One of my previous posts talked about my concerns about the emergent church. I have always struggled to understand how they convinced so many to follow them down the wide road. But I think it is really two things:
First, they discourage the study of your Bible, “leave your bible at home they say, it is too divisive, and will scare people off.” We need to moderate our ways they say. But this is the wrong direction, how can you know what God said if you do not study His word? (Study, not just read.) Christ was very clear on every topic we need to navigate this world and also on which Rock we need to lean on, and build our house. If you do not know God’s word and the context that come with studying His word, then how can you verify (discern) truth from deception. They are not arming you with the Word of God to go forth and help those in need. Instead they say tread lightly, join their groups, bend your will to their as not to scare them off. That is not how Christ did it. He did not change or appeal to anything of this world. He stood boldly and proclaimed: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
Secondly, the Emergent church discourages any study of prophecy. This disarms us further and robs us of the hope that is so essential to life in this world. What was it that Christ used to convince those that questioned or disbelieved who he was? He used prophecy, over 300 prophecies of his coming that he fulfilled – 100%. If we don’t study prophecy how can we know He is who He says He is beyond a shadow of a doubt. Strongly enough to lay down your life for him, that is they type of strong assurance you get from studying the prophecies of his 1st coming. Likewise, we need to use prophecy to wake people up to the times they live in and show them why they need Christ, and why it is so urgent to make a decision to ask Christ into their lives. People need to know why they need a parachute (need to be saved) before they will be open to it. “The plane is crashing, but I have a parachute for you” is a lot different from “here is a parachute, you really need it”.
Those are the two big glaring things they are trying to drive from the church: knowing and studying the Bible, and knowing and studying Bible prophecy. It is scary how effective they are at infiltrating our churches.
Christ in John 14:6 said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He did not say “I am a way and a truth and a life…”
He is the way, the only way. The only way to come to the Father. He is the narrow path. The emergent church is steering many onto the wide path that leads to destruction.
Jim Fletcher does a good job laying out some of the key players in this great deception and what to watch for…
Aug 13, 2012
(Read Jim’s column on Rick Warren at www.wnd.com/2012/08/rick-warrens-unholy-reign-as-americas-pastor/)
The piece I wrote for WorldNetDaily this week, about Rick Warren, has already produced a huge response. So much so that I wanted to take the opportunity at Israel Watch to once again discuss “Pastor Rick’s” influence regarding evangelical support for Israel.
Few people are unaware of Rick Warren’s influence. Over 30 million copies of The Purpose Driven Life have been sold. Warren regularly boasts of training a quarter million pastors in his PD marketing scheme. He gave the invocation at Barack Obama’s inauguration. The pastor of Saddleback Church in southern California—one of the very largest congregations in the U.S.—is constantly interviewed by media. He counts Tony Blair and Bono as friends.
And there is plenty of circumstantial evidence that he is no friend of Israel.
I should preface my remarks by saying that the “average” evangelical is not aware of Warren’s background or present-day associations that are really at odds with biblical Christianity. For those who have the time (and I literally urge you to find the time; I have each of the following books, along with the Kindle versions that are available); there are several key resources that will stun the reader:
- The New Evangelicalism, by Paul Smith
- Redefining Christianity, by Bob DeWaay
- A Time of Departing, by Ray Yungen
- A Wonderful Deception, by Warren Smith
- The Dark Side of the Purpose Driven Church, by Noah Hutchings
Am I really endorsing these books and prompting you to get them?
Yes, and with as much urgency as I can muster. I wouldn’t waste your time or money if I didn’t think each of the books mentioned above weren’t vital to a proper understanding of Rick Warren, the change agent. Each provides compelling evidence that Something Wicked This Way Comes to evangelicalism.
Actually, it’s already here.
Change agents began operating behind the scenes decades ago, working to transfer classic liberal theology to mainstream evangelicalism. When I was a teenager, no self-respecting pastor in America would have been caught dead even standing next to Brian McLaren. Yet in Dan Kimball’s 2003 book, The Emerging Church, forewords were written by…Rick Warren and Brian McLaren. Additionally, the cover reveals that commentary was provided by Warren, Howard Hendricks, McLaren, Sally Morgenthaler, Chip Ingram, and Mark Oestreicher.
(For a thorough critique of McLaren’s aberrant theology, I strongly urge you to search for his name at www.apprising.org)
Liberals love to complain that “critics” use “guilt by association” to unfairly characterize them. This is classic evasion with a generous helping of illogic.
We can all be measured by our associations. I associate with Bible prophecy teachers. It means that, in general, we believe the same things. For example, I treasure my friendship with David Reagan, because he is a bold witness in a dark world. If a liberal wanted to criticize me for associating with Dave, I’d say, “Thank you, sir, may I have another?”
Liberals do not like it when their associations are brought to light because, as Spurgeon used to say, darkness hates the light.
