What We Learned From the Duck Dynasty Article

Well here we go again

Another crazy Christian is spouting his mouth off again, talking about sinners, God and being born again. This time he has a beard, rifle, and is from Louisiana of all places so, as the reporter alluded to, I guess this was to be expected right? A reporter with GQ magazine was doing an interview, and we all know magazines are all the rage now so this interview was of the utmost importance and the attention it has received understandable. Well, not really, GQ doesn’t even have 1 million readers a month. I know blogs that get several million readers per month and they aren’t even the most popular.

This old, bearded, crazy Christian is Phil Robertson, patriarch of the Duck Dynasty show on A&E that brought in over 11 million viewers for the season premiere back in August of this year making it the most watched non-fiction series telecast in the history of cable TV. Also, in case anyone thinks that belief in God is becoming a minority position, 80% of Americans still believe in God and a good majority of those people are watching this man’s family each week.

DD

That means that Mr. Robertson’s family is talking to more people with his show than are reading GQ and guess what? They pray at the end of the show and talk about their faith on occasion around making duck calls and shooting defenseless animals. Something clearly needed to be done here. Then an idea was born, let’s give Miley Cyrus and Rihanna a break and send a GQ reporter out to talk to this crazy guy. We can talk to him about fashion, duck calls, his family, and um……

Sin

That’s right, after some relevant questions about his hunting weapons, a page long biography, and interjecting Phil’s human anatomy breakdown into the article where it doesn’t even seem to fit, but was just too juicy to leave out I am sure, the reporter asked Mr. Robertson what sin was and he told him, primarily by paraphrasing 1 Corinthians 6:9. “Or do you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Guess what folks…..That’s all of us, Phil, the reporter, you, me….All of us

The reporter wasn’t getting it though; he says “Okay, so perhaps it’s not exactly shocking that a deeply religious 67-year-old hunter from rural Louisiana would have, shall we say, enthusiastic ideas about what constitutes good Christian morality”. These ideas didn’t come from Phil the crazy bearded guy, they came from the Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. They are located in the inspired word of God. Phil is just letting you know what it says without trying to smooth over the fact that we are all sinners and guilty of breaking the law of God.

Some people don’t like this apparently. Do you know who they are?

Sinners

We are all sinners but we are not all mad at Phil. If you would like to know why just keep reading the verses starting where I left off above. It continues to say “And such were some of you but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
Some of us are just like Phil. Wretched sinners saved by grace so we are no longer angered by our sins being shown to us, instead there is a spirit of repentance and a need for forgiveness, or at least it should be that way. Those who are not like Phil are justifiably angry after seeing yet again how they fall short. One thing is certain however, it isn’t the greedy or the drunkards that drove the network to suspend Mr. Robertson indefinitely. If he would have stopped there on the list of sinners he probably still would have a job. It’s another minority that draws much attention even though as of 2010 they were only 3.8% of the US population.

That would be the homosexual community.

I think this is the one part of 1 Corinthians 6:9 that many today would argue is not sinful and therefore shouldn’t be included. Sure, we can understand how the Bible might say an adulterer would be a sinner, but not a homosexual, they were just born that way and it is completely normal, not to mention according to pew research a high majority of people know someone who is a homosexual. Many self-proclaimed Christians take this stance; I have even heard this from self-proclaimed homosexuals that also say they are Christians. The culture is accepting homosexuality so it must be ok.

But truthfully, this is just what we as human beings are making up as we go along when we come up with ideas like this. Mr. Robertson is not making this up, he is pulling his ideas from the Bible which calls homosexuality a sin in both the Old and New Testaments. The Bible also says that if we are Christians we don’t continue in our sin. Mr. Robertson says in his interview “We just love em, give em the good news about Jesus.” Then the reporter moves to second generation Robertson Jep who says “we aren’t as outspoken as our dad, we just tell them what the Bible says.” So it’s not the sinners word against Mr. Robertson, it’s their word against the Bible.

