Thursday, June 16, 2011

New Age and Rick Warren Part I

                          Purpose Driven Life? ... What happened to Spirit led???
                                 Resistance is Futile you will be assimilated

          I have had a great concern over the emerging church and sum up many of the false teachings in the church today and call it "new age". I wrote this article in 2003 and received many negative responses to it from pastors. Some went so far as to curse and threaten, it was then that I truly saw how lost the christian faith is in the world.
        I see Rick Warren along with others, but Rick is the most powerful of them leading us to the one world church. I consider Rick Warren as the John the Baptist for the Antichrist, paving the way for the "new message".

      In his article, The Gospel According to Rick Warren, Gary E. Gilley makes this astute observation about the Saddleback pastor:

In his book The Purpose-Driven Life, his opening statement is, “It is not about you,”  then turns around and writes a whole book about “you.” He belittles pop-psychology then repeatedly promotes it by simply calling it something else. He publicly cuts ties with Robert Schuller, then regurgitates some of the most odious things that Schuller has been teaching for thirty years. He claims commitment to the Scriptures then undermines them at almost every turn. He will tell his followers that he is not tampering with the message but only reengineering the methods, when in fact he has so altered the message as to make it all but unrecognizable.

       I have to say that Rick Warren says some good things, don’t listen to Gossip, support the leadership, and more, if the underlying theme wasn’t so destructive it might have been a good book. I am seeing churches take Warren’s book and model their church after it, I think we should be very concerned when we see a church modeled after any book other than the BIBLE. The book might be better named “The Purpose Driven Bible”. Warren’s gospel seems to be one of purpose. He teaches that man’s greatest problem is purposelessness and this book will remedy that situation by helping the reader discover his purpose. Needless to say, this is not the gospel as taught by the Bible. The Bible teaches that man’s greatest problem is that he is a sinner and is alienated from God. Purposelessness is insignificant compared to the possibility of an eternity in hell.

         I have had a burden for churches and the problems that they face for many years and what I have come up with is that in North America we have become lead by the enemy being misdirected into many different directions and missing the right one. Warren would like you to believe that wide is the gate that leads to heaven, but God tells us narrow is the gate.

Matthew 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

      Rick Warren very much believes in the Church Growth Movement, (Seeker Church, Ecumenical Movement, Emerging church, easy believism). This movement is to change church to suit the culture in which we live and to make all denominations basically the same. This not only paves the way for the ecumenical movement and One World Church spoken of the in bible, but also changes God. No longer is God a jealous God, nor are there consequences to sin, it softens the word of God until it becomes a feel good, flowers and pink bunnies world were nobody is wrong and we can use situational ethics (right and wrong depends on the situation) to live our lives.
        If you want a taste of this read “The Message”, a paraphrased translation of the bible that changes the Word of God. In many instances it will drop half a verse that might talk about God’s wrath and how we should fear him and only mention that God is love. This is true God is love, but that is not the only side of God and we cannot preach only part of the bible.
       To minimize sin is the goal and not let anyone feel guilty, this new age feel good, no guilt and no reality thinking is growing in the Christian community. This movement has taken methods from some of the most questionable people around and in history and is using them in the church for control and conformity. These are not tools God would use, they are deceitful, manipulative and man made but none the less pastors and churches are falling in line with the One World Church. \

Compromise Pragmatism

Taken from a sermon titled Apostate Church in Prophecy, preached 11/26/89 (Gil Rugh)

"... Satan works to blend together his system with God's system, because when you blend error with truth you have destroyed the truth. You no longer have a mixture of truth and error; you have error. Just like when you take poison and put it in a glass of milk -- you not only have a glass of milk and poison, you have a glass of poison, because the poison has corrupted the good milk. So it is with Satan's system when it is mixed-in, even with Biblical things, it becomes a corrupting influence and you no longer have truth and error -- you have error. And the truth is even corrupted by the error.

"... Part of the ministry and message of Jeremiah was one of condemnation because Israel had adopted the corrupting influence of the worship of the Queen of Heaven [Jer. 44:17,18] ... Important to note -- people are concerned about what works. One of the things destroying the church today is pragmatism. We find even believers looking to see what works and that becomes the standard for what they want to adopt, rather than looking to the Word of God and building upon that. And this is the foundation for why the people of Israel were worshiping the Queen of Heaven ... It's just a pragmatic approach; things worked better.

