American Christianity: “Cheerful platitudes and advice for successful living.”

The United Kingdom’s The Guardian has published a scathing indictment of the American mainstream church that Ingrid Schlueter described as:

Imagine finding the most incisive, succinct description of empty evangelicalism you’ve ever seen, and finding it in the UK’s left-wing Guardian newspaper.

The entire article, Crystal Cathedral Had It’s Day, can be read here. It’s certainly an article worth the read, but if you’re still reluctant I’ve provided the following quote to whet your whistle.

But there is nothing new under the sun. Saddleback and the Crystal Cathedral, Willow Creek and all the other evangelical megachurches that have had their time in the sun sell the same product: mind-power through talk-magic, which in secular packaging is just what all the innumerable therapies and self-help programmes on the market promise. In the US, where school psychologists are almost as common as school nurses, we are obsessed with talk therapies because they are in fact ecumenical and secularised versions of evangelical Christianity, our old time religion.

Those who preach in glass houses…

crystal-babel

UPDATED from February 1, 2009: How ironic!! Exactly one year ago to the date, comes this update on the Crystal Tower of Babel. Apparently, the downturn in the economy may not be such a bad thing. I posted a while back that Rod Parsley is hemorrhaging cash. Just goes to show, when you base your “ministry” on how many unsuspecting people you can fleece out of their hard-earned money, it’s a pyramid scheme that’s bound to come crashing down. Well, now, it looks like the ungodly empire built by Mr. Self-Esteem himself is about to circle the drain:

The Crystal Cathedral, the Garden Grove megachurch, is laying off 50 workers, selling surplus property and may pull its “Hour of Power” television show in up to eight markets because of a precipitous drop in contributions.

The 7,000-member church also has canceled its “Glory of Easter” pageant, a popular reenactment of the life and death of Jesus Christ, which sold tens of thousands of tickets each year. “This cuts to the heart of our ministry,” said spokesman John Charles. “It is sad news.”

Charles said the church’s revenue sank 27% from roughly $30 million in 2008 to $22 million in 2009. Anticipating a drop in 2010 revenue, he added, “If it maintains, that would be fine, but we don’t have a crystal ball, so we are cutting.”

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The original February 1, 2009 post:

Apparently, the Robert Schuller empire, symbolized by the Crystal Tower of Babel Cathedral and built by the ultimate ultra-feel good pastor, the one who built a monument to man, whose shimmering building commemorates the gospel of Satan, is about to come crumbling down. (NOTE–link no longer works. sorry). One word describes this news:

Good.

It is a good thing that this man-made facade of a church should dissolve into dust. It is a good thing that this empire, built on the lie of universal salvation, should return to the dung heap from which it came. Just like the Tower of Babel, which was built for men to worship the “God” of their own making, so was this abomination of man’s making built to worship a fuzzy-wuzzy “God” who is not holy, is not righteous, and is not even real.

tower_of_babel_painting_close1

Once one of the nation’s most popular televangelists, the Rev. Robert H. Schuller is watching his life’s work crumble.

His son and recent successor, the Rev. Robert A. Schuller, has abruptly resigned as senior pastor of the Crystal Cathedral. The shimmering, glass-walled megachurch is home to the “Hour of Power” broadcast, an evangelism staple that’s been on the air for more than three decades.

The church is in financial turmoil: It plans to sell more than $65 million worth of its Orange County property to pay off debt. Revenue dropped by nearly $5 million last year, according to a recent letter from the elder Schuller to elite donors. In the letter, Schuller Sr. implored the Eagle’s Club members — who supply 30 percent of the church’s revenue — for donations and hinted that the show might go off the air without their support.

If Robert Schuller continues to preach a God who will save everybody, and that we are not sinners, and that we will all go to heaven–in other words, if he continues preaching a different gospel–then when he dies, he will suffer a much greater fate than watching his private Tower of Babel fall to the ground.

Galatians 1:8-9–But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

A glimpse into the theology of the man Mark Driscoll calls “brother.”

Robert Schuller

The recent video released of Mark Driscoll preaching at Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral contained this exchange between the two:

SCHULLER: God loves you; so do I.

(Audience applause while Driscoll extends hand for handshake.)

DRISCOLL: I appreciate that, thank you brother.

So who is Robert Schuller, the man Mark Driscoll not only openly endorses but considers to be a brother in the Lord? He is none other than a long time rank heretic tied to the New Age movement as clearly noted in Warren Smith’s book Deceived on Purpose. In the book, former New Ager himself Smith, not only exposes Schuller as the disciple of Norman Vincent Peale, but Smith also details Schuller’s blatant New Age theology. Smith also reveals the little known fact that Rick Warren is a disciple of Robert Schuller; proof the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.

