16 July 2005

The worst of times: Evangelicalism in critical condition

With the wild popularity of so many evangelical fads like "Forty Days of Purpose"; the lucrative success of the Christian publishing and contemporary Christian music industries; the growing influence of the "emerging church" phenomenon; and a recent cover story by Time magazine featuring "The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America," lots of evangelicals might be tempted to think these are the best of times for their movement.

My own assessment would be that evangelicalism's spiritual condition at the beginning of the twenty-first century is reminiscent of the medieval church just prior to the Protestant Reformation.

No, I take it back. Things are much worse among evangelicals today than they were in the Catholic Church in those days. Modern and postmodern evangelicalism is just like medieval Catholicism was—only more superficial.

Think about it: Luther was provoked by Tetzel, the charlatan fund-raiser who went through Europe promising people indulgences in return for money so that the Pope could build St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. We've got at least a dozen Tetzels appearing daily on TBN, promising people material prosperity in exchange for money. Jan Crouch uses that money to make the sets of the TBN studios more garish and more gaudy than any room in the Vatican, and she has added so many tawdry pink hair extensions to her hairdo that it now rivals the size of the dome on St. Peter's.

Tetzel peddled his indulgences with trite songs and sayings ("As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs"). Modern evangelicals are experts in writing doggerel and banal platitudes and have even made silly, superficial songs the centerpieces of all their liturgy.

The medieval church was overrun with superstition. We've got people reciting the prayer of Jabez every day who are convinced it's a magic formula that will bring them wealth and good luck.

The Medieval church produced Niccolò Machiavelli, the cynical and unscrupulous political theorist who believed the end always justifies the means. We've got a host of evangelical celebrities with shady reputations, from Gary Ezzo to Benny Hinn. We've also got a thousand church-growth "experts" who insist pragmatism is the only workable philosophy for the church today, and that we will never "reach" this generation until we first study which way the winds of popular culture are blowing and follow along.

Evangelicalism as a movement has bought that lie. That's why we have so many Fad-Driven® Churches and so few where Christ is honored and His Word obeyed. That's why the gospel is not only in eclipse but actually under attack on several fronts within evangelicalism.

We don't need more hype and activity and mass movements. We need the pure light of God's Word—"the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises" (2 Peter 1:19).

The alternative is a postmodern darkness that is shaping up to be worse than the murkiest spiritual gloom of the Dark Ages. We could sure use a new generation of Reformers.


64 comments:

Jason E. Robertson said...

Phil, you are right and the apostle Paul warned us that the heresies of their day would morph into new and more deceptive heresies with time (2Timothy 3). Never has the Scripture been under more clever and fierce attack that now. Never have expositors been under more pressure than now (sorry Timothy). We must be strong and of good courage. Besides, if it were not for the Scriptures, I just might be intimidated.

mrclm said...

How about a list of the 25 most damaging "evangelicals"? I think it unfortunately wouldn't build others up, but we can probably each think of 25 and only have a handful in common unfortunately. This is why I regularly warn those I am in contact with of the dangers of these "ministries". The most dangerous lie is a near truth. It sounds true, where an outright lie often does not. The church needs discernment. The corporate church needs to hold individual churches and people accountable. The churches in Houston need to start saying "...here's why we're concerned about Osteen's ministry...". We all have to do our part, and need to remind others to do their parts.

< /rant>

Big Chris
Because I said so

Douglas said...

"How about a list of the 25 most damaging "evangelicals"?"

1. Rick Warren

2. Brian McLaren

so on and so forth ad infinitum.......

We are living in darker days than the dark ages. Scary!

Phil Siefkes said...

How right you are. Paul's admonitions to Timothy in 2Tim 4:5 in stark contrast to vv. 3-4, "but YOU be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." The damaging we have with us always. May we be faithful in spite of it. Thanks again. May God be honored for the wisdom He has granted you.

Jonathan Moorhead said...

Phil, how do you define "evangelical"? Of course this is the perennial question because of the amorphous nature of the movement. Some approach the question doctrinally, others socially. Do you care to outline some parameters?

Doug McHone said...

The 25 Most Damaging "Evangelicals" would be an interesting project. You'll never see it in CT or any reptuable Church magazine, as the workers who carry the most cash in from the field are given the greatest worldly reward. I believe Slice of Laodicea would be a good place to look for information to support such a list.

Ben said...

I move that Phil Johnson reprise the Martin Luther role.

mrclm said...

Is Phil gassy enough to be a Luther replacement? Not sure I really want to know or find out...
(see Justin Taylor's segment in Sex and the Supremacy of Christ )

Big Chris
Because I said so
mrclm.blogspot.com

Donnie said...

Gary Ezzo? I am a young Christian and do not know much about him other than he did a series on "Growing Kids God's way." Is there more that we should know?