If you say you are a Christian and don’t like what the Bible says about your lifestyle then I suggest you not take it out on one man and demand his job over it, instead you should try and get a better understanding of what the Bible actually says and examine yourself in light of that. Mr. Robertson has some advice for you “We ought to just be repentant, turn to God, and let’s get on with it, and everything will turn around.”

If you are not a Christian then your anger is understandable, but instead of going after the messenger, listen to the words of Mr. Robertson who once again took more language from the Bible during the interview but nobody cared to focus on this part.

“If you simply put your faith in Jesus coming down in flesh, through a human being, God becoming flesh living on the earth, dying on the cross for the sins of the world, being buried, and being raised from the dead—yours and mine and everybody else’s problems will be solved. And the next time we see you, we will say: ‘You are now a brother. Our brother.’ So then we look at you totally different then. See what I’m saying?”

The end result of this interview should not be highlighting the religious views of one man and suspending him from his job because you are afraid of what 3.8% of Americans will think, what a magazine with relatively few readers prints, and the money you might lose if a sponsor buckles under pressure to stop giving you money. It should be the start of a conversation between people over what the Bible says concerning sin. The reporter asks “What in your mind is sinful?” attempting to personalize the answer, but it isn’t about what is in the mind of Phil Robertson, it’s about what is in the pages of scripture that matters.

Bottom line is Phil Robertson isn’t a crazy old bearded guy, he is an educated Christian man whose life was changed by the Gospel and he wants the same for others. Does he say it in ways that makes everyone feel good? Not exactly, but the point of the Gospel is not to make everyone feel good regardless of what some might tell you. The point of it is to change you from a person who loves their sin to a person who loves God and hates their sin, just like Phil Robertson said.

If you are a person who wants the message to be a bit gentler and wants to listen to what this family is really about, listen to Willy who was raised by Phil and isn’t as rough around the edges.

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Nelson Mandela, Saint and Sinner

“I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.” – Nelson Mandela

Who was Nelson Mandela? Well he was the great defender of human rights against the evils of Apartheid of course. He spent decades in a prison for his stance against racist South African white leaders and then emerged as the President of that nation where he stood for peace and equal rights for all.
That’s the canned response I hear from all over the web and news outlets the last couple days as the world mourns the loss of a great leader.

And now…..The rest of the story

Was Nelson Mandela a great leader? In some aspects I think he was. He saw evil and he confronted it as great men have done through history. He was often humble and forgiving as President in his later years which is hard for powerful men to pull off these days. However I would not put him up there with Martin Luther King on a list of heroes as I have heard many do over the past few days. These were leaders that fought against injustice without resorting to violence or taking the law into their own hands which is clearly forbidden in the scriptures (See Romans 12 and 13). Bishop Tutu fought Apartheid in South Africa but never went to prison; in fact he roamed freely around the country with no issue while speaking out against the government. Why did Mandela go to prison for so long anyway?

The harsh truth about Mandela is that he decided to leave his peaceful stance against Apartheid in 1961 when he formed and led the militant wing of the ANC (African National Congress). Backed by Communist leaders, even though Mandela stated he was not a communist, he led terrorist acts against his government for years that resulted in hundreds if not thousands of African deaths, mostly among other black people. It was these terrorist acts that he admitted to and was convicted of at the Rivonia trial. In fact these acts were considered treason and carried the death penalty but the charges were reduced to “sabotage” and life in prison was the verdict. The charges were as follows:

• Recruiting persons for training in the preparation and use of explosives and in guerrilla warfare for the purpose of violent revolution and committing acts of sabotage
• Conspiring to commit the aforementioned acts and to aid foreign military units when they invaded the Republic,
• Acting in these ways to further the objects of communism
• Soliciting and receiving money for these purposes from sympathizers in Algeria, Ethiopia, Liberia, Nigeria, Tunisia, and elsewhere.

These acts were admitted to in part (he denied point number 3) by Mandela himself at the trial where he claimed to be sober minded and rational.

