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Saturday, April 15, 2006

More Rick Warren Stuff (sigh)

Hey, go check out the scribblings of the brothers at Fide-o. Look around awhile and you'll see their section on Saddleback Church. That's Rick Warren's. Since Mr. Richard Abanes is now on record calling me a bunch of names, it was comforting to see I haven't been his only target.

As you can see, Abanes calls me a witch-hunter, a liar, small-minded, unloving, unChrist-like, hate-filled, arrogant, ignorant, evil, fanatical, sectarian and damaging to the Body of Christ. All in one comment. Not to mention an embarrasment to my denomination.

The thing is, in all honesty, he is right (not necessarily in the ways he meant it but even so). I don't deny any of it. That's what is so wonderful about Jesus and His cross. And that's why Rick Warren's book The Purpose Driven Life is so pointless. It's not just that Warren distorts and misapplies the Bible over and over and over. It's not just his false teachings. It's also what he doesn't say. There ain't much gospel there folks and w/o the gospel, your life has no purpose.

I'm sure that Rick Warren means well. I don't question his intentions or motives. I challenge his words.

While there are hundreds of websites condemning The Purpose Driven Life and articles too numerous to cite, I like what Pastor Gary E. Gilley of Southern View Chapel in Springfield, IL had to say in his short review:

when every third page of a book presents either an unbiblical, or at least a biblically unsupportable idea, there is not much sense bothering to read it. And that would be my suggestion - don't bother.

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The Heresy Hunter said...

I've found that Christians don't mind hearing criticism of teachers that are in error - that is, until their own favorite teachers are put under the microscope.

Anonymous said...

Dear Scott,

I read with great interest your initial response to the thread in which I posted a reply to you (see Then I read with even greater interest your subsequent "sigh" post of April 15, 2006 (above). I do not wish to get into a long debate with you since that would be, to use one of your own descriptive words, "pointless." Let us stick to the issue at hand, and allow me to just make some quick responses to both of your most recent posts.

1. YOUR FIRST POST - Your reference to the
terms/phrases I used to describe you and others:
"nit-picky," "small-minded," "witch hunter," "relish
the opportunity to attack," and "far more damaging to
the body of Christ than Rick Warren will ever be."
MY RESPONSE - I suggest you read the book "Witch
Hunt" by Gretchen Passantino and her late husband Bob
(both Lutheran Church Missouri Synod). Some of your
approaches to heresy hunting and finding fault with
Rick Warren mirror the approaches used by some of the
people discussed in this book. Warren's most severe
critics do, in fact, often rely on being overly nit-picky, embrace a very small-minded view of non-essential dogma (as well as alternate ways of expressing essential doctrine), tend to witch hunt, and seem quite exhuberant over the chance to simply fight about something. And all of this, in my opinion, does indeed add up to more damage to the body of Christ than Rick Warren's teachings -- which are solidly evangelical in all the essentials of the faith. Now, you would disgaree and call him heterodox. But that is only because you have taken it upon yourself to redefine heterodox to mean non-Lutheran. I suggest you read another book -- "Orthodoxy & Heresy: A Biblical Guide to Doctrinal Discernment" by Robert Bowman. In taking your stance, you show what I consider a fanatical sectarianism, which is one of the main hinderances to unity in the body of Christ.

2. YOUR FIRST POST - "Of these great sins, God will be
judge" [in reference to the various sins I accused you
of committing].
MY RESPONSE - Indeed, he will judge. You got that
right. But it would have been remiss of me to not point out what I saw and how your sinful acts were directed toward me by your misrepresention of my words and views.

3. YOUR FIRST POST - You noted: ". . . if I
misunderstood your words on the radio and
misrepresented you, of that I truly apologize, even
though you "know" I would never do that."
MY RESPONSE: How would I 'know' that Scott.You are NOT an idiot. You understand English perfectly well and I am fairly articulate. I find it extremely difficult to
believe that an individual as sharp-minded as you could accidentally misrepresent me on so many points. It would, to my mind, be quite impossible for you to
misunderstand me in so many crucial areas. If it is true, however, that you just misunderstood me, then you have another serious problem because it would mean
that in talking with someone such as myself, you did
not understand a thing I said! Either way - you have a
serious problem to deal with. Either you: a) cannot
understand an articulate apologist who is explaining
his views on a particular issue; or b) you actually
did understand an articulate apologist and delibertaely chose to misrepresent his views to further your own agenda and position. Neither option puts you in a good light as a "pastor."