Warren said...

Thanks for reminding me of exactly why I'm studying medieval church history. We need to look at the solution THEY came up with to see the key to solving our own problem.

Donnie said...

Learned Lesson: Look into someone's doctrinal stance by asking questions and researching. If anyone is interested here is a link to the situation between Gary Ezzo and Grace Community Church. Thank you Phil for this post. Informative and convicting.

Kurt N. said...

Rick Warren as one of the "most damaging evangelicals"? Sure, he's a peddler of pablum, and sure, he's got wide influence, but c'mon, he's reasonably orthodox and, though he's not got the best approach, wants to see the kingdom grow.

You could sure as heckfire do a lot worse than PDL.

dan said...

I see our post-modern culture as a huge opportunity, not a problem. I think Pilate-- "What is truth?" was the first post-modernist. The Roman elite didn't believe htere was any-- multiple religions were accomodated, but, as Augustine pointed out, none were believed.

To me, this is wonderful news for Christianity-- we changed that kind of world once before, so who would not believe we can change it again? Look at what is happening in Africa, Asia and Latin America. God is truly moving in the world, just as he did millenia ago, starting first on the periphery of the center of material power.

Josh said...

A hearty amen!

Kim said...

I'd have to say hands down that being introduced to the teaching materials of Gary Ezzo was one of the most detrimental experiences of my family's life.

ThirstyDavid said...

Phil, this is completely off-topic, but I thought you might find it interesting, as a Cubs fan. Today, in 1918 in the longest errorless game in history, the Cubs beat the Phillies 2-1 in 21 innings. They have not won a game since.

More importantly, this is Isaac Watts's birthday.

David Kjos

Steven H said...

Dan evaluates that postmodernism is "a huge opportunity, not a problem" for changing the world. As believers we need to be reminded that God's Word is powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword and able to cut through any ideology and philosophy propounded by the father of lies. In this we greatly rejoice and do not lose heart for the power is in the gospel.

That, however, is not the heart of our battle against postmodernism. Error is expected to be in the world, BUT it is never to be protected and propagated within the walls of the church. Paul warned the Ephesian elders to be on guard against false teachers arising from within, yet today's church is quick to support any one professing to come in the "truth."

However, by allowing postmodern ideologies to infiltrate the church, one is struck with the great complexity of deciphering what is truth and what is error since, according to postmodernism, truth can not be known. Churches not only need comfort in the fact that truth exists, but they need to be taught the exclusivity of the gospel. Churches are in great need to return to Jesus Christ, in whom is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

In the world postmodernism is to be expected; within in the church it is to be exposed and expelled.

Douglas said...

"Kurt N. said...
Rick Warren as one of the "most damaging evangelicals"? Sure, he's a peddler of pablum, and sure, he's got wide influence, but c'mon, he's reasonably orthodox and, though he's not got the best approach, wants to see the kingdom grow.

You could sure as heckfire do a lot worse than PDL."

Rick Warren is the most insidious false teacher in the church today, imho. He is the most deceptive at this present moment in time. He looks so close to the real deal that most people are deceived by his incredible amount of Scripture twisting. I am not joking. I see Rick Warren as the wolf in sheep’s clothing he is. With a nice smile. It is shocking that he is getting away with it! He looks so close to orthodoxy you would think he is, but he isn't. He is a very deceptive teacher.

Look at all denominations he now lists on his Purpose Diven® website will join sooner or later, what presumptuous arrogance:
http://www.purposedriven.com/en-US/40DayCampaigns/PurposeDrivenChurches/
PDCHome.htm

"........What we need is a biblical and balanced program to help people overcome their hurts, habits, and hang-ups. Celebrate Recovery is that program. Based on the actual words of Jesus rather than psychological theory, this recovery program is more effective in helping people change than anything else I've seen or heard of. Over the years I've witnessed how the Holy Spirit has used this program to transform literally thousands of lives at Saddleback Church and to help people grow toward full Christ-like maturity.

Most people are familiar with the classic 12-step program of AA and other groups. While undoubtedly many lives have been helped through the 12 steps, I've always been uncomfortable with that program's vagueness about the nature of God, the saving power of Jesus Christ, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. So I began an intense study of the Scriptures to discover what God had to say about "recovery." To my amazement, I found the principles of recovery -- in their logical order -- are given by Christ in his most famous message, the Sermon on the Mount.