Rick Warren should have some ‘splainin’ to do with regard to his endorsement of Kimball’s book.
He doesn’t have to explain. Pastor Rick doesn’t have to be accountable for questionable associations. He’s too powerful.
When his protégés, such as Perry Noble and Steven Furtick, mock critics and call them names, Warren’s own reputation is on the line, however.
And let me give you a brief example of how a paper trail gives strong evidence that a mainstream evangelical pastor in 2012 America is not really promoting a biblical worldview:
In Paul Smith’s book, we learn that not long after the founding of Fuller Theological Seminary, liberal influences crept in. Charles Fuller’s own son, Daniel, went to Switzerland to study under Karl Barth and when he returned, he had largely abandoned belief in Bible prophecy. Fuller the Younger then exerted his influence over the seminary for the next several decades.
Rick Warren obtained a Ph.D from Fuller. In PDL, he discourages the study of Bible prophecy and, tragically, he repeated this theme at the 2011 Southern Baptist pastor’s convention.
Prophecy, of course, is intertwined with the story of Israel in the Bible. It is foundational to understanding reality.
Add to the mix the seminary’s bent toward the Church Growth movement and other unbiblical practices, and it’s not hard to see why Warren pals around with Muslim imams, denigrates Bible prophecy teaching (see PDL), and presides over a PD system that rewards the compliant and boots “dissenters.” Strong words?
I haven’t even gotten started.
There is a mountain of evidence that Warren is not what he appears to millions who don’t know enough to question his associations and practices.
His 2006 visit to Syria, in which he gave Bashar Assad an award, reveals at the very least a man so alarmingly undiscerning that he serves as a dupe for a totalitarian regime that takes its place in the pantheon of history’s most infamous.
And consider this:
Millionaire evangelical businessman Mart Green gave Saddleback a 170-acre tract of prime land in southern California (www.ocregister.com/articles/church-310690-green-lobby.html) in 2011.
Green, founder of Mardel Christian Stores and an heir to the Hobby Lobby empire, is the financial wizard behind the curtain of the anti-Israel film, Little Town of Bethlehem. The documentary follows the lives of three men who purport to practice “non-violence” in order to bring about peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Problem is, the Palestinian Christian, Palestinian Muslim, and Israeli who tell their stories all push the basic PLO line: Israel is an occupier and we must have a Palestinian state.
This odious film, along with the similar-themed With God on Our Side, is being used to turn people away from supporting Israel. Screenings at campuses and churches coast-to-coast ensure that many socially minded young evangelicals see a skewed view of the Jewish state.
By the way, it might interest you to know that I have been counseled—even, incredibly, by pro Israel supporters—to temper my remarks on these subjects and to avoid naming so many names. Everyone is free to follow his or her own conscience. As for me, I am committed thoroughly to exposing the anti-Israel agenda being sold to evangelical audiences in America.
We are in the place we are in due in part to our past silence, or failure to see what was going on. When McLaren, Hank Hanegraaff, Gary Burge, Stephen Sizer, Jim Wallis and several others denigrate Christian Zionists and Israel, it’s past time to speak up.
Let me give you another example of how associations and like-mindedness harm Israel and her Christian supporters.
Craig Groeschel is senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv in Edmond, Oklahoma. It is I believe the fastest-growing church in the country, and Groeschel is a protégé of Warren and Bill Hybels; his ministry roots come from the United Methodist Church (among other things, perhaps the premier anti-Israel denomination in the U.S.).
Groeschel is an affable, engaging, brilliant communicator who is a key player in the Church Growth/Seeker Driven methodology that is currently the rage. He is disciplined, smart, and seemingly free from the immaturity of his own, lesser-disciplined protégés Noble and Furtick (be sure and check out Furtick’s “Hey, Haters” video rant on YouTube).
So far as I know, Groeschel doesn’t take controversial stands in public. Yet his associate pastor at LifeChurch, Bobby Gruenewald, displays on his Facebook page an affiliation with the group, “Help Spread the Message of Non-Violence.”
Sounds good, right? What self-respecting Christian wouldn’t endorse a non-violent approach to the Middle East crisis? I mean, we’re not Bashar Assad, are we?
However…some rainy afternoon when your chores are done, scroll through the associations of those “members” of this group. Here are a few examples:
- Benjamin Por Boonyarit supports the “cause” titled: “Stop the [sic] Israel’s War Crimes in Gaza.”
- Janelle Gingrich-Caudle supports the “causes” titled: “International Solidarity Movement,” and “Stop House Demolitions in east Jerusalem.”
- Sami Awad, the spirit behind Little Town of Bethlehem, and a friend of Mart Green, supports the “cause” titled: “Stop Calling Muslims Terrorists.”
