A CRITIQUE....by W.B. Howard...Editor of Despatch
the Saddleback Valley Community Church, California, USA:
1. Rick Warren cites, approves of and quotes from these leaders:
Robert Schuller, Pastor Crystal Cathedral, California;
Bill Hybells, pastor of Willow Creek Community Church;
Richard Foster - author of “Celebration of Discipline”;
C Peter Wagner - Fuller Theo- logical Seminary, Pasadena;
John Wimber (now deceased) - Vineyard Ministries International.
We have to ask ourselves: “could Warren be unaware of the
doctrines and activities of these men?”
If so, he is naive and totally lacks discernment of a spiritual type, there is no excuse for not knowing who and what are the people you stand with and for. Could such a man be trusted to advise whole denominations?
Or we could ask maybe:
“is Warren being loving, and wants to welcome everyone who names the Name of Christ Jesus?”
If so, he is disobedient to God’s commands, and lacks love and compassion for those who have been caught in the traps of these false teachers already, and for those who may be yet caught in thefuture.
We could ask: “could it be that Warren knows the success these
men have had, and wants to advise others to use their methods of Church
THIS would be the true answer, I suggest. If so, then Warren is willing to adapt the methods of dangerous deceivers, and calls that compromise “Godliness” and “success”. There is really no excuse for what Warren has done in the book, “The Purpose Driven Church”; he has shown himself to be a liberal modernist and a collaborator with the severe apostasy of these latter days. He has no clear understanding of Biblical separation or Scriptural Godliness. Information is given at the end of this booklet on the doctrinal errors of the above mentioned leaders. You may like to study this before proceeding, if you have doubts about the veracity of this critique thus far.
2. Warren instructs in the art of bringing the wickedness of the world
right into the churches of Christendom.
his book, Warren urges the churches to adopt Rock music, to use business
motivational techniques in order to fill churches with thousands of people.
The main object of his book seems to be to cause churches to “grow”, and
he will use almost any method to make that happen! Although he says on
the front page of his book, “Growth Without Compromising Your Message
& Mission”, he speaks with a forked tongue!
He writes: “I wrote to the one hundred largest churches in America and spent a year researching their ministries.” Now, if he did this why did he not also find out what these “largest churches” taught and stood for? I find it difficult to believe that there are, or were even a few years ago, a hundred very, very large churches in the USA which are Scripturally sound! These are the times of the Great falling away of II Thess.3, the really Godly churches would be mainly small, not popular with tens of thousands of attendees. See the contrast between the Philadelphia Church (the true Church of the endtimes) and the Laodicean Church (the large apostate Church of the endtimes) in Revelation 3:7-22. Warren seeks to throw out all solid, decent hymn music, which is filled with uplifting doctrine and lyrics, and replace it with new songs, Midi music, pop lyrics, Rock bands with drums, in order to bring the world what it is used to! Warren is a part of the falling away, not the “revival” of the churches.
3. More about the concepts of GROWTH and FRUIT. The book by Warren lays huge emphasis on “growth” as “fruit.” On the back cover Warren states that “in order for a church to be healthy it must become a purpose-driven church”! He outlines distinctly, despite a bit of double speak, what he considers to be the “purpose”, it is growth! Now that is not exactly a Godly purpose! Are we to imagine that growth, larger congregations, is the purpose which is to “drive” the Christian Church assemblies? Warren aims everything at his purpose, and to “grow” he thinks he must ape the world in order to attract the unsaved, who are to become the large congregations of his purpose-driven church. Pop/Rock music greatly appeals to the world, so Warren uses it exclusively. The unsaved do not like to sing in congregations, so Warren gives them mainly entertainers, who sing the lyrics to the Rock songs. He suits the decor of the church building and its surrounds to the unsaved, and so forth.