I digress.

For those not familiar with Robert Schuller, let’s take a moment to examine some of the teachings of the man that Mark Driscoll calls “brother.”

The following exchange took place during an interview on The White Horse Inn hosted by Michael Horton (you can read more from the interview here).

RS: I believe in heaven. I believe in hell. But I don’t know what happens there. I don’t take it literally that it’s a fire that never stops burning.
MH: As Jesus said it was?
RS: Jesus was not literal. See, now this is where you have differences of interpretation. I went to a different theological school than you did. And there are different denominations, like about four hundred in the United States of America, and we don’t belong to the same denomination. In my denomination, Jesus stood outside Gehenna, the city dump, and said that’s outside the walls, that’s hell. And in the dump there were always worms, and there were fires….

And here’s another exchange between Horton and Schuller:

MH: Dr. Schuller, how could the cross as you write, “sanctify the ego trip,” and make us proud, in the light of passages that say, “I hate pride and arrogance (Prov. 8:13), “Pride goes before destruction” (Prov. 16:18),”The Lord detests all the proud” (Prov. 16:5), “Do not be proud”(Rom. 12:16), “Love does not boast it is not proud” (1Cor 13:4). In fact Paul warns Timothy that in the last days men “will be lovers of themselves” (2Tim 3:2). Why should we as Christian ministers, myself included, why should we do anything to encourage people to become “lovers of themselves” if Paul in fact warned others that that would be the state of godlessness in the last days?
RS: I hope you don’t preach this, I hope you don’t preach this!
MH: What, the texts?
RS: No, what you just spoke into the microphone right now. I hope you don’t because you could do a lot of damage to a lot of beautiful people. But maybe if you preach it, maybe you will demonstrate your knowledge of human relationships and maybe you’ll demonstrate a sensitivity of caring about these pathetic, pathetic people that are so lost in pain and suffering because of their sinful condition, and I think you’d want to save them. I think you’d want to bring them to Jesus. And so if you preach that text, oh man, I sure hope you give it the kind of interpretation that I do or, I’ll tell you, you’ll drive them farther away and they’ll be madder than hell at you and they’ll turn the Bible off, and they’ll switch you off, and they’ll turn on the rock music and Madonna. Just because it’s in the Bible doesn’t mean you should preach it.

Can someone please explain to me how Mark Driscoll can not only preach in Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral (as he did five years earlier in 2004), but also how he can call the man “brother?”

DoctrineTomb

But wait, there’s more. The following quotes from Driscoll’s brother, Robert Schuller, are found in his book Self-Esteem: The New Reformation as cited in this article from RapidNet and this article from CrossRoad:

Christ is the Ideal One, for he was Self-Esteem Incarnate.

Every human being must be treated with respect; self-esteem is his sacred right.

Classical theology has erred in its insistence that theology be God-centered, not man-centered.

What we need is a theology of salvation that begins and ends with a recognition of every person’s hunger for glory.

The Cross sanctifies the ego trip. For the Cross protected our Lord’s perfect self-esteem from turning into sinful pride.

For once a person believes he is an “unworthy sinner,” it is doubtful if he can really honestly accept the saving grace God offers in Jesus Christ.

Classical theology defines sin as “rebellion against God.” The answer is not incorrect as much as it is shallow and insulting to the human being.

To be born again means that we must be changed from a negative to a positive self-image — from inferiority to self-esteem, from fear to love, from doubt to trust.

Jesus never called a person a sinner…. Rather he reserved his righteous rebuke for those who used their religious authority to generate guilt and caused people to lose their ability to taste and enjoy their right to dignity.

I found myself immediately attracted to Pope John Paul II when, upon his election to the Papacy, his published speeches invariably called attention to the need for recognizing the dignity of the human being as a child of God.

The core of original sin, then is LOT — Lack of Trust. Or, it could be considered an innate inability to adequately value ourselves. Label it a “negative self-image,” but do not say that the central core of the human soul is wickedness…. Positive Christianity does not hold to human depravity, but to human inability.

One classical role of the pulpit in Protestantism has been to “preach sermons” which imply indoctrination more than education. Within this from of communication, there is an inherent, intrinsic inclination to intimidate, manipulate, and, hence, offend the person’s most prized quality of humanness — his dignity.

“My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?” was Christ’s encounter with hell. In that ‘hellish’ death our Lord experienced the ultimate horror-humiliation, shame, and loss of pride as a human being. A person is in hell when he has lost his self-esteem. Can you imagine any condition more tragic than to live life and eternity in shame?

