Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sectarian worship - in their own words

Here are a series of quotes from one of the most famous and influential sectarian worship leaders in America, Pastor Rick Warren. If you’re wondering what Church Growth theology looks like, here it is! His reasoning is echoed to one degree or another by some in WELS who insist that “we have to rethink the way we do church.”

“We want to loosen up the tense muscles of uptight visitors. When your body is relaxed, your attitude is less defensive” (Rick Warren. The Purpose Driven Church. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995, p.256).
And a less defensive attitude makes conversion “easier.” An “aid” to the Means of Grace. False doctrine!

So a casual atmosphere must be created, because formality is intimidating and doesn’t allow a person to “loosen up in God’s presence.”

“Worship is a powerful witness to unbelievers if God’s presence is felt and if the message is understandable…God’s presence must be sensed in the service. More people are won to Christ by feeling God’s presence than by all our apologetic arguments combined. Few people, if any, are converted to Christ on purely intellectual grounds. It is the sense of God’s presence that melts the heart and explodes mental barriers” (Warren, p. 241-242).
So the musical style must be relevant enough to the participants and upbeat enough to bring God’s presence into the room and open unbelievers’ hearts to the power of the gospel. “Feeling God’s presence” is an essential part of the “Arminian/Pentecostal Means of Grace.” False doctrine!

“It is my deep conviction that anybody can be won to Christ if you discover the key to his or her heart…The most likely place to start (looking for the key) is with the person’s felt needs” (Warren, p.219).
Man’s heart is not dead in sin, by nature, so it just needs to be unlocked, not with the “Keys of the Kingdom” that Jesus talked about, but by addressing the person’s felt needs. False doctrine!

So the Lectionary and the Church Year are abandoned, because topical series are better able to address people's felt needs. (The Lectionary assumes that all people have common needs caused by common sin, and a common solution in Christ, brought to all in common by the Means of Grace.)

There are some types of people your church will never reach, because they require a completely different style of ministry than you can provide(Warren, p.174).
The style of your ministry is the key to saving the lost. The Means of Grace depends on the right style in order to be powerful and effective, living and active. False doctrine!

The style of music you choose to use in your service will be one of the most critical (and controversial) decisions you make in the life of your church. It may also be the most influential factor in determining who your church reaches for Christ and whether or not your church grows. You must match your music to the kind of people God wants your church to reach. The music you use positions your church in your community…It will determine the kind of people you attract, the kind of people you keep, and the kind of people you lose. If you were to tell me the kind of music you are currently using in your services, I could describe the kind of people you are reaching without even visiting your church. I could also tell you the kind of people your church will never reach” (Warren, p. 280-281).
This is Church Growth theology in its purest form. Conversion depends on style. Right style = success. Wrong style = failure. False doctrine!

“Explosive growth only occurs when the type of people in the community match the type of people that are already in the church, and they both match the type of person the pastor is” (Warren, p.177).
Not the Means of Grace, but the right kind of people and the right kind of pastor will reach the right kind of people. False doctrine!

“Today’s most effective worship songs are love songs sung directly to God. This is biblical worship. We are told at least seventeen times in Scripture to sing to the Lord. In contrast, most hymns are sung about God. The strength of many contemporary worship songs is that they are God-centered, rather than man-centered” (Warren, p.289).

"I receive notes that say, 'I loved the worship today. I got a lot out of it.' It isn’t for our benefit! When we worship, our goal is to bring pleasure to God, not ourselves…Bringing pleasure to God is called worship.” (Rhoda Tse. ”Rick Warren’s Secrets of Worship.” ).

Worship is from believers to God. We magnify God’s name in worship by expressing our love and commitment to Him. God is the consumer of worship.” (Rick Warren. “First-Person: The Evangelistic Power of Worship.”).
What Warren means by “God-centered” is that the songs express man’s feelings about God, rather than God’s gracious acts toward men. What he means by “man-centered” is that man is on the receiving end of God’s saving acts.

So for Warren and the sectarians in general, worship ought to be man’s gift to God, entirely (or certainly mostly) “sacrificial” rather than “sacramental.” Man gives, God receives. Man is active, God is passive. Man works, God enjoys. Man expresses his love for God, God revels in man’s great love for him.

Notice how this is a complete reversal of the Lutheran view of the Divine Service (worship), where God is the primary actor and man is primarily on the receiving end. Lutherans call this “God-centered,” because although man is doing the singing, speaking, and administering, what is it, in the Lutheran Divine Service, that man is singing, speaking and administering? The Word of Christ – God’s saving acts in favor of mankind. In Lutheran worship, a believer’s praise includes a proclamation of God’s saving acts, and when a believer proclaims God’s saving acts and receives God's gifts in faith, God is praised! (Praise is proclamation, proclamation is praise.)