This is not the way of God! A church service is there primarily to honour and worship God Almighty, Warren’s ideas have the effect of making the church just another place where the corrupt Rock n’Roll rules supreme! There is no excuse for making a Rock concert out of a church service! The Church assembly is all about Christians worshipping God, encouraging one another, getting spiritual food from the study of the Word of God. Church assemblies are not about making a place where the world feels comfortable. Evangelism is not the primary reason for having a Sunday morning service, although Warren seems to think so, this is why Saturday night and Sunday night evangelical outreaches are held in denominations. FIRST in our lives should be the keeping of the commandment:
4. Some more about GROWTH and FRUIT. Warren insists that growth is identical to spiritual “fruit”, and that we cannot be bearing fruit unless a congregation in a church is growing. This is nothing like Biblical teaching, which lists the fruit of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. You will note that growth of congregations isn’t mentioned at all as being “fruit”. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance, NOT “growth”. Warren quoting from new versions, not the KJV, comes up with the statement “the fruit of a believer is another believer.” (P.63 ibid). Certainly God wants us to win others to Christ, and this is to His glory alone, but our fruit is not just bringing unsaved people along to fill up the church pews. Nor is it true that we are not bearing fruit if the church assembly is small. Note the Philadelphia Church of the Last Days, it is commended by God, yet it has “little strength”, put another way, it is not large and rich. In contrast the Laodicean apostate church of the last days is rich and powerful, and no doubt large as well (Revelation 3:7-19). Yes, converts are “fruit” in a sense, (Romans 1:13) but this is only a minute part of what the Bible terms “fruit”, and we certainly can bear fruit although congregations are small.
5. Warren uses new Bible versions continually. The new versions come from the source of Westcott and Hort, not the Textus Receptus! If you compare the verses given throughout the Warren book you will find that they do not convey the same meaning as the Authorised Version. Naturally, Warren comes up with quite a different understanding than that given by God’s Word in the KJV!
6. Looking at various quotes from the book, “The Purpose Driven Church”:
On p.18: Warren says that the New Testament is a church-growth book. His exact statement is this:
Warren quotes Psalm 35:27 on p. 25, as though “do well” means having a large church for himself to rule over. I find this extremely shallow in outlook. Churches are supposed to be there for the worship of God, and to provide a place for Christians, to admonish, exhort, comfort, encourage and fellowship with each other. The church is not there to pander to some pastor’s ambition trip. Warren’s book tempts others to get out of the rut, and copy the world’s lifestyle like he does, in order that they may “do well.”
On p. 28:
Warren says that one of his favourite movies is “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” This film is filled with double meanings and occult symbols, which line up with Biblical prophecy.
On p. 38 he lists some of Christendom’s most influential heretics of our age as “best-known” pastors. Including Robert Schuller, and John Wimber. These men are NOT sound Bible teachers, and are ecumenical, pawns of the Vatican (Wimber has passed away).
A strange statement appears on p.40. Warren writes
On p.53: Warren deals with “Myth 4” in a series of “myths.” He writes:
Sadly Warren DOES use worldliness and gimmicks to attract large crowds,
by his own admission. Yet, he uses such clever rhetoric that he makes his
actions seem almost plausible to the unwary. He uses Rock music, entertainers,
He reasons: “match your music to the kind of people God wants your church
to reach.” p.281.
He says on p.282: “There is no such thing as ‘Christian music’ there are only Christian lyrics.” This is sheer nonsense! The jungle beats of modern music are quite demonic, see the end of this booklet for more on Rock music. Warren shows in many ways in his book that he adapts his message and the church atmosphere to appeal to the unsaved, not the saved and God, in order to make the unsaved comfortable. No wonder they come in crowds, it would be like a free Rock concert, and free entertainment.
On p. 166: Warren shows how far he is willing to go to adapt and pander to the styles, music, preferences and culture of the unsaved. He writes:
On p.66: Warren states that we should be ready to: “...do whatever it takes to reach people for Christ.” he has shown he is ready to “do whatever it takes”, New Age Bible versions; ungodly associates; God dishonouring hype and methods; using unsaved sinners to represent the church; and a pop-rock band! That he is doing all this to “reach people for Christ” is questionable. It is more to build a kingdom for self, it appears to me.
Page 68: contains one of many quotes from new versions which are nothing
like the Authorized. I will quote from Warren’s book: “Never be embarrassed
to use a model; it is a sign of intelligence!” Proverbs 18:15 (Living
Bible) says, “The intelligent man is always open to new ideas. In fact,
he looks for them.” The Authorized versions says: “The heart
of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.”
