of preaching at Emory University quoted in Alan Wolfe, The Transformation of American Religion (New York: Free Press, 2003), p. 29).
Warren believes the only difference between Christian and non-Christian music is the lyrics. The truth is that “[t]he language is still there, but the substance has been thrown away. Without any real truth, reality is turned into theater, and life into a show” (Ibid., p. 121 quoting Udo W. Middelmann, The Market-Driven Church (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004), p. 145).
Rock music, regardless of the words, dishonors God, appeals to the flesh, and adversely affects man. According to music evangelist David Armistead, whereas traditional hymns have simple rhythms which place greater emphasis on the words and appeal to spiritual principles and the spiritual nature, Christian rock emphasizes complex rhythms which are usually loud and excite the flesh, and, generally speaking, simple, repetitive words with shallow meaning (Message delivered in January, 2008, at Capitol City Baptist Church in Austin, Texas). Rock music, whether “Christian” or secular, is “a war upon certainty and stability;” is “sex” with which “you have to hit them in the face” (according to Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones); “is supposed to be outrageous;” “can be addictive (physically addictive because it rediscovered the power of pagan music in its volume, repetitiveness, and highly syncopated rhythm patterns);” has “very little melody, only rhythm” (which seemingly reverts the listeners to savagery thrusting constant listeners into turmoil); has a beat which “is contrary to our natural body beats and rhythms” and “can actually weaken you” since it “interferes with brain wave patterns, causing mental stress;” and can “alter the brain permanently” (Hutchings, pp. 97-101 referring to Dr. Jack Wheaton (Emmy Award winner and professor of music at three major universities, including the University of Southern California, and lecturer at over fifty colleges), The Paganization of Worship).
Rick Warren sang, as he said he has always wanted to do, “Purple Haze”—written and made popular by Jimmy Hendrix, a heroin and sex addict who died of a drug overdose in 1970—before thirty thousand in the Anaheim Angels baseball stadium. He said, “We are loud. We are really, really loud…. We’re not going to turn it down…. Baby boomers want to feel the music, not just hear it” (Torell, pp. 11-12; Hutchings, pp. 101-103). But music need not go as far as did “Purple Haze” in order to be classified as “rock music” with all or many of the attributes listed above. Much “Christian” rock has all the attributes of “Purple Haze” except for the lyrics. Noah W. Hutchings appropriately comments:
“I doubt that the Purpose Driven Church movement would have ever gotten off the ground without the heavy-metal rock, drug-inspired, hippie music of the 60’s that has been revived by a new champion in so-called church praise groups. This music came out of one of the darkest periods of national morality, the 1960s hippie generation, so need we say more” (Hutchings, p. 104).
As far as church services, the Bible is not to be seen and never read from as authority, but “is used more like a sourcebook of illustrations that has some helpful tips to guide us through the journey of life.” Warren gives people relief, not truth, since that is what they are seeking. “Scripture verses are used as supporting evidence for the points instead of the foundational authority for the sermon” (Davis, p. 138). The praise band and worship team are center stage. In The Purpose-Driven Life, Mr. Warren references fifteen versions of the Bible. In his 1995 book, The Purpose-Driven Church, Warren states:
“Read Scripture from a newer translation. With all the wonderful translations and paraphrases available today, there is no legitimate reason for complicating the Good News with four-hundred-year-old English. Using the King James Version creates an unnecessary cultural barrier…. Clarity is more important than poetry” (Smith, p. 39 quoting Rick Warren, The Purpose-Driven Church: Growth Without Compromising Your Message & Mission, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1995), p. 297).
That the King James Version complicates the “Good News” is a brazenly false assertion. If the King James Version can provide the clarity for a New Age man and wife to discern the deceptions of the New Age teachings, it can provide the clarity for anyone who reads and understands the English language to discover God’s truth (Smith). Warren Smith wrote:
“It was the clarity and precision of our King James Bible that had exposed the deception behind our New Age teachings. And it is the clarity and precision of our King James Bible that continues to expose these same New Age teachings that are creeping into the Church today. I just thank God no one put something like The Message in my hands when I was in the New Age. And I thank God for kindly Christian widows [like the one who gave me the King James Bible that was responsible for exposing the New Age to me]” (Ibid., p. 40).
The Message, a false interpretation of Scripture, is one of Warren’s favorites and is referenced more than any other. The Message obscures and alters verses from Scripture, omits important details, and adds misleading words and phrases, all this in such a way as to allow a New Ager to read The Message without being challenged as to his satanic beliefs (Ibid., pp. 24-27).