4. YOUR FIRST POST - "You don't know my motives or my heart. You can't possibly know what I repent of or
MY RESPONSE - True, I do not know your motives. But I
do know when someone intelligent misrepresents my
words. Again, you really only have the choices listed
above. I preferred to believe that you did what you did deliberately, rather than accept the notion that perhaps you really could not understand me. That, as I said, seemed impossible. Moreover, as for me knowing or not knowing what you repent of, this is a strawman. I didn't say that you have NOT repented (past act). I said that you need to repent (future act).

5. YOUR FIRST POST - "I never stated that Rick Warren
is a heretic."
MY RESPONSE - This now seems like word games you are playing. You call him just about every other name in
the book, allow others to do so as well, and then endorse some of Warren's harshest critics who themselves take Warren's words/works and twist them to make Warren look as horrific as possible with no
thought whatsoever about context, framework, and goals (e.g., Gary Gilley). Goodness, who needs to actually call him a heretic?? You might not use the WORD, but you have plenty of other ways to essentially say the same thing -- especially when your thoughts are being read by the average lay Christian. You say: 1)
"Warren's book is full of damaging lies about God. Why
should any false teacher get a pass?"; 2) "he has an
erroneous -- and dangerous -- belief about worship'
(DANGEROUS? - I've been leading Christ-centered
worship @ Saddleback for nearly 10 years and there's
notihng dangerous about it); 3) "Warren's whole
program is man-centered" 4) "Warren's sin (and false
teaching is a sin) is public." 5) "He undermines the
gospel." 6) "I believe there will be people who go to
hell because of some of the things he writes." Ok,
Scott, so you don't use the word "heretic." Fine. You
don't have to. You say it a million other ways.

6. YOUR FIRST POST - "Rick Warren's book is bad. It
hurts people. That's a fact."
MY RESPONSE: Really? Well, that's odd since I have
certainly met a lot of people who have come to Christ
because of it and claim that it has helped them. The 5
purposes outlined by Warren are: 1. “You were planned
for God’s pleasure” (Revelation 4:11); 2. “You were
formed for God’s family” (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:4-7); 3. “You were created to become like Christ”
(Ephesians 5:2; Philippians 2:5; Colossians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:21; 1 John 2:6) 4. “You were shaped for serving God” (Romans 12:1-2); 5. “You were made for a mission” (Matthew 28:19). That doesn't sound very
hurtful or dangerous or heterodox to me. Moreover,
Warren writes: "Friendship with God is possible only
because of teh grace of God and the sacrifice of Jesus
(p. 86). "[E]ternity offers only two [choices]: heaven
or hell. Your relationship to God on earth will
determine your relationship to him in eternity" (p. 37). "Jesus said, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me'" (p. 34). etc etc etc etc.

The book is clearly Christ-centered, but it is certainly not a treatise on Christology or Theology. The problems with it are relatively minor. But overall it is a God-centered, Christ-centered, orthodox book that has brought many people into the kingdom of God and given them hope and peace about this life as well as the next. As for "damage" it has done to people. You must know, Scott, that the same thing has been said about the Bible for centuries. And, in fact, that statement is actually quite true. How much damage has the Bible done to people who get caught up in cults? Why? Because its words are twisted, misapplied, misunderstood, abused, turned around, etc etc. If this
can happen with God's perfect Word in imperfect hands,
how much more problematic could an imperfect book
written by a fallible man be in the hands of the same
imperfect people. But you give Warren NO slack for
being human -- like all of us.

