Monday, October 11, 2004

Purpose Driven Thinking

I'm amazed at the number of guys who get uptight about Rick Warren and his Purpose Driven Church concepts. Okay, so he's a Southern Baptist. Its as if Baptists are always wrong and we're always right. You know something! I suspect there might be a few Christians among the Baptists. Even Alexander Campbell was considered by some to be a Baptist for awhile albeit a "reformed" Baptist.

I don't agree with everything Rick Warren writes or says, but then I don't agree with everything anybody writes. Well ... yeah ... I accept everything the Holy Spirit guides but I don't know anyone outside of the biblical writers who can claim that! Rick, after all, is a Baptist so I'm not going to agree with his understanding that "baptism is only for membership." He sees it as the identifying mark for fellowship but he doesn't get it when Peter says "it is for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). I have to confess, though, that some of what Warren says is about as ambivalent as what a lot of "our guys" -- even the "orthodox ones" -- say about baptism. I've heard sermons in Christian Churches that left hard line "Christian Churchers" and hard line "Baptists" both happy. I suspect the same thing is true in Baptist Churches. I tuned in to a baptismal service in John MacArthur's church one day and heard candidate after candidate say, "I want to have my sins washed away," when asked why they were beng baptised. Now that doesn't fit my Baptist stereotype.

Here's the deal. When Warren started Saddleback he nearly worked himself into an early grave. His efforts stressed his marriage and almost broke his health. As a student at Fuller Theological Seminary he stumbled across a book entitled, The Church on Purpose. Dr. Joe Ellis wrote that book and Standard Publishing published it. As I understand it, Ellis' book gave Warren the seed thought that resulted in The Purpose Driven Church. Oh, by the way, Dr. Ellis was Dean of the Graduate School at The Cincinnati Bible Seminary and I don't consider him a flaming liberal or a hyper evangelical.

A lot of "our guys" see themselves as right and everyone else is wrong. In my view, part of growing up is to see that God created a lot of people and they are all different. Warren is right when he says, "If two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary." God gave us brains to hear, evaluate, and determine what is right and wrong when measured against the absolutes of Scripture. Just because I don't agree with someone on everything doesn't mean we can't agree on something. I find it ludicrous that the same guys who belly ache about Warren have also read Frances Schaeffer, John R.W. Stott, C.S. Lewis, and Carl F.H. Henry or Kenneth Kantzer. I gotta tell you, there are some in our own movement I respect a lot less than Rick Warren. Who you ask. Well okay, I am always a bit suspicious of the works of Mont Smith, Russell Boatman, and Fred P. Thompson and ... shudder ... they've been published by College Press.

Come on men, learn how to sift out the good and throw away the bad. Of course, that assumes you know the difference!