Nothing like the Living Bible quote at all! The real Bible is pointing
us to the wisdom of God’s Word, and His knowledge, not new ideas from people
Yet Warren uses the faulty version (as he does many times) to boost his own case. In this instance, he says “you can learn from other churches without being a clone.” Note the “new ideas”, this is a feature of Rick Warren’s platform, out with the old, in with the new. No Christians, the Bible truths are forever contemporary, and we do not have to adopt the concepts of liberal modernists in order to “succeed.”
A smorgasbord of Warren’s comments:
On p.20: Warren calls pastors “CHANGE AGENTS.”
On p. 76: he mentions, positively, the huge syncretic, ecumenical, political Promise Keepers!
On p. 80: “We must adapt our communication style to our culture without adopting the sinful elements of it, or abdicating to it.” Yet Warren HAS and DOES adopt the unworthy elements of culture.
On p.126: Warren mentions favourably the New Age/Christian Richard Foster.
On p. 127: he mentions favourably C.Peter Wagner, an apostate teacher with ties to the New World Order controlled US Center for World Missions. Is Warren unaware of who and what these people are? If so, where has he been?
On p. 127: the New Age term “Serendipity” is used. There is something very suspect about a group calling itself that! He also mentions the Korean cell -church model, I presume he is talking about David Yonggi Cho’s shocking New Age/Christian groups here!
We could go on and on with this critique, space will not permit this.
On p. 340:
He goes on about these “classroom churches”: “They stress the
teaching of Bible content and doctrine, but give little, if any, emphasis
to believers’ emotional, experiential, and relational development.” Here
we see again the spiritual blindness of Warren. The Bible states that Scripture
is “given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof,
for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may
be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
(II Timothy 3:16,17). The Bible is the place where we find our emotional, experiential, and relationship development explained, opened up, we get enlightenment together - and learn God’s mind on our affairs, not man’s mind.
Warren quotes from an apostate teacher as though he was an example of Bible-based churches, which he is NOT. He quotes (without naming the man) from R.B.Thieme: “All you need to be spiritually mature, says one well-known classroom church, is to have ‘doctrine in your frontal lobe.’” This is obviously wrong, but true Bible-based churches do NOT believe such nonsense. So they are misrepresented.
Warren goes on:
The Bible is filled with instructions that we should search the Scriptures and know them well, both New Testament and Old Testament, that this is top priority. Just a few here: Matt.26:56; Matt.22:29; Luke 24:27; 24:32; 24:45; John 5:39; Acts 17:11; Romans 15:4; II Peter 3:16 etc, etc. “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” John 5:39. “...and searched the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so.” Acts 17:11.
From p.100 and on in Rick Warren’s book we find the “purpose statement” concepts, “defining your purposes.” He lists five very good purposes, which on the surface seem excellent. Let us look deeper at these purposes, does the Saddleback Valley Church of Rick Warren “add up” here?
Purpose One: Love the Lord with all your heart. He speaks
Yet his worship services are designed to reflect the world around him, to attract sinners he says. No hymns, just rock and pop bands, new Bible versions etc.
Purpose Two: Love your neighbour as yourself.
It is hardly loving someone if you do not warn them of the great falling away into apostasy that is happening world-wide, if you honour false teachers, and bring the world into the church.
Purpose Three: Go make disciples.
This seems more about church growth again than making disciples. I quote, “Growth is not optional; it is commanded by Jesus. We should not seek church growth for our own benefit, but because God wants people saved.” People being saved is quite a different thing than urging church growth of OUR church! If Warren really was aiming at people being saved, his book would stress just that. How to win souls, praying for the converted, having a burden for the lost etc, but it doesn’t it stresses again and again CHURCH GROWTH for the sake of church growth!
Purpose Four: Baptising them.
Purpose Five: teaching them to obey.
This last purpose will lead us into the Covenants which are a large part of Saddleback Valley
Community Church. Teaching them to obey whom?