LET ME BE VERY CLEAR. Rick Warren is not perfect. Goodness, I know that. No one is. But he says one thing wrong, phrases something badly, makes an error of judgment, relies on a less than stellar Bible version, or misapplies a Bible verse, and you point him out as practically the worst thing to hit Christianity despite the thousands of people he has helped bring into God's kingdom -- and the Christ-honoring lives they are now living. God will indeed judge.

7. YOUR SECOND POST - "There ain't much gospel there
folks and w/o the gospel, your life has no purpose."
MY RESPONSE - Here is the crux of the problem -- you
simply do not like how much of the gospel Warren put
in his book. You don't like the amount of straight up
doctrine he included. Well, Scott, please, how much is
enough for you? One sentence? One paragraph? One page? One chapter? Two chapters? Ten pages? How are you arriving at your measure of how much is enough? What qualifies you to decide how much is enough in any
given book -- not just Warren's, but everyone's books?
Where is that line between enough and not enough? Is
it a line agreed upon by all Chrisians, or just your
denomination, or just your church? Or is it some undefined line that just resides in your mind somewhere so that when you look at a book you just know -- "yes, that is enough gospel"? I think my point is made. You are using a highly subjective standard that, I can assure you, means very little to the people who have read the book and have come to a saving knowledge of Christ because it apparently had enough gospel in there for them.

In conclusion, I would only suggest that if you do not
like Warren's book - then write your own book with
enough gospel, according to your subjective standards.
And with all Bible verse interpreted perfectly. And also with all of your phrases perfect. And all of your views applicable to every single denomination so as not to provoke criticisms of any kind from people who do not happen to share every single one of your personal beliefs and views. Good luck.

Having said all of this - I wish you the best and hope
that your service to God goes in a direction that will
be fruitful and Christ-honoring. And, of course, I too
wish you and yours a glorious resurrection day.

richard abanes
author, Rick Warren and the Purpose that Drives Him

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

Richard, you really are amazing. I find it hard to believe what I am reading.

I am not ashamed of being a confessional Lutheran. Why would I be a Lutheran pastor if I did not confess Lutheran doctrine? Call me a fanatical sectarian, if you like. Of course I believe that all those who do not subscibe to the Book of Concord are heterodox. Where Warren agrees with the Book of Concord, I consider him sound. Where he disagrees, I consider him wrong. And you too.

Martin Luther did not see himself as sectarian. Though he certainly saw the anabaptists as sectarian. And so do I. The reformers understood themselves as catholic. Me too.

Richard, it would not be good stewardship of my time to do a page by page listing of the doctrinal errors and biblical distortions of PDL. But someday maybe I will.

His section on worship is dangerous. People are suffering and will suffer on its account. I have had to pick up pieces. And that's just one example.

Frankly, I just wonder where you hope this conversation will go. Do you expect me to renounce Lutheran doctrine? I don't much expect you to change your mind. That being the case, I suggest we end this conversation. To put it more plainly, do not comment here again. If you continue, I will consider it harassment.

VirginiaLutherans said...

Well said Pastor Stiegemeyer. I didn't take the time to read the man's post, but I didn't need to. His conclusion said enough- he wants you to redo the Bible! There aren't enough confessional Lutherans. If you don't follow the Book of Concord or the Bible (more important of the two), then you aren't Lutheran.

Anonymous said...

I find it absolutely shocking that Richard Abanes would actually attack Pastor Stiegemeyer's apology and attempt at reconciliation in Pastor Stiegemeyer's post on April 15.

Pastor Stiegemeyer wrote: "You don't know my motives or my heart. You can't possibly know what I repent of or not."

Richard Abanes' response? "Moreover, as for me knowing or not knowing what you repent of, this is a strawman. I didn't say that you have NOT repented (past act). I said that you need to repent (future act)."

Wow--this is amazing. I thought it was generous of Pr. Stiegemeyer to allow Abanes' remarks to be posted on Pastor Stiegemeyer's own blog. But then to also be attacked for not repenting in the future, repenting in the past, etc.... It's amazing to me that Abanes' discussion actually takes this turn.

