Purposefully ashamed of the Gospel 1

Besides giving away the Sabbath, Rick Warren advocates that preachers abandon the Bible in church. Consider this passage from p. 297 of The Purpose Driven Church. (All of the following quotes, except the third and fifth, are from the same section in Warren’s book and are reproduced in order and without any omissions, and are only broken up with my own interjected comments.)

Select your Scripture readings with the unchurched in mind.

As I said in my Sabbath post, when Sunday is just another day, believers get abandoned.

While all Scripture is equally inspired by God, it is not all equally applicable to unbelievers.

This is a gross distortion of Scripture itself, and a good example of the general characteristics of false teaching. Warren starts the sentence by quoting from Scripture (though inserting the while and the equally), then finishes it by contradicting the very passage he seems to be quoting. The first part comes from 2 Timothy 3:16 and says

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.

Why did Warren leave out the bolded section? It’s all profitable. It’s all profitable for reproof and correction. Surely that’s what the unchurched need to hear, isn’t it? How does one repent unless first reproved and corrected?

Warren continues:

Some passages are clearly more appropriate for seeker services than others. For instance, you probably won’t want to read David’s prayer in Psalm 58: “Break the teeth in their mouths, O God….Like a slug melting away as it moves along, like a stillborn child, may they not see the sun….The righteous will be glad….when they bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.” Save this passage for our own personal quiet time or the local pastor’s breakfast!

Can’t you hear the embarrassment? Shucks, God, why do you have to say stuff like that? It just isn’t cool to go all swords and sandals on us mellow Southern Californians.

The example he picks is actually perfect for preaching the gospel to sinners. We need to understand God’s judgment before we can fully appreciate our own sin and God’s grace. David provides the key to understanding God’s anger in the last verse of the psalm:

Then men will say, “Surely the righteous still are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth.” (Psalm 58:11)

Again, it’s instructive what parts of the Bible Warren is leaving out of his own book.

Warren again:

Certain texts require more explanation than others. With that in mind, at Saddleback we like to use passages that don’t require any previous understanding.

Isn’t that why God ordained preachers to explain the Scriptures to us? See Piper’s powerful explanation of the preacher’s job.

We also like to use passages that show the benefits of knowing Christ.

Perhaps he could start with Psalm 58. Not getting your teeth broken in by God sounds like a distinct benefit to me. There are certainly benefits to knowing Christ, but there are also costs. We are called to sacrifice all and take up our cross. It’s not the same as joining Club Med.

We have talked a lot on this blog in recent days about Warren and Noble’s new reformation, but one of the points that the original Reformers corrected was the Catholic church’s practice of hiding the Bible from the people in the pews.

What might Luther say about Warren’s papist idea?

One comment on “Purposefully ashamed of the Gospel

  1. Micah May 18, 2009 12:49 am

    I remember six years ago when I told my parents I thought Rick Warren was shady and that I hated “The Purpose Driven Life.”

    I was told I was just terrible for disagreeing with this God-breather writing.

    Well look who’s laughing… er… a heretic now…

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