Looks like I may be creating a blog regarding defending Rick Warren soon… 🙂 Here is a reposting of “Is God Dead?” and someone’s response to it in a club that I am in and my response to them.

Is God Dead?

1st Revision

By

Dave McDowell

“’Whither is God?’ he cried, ‘I shall tell you where. We have killed him—you and I…God is dead…And we have killed him’” Nietzsche said it. And I must admit, to a certain extent, I agree. “God is not dead,” you say. “He is alive and well.” Well, where is he? You certainly do not find his influence in the Roman Catholic Church these days, a church that has been eaten up and spit out by a clergy sex scandal. Before you start thumping your chest in pride because you are a Protestant, keep in mind that the Episcopal Church appointed it’s first openly gay bishop last year. Mainline Protestant denominations saw a dramatic drop in membership and attendance in the 1990’s This does not include the mammoth Southern Baptist Convention, although the pace of it’s growth did fall dramatically. It seems that the larger denominations have lost their influence in the wake of relativistic teaching and the dichotomy of their stances. The church seems to be at best split in two, at worst, as Nietzsche described God…dead.

However, the same article that trumpeted Mainline Protestantism’s apparent slow death also noted that some denominations did grow. Believe it or not, even in the wake of disaster, the Catholic Church was among them as well as the heretical Mormon church and the Assemblies of God, my old stomping grounds. The study says, “Scholars say the data also show the Pentecostal movement has established itself within mainstream Christianity, attracting middle-class churchgoers with so-called ‘manifestations of the Holy Spirit’ such as speaking in tongues.” It seems that people seeking the truth of Christianity are drawn by experience rather than liturgy. To this denomination, and others patterned after it, God is not dead…and they seem to offer strong arguments for it, namely, for them, the church experience has become relevant.

So is God really dead? Or has it just lost its relevance? If God is dead, I agree with Neitzsche: we have killed him. Not in the literal sense, but through our rigidness and closed minds. We climb up on our high horses and look upon the unchosen world with disdain and we organize our churches to keep out the seeker of truth and to promote our version of social Christianity. Well guess what? That world, which we thought stupid for not seeing the truth, has turned up it’s nose to our hypocrisy and have fled out the doors of churches to find their own significance elsewhere. The fastest growing religion in the United States is no longer Christianity, but Islam. It seems they have offered to people a greater sense of significance, particularly among the black community, where they are also the fastest growing religion. My theory is that the reason people have retreated from Christianity and moved to other religions is that Christianity has lost its relevance in the United States.

However, although Islam carries the honor of being the fastest growing religion in the country and the fastest growing religion among the black community, it does not have the honor of having the fastest growing community of believers. That honor belongs to Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest, California. Surprisingly, Saddleback is a Southern Baptist Church, although you would never know that by their style and their growth. Their pastor is Rick Warren, who is most famous for his two “purpose-driven” books. The first book, The Purpose Driven Church came out in 1995 and has sold more than one million copies in twenty different languages. Supporters of the book include W. A. Criswell (who wrote the foreword), Bill Bright, Jerry Falwell, Robert Schuller, Adrian Rogers, and Jack Hayford. But Warren is known more for his recent book The Purpose Driven Life that has sold more than five million copies and has spent numerous weeks on top of the New York Times Best Seller List. One website describes Warren as having “bad reputation in conservative circles.” This seems to be the understatement of the year. Fundamentalists seem to abhor him claiming, “he misuses the Bible, stretching the meaning of passages or even giving passages a meaning that is foreign to them.”

Warren’s beliefs about church structure seemed to be summed up well in a book review posted online:

“The thesis of The Purpose Driven Church is that when churches think first about their health, growth is sure to follow. “If your church is healthy,” writes Rick Warren, “growth will occur naturally. Healthy, consistent growth is the result of balancing the five biblical purposes of the church.” These five purposes are to “Love the Lord with all your heart,” “Love your neighbor as yourself,” “Go and make disciples,” “[Baptize] them,” and “[Teach] them to obey.” And those purposes can only be accomplished, argues Warren, when church leaders stop thinking about church-building programs and shift their focus to a “people-building process” involving fellowship, discipleship, worship, and evangelism. Warren, the founder of the fastest-growing Baptist church in American history, has taught seminars to thousands of pastors from all over the world, many of whom have successfully implemented his techniques.”

