Category Archives: Rick Warren

What John Calvin And Martin Luther Say To Rick Warren And Beth Moore

Medieval Tower

Yesterday I tried to demonstrate that today’s popular teachers who promote new paradigms and/or claim to receive personal revelations from God are completely different from the Reformers of the 16th Century. I noted that, while these present-day teachers distract us from Scripture, the Reformers called Christians back to God’s Word.

So why should we bring up 500-year-old people instead of tackling Beth Moore, Rick Warren and the others directly?  How does understanding a group of religious dissenters from the Renaissance help us combat the false teachings that permeate 21st Century evangelicalism? Most Christians (even those who have excellent discernment abilities) ask such questions.

And in some respects, the people asking those questions have a point. Yet many of the errors that Beth Moore, Rick Warren and others make run parallel to errors that Martin Luther, John Calvin and the other Reformers had to correct.

For example, Beth Moore often bases her teachings on visions and personal revelations she claims to have received from the Holy Spirit. A simple Youtube search on “beth moore visions from god” will document this fact. One of the reasons discernment bloggers warn so strenuously against Beth Moore is precisely because of her extrabiblical revelations.

But did you know that John Calvin devoted Chapter 9 of his seminal book, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, to the very topic of extrabiblical revelations? It’s a short chapter, which you can read by clicking this link, but it offers a Scriptural argument (as long as you know that he understands prophecy to mean the Canon of Scripture) against personal revelations.

On a wider scope,  Rick Warren’s statement that Catholics and Protestants have the basic doctrines of Christianity in common probably would have perplexed an older Martin Luther. Hadn’t Luther risked his very life refuting Rome’s teaching that grace came through the sacraments and through purchasing leftover merits accrued by Mary and the saints? Hadn’t he insisted that justification comes through faith alone?

Until the Catholic Church rescinds the Council of Trent, which stridently condemns the doctrine of salvation by faith alone, Protestants must recognize that Catholics preach another gospel. Therefore we cannot accept Rick Warren’s embrace of Roman Catholicism. The very Reformation itself exposes Rick Warren as, at best, a seriously compromised evangelical.

Of course, we must ultimately measure truth by the Bible, not by the Reformers. Calvin and Luther had a few blind spots of their own. But the Reformers teach us how to apply Scriptural principles to teachers like Beth Moore and Rick Warren. Studying the Protestant Reformation enhances our discernment. Don’t underestimate its value.

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Why Beth Moore, Rick Warren And Ann Voskamp Aren’t Like The Reformers

Ancient Scripture

We’ve talked a lot about popular teachers such as Beth Moore, Rick Warren and Ann Voskamp on this blog, highlighting their claims that God speaks to them personally and shows them new — or at least  deeper  — understandings of Christian spirituality. Invariably, these understandings (really the same recycled lies of false teachers throughout history) result in twisting Scripture and/or elevating something to the same level as God’s Word.

One might argue that these teachers aren’t a great deal different from Martin Luther, John Calvin and the other 16th Century Reformers who split from Roman Catholicism. On the surface, it admittedly appears to be the case. Can we really consider these 21st Century teachers as heretics when they actually might see a new direction that the Holy Spirit wants for His Church?

I believe there’s a tremendous difference between 21st Century teachers and the Reformers of the 16th Century. And I’m here to tell you why I believe there’s a difference.

In the first place, the Protestant Reformation never set out to divide from the Roman Catholic Church. That fact, sorry to say, gets largely overlooked by both Catholics and Protestants as we discuss 16th Century church history. Some even believe that the Reformers deliberately wanted to start a new religion.

You may counter by reminding me that the teachers I’ve mentioned also have no desire to divide the Church. Indeed, Beth Moore and Rick Warren famously advocate for unity among professing Christians, even to the point of obscuring differences between Protestants and Catholics. Doctrine, they say, divides the Church. In contrast, they believe the Holy Spirit has given them new revelation that leads to new ways of knowing God and/or “doing” church.

The Reformers, on the other hand, based their reforms on the Scriptures in their original languages. They saw inaccuracies in the Latin translations of the Bible, as well as false teachings within Roman Catholic tradition and an unbiblical elevation of papal authority. As a matter of fact, they objected to the supposed special revelation that God allegedly gave to popes, insisting instead that God’s Word contains all the revelation we need.