My study resulted in a 10-week series of messages called "The Road to Recovery." During that series my associate pastor John Baker developed the participant's guides, which became the heart of our Celebrate Recovery program. I believe this program is unlike any recovery program you may have seen. Seven features make it unique:

1. Celebrate Recovery is based on God's Word, the Bible. When Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount, he began by stating eight ways to be happy. Today we call them the Beatitudes. From a conventional viewpoint, most of these statements don't make sense. They sound like contradictions. But when you fully understand what Jesus is saying, you'll realize these eight principles are God's road to recovery, wholeness, growth, and spiritual maturity........"
http://www.purposedriven.com/en-US/CelebrateRecovery/CR_News/
Celebrating_Celebrate_Recovery.htm

After 2000 years of church history Rick Warren has discovered what no one else has over the last 2000 years, the eight steps to recovery!!! Eight ways to be happy! The Beatitudes are boiled down to mean eight ways to be happy. That's the American dream isn't, be happy? Well now you can be eight times happy if you just carefully follow Rick Warren's Celebrate Recovery® Program. Lovely! Be happy :) Brudda! Stay cool man, just be happy!

Look at what it says about his Celebrate Recovery Program® . No mention that we have sinned against a holy and righteous and awesome (fearful & dreadful) God and that the wages of sins is DEATH!. Our sins have hurt us and hurt others he says!!!

Celebrating Celebrate Recovery
By Rick Warren

The Bible clearly states "all have sinned." It is my nature to sin, and it is yours too. None of us is untainted. Because of sin, we've all hurt ourselves, we've all hurt other people, and others have hurt us. This means each of us needs repentance and recovery in order to live our lives the way God intended.

http://www.purposedriven.com/en-US/CelebrateRecovery/CR_News/
Celebrating_Celebrate_Recovery.htm

Look at who/what gets the credit for changing hearts, from Mr. Bush!!!>>>

President Bush lauds church program at White House-sponsored event [Read more]
Mar 11, 2004
By Tobin Perry
John Baker LOS ANGELES (BP)--
President George W. Bush praised Saddleback Church’s Celebrate Recovery program in early March as a ministry that does what government cannot -- change hearts.
http://www.celebraterecovery.com/
index.asp

Rick Warren does not attempt to correct this falsehood but takes it on board. God is the only one that changes hearts and lives, through His holy inerrant word.

Rick Warren has stated that his book does not change people yet in his Purpose Driven Life® book he in fact infers that it does. He speaks with a forked tongue, constantly:

On page 10 of the Purpose Driven Life® he says: "One reason most books don't transform us is that we are so eager to read the next chapter, we don't pause and take the time to seriously consider what we have just read." So the inference is there that his book transforms! Can you not see that???? And Rick Warren is certainly not talking about me for one, I for one do pause and take the time to seriously consider what I have just read. He can speak for himself but he cannot and will not speak for me.

Rick Warren shares his heart:

"I'm in the life change business. I'm in the transformation business. You know what motivates me? – not size; in fact, I don't even like big churches. I mean, my favorite size was 300 people. What motivates me is that I am addicted to changing lives. I love seeing lives changed and that is the untold story. Everybody tries to attribute the growth of churches to everything else but what makes them grow – and it's changed lives.

http://pewforum.org/events/index.php?EventID=80

He says in the above he is addicted to changing lives, that he is in the transformation business, well with all the money he makes from the Purpose Driven® Empire you sure can call it a "business." Yet he also says his book does not change lives and does change lives???? Where does one stand with this man and his deceptive teachings, just about all the books in the world could not contain his deceptions and craftiness.

What pride and arrogance! He is taking the glory due God alone, for himself! Glory that is due to God alone!!! Rick Warren may just end up a little pile of ash on the ground and then blown away in the wind to be remembered no more.

"CALLER: Hey, Rick, congratulations on your book. But I have to take exception to your point of view about somehow that book changed Brian Nichols' life. Now, come on, I mean, the man executed four people. Any purpose that he might have had was lost when he decided to kill four people in cold blood.

KING: The book did -- before he answers, the book did help get him to at least calm down and let her go out. It had an effect on him. Go ahead, Rick, I'm sorry.

WARREN: That's OK. First place, I don't think that my book has the power to change anybody. The book does happen to have over 1,500 Bible verses in it that I quote, and I think that that has the power to change lives, and I think that's why the book is being used to change a lot of lives. Because I've just quoted the Bible. And honestly, there's nothing in the book that hasn't been said in historic Christian faith for 2,000 years. I just happened to interpret it in a simple way for the 21st century."

http://transcripts.cnn.com/
TRANSCRIPTS/0503/22/lkl.01.html

"KING: More with Rick Warren. He's on for the full hour. We'll be including your phone calls, don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SMITH: He said he thought that I was an angel sent from God. And that I was his sister and he was my brother in Christ. And that he was lost and God led him right to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Our guest is Rick Warren, author of "The Purpose-Driven Life," his first live prime-time appearance since the incredible Ashley Smith story. Is her fame an opportunity, or can there be dangers in that?