"And that's the way some Christians look at it. They look around and see what's going on in some churches and they say, 'Well, that's what we ought to do -- it works!' But that's never a fair test or standard. The question is, 'Is it Biblical?' not 'Does it work?' Because here the testimony of the Jews [Jer. 44:17,18] was, 'We were better off; we had less misfortune when we worshiped the Queen of Heaven then we do now, so Jeremiah, you can't change our mind.'"

      In the Purpose Driven Church Warren has learned from some of the most questionable sources, ones that I would not use in a church.

- One is Peter Drucker a legendary secular management guru began teaching large corporations, now using secular tools to grow churches, since numbers is all that counts. Warren uses his secular knowledge on Corporation growth to grow a church.

- Another is a manual titled “Leading Congregational Change” (LCC HANDBOOK), promoted by Bob Buford's Leadership Network, offers a well-used plan. "This is a book you ought to read before you change anything," said Rick Warren in his hearty endorsement. The methods in the LCC are what Warren uses to base his church on. As you will read this book brings methods in manipulation and control, in order to take a church in a direction that the leader wants. Isn’t that the Holy Spirits Job? Why do we need secular methods of church direction if we have the Holy Spirit guiding? Warren would probably say the Spirit is guiding, and told him to take lessons from the world because God was out of ideas.

- On day 13 Warren mentions a book by a friend of his, the book is Sacred Pathways, in the book it states that Gandhi, a Hindu loved God as a naturalist. Last time I looked Hinduism was not the same as Christianity. Warren takes lessons from this book that tries to lump different beliefs in with Christianity. But this is in keeping with Warren who seems to follow the path of The One World Church. Understand this people, to have a One World Church would mean that Christianity would no longer exist!! Nor would its morals and values! And if anyone asks you is that a bad thing, run away!

Pragmatism (if it works do it) permissiveness: if it works (i.e. brings people into the church), it's okay! "God loves variety!" (A theme that Rick Warren seems to use continually)

    Pragmatism: Meaning that the ends justify the means. I think Moses learned something about doing things the right way, not just the way he felt or the way his people thought. Imagine if Moses conducted himself to suit his people, he wouldn’t of been much of a leader. This implies that it doesn’t matter how you get people into the church as long as you get them in.

     Post Modernism is the term used for a supposedly changed culture that God’s word is out of touch with so we must change His word and the church to suit the culture. But the scriptures seem to contradict this new age based belief:

Luke17:26 And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.

    Wow, I guess God did see it coming maybe He’s not out of touch.

      The New Testament preaching of Paul kept back nothing (Acts 20:20) and involved reproving, rebuking and exhorting with patience and doctrine, bearing in mind a future time when people would no longer “endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers and they will turn their ears away from the truth” (2 Tim 4:2-4).
      That day has surely come. No longer are we to even hint that someone might be wrong or even hold up the scriptures and stand firm. Since the Holy Spirit uses God’s word to convict, how will anyone change if it is wrong to preach the word? Oh excuse me not wrong but insensitive to preach God’s word as it is.

Widening the gate to the Kingdom

The Purpose Driven Life

        We will start off with one of Pastor Warren's "rules for growth" which tells us to "never criticize what God is blessing." Implying that church growth and changed lives prove God's delight in our human methods, but if we are never to test the fruits, it cancels God’s call to "be on guard" and watch for false prophets. Using these words to make sure no one ever criticizes him is twisting God’s words to suit Warrens own purposes, but he is after all “purpose driven.”

Matthew 7:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. 15Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

       In the Purpose driven life (PDL) Warren makes reference to Peter Drucker. Peter Drucker is a legendary management guru began teaching large corporations decades ago, has now applied the secular methods and ad campaigns to God's churches as well as to communities and governments around the world. Since the new methods seemed to "work" equally well for churches as for corporations and since the measured results offer statistical "proof" of "success" pastors from countless nations have embraced and implemented Drucker's marketing approach to "doing church." Doesn’t using the tools of the world (Satan) to do God’s work strike you as wrong? Just because a corporation grows doesn’t mean that it is blessed by God. By this way of thinking Nazi Germany was blessed by God, Hitler was a success he had most of Europe under his control. But I don’t think anyone would say that he was blessed by God. Taking lessons from the world to grow a church doesn’t mean it’s blessed by God either.

