While mega-pastor Rick Warren has joined a group of 100 church leaders calling for interfaith dialogue and the building of “common ground” with Muslims, he has a slightly different outlook toward Christians with whom he disagrees.
In his latest missive to fellow pastors, he writes: “You’ve got to protect the unity of your church. If that means getting rid of troublemakers, do it.”
“As pastors, as shepherds of God’s people, it’s our job to protect our congregations from Satan’s greatest weapon – disunity,” he writes. “It’s not always easy, but it’s what we’ve been called to do.”
I may not be pastor of a mega-church, but, I’ve got to tell you, Rick Warren’s priorities and sensibilities and his biblical literacy and standards are upside-down, inside-out and twisted beyond anything remotely connected with Scripture. And I’m not afraid of his threats of ex-communication from the new papacy he apparently seeks to create.
Warren cites Paul’s advice in II Timothy 2:23-26 as the basis for when and how “pastors” should draw the line on disagreements among the flock. However, Paul was addressing Timothy not as a “pastor” or “priest,” but rather as an itinerant evangelist doing his utmost to spread the Gospel to non-believers.
“But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.
“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
“In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
“And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”
That happens to be excellent advice for anyone attempting to evangelize unbelievers. It is not, however, a call for church “professionals” to declare themselves as founts of unlimited wisdom and infallibility in spiritual matters.
Likewise, he quotes from Titus 3:10-11 as the authority for getting rid of “troublemakers.” Yet, that Scripture is not referring to people contending for the faith. It is referring to heretics.
“A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.”
Has it ever occurred to Rick Warren that pastors have been wrong? Has it ever occurred to Rick Warren that pastors might teach unbiblical principles? Has it ever occurred to Rick Warren no earthly pastor is the recipient of all Divine revelation? Has it ever occurred to Rick Warren that pastors have led entire flocks into grave error that may have eternal consequences?
Has it ever occurred to Rick Warren that he, too, might be capable of such mistakes?
Rick Warren makes a spiritually fatal error when he proclaims, without any biblical authority, that Satan’s greatest weapon is disunity. That is simply not true. The Bible reveals over and over again that even one spirit-filled believer can stand up against Satan. God is not impressed with numbers. He doesn’t need numbers for victory. He doesn’t care about big churches. He doesn’t care about the cathedrals of men. He wants numbers only because He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
No, Satan’s greatest weapon is hardly disunity. His greatest weapon since his fall and since the Garden of Eden has been deception. In fact, Satan loves unity – as long as those unified are knowingly or unknowingly serving him. He’d love for all of us to “go to hell in a handbasket.”
Are more people led to death by debate within the body of Christ or by spiritual leaders who demand absolute obedience to themselves?
Paul warned us about this, too, in Acts 20:29-30: “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”
For heaven’s sake, nothing could be clearer from Scripture than that no man has a monopoly on truth. That is why Paul even had to correct Peter (Galatians 2:11-14). Besides worshipping God, this would seem to be one of the principal purposes of the church.
The church is warned over and over about false teachers throughout the Bible. Surely Rick Warren is familiar with those warnings. Why would he assume all pastors to be righteous and assume all lay dissenters to be unrighteous?
And, equally curious, why does Rick Warren eagerly seek to find common ground with Muslim leaders while, at the same time, so ruthlessly advocating the disfellowship of Christian believers?
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