WARREN: Well, that's a good question, Larry. I believe that the purpose of influence is to speak up for those who have no influence. And fame is not for our own benefit, or notoriety is not for our own benefit, it's for leverage to do good. And I think Ashley is definitely doing good with her life, I think she is an inspiration for a lot of people.

You know, this was simply a young woman who was going about her daily life, and she showed courage. I'm sure she was scared to death when Brian took her captive and made her a hostage. But courage is doing the right thing in spite of your fear. And she, instead of seeing this guy as a monster, just thought, well, how can I -- how can I see him as a person? And as she began to meet his needs, he began to become more of a human being. And I think that's an example for all of us, that even the most monstrous person that -- I've discovered that hurt people hurt people. That when you're hurting inside, you tend to hurt other people. And clearly, he was doing that. He was lashing out against the world in a very dangerous way.

KING: It's got to make you feel very good and very proud, aren't you?

WARREN: Well, I'm humbled by the whole thing. I'm not surprised by it, actually, because I've received thousands and thousands of letters literally from all around the world of people's lives who have been changed when they discovered, hey, I'm here for a reason, I am here for a purpose. It has the power to change people's lives. "

http://transcripts.cnn.com/
TRANSCRIPTS/0503/22/lkl.01.html

What has power to change lives? Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life ® book!!! By his inference anyway. And this murderous thug was just lashing out because he was hurting inside???? Give me a break!!! A brother in Christ he said to Ashley and said she was an angel from God, great discernment he's got, after having murdered four people??? I would hate to have meet Brian on the street if he wasn't a Christian, I would think I had confronted Satan himself!

There is no fear of God and there is no holiness of God in the majority of the 21st. century church.

Please check all the articles and essays in here exposing the whole Seeker Sensitive, Purpose Driven Churches movement:

http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/
articles/topic/seeker.html

Leave NO stone unturned!!!

SoccerReformer said...

Interesting discussion to a much-needed strong statement. I see some verses quoted but the passage that comes to mind for me is Luke 18:7-8.

"now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"

Will He?

Frank Martens said...

Can I say that I'm surprised that a flock of pigeons haven't nested in that ridiculous set of hair yet?

That sucker needs some trim'n!!

mrclm said...

I think that gets the record for the longest comment I have ever seen!

Big Chris
Because I said so"
http://mrclm.blogspot.com

Ben said...

"mrclm said...

Is Phil gassy enough to be a Luther replacement? Not sure I really want to know or find out...
(see Justin Taylor's segment in Sex and the Supremacy of Christ )"

Good point. (That Luther chapter was an absolute scream.)

Breuss Wane said...

Is "Fad-driven" really restricted? :-)

David Kear said...

It looks like crazy hair is the prerequisite for getting on TBN. Maybe they would let Phil on if he piled on some make-up and made his hair stand by it self. Nah, probably not. Because it seems that you also need a clever new theology system or a carnival of the miraculous as tools to fleece the flock. “Evangelicalism in critical condition”, well said.

AuthenticTruth said...

Evangelicalism certainly is in a mess. The current phenomenon in evangelicalism today (Word-Faith, Emerging Church, Church Growth, etc.) are merely symptoms of a far greater problem; the Word of God has been neglected by the church and most of the problems can be attributed to this neglect. Much like Israel in Amos chapter 8, the church today has also neglected the Word of God and now there is certainly a famine for the truth of God's Word. While it is certain that we need a revival, it MUST be a revival that is marked by a REFORMATION - a return to God's truth AND a willingness and tenderness of heart to obey it.

JMFjr said...

Speaking of FAD DRIVEN CHURCH check out this
http://www.erwm.com/Orrel4.htm

Todd Wilken article.

William Dicks said...

Hi Phil,

Concerning Gary Ezzo: I have heard some things about him, but it seemed like a lot of hearsay. Could you perhaps supply me with valid documentation concerning him and his ministry? I would really like to know.

My wife and I did his "Growing Kids God's Way" which should rather have read "Growing Kids Gary's Way." He had many good ideas about raising kids, however, he did use scripture out of context on multiple occasions.

Thanks!

anoninva said...

Phil

To me it is less a need for reformers than a sort of rediscovery of reformation truth. And this I believe is happening, one person at a time. When Christ saved me eleven years ago, I did not of course understand the doctrines of grace. But slowly, over time as I studied the scriptures (esp Romans) and listened to good teachers like my pastor and also radio teachers/preachers (MacArthur, Sproul, Alistair Begg, John Piper et al)I began to see a difference in the outworkings of the reformed faith. On the one hand I saw the man-focused/seeker-driven mentality and "worship" ; on the other hand was the Christ exalting, God honoring and scripture-focused ministry and worship.