      From the beginning, The Purpose-Driven® Life and the 40 Days of Purpose campaigns have been designed for ecumenical appeal. Ecumenical movement is a movement of joining all churches together regardless of the very profound differences and outright biblical incorrectness and join together and become the One World Church as mentioned in the bible. In order for various churches to join together we must accept sin and idolatry in order to keep peace in the Christian community, and not speak out against it. That doesn’t sound very biblically correct (BC) to me. In the last days the church becomes so changed that it no longer is pleasing to God and the church in essence has turned away from God’s teachings. We are closer than you think, but not yet too late.

       In the book Warren focuses on the felt needs of unbelievers rather than the true needs of God's family. Doesn't this strategy turn God's principles upside down? Yes, and it also attracts the spiritual diversity needed for the thought-changing dialectic process (the dialectic process is a process of changing the truth to something more tolerable for everyone whether it’s right or wrong) Meaning that the word of God is watered down in order to be politically correct. Of course the people promoting this NEW way of church will deny the word of God is watered down, but you decide. Satan has been doing this for centuries, to deny that he still is trying is unrealistic. This is the heart of today's transformation in churches as well as in business, education, government and other organizations

Dr. Robert Klenck summarizes it in his report on "The 21st Century Church:";

"it is imperative that unbelievers are brought into the church; otherwise, the process of continual change cannot begin. There must be an antithesis (unbelievers) present to oppose the thesis (believers), in order to move towards consensus.(compromise), and move the believers away from their moral absolutism (doctrine (word of God) based belief). If all members of the church stand firm on the Word of God, and its final authority in all doctrine and tradition, then the church cannot and will not change."

con·sen·sus: noun Definitions:
1. broad unanimity: general or widespread agreement among all the members of a group
2. view of society in equilibrium: a concept of society in which the absence of conflict is seen as the equilibrium state of society Encarta Dictionary

     Consensus tells us that we must compromise in order to keep peace. Is that what Jesus taught? Jesus taught peace but He did not teach tolerance of sin nor was Jesus for changing the Word of God. The very word consensus is a agreement (compromise) with both parties, those following God and those who do not believe. It seems the push for peace among the brethren in the church today over rides the need for Biblical Correctness.

       Klenck's quote states that those that stand firm on God’s word are in the way. Since when did it become wrong to stand firm on the morals and values of God. I was told I was dogmatic for doing so and that I had no place in the church. This was a church that was preparing to base itself on Rick's book and is today doing so. I saw what was happening and said something about it, you will read later on how Warren teaches to handle “resistors”. There was a time when strong men stood firm and were unwavering, but in a time that firmness opposes satan, even our churches seem to fall in line with this demonic rule. There is no room in satan’s domain for one who will not bend to his ideas or rule.

      This is a Common Faith Belief (ecumenical movement). The Ecumenical movement is the Catholic version of the Evangelical Emerging church movement. Both have the same goal of destroying Christ's message and we will soon see these two movements join forces. Soon, we will see why these “change agents” (the Label used to described leaders, be it secular or Christians that make changes for the New World Order) are pushing so hard for change to occur in the church. Rick Warren believes “There is no "one-size-fits-all" approach to worship and friendship with God.” Day 13.
        He says this in context of that everyone worships God in a different way, really opening the way for other belief systems. Warren goes beyond Christianity and heads in an area that includes beliefs outside of Christianity as worshiping God. Example of this:

“Activists love God through confronting evil, battling injustice, and working to make the world a better place.”Rick Warren

      Rick mentions the word activists, which is a reference to environmentalists or could even mean Wiccans who are just worshiping God in their own way. Even though Warrens work could be taken in a Christian sense there is the underlying theme to his whole book that paves the way for the New Age Movement/Ecumenical Movement to start the One World Church where all belief systems are just pursuing God in their own way and are not wrong. A view point that I strongly disagree with. The words chosen in the book can sometimes be interpreted in different ways, leading the reader to vulnerability in understanding in ways that lead outside the bible and are more prominent in the Common Faith Belief system. Satan always hides his lies under many truths, we must see a larger picture. God gave us wisdom and discernment but its useless if we ignore it.

     Warren tries to change Christianity at every step so that it is no longer recognizable to us or the outside world.