My question is, why would a Palestinian Christian like Awad take on this issue? Further, one has only to investigate the claims of researchers like Erick Stakelbeck, Robert Spencer, Pam Geller, and Steve Emerson to conclude that not only are a huge number of Muslims either terrorists or supporters of the ideology, but that they are making alarming inroads into the fabric of American life.
The associations above (the ISM is a radical left-wing movement openly hostile to Israel) are part of what people believe. They are like-minded folks. While Gruenewald might not endorse everything these people do, he identifies with this larger “non-violence” group. To accuse Israel of war crimes is to bear false witness against the Jewish state.
(As an aside, Gruenewald, on his FB page, describes himself as having skills in the area of “activator, futurist, ideation, achiever and competition.” Huh? Can you imagine the pastor of your youth self-identifying with such New Age goo?)
Again, it’s all about associations.
Further, as of last fall, Jim Hanon, the director of Little Town of Bethlehem, attended LifeChurch.
I’m stating the obvious: like-minded folks mix with like-minded folks. We all do. The issue is, what do they believe and what do they promote/endorse? What is true and what is not true? What is good and what is harmful?
Let me digress for a minute to show you where a pastor who no longer teaches from the Bible ends up. Not long ago, I was watching a mega-church pastor I personally know. He favorably quoted the French philosopher Jean Paul-Sarte. I studied Sarte in college and know that among other things, he was a Che Guevera groupie, going so far as to calling the killer-thug the “era’s most perfect man.” He called Che an intellectual. Wow. Why would a pastor think that a fellow like Sarte had anything of value to say to an evangelical audience?
Here’s another one: a few years ago while perusing my local paper’s Religion section, I saw that a church was going to have a seminar entitled: “The Theological Implications of King Lear.”
Question: who cares? When did we stop teaching the Bible in America? 1792? How have we gotten to this point? Pastors today preach about sex, getting along with your boss, even fashion. The pulpit has been replaced by thin plexiglass stands, beds, cars, motorcycles, tables from Pier 1. “Sermons” have titles with words like “naked” in them, so that today’s Evangelical Pastor is more snickering 12-year-old behind a fence, reading a dirty magazine than he is spiritual leader.
Jean-Paul Sarte? Seriously?
When a church leader departs from biblical teaching—of which a chunk is a proper understanding of the role of Israel, the Jews, and Bible prophecy—he becomes a cartoon.
Back to eroding support for Israel.
It is at least plausible that Craig Groeschel shares similar views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His mentor, Rick Warren, mixes with younger evangelical leaders who are concerned about the situation in “Palestine.”
Even those who identify with “Palestine” telegraph their politics and worldview. Do you see? Palestine doesn’t exist. It might exist, depending upon the pressure put on Israel by the global body known as the UN. The international community—several leaders are Rick Warren’s friends—loathe the Jewish state.
As of yet, however, when an evangelical leader says that he is going to visit “Palestine,” we can know that he has already gone over to the left. He already identifies with the Palestinians, whose leadership at the very least wants to destroy Israel.
This anti-Israel ideology and theology is coming into the American Church like a flood.
Let me be clear about something: my litmus test for endorsing/following a religious leader is Israel. I look for other things, as well, but it all pivots off one’s worldview regarding Jews, Israel, and predictive prophecy.
My thinking is, if such a leader is right about the theology of Israel, he’s probably going to be right about most other things in the Bible. That’s why those evangelical pastors who attended last spring’s anti-Israel “Christ at the Checkpoint” event—Joel Hunter, John Ortberg, Bob Roberts—have zero credibility with me. None.
When John Piper tweets the anti-semitic question, “Who is a Jew?” as he did, I tune him out. When a Christian publisher begins to hang out with PLO groupies, I’m not listening to him anymore or supporting his propaganda.
There is much more to write, and it will be written, I can assure you.
If you are a supporter of Israel, and care about both the Jewish state and the American Church, you’d better pull your head out of wherever it’s stuck and get in the game. Time is running out; evangelical change agents are well on the way to overturning pro Israel support in America.
If you’d like to communicate with me directly about this clear-and-present danger, please do.
Click on the article title for a link to full original referenced article.
If you’re not certain you’re saved, here is what you should do, right now:
Acknowledge that you have sinned against a holy God and ask for forgiveness (even if you don’t feel you deserve it) (Rom. 3:23). Genuinely feel the pain of your sin and be willing to turn from it (repent) (Acts 3:19).
Believe in your heart and mind that Jesus is the Son of God, that he died on the cross for you (John 3:1-18) in your place, and was raised back to life. There is no one else you can turn to (John 14:6): “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Confess that you are trusting Jesus as your personal Savior. Since Jesus is alive, you can talk to him. This is called prayer. So talk to him right now, in your own words, accept his invitation to know him.
It’s simple faith through grace, the kind of faith a little child would have.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9)