This is why we call sectarian worship “man-centered,” because instead of focusing on God’s saving acts, it focuses on man’s thoughts, feelings and actions.

If Lutherans think they can innocently imbibe the practices of the sects without also drinking in the reasons behind their practices, they are sorely mistaken. This is precisely the sheep's clothing that allows the wolf to enter through the gate.

So if you see any books or Bible studies by Rick Warren in your church library, you should first ask your pastor (kindly), “Pastor, why is this here in our church?” Give him a chance to explain. If he says, “You have to know your enemy in order to defeat him,” or “We’re collecting materials to burn in case the heater goes down,” or something like that, then breathe a sigh of relief.

If he says anything like, “There’s lots of good material in there,” or "The benefits outweigh the risks," or “We can learn some valuable strategies” from Rick Warren, then you should (more forcefully) say to your pastor, “Pastor, we called you as our shepherd to protect us from the wolf, not to invite him into our fold. Please remove this immediately. How about something from Chemnitz or Luther instead?”


Unknown said...

Great outline of false doctrine that is promoted by following ideas espoused by Rick Warren. Recently listened to Issue, Etc. and Fighting for the Faith segments on "Emergent Church" with Brian McLaren. The same things or worse are found there. The denial of the trinity, a disbelief in the historical creeds and an overall wishy-washy inclusivity of all belief systems. I would hope Emergent Church literature and books are not found in our Lutheran Church libraries either.

David Garner said...

The really insidious nature of this theology (if it can be called that) is the main emphasis is on growing numbers in the Church, not feeding the sheep. The secondary assumption behind this is if we do not grow the numbers (even if such growth is at the expense of the sheep), we are not "reaching the lost."

Unfortunately, by focusing so much on marketing instead of the Means of Grace and Christ for us, we lose the reached. I have actually heard conversations about "we are getting them in the front door but we don't want to lose them out the back door." If that sentiment is true, then my suggestion is "stop worrying so much about the front door and feed the sheep!"

Anonymous said...

Excellent article, Pastor Rydecki!

Many people claim that style is completely neutral and that we can "Lutheranize" sectarian worship forms.

Your quotes demonstrate that sectarian worship flows from and is designed to promote false doctrine. It is not neutral. Its very essence is false doctrine. You cannot cleanse and purify something that is inherently dirty. You cannot rid something of false doctrine when it is composed of false doctrine to the core.

Some people try to defend sectarian worship in the WELS by saying, "Well, show me what sentence that was sung or spoken in the service contains false doctrine." But even if there is no specific sentence of false doctrine spoken or sung, false doctrine is still promoted and proclaimed by the use of sectarian worship forms in and of themselves.

In a way, it's like the doctrine of original sin. Even when we are not committing a specific sin, we are still sinful by our very nature because we were conceived in sin. Sin isn't just something that we do, it's something that we are by nature.

Mr. Adam Peeler

Pastor Spencer said...

Warren is only mouthing the same junk doled out by guys like Lyle Schaller, one of the original guru's of the Church Growth Movement.

Now, this is an absolutely true story:

When I was a WELS mission pastor in El Paso, TX, in the late 80s, I was visited by one of the WELS' so-called "Mission Counselors." Before he said a single word to me as he came into my office, he reached into his briefcase, took out a small paperback book and handed it me. It was "Your Church Can Grow!" by Lyle Schaller. Upon seeing the title, I handed it back to him, and pointed to the book on my "reference" bookshelf (well marked up, mind you, noting all the passages of blatant false doctrine). Then I told him not to bother sitting down, and invited him to get back in his car and leave - which he did, under protest.

So, when we say Warren's "reasoning is echoed to one degree or another by some in WELS ," sadly that is a fact, and has been for decades already. Lord, have mercy upon us, and defend us from the snares of the devil!

Pastor Spencer

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Mr. Lund,

I also listened to the IE interview with Brian McLaren and found it equally disturbing.

What struck me most was how subtly the Emergent Church is presenting its false doctrines. Many of the things McLaren said sounded fine on the surface, and unsuspecting Christians may have found themselves nodding in agreement. He was so friendly, after all, and said some very nice things about Jesus. His comments may have especially resonated with those who don't want to worry so much about "doctrine" and "dead orthodoxy."

Thankfully, Todd Wilken did a great job at probing deeper into McLaren's statements to reveal the wolf underneath the sheep's clothing.

Just because something doesn't look openly sinful on the surface doesn't mean it's innocent.

