Joel Osteen and Rick Warren ‘The heretics are pastoring the church’

The subtitle of this article ‘The heretics are pastoring the church’ is really a parody on another well-known expression, namely ‘the lunatics are running the asylum’. Asylums were built to protect the general public from those who were mentally disturbed and so posed a threat to them but the public at large often think that those running such regimes, by their actions and attitudes, pose just as much, if not an even greater danger to the public they are supposed to be protecting.

God has ordained that His people gather themselves together in local churches and to such assemblies He gifts men who are skilled in “rightly dividing the word of truth” – this expression “rightly dividing the word of truth” according to Vine’s expository dictionary means “teaching Scripture accurately”.

Pastor John MacArthur in his bible study notes on this verse from 2nd Timothy 2:15 explains it in these terms – ‘Literally “cutting it straight” – a reference to the exactness demanded by such trades as carpentry and masonry…Precision and accuracy are required in biblical interpretation’. If someone claiming to be called to teach and expound God’s Word is slightly ‘off-line’ then they will very quickly veer off into heresy taking others with them.

In relation to JOEL OSTEEN I have already identified his lack of ‘scriptural prowess and backbone’ in an article that can be accessed on this link

In recent weeks he has once more demonstrated his complete unworthiness to be pastoring any part of God’s flock. A faithful pastor must not only ‘feed’ God’s sheep but he must also ‘fence’ the flock to protect them from predators. Paul made this very plain to the elders at Ephesus when he was saying his farewells to them. Having reminded them of their responsibility to ‘feed’ the flock in Acts 20:28

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers to feed the church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood”

He then warned them of their responsibility to also ‘fence’ the flock in verses 29-31

“For I know this that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch and remember”.

It was in this second area of responsibility, ‘fencing’, that publicly Joel Osteen showed himself to be totally ill equipped for such a vital charge. America is currently going through the political process to select candidates to contest the next Presidential election. One of the main contenders on the Republican side is Mitt Romney, Governor of Massachusetts. On Sunday 23rd December 2007, Chris Wallace interviewed Joel Osteen in America on Fox News. What follows is a short but very significant transcript of part of that interview –

WALLACE: And what about Mitt Romney? And I’ve got to ask you the question, because it is a question whether it should be or not in this campaign, is a Mormon a true Christian?

OSTEEN: Well, in my mind they are. Mitt Romney has said that he believes in Christ as his saviour, and that’s what I believe, so, you know, I’m not the one to judge the little details of it. So I believe they are. And so, you know, Mitt Romney seems like a man of character and integrity to me, and I don’t think he would — anything would stop me from voting for him if that’s what I felt like.

WALLACE: So, for instance, when people start talking about Joseph Smith, the founder of the [Mormon] church, and the golden tablets in upstate New York, and God assumes the shape of a man, do you not get hung up in those theological issues?

OSTEEN: I probably don’t get hung up in them because I haven’t really studied them or thought about them. And you know, I just try to let God be the judge of that. I mean, I don’t know. I certainly can’t say that I agree with everything that I’ve heard about it, but from what I’ve heard from Mitt, when he says that Christ is his saviour, to me that’s a common bond.

Having admitted that when it comes to the history and doctrines of Mormonism [something that Chris Wallace the interviewer is clearly well versed in] Joel Osteen states ‘I haven’t really studied them or thought about them’ – that however apparently doesn’t stop him from answering the question ‘is a Mormon a true Christian’ by saying ‘in my mind they are…I believe they are’. By this response Joel Osteen has singularly and spectacularly failed to ‘fence’ his flock against the, spiritually speaking, grievous and ravening wolves of Mormonism. He has failed to ‘take heed’ of one very important command in God’s Word as recorded in 1st John 4:1 “Beloved believe not every spirit but test the spirits whether they are of God because many false prophets [like Joseph Smith and Brigham Young] are gone out into the world”. This is a clear example of a ‘heretic pastoring the church’ and so posing eternally great danger to those he is supposed to protect and also to those he is supposed to witness to.

