Now, Contending for the Faith. In this regular feature, Dave and Tom respond to questions from listeners and readers of The Berean Call. Here’s this week’s question: “Dear Dave and Tom, You guys seem to complain about everything. Especially if it becomes popular among Christians. Were you born with a negative attitude or do you just enjoy tearing things down? I just knew that you would bad mouth The Purpose Driven movement that is transforming thousands of evangelical church around the world. But in this you reveal your ignorance of what God is doing as well as you divisive nature. You can’t give me one legitimate problem with The Purpose Driven movement that is blessing so many churches and winning souls to Jesus Christ.
Tom: Well I think people are entitled to their opinions.
Dave: But Tom, he’s accusing us of being negative. It sounds to me like he’s being negative. He accuses us of criticizing, he’s criticizing us. Now is it legitimate? I think so. He’s welcome to his opinion and we are to ours. But I don’t think we are just criticizing everybody out there.
Tom: No, I don’t think so either, but….
Dave: We spend a good portion of the program in exegeting the Bible or trying to go through the Bible. We’re not criticizing the Bible.
Tom: Seeking and Finding God Dave, we just spent a whole segment on how important it is to know the gospel and understand the gospel.
Well let’s get right to his particular peeve here. The Purpose Driven movement, he’s says “You can’t give me one legitimate problem with The Purpose Driven movement that is blessing so many churches and winning souls to Jesus Christ.”
Dave, on the one hand we would say if souls are being won to Christ, praise God. But in the earlier, in the first segment, you said we have to do things God’s way. It’s God’s gospel. It’s the gospel of Jesus Christ. So is there a way to bring people in?
I mentioned earlier that there’s Generation X, there’s the Post Modern generation that we want to appeal to them. We want to shape Christianity so culturally it’s appealing to this group and so on. The Purpose Driven Church, the Purpose Driven Life as I’ve gone through it, and I’ve gone through it really, in great detail. I find marketing involved, I find an approach to alter and change things so that it appeals to the world and in particular to the flesh. We find Bible versions, paraphrases being used in that that are distorting the Bible, that change it into a humanistic approach. We could go on and on.
Dave: Well Tom, I don’t The Purpose Driven Life in front of me, but [there are] a lot of problems. As you said, he says that he quotes the Bible nearly a thousand times. You find that in the end of his book. But in fact, he doesn’t. He quotes paraphrases. He quotes The Message. The Message is so bad. The Message takes God’s word and shoves it aside and changes it into Eugene Peterson’s own words, changes the meaning. It is bad Tom! And the fact that Rick Warren has to quote The Message and other similar paraphrases in order to support what he’s teaching is not good. It doesn’t sound good for what he’s teaching. Why would he have to go to those sources to support what he’s teaching?
Tom: Dave, do you have a problem with a methodology and approach to growing the church, these methods and techniques that encourage people to come in and now the church is going to grow to the extent that on the basis of ideas, as I mentioned earlier, that come out of marketing, that come out of systems, general systems, theory and so on, is that a problem?
Dave: Well Tom, the gospel first of all, does not appeal to the human mind. Paul says, “The gospel is foolishness, the cross, the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who believe not, but unto us who are saved, it’s the power of God.” The gospel is not written with man’s desires or interests or ideas in mind.
Tom: Felt needs.
Dave: The gospel is simply the facts and we just explained it based upon who God is. The fact that man is a sinner, a rebel, and as you said, it’s a matter of justice. There’s only one way. Now to water that down, compromise it, corrupt and pervert the gospel, which is what Rick has done. I’m sure he’s a well meaning man. He loves the Lord, he’s trying to win people to Christ. But he makes it too easy. And I’ve read the book. I’ve noted his careful wording. His careful wording comes almost to the point of receiving Christ as your Savior. It comes almost up to believing that you’re a sinner and that Christ died for your sins. But it doesn’t quite get there and it puts it in humanistic terms. It would appeal to the non-Christian. It’s more like Robert Schuller frankly. It’s more like building up your potential, recognizing your potential and your value and finding out who you really are and then developing this. And then coming as a repentant sinner to Christ, acknowledging you are worthy of eternal damnation because of your sin and then in gratitude receiving the forgiveness that God offers in Christ.
Now someone listening can say well that’s old-fashioned. I mean people don’t want to hear that. Can’t you make this gospel more appealing?
You can’t change the gospel. And to try to make it more appealing, unfortunately, waters it down. It becomes a humanistic approach. It is no longer the gospel. And we have a lot people, sincere people I think, in Rick Warren’s church and in many other churches. Bill Hybels and in almost any church who really do not know Jesus Christ. They call themselves Christians, they come to church and they’ve gotten on the bandwagon of a growing movement right now, but they have not been born again. They have not received Christ as their Lord and Savior. And they’re not saved. And that’s the tragedy.
Tom: Dave, one thing that I notice here is that in all the teaching, you don’t find prophecy. And how important is prophecy? You know we’ve talked about that for years here. But also the rapture. The rapture of the church. I don’t find that as a part of this teaching. Because they’re trying to really build and develop something which I’m concerned is very much “kingdom now,” dominionism, reconstruction, slightly different, but moving in the same direction, I fear.