Search the Scriptures Daily Program #0405a Transcript follows:
Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures Daily, a radio ministry of The Berean Call with Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for tuning in. Coming up in this week’s program, in our Understanding the Scriptures segment, Dave and Tom will continue their in-depth study of the Book of Acts and “How Many of Us Has the Lord Called?” In Religion in the News, “America’s Pastor”—we’ll take a look at that story and examine the question, “Have Dave and Tom violated Matthew 18 again?” We hope you can stay with us.
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Now, this week’s cover article. We wrap up our series of programs that examine a currently popular and disturbing trend in the church. With the final installment of our look at The Purpose Driven Life, and along with Dave Hunt, here’s T.A. McMahon.
Tom: Thanks Gary. You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him.
Our topic on this segment of our program is a critique of Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life. As we’ve mentioned in past programs, the book is foundational to a church growth agenda developed by Rick Warren and Saddleback Church, where he is the pastor. More than 30,000 churches have participated in the book-based programs called 40 Days of Purpose and 40 Days of Community.
If you’re not familiar with the book, it’s a how-to book of beliefs, systems, methods, procedures, and techniques, that claims it will help a person find his or her purpose in life in 40 days. And the basic thesis of the book is that everyone has a purpose in life and by combining spiritual teachings, the Bible, some mystical, with methods and practices taken from business management concepts, a person can both know and live his purpose successfully.
Now, Dave, last week we were discussing the key methodology to The Purpose Driven Life that Rick claims will help the reader discover and live out his or her purpose in life. He calls it SHAPE, S-H-A-P-E, an acrostic, which stands for: Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, and Experiences.
We started chapter 30 beginning with spiritual gifts, Dave. We talked about that. But, I think for the sake of, maybe, some of our listeners who missed last week’s program, let me give you some general thoughts that Rick has about S.H.A.P.E., and you make a comment as you will.
He says, “Everyone,” (this is in chapter 30), he says, “Everyone is formed with a special area of expertise. Each one is uniquely designed or ‘shaped’ to do certain things.” He takes an architectural idea or design idea and he reverses it. He says, “Our function is determined by our form.”
Well, back in design school, we learned it the other way around. Form follows function. But….
Dave: Well, Tom, I don’t know what he’s talking about…because—expertise? I wouldn’t consider myself to be—have—any expertise on anything. And, to say that I’m formed that way, you know—as a baby, I already have expertise—I don’t what he’s talking about, but go ahead, Tom.
Tom: On page 234 he says, “God planned exactly how he wanted you to serve him, and then he shaped you for those tasks. You are the way you are because you were made for ministry.
Dave: Well, again, Tom, what do you mean “shaped me in the way I am?” Now he’s going to talk about it—you said….
Dave: Part of it’s going to be personality and ability….
Tom: You know, Dave, one of the things that you’re doing here is you’re trying to be thoughtful. You’re trying to understand what he is saying. And honestly, I’m not trying to get on Rick’s case, but the people that I’ve talked to who have gone through the book—when I ask them questions about these things—they say, “Well, where did you get that? I don’t remember reading that in the book.”
In other words, Rick wants to be taken seriously about this, so I think we have the right to consider thoughtfully and carefully, what he’s saying. And much of it doesn’t make sense.
Dave: Tom, when he says ability, what does that mean? I don’t think that God is limited to our natural abilities. He can use the weakest thing in a powerful ministry. And as I understand it, from reading the Scriptures, the effectiveness of my ministry, or yours, or anyone else’s, does not depend upon some natural ability. It depends upon the power of the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit delights in using weak vessels for mighty enterprises for the gospel. And you can read the history; read the autobiographies of many men and women of God, and it certainly has almost nothing to do with their ability.
Dave: And to say that they were shaped for this, and so forth—no, God takes the most unlikely people and uses them. And then, the next problem, Tom, is personality.
Tom: Well, Dave, you’re jumping a little bit ahead.
