In an article entitled “Rick Warren on Fundamentalism” at the Saddleback Church web site, we now learn that they are fundamentalists after all!
“Within Christianity, there’s a large group of believers who affirm that there are certain facts about our faith that must be embraced, even if it isn’t popular to proclaim these facts as true. These are facts such as Jesus was God in the flesh, God raised Jesus from the dead, and the Resurrection opened the singular path available for men and women to intimately and eternally connect with God. These are among the fundamental truths of our Christian faith (or, to use another phrase, they are foundational truths to our faith). Now, if you believe that these fundamental truths are essential to the Christian faith, then you are a ‘fundamentalist’ in the very basic sense of the word, and within that definition and context Saddleback Church is unapologetically fundamentalist. There is, however, another kind of fundamentalism that has nothing to do with fundamentals of the Christian faith; instead, it is about keeping the right rules in the right way order to please the right people. I’m not speaking here about the Ten Commandments or any of the other God-spoken standards that light our way on the narrow path; I’m referring to the fanatical pursuit of keeping--and insisting that others keep--rules that are man-made and often culturally influenced, rules that insist all Christians must look, act, and smell the same in order to be considered genuine believers.”
This statement is so wrongheaded it is difficult to know where to begin.
First of all, Rick Warren stood before the Pew Forum in May 2005 and dogmatically said the following:
“Now the word ‘fundamentalist’ actually comes from a document in the 1920s called the Five Fundamentals of the Faith. And it is a very legalistic, narrow view of Christianity ... I am an evangelical. I’m not a member of the religious right and I’M NOT A FUNDAMENTALIST” (“Myths of the Modern Mega-Church,” May 23, 2005, transcript of the Pew Forum’s biannual Faith Angle conference on religion, politics and public life).
Warren did not try to explain to the Pew Forum that he is actually his own kind of fundamentalist and that he is merely opposed to certain types of fundamentalism. He simply stated that he is no kind of fundamentalist and criticized fundamentalism in the harshest of terms!
Will the real Rick Warren please stand up!
Of course, if we allow a man to make up his own definitions, he can be anything he pleases, and that is just what Saddleback Church has done in regard to fundamentalism. Real and acceptable fundamentalism, we are told, is simply to affirm that there are a few facts (Saddleback mentions only three) about the Christian faith that must be embraced.
That, my friend, is a brand new definition of fundamentalism. There never was a document called “the Five Fundamentals of the Faith.” The name “fundamentalist” was derived from a series of books called “The Fundamentals” that was published from 1910-1915. The series, composed of 90 articles written by 64 authors, did not promote “five fundamentals” (or three) but rather dozens of fundamentals. (For more about the history of fundamentalism see http://www.wayoflife.org/fbns/fundamen1.htm.)
Notice that Saddleback Church warns of “another type of fundamentalism” that is described as “keeping the right rules in the right way in order to please the right people.” That is a smoke screen. It is a straw man. I doubt that Rick Warren knows anyone that actually fits that definition. How would he know who other people are trying to please? Can he see the motives of men’s hearts?
Biblical fundamentalism does not “keep rules” in order to please people; it keeps the precepts of the Bible in order to please God and to help people be prepared to meet God.
How strict are we supposed to be in keeping God’s Word?
Consider Christ’s Great Commission:
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: TEACHING THEM TO OBSERVE ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER I HAVE COMMANDED YOU: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Mat. 28:19-20).
The church’s job is to teach each disciple to observe ALL things that Christ has commanded. That is a far-reaching command. It involves training the saints not only to know but also to obey everything that Christ has left us in the New Testament faith.
Consider Paul’s final instruction to the elders at Ephesus:
“For I have not shunned to declare unto you ALL the counsel of God” (Acts 17:27).
Paul left us the example of declaring all of the counsel of God. He didn’t focus merely on three, four, or five “fundamentals.”
THIS IS THE TRUE AND ORIGINAL “PURPOSE DRIVEN” CHURCH. Its purpose is to glorify Jesus Christ by teaching and obeying all things whatsoever He has commanded us in the New Testament Scriptures.
Biblical fundamentalism does try to keep the right rules in the right way, because it seeks to honor Jesus Christ by exalting the Bible as the sole authority for faith and practice and keeping it as strictly as Jesus Christ and the apostles taught we should keep it.
Biblical fundamentalism does not exalt man-made rules; it seeks, rather, to be faithful to the principles and details of God’s Word. When the Bible says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world” and “be not conformed to this world,” the biblical fundamentalist takes this seriously and seeks to follow the Spirit’s leading in applying this great truth to every area of his life, including the clothes that he wears and the music he listens to. When the Bible says it is a shame for a man to wear long hair, the biblical fundamentalist doesn’t make excuses for it, he simply tries to honor and obey it. When the Bible says God forbids a woman to teach or usurp authority over a man, the biblical fundamentalist doesn’t try to find a way to ignore it; he simply tries to obey it.
Saddleback Church calls this “legalism,” but it is no such thing and one day Rick Warren will give a solemn account for the way he has perverted and redefined terms and set up straw men to poison people’s minds toward those who are guilty of nothing more than loving God’s Word.
What kind of “legalism” is it for a blood-washed, saved-by-grace saint to aim to preach all of the truths of God’s Word and to be faithful to God’s Word in all matters? Though we are saved by grace without works, we are saved unto good works (Eph. 2:8-10). If that is legalism, Paul was a great legalist, for he testified, “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). By my count, there are 88 specific duties that Christians are instructed to follow in the book of Ephesians alone, the very book that emphasizes salvation without works!
Rick Warren is a very dangerous man, the blind leading the blind. His books are accepted by the world (e.g., his “40 Days of Purpose” has been used by Coco-Cola, Ford, Wal-Mart, the NBA, LPGA, NASCAR, professional baseball teams, etc.), because he is of the world.
“Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26).
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