Unfortunately, Warren has his share of critics. One website says:

“Warren mocks churches which ‘seem to think that the 1950s was the golden age, and they are determined to preserve that era in their church’ (p. 55). He later makes it clear what he means by this. He encourages young pastors to leave behind that old-fashioned church music in favor of jazz or rock or whatever turns your people on! He encourages churches to imitate the culture and “dress down” for church…He is desperately trying to be relevant, and in the process has lost all sense of being ‘set apart.’ Walking into church with food and drink, dressed down as if at the mall, and hearing rock & jazz music may be relevant, but it is NOT much different from the world.

Interestingly though, the same website elsewhere says, “Rick Warren’s church (and others like it) have attracted thousands. His methods do work. He says that the reason for the spectacular growth has been his emphasis on creating a ‘purpose driven church.’” However, the author contributes Warren’s success to pragmatism.

Another critic is Nathan Busenitz of Shepherd’s Fellowship “an association of churches rallying around the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, the importance of expository preaching, and the centrality of a biblical philosophy of ministry.” He sums up the basic fundamentalist view in his final assessment: “While Warren’s book does offer some practical tips for making a church larger, it fails to expound the foundational theological truths that make a church more biblical. Because it overemphasizes the felt needs of unbelievers and de-emphasizes the priority of clear biblical teaching, The Purpose-Driven Church seems to be driven by the wrong purpose—namely, a man-centered desire for acceptance and influence rather than a God-centered affinity for truth.” My favorite one, I believe is this gross straw man representation of Warren’s beliefs: “The Purpose-Driven Church is based on the (unbiblical) concept that we should aim to make sinners feel comfortable at church.”

Whether or not you agree with Warren’s methodology, you cannot deny the numerical success of Saddleback. As of the time of this writing, it is fast approaching 20,000 in attendance. According to Warren, the majority of the membership of his church is not transfer growth, as in members coming from another church, but rather conversion growth of previous unbelievers. If the conversions are genuine, and I believe they are, this is one of the most successful churches in the history of the world. As a matter of fact, the only way you can attack Warren is by denying that these conversions are genuine. That usually is the basic ploy of fundamentalists and others who attack his methodology.

One of most interesting things to note is that the same people who criticize Warren’s methodology are the same people who will not offer an alternative. They insist on using the same tired out methods that they have been using for over one hundred years even though it is very clear that this country has moved from a modern context to a postmodern one. These are the same people who slink in the shadows because their priest has become a child-molester. These are the same people who sit in the pew of the Episcopal Church and listen to a gay heretic blaspheme the Word of God. These are the same people who sit in a church pew like the frozen chosen and do not get out and do the work of the ministry.

Is God dead? To the people who are content to sit on a pew week after week and criticize one of the most successful evangelists in the history of the United States, God is dead. He is dead because they have killed Him. At least their God is dead. My God is alive and well and continues to move and work in the lives of men like Rick Warren, Billy Graham, Bill Bright, Jerry Falwell, Adrian Rogers, Jack Hayford and Bill Hybels, just to name a few, who do not criticize obvious works of God and who continue to engage this world with the real gospel, the one of love and not of criticism and hate. These men infect their individual churches with the fire of the love of God and, as a result, wonder of wonders, they grow!

God, let us not grow weary in well doing! Let us spur on the men of You who in their faithfulness to continue to spread your love and let us shun those of a critical spirit who seek to tear down the workings of Your Spirit and to kill God with their futile ramblings. Let us remind those who would criticize Your move in the words of my friend Steve Sparks, a youth pastor in Jackson, Michigan: “I like the way he does it better than the way you don’t do it.”