Before moving on to Rick Warren I think it appropriate, in the light of what we have just read about Joel Osteen, to draw attention to the failings of another supposed ‘evangelical pastor’ in the realm of Mormonism.

In our June 2005 ‘News From The Front’ ministry newsletter I included an article called ‘After ECT [Evangelicals & Catholics together] will there be an EMT [Evangelicals & Mormons Together]?’ In that article I identified the efforts of a supposed ‘evangelical’ pastor called Greg Johnson to forge a link with Mormonism, particularly through his friendship with a Mormon, Robert Millet, a professor at Brigham Young University. Recently Bud Press of the Christian research Service emailed the following information to me –

Which Jesus are Greg Johnson and Robert Millet talking about?

Greg Johnson and Robert Millet have co-authored the November 2007 book, ‘Bridging The Divide: The Continuing Conversation Between A Mormon And An Evangelical’

Bridging The Divide includes a section devoted to “Questions from the Audience.” On page 89, Greg Johnson is asked, “do you think Mormons can be ‘saved Christians’ in the same way that a person who attends a revival is saved by accepting Jesus as Saviour and Lord?”

Here is an in-context excerpt of Johnson’s answer:

“If you were to ask me if my friend Bob Millet is a saved Christian, I would have to answer that I do not know for sure. But I can say that it is entirely possible that he and other Mormons could be saved Christians in that they have a sincere and genuine relationship with Jesus Christ”.

Compare Greg Johnson’s answer to… Galatians 1:6-9; 2nd Corinthians 11:3-4; 1st Timothy 6:3-5; 2nd John 1:9-10.

Robert Millet worships a false Jesus; preaches a false gospel; is overshadowed by a false spirit; and is under a divine curse (Galatians 1:6-9).

It is absolutely heretical of Greg Johnson to suggest that Mormons like Robert Millet, no less a person than a professor at Brigham Young University, could be truly ‘saved’ by currently having what he calls ‘a sincere and genuine relationship with Jesus Christ’. The ‘Jesus Christ’ of Mormonism is not the Biblical Jesus Christ and is in fact one of the “false Christs” that the true Lord Jesus Christ warned of in Matthew 24: 24 and is the product of the fertile imagination of one of the “false prophets” [in this case Joseph Smith] that the Lord also warned of in Matthew 24: 11.

Turning now to Rick Warren I want to mention a report posted by the Christian Post on this link –

Part of the report reads as follows –

‘Megachurch pastor Rick Warren attended a large Reform Jewish gathering last week to share tips on how to build a community. Warren – who saw his church expand from seven people meeting in his house to 22,000 people worshipping in an expansive treasure island-like campus – said the key to holding onto visitors is involving them in a small group… “We don’t really feel like people are in the congregation until they’re in small groups.” The “Purpose-Driven” pastor spoke to thousands of Jewish leaders Thursday night at the Union for Reform Judaism’s biennial convention in San Diego… “There are some principles that apply regardless of our faith, if it’s Jewish or Christian,” he said at the convention. One of his principles: “Just be nice to people. Smile.” After Warren spoke a few minutes at the podium, he sat alongside two popular Southern California rabbis for a casual talk about strengthening congregational life. Other advice given by Warren included looking at everything from an outsider’s viewpoint, such as simplifying worship terms, making strangers feel welcome, and encouraging interaction… The biennial meeting of the largest Jewish denomination in North America began Dec. 12 and concluded on Sunday. Other guests at the conference included the Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners and Dr. Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America’.

This is not the first time that Rick Warren has spoken to Jewish, non-Christian gatherings, in an attempt to assist them with growth. On 4th October 2005 Spero News reported –

‘Some Jewish synagogues are taking their lead from a mover behind the Protestant phenomena of mega-churches. According to Synagogue 3000, an umbrella organization pushing for synagogue transformation, there was “a pathbreaking meeting with Rick Warren (“The Purpose-Driven Life”), founding pastor of Saddleback Church” – an evangelical Christian church that average over 30,000 worshippers each weekend – to explore what synagogues can learn from mega-churches and small groups… Synagogue 3000 says its objective is to encourage Jews to recommit to Jewish tradition and “synagogue life by creating new 21st century spiritual arenas where relationships with God and with each other define everything the synagogue does.”

