During the 80s, business executives were already mentoring church leaders on how to build their church and grow their ministry. Austrian-born Peter Drucker was one of those men who, along with New Age business gurus Bob Buford and Ken Blanchard, influenced this alliance between the secular business world and evangelical Christian churches.
It is important we look at Drucker because America’s most influential pastor, Rick Warren, has called Drucker his mentor, yet in a 2001 interview, Drucker denied being a born-again Christian.3
This is not surprising when we note that Drucker was a disciple of philosopher and mystic, Soren Kierkegaard, and was also influenced by Zen Buddhism. At a 2005 Pew Forum on religion, Warren proudly stated, “I’ve spent twenty years under his tutelage learning about leadership from him….”4 I’m not at all suggesting Warren is not a Christian or that he hasn’t done good works. His influences, however, should be noted. Drucker believed that in the twentieth century, the rise of the corporation was the “most significant sociological phenomenon” of the first half and the development of the mega-church was most significant in the second half of the twentieth century.
Another major player in the mega-church movement was one of Norman Vincent Peale’s biggest disciples – none other than Robert Schuller of Crystal Cathedral fame. Schuller could be described as a non-traditional, New Age liberal and often used his positive thinking and positive imaging (visualization) in his messages mixed in with occasional Bible verses.
Prior to building America’s first mega-church, Schuller literally went door to door passing out cards in the late 1970s in Orange County, CA and told people to write down what they wanted in a church. The concept many people preferred was an all-inclusive, liberal, social gospel of sorts. At a convention many years ago, Robert Schuller said, “If you want to know how to build a church, ask the community, and give them what they want.” Kay Warren (Rick Warren’s wife) spoke at Schuller’s 2008 “Rethink Conference” held at the Crystal Cathedral.
Can you imagine Jesus Christ or any of the disciples asking people what they wanted? Instead of giving people what they need, which can save them from damnation and destruction, some pastors give people what they want, which oftentimes does not meet or satisfy their spiritual hunger and thirst. We can learn from successful businesses, but to pattern too much of the church after corporate models takes the focus off of Jesus Christ. He taught about going after individual sheep that have gone astray (Luke 15:3).
Bob Buford’s Leadership Network (1984) aimed to “accelerate the emergence of effective churches.” The business emphasis on tasks instead of theology came from business executive Peter Drucker. Another contributor was Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mohandas Gandhi. Anybody can do good works, and yes, Christians should do good works, but business philosophies such as Rick Warren’s “deeds not creeds” have crept into churches emphasizing doing over doctrine.
Buford also worked with Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Community Church, and he described both Hybels and Warren as change makers. According to Roger Oakland in his outstanding book Faith Undone, the initial group of emerging leaders in the early 1990s included Doug Pagitt and Leith Anderson from a Minneapolis mega church.5
Pagitt wrote in his 2005 book, Church Re-Imagined, that he didn’t think he’d be able to stay Christian in any useful sense …“if I continued with the expression of Christianity I was currently living….” The more developed some of the emergent church concepts and ideas become, the further they must move away from Scripture because they directly oppose what the Bible already teaches. In order to get others involved in the emergent experience, Pagitt said they try to “create a community that’s more like a potluck.” Two major players on today’s global-thinking mega-church team are Rick Warren and Bill Hybels.
It is important to distinguish that the emergent church was created and manufactured by corporate executives with new age influences and big business visions for church growth. It was not started by young evangelical Christians who were simply looking for a way to update and refresh the traditional church. The overall effect of the emergent church may be quite imponderable, but its influence is probably much greater and more devastating than we know. One thing we can be assured of, however, is that all pathways do NOT lead to heaven.
“AMERICA’S PASTOR” RICK WARREN
Rick Warren has impacted millions of lives, and his books and teachings have blessed people. Please understand, no man is without sin, and no one’s teachings should be held above the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Bible. I’ve seen people idolize popular church leaders, and it must grieve the Lord.
Author of The Purpose Driven Church and The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren is the senior pastor at Saddleback Church in California which averages 22,000 attendees per week. I respect the fact that Warren seems to, at least in the past, separate himself from most liberal progressive church leaders in his views on abortion, marriage between one man and one woman, and stem cell research. He has stood for life and has been effective in battling AIDS abroad. He has done some good philanthropy, and we should pray for God’s wisdom for him.
As a general rule, when the progressive, mainstream, anti-Christian media speaks well of a pastor or other Christian leader, it’s probably not a good sign. Time magazine named Rick Warren one of “15 World Leaders Who Mattered Most” in 2004; and in 2005, Warren was named one of “America’s Top 25 Leaders” in an issue of U.S. News and World Report. An elected member of the Council on Foreign Relations, he was also one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2005 according to Time. Warren was also called one of “15 People Who Make America Great” by Newsweek.