Friedrich Nietsche, “The Gay Science,” in The Portable Nietzsche, ed. And trans. W. Kauffman (New York Viking, 1954), p. 95.

http://www-tech.mit.edu/V122/N40/long-5.40w.html

Ibid

http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9704/14/egypt.islam/

http://www.globalsecurity.org/org/news/2003/030904-stinger02.htm

http://www.westchasechurch.org/missions.htm

http://www.biblebb.com/files/pdc.htm

Ibid

http://www.challies.com/archives/000037.html

Ibid

Ibid

http://flashmarket.com/a/0310201063/Purpose_Driven%C2%AE_Church_The.html

http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Letter/v8n2.htm

Ibid

http://www.gracechurch.org/sfellowship/

http://www.biblebb.com/files/pdc.htm

http://www.christianity-books.com/PurposeDriven_Church_The_0310201063.html

Dave,

Since your posting was a response to mine, the clear inference is that me and those like myself who simply desire to know God and to please him have “killed him” since I wish to, as the Bible commands, test the spirits and be a Berean. This is a most reckless and intemperate charge, not to mention uncharitable, to put it charitably as I can. My guess is that you have no familiarity whatsoever with the ministry of Nathan Busenitz or the

ministry of any of the other Warren critics you quoted, but instead denounce them in much the same manner as you accuse Warren’s critics of denouncing him. They offered reasoned critiques (whether the criticism itself is right or not), sadly you do not.

I have no desire to be contentious or go “heresy hunting” but I certainly think comparing ministries with the scriptural model can be helpful from time to time (but not very often, it really can be an unhealthy and unprofitable pursuit), just as we should examine ourselves to see if we be in the faith, while avoiding a morbid introspection. The thread to which I responded was by far the most popular one since I’ve been on here and

since Dr. Gary seemed puzzled as to what all the fuss was about, I figured I would weigh in with my two cents. To say that is killing God is patently absurd. There are many who have very fruitful ministries who have offered criticism of Warren and others. And regarding Islam, many seeker sensitive types are very friendly toward it (usually characterizing it as a religion of peace) and generally shy away from the exclusive claims of the gospel, since they are fundamentally man-centered (can a self-consciously

seeker-sensitive ministry be otherwise?) Franklin Graham I suppose would be an exception re: Islam although I wouldn’t really include him within their camp since he is an evangelist and not a pastor. His comments in the wake of 9/11 were certainly a pleasant surprise to me and are apparently born out of his experiences in his humanitarian work in the Sudan.

You quote some of Warren’s critics, and instead of engaging them on the merits, you simply state they are wrong, that you believe most of Warren’s converts are genuine (offering no evidence whatsoever and not even a link or anything pertaining to Warren’s gospel, the message to which they responded) and offer only ad hominem attacks against his critics. The Busenitz quote you include seems to be a reasonable criticism (I note

that he did not call Warren a heretic or false teacher or any other perjorative term), but your only response is to call him a fundamentalist, as if that perjorative term is enough to rest your case upon. Go back and read my post again, particularly the first paragraph. If this is the message that Warren preaches consistently, then God bless him. Again, I confessed in that post that I was not as familiar with his ministry as I am with Schuller’s and others, and did say that it seemed to be more biblically oriented and maybe more exclusive (in the sense that it consistently preaches that Jesus is the only way to God, which is my sense of it) than Schuller, Hybels et al. even though Schuller was a mentor to and is a strong influence upon Warren. (Schuller has no problem with Mormons, Muslims, etc in heaven and said he would not be troubled if his grandchildren became Muslims.) In fact I did not directly criticize Warren at all, since I am generally unfamiliar with him. (I would add that he is unique indeed if most of his membership is made up of “new converts” or the unchurched because “seeker-sensitive” methods generally result in transfer growth instead). But the clear inference from your post is that I have “killed God” (I realize it is an old article, but it was posted in

response to my post).

