Archive for the ‘emerging Church’ Category

Bob Burney

“Bob Burney Live,” WRFD Columbus, Ohio

If you are older than 40 the name Benjamin Spock is more than familiar. It was Spock that told an entire generation of parents to take it easy, don’t discipline your children and allow them to express themselves. Discipline, he told us, would warp a child’s fragile ego. Millions followed this guru of child development and he remained unchallenged among child rearing professionals. However, before his death Dr. Spock made an amazing discovery: he was wrong. In fact, he said:  


We have reared a generation of brats. Parents aren’t firm enough with their children for fear of losing their love or incurring their resentment. This is a cruel deprivation that we professionals have imposed on mothers and fathers. Of course, we did it with the best of intentions. We didn’t realize until it was too late how our know-it-all attitude was undermining the self assurance of parents.


Something just as momentous, in my opinion, just happened in the evangelical community. For most of a generation evangelicals have been romanced by the “seeker sensitive” movement spawned by Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. The guru of this movement is Bill Hybels. He and others have been telling us for decades to throw out everything we have previously thought and been taught about church growth and replace it with a new paradigm, a new way to do ministry.

Perhaps inadvertently, with this “new wave” of ministry came a de-emphasis on taking personal responsibility for Bible study combined with an emphasis on felt-needs based “programs” and slick marketing.

The size of the crowd rather than the depth of the heart determined success. If the crowd was large then surely God was blessing the ministry. Churches were built by demographic studies, professional strategists, marketing research, meeting “felt needs” and sermons consistent with these techniques. We were told that preaching was out, relevance was in. Doctrine didn’t matter nearly as much as innovation. If it wasn’t “cutting edge” and consumer friendly it was doomed. The mention of sin, salvation and sanctification were taboo and replaced by Starbucks, strategy and sensitivity.

Thousands of pastors hung on every word that emanated from the lips of the church growth experts. Satellite seminars were packed with hungry church leaders learning the latest way to “do church.” The promise was clear: thousands of people and millions of dollars couldn’t be wrong. Forget what people need, give them what they want. How can you argue with the numbers? If you dared to challenge the “experts” you were immediately labeled as a “traditionalist,” a throwback to the 50s, a stubborn dinosaur unwilling to change with the times.

All that changed recently.

Willow Creek has released the results of a multi-year study on the effectiveness of their programs and philosophy of ministry. The study’s findings are in a new book titled Reveal: Where Are You?, co-authored by Cally Parkinson and Greg Hawkins, executive pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. Hybels himself called the findings “earth shaking,” “ground breaking” and “mind blowing.” And no wonder: it seems that the “experts” were wrong.

The report reveals that most of what they have been doing for these many years and what they have taught millions of others to do is not producing solid disciples of Jesus Christ. Numbers yes, but not disciples. It gets worse. Hybels laments:

Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually, when the data actually came back it wasn’t helping people that much. Other things that we didn’t put that much money into and didn’t put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for.

If you simply want a crowd, the “seeker sensitive” model produces results. If you want solid, sincere, mature followers of Christ, it’s a bust. In a shocking confession, Hybels states:

We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between services, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own.

Incredibly, the guru of church growth now tells us that people need to be reading their bibles and taking responsibility for their spiritual growth.

Just as Spock’s “mistake” was no minor error, so the error of the seeker sensitive movement is monumental in its scope. The foundation of thousands of American churches is now discovered to be mere sand. The one individual who has had perhaps the greatest influence on the American church in our generation has now admitted his philosophy of ministry, in large part, was a “mistake.” The extent of this error defies measurement.

Perhaps the most shocking thing of all in this revelation coming out of Willow Creek is in a summary statement by Greg Hawkins:

Our dream is that we fundamentally change the way we do church. That we take out a clean sheet of paper and we rethink all of our old assumptions. Replace it with new insights. Insights that are informed by research and rooted in Scripture. Our dream is really to discover what God is doing and how he’s asking us to transform this planet.

Isn’t that what we were told when this whole seeker-sensitive thing started? The church growth gurus again want to throw away their old assumptions and “take out a clean sheet of paper” and, presumably, come up with a new paradigm for ministry. 

Should this be encouraging?

Please note that “rooted in Scripture” still follows “rethink,” “new insights” and “informed research.” Someone, it appears, still might not get it. Unless there is a return to simple biblical (and relevant) principles, a new faulty scheme will replace the existing one and another generation will follow along as the latest piper plays.

What we should find encouraging, at least, in this “confession” coming from the highest ranks of the Willow Creek Association is that they are coming to realize that their existing “model” does not help people grow into mature followers of Jesus Christ. Given the massive influence this organization has on the American church today, let us pray that God would be pleased to put structures in place at Willow Creek that foster not mere numeric growth, but growth in grace.

Bob Burney is Salem Communications’ award-winning host of Bob Burney Live, heard weekday afternoons on WRFD-AM 880 in Columbus, Ohio. Contact Bob at bob@wrfd.com.


Read Full Post »

Oprah Winfrey will be letting out all the stops on her XM Satellite Radio program this coming year. Beginning January 1, 2008, “Oprah & Friends” will offer a year-long course on the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles.1 A lesson a day throughout the year will completely cover the 365 lessons from the Course in Miracles “Workbook.”

For example, Lesson #29 asks you to go through your day affirming that “God is in everything I see.”2 Lesson #61 tells each person to repeat the affirmation “I am the light of the world.”3 Lesson #70 teaches the student to say and believe “My salvation comes from me.”4By the end of the year, “Oprah & Friends” listeners will have completed all of the lessons laid out in the Course in Miracles Workbook. Those who finish the Course will have a wholly redefined spiritual mindset—a New Age worldview that includes the belief that there is no sin, no evil, no devil, and that God is “in” everyone and everything. A Course in Miracles teaches its students to rethink

everything they believe about God and life. The Course Workbook bluntly states: “This is a course in mind training”5 and is dedicated to “thought reversal.”6

Teaching A Course in Miracles will be Oprah’s longtime friend and special XM Satellite Radio reporter Marianne Williamson—who also happens to be one of today’s premier New Age leaders. She and Conversations with God author Neale Donald Walsch co-founded the American Renaissance Alliance in 1997, that later became the Global Renaissance Alliance of New Age leaders, that changed its name again in 2005 to the Peace Alliance

. This Peace Alliance seeks to usher in an era of global peace founded on the principles of a New Age/New Spirituality that they are now referring to as a “civil rights movement for the soul.”7 They all agree that the principles of this New Age/New Spirituality are clearly articulated in A Course in Miracles—which is fast becoming the New Age Bible. So what is A Course in Miracles and what does it teach?

A Course in Miracles is allegedly “new revelation” from “Jesus” to help humanity work through these troubled times. This “Jesus”—who bears no doctrinal resemblance to the Bible’s Jesus Christ—began delivering his channeled teachings in 1965 to a Columbia University Professor of Medical Psychology by the name of Helen Schucman.

One day Schucman heard an “inner voice” stating, “This is a course in miracles. Please take notes.”8 For seven years she diligently took spiritual dictation from this inner voice that described himself as “Jesus.” A Course in Miracles was quietly published in 1975 by the Foundation for Inner Peace. For many years “the Course” was an underground cult classic for New Age seekers who studied “the Course” individually, with friends, or in small study groups.