Rick Warren constantly quotes from this corrupt paraphrase as though it were God’s Holy Word (Torell, p. 12. See James Sundquist, Who’s Driving the Purpose Driven Church? (Rock Star Publishing, 2004) for a thorough examination of Warren’s perversions of Scripture). Rick Warren used many words and phrases with deep New Age meanings from The Message. By so doing, ministers in “the Purpose Driven Movement can make the Bible say things that are not true but fit doctrine [such as New Age] that these men are devising” (Smith, p. 35). For example, Warren quotes The Message version of Colossians 1.16 right under the title to the first chapter, “It All Starts with God:” “For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, … everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him” (See Warren, The Purpose-Driven Life, p. 17). The Message uses this phrase, “as above, so below,” an occultic New Age term, in the Lord’s Prayer. What does this signify?
- “Thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt, the great master alchemist Hermes Trismegistus, believed to be a contemporary of the Hebrew prophet Abraham, proclaimed this fundamental truth about the universe: ‘As above, so below; as below, so above.’ This maxim implies that the transcendent God beyond the physical universe and the immanent God within ourselves are one. Heaven and Earth, spirit and matter, the invisible and the visible worlds form a unity to which we are intimately linked….
- “‘As above, so below’ means that the two worlds are instantaneously seen to be one when we realize our essential unity with God…. The one and the many, time and eternity, are all One’ (Ellipsis dots in original)” (Ronald S. Miller and the Editors of New Age Journal, As Above, So Below: Paths to Spiritual Renewal in Daily Life (Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., 1992), p. xi who quotes, in the second quoted paragraph, Sufi scholar Reshad Field, quoted in Smith, p. 32).
The term “as above, so below,” according to the New Age Journal Editor who stated that “old forms of religion no longer serve people, and that the term ‘as above, so below’ describes the ‘emerging spirituality’ that is quickly moving onto the world’s scene. [The meaning of the term can be verified by a Google search.]” (Smith, pp. 32-35). Rick Warren, Robert Schuller, and Eugene Peterson are not only exposing one of the central concepts of the “New Spirituality” and probable New World Religion—the idea that the “transcendent God beyond the physical universe and the immanent God within [us all] are one”—“they seem to be agreeing with it!” (Ibid., p. 158).
Warren also suggests other New Age and anti-biblical concepts in his teachings which are described by Warren Smith such as the concept that “at least metaphorically, everyone’s life is ‘driven’ by some force,” the “Rick Warren’s implication and Robert Schuller’s contention that God is ‘in every person’” (See Ibid., pp. 81-82, 86; See also, James Sundquist, “Christian Meditation—Concerning Prayer: Is It Christian?” at www.abrahamic-faith.com/James/Part%20XI%20Christian%20Meditation-Centering%20Prayer.html).
In The Purpose-Driven Life Warren takes verses and portions of verses out of context to support his conclusions (See James Sundquist, Who’s Driving the Purpose Driven Church? (Rock Star Publishing, 2004) for a thorough study). For example, Warren Smith points out that Warren quotes a portion out of Isaiah 49.4 to incorrectly conclude that Isaiah had no hope. He does the same thing in incorrectly asserting that Job had lost hope. At the same time, he prefaced his whole discussion about the importance of having “‘hope’ and a deep sense of life purpose’” by referring to [Bernie Siegel] a man whose own hope and purpose are so totally invested in the false teachings of the New Age (Smith, pp. 47-52).
In The Purpose-Driven Life Warren includes many quotes from not only Christians such as C. S. Lewis, Martin Luther, and A. W. Tozer but also from many people who publicly oppose the gospel such as Bertrand Russell, an atheist “known for his refutation of Christianity;” Anais Nin, a French feminist “who was notorious for her sexual promiscuity, including bigamy;” Thomas Carlyle, “the nineteenth century essayist who rejected Christianity and embraced Transcendentalism;” George Bernard Shaw who was a playwright and “a leader in the precursor to the theosophy movement, which sees God as an impersonal pantheistic force in nature; and Aldous Huxley who wrote one of the classic books “of the drug culture of the 1960s” (Davis, pp. 165-167; Sundquist, pp. 87-97, for an analysis of false teachers quoted by Warren).