“Try Praising God without using the words praise, hallelujah, thanks, or amen. Instead of saying, "We just want to praise you," make a list of synonyms and use fresh words like admire, respect, value, revere, honor, and appreciate.” The Purpose Drive Life p. 104

Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the LORD. Psalm 106:48 

Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Psalm 106:1

 And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven saying, Alleluia, Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: Revelation 19-1

      When you strip these words away, that are synonymous with Christianity, along with the countless other changes he suggests to make to a system that has worked for thousands of years we begin to see a pattern. Strip out everything that makes you a Christian and then we can fit in with the rest of the world. Then no one would have to feel guilty or feel a need to repent. Taken individually this might not seem too wrong after all we are still worshiping God, but look at the overall direction, small pieces make a puzzle.

      Saddleback's study guide and Teaching Video for the 40 Days of Purpose, unbelievers are led in a prayer. They hear Pastor Warren speak these words:

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

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

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

“I invite you to bow your head and quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity, ‘Jesus, I believe in you and I receive you.” “If you sincerely meant that prayer congratulations! Welcome to the family of God!” The Purpose Driven Life p. 58

       Is this a response to the gospel? Where is repentance, acknowledgment of need, or confession of personal sin? Where is the cross? Nothing about Christ rising from the dead.

Rick Warren doesn't seem to have a issue with speaking for God, he seems to be rewritting the bible.

  Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in there at:  because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Matthew 7: 13-14

And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. Revelation 22: 19 
       The Bible tells us that saving "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." [Romans 10:17-18] But none of the Scriptures that show the gospel are mentioned in this first lesson. Biblically illiterate friends and neighbors who join the group would pray this prayer without any real knowledge of the cross, of the Savior, or of God's view of sin. In fact, the concept of salvation isn't included in the first lesson

Here’s what the bible says

                     Luke 13:3 ...unless you repent you will all likewise perish.

            Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in      thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

        The shift of focus in the book from God, to purpose is a subtle one but very distinct, but we can only focus on one thing at a time and only pay lip service to others. Repeatedly the bible tells us to focus on God.
        Psalm 91 tells us to dwell on Him, the armor of God only works when we focus on the Lord. But now we are to slightly shift our focus to purpose in our lives or to me, ignoring biblical truths and welcome everything into the church where there is no longer any right or wrong.
        Anything that tells you to shift your focus on anything but God is a False Doctrine. There must be a belief that God didn’t know as much as we thought because everything are areas of gray in the world, no longer right or wrong anymore. It's not surprising. Today's "positive" gospel emphasizes love, minimizes doctrine and ignores divine justice. The essential Biblical truths that prepare hearts for genuine conversion no longer fit. A postmodern "believer" may be full of self-confidence but woefully short on spiritual awareness. But they're all coming together under the worldwide ecumenical umbrella of the Church Growth Movement (One World Church). In the false gospel of the church growth movement the sinner is told that Christ died for him because he is so valuable to God. But this is a denial of grace. There is nothing in us to merit God’s love. Again, the idea that the sinner is friendly towards God but just turned off by the church is a denial of human depravity. Man is an enemy of God, alienated in his mind by wicked works

Col 1:21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled

      Yet the false gospel says, You may not believe in God, but God believes in you and you need to believe in yourself. To believe in ourselves is to worship man and yet even Christ who loved us knew better.

John 2:24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,

     Stated in the book “Re-Inventing the Church”, the 21st century vision of global oneness is drawing diverse churches and people into vast "Christian" networks that provide trained leadership and management consultants. Rick Warren's communitarian management guru, Peter Drucker, described it well. Quoting him in a 1994 report, the "Leadership Network" wrote,

"The Spirit is moving.... there is a substantial critical mass of people and churches that are already moving.' ... While acknowledging that there are still many unhealthy churches [those that don't conform to the new, all inclusive pattern], there is a justified change in basic premises, basic attitudes, basic mindset... on the whole, we are on the march...."

    As you saw earlier, this "diversity" is essential to the thought-changing dialectic process that Drucker has helped establish in organizations everywhere. Remember from page 1 Robert Klenck's words:

" this movement, it is imperative that unbelievers are brought into the church; otherwise, the process of continual change cannot begin. There must be an antithesis (unbelievers) present to oppose the thesis (believers), in order to move towards consensus. (compromise), and move to believers away from their moral absolutism (resistance to change)." If the church member continues to resist change, they may be asked to leave.