As a former New Age follower

and devoted student of A Course in Miracles, I eventually discovered that the Course in Miracles was—in reality—the truth of the Bible turned upside down. Not having a true understanding of the Bible at the time of my involvement, I was led to believe that A Course in Miracles was “a gift from God” to help everyone understand the “real” meaning of the Bible and to help bring peace to the world. Little did I know that the New Age “Christ” and the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles were everything the real Jesus Christ warned us to watch out for. In Matthew 24 Jesus warned about false teachers, false teachings and the false “Christs” who would pretend to be He.

When I left the New Age “Christ” to follow the Bible’s Jesus Christ, I had come to understand that the “Jesus” of A Course in Miracles was a false “Christ,” and that his Course in Miracles was dangerously deceptive. Here are some quotes from the “Jesus” of A Course in Miracles:

  • “There is no sin. . . ” 9  [See note]

  •  A “slain Christ has no meaning.”10

  • “The journey to the cross should be the last ‘useless journey.”11

  • “Do not make the pathetic error of ‘clinging to the old rugged cross.’”12

  • “The Name of Jesus Christ as such is but a symbol… It is a symbol that is safely used as a replacement for the many names of all the gods to which you pray.”13

  • “God is in everything I see.”14

  • “The recognition of God is the recognition of yourself.”15

  • “The oneness of the Creator and the creation is your wholeness, your sanity and your limitless power.”16

  • “The Atonement is the final lesson he [man] need learn, for it teaches him that, never having sinned, he has no need of salvation.”17

Most Christians recognize that these teachings are the opposite of what the Bible teaches. In the Bible, Jesus Christ’s atoning death on the cross of Calvary was hardly a “useless journey.” His triumph on the cross provides salvation to all those who confess their sin, accept Him and follow Him as their Lord and Saviour. His victory on the cross rings throughout the New Testament. It has been gloriously sung about in beloved hymns through the ages and is at the heart of our Christian testimony.

I found the Jesus of the Bible to be wholly believable as He taught God’s truth and warned about the spiritual deception that would come in His name. The “Jesus” of A Course in Miracles reveals himself to be an imposter when he blasphemes the true Jesus Christ by saying that a “slain Christ has no meaning” and that we are all “God” and that we are all “Christ.” It was by reading the Bible’s true teachings of Jesus Christ that I came to understand how deceived I had been by A Course in Miracles and my other New Age teachings.

I was introduced to A Course in Miracles by Dr. Gerald Jampolsky’s book Love is Letting Go of Fear. Jampolsky declared in his easy-to-read book how the teachings of A Course in Miracles had changed his life. As an ambassador for A Course in Miracles over the years, Jampolsky has been featured not only in New Age circles but at least twice on Robert Schuller’s Hour of Power. While Schuller introduced Jampolsky and his “fabulous”

18 Course in Miracles-based books to his worldwide television audience, it was Marianne Williamson’s appearance on a 1992 Oprah Winfrey Show that really shook the rafters.

On that program, Oprah enthusiastically endorsed Williamson’s book, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles. Oprah told her television audience that Williamson’s book about A Course in Miracles was one of her favorite books, and that she had already bought a thousand copies and would be handing them out to everyone in her studio audience. Oprah’s endorsement skyrocketed Williamson’s book about A Course in Miracles to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. Ironically, all of this was happening after I had left the Course and the New Age. In fact, I was doing the final editing on my book The Light That Was Dark

that warned about the dangers of the New Age—and in particular A Course in Miracles.

After being introduced to the world on Oprah, Marianne Williamson has continued to grow in popularity and, as previously mentioned, has become one of today’s foremost New Age leaders. Williamson credits Winfrey for bringing her book about A Course in Miracles before the world: “For that, my deepest thanks to Oprah Winfrey. Her enthusiasm and generosity have given the book, and me, an audience we would never otherwise have had.”19 In her 2004 book, The Gift of Change, Williamson wrote:

“Twenty years ago, I saw the guidance of the Course as key to changing one’s personal life; today, I see its guidance as key to changing the world. More than anything else, I see how deeply the two are connected.”20

Thus the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles are about to be taught by Marianne Williamson to millions of listeners on Oprah’s XM Satellite Radio program. Listeners are encouraged to buy A Course in Miracles for the year-long course. An audio version of A Course in Miracles recited by Richard (John Boy Walton) Thomas is also available on compact disc.

Popular author Wayne Dyer told his PBS television audience that the “brilliant writing” of A Course in Miracles would produce more peace in the world.21 Williamson’s New Age colleague, Neale Donald Walsch, said his “God” stated that “the era of the Single Saviour is over”22 and that he (“God”) was responsible for authoring the teachings of A Course in Miracles.23

Meanwhile, Gerald Jampolsky’s Course in Miracles-based book, Forgiveness, continues to be sold in Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral bookstore as Schuller prepares to host a January 17-19, 2008, “Rethink Conference” at his Crystal Cathedral.24

At this critical time in the history of the world, the New Gospel/New Spirituality is coming right at the world and the church with its New Age teachings and its New Age Peace Plan. But this New Age Peace Plan has at its deceptive core the bottom-line teaching from A Course in Miracles that “we are all one” because God is “in” everyone and everything. But the Bible is clear that we are not God (Ezekiel 28:2; Hosea 11:9). And per Galatians 3:26-28, our only oneness is in Jesus Christ—not in ourselves as “God” and “Christ.” What Oprah and Marianne Williamson and the world will learn one day is that humanity’s only real and lasting peace is with the true Jesus Christ who is described and quoted in the Holy Bible (Romans 5:1).

Oprah Winfrey’s misplaced faith in Marianne Williamson and the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles is a sure sign of the times. But an even surer sign of the times is that most Christians are not taking heed to what is happening in the world and in the church. We are not contending for the faith as the Bible admonishes us to do (Jude 3).

It is time for all of our Purpose-Driven and Emerging church pastors to address the real issue of the day. Our true Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is being reinvented, redefined, and blasphemed right in front of our eyes and hardly anyone seems to notice or care. If we want the world to know who Jesus Christ is, we need to also warn them about who He is not. There is a false New Age “Christ” making huge inroads into the world and into the church. The Apostle Paul said that “it is a shame” we have to even talk about these things, but talk about them we must (Ephesians 5:12-16).

If people want to follow Oprah Winfrey and the New Age “Christ” of A Course in Miracles they certainly have that right. But let them be warned that the New Age “Christ” they are following is not the same Jesus Christ who is so clearly and authoritatively presented in the pages of the Bible.



Read Full Post »

William MacDonald


There is a curious problem today in the evangelical [and fundamental] world — one that poses sobering questions for the church and for the individual believer. The problem in brief is this: a great army of personal soul-winners has been mobilized to reach the populace for Christ. They are earnest, zealous, enthusiastic, and persuasive. To their credit it must be said that they are on the job. And it is one of the phenomena of our times that they rack up an astounding number of conversions. Everything so far seems to be on the plus side.

But the problem is this: The conversions do not stick. The fruit does not remain. Six months later there is nothing to be seen for all the aggressive evangelism. The capsule technique of soul winning has produced stillbirths.

What lies at the back of all this malpractice in bringing souls to the birth? Strangely enough it begins with the valid determination to preach the pure gospel of the grace of God. We want to keep the message simple — uncluttered by any suggestion that man can ever earn or deserve eternal life. Justification is by faith alone, apart from the deeds of the law. Therefore, the message is “only believe.”

