Saturday, April 22, 2023

Give People What They Want

Recently the Southern Baptist Convention expelled Saddleback Church, the church that Rick Warren founded, from its rolls. This action followed Saddleback's support for and ordaining of three women to be among its pastors.

You may remember Warren as the author of one of the best selling books ever, The Purpose Driven Life. In the book, Warren begins by saying that "this is not about you" and then proceeds to make it all about you. Warren is one of the founders, if we can use that word, of the seeker sensitive movement. Although the movement was not an official, organized effort to reach the lost, it was a technique that many evangelists and churches adopted in order to reach our society. The idea was simply to use focus groups and other studies in order to determine what exactly would be effective actions in order to get people to become Christians (although getting to come to church is probably a more correct way of putting it).

The primary idea behind the seeker sensitive movement was to determine what people's "felt needs" were and thus basically give them what they asked for. One problem, though, since when does God ask us to provide people their "felt needs"? Instead the Lord commands us to preach that it is "He who will judge the world" and that we must "believe in the Lord Jesus" in order to be saved. Nothing there about catering to what people think they need. The lost, callous, spiritually dead soul does not want the things that will make it alive. If we are going to give people what they want, then we need to get out of the evangelizing business because faith and repentance is not what they want. 

Getting back to the ordination of women at Saddleback, that is little more than the natural outgrowth of that "seeker sensitive, give them what they want" attitude. The reasons Warren has given for ordaining women are laughable and pathetic. If you're interested in hearing them, you can do so here. It is not surprising that Warren would go down this path. If one is more interested in fulfilling people's dreams and needs than in preaching the gospel then why not women preachers? That is the same attitude that has led an increasing number of churches to welcome homosexual officers and members without repentance. 

Warren valiantly attempted to justify his actions by Scripture, and failed miserably. My prediction, however, is that it won't be long before he gives up any effort to justify his actions by Scripture and just goes on to take unscriptural actions simply because it will be convenient and expedient. And when the basis of  your ministry is to give people what they want, it's impossible not to eventually fall into all kinds of perversions of Scripture.

At a time when we've been discussing how important rightly dividing the word is, Warren is a perfect example of what can happen if we don't. Either we study, internalize, and obey the Word of God or we go the way of the rest of the compromising church. It is high time to make that decision; "if Yahweh is God, serve Him but if Baal is God, serve him" (1 Kings 18:21).


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