LTRP Note: On September 18th, a new movie will hit the theaters, Captive. The film is the story about Ashley Smith, the young woman who was held captive by an escaped murderer and how she convinced him to give himself up. When the incident happened in 2005, it came out in news reports that the woman had read excerpts from The Purpose Driven Life to her captor. Free-lance journalist Paul Proctor wrote three stories about this that year. Because the movie is coming out, we decided to re-post these insightful articles by Paul Proctor (two of the articles are links below the first article). We agree with Proctor, who said while he was “thrilled that Ashley escaped with her life and that no one else was killed,” he was sorry to see the incident turned into a marketing extravaganza for Rick Warren and The Purpose Driven Life. No doubt, the new movie will be another big plug for “America’s Pastor” and his “New” Spirituality-promoting Purpose Driven movement.
By Paul Proctor
March 26, 2005—A friend called me on my cell phone a couple of weeks ago to share some amazing quotes from the Purpose Driven hostage shortly after her story broke and shot to the top of the human-interest charts. Before he could even finish reading the pertinent excerpts from the article he found, we both agreed that those who stood to benefit the most from this “miracle of God” would exploit it to the very limits of believability and in doing so, further legitimize Rick Warren and his Purpose Driven products, now captivating and confusing the spiritually lame, biblically ignorant and ecclesiastically ambitious around the world.
Of course we all know that nothing sells books, tickets, movies, merchandise, programs, popcorn, cotton candy and Kleenex like a life and death drama with a happy ending. That’s why so many victims and perpetrators who come out of obscurity to suddenly find themselves before the TV cameras end up in some carnivalesque corner of the entertainment industry trying to capitalize on their newfound notoriety and turn it into a cash-producing and/or agenda-advancing career.
If history has taught us anything, it is that pop culture products, performances and personalities don’t have to be good, credible, accurate or even real as long as they stimulate and motivate the masses. That’s why the most popular household appliance sold in America today is not the dishwasher or the clothes washer, but the brainwasher; that big screen fantasy machine that talks you through the highs and lows of life each day like an electronic psychiatrist, while you recline on the couch for hours on end.
When you consider that five corporations control today’s mainstream media, it’s much easier to understand how a nation and even the world can be controlled into thinking, speaking and doing whatever the architects of illusion desire.
Things just don’t happen by chance, they happen by design; and the powers-that-be have carefully planned your future and mine from cradle to grave. By way of seduction and suggestion we are steered deeper into a socialized slavery each day while laughing and crying our way through the facts, feelings and fantasies of a perceived reality called “television.” Their slogan may be: “you decide” but rest assured, they’ve already decided FOR YOU what will and won’t be seen on TV and what commentary and captions will accompany the compelling images they provide.
I’d wager to say that very few, if any, Purpose Driven puppets ever really heard or understood what was being taught them in Ashley Smith’s emotionally charged interview as recorded by CNN. Most, I suspect, were just elated to learn that the “People’s Pastor” had finally been validated in secular society by a Purpose Driven “miracle.”
But, now that the euphoria has subsided somewhat, look again and reconsider carefully what she actually said:
SMITH: “We went to my room. And I asked him if I could read. He said, ‘What do you want to read?’ ‘Well, I have a book in my room.’ So I went and got it. I got my Bible. And I got a book called The Purpose-Driven Life. I turned it to the chapter that I was on that day. It was Chapter 33. And I started to read the first paragraph of it. After I read it, he said, ‘Stop, will you read it again?’ I said, ‘Yeah. I’ll read it again.’ So I read it again to him. It mentioned something about what you thought your purpose in life was. What were you—what talents were you given? What gifts were you given to use? And I asked him what he thought. And he said, ‘I think it was to talk to people and tell them about you.’”
You see, Ashley made a significant choice that day between the Word of God and the words of Warren. Like millions of others who keep Bibles around the house for a second opinion, she chose to read to her captor from Warren’s book instead of God’s Word. And because she made that choice and is still alive today, Ashley is now a hero in the eyes of a nation; and the media has proudly declared hers to be a salvation story and a miracle of deliverance from Almighty God.
I dare say if she had read something Jesus Christ had said, quoting Scripture to Mr. Nichols from her Bible and lived to tell about it, the networks wouldn’t have even allowed her on the air, much less made a big deal out of it. What was the subtle message the architects were teaching us?
Be a hero! – Be Purpose Driven!
No wonder sales of the PDL book spiked! Who wouldn’t want to be a TV hero and a media darling?
When Brian Nichols told Ashley that he thought his purpose was “to talk to people and tell them about you,” I’m sure that made her feel very special; but the absurd implication of that statement seemed to escape most teary-eyed Christians I know; that God had four people shot dead at the courthouse that day in Atlanta just so Nichols could spend the rest of his life telling everyone about Ashley Smith. If it hasn’t registered yet, that’s horizontal worship, aka: idolatry; and THAT, my friends, is what the church growth movement is all about; worshiping one another and our collective achievements in the name of Jesus. That’s why the emphasis is always on relationships rather than righteousness.
