When Lighthouse Trails reported in November of 2006 that New Age leader Marianne Williamson came to Rick Warren’s defense regarding his strategy to bring about global peace, tying it in with global meditation, it became clear to some that it was just a matter of time before Rick Warren came out of the “new spirituality” closet. That day is much closer now with the launching of the premier edition of his new magazine, the Purpose Driven Connection.
After subscribing online to the magazine, Lighthouse Trails received the first issue less than 24 hours later by U.S. mail. While the customer service and delivery was remarkable, the content of the magazine is troubling.
The 144 glossy page, high quality magazine has been put together by a professional team of editors, marketing engineers, and design directors and will be issued four times a year at a cost of $29.99 annually or $10 an issue. Rick Warren is the Editor-in-Chief, and is also one of the main writers. On a first run through, one thing becomes quickly apparent – this is a promotional project for Rick Warren and his Purpose Driven Movement. Aside from articles written by him and about him, as well as the mention of his name in numerous spots, there are 18 photos of Rick Warren throughout the publication.
But a pricey magazine filled with the chief editor’s name and picture does not constitute serious concern. What does, however, is the material within its cover. The magazine reads like a Robert Schuller, Norman Vincent Peale, and Peter Drucker book all rolled into one with articles written by contemplative proponents Mark Batterson, Max Lucado, Bill Hybels, and Lee Strobel.
An emphasis in the magazine is “connection.” In the “Editor’s Letter,” Rick Warren says: “YOU WERE CREATED FOR CONNECTIONS…. Life is all about connecting. A disconnected life is merely existing” (p.2-3). Warren promises that the Purpose Driven Connection will give the “power” and the tools for this connection. “Power flows through connections…. When you’re a member of the Purpose Driven Connection, we’ll help you develop the four kinds of relationships you need in order to grow: mentors, models, partners, and friends” (p. 3).
In addition to the magazine, an online community, a Personal Spiritual Health Assessment, and Small Group Study Guides, Warren plans on offering PDC Courses, Summits, Retreats, Coaches, Weekends, and more. With so many venues being offered to members, it is a fair question to ask what resources and influences will be used to provide all this training.
Those who have tracked Rick Warren over the past several years, using biblical discernment, know there have been New Age implications in his teachings and his persuasions. Warren Smith, in his book Deceived on Purpose, laid out many of these implications and Warren’s tie to New Age sympathizer Robert Schuller. In the premier issue of Purpose Driven Connection, Warren has once again brought in New Age influences, which are given as tools to build Purpose Driven connections.
In a section of the magazine called “The Scene,” one page is devoted to popular “Christian” books. Warren has included books that have contemplative and or emerging slants, such as Brennan Manning’s Ragamuffin Gospel, as well as listing The Shack as a “notable best-selling Christian” book (no disclaimer or warning provided, which gives the indication to readers that this is a good trustworthy book, and yet within its pages is the message of the Black Madonna, that God is in all things.
Even more troubling, on that same page of Purpose Driven Connection is a book titled Led by Faith written by Rwandan genocide survivor Immaculee Ilibagaza with a foreword written by Rick Warren. Ilibagaza’s story is a most incredible and heart rending story of her survival, hiding in a cramped bathroom with a group of other women during the Rwandan genocide. But Ilibagaza’s message is one that resonates with New Age leader Wayne Dyer, who has vigorously promoted Ilibagaza. Her books are published by Dyer’s publisher, one of the largest and most prolific New Age publishers today, Hay House. It is Dyer who said that A Course in Miracles would be the way to bring peace to the world. In Ilibagaza’s first book, Left to Tell, she acknowledges Dyer’s influence in her life.
This Lighthouse Trails report is not intended to bring criticism against a woman who suffered so much in Rwanda. It is rather to show that America’s most popular evangelical pastor, who few Christian leaders have dared to challenge on his beliefs and actions, is moving swiftly toward a global spirituality that will ultimately reject the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. The Purpose Driven Connection is a step toward this reality.
Immaculee Ilibagaza, a Catholic, has also written a book about Mary apparitions called Our Lady of Kibeho. On Ilibagaza’s website, it reads:
After the genocide, and two decades of rigorous investigation, Our Lady of Kibeho became the first and only Vatican-approved Marian (that is, related to the Virgin Mary) site in all of Africa. But the story still remains largely unknown. Now, Immaculee Ilibagaza plans to change all that. She made many pilgrimages to Kibeho both before and after the holocaust, personally witnessed true miracles, and spoke with a number of the visionaries themselves.
Some may feel that for Rick Warren to write the foreword (and promote in his magazine) to a book that has a story of such incredible suffering, releases him from any obligation. But in light of Rick Warren’s major influence on millions of people and given the fact he claims to be a Bible believing Christian, he is obligated indeed. To promote a book and author, in the name of Christianity, that points to Wayne Dyer (author of Living the Wisdom of the Tao and Real Magic) and Mary apparitions is misleading and unruly.
On the back page of the Purpose Driven Connection sits a full page promotion for an organization called Hands on Network, which is now part of the Points of Light Institute. The promotional reads: “It is Through People That Change Happens in the World. Take action. Be the change.” The “Be the Change” theme is prevalent in the global spirituality efforts. As we have previously reported, Rick Warren is on the “Leadership Council” of a liberal organization, Service Nation (Be the Change, Inc, which is working toward mandatory volunteer service for Americans. The motto of Service Nation, “Be the Change,” is taken from Hindu guru, Mahatma Gandhi and a motto that both Rick Warren and President Barack Obama would agree upon. Incidentally, in the middle section of Purpose Driven Connection is a full page photo of Rick Warren and President Barack Obama, along with a five page interview Warren did with Obama, which states that Obama’s “Christian beliefs … “influence his views on faith, abortion, freedom, and evil” (p. 74).
What is most tragic about the Purpose Driven Connection is that Rick Warren presents stories of those who have truly suffered in one form or another (persecution, natural disaster, poverty, etc), but he is using these stories to further his plans for a Purpose Driven world and has left much of truth behind, offering a false spirituality in its place. It is equally disturbing, that in a world where so many have either rejected Jesus Christ or not heard about him at all, in what could perhaps be the 11th hour before the return of Christ, a man who claims to be a Christian and who many say is the major representative for evangelical Christians goes virtually unchallenged by Christian leaders and the majority of Christian pastors and professors. The question must be asked, is Rick Warren hiding behind the sufferings of the world in order to masquerade his plans of a new universal reformation that will include all religious persuasions and will offer the world a “gospel” that offends no one, yet for that very reason can save no one?
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
(1 Timothy 4:1-3)