Monday, March 7, 2011

A Failure To Understand Biblical Repentance - Rick Warren's Sermon At Desiring God (Part 15)

Currently, Rick Warren's church (Saddleback) is making a brazen public display of the lousy way they handle Scripture. Their new craze - The Daniel Plan - is an absolute theological farce and a worthy candidate for my "Lame Attempts At Relevance" series. One can only wonder whether any of the people who promote the Daniel Plan have actually read the first chapter of Daniel.

This Daniel Plan is a weight loss initiative based upon Daniel's dietary intake found in the first chapter of the book Daniel. I'll let Rick Warren elaborate:

The Daniel Plan, based on the prophet Daniel who chose healthy eating instead of the king's rich foods, is a yearlong, churchwide program to help the Saddleback parishoners get physically healthier. "The Bible says that God wants you to be as healthy physically as you are spiritually," said Warren in a video announcing the event. "The plan will help you feel better, look better, have more energy, get in shape, and use your body the way God wants you to. (online source)

Am I opposed to healthy eating or weight loss - no. But I am opposed to anyone who tries to invent a biblical basis for a weight loss program based upon a part of Scripture that has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with weight loss and healthy eating. In fact, just the opposite is the case. Daniel's choice to not eat the kings meat but only stick to the vegies was something meant to point to God's supernatural sustenance in the face of an inadequate diet. Go back and read Daniel 1 and see for yourself.

This does not even warrant lengthy discussion but it is actually quite funny to examine a few of the facts from Scripture:

1. Jesus did not subscribe to the "Daniel diet". He ate meat (eg fish and the passover lamb)and possibly drank wine (I know that's a debate in itself).
2. This "Daniel diet" appears nowhere else in Scripture - because it is not a diet, it is a step of faith to trust in God's sustaining power.
3. Did Daniel lose weight while he was on this diet? I'll let Daniel 1:15 answer this question:

At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king's food (Daniel 1:15).

Hey, if there's a buck to be made by finding weight loss programs in the book of Daniel then I think I've found two more to put on the market. How about "The Lion's Den Diet" - pray that God will shut your mouth so that you cannot eat anything. We could also sell "The Nebuchadnezzar Diet" - go crazy and spend seven years grazing like an ox eating grass. Guaranteed weight loss or your money back!

And Warren has the gall to tell his audience that they need to buy a copy of "Warren's Bible Study Methods". The Daniel Plan is a huge advertisement for Warren's lousy Bible study methods. And in the video that follows (the closing part of his Desiring God sermon) we get another clear advertisment.

The following commentary corresponds to the following video from 54:13 to FINISH

More of the usual from America's Pastor here. Moralistic, five more things to remember on top of the other fifty million things, and some amazing Yoda like wisdom - "those of you who are doers need to think more and those of you who are thinkers you need to do more". This stuff isn't really worth talking about for the umpteenth time, but one glaring statment demands a response. In this section of video Warren claims that repentance is only a change of mind and not a change of actions. And Rick, if you took a look in your Bible, you wouldn't need to go and check your "Greek Lexicon".

Jesus Himself told the church at Ephesus:

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent (Revelation 2:5).

Hands up those who think Jesus was telling the church members in Ephesus to only change their minds here? If you go on and read all of Jesus' letters to the seven churches you will see five calls to repentance which CLEARLY imply the need to stop practicing the sins that they were doing at that time. I could list countless Scriptures that reinforce this point but the fact that this is the common understanding of repentance throughout church history (not to mention the Bible writers) tells me that this simple point warrants little defence or discussion. But for the sake of nailing the point I'll mention just a few more.

