Relating to the Lost or Relegating the Truth?
By Tony & Pamela Dean
The present obsession of church growth disciples to ‘relate’ to the lost in order to ‘win them for the Kingdom’ is not only foolish thinking but a spurious idea fraught with much danger. Following their line of thinking, we must conclude that in order to ‘relate’ with the lost one must follow worldly trends. The Word of God clearly teaches that the wicked will wax [grow] worse, therefore the logic of the ‘relaters’ forces them to become more and more perverse in order to be seen as relative. Simply put it is Rick Warren’s gospel of anything goes – or as the Bible calls it: apostasy. Church buildings may well be filling to the brim but it comes at the cost of the truth because in order to present a gospel which does not offend the ‘seeker’, one must dilute or even silence the truth. There may well be more butts on seats but there are far fewer souls in the kingdom as a result of this man-inspired practice.
Pastor John MacArthur in his brilliant expose of the fallen church, “Ashamed of the Gospel’ writes …
‘The philosophy that marries marketing technique with church growth theory is the result of bad theology. It assumes that if you package the gospel right, people will get saved . . The goal of market-driven ministry is an instantaneous human decision, rather than a radical transformation of the heart wrought by Almighty God through the Holy Spirit’s convicting works and the truth of His Word. An honest belief in the sovereignty of God in salvation would bring an end to a lot of the nonsense that is going on in the church’.
Wise words, trouble is ‘an honest belief in the sovereignty of God’ has been replaced with ‘an honest belief in the sovereignty of self’. Author of ‘Running Against The Wind’ which exposes New Age practices in the Church, Brian Flynn writes …
‘When the message is watered down, the uniqueness of the message of Christ is eliminated. Non Christians may not like the gospel message but at least they will know the difference between their present beliefs and Christianity. As Scripture says: ‘For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18). Although the emergent church supporters see themselves as a brave cutting-edge movement, they are actually cowards when it comes to sharing the message of the cross. However, I cannot blame them – they have been influenced by a timid leadership’.
Brian goes on to point out that …
Paul gives this warning to believers in Rome, ‘Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord [Jesus] Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting’ (Romans 16:17-18).
reiterates a similar point in his letter to believers in
For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is their shame – who set their mind on earthly things. (Philippians 3:18,19)
The choice is clear says Brian, either embrace the shame of the cross now and experience God’s ultimate glory, or reject the shame of the cross by glorifying in earthly appetites, and experience ultimate shame.
So who are these emerging church leaders leading the unstudied throng into deception? The following is by no means a comprehensive list, just a few of the more prominent deceivers at work today. Let’s name some names shall we?
Richard Foster, Ken Blanchard, Tony Campolo, Rick Warren (Saddleback), Bill Hybels (Willow Creek), Alan Jones, Brennan Manning, Brian McLaren, Wayne Teasdale, Thomas Keating, Ashley Evans (Paradise Community Church, South Australia), Brian Houston (Hills Christian Life Centre, Sydney Australia), Barbara Marx Hubbard, Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland, Dave Fleming, Joan Chittister, Marcus Borg, Dan Kimball, St. Ignatius Loyola, Henri Nouwen, Eugene Peterson (Author of The Message Bible) Robert Schuller, Leonard Sweet, John Michael Talbot, Dan Southerland, Rodney Howard-Browne, Paul Cain, Charles Capps, Morris Cerullo ,Paul Yongi Cho, Paul Crouch, Marilyn Hickey, Ted Haggard, Kenneth Hagin, Steve Hill, Benny Hinn, T.D. Jakes, Rick Joyner, E.W. Kenyon, John Kilpatrick, Joel Osteen, Oral Roberts, Pat Robertson, Tommy Tenney, John Avanzini. C. Peter Wagner, Tilden Edwards and the list goes on and on and on.
Surprised? Let’s have a look at what some of these deceivers have to say …
Ken Blanchard: ‘Buddha points to the path and invites us to begin our journey to enlightenment. I invite you to begin your journey to enlightened work’. [What Would Buddha Do At Work? - Ken Blanchard and Frank Metcalf 2001 – [Forward]]
Rick Warren: ‘Ken [Blanchard] has signed on to help with the P.E.A.C.E. plan. And he’s going to be helping train us’. [Rick Warren November 2003 sermon at Saddleback Church]
Tony Campolo: Beyond these models of reconciliation, a theology of mysticism provides some hope for common ground between Christianity and Islam [Tony Campolo, Speaking My Mind, pg. 149, op. cit.]
Marcus Borg: The way of the cross, the way of Lao Tzu, the way of the Buddha, the way of Islam, and the way of Judaism all speak of the same path. All refer to the same transformation of self. [Marcus Borg, The Heart of Christianity [New York, Harper Collins paperback edition, 2004] pg. 216]
Alan Jones: I was brought up a fundamentalist, [people who believe the Bible is the true word of God] but it never took hold. God’s generosity kept breaking in. I couldn’t stomach the exclusive interpretation of Scripture, and when I was younger this caused me a lot of distress. [Alan Jones, Re-imagining Christianity, op. cit., preface.]