SMITH: “But after we began to talk, he said he thought that I was an angel sent from God. And that I was his sister and he was my brother in Christ. And that he was lost and God led him right to me to tell him that he had hurt a lot of people.”
Well, in spite of Brian Nichols’ thoughts and feelings, Ashley is not “an angel sent from God.” She is quite human and has, as Warren admitted on Larry King Live, a less than angelic past. In addition, Mr. Nichols might consider himself to be a “lost brother in Christ,” but I assure you; THERE IS NO SUCH THING. He is either lost OR he is a brother in Christ. He cannot be both simultaneously. Furthermore, a brother in Christ does not gun down innocent people in a court of law, flee for his life, take hostages and threaten to kill them.
SMITH: “I said, ‘Do you believe in miracles? Because if you don’t believe in miracles—you are here for a reason. You’re here in my apartment for some reason. You got out of that courthouse with police everywhere, and you don’t think that’s a miracle? You don’t think you’re supposed to be sitting right here in front of me listening to me tell you, you know, your reason here?’ I said, ‘You know, your miracle could be that you need to—you need to be caught for this,’ Smith continued. ‘You need to go to prison and you need to share the Word of God with them, with all the prisoners there.'”
This is not the Gospel of Christ being shared, friends; this is a frightened woman appealing to a desperate man through his ego, using anything she can think of including God, sympathy, flattery, family, food and friendship to win his trust and just stay alive. Under the circumstances, I don’t fault her for any of this; but let’s just call it what it is. I also don’t fault either of them for their confusion about God, His miracles and His purpose for their lives, considering their obvious lack of biblical knowledge, discernment and understanding.
I do, however, find it absolutely outrageous that a degree-holding, seminary educated, mega-church pastor like Rick Warren would take advantage of this terrible tragedy and the gross ignorance and confusion of those involved and twist it into something he can use to plug his book, his programs, and his upcoming faith-based global socialist P.E.A.C.E. Plan! That is unacceptable behavior, and he ought to be ashamed!
The real travesty that day was this: The Gospel of Christ was not proclaimed, no one repented, and no one was saved; at least not spiritually, which would have been a miracle indeed. According to the reports and interviews I’ve read, Smith and Nichols discussed a lot of heartwarming things in their lives but not Jesus Christ, the cross, His death, burial, resurrection, shed blood or redemptive plan for mankind. From what I can ascertain, their focus was, like Warren’s, on a Purpose Driven Life, not eternal life in Christ.
Nichols did not surrender to Jesus Christ or anyone else for that matter; he was turned in to the authorities by his hostage and taken into custody without incident a short time later.
It just blows my mind that the church today thinks they have a monopoly on kindness and generosity; that displaying such things to strangers somehow MEANS you’re an official “child of God! This is the counterfeit Christianity that the world is just wild about today; the new paradigm for the postmodern church: a religion of relationships, social service, and psychology, offered up in the name of our Homeboy, Jesus.
This kind of Christianity doesn’t even need a Divine Savior or the Word of God, and is replacing both at church with what amounts to religious volunteerism—a politically correct value system and service organization comprised of smiley-faced worker bees that embrace no real doctrine, theology or belief beyond a luv for fellow man.
For a kind word and a drink, you can get THAT at any bar in town! One of the most loyal, unpretentious, unselfish people I know in this life is an atheist. He would give you or me the shirt off his back and do almost anything for anyone, yet he claims no God exists. When is the dumbed-down church of horizontal worship and service going to wake up from this Purpose Driven delusion and realize that our good deeds and human relationships mean nothing without a knowledge of, belief in, and obedience to, the Word of God?
Larry King mentioned during his interview the other night with Warren that a copy of The Purpose Driven Life was found in the back seat of [wife-murderer] Scott Peterson’s car. They concluded that, in light of the outcome, he must not have read it. Here we have support from the LIBERAL media and its premier talk show host, an agnostic! That right there ought to tell you something’s askew! How do we know Scott Peterson DIDN’T read it? Maybe the absence of tears and remorse the media and their expert psychologists condemned him for was really Scott gracefully accepting his newfound purpose in life on death row? That killing his wife and unborn son is what made it all possible. Same logic.
Anyway, call the Purpose Driven hostage outcome anything you want; but it was not a miracle. It was only reported as such because the book she chose to read from that day is published by a subsidiary of one of those big five corporations I mentioned earlier. They have a vested interest in Warren’s success and none in Jesus Christ’s.
I am thrilled that Ashley escaped with her life and that no one else was killed, including Mr. Nichols; but don’t let the media hype this into something it was not. If I’ve learned anything about the “wide gate and the broad way,” it’s that the crowd is ALWAYS wrong.
I wish only the best for Ms. Smith and her little girl and sincerely hope that Brian Nichols confesses, repents, and surrenders to the One who works REAL miracles and doesn’t end up a Purpose Driven hostage himself.
Used with permission from Paul Proctor.
The other articles Paul Proctor wrote about the Purpose Driven hostage story:
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