Sunday, July 09, 2006

Opportunity To Preach Or N. Korea Propaganda Stunt?

There is no doubt that the success of Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life book has stirred up a lot of controversy within many Christian evangelical circles. I have read several blogposts, opinions and comments from various Christian blogs and message boards. Some praise Warren for his book and efforts, others fear that he is pointing people in the wrong direction through a watered-down gospel message often known as the "seeker-sensitive" kind of approach to evangelism. Others even go so far as to believe that he is guilty of "preaching another gospel".

When I read the "Purpose" book, I really enjoyed it and got a lot out of it. However, when our church began a home group Bible study series based on the book, I had my concerns right from the start. I wrote about this in a former blogpost called Seeking to Save?

The crux of the matter and debate (for me, at least) can be summed up in this portion of my "Seeking to Save" blogpost:

All the leaders gathered to view a video done by Pastor Rick Warren as an introduction to the study course. When the video came to the portion where accepting Christ was involved, an alarm went off in my heart and mind as I noticed something missing from Pastor Warren's prayer. There was no mention of the need to confess personal sins and repent of them. I had arrived late to the meeting so I thought that perhaps I missed that part in the beginning. During the question and answer time, I raised my hand and brought this up to the assistant pastor leading the class. He said he would "look into it" and quickly called on someone else with the next question. His lack of reaction and abrupt answer was close to an outright dismissal about my concerns!! I was shocked! Two other women sitting nearby said they felt the exact same way about that prayer! I was hoping that this would be brought out to the general congregation (because my pastor ALWAYS SPECIFICALLY EMPHASIZES THE NEED TO CONFESS SIN AND REPENT BEFORE RECEIVING CHRIST AS SAVIOR) but I don't think it was ever brought up.

As a leader of two study groups, I felt that it was my obligation to be sure that the sinners prayer was included in this study so I led such a prayer myself to give people the opportunity to receive Christ at any time during the 8 week study. If I had to criticize the "Purpose" book for one reason, it would be its lack of this important point within its pages.

This is why the book, "The Way of the Master" SHOULD ALSO BE READ BY EVERY BORN-AGAIN BIBLE-BELIEVING CHRISTIAN. It picks up where the "Purpose" book is lacking (IMO).

Today, I read an article on WorldNetDaily about Rick Warren's upcoming invitation to speak in North Korea. Best intentions aside, Christians everywhere cannot help but be concerned about this visit. The tendency for Kim Jong Il to use anyone and anything for propagandist reasons and/or intentions in order to advance his own dictatorial agenda cannot be easily dismissed. The recent firing of missiles with one aimed at Hawaii doesn't do much to lessen Kim Jong's ILL image of being a crazy madman, either.

I was particularly worried when I read these disturbing paragraphs from the article:

"Scholte questions what message Warren will be allowed to deliver.

"Kim Jong Il has set himself up as a god. Is he going to say, 'Kim Jong Il is not your god – God is God'?" she asked. "They are raised to believe Kim Jong Il is god and that the God we worship doesn't exist. And so, what is he going to preach?"

Since 2001, North Korea has been designated a "country of particular concern" for violations of religious freedom. Its citizens may not belong to unauthorized religious groups, and believers who proselytize or have ties to evangelical groups in China are arrested, tortured or executed, a 2005 State Department report said.

Given North Korea's history of persecution, Scholte's fear is that the government will use the crusade to identify Christian believers who will be "rounded up and sent to a political prison camp" once Warren leaves the country."

What are your thoughts concerning Rick Warren's "Purpose Driven Life" book? What do you think about his upcoming visit to North Korea?



Two brief, but excellent reviews on The Way of the Master book at! Many more great reviews at the link, too.

Essential Reading!, January 22, 2005
Reviewer: Brian Bomar - See all my reviews

This book is probably the most foundational, and much needed book on salvation, conversion, and proper evangelism today. You can't get far into the book until you realize that the modern styles of trying to crank out decisions and more programs simply isn't working - and it's all backed up by statistics.

Besides that, Ray really uses down to earth logic to back up all of the hard-hitting Biblical points that he makes. This book is essential - required - for anyone who has any desire to ever lead a person to Christ.