The concept of vowing by signing covenants to any church is really a signed vow. Yet God commands us NOT to make vows or oaths. In the Old Testament people were allowed to make oaths and covenants, not so the New Testament.
From Despatch magazine, Dec. 1997, p.32:
One deep concern is that people are expected to sign a vow that they will give a tenth of their income! Yet, the Bible tells us that what we give in the Church Age is to be given out of the generosity of our own hearts, cheerfully, and not by covenant or necessity:
There is even a signed vow that one will attend the church faithfully
and live a Godly life. No one should have to sign such a covenant. For
one thing new Christians especially may not have learned how to walk by
faith for sanctification, they will then often fail to live as Godly a
life as they know they should. They would be breaking a signed vow to God,
which they cannot help but break to some extent! What guilt and shame would
be heaped upon their heads, not to mention condemnation! Believers should
also meet to worship God because they want to before the Lord, because
they are alive in Jesus Christ, not because they have signed a covenant
with some fellowship group. All this is heavily legalistic and binding
The Bible says:
1. Robert Schuller. This man has headed up the world-wide cult of Self-Esteem and Self-Love. His teachings are anti-biblical in many different ways, Schuller is an ecumenist who embraces the Roman Catholic Church. From Dave Hunt’s “The Seduction of Christianity”, p.p.14,15" “Success Is the Name of the Game. Success is the name of the game today, not only out there in the world, but inside the church as well. Humility is out and self- esteem is in, even though we are urged in Scripture, “Let each esteem others better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3 KJV). It used to be common knowledge that the besetting sin of the human race was pride. Now, however, we are being told that our problem is not that we think too highly of ourselves, but too lowly, that we have a bad self-image, and that our greatest need is to build up our self-esteem. Though Peter wrote, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the might hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time” (I Peter 5:6), we are being urged to “visualise” ourselves into success. Paul’s inspired declaration that Christ “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant ... [and] humbled Himself by becoming obedient to ... death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7,8) is now explained by Robert Schuller, in the context of today’s success-oriented world, to mean:
Jesus knew his worth, his success fed his self-esteem ... He suffered the cross to sanctify his self-esteem. And he bore the cross to sanctify your self-esteem. And the cross will sanctify the ego trip. Success and self-esteem have become so important in the church that they seem to overshadow everything else. Robert Schuller states: “A person is in hell when he has lost his self-esteem.” (1) As Christianity’s “number one TV preacher,” (2) he is watched on nearly 200 TV stations each Sunday by an audience of nearly 3 million. (3) A prolific author, his books are frequently on The New York Times best-seller list. According to Christianity Today, “Schuller is now reaching more non-Christians than any other religious leader in America.” (4) Schuller’s influence is enormous, and his “Gospel of Success” (5) is being accepted and preached by increasing numbers of Christian leaders. What does Schuller find wrong with the old gospel? Although Paul wrote that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (I Timothy 1:15), and Christ Himself said that He came to call “sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32), Robert Schuller writes: I don’t think anything has been done in the name of Christ and under the banner of Christianity that has proven more destructive to human personality and, hence, counterproductive to the evangelism enterprise than the often crude, uncouth, and unchristian strategy of attempting to make people aware of their lost and sinful condition. (6)”
And Rick Warren even uses a recommendation by Schuller at the start of his book, “The Purpose Driven Church.” Success, popularity, prosperity, worldliness are the aims and purposes of both Schuller and Warren.