From there the message is reduced to a concise formula. For instance, the evangelistic process is cut down to a few basic questions and answers, as follows:

“Do you believe you are a sinner?”
“Do you believe Christ died for sinners?”
“Will you receive Him as your Savior?”
“Then you are saved!”
“I am?”
“Yes, the Bible says you are saved.”

At first blush the method and the message might seem above criticism. But on closer study we are forced to have second thoughts and to conclude that the gospel has been over-simplified.

The first fatal flaw is the missing emphasis on repentance. There can be no true conversion without conviction of sin. It is one thing to agree that I am a sinner: it is quite another thing to experience the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit in my life. Unless I have a Spirit-wrought consciousness of my utterly lost condition, I can never exercise saving faith. It is useless to tell unconvicted sinners to believe on Jesus — that message is only for those who know they are lost. We sugar-coat the gospel when we de-emphasize man’s fallen condition. With that kind of watered-down message, people receive the Word with joy instead of with deep contrition. They do not have deep roots, and though they might endure for a while, they soon give up all profession when persecution or trouble comes (Matt. 13:21). Many have forgotten that the message is repentance toward God as well as faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

A second serious omission is a missing emphasis on the Lordship of Christ. A light, jovial mental assent that Jesus is Savior misses the point. Jesus is first Lord, then Savior. The New Testament always places His Lordship before His Saviorhood. Do we present the full implication of His Lordship to people? He always did.

A third defect in the message is the tendency to keep the terms of discipleship hidden until a decision has been made for Jesus. Our Lord never did this. The message He preached included the cross as well as the crown. “He never hid His scars to win disciples.” He revealed the worst along with the best, then told His listeners to count the cost. We popularize the message and promise fun.

The result of all this is that we have people believing without knowing what they believe. In many cases they have no doctrinal basis for their decision. They do not know the implication of commitment to Christ. They have never experienced the mysterious, miraculous work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration.

And of course there are others who are talked into a profession because of the slick salesmanship techniques of the soul winner. Or some who want to please the affable, personable young man with the winning smile. And some who only want to get rid of this religious interloper who has intruded into their privacy. Satan laughs when these conversions are triumphantly announced on earth.

I would like to raise several questions that might lead to some changes in the strategy of evangelism.

First of all, can we generally expect people to make an intelligent commitment to Christ the first time they hear the Gospel? Certainly, there is the exceptional case where a person has already been prepared by the Holy Spirit.

But generally speaking, the process involves sowing the seed, watering it, then sometime later reaping the harvest. In our mania for instant conversion, we have forgotten that conception, gestation, and birth do not occur on the same day.

A second question — can a capsule presentation of the gospel really do justice to so great a message? As one who has written several gospel tracts, I confess to a certain sense of misgivings in even attempting to condense the good news into four small pages. Would we not be wise to give people the full presentation as it is found in the Gospels, or in the New Testament?

Thirdly, is all this pressure for decisions really Scriptural? Where in the New Testament were people ever pressured into making a profession? The practice is justified by saying that if only one out of ten is genuine, it is worth it. But what about the other nine disillusioned, bitter, perhaps deceived; enroute to hell by a false profession?

And I must add this: Is all this boasting about conversions really accurate? You’ve met the man who solemnly tells you of ten people he contacted that day and all of them were saved. A young doctor testified that every time he goes to a new city, he looks in the phone book for people with his last name. Then he calls them one by one and leads them through the four steps of salvation. Amazing enough, every one of them opens the door of his heart to Jesus. I don’t want to doubt the honesty of people like this, but am I wrong in thinking that they are extremely naive? Where are all those people who are saved? They cannot be found.

What it all means is that we should seriously re-examine our streamlined capsule evangelism. We should be willing to spend time teaching the gospel, laying a solid doctrinal foundation for faith to rest on. We should stress the necessity for repentance — a complete about face with regard to sin. We should stress the full implication of the Lordship of Christ and the conditions of discipleship. We should explain what belief really involves. We should be willing to wait for the Holy Spirit to produce genuine conviction of sin.

If we do this, we’ll have less astronomical figures of so-called conversions, but more genuine cases of spiritual rebirth.

Read Full Post »

By Ray Stedman

My home is on the Rogue River in southwestern Oregon. As the river flows by my door it is a quiet, happily murmuring stream. But ten miles downstream it turns into a raging torrent, sweeping through the walls of Hellgate Canyon with unbelievable power and white-capped display. The varied assortment of rafters, kayakers, and boatsmen who challenge its course through the Coast Range have but one thought in mind—survival! A few hardy, experienced souls dare it on their own, but most rely on river-wise guides who thoroughly know the dangers, can instruct in the techniques of survival, and are able to build implicit trust in their knowledge and leadership.

By now you have doubtless discovered that life is very much like that powerful and treacherous river. Who hasn’t felt at times that you are being carried along into unknown dangers quite beyond your control? Who hasn’t breathed a sigh of relief during quiet seasons, only to have sudden intrusions of tragic circumstances press faith to the breaking point? We’ve all known (and perhaps succumbed to) the allure of powerful temptations to wrong-doing that can leave us shattered and disillusioned when they are past. Or thought we were doing okay only to discover that we had badly misjudged our state and woke up too late to recover.

All these perils and more are charted for us in the seven letters to the churches of Asia, found in Revelation 2-3. The encouraging factor is that they come from the great River-Guide himself, Jesus our Lord, who thoroughly knows the dangers which confront us, can advise knowledgably and accurately of the correctives needed to survive, and, in addition, offers incredible rewards to those who make the trip successfully to the end.

Each of the seven letters confronts a different situation and teaches a different lesson. The first, to the church at Ephesus, describes the one absolutely essential motivation to survival. It is to preserve continuously the warm and intimate love for Jesus that we first felt when we learned of that agony of self-sacrifice on our behalf which made salvation possible and brought us out of darkness into his marvelous light. If we lose that love by being drawn into side currents of man-pleasing or self-gratification or personal ambition we are in deadly danger of finding ourselves washed up on the shoals of life with little to show for having lived at all. “Watch your motivation,” says Jesus, “there is only one that can see you safely through the perils of life—a genuine and often-renewed love for Me.”

The letter to Smyrna faces a quite different danger. Here it is the terrible pressure to give up faith because it will mean ridicule, ostracism, affliction and outright persecution even to the point of death. We hate the thought that difficulties and hard trials are to be part of our lot, but Jesus tells us that only these can build the moral strength and trust that is needed to get us through. Modern examples include Alexandr Solzhenitsyn who suffered for years in Russian prisons and detention camps but who was sustained by a deepening devotion to Christ. His sturdy declaration of unpalatable truth has become a model to many of how one man can influence a whole generation. We believe that strong military forces are needed to preserve Christian civilization but Smyrna teaches us that Jesus can keep his church alive and vigorous in the midst of social and political upheaval. “Don’t be intimidated by opposition,” cries Jesus, “just as I died and came to life again, so can you, for the cross always leads to a crown!”

Pergamum stresses the need for integrity. The perils are subtle. One of them is sexual seduction. A young business man once told me of being with associates in a city away from home. His two friends planned to go out and find girls for a sexual party, but being a Christian he demurred and stayed in the room to write letters. After going to bed he was awakened by his two friends returning, accompanied by three girls. One of them promptly climbed in bed with him, awakening strong physical response. But he reminded himself of all he had to lose, and what his Lord would think, and wisely dressed without a word of reproach and went down to get another room. The other peril at Pergamum was to seek for personal power at the price of integrity. This was the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. It is found in many offices today in the lure of The Inner Circle, entrance to which demands some surrender of moral principle.

