Is there no end to the lack of spiritual discernment within the Christian community? Even some of our Church leaders are showing a startling lack of discernment. And if we can’t trust our leaders to help us stay on the straight and narrow path, who can we trust?
On October 5th, Southern Baptist preacher Rick Warren sat down with New Age/New Thought high priestess Oprah Winfrey for an interview. Although Oprah claims to be a Christian she most assuredly is not as I clearly demonstrate here and here. Joel Osteen, who is said to be “one of America’s most influential spiritual leaders,” appeared on the show prior to Warren to promote his new book, “I Declare: 31 Promises To Speak Over Your Life.” Around 45,000 people attend Lakewood Church each Sunday to hear Osteen preach the word-faith prosperity gospel “lite.” It’s really not surprising that he was invited to appear on “Oprah’s Life Class.” The duo has become fast friends ever since she and Tyler Perry attended a Lakewood service some months back. They soon discovered how like-minded they are. In fact, Osteen has this Oprahesque declaration on his website:
The words we speak set the course for our life. If you want to know what you’re going to be like in five years, listen to the words you are saying about yourself today.
Osteen not only teaches a false gospel, he apparently has scant knowledge of the scriptures which is the main reason the man who pastors the largest megachurch in America is unaware that the Lord has called His followers to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Tm 2:15).
Rick Warren’s claim to fame is his books “The Purpose Driven Church” and “The Purpose Driven Life.” PDL is the best-selling hardback non-fiction book in American history and is translated into more than 50 languages. By using modern marketing methods he helped lay the foundation for the Church Growth movement (CGM). Largely due to the popularity of his purpose-driven books the CGM has spread through churches like a windstorm sweeping across the Great Plains, ushering in a “new paradigm” of transformational leadership to meet the challenge of the new century. CGM “emphasizes mainly missionary work combined with sociological awareness of the target population.” In other words, it utilizes slick marketing techniques. The object is to reach the “unchurched” using the age-old principle: You can draw more flies with honey than with vinegar. Hence, the “seeker-sensitive” label.
Over the years Pastor Warren has become controversial, and rightly so, for a multitude of reasons which I’ve tackled here and here. For one reason or another controversy continually swirls around “America’s Pastor.” Still, he is highly regarded by many in the Christian community and likewise the press. What’s stunning is that he’s often invited to speak at events with New Calvinist luminaries like John Piper, Mark Driscoll, James MacDonald and Matt Chandler. Before I move on, I must bring to light influential Reformed theologian John Piper’s recent endorsement of Rick Warren. Many of us in the discernment ministries were both surprised and troubled by his endorsement. Christine Pack observed:
[Piper] gave his “stamp of approval” by having Warren be a keynote speaker at Dr. Piper’s annual Desiring God conference. This was an event that caught many in evangelicalism off guard and resulted in a flurry of articles and blog posts over a number of months. The problem with Dr. Piper welcoming Rick Warren into the fold is that Dr. Piper has long been known as a champion and protector of the purity of the gospel message. (Source)
Pastor celebrity James MacDonald was once asked to comment on the “seeker movement” and he replied, “The seeker movement [should be] subtitled: How to Fill Your Church with Tares.” Later he publically affirmed Rick Warren in a tweet even knowing that the seeker movement that filled churches with heathens was the brain child of “possibility thinker” Robert Schuller. His most recognized disciples are Bill Hybels and Rick Warren. Excuse me, but a shepherd’s duty is to point out error and guard the flock from wolves in sheep’s clothing, not to invite them into the sheep pen!
Sorry to digress.
Another prominent pastor who shares the stage with Rick Warren is Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship, a Calvary Chapel in Riverside, CA. Laurie is best known as the founder and featured speaker for Harvest Crusades.
So, what is going on in the visible Church?
Glad you asked. In a word: syncretism. Syncretism occurs when elements of other religious beliefs are mashed into mainstream Protestant denominations. In a piece entitled Purpose Driven Dismantling of Christianity, I examined the effect syncretism has on the Church:
Satan uses syncretism to separate God from His people. God loathes syncretism:
“When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land; Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.” (Deuteronomy 12:29-31)
Grievous wolves (Acts 20:29) masquerading as evangelicals introduced false religious beliefs (abominations) into mainline churches. Many of them are forthcoming about what they’re doing, others not so much. Their main goal is … change. The plan (yes, they have a plan) is to dismantle historic orthodox Christianity and usher in a “new paradigm,” a “new kind of Christianity.”