Dave: All right.
Tom: Let me lay out the foundation—because some people might think, well, you’re just kind of nitpicking. No, this is a basic premise; the basic thesis that Rick offers in the book.
Tom: Now just some of these: you read this quote last week, but I think it’s worth repeating. He writes, “You are God’s handcrafted work of art, a custom-designed, one-of-a-kind original masterpiece. He carefully mixed the DNA cocktail that created you. God doesn’t make junk.”
Dave: Tom, let me interrupt again, just briefly.
Dave: Here we’ve got someone who has Down syndrome…or he’s born a Thalidomide child. I’ve seen many of them—no arms, or a little stump or something. But “this is the DNA cocktail that God mixed…”
Tom: I don’t think so.
Dave: “…and He made you exactly that way.” And, no…it’s not! So, I don’t know….
Tom: This is because of sin.
Tom: Not that God isn’t gracious and loving….
Tom: …and can use people in those conditions.
Dave: Yes, yes, absolutely. But to say that this is exactly the way God wanted you to be…we’ve dealt with that in the past.
Dave: So, again, Tom, what is he driving at? He says at the beginning—“This is not about you.” But now, it’s all about me. He’s trying to tell me what a wonderful masterpiece I am of God, physically. And I don’t think so, because of the genetic pool of disease and deformities, and so forth that have come down between Adam and all the rest of us today.
Tom: Dave, he says, “Not only did God shape you before your birth, He planned every day of your life to support His shaping process.”
Dave: We talked about that. So, if every day of my life has already been planned, then what is the point of this book? Why must I find out what my purpose is, when God has already planned every day of my life? This is fatalism. It’s all going to turn out just the way God planned it anyway—what do I have to do with this?
Tom: Now, Dave, this book, at 20 million sold—a million selling a month to many non-believers—how do they understand that? And what about the lost? How does it affect them? Especially if they never come to Christ?
Dave: Tom, this is a bestseller among non-Christians. So, what do they understand this to mean? I have some very serious concerns about that.
Tom: Right. Mm-hmm. Dave, he goes on to say, “By identifying and understanding it (referring to your abilities, interests, talents, gifts, personality, and life experience), you can discover God’s will for your life. And then he says, “I will explain how to discover and use your S.H.A.P.E.
Dave: Tom, I’m sorry, I do not relate to that at all. So, what am I going to do? I’m going to take some psychological tests. I’m going to find out what kind of abilities do I have…and capabilities, and so forth? Based on that, then, I’m going to decide what God is going to use me for, determine what God’s will for my life is—Tom, the Lord is going to lead me and guide me if I submit to Him. I’m in His hands! I’m surrendered to Him—”Lord, take me and use me. Do with me what you will.” “He chooses…” we’ve quoted this before, “He chooses the weak things to confound the mighty; the foolish to confound the wise.”
So, it’s just contrary to what Rick is saying. It’s a little bit complicated, but anyway, he wants us to follow this 40-day program so that we will sort of be beholden to him.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Dave, I want to go through these. We can go through them briefly, but then I want to come back to the point that you’re just raising here. This is complicated. It may be complicated—but is it really biblical? Is it really true to the Word of God?
Dave: Yeah. No it’s not.
Tom: Can somebody actually do these things? That’s my point. Even though they’re going through the process?
Spiritual gifts—the first part of S.H.A.P.E.—your spiritual gifts. Now, depending on what spiritual gift inventory is recommended, there are some that say there are only 9, there are only 9, there are 22, there are 23, and so on. On page 237 he says, “That’s why we’re commanded to discover and develop our spiritual gifts.”
Dave: I don’t find that command in the Bible, Tom. Does he give you a verse for that?
Dave: We are told to “covet earnestly the best gifts,” but never to discover our gifts.
Tom: Yeah. No, the closest thing to a Scripture, I’m not sure what version he picked for this, but, “There are different kinds of service in the church, but it is the same Lord we are serving.” So, it has nothing to do with….