And referring to a community in Japan where a statue of Buddha sits with a young Jesus on its lap Jones says:
‘The image of the child Jesus sitting on Buddha’s lap appeals to me and captures the spirit of this book’ [Alan Jones Re-imagining Christianity pg 12]
I must add though, that I
don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherence to the Christian
religion. It may be advisable in many [not all!] circumstances to help people
become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish
contexts. [Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy [
While there is no assurance that there is salvation to be found outside of Jesus, Christians should not jump to the conclusion that Jesus is the only way to salvation. [Robert Reeves, McLaren Withdrawn from Evangalism Conference Lineup [Kentucky Baptist Convention, 2/2005]
It is prudent to note here that Purpose Driven Pastor Rick Warren falls over himself to endorse Brian McLaren and his maniacal theology.
Brennan Manning: ‘The first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer’ [Brennan Manning, Signature of Jesus (Sisters, OR.: Multnomah Publishers, Revised Edition, 1996, pg 188]
… choose a single, sacred word or phrase that captures something of the flavour of your intimate relationship with God. A word such as Jesus, Abba, Peace, God or a phrase such as, ‘Abba, I belong to you’ … Without moving your lips, repeat the sacred word inwardly, slowly, and often’ [Ibid, pg 218]
Manning’s guidance, which pretty much sums up the whole contemplative prayer movement, is nothing more than ‘Christianized’ Transcendental Meditation (TM).
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Matthew 6:7
Ashley Evans: We must become people of power and influence so that we can impact society for God. [Ashley Evans, Paradise Community Church Newsletter, 2004]
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
1 Co 1:27 [emphasis mine]
Not by might, nor by power but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Hosts. Zechariah 4:6
Like so many in the emerging church movement, Ashley needs a lesson in both biblical humility and Theology 101.
Brian Houston: "this book is all about…breaking the poverty mentality and becoming comfortable with wealth" [Brian Houston, You Need More Money: Discovering God’s Amazing Financial Plan for Your Life, 1999]
Wayne Teasdale: I would like to explore what I call ‘inter-spirituality’: a crossing-over boundaries that mysticism makes possible, and concrete. [Wayne Teasdale, Mysticism As the Crossing of Ultimate Boundaries: A Theological Reflection, op. cit.]
Tilden Edwards: This mystical stream [contemplative prayer] is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality. [Tilden Edwards, Spiritual Friend [New York; Paulist Press, 1980, pp. 162-163]
Barbara Marx Hubbard: [Claiming revelations from Christ] The church is the body of believers who are conscious of being me. [Barbara Marx Hubbard, The Revelation, Ibid]
I did not intend for you to deify me, but to deify yourselves [Ibid pg. 18]
Barbara Marx Hubbard describes a time when a communication method shared by many faiths will allow all people to experience a ‘Planetary Pentecost’. Hubbard says this ‘Pentecost’ will unite humanity through the realization that all have divinity within. Asks author Brian Flynn ‘Will mantra meditation [contemplative prayer] be that method to bring about this supposed world unity? And if so, will certain Christian leaders who are going full steam ahead with their own global peace plans fall prey to Hubbard’s global plan?’. Brian Flynn continues, ‘Discerning believers must sit up and take notice. If Satan could create a communication method shared by many different faiths and make all of them believe that the voices they hear are of God, think of the opportunities for deception that could result. I fear that he has already created it through contemplative prayer, and he merely needs more participants.’ [Brian Flynn, Running Against the Wind Second Edition, Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2007 pg. 192]
Joan Chittister: Shame, shame,
shame on those who mask as good what in reality is simply a new kind of human
way to make ourselves ‘like gods’ when we are all taught that what we are
really supposed to be are other Christs. [Joan Chittister, We Have Something to Be
Ashamed of: but What Is It?, National Catholic
Reporter, Volume 2, Number 8,
This is just a smattering of the wacky theology embraced by those in the emerging / church growth movement. That witless Christians get sucked into this almost staggers my imagination, though it is fair to say in their defense that the author of this is known in Scripture as ‘The Deceiver’ and that of course is Satan. The only defense against his wiles is the fervent study and application of Scripture. Do not leave it to your pastor alone for he may well have already been seduced into growing his church by Satan’s method. There is only one infallible source of truth, and that is the Word of God. Please remember that Satan’s objective is to build a counterfeit church. One which the Bible describes as a whore. A whore is an unfaithful bride with many lovers, a seductress whose smooth words lead those who would be led, astray. Spiritually speaking she embraces many faiths, creeds and doctrines, and calls them all her lovers. She has spiritual AIDS and is beyond restoration. That is why the Bible clearly commands those who belong to the Savior come out and be separate from her lest they share in her judgment.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 2 Corinthians 6:17
In His Everlasting Embrace,
Tony and Pamela Dean
Directors Moriah Ministries Australia