And I began to wonder about this difference and to read about the reformed faith: Pink's Sovereignty of God, J.I. Packer's intro to the Death of Death, etc. And I began to understand more and more clearly what the Lord had been showing me in His word. I am so thankful for the many articulate teachers who have unwaveringly and consistently preached and faithfully written and taught and disseminated the doctrines of grace to others. To them we owe a debt of gratitude and also of course to our Lord who continues to work to reform His Body, the Church. Probably 3/4 of the people in my church have come to a reformed understanding in the last 5-6 years. Just keep putting the truth out there!

By the way, I want to encourage you and others who have Christian sites: give the gospel periodically on your site or at least have a link to it. We say that we are both evangelistic and reformed but let's put our money where our mouth is. Besides, even some who think they are saved are not and you never know - the Lord could use your site.

coner2 said...

Anyone have any info on Joyce Meyers?

John Schroeder said...

Secondly, there are places where the comparison is not apt. During the reformation, there was but one spiritual authority, at least in the west -- the Roman Church. We live in an age of Christian pluralism. Breaking away, forming yet another church, does not in the end accomplish much.

Just one of the things I had to say based on this post. You can read the rest here.

centuri0n said...

Well, I'm not going to be a reformer. That would mean writing thousands of pages of exposition, practicing what I preach, and confronting error with both truth and love.

It's not the first two I have a problem with, btw: it's the last one. I seem to have a problem with keeping "the truth" and "love" in the same room -- if you ask the people who have seen me try, anyway.

But seriously:

Do we have to start a club to start a new reformation? Steve Camp is in, I am sure, but who do we reform? How do we reform them? The big leg-up the O.G. (original gospel) reformers had was that they had a central authority to protest to and against. You couldn't find a way to effectively (let alone efficiently) protest the avalache of rank stupidity and ignorance passing as evangelidom today.

For example, Al Mohler had the audacity and the guts to say that while John Paul II was a world leader of historical measure, we cannot say he was a Christian becuase of his errant views of, well, almost everything. I said the same thing in fewer words on my blog, and so did some much more worthy men. When Dr. Mohler was criticized for what he said, James Dobson would not stand up for him.

The crazy thing is that Dr. Dobson is apparently the more popularly-credible guy.

So how do we "do it", Phil? How would we trigger or take action in a way that actually reforms the church?

Jeri said...

This just in from the CENTERS FOR BEING ALARMED: Experts there have a huge telescope, and they have verified that God still sits on His throne.

Doubtless we are surrounded by ominous unbelief and sin in every shade, hue, and manifestation. Even worse, it is in us in all its horrible forms. Will these days be worse than the "murkiest gloom of the Dark Ages"? That's a very difficult level of gloom to quantify, and it also depends on where you're standing.

What we do know is that we must be more and more intimate with our God, more confirmed in faith in His promises, more aware of His presence with us. And the good news is: He has ordained that His people will grow in all three areas!

So I suggest we Christians learn our faith more and more, develop our writing skills so that we can express it better, and develop critical ears to hear the sounds around us and interpret our culture so that we can address people meaningfully.

After all, when he was being burned, Hugh Latimer did not say "Oh no, I am the highest ranking Reformer among the prelates, and now I am going to die, the gloom is closing in! the murky gloom of the Dark Ages may prevail if all us Reformers are killed!"

No, that's not at all what he said. Confronted by his own agonizing death as the flames grew around him, he said "Be of good comfort and play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out."

And Tyndale prayed, as they pulled the cord around his neck, "Lord, open the King of England's eyes." Did he know when he prayed it that God would hear him? Nobody can say, but we sure know that God answered his prayer.

In this world we can lose (in fact, we will lose) everything EXCEPT the one thing you seem to fear we will lose, Phil: the war for the kingdom of God. That battle has been won, and that victory is as sure as the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Reformer said...

Someone asked "how do we do it" How do we start a new reformation? Well, remember this, Luther has no real intention of starting the movement that resulted from his faithful proclamation. He was an individual who faithfully proclaimed truth and confronted error when he foudn it. That is what we need today.

You are right, there is no central authority for us to challenge. But we each have our own sphere of influence. We should encouragoe our own pastors. Proclaim the truth of the gospel. Point out and call to accountability the false teachers that are in our midst. We need the nerve of Martin Luther!

I also appreciate that someone pointed out that the most dangerous false teachers are those who look most like othodoxy. Though I do not question Warren's personal faith, his teachings are more dangerous than Benny Hinn. anyone with an ounce of common sense can see right through Benny Hinn. If I believed in reincarnation, I would wager that Hinn is a reincarnated Tetzel. It takes more discernment to discover the dangerous errors of Warren that lead people from the a God's Glory Driven Life.

Keep up the good blogging, Phil. You have a good ministry!

Ann said...

I fully understand why Ezzo's name is mentioned in the list in Phil's post, but I can also appreciate how/why some readers might not. For those readers who don't know the story, trust me on this: you don't want to turn this blog into one that devotes any time to the discussion. It's not worth it.