Mr. Abanes, I suggest that you take heed of your own advice. Don't become nit-picky, small-minded and so sure of yourself.

Anonymous said...

You can actually stand those Reformed Baptists at fide-o? blech

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

Hi Anon,
I'm not saying I agree with everything on the blogs I happen to link to. But I can appreciate a confessional Calvinist. I linked to them because I appreciated what I saw there not only about Saddleback, but also the charismatics.

I also like The White Horse Inn. Not because I am in 100% agreement with Mike Horton or Kim Riddlebarger, but because I think they have a lot to offer in a number of important areas.

Let's face it, America is soaked in Arminianism. And a calvinistic baptist who gets law and gospel is a closer ally in those areas.

I'll align with the Romanists, the Orthodox and Episcopalians over at Touchstone for cultural issues and some religious ones. Not communion fellowship, mind you. But finding common interests and utilizing them for the greater good. Doesn't mean I "like" or agree with everything.

Logan Bennett said...

Pastor Scott,
I can not believe that you are posting another post about Rick Warren!!!! Were you dropped on your head as a kid? Does your elevator not go all the way to the top? Did you eat a lot of paint chips when you were younger? Seriously man, why couldn't you just let the argument die with your last post. Are you really that arrogant of a man? Do you really think that God gave you the divine power to never be wrong?

First off I would like to point out are you really threatening Richard with Harrasement. I might point out that you have no bassis of harrasement against him, it would never hold up in court, and you need to stop being such a little baby. You have a public blog that allows people to comment at will. You alone have the authority to delete peoples comments so others can not see them. If you don't like something that Richard has to say then you should delete it. Seriously him and Rick Warren would have more of a case against you that would hold up in court. That is called Slander my friend, and yes you can get sued and found guilty for that. It would be a little different if Richard was sending emails to your private email, then you would have grounds for Harrasement.

Secondly I would like to personaly thank Richard Abanes for coming on here and defending himself against the likes of you. You my friend are a disgrace to the Christian community. You my friend do indeed do more damage then Rick Warren would ever or could ever do with his book. It is people like you who ruin the way people think of Christians. If you ask average people on the street what they think of Jesus they have nothing but good things to say, if you ask the average person on the street what they think of Christians they have nothing but bad things to say. Even people who are on the verge of becoming a christian they hear what you have to say, and they respond with things like why would I ever want to be a part of anything like that. If that is the way Jesus is then we don't want to have anything to do with him. You Pastor Scott make me embarrased to call myself a Christian, but I will say this you are not the only one there are many people out there like that who should just shut up!!!!

Pastor Scott, why don't you prove to all of us that you are not twisting Richard's words. Why don't you post the Radio story on here, why don't you let us listen to it to decide for ourselves if you should be burned at the stake or if Rick Warren should be burned at the stake, since it seems you are indeed on a Witch Hunt. Why don't you be a man about it and let us listen to it?? I am sure that you won't because I am sure that you then would be proved wrong. You will come up with some excuse like oh we don't have a copy of it or somethings stupid like that. Because we all know that every radio station keeps a copy of all their brodcasts.

Richard Thank you so much for standing up for yourself against the hateful words of this man Pastor Scott.

Pastor Scott thank you so much for appologizing to Richard.

Logan Bennett

Darrell said...

Pastor Scott, this is a topic I have strong feelings about. After thinking at first that I ought to have the sense (for once) to keep my mouth shut, I decided to go ahead and throw my two cents in... but I did so at my own blog, rather than making a big long mess here... if you're interested.

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

Darrell, I'm always interested in what you and Wendy have to say about anything.

sam said...

Mr. Bennett,
Having served as a teacher for both middle schoolers and high schoolers your arguments about Rev. Stiegemeyer getting sued fall into the realm of elementary school students. I've heard from 4th graders yelling "i'm gonna sue you because you said something bad." That's what you are saying. Also with this, how is Rev. Stiegemeyer threatening anyone with harrassment? That's a pretty bold and dumb statement in my humble opinion.