Wolves are skillful at drawing people in. They’ve learned how to use TV, radio, the Worldwide Web, human potential seminars, psycho-therapeutic counseling, so-called Christian entertainment that includes movies, DVDs, books and music. Some believers are drawn in through political groups. As you can see, a whole host of lures are used to bait the hook.
Many professing Christians have accepted the blending of religious beliefs with no questions asked. They sit in churches where they’re not taught the truth but are fed a steady diet of half truths and outright lies! Jesus wanted those who believe in Him to read and understand the Word. “Sanctify them through thy truth,” He prayed. “Thy Word is truth!” (John 17:17 ) (Source)
Now, let’s get to my questions: Why did Rick Warren agree to do an interview with Oprah? Moreover, why would he want to be associated with word-faith heretic Joel Osteen? We discover after the fact that he did not use the opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost, many of whom were tuned into the show. No. Instead he used his time with Oprah to pass on his sage advice to the audience, peppered with a few Bible quotes — taken out of context!
Former New Ager and astrologer Marcia Montenegro watched the 3 hours of live taping on Oprah’s Life Class. I think the following excerpt about what she observed clearly identifies the sort of pastor Rick Warren is:
Although Rick Warren has had New Age Dr. Oz at his church (along with a supposedly Christian doctor who also endorses some New Age practices), I was hoping he (RW) would somehow give the gospel in the midst of his motivational advice, but he never did. He used the imagery of a poker game to explain we are dealt certain cards, and then gave a teaching on this that sounded like moralistic self-help programs I’ve heard so many times, throwing in a few Bible quotes taken out of context or misquoted. It was something almost any New Ager could accept. God becomes a tool for self-improvement and success. Warren referred to Jesus, but took scripture out of context and applied things said to believers to everyone. He also misused the Proverbs passage that says “as a man thinketh, so is he.” This passage is a famous passage misused by New Thought proponents and is used in “The Secret.” What was really hard to watch is when a woman in Norway Skyped to say she realized she needed God but wanted to know who God is and she asked, “What should I do?” It was clear that she was ripe to hear the gospel and needed Jesus! It was a great opportunity to share the gospel with her, and at the same time, for Oprah to hear it. Instead of giving the gospel, Rick Warren seemed uncomfortable and finally just said something like, ‘Go to God and find your purpose.” It was a terrible moment! The woman looked surprised and sad, like she was expecting something else. I prayed for her later and am hoping that the many Christians who witnessed this will pray for her. Not only that, but when Oprah referred to God, as she often did, Rick Warren agreed with her as though she was referring to the biblical God, which she was not. He even said a few times, “Oprah has a good point.” No, she never did! She was speaking totally out of her New Thought/New Age beliefs. I am grateful that RW recommended that people read the gospel of John. That was the best thing he said. (Read Marcia’s entire piece here)
Why do so many followers of Jesus Christ view Rick Warren as dangerous? Evangelist Tony Miano’s indictment is blunt:
Plastic pastors transparent enough to see through, like Joel Osteen, are not as dangerous as Rick Warren. Modalistic moguls of the painfully-obvious-money-hungry prosperity movement, like T.D. Jakes, are not as dangerous as Rick Warren. Self-serving sorcerers of the false signs and wonders movement, like Todd Bentley, are not as dangerous as Rick Warren. No. None of the before-mentioned personalities or groups are all that dangerous because what you see is what you get. They all lack the ability to change their appearance to accommodate a change in environment. They lack the chameleon-like ability, the self-serving ability, to say what needs to be said in order to keep people in every camp liking them.
Now listen to former Catholic Priest Richard Bennett:
Warren teaches that God ‘created the church to meet your five deepest needs’ just as the Roman Catholic Church says, ‘The Church is the mother of all believers.’ Warren, like Rome, has switched from obedience to the Word and Person of the Living God to submission to a church to achieve one’s needs. It is the oldest and cleverest temptation known to man.
I’ll close with warning from the Lord Jesus:
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous [ferocious] wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (Mat. 5:15-20)