2. Richard Foster. This teacher has entered into the shadowy world of pantheistic occultism! His book “Celebration of Discipline” has many, many New Age teachings in it. If Rick Warren was more Bible study orientated he would realise that this man Foster is NOT of our Biblical God at all. In the original edition of Foster’s book p. 170 said this, “We of the New Age can risk going against the tide.” Later editions have had this slip removed, it showed Foster’s true colours. Foster is a mystic, who teaches of the dark night of the soul, and extreme passivity and emptying the mind in meditation techniques of the New Age. From Dave Hunt’s “The Seduction of Christianity” p.p. 126,127: “Richard Foster, who is one of Agnes Sanford’s many admirers and was heavily influenced by her, states: “I have been greatly helped in my understanding of the value of the imagination in praying for others by Agnes Sanford and my dear friend, Pastor Bill Vaswig.” Foster says that he took “the idea for some of the ... visualizations” he presents from Vaswig’s book; (1) and Vaswig got them from Sanford. (2) The arousal of the power of the imagination through fantasy and visualization is one of the major themes of Foster’s best-selling book Celebration of Discipline, (3) which, nevertheless, is to be commended for encouraging devotion to the Lord and greater discipline in the Christian life. Later Foster says again: “This advice ... [of] prayer through the imagination ... picture the healing ... and much more, was given to me by Agnes Sanford. I have discovered her to be an extremely wise and skilful counsellor... Her book The Healing Gifts of the Spirit is an excellent resource.” (4) Whatever Sanford said as a “skilful counsellor” concerning her favourite topic, “prayer through the imagination,” was rooted in her basically pagan beliefs onto which she merely superimposed Christian and psychological terminology, especially Jungian. This ought to be clear to anyone reading her writings. For example: Wise men of India for many centuries have trod the lofty peaks of meditation developing their psycho-spiritual powers and giving birth to their oversouls.
Spirits of those [dead] for whom we have prayed on earth are working through us.....One conveys that healing force to the inner being [of the sick] through the law of suggestion ...He [the person doing the healing] has made a thought-track between his spirit, subconscious mind and body; the body, the subconscious mind and the spirit of the patient ... (5)”
These following quotes from Richard Foster will show where this man is coming from, New Age/Christianity and shamanism: “Imagination opens the door to faith. If we can’see’ in our mind’s eye (the third eye of the Hindus) a shattered marriage whole or a sick person well, it is only a short step to believing it will be so.” (insert added, p.36, “Celebration of Discipline.”) “‘Let’s play a little game,’ I said. ‘Since we know Jesus is always with us. let’s imagine that He is sitting over in the chair across from us. He is waiting for to center our attention on Him.’” (p.37. ibid).
3. John Wimber. Now deceased, John Wimber has been used as a model by Warren: From Dave Hunt’s “Seduction of Christianity” p. 174: “...these men are creating a powerful New Age “paradigm shift” that is changing the way thousands of pastors and future pastors view Christianity and the Bible. In his latest Signs and Wonders Lecture Notes, John Wimber writes:
At the time of the preparation of this manual, Dr. C. Peter Wagner and I have been teaching MC510 for three years. It has been one of the most invigorating and exciting adventures of our lives.
At this date, January, 1985, we have had in excess of 700 students take the course at Fuller Seminary School of World Missions. The results have been astounding. Better than 90 percent of the students have indicated a paradigm shift in which they are now ministering in an altered worldview. (1)
Wimber’s seminars are being attended by thousands of pastors and Christian leaders. John Wimber is very sincere in his desire to bring biblical teaching. It is the extra-biblical sources he and others draw upon and recommend that creates the major problem. Under the influence of writers such as Sanford, Kelsey et al more and more Christian leaders interpret Scripture through a grid of mysticism blended with Jungian psychology. *Just Imagine!* There is a definite “paradigm shift” taking place in the thinking or a very wide spectrum of church leaders. Catholic priests Dennis and Matthew Linn state, “Whatever I vividly relive in my imagination affects me as if I really experienced it.” (2) Lutheran pastor William Vaswig writes: Perhaps the most important thing Agnes Sanford taught me about prayer is that it has to do with the imagination ... I always thought of imagination in somewhat negative terms. I often heard imagination disparaged: “Oh, don’t let your imagination run away with you ...” Genesis 6:5 says that the imagination of man was exceedingly corrupt ...”
NOTE: Warren uses the term “new paradigm” on p.80 of his book, “The Purpose Driven Church.” He states, “This book is written to offer a new paradigm, the purpose driven church, as a biblical and healthy alternative to traditional ways that churches have organised and operated.”
