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Monday, April 17, 2006

The Beast on Rick Warren

Pastor Philip Meade, over at The Beast's Lair, is always a fun read.

His recent posts on the historical nature of Christianity and distinguishing Law and Gospel have been very good. His link on The Gospel of Judas was one of the best I've read.

Hoping I'm not going to be creating grief in his life by directing you to him, I want you to read what he wrote about The Purpose Driven Life.

He gives a great example of what I've been trying to say. And he says it much better.

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer over at "The Burr in the Burgh" has stated rather clearly his stance on Rick Warren's "The Purpose Driven Life." He is receiving some heat for his comments from PDL supporters, not particularly surprising. Pastor Scott certainly doesn't need me running to his defense, not to mention that the fact he is receiving feedback from a worship leader within the Saddleback church. Regardless of if the feedback is positive or negative, his blog is being noticed and making a difference. I have 3 family members and few friends reading mine. I can't wait for someone "high up" to smash my views at my blog. Well, not really. But anyway. . .

I have said before the The Beast's Lair is not a place to throw down judgment, and I want to remain true to that conviction for my blog. Nevertheless, the minister has a responsibility to keep working to find the space between being judgmental and protecting our sheep. I have students and adults under my care at my church, they look to me and frankly expect me to know what is good and what is not. Lot's of times I don't know, something that keeps me awake at night.

With that in mind, here are my concerns with "The Purpose Driven Life." First of all, I don't know anything about Rick Warren, save what I have read from his books and biography. His personal life, convictions, and character are all removed from my knowledge, and so my comments have nothing to do with Rick Warren the man. All I have to go on and process are the words he has written that are being digested and fed to literally millions of people. I also acknowledge that Warren's book is going to be much more scrutinized because of it's huge success, but that is exactly the point. When something is reaching so many people, any responsible minister is going to take a closer look.

My main issue with his book and study sessions that accompany his book are with the presentation of the Gospel, or I should say, the lack of presentation. Here is a quote from Saddleback's Study Guide and Teaching Video for the 40 Day's of Purpose:

"Do you have a relationship with Jesus Christ? If you aren't sure of this, I'd like the privilege of leading you in a prayer to settle the issue. Let's bow our heads. I'm going to pray a prayer and you can follow it silently in your mind:

'Dear God, I want to know Your purpose for my life. I don't want to waste the rest of my life on the wrong things. Today I want to take the first step in preparing for eternity by getting to know You. Jesus Christ, I don't understand it all, but as much as I know how, I want to open my life to You. I ask you to come into my life and make yourself real to me. Use this series to help me know what You made me for. Thank you. Amen.'

"If you just prayed that prayer for the very first time, I congratulate you. You've just become a part of the family of God."

Based on this confession, salvation means turning your life from purposeless to purposeful. There is no mention of sin, forgiveness of sin, belief in the resurrected Christ, etc. I by no means think that there is one word-for-word prayer that is the "correct" prayer and unless a non-believer says those exact words, God will not hear. However, the foundation of salvation rests on the blood of Christ and the recognition and forgiveness of sin, not the lack of purpose in a life. Plus, in this salvation prayer, the words "use this series to help me" is beyond belief. Surely in our prayer for salvation, we would ask God first to use the Bible to help us. I appreciate a good Bible study or commentary for help, but not as an addition to a prayer of salvation! Furthermore, in this first lesson of the study that offers this prayer, there is no mention of any scriptures relating to the Gospels. Biblically illiterate people who read this prayer would do so with no knowledge of the cross or God's understanding of sin.

Secondly, I have concerns with Warren's use of scripture, ...

Read the rest of his post by going HERE.

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