All the interpretations of the Bible promoted by the Purpose Driven Church, unlike the King James Version of the Bible, view doctrine as less and less important, and Purpose Driven Churches view doctrine as divisive, bad, or evil. They specialize in uniting people in “love” since doctrine divides. Warren constantly discards the role of doctrine. He designs his preaching to appeal to the happiness of man—that is, what appeals to the earthly desires of his listeners—not God’s Word. He gives people what they want—relief, not truth. “Recent polls reveal that 75 percent of people do not go to church to discover truth but to improve their lives” (Ibid., p. 53). As one person said, “[Rick Warren takes] all the new so-called versions of the Bible and quote[s] from the one or ones when put together makes the scriptures say what he wants them to say” (See Hutchings., pp. 56-74 for a brief analysis of The Message plus other informative information concerning Bible translations and other matters such as the Purpose Driven Church view of “doctrine.” The quote is on p. 74.).
Apparently Rick Warren, as do Robert Schuller and Bruce Wilkinson, adheres to replacement theology, and the preterist, amillennial position. He, as did the religion of many of America’s colonists as will be documented and explained in Section IV of God Betrayed, “The history of the First Amendment” (Click here to go to online version) although their methods were different from Warren’s, believes that the church will eliminate war, hunger, disease, crime, and ignorance in preparation for the return of the Lord. He stated, “Our goal will be to enlist one billion foot soldiers for the Kingdom of God, who will permanently change the face of international missions to take on these five ‘global giants for which the church can become the ultimate distribution and change agent to overcome Spiritual Emptiness, Self-serving Leadership, Poverty, Disease, and Ignorance” (Ibid., pp. 85-86 quoting Rick Warren from his April 17, 2005 Anaheim Declaration).
To achieve this goal, on April 17, 2005, the same day he sang “Purple Haze” to 30,000 in Angel Stadium, Warren launched a 5-step PEACE Plan which has a format similar to the 5-Step P.E.A.C.E. plan of Neale Donald Walsch, a New Age leader, that is totally antagonistic to the Bible’s true Gospel of Jesus Christ (Smith, p. 137; see pp. 131-142 for a analysis of this plan; see p. 162 for more similarities between the Rick Warren’s plan and the 5-step plan proposed by Neale Donald Walsch. See also, Davis, pp. 158-159. See also, James Sundquist, Rick Warren’s Global Peace Plan vs. Scriptural Teachings on Peace (Rock Salt Publishing, 2006)). Rick Warren, Robert Schuller, and Bruce Wilkinson “seem  to minimize that Satan is described in the Bible as the extremely deceptive ‘god of this world’ (2 Corinthians 4:4), and that he comes as an ‘angel of light’ and his ministers as ‘ministers of righteousness’ (2 Corinthians 11:14-15)” (Smith, p. 142).
Warren needs to read and believe the properly translated Bible – the King James translation. Jesus, in Matthew 24, in answer to the disciples’ question to Him—“Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and the end of the world?” (Mt. 24.3)—gave them much prophetic detail concerning the great spiritual deception that would engulf the world and the signs that would prevail before His coming. He stated that there would be “wars and rumors of wars,” “that nation would rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom,” that there would be “famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places,” that His followers would be persecuted and martyred, that “many false prophets” who will “deceive many” would arise, and that love would wax cold because of the prevalence of iniquity (Mt. 24, 25; Mk. 13.5-13; Lu. 21.8-19). “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (1 Thes. 5.2-3). Rick Warren and many other “Christian” leaders just do not understand these biblical principles. A false Christ is deceiving Warren and his followers who are being used to mislead the world for satanic purposes (See Smith, pp. 147-148).
The Purpose-Driven Life is full of ridiculous misinterpretations of Scripture in addition to those already mentioned. One example is the assertion in the introduction to The Purpose-Driven Life that “The Bible is clear that God considers 40 days a spiritually significant time period. Whenever God wanted to prepare someone for his purpose he took 40 days” (Warren, pp. 10-11). This is totally inaccurate, and the examples that he cites do not support his assertion. Therefore, “Warren’s whole premise of purpose is fatally flawed” (Sundquist, Who’s Driving the Purpose Driven Church?, p. 18. See pp. 18-22 for a thorough biblical examination of Warren’s assertion). Noah was not transformed by being on the ark for forty days, Moses was not transformed by being on Mount Sinai forty days, and the twelve spies were not transformed by the forty days spent in the Promised Land. Actually, one is transformed at the moment of salvation and his purpose becomes, at that moment, the glory of God. A believer grows in the Lord by Bible study and as a member of a local body of believers.