Rick Warren seems to have overlooked one very basic but fundamental point in all of this. If the Lord Jesus Christ is not recognised by religious groups such as the Union for Reform Judaism or Synagogue 3000 as ‘God’s Messiah’ [John 4:25-26], as “Emmanuel…God with us” [Matthew 1:23] then GOD is not present in all of their ‘Jewish tradition and synagogue life’ no matter how fervently they seek to ape the methods employed by Rick Warren at his Saddleback church.

The Lord Jesus Christ stated in Matthew 18:20 “where two or three are gathered together, IN MY NAME, there am I in the midst of them”. I wonder what the Apostle Paul would have thought of all this advice being imparted by Rick Warren, a supposed Christian pastor, to those who have firmly rejected the truth of “Jesus Christ and him crucified” [1st Corinthians 2:2]. That was Paul’s singular message to the multi-faith and pagan city of Corinth.

Again, when speaking to the followers of many faiths in Athens, Paul didn’t say to his listeners, “There are some principles that apply regardless of our faith”. He took the opportunity to set before them the truth of the ONLY true God and how all will one day be judged by the Lord Jesus Christ – Paul said unashamedly [see Romans 1:16] “He [GOD] hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained, concerning which he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead”.

Paul had a very specific concern for the spiritual and eternal well being of those of the Jewish faith and he pours out his anguish and concern in Romans 10:1-4 “Brethren, my hearts desire and prayer unto God for Israel is that they might be saved. For I bear witness that they have a zeal for God, BUT NOT ACCORDING TO KNOWLEDGE. For they, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness (by Jewish tradition and “synagogue life) have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For CHRIST is the end of the law for righteousness TO EVERYONE THAT BELIEVETH”.

This is another clear example of a ‘heretic pastoring the church’ and not only that but directly failing to witness to those on the brink of eternally great danger. I think Rick Warren should consider carefully the words of the Lord Jesus Christ as found in Matthew 10:32-33 “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess before my Father who is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my father who is in heaven”.

In closing let me continue with the next verses in Matthew 10:34-35 where the Lord says, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth. I came not to send peace, but a sword [This of course refers to the spiritual battle for ‘truth’ and involves “the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God…which is truth” (Ephesians 6:17 and John 17:17). The Lord clearly rejects the notion that His cause and gospel should be advanced by use of a literal sword as we learn in Matthew 26:52] For I am come to set a man at variance against his father and the daughter against her mother and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in –law”.

Despite this clear teaching, Rick Warren and other so-called ‘evangelicals’ have issued a letter to leading Muslim clerics in which they express their hopes in these words “Peaceful relations between Muslims and Christians stand as one of the central challenges of this century, and perhaps of the whole present epoch. If we can achieve religious peace between these two religious communities, peace in the world will clearly be easier to attain.”

A Christian Post report on this letter and reaction to it [including some comments by a certain ‘takeheed’ contributor] can be viewed on this link,_Neighbors_Together.htm

Earlier in this report I highlighted this from the San Diego meeting – Other guests at the conference included the Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners and Dr. Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America’ – Jim Wallis was another of those who signed the letter to Muslim clerics. It is very clear that politicians and supposed ‘evangelicals’ like Rick Warren, Jim Wallis and Bill Hybels of Willow Creek are pushing an agenda for ‘social cohesion’ between differing religious groups rather than seeking ‘soul conversion’ through faith in the only Saviour of men, The Lord Jesus Christ.

In that vein an email I received today from the excellent Lighthouse Trails Ministry identifies more clear evidence of this push for ‘social cohesion’ amongst differing religious groups [particularly the so-called ‘Abrahamic faiths’ of Judaism, Christianity and Islam] by so-called ‘evangelicals’, particularly from the ‘seeker-sensitive’ and ‘emerging’ camps, high-ranking politicians and influential media barons. I will copy the email in its entirety at the close of my remarks.

