Because “no one has exemplified the market-driven approach better than Rick Warren”, Dr. Gary Gilley uses this chapter to summarize what he calls “the gospel according to Warren”. Rick Warren is the pastor of the megachurch in southern California called Saddleback Church, and is also the author of The Purpose-Driven Church and The Purpose-Driven Life (which is the #1 all-time bestselling hardcover book). He has also been called “America’s most influential spiritual leader”.
Dr. Gilley presents the issues he has concern with in The Purpose-Driven Life, but also goes on to tell us of an article Rick Warren wrote for the Ladies Home Journal magazine in 2005. Instead of taking the opportunity to present Christ to a readership estimated at 14.5 million, instead he gave them five things they needed to know in order to love themselves. They were as follows: accept yourself, love yourself, be true to yourself, forgive yourself, and believe in yourself.
Dr. Gilley responded with these words:
“What a disappointment! Not only does Warren not share the gospel, the glory of Christ or any theological truth, he muddies the waters by offering anemic pop-psychology, none of which is supportable from Scripture . . . remember that Warren is not writing to believers but to the general populace, which he would have to assume is largely unsaved . . . Warren is doing a great disservice to the church of God. As he minimizes the content of the gospel, trivializes Scripture, belittles doctrine and replaces them with psychology, mysticism and worldly wisdom, we are reminded of Paul’s warning in Colossians 2:8, ‘See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.’ (ch. 10)
So is there an alternative to Warren’s methods and message?
It all comes down to one answer: it’s time to go back to the Bible.
. . . the truth that the church has to offer has a source – the Word of God. All the church does must emerge from the Scriptures. Every method, program, evangelistic effort, and message the church declares must find its roots firmly planted in biblical truth.
. . . Warren does not begin with the Bible . . . His church was started on the basis of a survey asking people what they wanted in a church. He quizzes the congregation on the kind of secular music they like and provides that kind of music. He starts with the felt-needs of people and then crafts a message to meet those needs. He determines what he believes people want to hear and then goes to Scripture to find support for his philosophy of ministry.
But we are not without hope in these last days.
Our pulpits need to return to the unabashed exposition of Scripture. Our Sunday school classes and Bible studies need to toss the manuals and guides written about the Bible and open the Bible itself.
That is incredibly profound, folks. And simple.
Yet how many are so unwilling to do it?