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

An acquaintance of mine, an LCMS pastor, has immersed himself over the past several years in the study of Gnosticism, it's teachings in all their variety, how it functions societally, its revivals throughout the history of the West and their impact on the Church, including it's recent emergence in the late 19th Century. It is no secret that today, Gnosticism is the dominant mode of spiritual expression in secular Western culture -- in fact, I believe that Dr. Don Reagles (Bethany Lutheran College, ELS) was involved in the same sort of research (back around 2006) and arrived at this very conclusion, that Gnosticism permeates modern Western Culture.

Anyway, in a recent conversation with him, this LCMS pastor indicated his opinion that the Emergent Church is not separate from, but is merely the next stage of the Evangelical Movement, which chased after modern secular culture for an entire generation, seeking to be the culture in order to reach the culture. Thus, as modern culture has taken on the teachings and spirituality Gnosticism, so did "Evangelicalism." This has brought about the revolution in American Christianity that we are now witnessing, the collapse of modern Evangelicalism and the rise of the Emergent Church in its place, a movement which has clearly adopted Gnostic fundamentals in expressions of its theology and in its practice.

This is what happens when we allow secular culture to dictate church practice. Instead of succeeding in reaching the culture, the culture reaches us and grabs us by the throat. Practice teaches by creating associations and changing (or maintaining) one's perceptions. Modern Evangelicalism, for all of its good intentions, has thus succeeded in altering the theological perceptions and mission priorities of vast numbers of Christians, such that they are now willing to adopt a position that cannot be considered a Christian Confession in any sense, and to do so simply because culture is changing and that this cultural change mandates “a new paradigm for the Christian church.”.

Such perceptions and priorities are nonsense. Christianity is not culturally dependent, there is no need for it to divide, or "tribalize," itself on the basis of secular culture. Christianity is meta-cultural. It stands above and transcends secular culture, and transforms it. Throughout the history of the Church (yes, in a visible and historical sense!), Christianity has thrived in every culture, transforming pagan societies not by adopting their culture, but by being distinctly and consistently the Church, visibly, consistently, “peculiarly” transcendent.

We Lutherans ought not follow in the footsteps of the Evangelicals. The Church Growth Movement, together with all of its supposedly "evangelical" priorities (which are only evangelical by Arminian standards, not Lutheran standards) needs to be jettisoned with all haste and resolve.

Douglas Lindee

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Correction to my last post: Dr. Steven Reagles, of Bethany Lutheran College (ELS), had taken upon himself a project of research in the area of Gnosticism and its manifestations in popular culture. I think it was a book project, but have no idea if he ever finished it. I heard him lecture on his reasearch -- that's how I found out about it...

Lisette Anne Lopez said...

I think I'm going to vomit. Just reading Rick Warren's "Secrets" of Worship is making me sick. Yuck!!!!!

Lisette Anne Lopez said...

I find very interesting this, “Today’s most effective worship songs are love songs sung directly to God. This is biblical worship."

Love songs? God does not love in a worldly manner.

Everything Rick Warren says about worship is just as easy as the breeze. Whatever is easiest to do, that's what is right. Nope, not true. Acknowledging our own sinful nature, and not being proud of it, is the point. That's not easy to do, but that is the only way we find God's true love.

God is love.

God sent His Son to die for our sins- That is what God's love consists of. God does not need us to create love songs for Him. He doesn't need us at all. Confessional Lutherans sing to God in thanksgiving and we acknowledge through song, all God has done for us, not what we do for Him.

We can do nothing for Him, unless He enables us, according to His will!

Anonymous said...

"Love songs?"

You know, I probably shouldn't admit that I've watched this show, but there's actually an episode of South Park about this very thing. One of the characters decides that he wants to get wealth and fame by starting a musical group. He figures that the easiest way to do this is to start a Christian contemporary praise band. All he has to do, he figures, is take all the secular love songs he hears on the radio and then change the word "baby" to "Jesus". And, of course, his plan works. The gullible Christians love his songs and he becomes wildly popular.

If a vile, anti-Christian television show can see how shallow and vapid and inappropriate Christian contemporary music really is, why do so many Christians fail to see it?

As it's been said, Christian contemporary music isn't about making Christian music better, it's about making rock music worse.

Mr. Adam Peeler

Anonymous said...

One more cartoon for you.

There's an episode of King of the Hill in which Bobby, the pre-teen son, gets involved in a church youth group that uses "contemporary" methodology. The leader wears a t-shirt and jeans, they do a lot of skateboarding, and listen to lots of Christian contemporary music.

At first, the dad, Hank, is happy to see that his son is so involved with a church group. But as he witnesses more and more of what this group is about he grows more and more concerned.

Eventually he gets out a box of Bobby's old toys, and points out that, at some point, Bobby thought that all of those things were cool and trendy, but eventually they just ended up unused in a box. He then tells his son that he doesn't want God to end up in that box.