“I do not, however, deny that I planned sabotage. I did not plan it in a spirit of recklessness, nor because I have any love of violence. I planned it as a result of a calm and sober assessment of the political situation that had arisen after many years of tyranny, exploitation, and oppression of my people by the Whites. I admit immediately that I was one of the persons who helped to form Umkhonto we Sizwe, and that I played a prominent role in its affairs until I was arrested in August 1962”

He was clear in his statements that he didn’t intend violence but felt “morally obliged to do what I did” which was to formally declare that properly controlled violence would be allowed by the ANC and not punished. So he condoned violence against government on a certain level basically because the government had committed violence against protesters and he didn’t see how peaceful demonstrations could have the necessary impact.

To Mandela’s credit he stated that although he saw good in Marxism he was not a “Marxist” and held in high esteem documents such as the Bill of Rights and the Magna Carta and such institutions as the American congress and the British Parliament. His famous statement not many would disagree with and is a noble one for sure

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

However my question is did Mandela go about his struggle in the right way as the Bible gives liberty to do so? I don’t think he did based on my reading of Romans and other passages. In 1985 Mandela was offered release if he renounced violence as a legitimate means of resistance and he refused on the basis that the government would also have to do so. He was right that the government should have acknowledged their roles in violence, but Mandela should have stepped up and done so and repented of his own actions which I don’t know of a time he ever did. I think he thought his actions of violence were warranted and I don’t see any basis for it Biblically.
Martin Luther King said

”The method of nonviolent resistance is effective in that it has a way of disarming opponents, it exposes their moral defenses, weakens their morale and at the same time works on their conscience. It makes possible for the individual to struggle for moral ends through moral means.”

This seems to me a much more Biblical approach to violence perpetrated on us. Mandela said he had no recourse but of course we know he did because we have other truly great men to look at as an example and of course the primary example of Christ. From a Biblical perspective it seems that Mandela decided to fight an immoral government in an immoral way and that doesn’t work out in the pages of scripture.

It is also important to note that Mandela did not see himself as perfect or ask in any way to be idolized as he is. I think he recognized his faults and so should we. Not that we should forget the good that Mandela did either and bring up only the critical points like I also read in some blogs.

The facts are that Mandela was at times a great leader and defender of the human rights of his people, while other times he engaged in terrorist activities against his own people and his own government. We shouldn’t attempt to hide either side of the man or put him on an improper pedestal that he wouldn’t even attribute to himself. Instead we should do as every Christian should and judge his life in light of the Scripture even if it means we see the imperfections, and historians should not revise history to tell a story that isn’t true or omit things that don’t fit the narrative. Biblical history does not hide the evil nature of man even in great men like David because we learn from the good and bad men do. Nelson Mandela is no exception.

Specific verses on Terrorism and taking the law into your own hands as a citizen

Romans 12:19-21, Proverbs 6:16-19, Romans 13:1-7

Resources

http://www.britannica.com/blogs/2011/05/nelson-mandela-flawed-saint/
http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/mandela/mandelaspeech.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rivonia_Trial

An Interview With John MacArthur

John MacArthur answers questions with his typical Bold and unashamed style primarily on the topic of the false Church. Dr. MacArthur is not shy about dropping the names of people involved in the “seeker” movement, and exposing other religious systems and cults such as Catholocism and Mysticism, and explaining what he sees as the role these people and institutions are playing within the “false church”. He also explains what the biggest problem is in the real “Church” today and more. You will want to take an hour out of your day to listen to this.

An interview with John MacArthur

Piper Blurs the Lines Again….Lectio Divina and the 2012 Passion Conference

John Piper is a great preacher and thinker whom I have learned a great deal from. He also seems to be on a mission of inclusivity that has caused him a great deal of trouble in the recent past. The latest issue connected to his name is the issue of Lectio Divina.