Pastor Warren does try to define sin. Before introducing his salvation prayer, he wrote,

"All sin, at its root, is failing to give God glory. It is loving anything else more than God. Refusing to bring glory to God is prideful rebellion, and it is the sin that caused Satan's fall--and ours, too. In different ways we all lived for our own glory, not God's. The Bible says, 'All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

      That's true. But this general sin which applies to all of humanity will hardly cause postmodern unbelievers to sense any genuine guilt or a personal need for the cross. Few have been taught the basic truths about our Biblical God and His moral standards. Many simply dismiss the notion of "sin" as old-fashioned legalism and shut their eyes to its corrupting power in their own lives. When faced with today's non-offensive teaching on sin, many translate it into a more comfortable half truth: "Sin is a normal part of life, and I'm just as good as everyone else -- maybe a little better. Besides, God understands and loves me as I am." In other words, there's no sense of guilt, fear or brokenness before our eternal Judge! Like ancient Israel,

"They were not at all ashamed; nor did they know how to blush." Jeremiah 6:13-15

        This "positive" gospel will surely meet man's "felt need" for affirmation, identity and a sense of belonging. But it will do nothing to truly convert one to Christ. The masses are more than willing to believe in this new tolerant, non-judging God who fits their postmodern culture. But God doesn't promise to make us comfortable and pamper our feelings. While He does promise the resources needed to meet each day's challenges, some of those spiritual resources have little to do with today's "felt needs." Instead His path for us may be lonely and rough, full of steep climbs and "impossible" challenges. Yet, as we persevere in faith, we will hear His sweet voice whispering,

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness." 2 Cor 12:9

      Did you hear that? God will use our weakness, not our strengths! No need for management consultants and surveys that measure our natural abilities in order to discover our spiritual gifts and God's purpose for us! The Shepherd will lead us along His chosen ways, narrow and winding paths that may differ radically from our human plans and purposes! But those who have not yet been "crucified with Christ" and filled with the Holy Spirit will neither hear the Shepherd nor "comprehend the Scriptures." That's one of the reasons why today's spiritual diversity demands simplified Bibles that have been paraphrased, reinterpreted and made appealing to the natural mind.

Softening God’s word

         Doesn't His Word suggest we be led by our wonderful Shepherd, not driven by standardized purposes or questionnaires which are now being used around the world to define and assess our spiritual gifts, our spiritual growth, our spiritual devotion, our spiritual fruit and our group fellowship?    Yet, man's incessant quest for "new, fresh ways" has always made us vulnerable to temptation. From the beginning, Satan has offered both pleasure and wisdom to those who would rephrase or revise God's timeless Word -- blending lies with truth that hide the deception. Back in the garden, it led to Eve's disobedience and the alienation of humanity. Through the middle ages, it led to horrendous heresies and cruel persecution of those who took their stand on God's unchanging Word. In our times, the rise of pragmatism and post modernity has led to another round of revisions. And with the postmodern rejection of unchanging absolutes, there is no end in sight. To be "spiritually minded" means that, through the Holy Spirit not though programs or erroneous trends, the believer's mind has been opened to understand Scriptures. God's life-changing Truth has renewed his heart and enabled him to know and love God. It has given him the joy and endurance needed to follow the Shepherd -- not along that spacious highway that draws the crowds -- but on the narrow unpopular way which draws us ever closer to Him.

Matt 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide [is] the gate, and broad [is] the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in there at: 7:14 Because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

        The issue of purity is replaced with the more contemporary issue of personal relationships. Thus feel-good relational guidelines become more important than the spiritual need for repentance and holiness in Christ. In the context of Peter Drucker's management and marketing philosophy, Pastor Warren's emphasis makes perfect sense. The new relational guidelines are designed to build group loyalty, teach "respect" for all opinions, and block unpopular truths that expose error and corruption. The latter are simply too divisive. "Fellowship" between spiritually different people is all important, even if it clashes with God's Word [2 Cor 6:14-17] and forces believers to compromise. That's why many committed but heartbroken Christians are leaving the "seeker-friendly" churches they have faithfully served. They simply cannot agree to discard "offensive" Biblical guidelines in order to pursue the new vision of unity and community.