The Reformers eventually did have to break from the Roman Catholic Church, but only because the Roman Catholic Church first broke from Biblical Christianity. Luther, Calvin and the others went back to God’s Word as the only trustworthy means of hearing God’s voice. Furthermore, they labored hard and long to make the Word of God accessible, both through translating it into common languages (only clergy in the 16th Century knew Latin) and by preaching expositional sermons verse by verse to teach Christians proper ways of interpreting the Bible.

One hallmark of false teachers is that they promise something new. The Reformers, however, restored God’s people to the old Gospel of Jesus Christ. To them, novelty and innovation only breeds the corruption of sound doctrine, drawing people away from the simple truth of Scripture.

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It Goes Beyond Calling Out Beth Moore

Floating BalloonSince I’ve been blogging about the various problems with many discernment ministries and discernment bloggers over the past couple years (and especially in recent weeks), some of you may have the impression that I look down my nose at discernment in general. If so, you’ve misunderstood me. I actually value discernment quite highly as something every Christian absolutely must exercise. The Word of God says that Christians should grow in discernment.

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. ~~Philippians 1:9-11 (ESV)

Do you notice that Paul would have discernment, as well as knowledge, connected with abounding love? Did you also notice that he would have Christians abound in love, knowledge and all discernment for the purpose of glorifying God with purity, blamelessness and righteousness? God indeed calls us to discernment, but the discernment He means is a great deal different from the thing that many self-proclaimed discernment bloggers exhibit.

Discernment certainly includes naming names to identity false teachers. Please don’t misunderstand me as saying that we shouldn’t call out Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, Rick Warren or any of the other evangelical celebrities who have damaged the Body of Christ in recent years. The Bible Study I led you through on Jude just last year made it clear that discernment requires us to recognize those who distort God’s Word. So yes, doing so remains an indispensable function of discernment ministry.

But, dear sisters in Christ, it’s only one of several aspects of discernment. Biblical discernment, at its heart, distinguishes between good and evil, and then makes further distinctions between good, better and best. It rightly interprets Scripture using proper hermeneutics to judge teachings and behaviors to ensure our conformity to the Lord’s will.

Discernment ministry should never exalt our supposed discernment skills. Personally, I find it off-putting when someone tells me she has the gift of discernment. I’ve seen too many women who believe they have that gift who are really gullible. (One friend of mine who prides herself on being discerning sought physical healing at a Benny Hinn crusade.) When we set ourselves up as purveyors of discernment, we display a type of pride that can seriously undermine our credibility.

I pray for discernment, but the Lord repeatedly humbles me by allowing me to see how often I still lack it. Thankfully, His Word offers me a way to develop discernment as I go through life. As I submit to His revealed will in Scripture, He enables me to discern His will in any given situation. He also helps me determine whether or not something conforms to His Word.

I’ll keep blogging about discernment, not because I fancy myself as being discerning, but because I want to grow right along with you in being a godly woman. I want discernment for the sake of honoring the Lord, not for the purpose of building my own blogging empire. If so-called discernment doesn’t direct hearts to the Lord Jesus Christ, is it really discernment?


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Saturday Sampler: June 4 — June 10

Bertucci Sampler

Sampler plate at Bertucci’s

Clint Archer posts Running for the  Reward: Comrades Marathon and the Bema Seat in The Cripplegate. Sometimes we Christians forget that rewards await us when we finish this life.

Reprising a column that she originally wrote in 2011, Marsha West of Berean Research chronicles the Purpose Driven dismantling of Christianity as  a testament to the many corrosive influences on the 21st Century church. Her comments on psychology particularly interested me.  In addition, she unmasks the resurgence of Gnosticism among evangelicals and explores Rick Warren’s affiliation with Robert Schuller.

Sometimes we ignore seemingly inconsequential sins, assuming the Lord also overlooks them. Tim Challies directs our attention to one such sin (grumbling about fellow Christians) in The King Is Within Earshot.