When you examine closely the words and actions of influential ‘pastors’ it is clear that the professing church is in the hands of heretics who are not as Paul said to Timothy in 2nd Timothy 2:2 “faithful men who shall be able to teach others”. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul instructed him to remain at Ephesus where false teachers had appeared on the scene and he told him in 1st Timothy 1:3 to “charge them that they teach no other [false] doctrine”. He wrote in similar fashion to Titus who likewise was confronted by false teachers and Paul’s instruction in Titus 1:11 was that their “mouths should be stopped” –literally that they should be muzzled.

May God in His mercy be pleased to raise up faithful men, like Timothy and Titus who will confront and silence ‘the heretics who are pastoring the church’.

Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries- 18 January 2008

Reproduced now is today’s email from Lighthouse Trails Ministry giving details of a ‘Rethink Conference being held at the Crystal Cathedral, California’

Rethink Conference

Schuller and Christian Leaders Gather to Help Bring About

Interspiritual Dream

Rethink Conference: Crystal Cathedral, California

January 17, 2008

Robert Schuller once said: “Standing before a crowd of devout Muslims with the Grand Mufti, I know that we’re all doing God’s work together. Standing on the edge of a new millennium, we’re laboring hand in hand to repair the breach.” He made that statement in his 2001 biography, My Journey (p. 501), and today he has taken a giant step forward in seeing his dream of an all all-inclusive spiritual body come true. What’s more, Christian leaders and organizations are helping to bring it to pass.

Today, the Rethink Conference at Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral began. This three day event is hosted by Schuller and popular emerging futurist Erwin McManus.

In addition to McManus, the Rethink Conference has several other Christian leaders speaking: Gary Smalley, Henry Cloud, Chuck Colson, and Kay Warren, to name a few. While the speaker list includes several names outside the Christian camp (Larry King, George Bush Sr., Rupert Murdoch, etc.), a majority of the speakers, both Christian and non-Christian, are proponents mystical spirituality. The reason this is important to know is because Schuller’s vision of an all-inclusive global religious body cannot happen without mysticism. It is in fact the vehicle through which Schuller’s dream will occur. He discloses a little more of this vision in his book:

I met once more with the Grand Mufti (a Muslim), truly one of the great Christ-honoring leaders of faith. … I’m dreaming a bold impossible dream: that positive-thinking believers in God will rise above the illusions that our sectarian religions have imposed on the world, and that leaders of the major faiths will rise above doctrinal idiosyncrasies, choosing not to focus on disagreements, but rather to transcend divisive dogmas to work together to bring peace and prosperity and hope to the world. (p. 502).

In order for this “bold impossible dream” to occur, change agents such as Schuller and McManus realize that Christianity needs to be redefined. Thus, the term rethink. McManus has believed this for some time. In an interview, he stated:

My goal is to destroy Christianity as a world religion and be a recatalyst for the movement of Jesus Christ…. Some people are upset with me because it sounds like I’m anti-Christian. I think they might be right! (1)

It’s easier to understand what McManus means by this by reading this next statement from him:

The Barbarian Way was, in some sense, trying to create a volatile fuel to get people to step out and act. It’s pretty hard to get a whole group of people moving together as individuals who are stepping into a more mystical, faith-oriented, dynamic kind of experience with Christ. So, I think was my attempt to say, “Look, underneath what looks like invention, innovation and creativity is really a core mysticism that hears from God, and what is fueling this is something really ancient.” That’s what was really the core of The Barbarian Way. (from Relevant magazine)

To put this in plain terms, there is a three step process in making this new vision become a reality. First, re-education: convince Christians that the Christianity of today has to be thrown out and replaced by a whole new way of thinking. Second, get these new thinking Christians to incorporate mysticism into their lives and hear the voice of a new kind of God, not one that is described in the Bible but one that is found through altered states of consciousness. McManus put it this way: “I build my life not on the Word of God, but the voice of God. The Scriptures are to me the instrument that God has placed in history for me to learn the voice of God.” (2)

The voice of this mystical god will direct people to the final step of the process, and that will be to bring about a supposed kingdom of God where all will be one, and where man finally realizes his own divinity. Unfortunately, it will be a kingdom built, not on the truth of the Word of God, thus not on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The rethinking of Christianity is taking place right now before our very eyes. The mystical practices are now being implemented by countless people around the world, including huge numbers of professing Christians through the spiritual formation movement. It is just a matter of time before this new age dream will take effect, and a great spiritual delusion will overtake the masses.