Dave: That doesn’t tell you that you have to discover….
Tom: No, but we find that a lot, Dave, throughout the book—that he makes statements, and you wonder where they’re coming from biblically.
Dave: He’s quoting from 1 Corinthians 12, and 1 Corinthians says, “…There are diversities of gifts, but it’s the same Spirit, and these gifts are given severally as the Spirit wants to manifest himself.” You see, you don’t have a spiritual gift that now you possess, but God will use you in a certain way at a certain time as He sees fit; as He wants to manifest the power of the Spirit among His people. This is what the Bible teaches.
Dave: But anyway, Tom, go ahead.
Tom: The next part of the acrostic is Heart, which means a passion for service, but he couldn’t put passion in there because, you know, it wouldn’t make S.H.A.P.E. So. “No one has a heartbeat exactly like yours, a unique emotional heartbeat, natural interests. Your emotional heartbeat is the second key to understanding your S.H.A.P.E. for service. And there are telltale signs he talks about that go along with this: enthusiasm—doing what you love to do, or effectiveness—being good at it. In other words, being a high achiever because you love what you’re doing. You figure out what you live to do, what [God] gave you a heart to do, and then do it.”
Dave: Tom, again, it’s all about me. “It’s not about you,” but it’s all about you.
Tom: Right. He says here, “Only you can be you.”
Dave: That’s right. I’d like the Lord to keep changing me. “We all with unveiled face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into His image from glory to glory as by the Spirit of the Lord.” We want to become Christ-like. Not me—Tom…I’m sorry…it’s very humanistic…
Dave: …It appeals to a person’s pride. I can only be, now—what do I have? What do I love to do? Well, I might love to play billiards, you know? I might love to do this or that. I might love basketball—maybe that’s not what God wanted for me. Now, I want Him to sanctify my desires, and I want Him to mold me to His shape, you know? And not to some shape that I’ve already been given way back there supposedly, naturalistically, when I was born.
Tom: Well, that’s what he says with the next item. It’s “abilities.” S-H-A—A is for abilities. “Your abilities are the natural talents you were born with.” He writes, “Even abilities used to sin are God-given; they are just being misused or abused. Since your natural abilities are from God, they are just as important and as ‘spiritual’ (he puts that in quotes) as ‘spiritual’ as your spiritual gifts. The only difference is that you were given them at birth.”
Dave: Tom, this is not biblical. It’s not even rational. Maybe I have a natural ability—I’ve got fantastic eye and hand coordination—I can be a great juggler—something like that. Now, what does that have to do with preaching the gospel? God has called me, let’s say, to be a missionary in darkest Africa—and isn’t it wonderful that He gave me this eye and hand coordination so I could be a juggler over there? It’s too naturalistic; it’s too humanistic.
Dave: What has God called us to do? And now, it’s the power of the Holy Spirit working through us….
Tom: Dave, again, when he says, “Your natural abilities are as spiritual as your spiritual gifts…”
Dave: I don’t believe it.
Tom: …this is wrong. That’s dead wrong.
Tom: He says, “You are a bundle of incredible abilities, an amazing creation of God. Part of the church’s responsibility is to identify and release your abilities for serving God.”
Dave: Yeah, well, Tom, I don’t find it. The Scripture says, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord…” for example. I’m not a great singer, but I can make a joyful noise unto the Lord. Now, because I’m not a great singer, maybe I shouldn’t sing then. It just doesn’t fit, Tom. It doesn’t fit the Word of God….
Dave: …and it’s not logical either. I’m sorry, but I guess it makes some people feel good about…
Tom: Well, it certainly builds a work force for your church if people conform to this. And at his church, which, you know, I don’t want to pick on Saddleback, but remember, Saddleback is exporting all of these ideas…
Tom: …these concepts, to churches all over the world.
Tom: That’s why we’re addressing it.
