The Capranica

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Location: Hemet, California, United States

Co-Pastor of First Baptist Church of San Jacinto, California

Monday, January 23, 2006

Good Advice; Bad Bible: Rick Warren's Constant Misuse of Scripture

Here is another case study in the constant misuse of the Bible by Rick Warren. It is symptomatic of much of what I find coming out of Saddleback Church and Pastors.com, and thus, the throngs that follow his approach to Scripture. Here, Warren suggests that Jesus' command to "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest," is really a suggestion to emotionally, intellectually and psychologically weary church leaders who need to spend more time with Christ. Based on this verse, church leaders (and really any stressed out person), need to focus their energies on what they are gifted to do and not on the thousands of issues that sap time and energy away from those ministries and tasks that we could be most effective in doing. Agreed. The principles are good ones. I concur. We pastors do need to examine our lives, giftedness, experiences and abilities and focus our energies on what is most important and on those things we can best contribute. We do need to spend more time with Christ and not necessarily with more church meetings or longer hours at the office. But is that what Jesus meant in Matthew 11:28? Did he really intend for us to see "rest" as trimming our schedules and priorities. This is the kind of use of the Bible that does not let God speak, but in reality trivializes the Scriptures. Glance through the context of Jesus' comments in Matthew 11 and you will find him most concerned with salvific issues - eternal rest. Jesus is promising a rest that is accompanied by the strain of a yoke (11:29). He is promising eternal life to the lost who find themselves under the pharisaically misplaced burden of the law upon a society who needed the joy of the law's fulfillment in Christ. I didn't see that within a few miles of Warren's take on this passage. This passage is precisely the passage I heard Rick Warren preach some years ago at a visit to Saddleback. He encouraged his audience to build "margin" into their lives and used this text as the basis for it. Some may think I am nitpicking. I don't think so. What disturbs me most about the Warren movement is the lack of respect for the Bible. I know, I know, he uses more verses than most preachers when he writes and preaches. That's the problem. He uses so many to say some good things, but in doing so, misses the point of the very passages to which he is appealing. In my estimation, it is epidemic in his ministry. My comments are not new news to anyone. But this is a blog - my personal blog and every now and then a rant is in order. This is at least one for this week. Read Rick's quick article and you will see how to say some good things and still miss God's intention all in the same breath. May God help us pastors this week to be faithful with our own use of the Bible.

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