4. Dr. C.Peter Wagner. This man has also been cited as a successful leader by Rick Warren. You have noticed his name above. Who is Wagner and what does he believe? He is the professor of Fuller Theological Seminary, School of World Mission, Pasadena California. He believes in Dominion Theology, Kingdom Now, which is the premise that the Kingdom of God is already here! Wagner’s spiritual warfare book, “Territorial Spirits,” is a compilation of the writing of such people as Paul (David) Yonggi Cho, Larry Lea, Jack Hayford and others who accept the neo-dominionist doctrines. This book is an anti-biblical book which teaches that Christians can dispossess Satan’s angels from their seats of authority over geographical areas. Biblically, these spiritual entities will not be put down until Jesus Christ returns, at the end of the Tribulation period, when Satan himself is bound for a thousand years. Revelation 19-20. Wagner says the Kingdom has come NOW. P.14: “The kingdom has come.”
Wagner is an ecumenist. He does not care what doctrine churches teach, whether they worship Mary, hold the abominable Mass where Christ is supposed to be sacrificed again and again, every time mass is “celebrated”. Wagner is a tool of the Vatican in many ways. P.87, “Territorial Spirits”: “Over many cities a spirit of religion reigns. That’s the spirit that divides brother from brother and says, “‘I’m a Baptist’- of some other denomination - ‘and you’re a Methodist so there’s no fellowship between us.’ Or “I’m a charismatic and you’re a Catholic so there’s no love flowing between us.’ Whatever denominations may be involved, this spirit insists on dividing the church. With the spirit of religion dogma is more important than Jesus. But when we resist this spirit, we must insist that everyone who names the name of Jesus Christ and holds that name as their only hope of salvation is our brother or sister.”
Wagner merges paganism and Christianity in a shocking but subtle manner in “Territorial Spirits.” P.179: “ In this way the Jews resolved the problem of the one and the many. There was only one God, and he was their god for ever. All other spiritual forces, be they good or bad, were ultimately of his creation, under his control and assigned as tutelary DEITIES to other nations. ...The nations which ruled the ancient world were under the supervision of their angel-princes, who in their turn were under the ultimate control of Yahweh, the Lord of heaven and earth...” (Note that pagan ‘gods’ and spirits are seen as under Yahweh, and acknowledged as “tutelary deities”. Emphasis mine).
5. Bill Hybels. Here is another man who is supposed be a successful church leader who has great “Growth” in his congregation. Hybels is of the same brand as Warren. Warren cites Hybels as one of the “successful” churches in America. Hybels is also a man who builds a church on marketing surveys! He has a church congregation of over 12,000 called Willow Creek Community Church (note its title is the same as Saddleback). A description of Hybels’ “church” comes from “Christian News” 7/91, “Commentary: Building a Church on Marketing Surveys” by Dr. Balmer, professo of religion Barnard College/Columbia University. He is the author of “A Perfect Babel of Confusion”:
From the perspective of the traffic controller perched atop the church building, the succession of Cadillacs, Toyotas, pickup trucks and Volvo station wagons resembles a military convoy headed for the front or a regiment of ants marching toward a picnic. The traffic maven barks instructions by radio to a bevy of uniformed traffic guards who guide the automobiles into a huge parking lot demarcated into sections airport style. Welcome to the weekend worship services, one on Saturday evening and, two on Sunday morning at Willow Creek, an evangelical church in South Barrington, Ill. Inside the lobby there are information booths and counters offering audio cassettes for sale. Several men in three-piece suits (conspicuous in this casually dressed crowd) roam the lobby with walkie-talkies and earpieces, their eyes scanning the crowd, looking very much like the Secret Service. The worship service starts on the hour with a crescendo of music from the orchestra. The congregation sings one song. A drama troupe presents a one-act play illustrating the sermon’s theme. Someone gives a few announcements, collects an offering and a preacher struts onstage to deliver a 40-minute sermon. From the beginning to end, the service lasts one hour and 15 minutes, whereupon the congregation files back to the parking lot and heads home. If all this sounds like the product of meticulous planning and execution, make no mistake about itit is. Willow Creek has all the trappings of an efficient corporation, from traffic control to a child-care system during the services, complete with photo identification cards. The church was begun in the mid-1970s by Bill Hybels, a graduate of Trinity College, Deerfield, Ill, who conducted a door-to-door survey in the northwest suburbs of Chicago to find out why people didn’t attend church. He discovered that non-church goers preferred to remain anonymous when they did attend church, that they resented being dunned for money and that they generally found church services boring. Armed with the results of his public-opinion survey, Hybels proceeded to design his own church to appeal to what he calls the “unchurched Harrys” and “unchurched Marys.” Accordingly, Willow Creek spends a great deal of time, money and effort on entertainment. Visitors are never asked to stand and introduce themselves, as they might be in other evangelical churches. The announcements before the offertory explicitly state that visitors need not contribute, that they should consider themselves guests. If numbers are the criterion for determining success, Willow Creek’s formula is overwhelmingly successful. Approximately 12,600 people attend the church’s worship services each weekend.