This list is entitled Reformed-Charismatic, but the “killing God” charge is

something I would expect to hear from a radical charismatic, anti-reformed writer like William D’Arteaga (or perhaps Benny Hinn or Paul Crouch), who embraces charismatic phenomena in voodoo, various cults, etc as being of the Holy Spirit, saying that Reformed people and Fundamentalists (characterising them all as Pharisees) quench the Spirit so He must manifest himself through cults instead. And your enthusiasm for Warren has more in common with Charles Finney and his belief that revival could come at a time of his choosing thorough the application of particular methods than it does with any stream of Reformed thought or indeed the truth that God is sovereign in salvation, as in all else.

You write: “My God is alive and well and continues to move and work in the lives of men like Rick Warren, Billy Graham, Bill Bright, Jerry Falwell, Adrian Rogers, Jack Hayford and Bill Hybels.” I would note that all of these men are Arminian (nothing wrong with that, btw and I think Rogers is a good preacher despite his recent attacks upon Calvinism and his stated determination to expel it from the SBC). Are there no Reformed or

Calvinist leaders in whom your “God is alive and well and continues to move and work?” John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul and John Piper are just a few that I would commend to you. I suppose MacArthur and Sproul wouldn’t qualify since they are cessationist and tend to be critical at times of charismatic and seeker-sensitive ministries. I would note that MacArthur’s organization is the largest Protestant organization in LA county–so

much for “frozen chosen”, and I would doubt that his worship service much resembles his father’s (who was also a pastor) of the ’50’s either, he uses modern music, etc. Sproul has probably done more than anyone else in the last 25 years to popularize Reformed doctrine. Well then, I guess Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, John Wesley, B.B. Warfield, J. Grescham Machen, and Martyn Lloyd-Jones (he moved to an essentially cessationist position after witnessing the excesses of the charismatic movement in the ’60’s) just to name a few, wouldn’t qualify either since they also didn’t hesitate to denounce false teaching (and in some cases, questionable methods employed by otherwise sound teachers, as in Lloyd-Jones’ refusal to endorseGraham because of his cooperation with apostate liberals and Roman Catholics and thus muddying his message and violating the biblical injunction to be equally yoked) when they saw it….

Busenitz wrote: “While Warren’s book does offer some practical tips for making a church larger, it fails to expound the foundational theological truths that make a church more biblical. Because it overemphasizes the felt needs of unbelievers and de-emphasizes the priority of clear biblical teaching, The Purpose-Driven Church seems to be driven by the wrong purpose—namely, a man-centered desire for acceptance and influence rather than a God-centered affinity for truth.”

Would you seriously have us believe that Warren’s book and ministry better expounds “foundational theological truths that make a church more biblical” than say, John Piper’s (not a cessationist btw, but close to his friend Wayne Grudem’s teachings in that regard) R.C. Sproul’s, John MacArthur’s or Adrian Rogers for that matter?

Dave, at times, I have profited from what you’ve written on this list. Now please respond with facts and show us where Busenitz (and I) err instead of giving us a half-cocked diatribe and more hominem attacks. If I’m not mistaken, Busenitz is affiliated with John MacArthur’s ministry. I’m sure you would have disagreements with his ministry, as do I (namely, dispensational eschatology, moderate use of alcohol and perhaps, his

cessationism) but that doesn’t change the fact that Busenitz’s observations would seem to be valid, and that this ministry you cited has in fact been one of the most fruitful evangelical ministries in this country over the last 30 years, despite your dogmatic statement that it and others have “killed God” and have not and are not bearing fruit, and are “not doing it”. You rail against Warren’s critics because he seems to have had

visible results for the Lord. And I don’t think anyone would assert that some good has not been done there and that there have not been many genuine conversions. But at best I’d say that Warren’s books are milk for babes in Christ. And Christians really should lose their milk-teeth at some point, shouldn’t they? (I think Paul had something to say on that point 🙂 ) You talk about methodology. From what I understand, MacArthur’s methods to name one critic whom you so evidently despise) are quite modern, but his