In addition, you seem to know very little about religion and its interaction with the American law system. The courts very rarely get involved in cases regarding religion because then they have to judge doctrine. That is what this whole debate is about. Rev. Stiegemeyer is saying that Warren's book contains false doctrine not in accordance with the teachings of the Lutheran church. Abanes disagrees. I agree with Rev. Stiegemeyer. I believe that PDL is full of heretical statements that obscure Christ. How can we not spend time talking about this? People are being led everyday from Christ on the cross to a theology where we can "make a decision" or just "check a box if you believe in Christ."

Go Pastor Stiegemeyer!

Aidan Hawke said...

It is amazing how quickly this has turned into an elementary schoolyard. I am almost expecting to hear someone use the term poop head. This is getting sooooo boring and tired. Everyone needs to grow some thicker skin and lighten up. I do not think my knowledge of church doctrine will dictate the condition of my soul, nor the fact I go to a Presbyterian church, or my political standing, last time I checked the fact that on a winter afternoon during my sophmore year of highschool I came to know christ in a buddies basement that opened up the Holy of Holies for me to have my relationship with God the father, something which I want to share with as many people as possible. Rick Warren, whether I know him or not, is still my brother in Christ, just as Abanes, and Steigmeyer are. If you want to enjoy your squabbling knock yourself out. There are some teenagers I work with who need to know the love of Christ, a friend of mine who's suffering some hardships, and a ministry in an inner city that I'd much rather devote my time to, as well as the moments to be alone with God in His presence through the redemptive power of Jesus Christ his only begotten son.

sam said...

I notice you make the statement that "I do not think my knowledge of church doctrine will dictate the condition of my soul." You are right in one regard. From the rest of your statements it is easy to see that you are a Christian. We believe that if you have faith in Christ, you will be saved. However, your statement, I believe, is a start down the place to saying "Doctrine doesn't matter" and one step farther, "It doesn't matter what you believe."

That is the danger of this discussion. We must be constantly on guard for false doctrine because one error in doctrine can be the first step down a road that leads to a "do your own thing" religion.

Jen said...

HI Pastor Scott,
My name is Jen and I stumbled across your page from "the beasts". I really have enjoyed your discussion and and posted a link to both your pages from my myspace account. One of my friends wrote me back with these few links that I thought would be of interest to you.

one word of disclaimer... I haven't had much time to fully study the sites, or seek out motivation for them all but am only posting them because of what I have read I agree with you and a friend recommended these,

God Bless!

Rick Warren's global peace plan

Rick Warren's interview with Larry King Live

A Purpose Driven Life book review

Bob Waters said...

Aiden, do you really think that the Word of God is so unimportant that fighting the lies of those who falsify it is merely childish squabbling? If so, you have a pretty vapid understanding of that Gospel to which you refer.

Warren and Abanes to the contrary, it has content.

Aidan Hawke said...

I am talking about Doctrine, not the word of God. There is a difference.

This is the cube rev by the way for some reason my room mates sign on is on here.

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

Y,see Cube, this is where we are on two different planets. I don't believe any religious doctrine that is NOT based on God's Word. Do you? What, in your opinion, is the diff? The word "doctrine" just means "teaching." I don't believe ANY man-made doctrines. Do you?

Here St.Paul uses "doctrine" and "teaching" interchangeably. I know that some Christians make a distinction btween doctrine and God's Word, but I don't. And Bob doesn't.

3If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4he is conceited and understands nothing. (1Timothy 6)

And Paul also writes:

16Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers (1Timothy 4).

If so-called teachers of the faith cared as much about doctrine as St. Paul did, we wouldn't be having THIS discussion.

Diver said...

I cannot pretend to have the biblical knowledge of Pastor Scott or The Beast, but even I can see what they are saying.

Both Logan and Richie appear to have taken some serious drinks from the the purpose drive kool-aid. The way they are attacking everything, rather than just trying to defend Warren is rather like members of a cult. (BTW: Scott do not blog on scientology, they get really mean.) This frightens me even more than what you have written. Abanes appears to be the self declared expert on all things Warren and his approach tells me that the "purpose" can not possibly be teaching anything Christlike.