“But,” says Jesus, “don’t forget that integrity maintained means greater intimacy with Me. Guard your morality with care!”

The letter to Thyatira develops the other side of the same problem. It teaches us that compromise destroys. Under the figure of the Old Testament queen, Jezebel, who introduced idolatry into Israel, a contemporary Jezebel teaches Christians that having another god is necessary to do business in the modern world. It pictures adopting the world’s value system in place of the personal honesty which Christ requires. To lie, to shade principle, to promise what can’t be delivered, is to begin a downward slide into moral disaster. The recent spate of indictments for inside trading on Wall Street is a case in point. Those indicted have testified to the way their moral perceptions were blunted by the lust for easy money–but now prison awaits! So a false god leads to certain destruction. “But remember,” Jesus urges, “faithfulness leads to greater authority. He who overcomes will reign with Me.”

Sardis is the church in deepest trouble. It started well but soon began to lean on a good reputation and that led to inner-coasting till before they knew it they were all but dead. The Lord’s staccato command to them is, “Wake up, strengthen what remains.” The lesson to each of us is clear: words are never enough. A reputation for past success will soon disappear if the deeds that built it are missing. It is a call for consistency. Begin again where you once were. Apathy and lethargy are deadly enemies so recognize them as such and come alive. “Those who do,” says Jesus, “will find security and honor. Limited success is far better than phony achievement.”

Alone among the churches, the church of Philadelphia merits the full approval of its Lord, without reproach of any kind. It is because its members are alert to their opportunities, compassionate to their enemies, and patiently aware that nothing will ever be fully set right till Jesus comes. Read the lives of the heroes and heroines of the Church and see how that pattern is repeated in each life. With the love of Jesus as a continuing motive, and a determination to faithfully reflect his character till he returns, men and women like Mother Theresa, Chuck Colson, Jim Elliott, Amy Carmichael, and thousands unnamed have earned the title, “of whom the world was not worthy.” “I will acknowledge them as my own,” Jesus declares, “in new ways they cannot now imagine!”

Laodicea is the church filled with self-sufficient members. They had two problems. One, there was a lack of full commitment; they were neither hot nor cold. And, two, there was an inaccurate self-image; they thought they were rich when they were really poor. They were both comfortable and complacent. But in the eyes of Jesus they were far from what he wanted his people to be. The church is not a country club, operated for the benefit of its members. It is not a performing arts center, offering high-quality entertainment. It is not a political action group, choosing up sides in the public arena. It is not a protest movement, radically seeking the overthrow of law and order. What it is intended to be is salt, and salty salt at that, flavoring life and arresting its corruption. And light, widely visible light, illuminating a dark and confused world. To be this, Jesus offers himself, in intimate and personal relationship, to be the source of all that’s needed for ministry in this present age. “Nothing else will suffice,” he says, “only my life lived through your life will do the trick. It will bring you through the shoals and rapids of life to share with me in the Final Triumph!”

So, can you make it through the dangers, toils and snares of this dangerous world? Of course you can—if you love your Leader, heed his warnings, and lay hold of his resources. Without him you cannot succeed; with him you cannot fail!


Read Full Post »

By Dwight Knight 

Soteriology -The Greek word “soteria” means, the salvation of the soul.  Thus, we derive at the study of God’s plan to save man’s soul.  To outline our look into Soteriology we will focus our gaze into three areas.  They are: 

                              I.The Descriptions of Salvation

                          II.The Doctrine of Salvation

                       III.The Definitions of Salvation

 I. The Descriptions of Salvation

      a.) Salvation from the Penalty of Sin ~ Justification 
           1.) Redemption
           2.) Ransom
      b.) Salvation from the Power of Sin ~ Sanctification
           1.) Impartation
           2.) Holiness
           3.) Righteousness
      c.) Salvation from the Presence of Sin ~ Glorification
           1.) Expectation
           2.) Reward 

is described as the process which a righteous, holy, loving God provides all the necessary components to redeem fallen humanity.  To accomplish this, the act of God on this matter must be comprehensive, complete and correct.

It must be comprehensive in its work so that there can never be claims of exception or exemption.  No one may ever say that salvation was not available when needed.   It must also be complete in its work, so as to satisfy all the requirements necessary to appease God’s wrath. If even one tenet of man’s fallen condition is not addressed, God would be compelled by the dictates of His own nature to banish mankind from His presence and exact on man the eternal punishment that man justly deserves.  And finally the work of salvation must be correct.  The process that would redeem the lost must be flawless in every component.  There is no luxury for error or fallibility.  Else, God’s holiness is a farce; man’s hope for eternal life is a fable and he (mankind) is still lost for eternity.  
Therefore, the work of salvation must deliver us from the penalty of sin, the power of sin, and the presence of sin. 

The penalty of sin is not just banishment to hell.  Because man comes to God with his need already in place, God must provide a means also that will deal with the corruption and contamination in man’s heart that already exists.  The process that God uses must provide a way to eliminate the sin of man’s past offenses.  This process is known as justification.

Justification is brought about through the resurrection of Jesus (See Rom. 4:24, 25). This act eliminates our past sins (See Rom. 3:24, 25), and allows us to appear before God as though the past sinful acts never existed.  This means that the issues surrounding man’s condition must be revealed and also remedied.  The forces of darkness hold mankind against his will in the slavery of a sinful world system (See Heb. 2:14, 15).  Therefore, to rescue man from slavery and pay the cost to release him from the one who imprisons him against his will, God must redeem and ransom him or as the words suggests “buy back” the hostage mankind by paying the acceptable price for his freedom.


is the price one pays to release a person held in some form of slavery or prison.  Whereas, ransom is the price paid for someone held against their will.  By providing the Lord Jesus Christ to be the innocent blood payment for fallen man, God satisfies the requirements of His own holiness, while saving humanity from the penalty of sin. 
It is important to remember that while justification deals with sins that are past, i.e., the penalty of sin, there must be some type of salvation benefit that sees man’s present condition.  For, although mankind has been redeemed and ransomed; even though the sins of his past have been eliminated by the process of justification, man still has a soul that is in a fallen state, he lives in the immediate vicinity of a wicked world system, and there is a wicked despot, named Satan, who wants desperately to enslave him again. 


So, it becomes necessary that God provide a plan that will change the fallen nature to that which is eternally converted and thereby impervious to the contamination of future sinful acts, while also protecting man from the retribution that comes from living a sinful life before a righteous God.  This very necessary transaction would require that the perfect sacrificial body of Jesus (Heb. 10:4-10) offered would appease God’s wrath and provide man with sanctification.  That is, man can be made holy in his spirit (the part of his being that was made to be the dwelling place of God), and live holy by desire with his soul (that part of man the is his essence where volition of will is found) and choice without fear of death, proving in other words, that God has also saved us from the power of sin, upon which man can please God with the actions of his body (Romans 12:1). 