That being said--if you're still curious snd you have a few spare hours in your day: Use good ol' Google and search with the words "Gary Ezzo Grace Community Church".

anoninva said...

For info on Joyce Meyer and other word of faith teachers, see Eastern Regional Watches page on the subject:

http://www.erwm.com/Word%20of%20Faith.htm

Editor, Living Room Section said...

Amen! Hear! Hear!

Fads - humph.

My aunt graciously gave me a copy of "The Prayer of Jabez" by whomever it is (See Phil. See - "whomever".) by just this weekend. I've never heard about it, but I knew it had to be something dangerous since she attends a "prosperity" church. It breaks my heart to even think about it.

Habitans in Sicco said...

To the person posting as "Jeri":

I just listened to Phil's message on evangelical fads from the Shepherds' Conference. At the very start of it, he says this:

"I hate to sound like such a prophet of doom, and I assure you that I am not a pessimist. I'm a Calvinist, and Calvinists by definition cannot be pessimistic. Seriously. But because I'm going to sound somewhat gloomy, I want to assure you that I see the hand of divine Providence in the outworking of history, and I know God's purposes are being fulfilled and will be fulfilled perfectly in the end. I'm not a pessimist, but that doesn't keep me from making a realistic assessment of the distressing state of current affairs in the visible church."

I hope you understand that true Calvinism is not fatalism. Of course the truth will triumph in the end! In the meantime, however, even Calvinists have a duty to expose and confront and combat error.

If you don't believe that, then by your own philosophy, you might as well keep your mouth completely shut. I (for one) sincerely hope that you will.

Kurt N. said...

Jeri: I think I owe you a beer. What's a guy like you doing in this crowd?

Rick Warren's going to hell, apparently, though.

MTG said...

PDC is a crock. My Church if Christ (Liberal) sister in law gave me a copy to 'help me because I am 'lost' (translation Reformed)).

I had no clue where the Bible translations were coming from (since learned it is some goofy thing called 'the message'). Threw PDC in the trash after 6 pages.

What a waste of the two hours I spent trying to get something out of nothing.

YESSSSSSS to the post.

James Spurgeon said...

[We could sure use a new generation of Reformers.]

The Howling One reporting for duty, sir.

AuthenticTruth said...

Coner2, There is some information available at the Christian Research Institute website. Here are links to a couple of articles:

http://www.equip.org/free/DM472.htm

Joyce Meyer often shares the platform with other Word-Faith teachers such as T.D.Jakes.

http://www.equip.org/free/DJ900.htm

I am sure that you can find quite a bit more if you do a search.

Josh S. said...

Amen!

Now if Pastors would just start reading good books. Then recommend those good books to the congregation!

Imagine if every church member read just one good book a month. It's hard to imagine, I know. But if it could happened, it would be amazing!

Frank Martens said...

Centuri0n states: [So how do we "do it", Phil? How would we trigger or take action in a way that actually reforms the church?]

I state: It's pretty simple, continue to teach and preach the simple message of the gospel and let Christ & God do the work.

Josh S said...

Rick Warren is the worst thing to happen to the Evangelical movement since Ulrich Zwingli.

rabanes said...

Actually, let's see how dangerous Warren is and how fasle his teachings are—

you might want to read his Easter 2004 sermon. Does this sound heretical?
http://abanes.com/warrenpreachesgospel.html

And as for Todd Wilken, you can go here for a series of articles that show how he has taken Warren out of context several times and twisted what Warren teaches:
http://abanes.com/toddwilkenmain.html

And finally, here's what Warren says on the cross, Christ's death, hell, and sin:
http://abanes.com/PDLcrossbloodsin.html

My overall impression on Warren's attackers can be found here. The most Dangerous Evangelical??? No, what is the most dangerous is how so many Christians are spreading lies, rumors, gossip, and Urban Legends as facts just to condemn a fellow believer because they happen to not agree with everythng he says, and just because he is—GULP—human rather than perfect.

see http://abanes.com/warrencritics.html

R. Abanes

centuri0n said...

First of all, w00t to Abanes who is my hero for coming out in the CBA Marketplace magazine last year and telling Christian retailers they ought to be more discerning about what they're selling. Again I say, w00t.

Second of all, the "just do it" vision of reformation is, in the best case, problematic in the pomo culture we live in. I'm not saying "don't do it" -- but it seems to me that what the "just do it" posters seem to overlook is that this is only the *basic* proclamation of the gospel that they are talking about.

Of course we should be rightly proclaiming the Gospel. We should also be correcting the ones who are not rightly proclaiming the Gospel. But "reformation" is not just about fixing the body of Christ, one member at a time: it is about a systemic (not systematic) change in the body.

