Monday, May 21, 2012

Christ's Commission Fellowship defends Rick Warren

by Al Sabado


Update (November 2015): Few months ago, a CCF attendee excitedly narrated to me what she's learning from her Bible study group. I was alerted by her mention of Chuck Missler (into Bible codes and probably other forms of occultism) having a significant influence on their Bible study group facilitator, also from CCF. Another time this CCF attendee talked about the upcoming "blood moon" around September 2015. It dismayed her when I told her it's occult. CCF attendees seem to be lured, or are already, into occultism, with or without them realizing it.

But the Bible says,
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. (2 Peter 2:1)
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)
11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. (Ephesians 5:11-12)
But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. (Matthew 5:37)
Christ's Commission Fellowship (CCF), a purpose-driven church, maintains its stand and support for Rick Warren despite the latter's questionable and dangerous associations with strong proponents of the New Age movement and promotion of the PEACE plan. And whose peace is Warren representing? The God of the Bible or a different kind of god? The Bible clearly teaches,
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14)
Only the peace that comes from the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) will bring true peace, not the peace that comes from "global unity."

CCF has started a category on its website's Q&A section where it has responded to the following message:
Good day! I just want to know your opinion about the involvement of Rick Warren in the New Age Movement, because I’ve read his book. Please comment on this to enlighten my mind. Thanks and God bless. – Bernadette M.
The response of CCF indicates its solid trust in the words of Rick Warren by quoting him as a reliable source instead of verifying his teachings vis-a-vis what the Bible says. From CCF's response, we can also glean that it has overlooked the traces of New Age movement in Warren's associations and activities. However, Warren's propensities for the New Age are indicated in the Purpose Driven Life (PDL) where he boldly makes reference to a number of people with "cloudy" origins: St. Irenaeus (p. 55), Brother Lawrence (p. 88), and Mother Theresa (p. 125), among others. Warren also teaches "breath prayers" in PDL (p. 89) which is rooted from eastern mysticism--a major doctrinal issue. With "breath prayers," Warren teaches that a person can choose a word or phrase that he can utter repetitively. Where is that found in the Bible? A breath prayer is certainly not "praying without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17) but a form of mantra (read more, "Breath Prayer--Not Biblical Prayer.") What we are taught in the Bible is The Lord's Prayer. The Bible is also clear in saying that we should not pray repetitiously:
7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. (Matthew 6:7-8, KJV)
Reading PDL will also tell a discerning believer of Warren's pantheistic inclinations (p. 88, "He rules everything and is everywhere and is in everything"). CCF adheres to a principle: "In essentials, unity." Doesn't CCF find these alarming indications essential in warning the flock of deception inside the Church?

Now, note how CCF Pastor Joey Geronimo has responded to a comment posted on the Q&A section:
Hi Tricia! We don't believe that using 40 Days of Love is putting Rick Warren on a pedestal. The leaders of CCF studied the material and evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of the workbook and the video series. CCF adopted it for the use of the church as a bridging event tool.

The good news is that after the campaign it resulted in more than 500 new discipleship groups being added to the church. Now these same people can be discipled relationally in accordance with the discipleship principles of Jesus. We can now also establish them in the faith using the Biblical Foundation bible study series of CCF and train them to read and study the Bible just like the Bereans do.

I think you and I should rejoice over this fact!
From Pastor Joey's response, we can note that CCF, just like other purpose-driven churches, places so much importance on "church growth." But this seems to be a different kind of church growth from what the Bible teaches us. Moreover, how can church members be taught to be like the Bereans when the very foundation of teaching method is already erroneous?

Currently, CCF is among the churches whose programs are closely identical (if not patterned) with those of Saddleback Church, the congregation 'pastored' by Rick Warren. Examples of such similarities can be traced in the existence of small groups or discipleship groups, lecture series (Biblical Foundation 1 and 2, among others), the global leadership center or GLC, and a written "Covenant" with its members, among others. CCF has also held classes to study Warren's books such as the PDL. Numerous reviews of this book point to its failure to present the true Gospel in the light of God's Word. And of the many standard Bible versions, Warren has also used in the PDL many Scriptures taken from a questionable Bible translation, The Message by Eugene Peterson.

Sure, church memberships have grown. But what has happened to the genuine relationship of every Christian with Jesus Christ? What has happened to this thing called discernment? Countless modern-day Christians are made to believe that unless they are a member of a congregation, spiritual growth is impossible. But as Christians, we have to understand that the very source of spiritual growth is the Lord Jesus Christ through the purity and the power of His Word, the Holy Bible.

One's steadfast walk in the faith is not even supplemented by the fellowship of Christians or the reading of certain books recommended by many church leaders (who don't seem bothered when they endorse authors supporting and practicing contemplative spirituality). By saying this, we do not defy one's attendance in a church fellowship, certainly not. But if being a part of a fellowship or congregation misleads the members, compromises their faith in standing for the Gospel, or presents the only reason why members "can" walk efficiently as Christians, then we're missing the point. As Christians, we understand our position--whether or not we're surrounded by fellow Christians--based on what Jesus has taught us in the Bible:
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:4-5, KJV)
For fellow Christians who contend for the faith, be encouraged to read Warren Smith's Discernment Detractors: Calling Good Evil.

Read more:

  1. Rick Warren’s New Age Health Gurus by  Sarah Leslie, published by Kjos Ministries
  2. Rick Warren’s Global PEACE Plan versus the Great Commission by A Ministry in His Service, published by the Lighthouse Trails Research
  3. Q&A: Pastor Rick Warren in the New Age Movement? by Christ's Commission Fellowship
  4. The Spiritual Direction of Rick Warren by the Lighthouse Trails Research
  5. Breath Prayer--Not Biblical Prayer by  the Lighthouse Trails Research
  6. Faulty Premises of the Church Growth Movement: Rick Warren, Robert Schuller, Donald McGavran, and C. Peter Wagner Mislead the Church by Bob DeWaay
  7. Book Reviews by the Apologetics Coordination Team: Vital Information about Deception in the Church
  8. The Message Bible: A Mystic Mess by Dr. Terry Watkins, published by Dial the Truth Ministries
  9. Master list of Christian authors, books, and bookstores NOT recommended
  10. What is Contemplative Spirituality and Why Is It Dangerous? by John Caddock, published by Grace Evangelical Society
  11. Discernment Detractors: Calling Good Evil by Warren B. Smith, first published by Mountain Stream Press and later by The Submerging Church

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Lee Strobel, one of the strong advocates of contemplative spirituality

Lee Strobel, author of The Case for Christ study Bible, is a teaching pastor of Willow Creek Church and a member/teaching pastor of Saddleback Church, both churches are proponents of contemplative spirituality. Strobel 'strongly' endorses Rick Warren's book, The Purpose Driven Life (see back cover of a PDL copy). His son is also the founder of a contemplative ministry. Strobel is just one of the many authors who accepts and supports contemplative spirituality, also known as the "spiritual formation movement." Zondervan, the publisher of The Case for Christ study Bible, PDL, and others, is also among the strong proponents of contemplative spirituality. To understand the dangers of contemplative spirituality, read more on the 1997 treatise of John Caddock, What is contemplative spirituality and why is it dangerous?

Related links:

Let your 'Yes' be 'Yes' and your 'No,' 'No'...