For The Truth

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The lighter side and fold-out donut trays

Before too many people land here and get upset; it should be noted that Todd Rhoades article, mentioned below, ends with “//satire alert//.”  That having been noted, the sarcastic humor of Todd can be used to remind us of two things:

  1. We must never be afraid to laugh and dwell some on the lighter side.  Even on issues that are serious.  After all, who do we think we are?  Often we take ourselves too seriously, and are not serious enough about God.  I remember when I worked for UPS, as a seminary student, sometimes the guys would cuss in front of me and then they would apologize.  I would respond, “Who am I?  Don’t worry about me, worry about God.”

  2. Satire being what it is, must necessarily incorporate something factual that is often driven to the extreme by sarcasm and irony to expose the vices, follies, and abuses in the world.

That being said, read the previous post and attendant link if you are ready.  If not, wait for some upcoming posts that are more serious and certainly more edifying.

KMart Seeks Revival: Replaces Martha with Rick Warren

“Fast on the heels of their impending merger with Sears, Kmart stunned the retail industry this week by announcing their plans to dump their longtime association with Martha Stewart and replace her with Rick Warren, best-selling Christian author of The Purpose-Driven Life.”


“Featured products in the collection will include a line of men’s Hawaiian shirts with matching khaki pants and loafers, personally designed by Warren for the leisurely, suburban churchgoer. Also among the Warren-designed items: Hawaiian print bathroom towels, Hawaiian print kitchen decanters, and a Message Bible that features a fold-out Krispy Kreme donut tray and coffee cup holder.”

“Nonetheless, some analysts have questioned whether this move will disenfranchise some of Kmart’s loyal customers who may not relate to evangelical Christianity. Lambert, however, shrugged it off. ‘Certainly the initial concern was that it might alienate consumers of other religious faiths. But once we realized that the purpose-driven philosophy didn’t rely on the Christian view of God, we were tickled to death.’”

The Purpose-Driven philosophy doesn't rely on the Christian view of God. That's a very interesting statement. What next?  For those who are interested you may read the entire article at Monday Morning Insight.

Surely this must be satire?

Hey, will they have Purpose-driven toilet paper?

Friday, April 14, 2006

Truth Doesn't Make the Cut with Rick Warren

I have been struggling with what to do with Rick Warren (that is, what to think of his methods/where to classify him).  It has been a struggle because of our (man’s) natural tendency to criticize and cast-through each other; and often those of us that pride ourselves on right doctrine have done so with the least grace and charity.

Now here’s the story.  Ever since I sat in on Dr. Paige Patterson’s class on the Doctrine of the Church and he had us read Warren’s The Purpose Driven Church with a disclaimer concerning some of the content, I have been a little uncomfortable with Rick and his model.  Don’t misunderstand me; I think there is some value in pastors reading his book.  The idea of trying to use it a cookie cutter to punch out clone churches has never sold with me, but it’s more than that.  There is something about his movement that has left me unsettled, but I haven’t invested the time to research him and his writings (I’ve been busy shepherding my flock, studying Scripture, and fighting other fires, so I have not had time to baby-sit Rick ).  Until recently I haven’t been able to put my finger on it, but something has been stinking in the kitchen.

Tonight was the last straw.  I was surfing around The Thirsty Theologian when I noticed a set of links under a section titled “Rick Warren & PDL.”  As I scrolled down, I clicked on a link titled “The Gospel According to Warren” leading to an article by Gary Gilley.  Gary notes that “purpose-driven” is basically “market-driven” and offers some examples of Warren double-speak that would put Orwell to shame.  Then this is what I read:
This brings us to his most disturbing alteration, the gospel itself.  To charge Warren with modification of the gospel is an ugly accusation, one that should not be made lightly.  What is the evidence for such an indictment?  Consider the following:
In the video that accompanies the “40 Days of Purpose,” Warren leads his listeners in prayer at the end of the first session.  The prayer goes like this:
"Dear God, I want to know your purpose for my life. I don't want to base the rest of my life on wrong things. I want to take the first step in preparing for eternity by getting to know you. Jesus Christ, I don't understand how but as much as I know how I want to open up my life to you. Make yourself real to me. And use this series in my life to help me know what you made me for."  Warren goes on to say: "Now if you've just prayed that prayer for the very first time I want to congratulate you. You've just become a part of the family of God."
Whoa!  Did I miss something?  Where is the repentance for sin?  Where is the reference to salvation from the wrath of God to come?  Did Rick Warren just give assurance of salvation to someone who (in their own strength) basically said “Hey God let’s hang out for a while”?   (For the entire article see The Gospel According to Warren)