Tom: Now, in order to figure out your S.H.A.P.E. you need to take a personality profile. I’m jumping the gun, here. We’re going to get into profile. But, you have to meet with counselors to find out all of these things about your life…
Tom: …and how they might fit into the program.
Dave: I’m going to have to have some help from Robert Schuller and a few psychologists, because I’ve got a low self-esteem, and I don’t think I even have any ability to do anything. Now, I’m going to start out and try to find out what these abilities are…
Tom: Well, Dave, there are counselors at the church who will go through these profile assessment items.
Dave: You know, I wonder when they did this for Paul. I don’t find that Jesus did this with His disciples. And it’s too complicated. It’s too humanistic. It fits what the world would do. It’s a business technique. Where am I going to put you? Am I going to put you in the warehouse? Am I going to make a salesman out of you? What am I going to do with you? Well, let’s find out what your abilities are. That does not work in the kingdom of God.
Tom: But, Dave, it does work in the business world.
Dave: Of course.
Tom: It does work for management.
Dave: Of course.
Tom: And this is one concern that we have—that Rick is drawing from people like Peter Drucker, and others—those with management expertise. And we wouldn’t complain about some of these things within a business, but just as you said, this is not for the church! This is not—biblically speaking—how the church is to grow and what the church is about. That’s our perspective. Folks, we want you to check these things out, you know, with the Word of God. Dave: Mm-hmm.
Tom: That’s all we’re asking here.
Tom: He says, “To discover God’s will for your life, you should seriously examine what you are good at doing and what you are not good at.”
Dave: Maybe I’m not good at doing anything. Is God not going to be able to use me?
Tom: Well, Dave, he covers that. And here’s the problem…
Dave: Can God use me, you know, in ways that I wouldn’t even imagine I could be used?
Tom: You see, Dave, this is a methodology. One of the things about a man-made methodology—you cannot be consistent with it. You know, there are going to be holes it in. There are going to be things that don’t apply. Try and apply this to somebody in prison. Try to apply this to somebody over in the Sudan being persecuted for their faith. How do these things apply? They don’t! This is very American; this is very cultural; this is all about business, I’m afraid.
Tom: Now, with regard to that—chapter 35—after all of this about your strengths and figuring out what your strengths are and your S.H.A.P.E., and all of that, he writes, “God loves to use weak people. You have a bundle of flaws and imperfections. God has never been impressed with strength or self-sufficiency.”
Dave: He’s contradicting himself, Tom.
Tom: Dave, I’m telling you, throughout the book, he says one thing and you say, “Oh yeah, well, that’s really good,” and then there’s a contradiction. Or you say, “No, this is really wrong. This isn’t biblical.” And it could be a couple of pages, it could be a couple of chapters later, you get another view on this. That’s why it is so confusing. And I don’t understand why people haven’t picked up on this.
Dave: See, Tom, I’m shortly going to Cuba. I wonder—should I take a bunch of these books translated into Spanish? I don’t they would relate to this at all.
Tom: Well, the book is being used heavily in the Philippines and the people who are using it said, “Well, we recognize there is an American idea here and a cultural thing. We’re having to modify it to speak to our people.” But you still have unbiblical, erroneous, humanistic concepts here.
Dave: I want to go back to the Bible, Tom.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Well, Dave, Personality—how’s God going to use my personality? He says, “If you’re an introvert, then God will use you one way. If you’re an extrovert—if you’re a thinker—if you’re a feeler—in this chapter in the section on personality, he says that Peter was sanguine (we mentioned this last week); Paul was choleric; Jeremiah was melancholy. If you’re an A-type, extrovert, introvert, God wants you to recognize these things—and this is where you need a personality profile. This is where you need to go down through a list to find out exactly where you fit in—
Dave: Tom, I wonder why this wasn’t all in the Bible. I mean, if this is so important. None of this was even invented—well, it was invented by Greek philosophers back there.