message is not. Generally speaking, it is the same message that has been preached by the true church for the last 2,000 years. Is Warren’s? Where is hell in his message? It was certianly prominent in Christ’s. The deemphasis on hell and sin in Warren’s message accounts as much for his results than do the use of rock or jazz music, etc. A better and more biblical method is that employed for decades by evangelist Ray Comfort(http://www.livingwaters.com), best known for the book and sermon “Hell’s

Best Kept Secret”, and a charismatic too, if you must know.

Should evangelistic methods be examined in light of a changing cultural situation from modernism to post-modernism? No doubt about it. But this should be done with an eye perhaps to how the message is presented and at times by not using jargon, church-speak, etc, and not by a change in the essence of the message itself. I would submit that so-called seeker-sensitive ministries are on the wrong track, ceding too much to the world and the spirit of the age and offering a watered-down truth, if they offer it at all. I hope I have it wrong, that I have missed something or misunderstood somewhere but if you say that the methods employed by the ministries you tout (namely Warren’s and Hybels’) that are chiefly characterized by a deemphasis on sin and hell and that are very short on

doctrine are what is necessary to reach postmoderns, and that anyone who protests against this “kills God” and “is not doing it” unless they hop on the bandwagon then I do not hesitate to say that this is a doctrine of demons.

2Ti 4:1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ,

who

shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

2Ti 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove,

rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

2Ti 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound

doctrine;

but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers,

having

itching ears;

Rev 3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write;

These

things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of

the

creation of God;

Rev 3:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would

thou wert cold or hot.

Rev 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot,

I

will spue thee out of my mouth.

Rev 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and

have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and

miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

Rev 3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou

mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and

that

the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with

eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

Rev 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous

therefore,

and repent.

Rev 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my

voice,

and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he

with me.

Rev 3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my

throne,

even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

Rev 3:22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto

the

churches.

Here’s my response:

“Since your posting was a response to mine, the clear inference is that me and those like myself who simply desire to know God and to please him have “killed him” since I wish to, as the Bible commands, test the spirits and be a Berean. This is a most reckless and intemperate charge, not tomention uncharitable, to put it charitably as I can.”

Chris, this was an essay that I wrote about six or so months ago after I began to attend a “seeker-sensitive” church and was moderately criticized by some of my friends and family. It was in no way directed at you personally, but I do sense that I hit a nerve. I consider myself a “Berean” too and in no way meant to discourage Bible study. My point was that we have killed God’s effectiveness by shunning the move of the Spirit.

“My guess is that you have no familiarity whatsoever with the ministry of Nathan Busenitz or the ministry of any of the other Warren critics you quoted, but instead denounce them in much the same manner as you accuse Warren’s critics of denouncing him. They offered reasoned critiques (whether the criticismitself is right or not), sadly you do not.”

You are right when you say that I am not familiar with Nathan Busentiz’s ministry. I am familiar with some of the others. Most of the research was done on the internet. I never denounced any ministry other than to point out that they are not doing as effective of a job as they could in a postmodern context.

“I have no desire to be contentious or go ‘heresy hunting’ but I certainly think comparing ministries with the scriptural model can be helpful from time to time (but not very often, it really can be an unhealthy and unprofitable pursuit), just as we should examine ourselves to see if we be in the faith, while avoiding a morbid introspection. The thread to which I responded was by far the most popular one since I’ve been on here and since Dr. Gary seemed puzzled as to what all the fuss was about, I figured Iwould weigh in with my two cents.”

I must confess that I sometimes do not read all the posts and simply scanned the email and also added my two cents using an essay that I wrote a few months back.

“As I said, To say that is killing God is patently absurd.”