In the last chapter, I mentioned the influence of one of Warren’s mentors, Peter Drucker, on modern Christianity. Drucker believed that the church should adopt a business model and the structure of a corporation in order for the church to be successful. In organizational structure, Saddleback Church was based on this model and followed the example of Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral. Drucker convinced many of today’s prominent Christian leaders that being consumer-driven is what matters, and many pastors didn’t think twice about operating a church like a secular business. In business, the customer is always right, and if they want a different product, they get it or the business may lose them.
Dan Kimball is another emergent, post-modern leader, and Warren wrote the foreword in Kimball’s book The Emerging Church. The book was endorsed by Brian McLaren and Tony Jones as well. Warren wrote:
“This book is a wonderful, detailed example of what a purpose-driven church can look like in a postmodern world. My friend Dan Kimball writes passionately from his heart, with a deep desire to reach emerging generations and cultures…. You need to pay attention to him because times are changing.”47
Kimball was one of the early promoters of the emergent church and talked about re-imagining the church and re-thinking how to reach people. Kimball stated:
“The old paradigm taught that if you had the right teaching, you will experience God. The new paradigm says that if you experience God, you will have the right teaching.”
Kimball and Warren imply that the old view is legalistic and narrow, but the five fundamentals of faith are: the deity of Jesus Christ, the virgin birth, the blood atonement, Jesus’ bodily resurrection, and the inerrancy of the Scriptures. Sadly, in a typical evangelical church today, the rule is to not say anything that might make waves.
Let’s look at the marriage issue in CA in which a majority of citizens voted in 2008 to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Two weeks before that election, Rick Warren encouraged his congregation to pray about how to vote on Proposition 8, “which is the proposition that had to be instituted because the courts threw out the will of the people. And a court of four guys actually voted to change a definition of marriage that has been going for 5,000 years,” he explained. I was both surprised and thrilled to hear an evangelical pastor say what Warren said:
“Now let me say this really clearly: we support Proposition 8 – and if you believe what the Bible says about marriage, you need to support Proposition 8. I never support a candidate, but on moral issues I come out very clear…. There are about two percent of Americans [who] are homosexual or gay/lesbian people. We should not let two percent of the population determine to change a definition of marriage that has been supported by every single culture…. This is not even just a Christian issue – it’s a humanitarian and human issue that God created marriage for the purpose of family, love, and procreation.”
To Warren’s credit, I cannot imagine a Jim Wallis, Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo or Rob Bell saying anything remotely close to this. But then it happened: the dreaded flip/flop in April 2009 on Larry King Live. Rick Warren was interviewed by the old guy and actually apologized for his stand on heterosexual marriage. He also denied publicly supporting Prop 8. Confused? So were a lot of Christians. Kudos to him for clarifying in a 2012 interview with Jake Tapper at ABC. When asked, Rick Warren replied:
“Well, if the Bible is the word of God, then I don’t have the right to change it. Policies come and go over the years. And so if I’m unpopular for certain beliefs, well, then I’m unpopular for certain beliefs. And to me, the Bible is very clear that sex is for a man and a woman in marriage only.”48
I’m thankful for that response. It tells me there’s still hope for megachurches. Fame, success and power can corrupt, and Christians are not exempt. Generally, the bigger a church or ministry gets, the more difficult it is to stay grounded, humble, and not conform to the world.
You may remember in January 2009 that Rick Warren conducted the prayer for President Obama’s inauguration. When it was announced that a Christian pastor was going to give the inaugural prayer, I was encouraged. I’m sure it was a political move, but I thought Warren would use the opportunity to proclaim Jesus. What he did say, however, may have caused more religious confusion. Warren prayed in the name of both Jesus and “Isa” (the name for Jesus in the Quran). Islam doesn’t recognize Isa as the Son of God, and Isa did not die on the cross for our salvation according to the Muslim religion. Warren stated:
“I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life, Yeshua, Isa, Jesús (pronounced ‘Hey-sous’, Spanish for Jesus), Jesus, who taught us to pray”
Admittedly, Rick Warren was given a difficult task. Homosexuals, especially those in California who fought Warren on their Proposition 8 battle, were angry that he prayed in the name of Jesus and quoted the Lord’s Prayer because it was a Christian tradition. Muslims, believing that Barack Obama was now their ally in the White House, wanted a little more than a brief mention of Isa and the “merciful and compassionate one,” and Christian conservative evangelicals, questioning Warren’s references to Islam, were hoping he would have quoted some Scripture in his prayer.
Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ (Colossians 1:28).
THE DANIEL PLAN:
In 2011, Warren and Saddleback hosted the kick-off for the 52-week health program called The Daniel Plan. The problem is not with doing these things, it is with how they are done as well as who implements them. The “experts” called in to head the program go way beyond promoting physical health and are absolute advocates and proponents of eastern-style meditation. Let’s take a look:
Dr. Daniel Amen teaches techniques such as a twelve-minute form of meditation, Kriya Kirtan which includes chants and mantras for various purposes such as health and wealth. The promoted benefit of Kriya Kirtan is connecting with your inner divinity. This is a form of kundalini yoga (see Amen’s book, The Brain in Love, p. 146). Those who have researched and understand New Age mysticism know that kundalini (or serpent power) is the spiritual “energy” behind meditation.
Another form of meditation that Dr. Amen advocates is called “Tantra” or tantric sex which is the use of Hinduistic-type mysticism during sexual intercourse. Tantra is the name of the ancient Hindu sacred texts that contain certain rituals and secrets. Some deal with taking the energies brought forth in meditation through the chakras and combining them with love-making to enhance sexual experiences. Rick Warren clearly stated Dr. Amen’s resources would be available for those who attended the seminar and, of course, available on line. In almost all of Dr. Amen’s resources, he advocates eastern meditation.
Dr. Mark Hyman is a nominee to President Obama’s advisory group on prevention, health promotion, and public health. In his book The Ultramind Solution, Dr. Hyman emphasizes mystical meditation, saying it doesn’t matter what religion one has in order to benefit from it (p. 322). Dr. Hyman suggests that “Mindful meditation is a powerful, well-researched tool, developed by Buddhists” (p. 384). On Dr. Hyman’s website you can read the article, “How the Dalai Lama Can Help You Live to 120.”51 On the book’s front cover sits an endorsement by Dr. Mehmet Oz, the third Daniel Plan doctor.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, a highly renowned cardiovascular surgeon was catapulted into American living rooms thanks to Oprah Winfrey who featured him on her show for five years, making him a household name. That eventually led to him getting his own television show, currently one of the more popular shows on TV. Like it or not, Oprah has influenced perhaps millions to at least check out the New Age movement and calls Oz her favorite doctor. Influenced by the mysticism of Sufi Muslims, Oz was raised as a Muslim and wrote an article called “Mehmet Oz Finds His Teacher” in which he shares his spiritual awakening.
According to one of Oz’s mentors, mystic Emanuel Swedenborg, “heaven and hell are not merely places but spiritual states. We do not ‘go there’ when we die. We are already there.” Dr. Oz is also a proponent of transcendental meditation and Reiki meditation, and his wife is a Reiki Master. Reiki is a type of “energy healing” based on the New Age chakra system and puts those practicing it into contact with the realm of familiar spirits.
These three doctors worked with Warren to create a health plan that may already have been implemented by Purpose Driven Churches worldwide, and tragically, millions of people could possibly be introduced to their New Age influences. If he doesn’t support their teachings, he sure gave them a big platform with which to promote them.
Next, in December 2011, Saddleback hosted a dinner attended by 300 Muslims and members of Saddleback’s congregation. By partnering with Southern California mosques, Rick Warren hoped to focus on bringing Muslims and Christians together and heal past divisions. At the dinner, Saddleback pastor in charge of interfaith outreach, Abraham Meulenberg, and Jihad Turk, director of religious affairs at a mosque in Los Angeles, introduced King’s Way as “a path to end the 1,400 years of misunderstanding between Muslims and Christians.”
Muslim leaders with whom Warren partners have stated that they embrace Warren because of his promise to not share the gospel with Muslims. Jihad Turk, director of religious affairs at a mosque in Los Angeles stated:
“We agreed we wouldn’t try to evangelize each other…. We’d witness to each other but it would be out of ‘Love Thy Neighbor,’ not focused on conversion.”
Saddleback’s “Interfaith Outreach Pastor,” Abraham Meulenberg, teaches the concept of “Kingdom Circles” around the world. This theology teaches that all members of any religion can be saved without professing Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Warren’s initial intentions may have been good, but the idea compromises the gospel and our ability to openly share it with unbelievers. Jan Markell of Olive Tree Views commented:
“Do I think Rick loves God and is serving Him to the best of his ability? Yes. I just think ‘Peace Plans’ and global initiatives don’t belong in the house of God. Cozying up to Mullahs and uttering words they want to hear produces nothing but a laughing Mullah.”