Dave: It has nothing to do with the Bible. I get a little bit angry when he puts these labels on men of God. Now, I’m stuck with this. Now I’ve got a personality profile, and I’m choleric, so I’m stuck with this from now on. I do not believe that at all! God can change us and mold us and use us to His glory in the way He sees fit.
Tom: Dave, I heard a speaker the other day—and I thought he was doing a reasonably good job—and he said he hated to do this! He’d never wanted to be before people and so on. But he knew this was what God was having him do. And he was blessing people.
Dave: You see, if some child—let’s say they’re in high school. They try to figure out, “What are my talents?” Well, I’m certainly not talented to be a speaker and I’m not talented to be this; I’m not talented to be that—that maybe exactly what God wants to use them for. So, why don’t we let God guide us a step at a time through His Word, in love with Jesus, meditating upon His Word and in fellowship with Him and He’s going to use us…
Dave: …in amazing ways! Ways that no personality profile is going to foretell. And, well, Tom, I’m very disappointed in the book, and I don’t understand why so many people are following it.
Tom: Dave, the final idea here in S.H.A.P.E. is your Experiences. And he talks about all kinds of experiences. Family experiences, educational experiences, vocational. He says, “Painful experiences—what problems, hurts, thorns, and so on—you know, when he mentions hurts—these are psychological ideas. He says that Paul understood this truth, so he was honest about his bouts with depression. He says that, “If Paul had kept his experience of doubt and depression a secret, millions of people would never have benefited from it.”
Dave: Now, let’s have the verse that he quotes there.
Tom: He quotes 2 Corinthians:1:8-10.
Dave: Let’s hear the quote, what translation is this, or what paraphrase?
Tom: The translation is the Living Bible, and he says, “I think you ought to know, dear brothers, about the hard time we went through in Asia. We were really crushed and overwhelmed and feared we would never live through it. We felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves. But that was good.”
Now, you want me to keep going?
Dave: Tom, it’s not depression, first of all. Everywhere Paul went he was going to be beaten—he could be stoned; in fact, he was stoned once. We read what he says he suffered. “Thrice was I beaten with rods”—he got thirty-nine lashes many times. Okay. So, here it says—let me read it from the King James. He talks about, “…Our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life….”
“It looked like we’re finished.” Paul is not depressed. He’s facing a real trial! It’s not depression. Some guy’s got a gun at my head, and he says he’s going to pull the trigger—I wouldn’t call that depression!
So, Paul is confronting these many trials and difficulties, and yet he says, “But we have the sentence of death in ourselves…” In other words, I’m already crucified with Christ. They can’t kill me. “…that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead.”
It’s entirely different from what the Living Bible gives you and from what Rick is trying to make it out to be.
Tom: Dave, he finishes it off by saying, “Using your S.H.A.P.E. is the secret of both fruitfulness and fulfillment in ministry.” And then he recommends that you contact Saddleback to get their S.H.A.P.E. profile and so on. He goes on, “You will be most effective when you use your spiritual gifts and abilities in the area of your heart’s desire…” (this is recapitulating) “…and in a way that best expresses your personality and experiences. The better the fit, the more successful you will be.”
Dave: Wow! Tell that to Paul. Tell that to Peter. Tell that to—I mean, so many that I could mention down through history.
Tom: Christians right now.
Tom: All throughout the world—outside of our culture.
Dave: It’s very complicated, Tom, and I don’t know how Paul was so effective. Yes, I do. It was by the power of the Holy Spirit and by knowing, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live….” That’s all my abilities—everything I am. Now Christ is living in me, and I’m looking to Him and trusting Him. It’s not what Rick is trying to tell us, but I guess a lot of people love it, because it’s sold over 20 million copies.
Tom: Dave, this is methodology; [these are] ideas from the world, from business, from psychology, all of these things that Rick said at the beginning of the book that he was not promoting. But I’m afraid he is. I don’t know how you get away from it.