I agree with Phil's complaint, I applaud Jeri's faith in God's supremacy even over TBN and EWTN and over Zondervan, but I challenge all like-minded reformation types to get serious about how to overcome the sickness in the church when the church itself barely can recognize it exists at all.

Reformer said...

Josh s! Good point on Pastor's reading good books! Did you see the Barna Report a couple of weeks ago about Books that have most influenced pastors - PDC and PDL were 1 and 2. No wonder our churches are in the sad state they in. Don't pastors read theology etc... I dealt with this in a bit more detail in a post my Blog, that I right now shamelessly promoting! Check out my (very amateur - aren't all blogs) Blog sometime!

Frank Martens said...

Ok, I see where you are going with that. And that's a hard question to answer.

Douglas said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Douglas said...

"rabanes said...

Actually, let's see how dangerous Warren is and how fasle his teachings are—"

Mr. Abanes,

dear sir,

if you want to see how deceptive and dangerous Mr. Warren's teachings really are go to here "Seeker Sensitive, Purpose Driven Churches"

http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/
articles/topic/seeker.html

and read every single article and essay, carefully and humbly and prayerfully, with a copy of a reputable translation of the Bible beside you and Mr. Warren's very deceptive Purpose Driven Life® book and study study study! Perhaps God just may open your eyes? God willing.

Leave NO stone unturned in your search for the "true-truth" of the matter.

Also,

you may want to check this post out as well:

http://www.challies.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=14047#14047

God bless you,

love

Douglas

soli Deo gloria

rabanes said...

>if you want to see how deceptive and dangerous Mr. Warren's teachings really are go to here "Seeker Sensitive, Purpose Driven Churches"

http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/
articles/topic/seeker.html

RA: I will be dealing with this article in the future and be posting a response. But the existence of this artcile in no way detracts from the other articles I posted at my website. Have you read these articles carefully as well, including the many statements and quotes I provide from Warren himself? I trust that in your pursuit of truth, you will in time do so, instead of just reading one side of the issue—all of the negative articles on Warren.

RAbanes

dan said...

Take a look at http://www.kaleobill.com/archives/2005/03/conviction.php

for a Spurgeon like way of approaching how to deal with issues like Phil raises. I will repeat what I said above-- there has never been a more fertile field in which to plant God's word than the post-modern West.

cwv warrior said...

Whoa, I have never seen 52 comments! Excellent post though, so I see why. Tim kinda helped too, i guess ; )
This thinking is a bit like the theme of Nancy Pearcey's book, Total Truth. Atleast her conclusion is about the commercialism and games being played among ev. leaders to gain popularity. Well, i think you would like the book if you haven't already read it. BTW, Nancy just received a Gold Medallion which, from Nancy's response, must be a purer form of recognition and she is truly grateful.
Well, very nice to meetcha Phillip.
I'm impressed...52 comments...

Greg said...

Wow! Let's see a guy who publishes a photoshopped picture of Jan Crouch and he's our guide to the truth. I think you guys may be mistaking the counter reformation for the reformation. Or maybe you just miss the good old days when you could just take the heretics down to the river and drown them? Ha ha ha, nothing like a good ol' Calvinist revival meeting. Of course drowning heretics pales in comparison to wearing big hair. Yeah you guys are obviously Jesus disciples.
Greg Marquez
goyomarquez@earthlink.net
WWW.IVChristianCenter.com

Habitans in Sicco said...

Greg:

Wow! I looked at your webpage. No wonder you're defending the charlatans. You are one. You're not going to be anyone's "guide to the truth."

I'll tell you this, too: Phil's depiction of Jan Crouch is a lot more accurate caricature than your ridiculous libel about the Reformers.

So the discourtesy you took offense at "pales in comparison" to your own distortion of the facts. If we look up "hypocrite" at Wikipedia, is your picture posted there? It should be.

Beth said...

coner2,
Here's some info. on Joyce Meyers.
http://www.ministrywatch.com/mw2.1/F_SumRpt.asp?EIN=431382734

I've really enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts here, thanks for taking the time. And fwiw, I too think Ezzo has some real *issues*, and definitely wouldn't recommend him to any parents, esp. new ones, yikes! I never bought into, or even read his stuff for that matter, but I know people who have. And I've heard alot of grief from some who are recovering.

TulipGirl said...

A couple of people have asked about Phil's Gary Ezzo reference. . . More than you ever wanted to know about Gary Ezzo is documented at Ezzo.info, including the Grace Community Church statement of non-endorsement.

puritanicoal said...

If there is any question as to whether the "evangelical" church is in critical condition, have your Sunday School teacher simply read the table of contents of Matthew Mead's "The Almost Christian Discovered" on any given Sunday morning, and watch the ire of cheap-grace mongers rise.

Jeri said...