To bring about the work of sanctification, three very important works must be done at conversion.  First, there is the work of impartation. Impartation is the act where we are placed in Christ (II Cor. 5:17) and He in us (Gal. 2:20).  Because of the act of impartation, God now sees us in His Son; man is no longer forced to stand before God having his own merit or deeds to represent him (Phil. 3:9).  This process is also known as the baptism of the Spirit (I Cor. 12:13).   As a result of impartation God is can now declare righteousness on everyone who by faith receives Christ as their Savior.  Righteousness means, “To declare one in right standing before God”.  This declaration is solely a gift from God (Rom. 5:17b).  The righteousness of God is imputed, meaning it was given on the behalf of someone else.  God imputed His righteousness to us because of the love He has for His Son.  Everything God does for the believer is because of His love for His Son.  As a result of having God’s imputed righteousness and being placed in His Son, the Bible teaches that we are holy and we should live holy.  God decided in eternity past that everyone that comes to Him through His Son would be made holy (Eph.1:4).  That is, we are as holy as His Son Jesus because we are in Him.  This is known as positional holiness.  We are sanctified because of Jesus Christ alone, not by any accomplishments of our own (Heb.10:10).  But God also requires us to live in such a manner that does not follow after the world and its philosophies, but rather He expects us to live in a way that reveals a change in nature from our former lifestyle of sin.

This is known as practical holiness (I Peter 1:15, 16).  The statement of our individual lives should speak of the wonderful work of grace that God has accomplished in us.  To live contrary to this, would be stating that our God is not worthy of our commitment and that the death that Christ suffered was worthless and wasted. 
The final aspect in the work of Christ on our behalf would be salvation from the presence of sin.  The Bible makes it clear that this is not a temporary condition of salvation.  Instead as it was an eternal, infinite, and almighty God that conceived, completed and consummated this deed.  This work is called glorification and it is an eternal work that is impossible to reverse.  Glorification is the process where God takes mortal man, once a sinner now redeemed by His Son and elevates him to the highest position attainable, i.e., heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:17) Already our spirits are with Him, seated in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6), what we now await is His soon, sudden and sure return; just as He promised.  This return is referred to by His followers as the “rapture”.  Now, while the term “rapture” is never used in scripture, the Greek work parousia, meaning “catch away” or “to be caught away” (I Thes. 4:16, 17) is used to describe the Lord’s return.  The scriptures go on to teach that this is the blessed hope (Titus 2:13) and should be the expectation of every believer.


It is not an allegorical scheme or clever myth, this is the eternal plan of God which He planned for (Eph. 1:4-11) and what our Savior prayed for (John 17:24) actual and certain.  The Lord Jesus will take the saints of God, to be with Him forever in heaven and sit at the throne of His Heavenly Father, God and His earthly father, David.  Finally it will be at this time God will reward all those who have faithfully served and followed Him.  The reward that will be given the believers’ at this time will be conditional, based on deeds done on earth. 
We have just finished a brief look into the description of salvation.  Now we’ll turn our scrutiny toward the doctrine of salvation

II. The Doctrine of Salvation


a.     What Calvary Costs

1.     mercy

2.     grace

3.     propitiation

4.     justice

b.    What Confession Cancels

1.     forgiveness

2.     confession

c.     What Conversion Changes

1.     new nature

2.     newness of life


The vicarious death of the Lord Jesus Christ and the subsequent events around it comprise the must important acts of all time and eternity.  For it was at the cross, that a God who owed nothing to anyone, gave everything to anyone.  The giving of God’s only begotten son to die a sinner’s death was the greatest act of love ever displayed.  When one considers, that an infinite God, who is infinite in wisdom, power, understanding and genius, could have chosen from an infinite number of ways to save mankind, he chose only the one that would cost Him the most.  This begins to give us an understanding of what Calvary cost.

To display His mercy on humanity, a wholly just and righteous God must first appease His own standard of holiness.  In other words, God must somehow allow for the justice of His holiness to act and the mercy of His heart to act.  One does not cancel out the other.  Justice looks at a righteous standard and decides accordingly.  If there has been even one violation of His commands (James 2:10), God is forced by His own nature to judge and mete out the appropriate punishment.  Every man has violated God’s law.  Every man is worthy of God’s justice.  Every man is worthy of the appropriate punishment.  There are no exceptions to this reality. 

So, how does God bring about this very important transaction without invalidating His own moral code?  The answer is propitiationPropitiation is God’s determine process of changing justice to mercy without making a farce of justice, and without making a façade of mercy.  Propitiation says that if there is one who satisfies all of the essentials, i.e., (a) a sinless past, (b) a perfect flawless spirit, (c) maintain a perfect, law fulfilling life; this same person, if willing can pay the price for all.  This selfless act is the only way that the judgment seat becomes the mercy seat.   Jesus Christ did just that for all of lost humanity.  And because of His giving of Himself for us, God gives us not only His mercy, but also His grace.  Grace is the favor one shows on another, without the receiver deserving or asking for it.  God’s love gift to His Son for dying for us was that He would provide His limitless favor on sinners redeemed.  That is, God would treat the followers of Christ as He would his own Son, Jesus Christ.  Christ death on the cross was able to appease God’s justice without violating His holiness, while also giving to ruined creation God’s boundless favor.

God’s divine favor means that He does for His blood-bought children things that they do not deserve.  The on going process of living a holy life before Him is one that is fraught with fights, failures, and foes.  Often, however, the most difficult fight that the Christian faces is against his most dangerous adversary, the flesh.  The flesh provides enough conflict and confusion to the life of the believer as to make it seem that the devil is out of a job!  No matter the case, whether the sin in our lives is as a result of the devil’s schemes or the weaknesses of our flesh, the point remains; we sin.   Our sin is a result of the sinful desires we carried over from the former life.  It would be fair to say that God, having given us the grace and mercy that we do not deserve, would be justified in washing His hands of us.  But instead God reaches out yet another time and places his hand of grace out to rescue.  For, the scripture teaches us that the Lover of our souls has provided yet another benefit to our salvation that meets this reoccurring need.  That provision is called confession.  The act of telling God that what He sees us commit is in fact a violation of Him and His law and that we are aware of it (the Greek word for confession – “homologeo” means “to say the same as”).  What confession cancels is all sin that we commit after we have accepted Christ as our Savior.  Because the Father loves His Son, Jesus, He has so ordained that any child of God who confesses their sin, He will forgive (“aphiemi” – to put or send away) of all their wrongdoing.  We should also realize that the term confession brings with it the notion of a repented heart.  The act of confession is not a stand alone deed.  It is incumbent upon us to have sincere contrition when we come before the throne to discuss our wrong. 
Now the tendency is to say that with such a provision in place, it would seem we have the license to do whatever we want and expect God to remove our wickedness because of this provision.  This very same argument was addressed by the apostle Paul in Romans chapter 6.   He looked at the situation and brought into focus the balance between the problems of our faults and the promise of God’s forgiveness. 


He introduces for us in clear terms what every believer should study and adhere to.  This is a discussion about what conversion changes.

Every person, who has had a heart change, i.e., a new nature (II Cor. 5:17), by accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as their savior now can live in newness of life (Rom. 6:1-4).  The new nature removes the uncontrollable tendency to sin without choice.  This new nature provides us with the internal working of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:17; Phil.2:13) as the new governing principle of control in our lives.  This simply means that because we have a new operating source in our hearts there should be a new behavior pattern in our everyday life (Phil.2:12).  Newness of life is the very least that God should expect from us (Rom. 12:1) if we are really His.   This new nature that God in His infinite love and grace has given us, demands a new life that is a living witness of the completed work of Calvary on our behalf.  Everyone who by faith has come to trust Him for eternal life should strive by the power of the Holy Spirit and the instruction from the word of God to honor our Lord by keeping His commandments.  This above all else proves if the love we say we have for Him is genuine.