On his website Piper endorses this as a method of prayers and Bible study. So what is all the fuss about? Most have no idea what the words Lectio Divina mean, just like the majority of people at the 2012 passion conference didn’t know what they were doing. However I have seen this sort of thing increase in certain churches recently and it does need to be addressed because of how it is being used and who is driving it. As the reader will see, I think that the real problem here is not that Piper is engaging in some Catholic/mystical form of worship and prayer, but that he is engaged with people that are without drawing a dividing line for those that follow him and others.

First we need to understand what Lectio Divina is and where it came from, then see what it has turned into and how it changed.

Lectio Divina means “Divine Reading” and it is an ancient practice that dates back to the first century as far back as Origen and Augustine himself. This practice was not just reading the Bible by skimming the pages but combining prayer, thought and reflection on the passages through slow, careful study. Obviously Augustine benefited greatly from this practice as both Catholics and Protestants alike point to him as one of the greatest minds in the history of Christianity.

We can understand what people between the 1rst and 12th centuries meant when they talked about reflection or “reading and praying” on the scriptures. For example St. Gregory talked about contemplation in the 6th century as “knowledge of God impregnated with love” and “resting in he gift of God”. From what I read contemplation and reflection did not strip itself of knowledge or the Biblical text in any way. Reading, praying, and resting in the knowledge and word of God was a given for Christians of this time.

In the 12th century a monk Guigo formulated this practice into 4 steps based on 4 rungs of a ladder that man can use to reach God. It is primarily this version of the Lectio Divina that you hear denominations and others referring to which is unfortunate. The Reformation put a halt to most of this in the Protestant world as “Sola Scriptura” brought people back to a “Bible Alone” mindset. Now with the rise of postmodernism we have seen this rise again with an emphasis on the 4th point of contemplation that fits with the culture. Here we find a very subjective, pious and often mystic form of contemplation that is not at all found in the writings of St. Augustine or others prior to the 12th century. It is dangerous because it takes the person outside of the Scriptures as they wait for God to speak directly to them through the Holy Spirit.

In my view, John Piper knows better then this. I have read his books as well and there is nothing like this form of contemplative extra-biblical thinking in it at all. In fact in his book “Think”, which is that latest one I have read, he confronts postmodernism, subjective thinking, and anti-intellectualism. This does not sound like a guy who spends his time waiting for the Spirit to put his imagination to work.

Yet there he is on the stage with people who are most definitely caught up in this mystical world of God-speak. He reads the Bible and tells people to then listen for Christ’s words. I have no doubt that he means listen to them from the scripture and gain your knowledge that way, if not then he has contradicted his own writings and articulated beliefs. However that is not all his stage partners did. Listen to Louis Giglio close out the readings after John Piper, Beth Moore, and others were finished reading.

This is the kind of language that is pious and disturbing. It tells the people out in the audience that God is speaking to them, and if they don’t hear it and raise their hand then they are less then the person next to them that did. There was no preparation or serious study that led to a deeper knowledge of the scripture that I know Piper wants people to have. It is an appeal to emotion and extra-biblical feelings that is nothing like what Piper or his contemporaries support or write about.

So here is the problem. It is not that Piper is joining the emergent movement, or that it discounts all of the great preaching and teaching he does like some in the reformed faith have charged him with. It is that Piper does not repudiate a practice that he has to know is not Biblical. Even later on his website as I referred to above he reinforces Lectio Divina with this description for the 4th contemplative point.

Contemplatio (contemplation). For the most of us, this will be the most difficult part, since it consists of silence and yieldedness in the presence of God. Comtemplation is the fruit of the dialogue of the first three elements; it is the communion that is born out of our reception of divine truth in our minds and hearts.

This is not what Giglio presented at the conference but Piper has nothing to say about it.

With all do respect to Piper who I have learned a great deal from, he seems to be on a mission to bring all forms of faith together by participating in events like these, sitting down with Rick Warren, and not drawing the lines where they are needed. This causes great confusion with his own flock and others that listen to him that now think that in order to be spiritual they have to hear the voice of God after reading a passage at a conference. He does a disservice to those he disciples by not calling these things out, but instead propping them up in the name of friendship.