It seems to me that Rick Warren has fallen off the theological mesa, if he has ever actually been on it.  Now this has not been my first red flag.  Over the past month I have stumbled over other disturbing details.  First there is Rick and the Evangelical Climate Initiative. Then there is was a FOXNews video of Rick where he answers a question about Muslims by blurring the lines between all religions.  (If anyone knows the video I am talking about and knows the link, please post it.)  The interviewer asked Rick about Muslims or Islamic terrorists and Rick begins saying that every group has its kooks: enviro-kooks, Muslim-kooks, Christian-kooks, etc. and never seizes the opportunity to give a biblical response.  Basically, it would seem that Rick might think that all religions are equally valid as well as any movement one might given to.  Then yesterday (at this point, the day before yesterday), at I can’t remember where, I discovered that Warren/Saddleback will baptize a person who lives unmarried with another person and believes that people can trust in God without hearing the name of Jesus, and they would receive the same forgiveness that was offered to Abraham. (see Small Group Information, questions 3. and 32.)  If there is anyone out there in bloggerland reading me, please give me feedback.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Sola Scriptura, the ECM and some thoughts

The following is excerpted (I cut off some of the front & the back) from comments by Carla Rolfe at in response to the many and varied (and some apparently not so nice) comments elicited by a question she had posted earlier asking “Sola Scriptura and the ECM – where do you stand?” To see it all in her own words, checkout her blog.