To achieve their version of success, pastors of Purpose Driven Churches become clones of Rick Warren who “has gutted the Christian faith of all its content, thus maximizing his capacity to appeal to ALL religious backgrounds, as well as the ‘unchurched’ who possess sizable incomes, but sadly, with no place to direct it…. Anyone who wants to gut the Christian faith of her vocabulary for the sake of Church growth, is not a shepherd but a cheap hireling…” (Hutchings, pp. 57-58, citing Theodore Letis of Concordia University. Of course, some pastors adopt only some of Warren’s techniques. For example, some try to preach the Bible while adopting Warren’s philosophy of dress, and/or music, etc. They are mixing light with darkness.).
The process of preparing an existing conservative church for the goals of the Purpose Driven Church movement is in several steps and takes three to five years. Churches which decide to go the way of the Purpose Driven Church will see changes. Many of the leaders of the movement, like Rick Warren, are replacement theologians, and—like the covenant theologians of the colonial era (See Section IV of God Betrayed)—viciously and without restraint lie about, libel, and slander those who disagree with their theology (See, e.g., Hutchings, pp. 9-22, and Sundquist, Rick Warren’s Global Peace Plan… pp. 8-13 (examples given of the viciousness of PD Churches such as First Baptist Church of Dallas)). Leaders of these churches are vicious to those who cross them. In line with the New Age secular philosophy and techniques these churches adopt, they discard those who disagree with them, especially those who were pillars of the church. The “old pillars” usually leave when the membership of the church, in step four, is told what is happening. If there is opposition, “those who are against the change in music, worship, and leadership are marginalized and asked to leave” (Hutchings, pp. 135-136, 141-143).
Furthermore, in such a church “a very deliberate change of attitude and presentation of God occurs.” Services, for both adults and children, become more entertainment based—for example, from Bible based emphasis, such churches emphasize things such as “Black Light Friday Night;” a disco ball for their Friday night dances; “‘Christian’ concerts where there are mosh-pits, ear-shattering music, and a total lack of dress codes;” and bringing in “skateboarders, pro wrestlers (some brandishing tattoos and/or piercings), who claim to be Christians but whose extreme lifestyles are fuel for rebellion;” and the incorporation of pagan practices such as “contemplative prayer” which is nothing more than camouflaged Eastern meditation (Ibid., pp. 127-128). In the Purpose Driven Church, fun with lots of parties, music, and games for the youth has replaced holiness and the glory of God as the church’s goal. “John McArthur observes, ‘Many Christians have the misconception that to win the world to Christ we must first win the world’s favor. If we can get the world to like us, they will embrace our Savior. That is the philosophy behind the user-friendly church movement’” (Ibid., p. 138 quoting John McArthur from Dr. Gary E. Gilley, The Little Church Went to Market, p. 28).
The shift to more of an entertainment base is accompanied by the loss of authentic worship. The Christian who loves the Lord needs to worship God, not be entertained. After a few days in the world, a child of God who is part of the wife of Christ needs the refreshment that accompanies the assembly of the saints of God. He wants something different from what the secular world has thrust in his face. Marshall Davis describes the effects on himself of services in a Purpose Driven Church:
- “I want to worship God: I do not want to applaud men. The congregational applause that now punctuates evangelical worship feels like a secular intrusion into sacred space. I feel like overturning some tables—or at least some padded chairs. [Applause is appropriate at a concert or a theatre to show appreciation for the performers.] It feels sacrilegious to applaud worship leaders for worshipping God.
- “[After attending services in some churches when out of town] I always leave the worship service feeling like I need to take a shower.… I feel like I have been to a high school pep rally, and I need to find a place to worship as an adult. I get this feeling in a lot of evangelical churches” (Davis, pp. 114-115).
Rick Warren considers this change in the concept of worship a good thing. He spells out his new type of worship in his books. To Warren, worship can include anything. This is the flaw of pantheism coming through to this concept of worship. Everything is sacred. But to be sacred, something must be set apart. “If the sacred is no longer distinguished from the world, it has lost its sacredness” (Ibid., p. 116). When everything can be worship nothing is definitely worship. Worship in the Purpose Driven Church imitates the world and is not set apart. How can it please God?