This is not an attempt to bash John Piper, there is enough of that going on, but if he is going to continue down this road of “finding common ground” then he needs to point out the areas where the ground is not so common and repudiate error and false teaching when he interacts with it. Anything less then that is irresponsible on his part.

The good and the bad about Christopher Hitchens.

I liked “The Hitch”, I really did. He was articulate, intelligent and honest with a charming swagger that drew you in. He was courageous as well in his bold fight against totalitarianism that even led him to turn against some of his socialist friends who he saw as far too accepting of dictators, and far too compromising on issues for political gain. Personally I like people who are thinkers, they don’t run with the crowd because they hear something that sounds good. Critical thinking is something that is sorely lacking today in all areas of life. We want to label people quickly and assume we know everything about them by that label. Hitchens was someone that would not be labeled, telling you what he thought no matter the consequence or the label he might defy by his words.

Unfortunately he was influenced early on by a “Trotsky lite-Marxist” worldview that led him down a path of socialism and leftist leanings. In true Hitch style though he was able to break from the left when they did not live up to their teachings. He bonded with the left on their attack against Stalin and against the moral outrages of Hitler. He ended up with a hatred for the “totalitarian” that transcended politics and when the left did not adhere to this he broke with them, even to the extent of supporting George W. Bush and the war on terror.

He was not shy in taking his hatred of totalitarianism to it’s ultimate conclusion of hating what he saw as the ultimate totalitarian in God himself, referring to Heaven as a “Celestial North Korea”. There was so much suffering in the world that a God who was in control of such a world was diabolical to Hitchens, and even worse then Hitler as I heard him say on more then one occasion in debates against Christians.

Hitchens had read his Bible as he had read so many books. By his own admission he read many things quickly instead of only a few selections in depth. This allowed him to speak intelligently on a wide array of subjects but he was an expert in no one area with possible exception being literary critique. He knew enough to make him dangerous and this was definitely the case in regard to the “Abraham Religions” as he called Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. When he combined his cursory reading of the Bible with his Trotsky type worldview he went down a terrible path of hatred for all people or beings that might attempt to take away what Hitchens idea of individual freedom was.

Many people fake a belief in God to make themselves feel better. Others take an agnostic position of convenience to say that there just isn’t any proof or maybe they would believe. Hitchens would have none of this proclaiming that he would never worship a “vicious tyrant” such as the God of the Bible who was no better then Kim Jong Il.

I admire Hitchens for this. I am sad that he has passed without truly seeing God for who he is, but he was honest about his feelings as I believe all people who do not believe in God should be. They should hate God too instead of pretending to love him like so many do, or making up their own God that makes them feel warm and fuzzy inside. Hitchens cursory reading of the Bible was probably more then many Christians have done, so he knew what God had said and didn’t try to form God into something he liked. He hated God for who he thought God was and was not shy about proclaiming this.

Self proclaimed Christians want to talk about God on Sunday’s because they are told he had a wonderful plan for their lives and that He loves them. Then they want to forget about this God and have their freedom to do whatever they want to do the rest of the week. Hitchens would have had no part of this either. To him God was an omniscient and sovereign being that claimed to know his thoughts and his final outcome and therefore limit his freedom to act apart from that. He knew what that meant and he hated it as he should as a non-believer.

You see guys like Hitchens borrow from Christianity while they are proclaiming their hatred for it. Hitchens used his God given gifts to formulate a concept of morality that only a humanist could. A set of moral laws with no moral law giver. Purposeful lives in a purposeless world. He thought that having pure freedom to make our own morality and purpose was much better then having that defined by a transcendent being. However this is foolish as the Bible says it is when a man says to himself “There is no God” It is foolish because man is finite and can’t see past the present. If we make up our own morality then what is good today might be bad tomorrow. It would take a sovereign God to be able to see all of time for what it is to turn bad things for good. Hitchens could not see past himself to realize that without God there is no transcendent “good” and therefore holding Kim Jong Il to a standard of morality is impossible.