People commonly object to the doctrine of election because they infer that, if God elects some to heaven, He conversely elects others to hell. In The Cripplegate, Jesse Johnson writes Reprobation: Does God elect people to hell? as a way to demonstrate the logical fallacies of this argument. After you’ve read this piece, however, I strongly suggest that you read Reprobation Rejoinder by Mike Riccardi, also in The Cripplegate.

I’ve been disturbed, for the past few years, about the common perceptions professing Christians have regarding heaven. So it encourages me to read Heaven: The Biblical Version by Jennifer at One Hired Late In The Day. I feel less alone in my understanding of what the Bible teaches on the subject.

Denny Burk provides a sobering reminder that American Christians have already begun to face persecution. His article, Watch Bernie Sanders tell  a Christian that his faith disqualifies him from office, reminds me that we can no longer expect to be embraced by our culture. But Jesus repeatedly warned us that the world would reject us, so we really shouldn’t be surprised.

If you want to read something both fun and educational, look at The Mischievous Protestant’s Guide to Catholic Rome by Tim Challies. Now, why do you suppose my art history professor at Dominican University of California  (a school started by Catholic nuns) never mentioned the items in this piece.

In her essay for The Gospel Coalition Blog, Kendra Dahl shares The Lesson That Saved My Marriage to help us adjust our expectations of our husbands. I definitely needed to read her wisdom this week!

 

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Why The Reformation Still Matters

Bible Mask MedievalOctober 31, 2017, the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, still looms six months ahead of us. Because most 21st Century evangelicals have little interest in church history, however, the anniversary will go largely unnoticed, except by those who seek some sort of reconciliation with the Roman Catholic Church. Indeed, Pope Francis has declared that the Reformation is over, emphasizing “common ground” between Catholics and evangelicals.

Many evangelicals have little problem accepting Roman Catholicism as a branch of Christianity. Rick Warren has famously referred to Pope Francis as “our” pope, and Beth Moore celebrates the notion that Catholic women are our sisters in Christ.

It all seems so Christian, doesn’t it? And, frankly, I’d love to pretend that the doctrinal differences between Catholics and Protestants didn’t matter. Why not concentrate on our shared beliefs in the Trinity and Christ’s Incarnation? Why not rejoice together in His death, burial and resurrection?

In fact, until recent years, I didn’t think the differences between Catholics and Protestants really did matter (although I couldn’t agree with their beliefs on things like Purgatory or the veneration of Mary). But then, doctrine didn’t seem very important to me until about 16 or 17 years ago.

I was pretty typical of most present-day evangelicals, especially in my voluntary ignorance of both doctrine and church history. God has graciously changed all that, even in my twilight years, convincing me that the Reformation has profound meaning that 21st Century evangelicals dare not ignore.

The Reformation happened, not because a constipated German monk decided to cause trouble (as my Catholic Political Science professor taught me), but because God sovereignly opened up His Word to men who then embraced the doctrines of grace. These men saw that, even though the Roman Catholic Church grew out of genuine Christianity, it perverted Biblical doctrine in favor of tradition and political power. In His mercy and faithfulness, the Lord brought about the Reformation in order to restore Scripture to His Church.

Next Tuesday, we’ll examine the doctrine of justification, which divides the Protestant from the Catholic church. As serious as the other doctrinal differences are (and many are extremely serious), the matter of justification makes it impossible for Bible-believing Christians to reconcile with Catholicism.

The Reformation continues, and the Reformation matters, as long as Rome insists that human effort plays a part in justification. Pope Francis can make all the declarations he wants, but his pontifications (pun fully intended) can’t change the fact that Rome fails to teach basic Gospel truth.

Evangelicals need to understand the Reformation in order to stand firmly in Biblical doctrine. Sure, it would be lovely to throw our arms around Rome’s children and let them claim us as their own. But fidelity to the Gospel forbids it. No  matter what Rick Warren, Beth Moore and Pope Francis say, the Reformation isn’t over. And it mustn’t be forgotten.

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Saturday Sampler: March 26 — April 1

Butterfly SamplerJohn Ellis’ piece in PJ Media, Teenage Boy Sues School Over Transgender Bathrooms is a political article rather than a specifically Christian one, but it serves as a reminder that our culture has chosen a path that degrades most of society. Christians must prepare to be marginalized as a new version of “morality” takes over.