5. Big business and the emerging church
“Rich Karlgaard, the publisher of Forbes magazine, calls The Purpose-Driven Church, ‘the best book on entrepreneurship, business, investment that I’ve read in some time’” (Ibid., p. 79, citing Rich Karlgaard, “Purpose Driven,” Forges.com: www.forbes.com/business/). Megachurch pastors often act as chief executives and use business tactics. “Both the philosophy and vocabulary of the marketplace have been imported into the church…. Christianity has become big business in America, and the megachurches are leading the way…. Half of all churchgoing Americans are attending only 12 percent of the nation’s four hundred thousand churches…. The average American church, which has a congregation of less than 100 in worship, is going out of business at the rate of fifty a week, while the Christian supercenters are thriving…. The American Christian has gone from being a disciple to being a customer, from being a follower of the Lord Jesus to being a consumer of a spiritual commodity…. As Gebhards observes, ‘Today, however, the church is a place of self-indulgence and self-satisfaction. Self-interest has become pandemic, even in worship, making it difficult for some churchgoers to imagine that Christianity is not intended to revolve around them…. The philosophy of the megachurch is to compete with the world on its own terms and using the same strategies that businesses have found to work successfully” (Ibid., pp. 79-87 quoting Karlgaard; Luisa Kroll, “Christian Capitalism: Megachurches, Megabusinesses” Forbes.com: http://www.forbes.com/2003/09/17/cz_lk_0917megachurch.html (September 17, 2003); James B. Twitchell, Branded Nation (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004), 81, 82-83; George Mair, A Life With a Purpose, (New York: Berkley Books, 2005), 125; Kurt Gabhards, “Choking on Choices” Combating Consumerism With a Biblical Mindset,” in Fools Gold: Discerning Truth in An Age of Error (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005) John McArthur, General Editor, 164).
The megachurches in general are “light on doctrine, ignorant of religious history, and tolerant of theological error, as long as the person has ‘accepted Jesus Christ.’” Thus, “[t]he next crop of leaders will not have the foundation of a solid theological and religious upbringing” (Ibid., pp. 159-160). Consequently, they will be in position to slide further down the slope to apostasy. In fact, that slide is already occurring.
There is an emerging trend beyond the Church Growth Movement that embraces all the marks of apostasy (T. A. McMahon, “Weaning Evangelicals off the Word,” The Berean Call, Vol. XXII, No. 9, September 2007, pp. 3-4). This is a movement called the Emerging Church Movement. In this movement “sound doctrine” (1 Ti. 4.3-4) gives way to what “seemeth right unto a man;” apostate teachers advance an experiential mode that appeals to fleshly lusts and promotes self-serving fables and myths; “these ‘deceitful workers’ and lying ‘ministers of righteousness (2 Co. 11.13-15)’ draw upon teachings of ‘seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;’ (1 Ti. 4.1) ‘grievous wolves’ have entered among the flock teaching ‘perverse things, to draw away disciples among them’” (1 Ti. 4.1).
- “For many of those helping to promote the movement, their motivation to ‘try something different’ grew out of the frustration of their own very limited success in evangelizing and discipling young people. Some of the leaders were in seeker-sensitive and purpose –driven churches, and they saw firsthand that their church-growth marketing schemes were not effective for drawing those in their late teens, 20s, and early 30s. The main fare of most consumer-driven churches features contemporary music with shallow, repetitive choruses, topical 30-minutes-or-less sermons (mostly psychology-based), a host of social programs to attract the lost (and the fleshly nature of Christians), and ‘Bible studies’ that address everything but the Bible….
- “[The roots of motivating youth through the use of a youth room with subdued, ‘catacombish,’ candlelit environment with the worship band using acoustic guitars was a youth-oriented MTV concert. This new ‘vintage form of Christianity,’ featuring rituals, ceremony, candles, incense, prayer stations, and images to create a spiritually experiential atmosphere for evangelicals, which is an imitation of unbiblical Eastern Orthodox and medieval Roman Catholic liturgies, is directly at odds with the method of Peter in Acts chapter 2.] In the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter’s preaching brought conviction of sin, repentance, and belief; 3,000 came to Christ that day….
- “[ECM leaders] go far beyond subtly ‘weaning evangelicals off the Word’ to rendering the Bible and its doctrines as the enemy when it comes to drawing the world in general and, specifically, our postmodern culture, to the love of Jesus….
- “[The ECM] approach attempts to accommodate Jesus and the Scriptures (actually ‘another Jesus’ and a corrupted and emasculated Word) to our postmodern culture.
