I Timothy 3:15 describes the mission of the church as being the pillar and support of the truth. Whatever else the church does, it must take this commission from God seriously. No one but God’s church is interested in such a project – it falls on God’s people, the true church, to be the one place where truth is believed, upheld, and gloriously proclaimed. Of course, the truth that the church has to offer has a source – the Word of God. All the church does must emerge from the Scriptures. Every method, program, evangelistic effort, and message the church declares must find its roots firmly planted in biblical truth. This leads us to Warren’s, and his imitators’, Achilles’ heal: Warren does not begin with the Bible. At first glance “The Purpose-driven” programs and message are quite attractive. They seem to speak the language of the people; they are successful; they are saturated with Scripture, much of its teaching is on the mark, and many promoting and involved in The Purpose-driven Life are sincere and well-meaning. But upon close examination there is a fly in the soup. It is no ordinary fly either – it is a huge, quarter-pounder filled with deadly poison. We can attempt to ignore the fly, hoping all will be well, but ultimately we must either deal with the fly or allow it to alter our soup to something altogether different.
What is the fly? It is this – Warren does not begin with Scripture, he begins with people. His church was started on the basis of a survey asking people what they wanted in a church. He quizzes the congregation on the kind of secular music they like and provides that kind of music. He starts with the felt-needs of people and then crafts a message to meet those needs. He determines what he believes people need to hear and then goes to Scripture to find support for his philosophy of ministry. It is right here that we need to step back and carefully examine the Purpose-driven philosophy. I have found if you skip the foundation undergirding any system that the superstructure can appear beautiful – for a time. Again take Mormonism. Its outward emphasis on family values and morals is certainly winsome. It is its foundation which is faulty. By the same token we need to examine The Purpose-driven Life’s foundation. Has it been laid after careful study of the Scriptures? Or are its building blocks made of secular fads, philosophies and pragmatism, mortared together with careless use of Scripture? If the latter is your conclusion, as it is mine, what are we to do?
Believe it or not, there is an alternative to PDL and other such programs. It sounds simplistic and old fashioned but it has God’s stamp of approval. It is a return to the Bible. Our pulpits need to return to the unabashed exposition of Scripture. Our Sunday school classes and Bible studies need to toss the manuals and guides written about the Bible and open the Bible itself.
By Pastor Gary Gilley who is the pastor of Southern View Chapel in Springfield, Illinois, USA. First published at http://www.takeheed.net