These points that have been shared are the basic point of the doctrine of Soteriology.  For a more in depth study, read Romans chapters 5 and 6.  This will give you Paul’s presentation of the saving work of Calvary.  We recommend that these passages presented here and the Paul’s work in Romans be study over and over until there is no doubt of the completed work that God has done.  God’s love for the saint and His provision to rescue lost humanity from sin, Satan and eternal punishment is not transitory or temporary.  The work of Calvary fro everyone who by faith believes, is eternal.  Nothing can separate us from the love of God and His work in our lives.  We may sin and we are capable of imperfect acts, but, salvation was never based on our work but His. In return, our love gift to Him should be our lives lived for Him. 



Read Full Post »

Jeff Johnson – OneNewsNow – 3/27/2008 8:00:00 AM

A Christian author who was saved out of the new age movement says media icon Oprah Winfrey has become a false prophet for a false Jesus.

Oprah WinfreyOprah Winfrey identifies herself as a Christian. But she says that, when she was a young woman, she was disturbed by a pastor’s declaration that the God of the Bible is a jealous God. “And something about that didn’t feel right in my spirit because I believe that God is love and that God is in all things,” she told her television audience. “And, so, that’s when the, the, the search for something more than doctrine started to stir within me.”
Warren Smith, author of
Reinventing Jesus Christ: The New Gospel, is a Christian who was saved from the new age movement. He says Oprah’s search led her to Marianne Williamson and the new age teachings of A Course in Miracles.
“Marianne Williamson was on Oprah back in 1992 with her book about the Course in Miracles,” Smith recalled, “and back then, Oprah said, ‘I believe that the principles of A Course in Miracles can change the world’ — and she’s saying the same thing today.”
Williamson is now promoting A Course in Miracles through daily classes on Oprah’s XM satellite radio channel. “I will be on Oprah & Friends every single day talking about the ideas in A Course in Miracles,” Williamson said during a promotional announcement for the program. “We can have miracles. We can have greater inner peace. We can shift from an experience of fear to an experience of greater love.”
Oprah told her audience that she has no problem reconciling the differences between the new age religion she is now promoting and the Christian faith she claims. “I reconciled it because I was able to open my mind about the, um, the absolute, indescribable hugeness of that which we call ‘God,'” Oprah said. “I took God out of the box.”
But Smith, appearing on the March 11 edition of the
AFA Report, said the false teachings of A Course in Miracles should be obvious to any Christian. “Here are some of the lessons: Lesson 29, ‘God is in everything I see.’ Lesson 186, ‘The salvation of the world depends on me.’ 253, ‘My self is the ruler of the universe.’  337, ‘My sinless-ness protects me from all harm,'” Smith said, quoting from the lessons. “This is the Bible upside-down.”
Smith also criticized Oprah for the selection of Eckhart Tolle’s new age book A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose as her book of the month.
“It reminds me of Jeremiah 5 where he says, ‘A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land, the prophets prophesy falsely and my people love to have it so,'” Smith explained. “What is more wonderful these days than Oprah? A wonderful and horrible thing is happening in the land, the prophets prophesy falsely. Oprah — by now teaching this class with Eckhart Tolle — is no longer a pointer to deception. She is a false prophet and part of it herself.”
Christians have an obligation, Smith concluded, to point out the error of Oprah’s new age “christianity,” even if doing so means risking public ridicule.
“Unfortunately, Oprah does so many things that are really good [that] people make the mistake of thinking that she’s on to something with this whole spiritual deal,” Smith argued. “What she’s doing is, she’s creating a new worldview. They’re calling it a ‘shift’ that will prepare people for when the next shoe drops.
“And this will be the way that world peace would be achieved,” he said,
explaining the new age philosophy behind A Course in Miracles, “by everybody adopting this view that ‘we’re all one because we’re all god, we need to come together, we need to be in unity.’
“And the only people who are going to hinder that are the people who are saying, ‘No, we’re not God. Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior.’
Internet evangelist Bill Keller, appearing on Fox News Channel’s Cavuto Report, echoed Smith’s warnings, calling Oprah the queen of the new age gurus. “These new age teachings are really sucking in millions of people to these false philosophies, these false theologies, and they’re literally leading people to Hell,” Keller said. “Oprah, whether she knows it or not, is really being a conduit to lead people to Hell.”

Note to the Reader

When I began writing Reinventing Jesus Christ: The New Gospel in August 2001, I obviously had no idea that the tragic events of September 11, 2001 were about to take place. Because my book was to be a much needed update on the false Christ of the New Age Movement, I watched in amazement as key New Age leaders suddenly appeared on primetime television providing spiritual commentary regarding September 11th. Most viewers had no idea that these spiritual “experts” were really New Age leaders, and that their seemingly positive comments actually cloaked a New Age spiritual agenda—a Peace Plan founded upon cleverly repackaged New Age teachings. These reinvented New Age teachings were now being described as the “New Gospel” of a “New Spirituality.”

New Age leaders were all over the media after September 11th with their synchronized sound bites and spiritual analyses, emphatically declaring that terrorism is not to be defined by what people do, but by what they believe. They argued that terrorism is a spiritual problem that requires a spiritual solution. And while this statement is not untrue, their spiritual solution—a New Age Peace Plan—was no solution at all. For hidden away within this Peace Plan, and buried beneath all of their positive exhortations for love and peace and oneness, was another plan—a plan that was unknown—even to many of them. It was a plan to eliminate biblical Christianity and all of its followers. The New Age/New Gospel Peace Plan promised peace and safety to those who went along with their plan, but persecution and death to all who opposed it. And while this “selection process” was never publicly discussed on Oprah, Larry King Live, or Good Morning America, it was clearly documented in their New Age writings.

Widely introduced in the media after September 11th, the New Age Peace Plan was a definite sign of the times. The New Age Movement and its reinvented “Christ” hadn’t gone away; the leaders were moving full speed ahead. What had only been a theoretical New Age threat prior to September 11th was now a very real New Age threat—and it was coming right at the church.

Observing what was going on at the time, I tried to faithfully convey what I was learning about the New Age/New Spirituality and the emerging Peace Plan. The first edition of this book exposed the false New Age “Christ” behind the New Age Peace Plan. It also uncovered some of the key New Age leaders who have popularized his teachings in the world. I carefully documented how this New Age “Christ” and all of these New Age leaders were now on the same page and saying the same things. I explained how this dedicated group of New Age leaders had formed a single unified organization—the Global Renaissance Alliance—to push their Peace Plan forward.

Reinventing Jesus Christ also described how this New Age/New Gospel Peace Plan was purposefully designed to deceive the world and the church. My original book asked some hard but necessary questions concerning church leadership. Why had so many church leaders become strangely silent about spiritual deception and the New Age movement? Why were these same church leaders starting to sound more and more like their New Age counterparts? Were they being seduced by the very teachings they should have been exposing and renouncing? Had they somehow been blinded to what was really going on? Were they actually falling for the New Age Peace Plan and the New Spirituality? Were they unwittingly walking the church into a spiritual trap?