Continuing her series on discernment at Growing 4 Life, Leslie A. writes Learn to Discern: Acknowledging the War. Find out how (and why) spiritual warfare fits into using discernment properly.

Does the Lord care how we worship Him? Rebekah Womble, blogging at Wise In His Eyes, believes He does. Her blog post, The Freedom of Worshipping God’s Way (she spelled worshiping with two p’s, not me), helps us understand why we must avoid self-styled approaches to worshiping a holy God.

Why Bargain With God?, a post that Kennedy Mathis wrote for Biblical Woman, brings back memories of my struggles as a single woman. But the principle she’s learned really applies  to any struggle Christians have.

As you can tell, I appreciate the series on cessationism that Jordan Standridge has been doing for The Cripplegate this month. His latest article, Three Reasons God is a Cessationist, employs arguments I’ve heard before, but they’re not common arguments. Please, if you have any Charismatic or continualist leanings, consider the points he makes.

Cameras Buettel, writing for the Grace To You Blog, says You Might Be A Pharisee If… This essay helps us examine ourselves (and others) more effectively to make sure we remain faithful to the Bible.

Jennifer of One Hired Late In The Day writes Same Bible, different beliefs, showing how the Lord helped her work though a perplexing question. And while you’re on her website, please check out Deconstructing Absurdity: a discernment lesson to watch her tackle a recent Tweet by Rick Warren.

R.C. Sproul posts TULIP and Reformed Theology: Unconditional Election on the Ligonier blog. Appealing to Scripture, he both explains the doctrine of election and deals with the argument that election is unjust.

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Saturday Sampler: November 27– December 3

squirrel-samplerGlen Chatfield of The Watchman’s Bagpipes writes a  heartfelt and extremely balanced article entitled “Gays,” Lesbians, and “Transgenders” — What Do I Think About Them? Admittedly, it’s probably a longer blog post than it needs to be, but Glen reminds us of some salient attitudes that  Christians ought to hold when discussing homosexuality.

Could you explain the Gospel to an unbeliever? If not, read An 8 Point Summary of the Gospel! by Lisa Morris on her Conforming to the Truth blog. You can even download the material as a free booklet. I love the fact that she presents the Gospel almost entirely from God’s Word.

Stop Excommunicating Yourself from the Lord’s Supper says Josh Buice of Delivered By Grace. His article shows us the difference between Scriptural self-examination and wrongfully disqualifying ourselves from an ordinance that Jesus commands His people to observe.

Excommunication, however, should happen when a church member refuses to accept Biblical correction, as we see in Denny Burk’s post, Why churches may need to excommunicate “affirming” members of the congregation. Although Burk writes specifically about those who minimize, ignore or deny the sinfulness of homosexuality, much of what he says also applies to all forms of false teaching.

On  her blog, One Hired Late In The  Day, Jennifer gives a practical example of how to evaluate things we hear and read through the lens of Scripture. Her blog post, Filtering Ideas Biblically, reiterates the necessity of saturating ourselves in God’s Word.

Jason Vaughn, writing for Parking Space 23, demonstrates how to understand the Gospel narratives in  Context: The Key to Unlocking the Gospels. Okay, I know I harp on the importance of context a lot, but maybe this essay will help you see how reading Scripture in its own context can help us better understand and apply its truths.

Writing for She Disciples, Kimberley Cummings provides Scriptural reasons for Overcoming Empty Optimism as well as Biblical ways to cultivate an optimism that has its basis in the Lord. Because social media inundates us with fluffy platitudes that imply that we can handle the world in our own  strength, this article really needs our attention.

When will evangelicals stop trying to hear God’s voice in addition to Scripture? In Rick Warren: Forget Sola Scriptura, But There is “Plus Scriptura, Pulpit & Pen’s Bud Ahlheim compares Warren’s recent post on four ways God supposedly speaks to Christians with the apostle Paul’s words to Timothy on the sufficiency of Scripture. Ahlheim’s article should be read by everyone who claims to know Christ!

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