II Cor 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

      God's people must heed their Spirit-taught conscience. If we claim His name and promises, we had better follow His ways rather than our feelings or popular marketing schemes. If our worship is an expression of our human nature rather than His truth and Spirit, it is worthless. It's all too easy to "quench the Spirit" and become blind to His light. Trying to make Christianity more acceptable to the world, we may forget Jesus' sobering warnings to His disciples:

"If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you...." John 15:19-21

"Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it." 1 Thessalonians 5:19-24

Forgetting "the fear of God"

     Long before David wrote his treasured psalms or King Solomon penned the Proverbs, Job knew the secret of wisdom and friendship with God. In the midst of excruciating pain and loss, he said,

"Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding.” Job 28:28

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 9:10

        Centuries ago, God's rebellious and presumptuous people thought they could follow their own sensual inclinations, participate in the rituals of their idolatrous neighbors, and sacrifice their children to gain personal favors -- without losing God's favor and protection. Even the priests thought they were following His ways. They were wrong. Our holy God, who is the same "yesterday, today and forever," warned His foolish people,

"Therefore I will number you for the sword, And you shall all bow down to the slaughter;
Because, when I called, you did not answer; When I spoke, you did not hear, but did evil before My eyes, and chose that in which I do not delight.” Isaiah 65:12

     Pastor Warren has little to say about such godly fear -- the blessed fruit of a deep awareness that God is our Judge and Avenger as well as our Father and Love. God's anger and wrath don't fit into today's affirmative, seeker friendly church environment. The word "fear" clashes with today's attempt to market God to the postmodern masses. To a lesser degree, so do the words "righteous" and "merciful." Both remind us of our sin and inadequacy. They bring the discomforting suggestion that God indeed is "holier than thou" -- an unpleasant notion for those who prefer to believe that God is and thinks like me. Instead, Pastor Warren introduces a more likeable God -- a smiling father who resembles today's permissive parent rather than the righteous and merciful God of the Bible. Whether you are part of God's family or not, Warren speaks confusing half-truths that assure you that:

· "the moment you were born into the world, God was there as an unseen witness, smiling at your birth... your arrival gave him great pleasure."

· "You are a child of God, and you bring pleasure to God like nothing else he has ever created. The Bible says, 'Because of his love God had already decided that through Jesus Christ he would make us his children -- this was his pleasure and purpose."

· "God enjoys watching every detail of your life, whether you are working, playing, resting, or eating."

      Do you feel good about yourself yet? Do you feel comfortable before your holy God? Perhaps we feel too comfortable. Maybe our holy God doesn't "enjoy watching every detail" of our lives. Although His Word assures us that He delights in us when we trust and follow Him, it also shows us that He grieves over our foolish choices.

Ephesians 4:25Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 26Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27Neither give place to the devil. 28Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

      And if we indeed have been "born again" of His Spirit, we would grieve with Him whenever we obey our own lusts rather than His Word! We would repent -- turn around and run back into His arms! Yes, He waits for us. Yes, our patient and merciful Lord continues to love us deeply and eternally. Yes, in Christ, all our sins were nailed to the cross. But He doesn't minimize our natural rebellion as we do. Instead, he tells us to

"work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." Philippians 2:12-13

       But God's standard for holiness among His people is far higher than we are led to believe in our churches today. He wants a purified Body, a holy Bride -- washed and cleansed by His shed blood. Seeker-services that bring the world into His churches compromise His revealed purposes. So does consensus (compromised)-based fellowship between believers and unbelievers, between His purity and the world's profanity. We are to reach out to the unsaved but not at the expense of God’s word, have we not added enough stripes to Christ’s back? The problem is not that Pastor Warren left out the "the fear of God." He can't possibly teach all God's instructions in one book. The problem is lack of balance. By emphasizing God's delight in "every detail of your life" through most of the book while rarely mentioning God's anger, holy standard or judgment, he virtually denied the less comforting side of God's nature While God's love is unconditional, His promises are not. Most are linked, often in the same passage they appear to guidelines and conditions for their fulfillment. But those conditions and warnings are generally left out. As presented in this book, many of God's promises to those who -- by His grace and Spirit -- follow Him become, instead, universal and unconditional assurances to everyone who reads the book. No need to "mourn" our sin, "tremble at His Word," or repent of our addiction to contemporary thrills, for everyone is okay in the eyes of Him who "passionately" loves all of us as we are.

           But God calls us to know and follow His ways, not ours -- and to deny ourselves and let the "flesh" be put to death. In our weakness, He will enable us! Our goal must be His goal: that we would be holy as He is holy. Pastor Warren affirms that truth, but by softening God's revelation about Himself and His ways, he distorts our understanding of holiness. By trivializing the authority of God's Word, he bends our view of God's high standard for our lives in Him. Finally, when he quotes God's promises while ignoring His warnings, he builds presumption, not genuine obedient faith. Many readers would hardly even know what to obey!

End of Part One