Warren launched the original “PEACE Plan” at Saddleback in 2005 as part of an outreach to Muslims and a wide-ranging global effort to solve major world problems “by mobilizing governments, businesses and faith communities.” He challenged his congregation to implement the tenants of his plan. The acronym stands for: Promote reconciliation (formerly, Plant churches), Equip servant leaders, Assist the poor, Care for the sick, and Educate the next generation. Sounds good, right?
The problem is when you get out of your own local church community and attempt something more far reaching, federal or global agencies and organizations get involved. Whenever the government gets their greedy paws on something a church is doing, red tape increases, effectiveness decreases, and the ability to evangelize becomes severely limited. Enter the United Nations, a secular organization that promotes humanism and universalism. Rick Warren’s PEACE Plan goals are similar to the U.N.’s Millennium Goals. Both plans advocate social justice agendas.
The United Nations is an anti-Christian organization promoting environmentalism and earth worship through every program they offer. They have made it clear in many publications that they see religious fundamentalism as an obstacle to world peace. So why would they partner with Rick Warren to implement his PEACE Plan and spend millions of dollars on social justice programs? Perhaps because the U.N. knows that the Bible and the gospel won’t be proclaimed.
Saddleback Church is located in multiethnic Orange County, California and home to 170,000 Muslims. Rick Warren’s next door neighbor is Yasser Barakat, a Muslim from Syria who worships at a Mission Viejo mosque just four miles from Saddleback Church. Barakat invited Warren to learn more about Islam, and they travelled to Syria together in 2006. That is when Warren and his wife, Kay, began attending Iftar meals at the mosque. Iftar is the evening meal Muslims eat after a day of fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.
Through Warren’s sincere attempts to live out his faith, this relationship has led to invitations to speak at Muslim conferences. In addition to some of the concerns previously mentioned, throughout the Old Testament God commanded the Israelites not to enter into agreements or covenants including marriage with people of other religions. The reasoning still applies to us today: it is easy to be led away from the one true God to worship other gods.
The danger of compromise is always on Christians who desire to partner with other organizations that have fundamentally contrasting beliefs and doctrines. One reason God takes partnership very seriously is that the concept of holiness has always revolved around the idea of separation. Joel Richardson, Bible Prophecy expert and author of Why We Left Islam: Former Muslims Speak Out, emphasizes his concerns about the direction Warren has taken:
“…If Warren was pursuing friendships for the purpose of evangelism, I would openly stand with him in this goal. But I think it is clear that Warren is pursuing an agenda far more in line with the spirit of the age than with the goals of the early Christian Church.”53
We are Christ’s ambassadors and are called to be salt and light. We should be praying for Warren as well as the evangelical leaders mentioned earlier in this chapter. These men are highly influential on Christianity in America. I don’t believe that Rick Warren is being purposely deceptive, but I could be wrong.
The apostle Paul wrote that we are not to pass judgment before the appointed time because the Lord will expose the “things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts” (1 Corinthians 4:5). In these postmodern days, it appears too many leaders desire the approval of man more than the approval of God. To be honest, we’re not all that different.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (2 Timothy 4:3-5).
“But wait,” one might argue, “look at the size and growth of our church buildings and marketing campaigns and fundraisers! Look at how hip and relevant we are! We even serve cappuccino and lattes! Our sermons are catchy, our services are attractive, the kids are having fun, and we’ve blended in with culture!” This is my point exactly about the dangers of conforming to the world’s ways [to attract the world].
When the Holy Spirit isn’t invited by the preaching of solid Scripture to come in and work in our hearts, there can be no conviction. Without conviction and revelation of sin, there can be no repentance leading to forgiveness. The Lord Jesus said something very serious about those who cause people to sin. He said in Luke 17:2 that it would be better for them to have a millstone tied around their neck and be thrown into the sea! This is very serious to God.
Jesus warns us that He is returning quickly and said Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown (Rev. 3:11). It’s up to individual Christians to live counter-culture for the Lord and resist those who oppose the light and truth of Christianity. Thankfully, there are some good churches and pastors out there who still teach the unfiltered truth. There is also a remnant that understands the times. These committed soldiers are seeking allies, kindred spirits to encourage and sharpen one another. Take up your position! There are watchmen exposing darkness and soldiers fighting the good fight of faith who are hoping to one day hear God say, “well done.” Let’s do our best to be counted among these.
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error (1 John 4:4-6).
(Book excerpts from chapters 12 and 13 in ERADICATE: BLOTTING OUT GOD IN AMERICA)
*If you’d like to share only the information on The Daniel Plan and the doctors involved, here’s a separate blog post: The Daniel Plan and a Heaping Cup of New Age