Despite the casual appearance of the congregation shorts and T-shirts predominate this is the Gospel dressed in pinstripes. Willow Creek Community Church represents ecclesiastical niche marketing at its best. The “management team” (the term the church uses to refer to its senior pastors and administrators) has carefully crafted a program to appeal to the tastes of suburbanites. The church building itself resembles a corporate office park, complete with a pond, a fountain, and a flock of geese. But it has no Christian symbols whatsoever no cross, no icons so as not to frighten or intimidate visitors. The ministers refer to their overall programs as a “product.” The self-help ethic pervades both the sermons and the many support or special-interest groups singles, new mothers, alcoholics, those with sexual addictions. Despite its apparent novelty, however, Willow Creek Community Church lies very much within the tradition of American religion. The free market of religion in the United States demands that churches compete with one another for their audiences. Here in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, that entails appropriating the trappings of corporate America, with its ideals of efficiency and its careful attention to “consumer” tastes. Evangelicals have historically adapted to popular tastes more readily than other religious groups in America. Unconstrained by liturgical rubrics or denominational hierarchies, they have fashioned their message to their audiences, whether it be the Methodist circuit riders on the frontier, the mendicant revivalists around the turn of the century or the televangelists of the 1980s peddling their prosperity gospel to Ronald Reagan’s America. I find the slick, contrived professionalism of Willow Creek discomforting somehow, but that may reflect my uneasiness with corporate culture. For 12,000 upwardly mobile suburbanites, however, the formula works. If success is reckoned in numbers, evangelicals have shown once again that they can package the message to meet the demands of the marketplace.” *
Ask yourself, “do I really think this kind of merchandising of
men’s souls is what is needed in Australia? Or do we need a genuine move
of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Love?”
ROCK MUSIC, should it be in Christian Churches?
Rick Warren insists that there is nothing wrong with using Rock music to attract the unsaved. He insists that there is no Christian music, only Christian lyrics. This is NOT TRUE! Here I will quote from “What’s Wrong With Christian Rock?” by Jeff Godwin, p.p.37-41:
Here is some technical information you need:
MELODY. True melodic formula (motive) will combine to create phrases and themes, each individual melody having its own contour of ascending and descending pitches. There will be a definite high place near the conclusion, showing proper resolution. Static movement and lack of balance will create either a hypnotic effect or despair in the listener. Based on these guidelines, Rock ‘music’ has no melody at all.
HARMONY. “All harmony is based on chordal patterns which support
the melody subserviently. Chords are based on a very specific keynote,
or tonic, and must move through prescribed formulas in the traditional
harmonic structure of the major-minor tonal system. The modulation of keys,
as charted on the Circle of Fifths, will show great regularity in the relationships
of chords, pitches, scales, and tonalities. Excessive consonance and/or
dissonance will not be evident.’
Based on these guidelines, Rock ‘music’ has no harmony.
RHYTHM. Rhythm is the orderly movement of music through time.
Constant alternation of triple and duple measures creates a driving syncopation, producing excessive tension. Subtle balance between regular accent patterns and occasional syncopation is necessary to avoid hypnotic effect. (There that nasty word ‘effect’again.) Based on these guidelines, Rock ‘music’s’ rhythm is a combination of unending backbeats and backbeats whose end is to swamp the listener and totally consume them in an intense artificial atmosphere of dominance. This should never be the intent of rhythm.