Good News isn't "Good" without the Bad News, January 20, 2005
Reviewer: J. Leone - See all my reviews

"I am very impressed by this work. Preaching the Law must precede the Gospel of grace, and this book exposes the error-filled methods of today's milquetoast 'preachers' who entice with the call of love when they should be expounding first on the terrors of the Lord Almighty.

Spurgeon and Edwards would be happy with this effort, I believe."


Christinewjc said...

This review is really good, too:

One of the most exciting Christian books that I have read, November 22, 2004
Reviewer: Kurt A. Johnson (Marseilles, Illinois, USA) - See all my reviews

"Have you ever noticed two simultaneous phenomenona - that evangelistic crusades produce many "converts" who cannot be found in church even a few months later, and that surveys show that many Americans consider themselves Christian and yet lead lives that do not reflect obedience to God? In this fascinating book, actor and lay Christian Kirk Cameron and Pastor Ray Comfort, examine the problem and give their diagnosis of what is going on. The evangelical church in America, has embraced a hermeneutic that tells the unconverted that "God has a plan for you," and "God wants you happy."

And, what has been the effect of this? "Converts" who have no concept of sin, who do not have the grounding that can take them through the hard parts of life that are certain to come. So, what is the solution? A total rethink of the way that Good News is preached, including the centrality of God's Law. This book starts out as a Why We Should Evangelize, becomes a What We Are Doing Wrong, and ends up as a How We Should Evangelize.

Overall, I found this to be a great book, one of the most exciting Christian books that I have read in a while! If you are a Christian who truly loves God, and want to know how to share your faith, then this is the book for you. I highly recommend this book to every Christian."

Christinewjc said...

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful:

Not For The Weak At Heart, July 6, 2004
Reviewer: Ender Guerra (Hialeah, FL USA) - See all my reviews

"The Way of the Master" shows us that it isn't the "feel-good" gospel that creates new believers, but the power of the Law of God--when used properly--to bring unsaved sinners to the Savior.
I used to tell people that "God loves them and has a wonderful plan" for their lives. This book basically knocked me off my feet! Anyone who still uses the modern style of evangelism will only get false conversions--if they're lucky, one of every 200 or so will continue in the faith.

This book also challenges people in their daily walk to examine themselves to see if they are in the faith. Not for the faint at heart!

I plead for the body of Christ to read this book! It will change them forever! Next to the Bible, THIS is my favorite book!"
(bold- mine)

Christinewjc said...

What To Do About North Korea

Mark said...

Hey Christine,
I did a class on Rick's book The Purpose Driven Life. I thought it was a great book and offered good material for discussion. I would highly recommend it, and have given away several copies, to folks not reading the Bible, folks new to Christ etc.. It really is IMO a good 'start' becuase it's an easy read plus references Biblical verse.

As far has going to N Korea, not knowing all the details, I would say it's a mistake. The leader is a nut, and Rick Warren is out of his league IMO. I am also very concenred about these 'mega church' leaders preaching half the gospel, the half that has more to do with 'what God can do for me' vs 'what I can do for God' Repentence is absolutley crucial! I'll even go a step further, you should 'name' your sin by its 'name' when praying.

I think I'll order The Way of the Master, sounds awesome! Thanks !

Christinewjc said...

Hi Mark,

Thanks for sharing your views about Rick Warren's book. Even though I was wary of the fact that his book didn't cover the need for repentance as thoroughly as he could have (IMO), I wasn't about to throw the book out because of it.

Some Christians may disagree, but I think you are correct that it could be used as a good start for witnessing to new believers as well as a tool for stirring interest for the gospel of Christ to the unsaved. It is up to us Christians to follow up after giving the book though, right? I'm guilty of not doing that for some people whom I have given the book as a gift. Some I have lost touch with, but that's not a good excuse either!!

Perhaps, if they read the book, it has planted a seed from which the gospel can then be shared; maybe even through other Christians.

Prepare yourself for The Way of the Master book! The first chapter or two are devastating...even for believers to read! Some people (even Christians!) think it's way to harsh, but I think that it's way to important to ignore!

From what you shared about the "absolute need for repentance," I think that you will agree that it is one of the best books out there to counter the current error of the "feel good, God wants you happy, God has a plan for your life" only trend. Many of these types of churches teeter (or, in some cases, have taken a headfirst plunge into) preaching the heresy of The Crossless Gospel!