A lot has been made of the Rick Warren’s theology. Many have look at his various books, “Purpose Driven Life” and “40 Days of Purpose” to better understand what he believes. As a pastor, a good place to look is at his church’s website. The following is from the link http://www.saddlebackchurch.com/flash/believe.html where we find what Saddleback Church wants to tell the world what they believe. The list is more a group of statements than a coherent statement of doctrine. But one should not be surprised since Warren’s new saying is “Deeds not Creeds” and it is reflected in this statement of belief.
What’s interesting is that there is a link to a more complete statement which includes Bible verses. Why doesn’t the second page just replace the first? The following is the good, the bad and the ugly of the first list of what Saddleback believes.
“Jesus is coming again” is the most correct statement.
“Through His Holy Spirit, God lives in and through us now” is a good statement. However does the Holy Spirit live is all of us and how did the Holy Spirit get there?
While “Nothing in creation ‘just happened.’ God made it all” is a good statement it is not particular a Christian statement.
“Grace is the only way to have a relationship with God” is another statement that looks good until you start trying to define what grace is. Grace is God giving us what we do not desire. It’s 100% God and 0% us. We desire nothing from God. What is missing here is God’s mercy where God doesn’t give us what we desire. Since we all are desiring of God’s present and eternal punishment for our sin, it is God’s mercy that we have been given life in Christ and the gift of eternal life with him.
“God is bigger and better and closer than we can imagine” tells us nothing about God. This is statement that a Mormon or a Muslim could affirm.
“Nothing in creation ‘just happened.’ God made it all” looks good on the surface until you ask the question “Did God make sin?” God made creation, but God did not make sin. One must be careful on what we attribute to God.
“Heaven and hell are real places. Death is a beginning, not the end” is a true statement, but it doesn’t tell why some go to one place over another. Also, what does “Death is a beginning, not the end” mean? If someone dies and spends eternity in hell, this is not a reassuring statement.
“The church is to serve people like Jesus served people” makes the church sound like a Boy Scout troop and Jesus is ultimate Boy Scout. The Church is the body of Christ and consists of those who place their faith in him. While the Church serves person, that is not the primary purpose of the Church. The Church is proclaim the Gospel of salvation in Christ’s name. Anything else is a distant second. As for Jesus, he served us by dieing on the cross for the sins of the world. This is something only Christ can do.
“The Bible is God’s perfect guidebook for living” sounds like the Boy Scouts Handbook for Christians. The Bible is more than just a “guidebook”. The Bible is about Law and Gospel, sin and grace. It is about man’s fall into sin and God’s salvation brought through Christ. To call the Bible a guidebook is to trivialize the Bible.
”Jesus is God showing himself to us” doesn’t even come close to describing who Jesus is and what he has done for us. This statement implies that Jesus and God are the same person, just that Jesus was God in human form for a brief point in time that that God the Father and Jesus are one in the same. This is called Modulism and was condemn as a heresy by the early Church. Also, there is nothing in this statement about who Jesus is and what he has done for us.
“Faith is the only way to grow in our relationship with God” completely misrepresents what faith is. Faith is the ability to accept that Christ did for us. It is a gift that comes through hearing the Gospel. This statement also confuses justification and sanctification. It is the active work of the Holy Spirit in conjunction with the Word of God causes our relationship with God to grow. We cannot do anything to grow this relationship.
“God has allowed evil to provide us with a choice, God can bring good even out of evil events and God promises victory over evil to those who choose him” is a very dangerous statement. First, this statement implies that God is responsible for evil. Evil is a consequence of sin and man’s action. This statement also implies that man can choose not to do evil. While the first part of the second sentence is true, the second have is just plain wrong. We cannot choose God. We are dead in sin. It is God who chooses us.
First, sin is missing. There is no mention of our sin and our sinful nature causing a complete separation between us and a holy God. No matter how good we try to act, we cannot do anything that will justify God’s mercy towards us. The result of our sin is that we are distended for eternity in hell. This is not a very “user friendly” statement.
Next, Christ’s atonement is missing. Without Christ’s death for our sin, there is not way that we can experience God’s mercy. In order to appease God’s holy demand for the payment of sin, Christ lived a perfect life to that by fulfilling the Law so that his death will provide the forgiveness of sin for the entire world. This is greatest expression of love.
Finally, salvation is a gift of God. We cannot even believe in Christ since we are dead to sin. The gift of salvation is based on God giving us the faith to the believe. It’s 100% God in Christ, and 0% us.