Christopher Hitchens brought much good to us, something the reader might be shocked to hear. He told us to think about what we believe in a time where many Christians and people in general don’t. He challenged the worldviews of others instead of letting them rest. He demanded that one have intelligent answers to questions of God and morality.

However he hated God.

His hatred of God was the bad part of Hitchens that flowed out of him like water breaking from a compromised dam. His thinking was backward in regard to God because his humanism sought to achieve precedence over everything. God was the supreme dictator that attempted to rule over man in what could only be evil as a slave owner is to the slave. However Hitchens missed who God is and because of this he missed who he was. His hatred for God blinded him from the true nature of God which is good and his humanism told him that man was really better then he was. Therefore God was the evil tyrant holding back man from what was possible.

Mr. Hitchens showed us how a brilliant mind blinded from the things of God operates. That our intellectual capacity to understand who God is does not rely on our own understanding but on God’s revealing to us.

Rick Warren’s real purpose and the problem with it

A little more than a week ago Rick Warren spoke at John Piper’s conference called Think..The life of the Mind and the Love of God. He shared the spotlight with some of my heroes including R.C. Sproul who is famous among other things for his “Renewing Your Mind” broadcasts. When I heard that Warren was one of the speakers I was a bit shocked at first, but then I thought Warren must have something beneficial to bring to the table on this issue so I should hear him out. I also am of the mindset that we should not be afraid to have our brothers who we don’t always agree with be part of what we do, so I even applauded Piper’s courage to take it on. Furthermore, I have even heard that Warren has called himself a Kuyper Calvinist and never knew if that was actually true or not, so I thought maybe I would actually hear something reformed come out of his mouth. 

Unfortunately most of what I heard was Warren at his worst.

Now granted, some things that Warren said were great, and I have always contended that Warren does love God and people are saved despite his error, but most of what was said made my jaw drop and I am left wondering what Sproul and Piper thought as they listened.

So if you didn’t hear or listen closely to what Warren said, he was basically in my view doing what he does best and is his true purpose. He was giving a motivational speech with some Bible thrown in to give it meaning to Christians. The problem is that the man is a pastor of 20,000 people and wrote a book that reached millions. People look to Warren as a Pastor and not a motivational speaker. If he was the latter like a Tony Robbins then I would not be so concerned, but this is a guy who leads a flock of people and who people look to for spiritual guidance. To whom much is given much is required and Warren is just not doing well with that responsibility.

So what did Warren say? Well like I said, in classic Warren style he says a lot of good things that are proper, but then he runs off the track in a motivational style, twists scripture to do so in many cases, and basically ends up all over the map from a theological standpoint leaving some of us scratching our heads. Here are just a few examples and if you notice there is one main problem that Warren has with all of these and that is the emphasis is mostly on man and his abilities and not on Christ. Ask yourself as you listen to Warren or read my examples, “Where is Christ in this?”. Remember that the topic Warren is taking on is “Developing the Mind of Christ” yet we hear very little if anything at all of Christ’s role in it.

Warren begins by throwing out some ideas that can be questioned right off the bat. “Whatever gets your mind gets you”, and “The battle for sin always starts in the mind”. I will just leave these comments for you to chew on because there is much bigger fish to fry here.

Warren proclaims that he has been studying the Bible on this topic for 30 years and found hundreds of principles but picks out these talking points. I give him all the credit if this is true, but how do you come up with this kind of stuff after studying the Bible for that long? Maybe Rick Warren is so spiritual and in tune with God that I just don’t understand him, or maybe he is not rightly dividing the Word. Let’s examine.

