RICK WARREN ASKS, “WHY BE DIVISIVE?”
July 29, 2003 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
Rick Warren, church growth guru and pastor of the Southern Baptist-affiliated Saddleback Valley Community Church near Los Angeles, California, teaches pastors to use worldly music to draw a crowd and to focus their message on the positive and to avoid controversial and divisive doctrinal issues.
Called by Christianity Today “America’s most influential pastor,” Warren’s influence is vast. He has taught 300,000 pastors through his church growth seminars and far more through his books and videos. His influence reaches into every sphere of Christianity today, from Catholicism, to liberal Protestantism, to evangelicalism, to fundamentalist Bible and Baptist churches. His latest book, The Purpose-Driven Life, has sold 4.5 million copies.
In an interview with USA Today that ran in the July 21 issue, Warren said, “I’m not going to get into a debate over the non-essentials. I won’t try to change other denominations. Why be divisive?”
He cites Billy Graham, the king of ecumenical “positive onlyism,” as his model.
Since Mr. Warren has asked his question, I have decided to answer it.
The reason we need to be divisive is because God has commanded us to preach all of His Word and to “reprove, rebuke, exhort” (2 Tim. 4:2). The emphasis in 2 Timothy 4 is as much “negative” as “positive.” That is the preacher’s divine standard.
God has commanded us not only to believe sound doctrine but also to earnestly contend for it (Jude 3). That means we are to fight aggressively against that which is false. This is exactly what we see in the uncompromising ministry of the Lord’s apostles. Their epistles contain strong and clear warnings about false teaching. Paul often named the names of the false teachers. Such a ministry naturally causes divisions between those who are committed to the truth and those who are following error.
The apostasy of our time is much advanced in comparison with that of the days of the apostles (2 Tim. 3:1-13; 4:3-4). The Holy Spirit warned that “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:13). That is the story of church history. The apostasy that was just beginning in the days of the first churches grew quickly as the centuries passed, eventually producing the Roman Catholic Church, and it has continued to grow and spread throughout the age. The Bible warns that just prior to the return of Christ, the apostasy will be almost complete.
Thus preachers today are obligated to be even more aggressive and more divisive, if you will, than the apostles were!
That, Rick Warren, is why we should be divisive, and you will give an account at the judgment seat of Christ for promoting your unscriptural “positive-only, avoid divisiveness” emphasis. And in that day the Word of God will wash away the strong wall of church growth philosophy that you have built up to defend your methodology and by which you have duped so many. I believe this with all of my heart. And I weep over the damage that is being caused to the churches of Jesus Christ by a methodology that is breaking down the wall of separation between God’s people and the world but that is doing it under the guise of holiness and love for the truth. This philosophy of rejecting strict scriptural separation destroyed Israel of old and it will destroy every church that goes down the same road.
WARREN AND FALWELL
Rick Warren and Jerry Falwell are partnering for a Purpose-Driven “SuperConference” in October. It will be held on the campus of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Simultaneously, a Rick Warren 40 Days of Purpose campaign will be shown by telecast in more than 4,000 churches, including Falwell’s church. Falwell is a member both of the Baptist Bible Fellowship International and the Southern Baptist Convention.
Our day is described plainly in Bible prophecy:
“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 Timothy 4:3-4).
This generation has itching ears, and it will not hear the preaching of God’s Word that plainly rebukes its sin and forthrightly condemns its heresies; but it eagerly hears -- yea, flocks in droves to hear -- those soft-speaking teachers that are willing to be non-divisive and tickle ears with a positive-only, non-offensive message. The same generation that hates the old uncompromising, plain-spoken, “old time” fundamentalist-style preaching, dearly loves the preaching of the Billy Grahams and the Rick Warrens and the Robert Schullers.
Rick Warren claims that he has not compromised the Word of God with his principles and methods, that he has only modernized them; but when I look into the book of Acts and the Epistles I see a different kind of Christianity, a different kind of church there, than the one that Rick Warren has devised. Thus I must reject Warren’s Purpose Driven methods and I must warn those who have an ear to hear, regardless of how small that crowd may be, that they not heed the siren call of the contemporary church growth gurus.
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