Roger Oakland, author of Faith Undone (the hard-hitting expose on the emerging church), spent this morning at the Crystal Cathedral listening to speakers share their hopes for the rethinking of Christianity. Oakland heard one popular evangelical speaker say that the emerging church is energizing Christianity.

What that evangelical leader may not realize is that this energizing is happening through mystical practices. One person who does understand this concept is Robert Schuller. Ray Yungen explains:

[W]hat many might not know about Schuller is his New Thought proclivities. Interspiritual scholar Marcus Bach once related the following incident that took place at a Unity church in Hawaii in which Bach was speaking:

Dr. Schuller attended the first of three services, this one at 7:30 am. When we shook hands at the door, he tarried to assure me how much Unity principles meant to him and how helpful they had been to him in his work. (The Unity Way, p. 267)

What could some of these Unity principles be? Bach explains:

Hinduism’s emphasis on meditation fit[s] well into Unity’s patterns for enlightenment.(Ibid, p. 104)

This is one of the major principles that Schuller was making reference to. In his own book, Prayer: My Soul’s Adventure with God, he says:

Move into mighty moods of meditation. Draw energy from centers of sacred solitude, serenity, and silence…. Find yourself coming alive in the garden of prayer called meditation…. Yes, the “New Agers” have grabbed hold of meditation…. Hey, Christian! Hear me! Let’s not give up the glorious, God-given gift of meditation by turning it over to those outside our faith. (pp. 141, 151)

The point that Schuller misses is that meditation is what makes a person a New Ager! This perspective is something to consider in light of the quarter million pastors who have trained and been mentored under Schuller at his Leadership Institute. (For Many Shall Come in My Name, ch. 3)

The line up at Rethink further confirms that Schuller and McManus see mysticism as playing a vital role in the rethinking and energizing of Christianity. Many of the speakers share McManus’ and Schuller’s propensity on mysticism’s role in transforming the world.

Equally disturbing is knowing that CCN (Church Communication Network) sponsors and is helping to broadcast the Rethink Conference. CCN represents many of today’s Christian leaders from Rick Warren, to James Dobson, to Joni Eareckson Tada, to Max Lucado and many many others.

What this means is that mainstream Christianity is going mystical, just as Alice Bailey, the woman who coined the term New Age, predicted so very many years ago. Yungen ties this all together:

“Bailey eagerly foretold of what she termed ‘the regeneration of the churches’ (Problems of Humanity, p. 152).

Her rationale for this was obvious:

The Christian church in its many branches can serve as a St. John the Baptist, as a voice crying in the wilderness, and as a nucleus through which world illumination may be accomplished. (The Externalization of the Hierarchy, p. 510)

“In other words, instead of opposing Christianity, the occult would capture and blend itself with Christianity and then use it as its primary vehicle for spreading and instilling New Age consciousness! The various churches would still have their outer trappings of Christianity and still use much of the same lingo. If asked certain questions about traditional Christian doctrine, the same answers would be given. But it would all be on the outside; on the inside a contemplative spirituality would be drawing in those open to it.

“In wide segments of Christendom this has indeed already occurred…. Thomas Keating alone taught 31,000 people mystical prayer in one year. People are responding to this in large numbers because it has the external appearance of Christianity but in truth, is the diametric opposite—what a skillful spiritual delusion!”

Related Stories:

Erwin McManus: The Secret Behind the Secret (with Jon Gordon)

Kay Warren Recommends Henri Nouwen [Unavailable]

Jim Burns promotes Ruth Haley Barton  [Unavailable]

John Ortberg and Contemplative Prayer

Dan Kimball’s Emerging Church and Eastern Mysticism

For more information on Schuller’s “dream” read Deceived on Purpose by Warren Smith.

Lighthouse Trails Research Project

Lighthouse Trails Publishing