Warren gives 6 principles related to the mind that he says “have to be taught” for Christians to be effective. As far as I can tell he only gives three but first is don’t believe everything you think. On it’s face this does not sound bad but as he gets into the substance of this you will see the humanistic approach he exhibits as he breaks into motivational mode. He says at one point that “Everyone has a mental illness called sin” and that “If Satan can get you to believe a lie then he can get you to sin.” We see right off the bat that Warren has a different idea then Piper and Sproul about the sinful nature of man. Sin is not a mental illness and we don’t sin based on the results of belief. We sin because we are totally depraved before regeneration meaning we are corrupt to our very core. Even after we are regenerated we are still in the flesh and in a fallen world so we continue to sin thanks to the pervasiveness of sin that surrounds us. This is not some illness we can cure ourselves of by simply not believing Satan’s lies. Warren says that you can’t trust your thoughts because of sin, he says that we lie to ourselves and that ALL sin begins with a lie and if Satan can get you to believe a lie he can get you to sin. In Rick Warren’s world we can teach people not to sin by using techniques like not believing your thoughts. Where is the Biblical truth that without the Spirit we are powerless against sin by ourselves? Where is the BIblical truth that Satan would sift us like wheat if not for Christ? Where is Christ at all in this?

Number two is to guard your mind from garbage. Once again a very valid point, but here comes the motivational speaker either throwing doctrine out the window or at the very least jumping all over the Theological map from one confusing point to the next. He starts out talking about conversational prayer which is good even though I question his multitasking ideas, but then he slips into this idea of concentrated focusing and replacement thinking. He talks about how he has this ability to pray while he is talking and how he has become the ultimate multitasker and so should we, then instead of resisting bad thoughts he replaces them with other thoughts. There is nothing about Christ here, and there is nothing about grace here. You have the power and ability to just replace a bad thought with a good one if you can focus and multitask like Rick Warren does. He uses Philippians 4:6-8 to promote these ideas and says nothing about focusing on God in the process. What does the passage really say? It says to pray and ask for things so you don’t take your anxieties all on yourself but be obedient (focusing) on God in all things. Thinking about things the right way is not enough but where does Warren explain this? You can see that this begins as self-help with some Bible mixed in which is Warren’s technique, and if it stopped here I would have just been disappointed, unfortunately it didn’t.

Number 3 is never stop learning. Once again, I couldn’t agree more on the surface. Knowing God is vitally important to the Christian life and we are called to do so. He says to humble yourself which is great because the Bible says it is necessary, but then goes on about how he has done all these great things like baptizing thousands, and sending missionaries to every country, and reading all these books by Edwards and others which didn’t have an ounce of humility in it. I have no doubt that the missionaries he sent are temporary and leaving little behind and who know how many of the baptized are truly regenerated, but the point is there is no humility here. Humility is in people like Paul Washer who leads a true missions ministry where he admits it takes 10 years minimum to have effective missions. Washer speaks of observing temporary missions groups like these that have little to no impact and produce no true converts. This isn’t a numbers game or quantity issue but it is about rue regeneration. This isn’t psychology 101 or a self-help class. This is someone speaking to a supposedly reformed crowd, saying how much he respects John Piper, sharing a stage with R.C. Sproul, giving a motivational speech like he is at a pep rally. I can see why he can read so many books from Edwards in such a short amount of time because he is getting nothing from it and just playing a numbers game. Warren says since he has read all the books he can tell you the ones to skip over that are worthless. I wonder what books this man has deemed worthless that I shouldn’t read? Warren says that if it is new then it probably isn’t true. We should all take that into consideration when listening to this lecture.