And well, Logan? You have some anger control issues I think. It might be time to switch to decaf.

Keep it up Scott.

Scott Hill said...

Of all the things said about us since we started blogging, I believe that is the first "blech" we have recieved. Hope you didn't get that on your shirt there Anonymous.


PS is your issue with Reformed Baptist or us inparticular.

Scott Hill said...

Scott, I appreciate your attitude is dealing with Richie Abanes. You haven't been praying for patience lately have you?

The Cubicle Reverend said...

For one, God's word is supreme over Doctrine. Luther, Calvin, The Wesley's, etc. all gave their interpretation of of God's word to create teaching of that word which doesn't have as much weight as the word itself. Secone, a lot of people do not know what you are talking about when you mention things like Arminiasm or whatever. The only Arminians I know are my uncle. Except for having a different last name and much darker skin than myself I do not see what the difference is. If Warren is so bad, fine, then what should we do? Where should we go? Who should we listen to?

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

Cube, listen, this is not to be snooty, but you just aren't using the word "doctrine" correctly. At least not the same way I am. What I think you are trying to say (correct me if I'm wrong) is that God's Word is supreme over man's word. True.

But when I say, for instance, "God is Triune," is that man's word or God's word? It's a doctrine, a teaching. It also happens to be what I believe to be true. And it is drawn from Scripture. It is a biblical doctrine.

Here is another doctrine. "Allah is God and Mohammed is his prophet." Now that one I don't agree with. It's a false doctrine.

The thing is, Mormons could say "Jesus is the son of God." As did the Arians, the Nestorians, and the Swedenborgians. But they don't all mean by those words the same thing you and I would mean. So this doctrine needs to be further defined. As we do so, I agree that we must confine ourselves to using Scripture as our authority. This is not to say, of course, that there might not be tremendous value in reading such illumined thinkers as Athanasius on the matter.

But, as far as I can tell, I don't believe or teach any untrue doctrines. If any of the things I teach are untrue, someone needs to point that out. God grant me the humility to accept sound correction and the wisdom to resist error, no matter how appealing.

As I have stated, the word "doctrine" simply means "teaching." Same with "dogma." So it doesn't quite work to say, "God's Word is supreme over teaching." Which teaching? Whose teaching? St. Paul's? God's Word is doctrine. It is teaching.

About Arminianism. Your uncle is Armenian, not Arminian. Well, I suppose he could be both. I don't know. But the dark skin part is because he hails from Armenia, not because he follows the teachings of Jacob Arminius.

Arminians differ from Lutherans and Calvinists on a number of very important points which I won't go into here.

But you asked, "Who should we listen to?" Great question. There are thousands of good Christian teachers. Our friend, Darrell over at Southern Conservative, gives some good recommendations in his blog post on Rick Warren. He names C.S. Lewis and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I am not necessarily saying that I agree with everything these guys wrote either. I just think Rick Warren's book is in a class of error such that he should not be read.

Classifying error is pretty involved, dont' you think? Some writers err in most of their works, but their errors may be about minor issues. Other writers have few errors but they err about more important issues. A person might err about an important matter, but only as a fluke. Another person may err about the same matter but do so vigorously and defensively. Of course, every writer is bound to err occasionally by sloppiness, inadequate research, or careless writing. These can generally be overlooked. But when a writer writes a book so filled with biblical distortions, misleading statements, incomplete arguments, false and dangerous presentations of the gospel and simply never, even in the face of criticism, make an effort to correct himself, his work in question should be avoided.

But whomever you read, you should be discerning. This takes effort and work. It also requires being in a Christian community where sound teaching is upheld and valued.

Be like the Bereans who checked Paul to make sure what he preached was in concord with the Scripture. As Mr. Abanes and Mr. Bennett have so eloquently pointed out on my blog, no human author is exempt from the possibility of error. Martin Luther wrote some things I don't accept. But let's be honest. If one wants to grow in understanding the gospel and the Christian life, as far as non-biblical writers go, reading Luther's works is a great place to start.

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