In October 2002, just four months after Reinventing Jesus Christ was first published, Rick Warren published his bestselling book The Purpose-Driven Life. What became apparent to me, after reading his book, was that he seemed to be leading the church into the very trap I had just warned about in my book. Deeply troubled by many of the things this popular pastor was teaching and alluding to—including his own “P.E.A.C.E. Plan”— I wrote Deceived on Purpose: The New Age Implications of the Purpose-Driven Church. It was published in August 2004.

Reinventing Jesus Christwas written and published before I had ever heard of Rick Warren or his “Purpose-Driven” movement. It was based on what I was observing in the New Age movement during the fall of 2001. It was a simple but straightforward warning to the church about the deceptive purposes and plans of the New Age “Christ.” But to this day, most Christian leaders still continue to ignore the spiritual deception that is in their midst. As a result, the New Age/New Gospel/New Spirituality has accelerated its move into the church.

In this online presentation of Reinventing Jesus Christ I have also included new updated material at the end of each chapter. Much has happened in the last four years. If Reinventing Jesus Christ is read prayerfully and carefully, one should be able to understand how a very real false Christ is effectively convincing the world and the church into accepting his New Age Peace Plan and his New Gospel/New Spirituality. Hopefully, by understanding the deception, the reader will be better equipped to stand fast against it.

Warren Smith
July 2006

To read the book Pl go to http://www.reinventingjesuschrist.com/

Read Full Post »


by Roger Oakland

Since Rick Warren’s best selling Purpose Driven book and other related products were pulled from Calvary Distribution, [1] a number of people have contacted me asking for an explanation. My answer has been quite simple – contact someone at Calvary Distribution and ask them for the answer.
While I do speak at many different Calvary Chapels throughout the USA and around the world, I am not involved in the decisions that the leaders of Calvary Chapel make. Basically, I am a missionary to the world, based in southern California, affiliated with the Calvary Chapel movement. The ministry of Understand The Times is a discernment ministry, and I am dedicated to warning people about current trends within Christianity which lead believers and non believers away from the truth of God’s Word. Other than warning people, there is not much else I can do.

My Background
I consider Pastor Chuck Smith to be my own pastor, and I attend Calvary Costa Mesa when I am in southern California. I have been familiar with the Calvary Chapel movement since June of 1981 when I was first invited as a guest speaker at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa. Since 1988 the ministry of Understand The Times has been affiliated with Calvary Chapel movement and I have spoken at hundreds of churches and conferences by invitation of Calvary Chapel pastors worldwide
Therefore, my 25 years of experience within the Calvary Chapel movement has provided the opportunity for me to be able to make observations about the Calvary Chapel movement. While this movement is made up of individuals who have various ideas (some are even supportive of Purpose Driven), the leader, Pastor Chuck Smith has made it clear on several occasions that he does not agree with the direction the Purpose Driven movement is headed.
Over the past year or so, it should have been obvious to anyone listening to messages by Pastor Chuck Smith, Sr. that he has expressed serious concerns about the Purpose Driven church growth movement. On numerous occasions he made the point that the Calvary way, was not the Purpose Driven way. He made it clear that healthy church growth should be centered on the teaching of the Word of God and not on methods derived by human effort. From the beginning of the Calvary Chapel movement, Chuck has emphasized being “spirit led” rather than being motivated by a humanistic agenda put in place by church growth experts.
Further, pastors who attended the nation-wide Calvary Chapel Pastor’s Conferences held at Murrieta, California in either 2005 or 2006 would have heard Pastor Chuck explain in detail that Calvary Chapel pastors are not to be “Purpose Driven”. While there were some in attendance who were leaning towards Purpose Driven methods, Pastor Chuck emphasized Calvary Chapel was not going in that direction.
Distribution of “Purpose Driven” at Calvary Distribution
Based on what I have just stated, it was surprising to me that Calvary Distribution ever distributed Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven” books and associated products in the first place. The fact that a decision was made to remove these materials from Calvary Distribution seemed logical based on my knowledge of what Calvary Chapel stands for and what Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven” church growth philosophy represents.
As I stated in the introduction of this commentary, although I have no authority to make comments on behalf of Chuck Smith, Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, or Calvary Distribution, I am willing to go on record and make comments regarding my perspective on why I believe Calvary Distribution pulled the Rick Warren materials. Following are four of my reasons:

1. Eschatology
The Calvary Chapel view of the future compared to the “Purpose Driven” view of the future is as different as day and night. One of the distinctives of the Calvary movement is a focus on the imminent return of Jesus Christ. Pastor Chuck has always been known for an emphasis on warning Christians to be alert and ready for the return of Jesus. He teaches that the Kingdom of God will be established only when Jesus Christ returns to this planet. He also emphasizes that the time period before the return of Jesus here on earth will be “as it was in the days of Noah.”
[2] From this perspective, the world actually gets worse and worse, not better and better.
Rick Warren’s view of the present and the future is different from Chuck Smith’s. Warren encourages his followers to ignore Bible prophecy and spend their time and energy on the here and now, in order to establish a man made social plan (P.E.A.C.E. Plan) that will make planet earth a better place for everyone. With regards to the importance of Bible prophecy, Rick Warren has stated:
When the disciples wanted to talk about prophecy, Jesus quickly switched the conversation to evangelism. He wanted them to concentrate on their mission to the world. He said in essence, “The details of my return are none of your business. What is your business is the mission I have given you. Focus on that!”
Speculating on the exact timing of Christ’s return is futile, because Jesus said, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Since Jesus said he didn’t know the day or hour, why should you try to figure it out” What we do know for sure is this: Jesus will not return until everyone God wants to hear the Good News has heard it. Jesus said, “The Good News about God’s kingdom will be preached in all the world, to every nation. Then the end will come.” If you want Jesus to come back sooner, focus on fulfilling your mission, not figuring out prophecy. [3]
Further, Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven P.E.A.C.E. Plan is part of a plan that is intended to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth before Jesus returns. This Kingdom depends on human effort. He is willing to work with governments (Rwanda [4]), political leaders (King of Jordan [5]), the United Nations (Inter-religious gatherings [6]) and even the Roman Catholic Church [7].
In April of 2005, Rick Warren, speaking to 25,000 in attendance at Anaheim Stadium, encouraged his Purpose Driven supporters to partner with him to usher in the Kingdom of God on planet earth, right now. Quoting from his speech:
I stand before you confidently right now and say to you that God is going to use you to change the world. Some will say, “That’s impossible,” but I heard that line 25 years ago, and God took seven people and started Saddleback Church. Now we have a new vision and a whole lot more people to start with. The great evangelist Dwight L. Moody said, “The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him.” I’m looking at a stadium full of people who are telling God they will do whatever it takes to establish God’s Kingdom ‘on earth as it is in heaven.
It is important to understand that this type of teaching that Rick Warren heavily promotes is very similar to New Age teachings that say the endtimes, according to the book of Revelation, does not have to happen if enough people come together, realize their unity with each other and with God, and strive towards global peace.