He moves on to break this point down to 5 areas. Do we need knowledge of the Word and Church history? Yes indeed. Do we need to develop our minds? Yes indeed. Do we need to understand God? As much as we can yes indeed. All good things mentioned by Warren and then for the first time he talks about Christ and the cross and he blows everything right out the window. He is talking about convictions and says that Christ had the greatest convictions of all. He asks “Do you know how much Jesus loved you? He loved you so much he would rather die then live without you. He loved you so much that every drop of blood that fell to the ground was saying I love you I love you I love you” Is this the motivation for the death of Jesus? What does this even mean? Jesus loved who the Father gave before the foundation of the world and he died as the perfect sacrifice to atone for us so we would not have to face the wrath of the Father but could experience his love instead. It isn’t all about us as the theology of Rick Warren would seem to dictate here, it is about the love of the Father for the Son and how we can experience this love thanks to the sacrifice of Christ. Where is this message at?

Moral platitude after pithy comment after 5 steps to this and 6 principles of that with Bible verses thrown in to establish authority. Unfortunately it actually got worse.

Warren starts talking about how skills are needed by Christians to accomplish tasks. He uses a bad translation of Ecclesiastes 10:10 and claims it as one of his life verses. The ESV says “If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge, he must use more strength, but wisdom helps one to succeed. Obviously this is talking about allowing the wisdom of God to help you be prepared for what he has for you to do so you don’t rely on your own strength to overcome obstacles in your life. Warren turns this into a metaphor for skill sets and begins to talk about how prayer isn’t good enough because I can’t pray that something gets done and have it be done without having the skill to do it. That is a fine statement to make in another context if you want but this verse has nothing to do with it. John MacArthur has preached before to be very careful of making these jumps to sensationalize scripture and make analogies that simply are not there and that is what Warren is doing with this passage.

Next thing Warren tells us to write down is that we only believe the part of the Bible that we do. If he stops there I can let him go and maybe glean something from that, but he follows that statement with saying that we are teaching too much. He says that we are teaching people so much that they can’t apply it. I almost fell off the sofa when I heard this one. Not only because he just got done telling us how important knowledge is, but isn’t the problem that there isn’t enough correct teaching and too much false teaching going on? Warren says that the problem in many churches is that we are giving people too much application. No, the problem in many churches is that we are not preaching the Gospel.

Warren says that Jesus always gave the How to’s……Really? This is another one that I will leave you to explore since I couldn’t possibly cover all of the things said and I need to get to the big one before I finish.

Warren closes with this last point that he says is a big one and I couldn’t agree more. Warren says that if you are going to teach people how to fight the battle of the mind you must teach them how to let God stretch their imaginations. He goes on to say that everything that happens in life begins with a dream that someone had to imagine. So Warren believes that sin is a mental illness, all sin begins with a lie, and everything that happens in life is the result of a dream. He says that every church that was started someone dreamed it. The he pulls out Proverbs 29:18 to back up this assertion and twists it to fit the narrative. The verse actually says “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint but blessed is he who keeps the law”(ESV). True prophetic vision would be Godly vision and without this people become discouraged as the word restraint seems to mean which would lead to being out of the will of God and not keeping the law. Warren’s use of this scripture is probably his worst of all in this particular lesson and shows how people can use the Word of God for whatever pleases them at the time and makes the point that they are trying to make.

So why is this all a problem? I believe that Warren’s motives are pure and that he does love God so let us all get together and love one another in spite of issues we might have right? The problem here is that Rick Warren’s purpose is to motivate you to do something for God and instead of correctly dividing the word of truth to do this he has turned the Bible into a self-help book with moral platitudes and catchy slogans with five steps here and 6 steps over there. He is a pastor of 20,000 + people and speaking to a group of people who are looking to be fed spiritually by the truth and he gives nothing but self-help motivation techniques wrapped in Bible verses that are misinterpreted from bad translations. Finally his view of sin is simply in error and in disagreement with the Bible for one, but Piper, Sproul and every other headliner at the conference and this is a dangerous slippery slope that could potentially cross the line of essential doctrine and lead young believers and even non-believers astray.

My prayer would be that Pastor Warren would listen to his message and that those that surround him and have access to him, such as those in his own ministry and Piper and others as well, would encourage him to put the motivational self-help ideas aside and share the Word of God for what it is instead of seeking to add all of this nonsense and then make the scriptures fit.