John the Baptist when preaching his message of repentance actually gave the crowds some application of what biblical repentance really means:

He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." And the crowds asked him, "What then shall we do?" And he answered them, "Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise." Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Collect no more than you are authorized to do." Soldiers also asked him, "And we, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages." (Luke 3:7-14)

So here we see John the Baptist clearly expecting an outward change of action that demonstrates true repentance. Ezekiel also, when describing conversion, gives a great illustration of what true repentance is and the Sovereign role of the Holy Spirit in this process:

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules . . . Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. (Ezekiel 36:26-27,31)

Here we see that it is the Holy Spirit that regenerates those who are dead in sin causing them to turn in faith towards Christ and, hence, away from their former carnal lives. We also see the Holy Spirit working genuine contrition and godly sorrow in the lives of those whom He regenerates. And finally, to show that this is how repentance has been clearly understood throughout church history, Chapter 15 Article II from the Westminster Confession, when describing repentance, says:

By it a sinner, out of the sight and sense, not only of the danger, but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, as contrary to the holy nature and righteous law of God, and upon the apprehension of his mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, so grieves for, and hates his sins, as to turn from them all unto God, purposing and endeavoring to walk with him in all the ways of his commandments (emphasis mine).

If you asked Rick Warren he would tell you that he does preach repentance. But this highlights our need to always ask people to define their terms of reference when they affirm a doctrine or creed. How can he preach repentance rightly when he has wrongly redefined what it means biblically (this is just like when Rob Bell "affirms the message of the Bible").

At the heart of all these problems lies the common thread that ran through the entirity of this sermon. Rick Warren's absolute failure to understand or articulate the Gospel and the true nature of biblical conversion. And teaching this false view of repentance is a deadly doctrine that has given false assurance to many a false convert or "carnal christian". John's first Epistle makes it clear that those who continue in their old sinful lifestyle are not converted and are of the devil (1 John 3:4-10). This is not to say that Christians don't sin, but rather there is a big difference between warring against sin or dancing with sin.

Overall, I am so grieved and angry that this farce of a sermon ever received airtime at a conference that is known for fine biblical exposition. What a tragedy that Rick Warren has managed to gain some legitimacy in places where he should have remained an outsider.

I will wrap this all up on Friday when I will show the video that made me cry . . .

Go On To Part 16
Go Back To Part 14
Go Back To Part 1


Randy said...

Thank you so much for your intense look into Warren's speech. My question to you my discerning brother in Christ is this: Why are none of these high-profile pastors speaking out against this theological atrocity? Is there some code of silence amidst megachurch pastors? I'm just confused by it all. It means you and I must be all the more persistent and dilligent in pointing out errors and revealing names of those teaching, preaching and prophesying falsely.

Cameron Buettel said...

Hi Randy and thanks for your comment. I've just expanded the post with some more commentary regarding what true repentance really is. Please take another look.

Pearl said...

Hi Cameron Just like to draw attention to a report by Lighthouse Trails and Roger Oakland from understand the times. Since this report came out they have been under fire and need our prayers for support. Why aren't more pastors speaking up about this travesty, stop leaving these things to the few brave enough to call it like it is like yourself. More power to you Cameron keep up the good fight. Hope you enjoy your homecoming and we don't have any more natural disasters while you are here.

Michael Lawmaster said...

Instead of seeing repentance for the gracious, beautiful gift (Acts 11:18) of God that it is and the first word of the Gospel (Matthew 4:17), it has become somewhat of an evangelical curse word of sorts (if such a thing could exist) rarely mentioned among evangelicals today.

Regarding 'dream theology,' Deuteronomy 13 lays out a strong case against the instigators of such idolatry. Whereas in other areas of Holy Scripture (ie: Jeremiah) we see that we do not have to be concerned about a false prophet or teacher if the things which they say do not come to pass; here, the Lord God Almighty succintly states that even if what they say comes to pass and they say 'Let us go after other gods,' (clearly the modus operandi of Rob Bell, Rick Warren and others like them when they distort, question, and twist the Gospel as well as the very nature and attributes of God) which you have not known,'and let us serve them,...DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM!

The Lord God is testing these individuals to know whether they love the Lord their God with all their heart and with all their soul or whether, as in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 they are accumulating for themselves teachers to suit their own passions. It is true what Paul Washer stated that this is a judgment upon these individuals as THEY are accumulating these teachers.

Ignorance is not bliss and biblical illiteracy is damning. May people repent and put their faith in Jesus Christ and 'hold fast to him (Deut. 13:4).