Not so. What is absurd is when a good “Berean” writes off Warren because of his success. Most of the people that I quoted attacked Warren because they said that his church and teachings were not biblical. I offer that Warren’s church model is the most biblical one that I’ve seen.

“There are many who have very fruitful ministries who have offered criticism of Warren and others.”

Again, when I said that these ministries were “killing God,” I was using hyperbole to make a point.

“And regarding Islam, many seeker sensitive types are very friendly toward it (usually characterizing it as a religion of peace) and generally shy away from the exclusive claims of the gospel, since they are fundamentally man-centered (can a self-consciously seeker-sensitive ministry be otherwise?)”

You claim that I offer no proof for my claims and you commit the same fallacy with this remark. I will say that when it come to my own church, Metro South Church in Flat Rock, Michigan, http://www.metrosouth.com ) that it is untrue. You call “seeker-sensitive” church “man-centered.” You first need to clarify what you would mean by a God-centered church. If my church could be considered man-centered, it is only because Jesus “came to seek and to save that which was lost.” If that is man-centered, then we are guilty as charged.

“Franklin Graham I suppose would be an exception re: Islam although I wouldn’t really include him within their camp since he is an evangelist and not a pastor. His comments in the wake of 9/11 were certainly a pleasant surprise to me and are apparently born out of his experiences in his humanitarian work in the Sudan.”

Not sure what this has to do with the subject at hand.

“You quote some of Warren’s critics, and instead of engaging them on the merits, you simply state they are wrong, that you believe most of Warren’s converts are genuine (offering no evidence whatsoever and not even a link or anything pertaining to Warren’s gospel, the message to which they responded) and offer only ad hominem attacks against his critics.“

Chris, how can I prove that Warren’s converts are legitimate? Only God knows the heart. If you can prove your converts are genuine, I’d like to hear how. My whole point was that Warren’s gospel is the legitimate gospel. He can defend himself. Read his book. One million others have. Are you one of them?

And how did I offer ad hominem attacks. I did not attack them. I barely attacked their ministry. I only said that they have effectively killed God (using a hyberbole) by not allowing the Spirit of God to move and by not changing the style of their services to reach more people.

“The Busenitz quote you include seems to be a reasonable criticism (I note thathe did not call Warren a heretic or false teacher or any other perjorative term), but your only response is to call him a fundamentalist, as if that perjorative term is enough to rest your case upon.”

Of course it was reasonable. And I never called Busenitz a heretic. Are you inferring that I did? As far as the term fundamentalist is concerned, I would not consider myself a fundamentalist even though I would believe essentially the same things. That word has become a negative word, even in Christian circles. The people that still call themselves “fundamentalists” are usually the people that lob these ludicrous arguments against Warren.

“Go back and read my post again, particularly the first paragraph. If this is the message that Warren preaches consistently, then God bless him.”

Well, I’ve already stated that I did not read the post and was merely adding my two cents. By the way, God has blessed Rick Warren.

“Again, I confessed in that post that I was not as familiar with his ministry as I am with Schuller’s and others, and did say that it seemed to be more biblically-oriented and maybe more exclusive (in the sense that it consistently preaches that Jesus is the only way to God, which is my sense of it) than Schuller, Hybels et al. even though Schuller was a mentor to and is a strong influence upon Warren. (Schuller has no problem with Mormons, Muslims, etc in heaven and said he would not be troubled if his grandchildren became Muslims.) In fact I did not directly criticize Warren at all, since I am generally unfamiliar with him. (I would add that he is unique indeed if most of his membership is made up of “new converts” or the unchurched because “seeker-sensitive” methods generally result in transfergrowth instead). But the clear inference from your post is that I have “killed God” (I realize it is an old article, but it was posted in response to my post). “

Chris, do not criticize my essay about Warren when, by your own admission, you are unfamiliar with his ministry. Please, be a good “Berean” (something you call yourself) and do your homework before being critical. I’ve spent years doing mine and, as a Gen-X person, have every right to be critical of modern-day American Christian religiosity that does not seem to have a purpose and is so disorganized and divided that it is not effective. If you want to make the argument that modern-day American Christianity is being effective, it better be convincing.