2. The Emerging Church
Pastor Chuck has been very outspoken regarding his concerns about the Emerging Church. In fact in May of 2006, he sent out a letter to all Calvary Chapel pastors stating that no Calvary Chapel pastor heading down the Emerging Church road movement would be permitted to use the name of Calvary Chapel.
[9] In this statement he wrote:
We have great problems with the use of icons to give them (Emerging Church) a sense of God or the presence of God. If they want to have a tie with the historicity of the church, why not go back to the church in Acts, which seems to devoid of incense, candles, robes etc., but was filled with the Spirit.
The letter was not only sent out to Calvary pastors to clarify the Calvary Chapel position, it was also followed up by action. Several Calvary Chapels that were once on the list of Calvary Chapel Fellowships have been removed from the list.
On the other hand, it can be documented that Rick Warren’s view of the Emergent Church is different than Chuck Smith’s view. Warren has endorsed the Emerging Church movement. He wrote a foreword for a book written by Dan Kimball titled The Emerging Church: Vintage Christianity for New Generations (Kimball is a leader in the movement). Warren stated:
This book is a wonderful, detailed example of what a purpose-driven church can look like in a postmodern world. My friend Dan Kimball writes passionately, with a deep desire to reach the emerging generation and culture. While my book The Purpose-Driven Church explained what the church is called to do, Dan’s book explains how to do it with the cultural creatives who think and feel in postmodern terms. You need to pay attention to him because times are changing.
Warren’s comments are self-explanatory. For an overview of the ideas promoted by Dan Kimball that characterize the Emerging Church (also known as “Vintage Christianity”) it would be helpful to read a previous commentary I have written posted at http://www.understandthetimes.org/commentary/c29.shtml .

3. Contemplative Prayer and Christian Mysticism
The primary distinctive of the Calvary Chapel movement has always been based on the systematic teaching of the Word of God. This is clearly what Pastor Chuck has emphasized and continues to emphasize. While there have been those in the movement in the past who have moved away from the Word of God towards the promotion of experiences in God’s name, Pastor Chuck has made it clear, this will not be tolerated.
For example, the Calvary Chapel-Vineyard split occurred over this very issue in 1982. At this time Pastor Chuck warned of moving towards an experienced-based Christianity that leads followers into dangerous spiritual territory.
Further, Pastor Chuck in his Parson to Parson letter
[12] to pastors mentioned his concern with contemplative practices and Eastern mysticism that is an earmark of the Emerging Church. In his statement he asked the question:
Should we look to Eastern religions with their practices or meditation through Yoga and special breathing techniques or repeating a mantra to hear God speak to us? If this is needed to enhance our communication with God, why do you suppose that God did not give us implicit instructions in the Scriptures to give us methods to hear His voice?
Rick Warren has clearly indicated that he is willing to investigate the ideas and methods being promoted for spiritual reformation and transformation that have eastern religious roots. These include the beliefs promoted by the proponents of contemplative prayer and other mystical techniques that are supposed to get the participant “closer to God.”
Ray Yungen, in his book A Time of Departing documents Warren’s views in detail. I would suggest that readers of this commentary read a chapter from A Time of Departing titled “America’s Pastor”
[14] in order to see the connection between the Purpose Driven world-view and the contemplative prayer agenda.
One of the major leaders of contemplative prayer is Richard Foster, the founder of Renovare. Rick Warren spoke very clearly of his admiration for Richard Foster’s spirituality in his first book, Purpose Driven Church when he stated that the “spiritual formation movement” (of which he named Foster as a key player) was needed and vital to the church. Lighthouse Trails Publishing has documented many instances where Saddleback pastors and staff have shown their strong support for the practice of contemplative prayer.
It would seem to me that “Purpose Driven” mixed together with a touch of mysticism could be considered a recipe for spiritual disaster. That is especially true in these days when so many Christians are willing to embrace eastern mystical practices like “yoga” and other methods to pursue a state of silence or quietness in order to get into an altered state of consciousness. This is not the message that Pastor Chuck Smith or Calvary Distribution would want to promote.

4. Church Growth Philosophy
The Calvary Chapel movement has been under the scrutiny of church growth experts from the beginning. Some have suggested it was the music that caused Calvary Chapel to grow. Others said it was the way Pastor Chuck dressed. Some claimed the movement grew because of the Word For Today radio programs. One church growth expert claimed the reason Chuck Smith and the Calvary Chapel movement was so successful was because of his “good radio voice.”
Pastor Chuck, when asked why the movement has grown always has given the credit to the Holy Spirit. He has stated on numerous occasions that it is not by human effort or cleverly designed plans dependent of church growth experts.
On the other hand, Rick Warren’s church growth plan has been carefully designed and orchestrated. Purpose Driven is part of a much bigger church growth plan, one that can be traced back to Peter Drucker.

Further, it is no secret that Purpose Driven is a cousin of Robert Schuller’s “possibility thinking” and Bill Hybel’s “seeker-friendly” approach. [17] Warren did not stumble on his success plan for growth by chance. He has a number of advisors besides Drucker who also have a plan to “win the world” by “whatever means it takes.” We will discuss this in a future article.

Why did Calvary Distribution remove Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven books and related materials from their distribution? I believe these four reasons I have discussed are reasonable and a valid answer to that question:
Differences in Eschatology
Differences with regard to the Emerging Church
Differences with regard to contemplative prayer and mysticism
Differences with regard to church growth principles and beliefs
Christianity has always been made up of strong leaders who take different positions. In this case we see two well-known contemporary leaders going in two different directions.
I also know that many Calvary Chapel pastors approved the decision and applauded Calvary Distribution when the Rick Warren materials were no longer being distributed.
Because there are some Calvary pastors who strongly disagree with this decision, it is very possible that in the future there will be a split of the Calvary Chapel movement. The pressures on young pastors today to conform to the current trends for the sake of having a successful big church are ever increasing.
In my view, the stand Pastor Chuck Smith made to stay with the Word of God and warn the flock about the imminent return of Jesus was biblical and the correct decision. I personally believe that those who go down the road of Purpose Driven will become less and less discerning regarding the end times scenario that is currently unfolding, which clearly reveals that Jesus may be soon returning.
I also believe that it won’t be very long before Rick Warren and his Purpose Driven theology will join hands with Roman Catholicism so that together they may work toward their common goal of ushering in the “Kingdom of God.”
As long as God gives me breath, I will keep you informed.
Roger Oakland

[1] http://www.calvaryd.org/assets/uploads/RecallonStorms.pdf
[2] Matthew 24:37
[3] Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, pg 286, 286 emphasis mine
[4] http://www.christianitytoday.com/ctmag/special/rickwarren.html
[5] http://washingtontimes.com/national/20060202-111835-3132r.htm
[6] http://www.christianpost.com/article/society/section/rick.warren.speaks.about.purpose.at.united.nations/1.htm
[7] http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/pewreligion.htm
[8] http://www.biblicalrecorder.org/content/news/2005/4_19_2005/ne190405rick.shtml emphasis added
[9] http://www3.calvarychapel.com/ccof2/parsontoparson.pdf
[10] Ibid.
[11] Dan Kimball, The Emerging Church: Vintage Christianity for the New Generation, Zondervan, 2003, page 7 emphasis mine
[12] http://www3.calvarychapel.com/ccof2/parsontoparson.pdf
[13] Ibid.
[14] Ray Yungen, Time of Departing:How Ancient Mystical Practices are Uniting Christians with the World’s Religions, 2nd Edition, 2006, Lighthouse Trails Publishing, Silverton, OR, pages 142-170
[15] http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/rw226article.htm
[16] http://www.newswithviews.com/Ohara/debbie13.htm
[17] Ibid.

Read Full Post »