At a wedding the bride is the main character, the center, the start of the show – everyone else is supporting cast, but the glory goes to the bride/ …The Bride of Christ – of which the church is its local expression around the world – deserves the focus, the credit and the glory for faithfully serving their communities year after year.
– Rick Warren
When I challenged Pastor Rick Warren recently about giving the glory to God rather than to the church, I honestly thought he would have one of these responses:
- he was misquoted by a publicist in a press release
- his words were misunderstood
- he slipped up and made a mistake
Instead, he adamantly defended his assertion that the church "deserves(emphasis added) the credit and the glory for faithfully serving their communities year after year." He even provided WND with a response in the form of a Bible study on the subject.
My wish is not to belabor this as a dispute between us. But I do believe careful examination of the Scripture can lead to healthy, lively and productive debate without causing "division" within the Body of Christ.
Here are my concerns about Warren's defense of his statement that the church deserves to be the focus of our gratitude, the focus of the credit for works in the name of Jesus and the focus of glory for the services it provides to those in need.
- I don't buy it. None of the Scriptures cited by Rick Warren make that case. First of all, many of the verses cited by the pastor are mistranslations – mere paraphrases of the Word of God that are unworthy of being considered Holy Scripture. These paraphrase versions of the Bible continue to be created for two essential reasons that I can detect: Because they are copyrightable, they make money off the Word of God and they appeal to a dumbed-down public that cannot comprehend the same King James Version of the Bible that my 8-year-old reads. Despite that caution, however, even what I consider to be mistranslations that do not reflect the actual Word of God do not support Rick Warren's controversial statement that the church – you and me – are to be the focus of the glory. Please compare for yourself his statement with the verses he uses to justify it.
- I believe Rick Warren is doing something he accuses others of doing: Interpreting the Bible through 21st century American eyes rather than through the eyes of the ancient Hebrew culture into which Jesus was born, lived, died and was resurrected. In no way was the bride the focus of the glory in a Jewish wedding back in those days and in that place. It was the bridegroom who was the focus of all the attention and revelry. Likewise, I reiterate, it will be the bridegroom – Jesus – who gets all the glory, and deserves all the glory, at his wedding.
- If the original sin that resulted in Lucifer's fall, the war in heaven and the fall of man was pride – and I believe it was – then believers should always be careful about falling prey. The Bible warns over and over about pride, arrogance and boasting – Proverbs 16:18, 1 John 2:15-17 and 1 Timothy 3:5-6 come to mind immediately. It seems to me when we bestow glory on the church, rather than the Savior, we are seriously missing the boat. It's not a close call. Jesus gets all the glory – now and forever, amen.
I have some more Scripture I would like to offer to compare and contrast with the verses provided by Rick Warren.
I'll let the Word of God do the rest of my talking for me. Please consider the following:
- 1 Chronicles 29:11: "Thine, O LORD is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all."
- Revelation 5:12-13: "Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever."
- Romans 15:17: "I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God."
- Galatians 6:14: "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."
- 2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen."
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