“This list is entitled Reformed-Charismatic, but the “killing God” charge issomething I would expect to hear from a radical charismatic, anti-reformedwriter like William D’Arteaga (or perhaps Benny Hinn or Paul Crouch), who embraces charismatic phenomena in voodoo, various cults, etc as being ofthe Holy Spirit, saying that Reformed people and Fundamentalists (characterising them all as Pharisees) quench the Spirit so He must manifest himself through cults instead.”

Hyperbole, Chris. Hyperbole.

“And your enthusiasm for Warren has more in common with Charles Finney and his belief that revival could come at a time of his choosing thorough the application of particular methods than it does with any stream of Reformed thought or indeed the truth that God is sovereign in salvation, as in all else.”

What? I never said that following Warren’s method would lead to a revival. I simply argued that his method is the most effective and biblical. Talk about your red herrings!

“You write: ‘My God is alive and well and continues to move and work in the lives of men like Rick Warren, Billy Graham, Bill Bright, Jerry Falwell, Adrian Rogers, Jack Hayford and Bill Hybels.’ I would note that all of these men are Arminian (nothing wrong with that, btw and I think Rogers isa good preacher despite his recent attacks upon Calvinism and his stated determination to expel it from the SBC). “

If you will notice, these are all men that came out in support of Warren’s book and ministry. That is why I used them.

“Are there no Reformed or Calvinist leaders in whom your “God is alive and well and continues to move and work?” John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul and John Piper are just a few thatI would commend to you. I suppose MacArthur and Sproul wouldn’t qualify since they are cessationist and tend to be critical at times of charismatic and seeker-sensitive ministries. I would note that MacArthur’s organization is the largest Protestant organization in LA county–so muchfor “frozen chosen”, and I would doubt that his worship service muchresembles his father’s (who was also a pastor) of the ’50’s either, he uses modern music, etc. Sproul has probably done more than anyone else in the last 25 years to popularize Reformed doctrine. Well then, I guess Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, John Wesley, B.B. Warfield, J. Grescham Machen, and Martyn Lloyd-Jones (he moved to an essentially cessationist position after witnessing the excesses of the charismatic movement in the ’60’s) just to name a few, wouldn’t qualify either since they also didn’t hesitate to denounce false teaching (and in some cases, questionable methods employed by otherwise sound teachers, as in Lloyd-Jones’ refusal to endorseGraham because of his cooperation with apostate liberals and RomanCatholics and thus muddying his message and violating the biblical injunction to be equally yoked) when they saw it…. “

You asked, “Are there no Reformed or Calvinist leaders in whom your ‘God is alive and well and continues to move and work?’” This is another fallacy. None of the people that you mentioned have come out in support of Warren’s ministry and that was what I was dealing with.

“Busenitz wrote: ‘While Warren’s book does offer some practical tips for making a church larger, it fails to expound the foundational theological truths that make a church more biblical. Because it overemphasizes the felt needs of unbelievers and de-emphasizes the priority of clear biblical teaching, The Purpose-Driven Church seems to be driven by the wrong purpose—namely, a man-centered desire for acceptance and influence rather than a God-centered affinity for truth.’ Would you seriously have us believe that Warren’s book and ministry better expounds “foundational theological truths that make a church more biblical”than say, John Piper’s (not a cessationist btw, but close to his friend Wayne Grudem’s teachings in that regard) R.C. Sproul’s, John MacArthur’s or Adrian Rogers for that matter?”

It is true that Busenitz’s criticisms of Warren are theological. What I think he failed to see was that Warren’s book is much more about church organization and his philosophy of church ministry than theology. Maybe to you the two go hand in hand, but to me, they do not. In my humble opinion, Busenitz did the same thing you accused me of doing: not dealing with the arguments. Chris, while you may be able to successfully argue that Warren is not as good as a biblical exogete, if that was enough to make a church unbiblical then we would all have unbiblical churches.