PITCH. True music has a variety of pitches which are ACCURATE. Very high pitches are used only for contrast and climax points. Rock music is just the opposite. Its constant repetition of pitches almost never modulates, and is slightly UNDER true pitch (as in ‘Blues’). The high pitched screams, both human and electronic, are thrown helter-skelter throughout, the end result being musical chaos.
INTENSITY. True music employs much contrast between loud and soft, with a constant change in the dynamic level. There is always a wide, CONTROLLED variation in qualitative force intensity. Rock ‘music’ has an intensity that is as loud as possible - as long as possible. The dynamic has all the subtlety of a freshly detonated neutron bomb. The end result: ROCK MUSIC IS NOT EVEN MUSIC. Where does this leave ‘Christian’ Rock music? ‘CHRISTIAN’ ROCK MUSIC IS NOT EVEN MUSIC....
Add it all up, and here’s what you’ve got: Christians are trying to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ through a musical medium which doesn’t even exist. Secondly, there is no such thing as ‘Christian’ Rock, for Rock ‘music’ is the exact opposite of everything Jesus Christ stands for.”
This man Rick Warren, who is being lauded and copied by many, many churches in diverse denominations, is NOT a Godly model, nor is his church - although it has a congregation of 10,000. We have seen herein a mere snippet of the book, “The Purpose Driven Church”, and have examined only a sample of the beliefs and techniques of Warren. Yet, it is clear that this man, who may well be sincere enough, is sincerely WRONG! He is leading those who follow his example into dangerous water indeed.
Warren is a neo-evangelical, with all the problems that these “new” churchmen have. He moves in a world where there are many like himself, who have also fallen away as he has from true Christianity, and Godliness. Just a list of what we have gleaned in this short critique should convince the obedient child of God to steer clear of the motivational power-structure and clever instructions of such men. His world is one of slick professionalism, a contrived corporate culture, with a success formula which is as cold and bleak as winter! It “works” maybe, 10,000 bottoms on pews is a lot of merchandise, but is success really measured in numbers? Do evangelicals now have to “package the message to meet the demands of the marketplace.” Who are we Australian Christians, American corporation professionals?
Warren is an ecumenist, who associates with and honours apostate ministries of these latter days. Warren brings the world into the church, embraces even evil Rock music and its hypnotic beat. He does not seek to create a haven for the Christians where they can escape from the world, coming to worship God in a holy atmosphere. No, he aims his church service at the sinners, and invites then to bring their worldly “culture” right into the house of God! Warren replaces as top priority SUCCESS instead of GODLINESS and HOLINESS unto the Lord. Success, GROWTH of congregations takes top billing in his philosophy. Warren is an extremely gifted writer whose rhetoric is so convincing that even the elect could well be deceived. He is a dangerous man! He brings in to congregations a BONDAGE to leaders by his COVENANTS. Causing people to loose their God-given liberty in Christ Jesus, and causing them to disobey God by making signed vows and oaths. Warren subtly leads people away from their main purpose, which is to study, live in, be saturated in the Scriptures through Bible study.
May God lead us all to follow the Word of God more fully, to be holy and separated from the evil world culture, and to have great discernment as we encounter the deceptions of these sad days of decline from faith and standards. God save us all from public-opinion surveys and Laodicean religions, American-style!
(1) Self-Esteem, The New Reformation (Word Books,1982), pp 14-15.
(2)Eternity, Nov.1983, Lloyd Billingsley, “The Gospel According to Schuller,” p.23.
(3) Los Angeles Times,May 29,1983, p.1.
(4) Christianity Today, August 10, 1984, pp.23-24.
(6)Christianity Today, op.cit.
(1) Celebration of Discipline, p.36. Pub.Harper and Row.
(2) William L.Vaswig. I Prayed, He Answered pp.59, 88-89.
(3) Celebration of Discipline, pp. 16,22-27,36, 136, 169-70.
(4) Ibid., p.136.
(5) Sanford. The Healing Light. pp.98-113,142-43.
(1) Signs and Wonders and Church Growth, Introduction (Vineyard Ministries International, 1985).
(2) Dennis Linn, Matthew Linn, Healing Life’s Hurts, Paulist Press, p.98.
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