Driscoll and Schuller

When the news of Driscoll’s scheduled appearance at the Crystal Cathedral broke, and the question of why he would join ranks with a heretic was raised, the Driscollites quickly came out in force to defend their golden calf.

Defenders of Driscoll never once denied Schuller’s abhorrent theology, and some even admitted that Schuller was a heretic (something we could finally agree on). So what was their hastily devised defense for their man Driscoll? They claimed that Driscoll had to go to the Crystal Cathedral to preach the true gospel to those who have been deceived under Schuller’s ministry.

This would have been a noble endeavor had it been true. The only problem was that–although this was the Driscoll defenders’ reason for Driscoll going–they didn’t foresee that this was apparently not Driscoll’s reason for going (evidenced by him identifying Schuller as his brother).

So instead of going to the Crystal Cathedral to show the Schullerites that they’ve swallowed a false gospel–and in turn preach the true gospel–all Mark Driscoll did was validate and legitimize Schuller and his teachings, and preach about a Jesus Christ that the audience believes is the same Jesus Christ that Schuller’s been talking about for years because, after all, Driscoll identified Schuller as his brother in Christ.

In a NutshellSo here’s the big problem in a nutshell for Driscoll defenders:

If they concede that Schuller teaches heresy, then they must explain how Driscoll can call the man brother (for what does light have to do with darkness let alone call it brother?). But if they say that Schuller’s teachings are sound and are consistent with 2,000 years of historic Christianity, then they’ve just opened a whole new Pandora’s Box of problems for Mark Driscoll and those who sit under his teaching.

The size of the problem cannot be understated when one considers that it is Driscoll’s “orthodoxy” that his defenders consistently point to as their greatest defense to excuse his foul mouth, his blasphemies, and his irreverent depiction of the Savior.

Now we know the die-hard Driscoll fans will just come up with one more weak excuse to place atop their crumbling deck of cards, and it will be interesting to see the spin doctors in full swing with this conundrum. This fork-in-the-road moment has proven to be a monumental problem for the never-say-die Drisollites; a problem that–since the airing of the video–they have yet to address.

But what about you, the Driscoll fan who genuinely seeks after truth first and foremost? Where do you stand today? Either choice leaves you at a crossroads with a big decision to make. Do you finally acknowledge that Mark Driscoll is not all that he’s been purported to be, or do you continue to stick your head in the proverbial sand and ignore all that is before you? Your decision will reveal your loyalty either to the truth of the gospel or to the adoration of a man.

When Mark Driscoll calls Rick Warren a “brother in Christ,” calls Joel Osteen his “Christian brother,” and gleefully shakes the hand of Robert Schuller while calling him “brother” too, this all begs the question, “What version of ‘Christianity’ does Mark Driscoll identify with?”

When Driscoll’s faith includes (and is comfortable with) the likes of Warren, Osteen, and Schuller, one has to wonder who or what is actually excluded in Driscoll’s “Christianity” (besides those critical of him of course). With “brothers” like Warren, Osteen, and Schuller, who needs enemies of the cross?




Rewriting Acts – A Relevant Perspective

In light of all the editions and revisions being made to the Word of God in recent years, we understand much of this has been done to suit the belief system of the editors. With that in mind as well as recent events such as Ravi at the Mormon Tabernacle and Driscoll at the Crystal Cathedral, we recommend the following changes. We are certain these will be much more in keeping with the issue of relevancy and contextualization. In addition, it will ensure that people like all those meanies, judgmental Pharisee-types here at DefCon will have to close shop for they will no longer have a Biblical leg to stand on.

In each example, we will start with the original and then put in the suggested revision to match what we are seeing and hearing today.

Let’s start with Acts 2:22, 23, 36, 37 – “22 Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know– 23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. 37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?'”

REWRITE – “22 Hey dudes, listen up: Jesus of Nazareth, who claimed to be God did some really cool things that some people might call miracles and then told us that God did it through Him. Well, you guys are smart enough to figure out for yourselves whether that was the case or not. 23 At any rate, you guys have heard about Him before, if nothing else, you use His name all the time at the workplace. Well, the Romans put Him on a cross because He was like, well, um, you know, He was making the kind-hearted, very religious, good-upright Jews unhappy and He even tried to start a few riots. 36 Well, this same Man Who got crucified also claimed to be both Lord and the Christ. We want all you guys to follow Him because after all when you reach the end of your current journey, He will be there to greet all of us with open arms. 37 So when the multitude heard the nice things that the apostles said, they decided to invite them back again to the next Jerusalem conference knowing they could trust these men not to confuse the issues. They knew that these men were not going to rock the boat and demand they do nasty things like repentance. They knew they wouldn’t call them down for their sins but would instead seek to lift up their self-esteem. 42 Because of the really cool programs, and the worldly music they offered at the First Church of Jerusalem, and the contextualized messages that encouraged their depravity such as “Biblical Sex for 40 Days Except the Sabbath” the church grew exponentially and was featured on all the late-night talk shows from Jerusalem to Asia Minor.”