“Dave, at times, I have profited from what you’ve written on this list. Now please respond with facts and show us where Busenitz (and I) err instead of giving us a half-cocked diatribe and more hominem attacks.”

Well, you took my “God is dead” literary device way too literally. And, as I mentioned, Busenitz approached Warren from the wrong point of view.

“If I’m not mistaken, Busenitz is affiliated with John MacArthur’s ministry. I’m sure you would have disagreements with his ministry, as do I (namely,dispensational eschatology, moderate use of alcohol and perhaps, his cessationism) but that doesn’t change the fact that Busenitz’s observations would seem to be valid, and that this ministry you cited has in fact been one of the most fruitful evangelical ministries in this country over thelast 30 years, despite your dogmatic statement that it and others have “killed God” and have not and are not bearing fruit, and are “not doing it”. You rail against Warren’s critics because he seems to have had visible results for the Lord. And I don’t think anyone would assert that some good has not been done there and that there have not been many genuine conversions.”

Well, Chris, I’ve never seen a tree have invisible fruits. Now before you go mischaracterizing me again, I am not saying that any of the men you listed above are not great men who do great works for the Lord and that there have been some visible fruit in their ministries. I’m only arguing that Warren, at least in church organization, has done it better.

“But at best I’d say that Warren’s books are milk for babes in Christ. And Christians really should lose their milk-teeth at some point, shouldn’t they? (I think Paul had something to say on that point 🙂 )”

You’ve never read Warren’s book, have you? I would bet you’ve never heard him preach. It’s real easy. Just go to his website. His preaching is anything but milk.

“You talk about methodology. From what I understand, MacArthur’s methods (to name one critic whom you so evidently despise) are quite modern, but his message is not. Generally speaking, it is the same message that has beenpreached by the true church for the last 2,000 years. Is Warren’s?”

I never metioned MacAuthur. You connected him. Yes, Warren’s message is the same. However, you are not qualified to make such assertions because by your own admission, you are not familiar with his message.

“Where is hell in his message? It was certianly prominent in Christ’s. The deemphasis on hell and sin in Warren’s message accounts as much for his results than do the use of rock or jazz music, etc. A better and more biblical method is that employed for decades by evangelist Ray Comfort(http://www.livingwaters.com), best known for the book and sermon “Hell’s Best Kept Secret”, and a charismatic too, if you must know. “

Hell is in Warren’s message. He wouldn’t be a good Southern Baptist if it wasn’t and, I’m happy to say, the SBC wouldn’t have him if he did not preach it. Your tendency to talk about things that you know nothing about is pretty characteristic of everything you’ve said here. I think the best advice I can give you is to read Warren’s books.

“Should evangelistic methods be examined in light of a changing culturalsituation from modernism to post-modernism? No doubt about it. But this should be done with an eye perhaps to how the message is presented and at times by not using jargon, church-speak, etc, and not by a change in the essence of the message itself. I would submit that so-called seeker-sensitive ministries are on the wrong track, ceding too much to the world and the spirit of the age and offering a watered-down truth, if they offer it at all. I hope I have it wrong, that I have missed something or misunderstood somewhere but if you say that the methods employed by the ministries you tout (namely Warren’s and Hybels’) that are chiefly characterized by a deemphasis on sin and hell and that are very short on doctrine are what is necessary to reach postmoderns, and that anyone who protests against this “kills God” and “is not doing it” unless they hop on the bandwagon then I do not hesitate to say that this is a doctrine of demons. “

And I thought it was the doctrine of Acts 2.

Before I lose it, especially because you quoted Scripture at me, I will stop. Chris, if you want to talk about this more, you may email me privately, but please read both of Warren’s books and listen to at least one sermon of Warren’s before you do. I prefer to debate with a much more prepared person.

Dave M.

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