Again, this secular show recognizes that "contemporary" Christian methodology reduces God to little more than a cool trend.

I think history bears this out. Even now, Church Growth is fading away and people are moving on to the next trend, Emergent Church. And in a few years, they'll move on to something else that's trendier.

As a member of this generation, I can assure you that many 20-somethings can see through this trendiness and yearn for something authentic, something with history and stability, something like the liturgy.

Mr. Adam Peeler

Benjamin Rusch said...

Fascinating article.

Why is it that a Christ-centered Compline service yields more weeping, spiritually fed people than kum-ba-yah relaxed feel-good worship? --- "More people are won to Christ by feeling God’s presence" "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." (Mt 18:20) Worship's motivation ought not be coming together "for friendship's sake", or "for some singing". Shouldn't it be a gathering to marvel at our Lord and Savior?

I like this post's wording of give/receive, active/passive in worship. What was more giving and active than Christ's sacrifice? How could we possibly top that?

Mr. Benjamin Rusch

Anonymous said...

Pastor Rydecki,

You have taken an argument that I have been trying to articulate to my friends caught up in this nonsense for years. I may just have to link them to this post from now on. Thank you.

Mr. Dan Sellers

Anonymous said...

How about taking classic rock songs and "christianizing" them. It's been done - honestly. Grand Funk Railroad's song "She's some Kind of Wonderful" has been redone as "He's some kind of wonderful". Yes it's true. Over 20 years ago friends of mine thought of redoing the Beatle's "She Loves You" into "He Loves You."
"God Gave Rock and Roll to You" has been done both as secular and so called Christian by Petra and Kiss. I heard the Beach Boys "California Girls" redone at a so called Christian concert years and years ago to relect in the Chorus "I Wish They all Could Be Pentecostal Girls". This is old hat and not Christ centered at all.

To the Lund family, yes the books are in church libraries. I have seen them. The Book Your Church Can Grow I also read. I think it was actuially by C. Peter Wagner not Lyle Schaller, but they are birds of a feather in any case. Yes, it was in the pastors library. I borrowed it and read it. It was not high-lighted to point out false error. It's principals are being used.

Jim Huwe

Lisette Anne Lopez said...

Music, music, music.

Music is beautiful, it is truly a gift from God, but not all of it is- not all of it is beneficial, not all of it is appropriate and not all of it should be in church.

In fact, none of it should be in church if it doesn't specifically bring praise to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Use your heads.

Anonymous said...

Style is correlative--and fairly strongly so--with doctrine. However, it isn't a cause-and-effect relationship. Guitars don't instill Arminian or Pentecostal theology in songs. The writers of lyrics do.

Most of the writers of lyrics for the "praise songs" have been from Arminian or Pentecostal churches, and the songs reflect their provenance. Confessional Lutheran hymn writers in the last half-century, such as Stephen Starke, have written in a more conventional hymn style.

It is certainly possible to write a hymn fully consonant with the Lutheran confessions to be sung with electric guitars, keyboard and drums; but not many such hymns have been written, and it is deceptive to say that because it is possible the genre should be encouraged as it exists today.

I would suggest that those pastors who want to use this kind of music in their services should train the musicians in their churches in the Confessions, making them fully aware, for instance, of the monergistic nature of salvation--that we do not "decide to accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior", but rather He has before all time elected us, has, by His perfect atonement, redeemed us from the guilt of our sins, and has, by the Holy Spirit, drawn us to Him by means of the Gospel and Sacraments.

Teach them that, and make sure that they understand in writing any song for use in services that all songs must remain clearly orthodox on these issues as to which contemporary "praise songs" usually teach false doctrine.

Of course, there's a worse problem than the musicians, one that usually remains unspoken--that it is the pastors themselves who have fallen into the trap of the Arminian postulates of the Church Growth movement.

Ken Howes
LCMS layman
Oak Lawn, IL
Organist, Immanuel Lutheran Church (LCMS)
Hodgkins, IL

Anonymous said...

Lisette hits a great point. There is a hymn that appears in the Episcopal Church's hymnal and presumably in Congregational and even Unitarian hymnals, "Once to Every Man and Nation." The words, by James Russell Lowell, are magnificent poetry, vivid and moving. The tune, "Ebenezer (Ton-y-Botel)" is a great hymn tune that the confessional Lutheran Martin Franzmann used for his fine hymn "Thy Strong Word". The final verse contains no error and is a great message of comfort to all who suffer in the cause of righteousness.

But it is a terrible hymn, because of the false doctrine that appears several times in the first and third verses, and a false inference that might be drawn from the otherwise unobjectionable second verse.

Ken Howes

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