Example 2 – Acts 7:51-55, “51 You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, 53 who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.” 54 When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”

REWRITE – Example 2 – Acts 7:51-55, “51 Listen up fellows. I am not here to offend you in anyway, but you know we have all done a few things we shouldn’t have done in our lives, and I’m sure there are times we all ignore what the Holy Spirit is trying to get us to do, but hey, after all, we are only human and God understands this. 52 There are some people who didn’t treat the old preachers very well, but I’m sure it wasn’t any of you guys or your ancestors. In fact, history tells us that some people just didn’t understand the prophets and tried to get rid of them, but some of the prophets just weren’t with the program anyway. Well, one or two of those old guys told us that Jesus was coming, and He came. He was a really good guy and hung out with really cool guys like our friend Peter. 53 Jesus told us that we have to just learn to love each other and don’t judge, so who am I to tell you what you need to do. 54 When the gathered nice group of people heard these wonderful things they invited Stephen to be the new president of the Jerusalem Ministerial Association. He was then able to go about preaching more of the great news that “Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” 55 When Stephen saw how much everybody liked him, he cut a lucrative book deal with Jerusalem Christian Bookpress entitled, “49 Days of Learning to Become a Better Religious You.” His ministry expanded to both Europe and Asia, and he was able to walk about with his head held high knowing that he was accepted in every major religious establishment.”

AUTHOR’S NOTE — Personally, I think it will be a best seller and rewriting church history will be the best thing that could happen for Western Christianity Religiosity. Sadly, there are a few downfalls. True Bible believing Christians will reject it as false, but they are in the minority and it won’t affect book sales as most who claim to be Christians are unlearned when it comes to true doctrine anyway. Secondly, this material probably won’t go over to well with the church members that are being persecuted for their faith. However, I’m sure somebody will find a way to make it culturally accepted and the church will probably expand and still be able to get along with the local governments when they stop being so particular about what they will preach. After all, no government could have an issue with Christians preaching the new message of “love yourself”, “build your self-esteem”, and “We never condemn anybody for God wants you just as you are and we don’t care if you stay that way because that is between you and God.”

PS – Not sure how we can rewrite the persecuting parts of Acts like Paul and Silas in prison, but I’m sure any number of modern preachers could help so that it makes us all look better in the end.

PS2 – Stay tuned for the rewrite for the Health, Wealth, and Prosperity Gospel edition.

Mark Driscoll to preach at the Crystal Cathedral.

Mark Driscoll Alley

***** UPDATE *****

Review of Driscoll’s sermon at the Crystal Cathedral can be found here.

Lighthouse Trails, Church Solutions, Thinking Out Loud, Slice of Laodicea, and even Mark Driscoll’s calendar on his website are announcing the upcoming June 14th event.

Apparently this isn’t the first time he’s been featured there. He spoke at Schuller’s 2004 conference and his messages are still available for purchase from the Crystal Cathedral online bookstore.

It shall be interesting to see how this plays out.

On a side note, while not too shocked to see Driscoll appear at this rank heretic’s church, I was disappointed to see Joni Eareckson Tada there. They’re even selling her book. Is there no longer any discernment in the body of Christ?

Ravi’s crash and burn.

I’ve previously reported on Ravi Zacharias’ failure to preach the Gospel to those following a counterfeit Christ after he was invited to speak at the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City (see here). Then I posted on Ravi’s descent into the abyss of compromise (see here) when he refused to pray in the name of Jesus Christ at the latest National Day of Prayer (Coram Deo even wrote a piece on Ravi’s compromise here).

And now Ravi Zacharias is proving yet again that compromise will always take a man where he never intended to go.

RAVI’S CRASH:

Ravi speaks favorably of Henri Nouwen and can be seen in the following video (at the 5:47 mark) calling this Roman Catholic mystic “one of the greatest saints of recent memory.”


Ken Silva has also weighed in on this here.

RAVI’S BURN:

And what started as a little compromise here and there, seems to have started a snowball rolling for Ravi. Slaughter of the Sheep is reporting that Ravi Zacharias will now be speaking at none other than the Crystal Cathedral at Robert Schuller’s infamous ReThink Conference scheduled for February 2009. Lighthouse Trails is also on top of Ravi’s latest compromise with the rank heretic Schuller in a piece they did here.