Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Watered-down Gospel

Halfway through an article about Rick Warren's McCain/Obama debate, there was this interesting quote.

Faith and Action president Rob Schenck said there is a wide concern that California mega-church pastor and The Purpose Driven Life author Rick Warren's approach to the proclamation of the gospel is a "downgraded" version.

"Adapted to be perhaps less offensive or less exclusive, maybe more culturally popular or easy to embrace," Schenk contends. "When in fact, by doing that, Pastor Warren threatens to neutralize the very message of the gospel."

That is one of the things that makes me nervous about my church. While I wouldn't call the sermons fluff, I do sometimes wonder if we expect too little of people. Brett and Alex Harris have championed the "Do Hard Things" motto to teens, but doesn't it apply to us all? And didn't Jesus say that we should count the cost before following him? So I would like to know what you all think. So I am trying a little survey.
Click Here to take survey

Update: I just read an article recommended by Jeana at Laugh at the Days that deals with this issue. Here is a quote.

A few years ago I spoke to a pastor of a small church that had been formed largely on the basis of Purpose Driven principles. I asked what their discipleship process involved. I was shocked when the pastor told me, without any remorse, that “if you are really looking to grow as a Christian this isn’t the church for you.” He went on to explain that his church was geared almost entirely towards evangelism. The Sunday morning services were stripped of almost anything that might offend: congregational prayer, the celebration of the Lord’s Supper and so on. The music was done in the style of what was most popular in the town (or what had been most popular in that town in the 80’s) and the preaching always presupposed almost no knowledge of biblical principles. There was a small amount of discipleship training, but only on a very basic level. In other words, this church was driven by unbelievers. Their tastes, their likes and dislikes and their desires were considered the foundation for all the church was and did.

What the blogger calls evangelism, I would call acceptance. To me true evangelism is not only introducing people to Jesus, but also discipleship and helping them transform through the power of the Holy Spirit. True evangelism doesn't end at baptism.


onemom said...

Francis - I saw what Warren's program can do to a church first hand. The church was torn asunder. People who had worked side by side for decades spreading the gospel of Christ no longer speak to each other.

I don't usually leave such long comments, but I want to give you the words to a song by Michael Card, called Scandalon:

The seers and the prophets had foretold it long ago
That the long awaited one would make men stumble.
But they were looking for a king to conquer and to kill
Who'd have ever thought He'd be so meek and humble

He will be the truth that will offend them one and all
A stone that makes men stumble
And a rock that makes them fall
Many will be broken so that He can make them whole
And many will be crushed and lose their own soul
Along the path of life there lies a stubborn Scandalon
And all who come this way must be offended
To some He is a barrier, To others He's the way
For all should know the scandal of believing

It seems today the Scandalon offends no one at all
The image we present can be stepped over
Could it be that we are like the others long ago
Will we ever learn that all who come must stumble<<

The last verse about the image we present today is very pertinent to what Warren is doing to the gospel.

I leave you with a couple of links to other sites that talk about this.



Applied Christianity said...

Thanks for the song and the links. I especially liked that last verse, and I will check out the links.

Raymond V Banner said...

Interpretations and controversy over the proper presentation of the gospel, Biblical doctrine and the lifestyle that should be expected of Christians goes clear back to New Testament times. Even sincere Christians who seemingly desire to seek and follow truth in both doctrine and practical holiness of life have their differences.

It seems to me that the desire and will to follow truth in both belief and practice, to walk in the light to the best of our knowledge and ability, should always be our goal.

There are, I think, certain basic truths of the Christian faith that must be held firmly, among which are that Christ, the eternal Son of God was born of a virgin as true man and true God, that He lived a perfect life on earth, that He shed His blood and died on the cross as the only means of man's salvation through faith in His substitutionary atonement for us, that Christ literally rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and that at some future point He will return to earth to judge the world and restore a new heaven and a new earth.

I think all Christians should desire to do and live the will of God in their own lives, to have a personal goal of loving and serving God and others and desiring
to live righteous lives, and not attempting to see how much compromise they can get by with, though we obviously are limited by our human frailties.

When preachers, teachers and individual believers ignore or become ashamed of the message of redemption and discipleship contained in the message of the cross of Christ and fail to make it and the other great doctrines of the Christian faith as central--then I think it is a cause of alarm.

On a politically related issue, I think when "Christian" spokespersons ignore or downplay basic moral/cultural/Biblical issues such as abortion and proper sexual commitment and practice and begin seeking approval by those promoting secular humanistic issues such as global warming (a generation ago it was a coming new ice age), and secular utopian theories, that it is a warning signal of departure from both the gospel and practical human sense and sound political sense.

Applied Christianity said...


As usual, it is nice to hear from you. A well thought out post.