- “Rick Bell writes in Velvet Elvis, following 22 pages of weakening the authority of the Bible (making statements such as ‘It is possible to make the Bible say whatever we want it to, isn’t it?’ and ‘With God being so massive and awe-inspiring and full of truth, why is his book capable of so much confusion?: ‘[L]et’s make a group decision to drop once and for all the Bible-as-owner’s manual metaphor [i.e., God’s specific instructions for mankind]. It’s terrible. It really is…. We have to embrace the Bible as the wild, uncensored, passionate account it is of experiencing the living God.’ …
- “His view, common to most emergent writers, is that the key to the authority of Scripture is one’s interpretation, and that is most authoritative when the interpretation takes place in a community and validated by a ‘group decision’: ‘Community, community, community. Together with others, wrestling and searching and engaging the Bible as a group of people hungry to know God in order to follow God.’
- “We are now told [contrary to clear biblical teaching] that understanding and obedience to what God said are subject to a community’s interpretation. Consequently, ECM churches disdain preaching and authoritative teaching, yet they delight in discussion, causing some to dump the pulpit in favor of a dialogue-led Starbucks environment. As the goals of the community change, we’re told the interpretation may also change….
- “Kristen Bell acknowledges …, ‘I grew up thinking that we figured out the Bible … that we knew what it means. Now I have no idea what most of it means, and yet I feel like life is big again—like life used to be black and white, and now it’s in color.’ Brian McLaren, the most prominent of the emergent leaders, echoes Bell’s ‘doctrine’ of avoidance regarding what the Bible says about homosexuality: ‘Perhaps we need a five-year moratorium on making [doctrinal] pronouncements. In the meantime, we’ll practice playful Christian dialogue, listening respectfully, disagreeing agreeably. When decisions need to be made, they’ll be admittedly provisional. We’ll keep our ears attuned to scholars in biblical studies, theology, ethics, psychology, genetics, sociology, and related fields. Then in five years, if we have clarity, we’ll speak; if not, we’ll set another five years, for ongoing reflection.’
- “[ECM leaders use the same approach Satan used to seduce Eve. For example, Brian McLaren says,] ‘The church latched on to that old doctrine of original sin like a dog to a stick, and before you knew it, the whole gospel got twisted around it. Instead of being God’s big message of saving love for the whole world, the gospel became a little bit of secret information on how to solve the pesky legal problem of original sin.’
- “He says elsewhere, ‘I don’t think we’ve got the gospel right yet. What does it mean to be saved? … None of us have arrived at orthodoxy” (Ibid., pp. 3-4 citing Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), 044-45, 062-63; Andy Crouch, “The Emergent Mystique,” Christianity Today, November 2004, Vol. 48, No. 11, 36ff; http://www.christianitytoday.com/leaders/newsletter/2006/cln60123.html; Brian McLaren, The Last Word and the Word After That (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1005), 134; Steve Chalke and Alan Mann, The Lost Message of Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003, 182-83).
Churches in America early on, by incorporating, introduced a little leaven into their marriage relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Not long after that, religious modernism hit America, overtook many churches, and added more corruption to even many Bible believing churches who replaced their God-given goal, the glory of God, with the humanistic goal, the happiness of man. Instead of exalting Christ and abasing man, they abased Christ and exalted man. Seeing what happened in Christendom generally, in America, and in “fundamental Bible believing” circles, it is not surprising to see that the great majority of churches have, along with their other unbiblical practices and teachings, taken themselves from under the headship of Christ in at least some, if not most or all matters. The slide downward toward apostasy has now accelerated with implementation of “pragmatic” but unbiblical practices introduced by a resurgence of religious liberalism. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Re. 22.20).
En1 Hank Hanegraaff is a Christian and an expert on cults and religions. He airs a radio talk show, “The Bible Answer Man,” and offers many books and other resources which are made available on the website, equip.org. I disagree with much of Mr. Hanegraaff’s theology—for example, his theology concerning prophecy—but there is much to glean from his teaching concerning certain false teachers.
En2 See Hank Hanegraaff, pp. 41-42. The author of this book, like Hank Hanegraaff, has met many of these people, many of whom are very committed to the cause of Christ and who were completely oblivious to the rank heresy they were being fed. Jesus taught us not to judge self-righteously or hypocritically. We cannot discern the intent of the heart, but can only look at the outside. However, those who knowingly accept Faith Theology are clearly embracing a different gospel, which is in reality no gospel at all.