Every week I receive a copy of Rick Warren’s e-newsletter that goes out to pastors and other church and ministry leaders around the world. And every week, I watch as this newsletter endorses, promotes, and exalts the names of people, books and organizations whose spirituality opposes biblical Christianity. In essence, this newsletter is like a slap in the face to those who, in years and centuries gone by, have died defending the true faith and the gospel message of Jesus Christ and did not compromise even unto their deaths.
In this week’s newsletter, Rick Warren quotes Henri Nouwen, who, at the end of his life, said he was uncomfortable with those who say Jesus is the only way to salvation and that he wanted to help people find their own path to God. Nouwen is mentioned in nearly a dozen other newsletters by Rick Warren, and in one newsletter, Warren says his wife Kay loves the Nouwen book In the Name of Jesus, which has a chapter on contemplative prayer. In one week’s newsletter, Warren devoted most of the issue to the emerging church, even posting a response to criticism by Emergent Leaders Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Spencer Burke and Tony Jones. McLaren is favorably quoted or mentioned in about seven other issues. Organizations like The Ooze (promoting the emerging church and contemplative spirituality) is recommended in three issues. Spencer Burke, director of The Ooze, affirms his contemplative sympathies when he says:
I stopped reading from the approved evangelical reading list and began to distance myself from the evangelical agenda. I discovered new authors and new voices at the bookstore-Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen and St. Teresa of Avila. The more I read, the more intrigued I became. Contemplative spirituality seemed to open up a whole new way for me to understand and experience God. I was deeply moved by works like The Cloud of Unknowing, The Dark Night of the Soul and the Early Writings of the Desert Fathers.”
The majority of Rick Warren’s newsletters have at least one contemplative or emerging quote, endorsement or recommendation. Some of these weekly promotions include Youth Specialties, Leonard Sweet, Thomas Merton, Ken Blanchard, Laurie Beth Jones, Jim Wallis, and the list goes on and on.
This Sunday night, Fox news will be presenting a program called, “Can Rick Warren Change the World?” One Fox headline for this show said, “Can Rick Warren Save the World?” As church leaders and secular leaders alike have found themselves in awe of this man’s Purpose Driven paradigm, I, as a believer in Jesus Christ, have been in awe too. But my amazement isn’t over Rick Warren’s plans to save the world; no, my amazement is over Christian leaders and their blindness to what is really taking place. They have been overtaken and lured by a seductive spirituality that calls itself Purpose Driven, emerging church, seeker-friendly and a number of other names but has its origin in the Garden of Eden when the serpent said, You will be like God.
Alice Bailey, the theosophist who coined the term New Age, said that the age of enlightenment (when everyone realizes they have divinity and are united with each other and creation) will not come to the earth around the Christian church but rather through it. When a New Age sympathizer like Leonard Sweet (author of Quantum Spirituality) can talk about global connectedness and God in all in one book then do an audio series with “America’s pastor” just a few years later, and no one blinks an eye, then maybe Alice Bailey (who was instructed by her spirit guide)was right.
The Lord will preserve those who are His, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against the church, but the Bible also says that a great falling away will take place before the return of Christ, and if possible, even the elect will be deceived. May we, as believers, by the grace and strength of God, cling to that old rugged Cross that is offered so freely to those who call upon the name of the Lord. And may we stand boldly, as our brothers and sisters of past times did, defending the one message that can save.
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” Revelation 12:11