Sola Scriptura is not dependancy on the Scriptures and nothing else. Holding to Sola Scriptura does not mean we ignore what has been taught through church history, or what's being taught now. It does not mean we don't listen to Bible study teachers, or pastors, or lecturers. It also does not mean that we ignore what some might call our gut instinct, or feeling, or convictions about a teaching.What it does mean, is that all of those things; church history/tradition, teachers, preachers, authors, friends, feelings, experience, etc., must all be subject to the final authority of the written word.I believe when we treat the written word of God as an authority, rather than the authority, we're already on very dangerous ground. If the Bible is just another source of truth among many, that means there are many other truths out there outside of Scripture. If we feel or believe there are other truths out there that lead us into "genuine Christian living" then we're wide open to the teachings of other religions, other spiritual teachings, feelings, ideas, etc., that are not to be found in Scripture at all. I believe God is quite particular about what is acceptable to Him in the form of worship and Christian living, and what is without question, unacceptable.Followed out to it's logical conclusion, if the Bible is seen as just another source of truth rather than the ultimate source of truth, then what a person will end up with is a very genuine and very authentic "spiritual" life, but a very unbiblical one. They might be sincere, but they will also be sincerely mislead and sincerely deceived.What came to mind this morning was the dynamic of a family. Both mother and father are authority figures in the eyes of the children but in a family living according to the Biblical role, the father is the one in the family with the final say-so. If a child in that family has a request and mom says yes, but dad says no - then that's the final answer. The end of the road is with dad. This does not negate the mom's authority in any way, but it does mean there is an authority in that family higher than her.As with all analogies this one is likely full of holes, but I will only hope the point is made clear.One of the other very good questions that was raised in the comment thread of this question, was about interpretation. One may say he holds to Sola Scriptura, as well as another, but both may interpret the Scriptures to say something completely different than the other one. While this is obviously an issue that should be worked out with ample study and prayer, I honestly don't think it's as much of an issue as flat out rejecting Sola Scriptura in the first place. At least with interpretation issues, folks are still eager to turn to the Scriptures for their answers, rather than seek answers (and the wisdom) of men.Much was said in that thread about church traditions. Traditions are great and we've all got them. Family traditions, personal ones, company tradtions, etc. Church traditions are all well and good, as long as they can be measured according to Scripture, and found to hold up. For example, if your church routinely has a fellowship lunch after the Sunday service on the last day of the month, and you're running around saying it's Biblical, you're wrong. You wont find a dogmatic teaching on that anywhere in Scripture. However, is it wrong to have your fellowship lunch and still say you hold to Sola Scriptura? Of course it's not wrong - in fact they're great fun. But they are not mandated or expressly forbidden in Scripture, either way. The same can be said for birthdays, celebrating Christmas (I'm not about to go into all the arguments on that one), or even having Sunday evening service on the lawn behind the church. We do need to remember that part of our liberty in Christ (freed from the bonds of sin) is to truly enjoy life as a child of God, and not get caught up in our traditions as if they are iron-clad rules of Scripture.By the same token, there are in fact many church traditions/teachings that are carried out to this very day that are in fact expressly forbidden or contradicted by Scripture. Icon worship, prayers to dead saints (and that includes Mary the mother of Jesus), works plus grace, mindless repetative prayers, or mixing pagan religion with Christian worship. Trust me, this is likely the shortest list of unbiblical church tradtions that you'll ever read. I'm being brief to simply make the point that interpreting the Bible through these traditions is a HUGE mistake.A friend of mine's pastor once said something that really nailed it for him, and has stuck with me ever since he told me what his pastor said:"The Bible will shed a lot of light on a commentary".While commentaries are great, and I use them myself, they're not always right. Neither are church traditions, the writings of early church fathers, my feelings, your feelings or anyone's pastor.When I read why some of you have rejected Sola Scriptura, it actually makes a lot more sense why you'd be interested in some of the teachings coming out of the ECM movement. It makes more sense why postmodern philosophies appeal to you, even though you may not see yourself at all as a postmodernist.There is an old game called Jenga, that some of you may be familiar with. In the game of Jenga, if you pull out the wrong piece of wood, the entire structure falls apart - game pieces go flying everywhere and you've actually lost the game. All because you pulled out the one piece of wood that was holding up everything else.To me, that's what happens when the Bible is tossed aside as the final authority in a Christian's life. Discernment, prayer, wisdom, worship, study, influences, being circumspect... all of those things go flying in different directions and the foundation is wasted. How can there ever be clarity, assurance, and a solid faith, with so many different sources of authority, that in many cases contradict one another? The answer is simple, there can't be. And the result, is the very prevelant ambiguity associated with the EC. It's no accident that so many in the EC don't seem to have any "solid answers" for so many things, one way or the other. How can they, especially if they don't have one final source of authority that spells the answers out so clearly?

SDG - Carla Rolfe

Amen, and thank you Carla.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Inerrancy as a doctrine is about the trustworthiness of the source of our current copies of the Bible.  It is true that among the immense body of manuscripts we have today, when compared, we find variances in spelling, grammar, word choice, and even inclusion of passages that other manuscripts omit.  First, inerrancy has nothing to do with the variances we find in the extant manuscripts.  Inerrancy concerns the accuracy of the original manuscripts.  It is the confidence that we express that the Bible in its original state was without error.  That is, it was written as God intended it to be written.  This includes spelling, grammar, history, science, and cultural or personal influences and biases that would alter God’s intent.  Just as the real drive behind evolution is to do away with the existence of God and therefore our responsibility to Him as His creation, the real drive behind liberal theologians who cast doubt on the inerrancy (i.e. truth) of Scripture and the accuracy of its transmission from God to the pen of the biblical author, is a desire to remove passages that are at variance with their personal desires & beliefs.  You see, if the originals were not without error, then it wouldn’t matter how many copies we have or how much they agree or whether we could construct as nearly as possible the content of the originals, because we would have started with error.

Second, we have in existence so large a body of copies (actually copies of copies) of the original manuscripts that we are able to nearly (approximately 99%) construct the content of the originals (with a confidence of something near 99.999…%).  The surety of this content can be determined from the amount of overlap (agreement) between all of various manuscripts in existence today.  This confidence relies on the accuracy of the originals.  This is the point of the doctrine of inerrancy: that having a confidence in the absolute accuracy and truthfulness of the original manuscripts, the Bible we now hold is absolutely trustworthy in all that it expresses.

None of the doctrine or facts of the Bible rely upon the small amount of variances among the manuscripts.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Welcome from this Pastor in Alexandria, VA