For Habitans in Sicco: Oh, stuff and nonsense. If confidence in God's purpose offends you, go learn your doctrine. I realize that previous Christians actually got to shed blood for the testimony of their faith, while we in our turn have to battle oozing, sticky treacle instead. It's almost an insult that while they had to confront men who could burn them alive or stuff them into iron maidens, we get stuck with Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen. Who knew that one great trial of the church would be silliness and faddishness?

But to correct you on your definitions: it is fatalism to look at circumstances and start prognosticating danger to an eternal purpose based on the current moment. It is faith to assert a Divine Providence that uses these different manifestations of human self-absorption to manifest outwardly the darkness we human beings house inwardly.

In other words, we look at these times of gross sin (even sins of imbecilic self-infatuation and thirst for every new thing that comes down the pike) as the evidence of what the Scripture teaches about human beings: the open manifestation of what dwells in the human heart secretly. We can also view the current gaggle of false teachers as a witness of the failure of God's people to know the Scripture adequately and use it as commanded to purify the church.

But even so, our victory is assured in Christ. In fact, Christ expressly said that the tares and wheat would be allowed to grow together until the judgment day. But nothing hinders His grace. Nothing prevents the union of Chris't people with Christ. Every soul who is saved by Christ has still been predestinated to be adopted into Christ according to the will of God, as objects of His mercy.

Our victory over this present world does not come about by counting up to see if we have more Reformer-type preachers than the false teachers have slick TV Evangelists.

Our victory, now as in all ages of the Church, comes about by learnng what we have in Christ and living more and more in terms of our victory in His victory. Certainly, lots of Reformed preachers would be a great help in that area. But let's not confuse the canteens with the water. The Reformed preachers are the canteens (and not the only canteens, mind you), but Christ is still that water of Life. Resort to Christ, and have His fullness be seen in you, and you become a walking remedy to the likes of Ezzo, Meyer, and all the rest.

Char said...

Hee I'm always behind on these comments.

I don't see our situation as being comparable to the Mediaeval Church so much as it is to the second century Church. Much of what I have read about the gnostic threat of that era makes note of the fact that it was hard to pin down and combat due to it's incredible diversity. It was a system that was not christian in origin, but attempted to make itself over in varying degrees and use the right terminology in order to subsume Christianity, just as it had done with other beliefs-and it was pretty successful.
To me, this sounds more like the Western Church of today, with the new agey stuff et al. Anyone else see that, or is it just me?

Well, regardless of how we compare to other times in Church history, I do agree we are in a sorry state. I have wondered 'where is Irenaeus when we need him?' And the only answer I can come up with is that it is up to us to take up the mantle of Irenaeus (at least in this) and fight!

Ash said...

Douglas, while I applaud the strength of your conviction, I question the wisdom of publicly defaming professsing Christians.

Have you considered directly adressing those with whom you disagree?

Shawn Wood said...

I am amazed. That is all I can say. People who claim to be Christ-followers spending more time bashing people and trying to reform the church (i.e. make it like the good ol' days) than actually caring about sinners. I have not seen such behavior since the last time I read about the pharisees in the gospels..honestly can one of you point out how you are being anything like Jesus?

Shawn Wood
www.churchblogspot.com

JubilationT said...

Does Rick Warren preach the gospel now and then? Perhaps. This doesn't negate the fact that he systematically waters down the gospel in the bulk of his teaching... OR that his book, "The Purpose Driven Church," encourages others to do the same.

He may have a few sermons here and there in which the gospel is taught. However, that's like slapping a bandage onto a festering wound, then declaring "See? There is no injury here!"

I've seen his infamous Easter message in which he supposedly preached the gospel. On the one hand, I commend him for doing so; on the other hand, I can't help but notice that this was written long after "The Purpose Driven Life" became a bestseller. Perhaps I'm being cynical, but this looks suspiciously like an attempt to defuse the claims of those who object to the watered-down teaching in his book.

Michellebelle said...

I have done extensive research in AA because my hubby and his family are in it.If he doesnt get out of it ,it wont be long before I'm a single mom.I have gone into extensive detail in my blog.
Celebrate recovery is nothing more than the AA cult repackaged with a christian stamp on it.Many think that Bill wilson was a christian .If you read his biography he boasts that he was involved in the occult and wrote the 12 steps while in a trance and speaking to a "dead bishop".Celebrate recovery twists scripture and is LOADED with unbiblical psycho babble.The recovery movement has become the churches latest vice,self help books are flying off of shelves in record numbers.Christian psychologist is like saying christian wiccan.Dr.Dobson has been caught multiple times in bold faced lies over the vaccine issue.He denys that aborted fetal tissue is used in the production of vaccines when it goes on all the time.He is more concerned with protecting his profession.AA,celebrate recovery,christian psychologists,its all heresy.