Dear President Glenn Palmberg, Pastors & Staff of Evangelical Covenant Church,
This letter is in response to the charges made against me ECC pastors by Keith Carpenter, John Hamblen, Dan Schuttler, Pastors of Kent Covenant Church in Kent, Washington, and Joshua Havens, Staff at Evangelical Covenant Church National Headquarters. So I am biblically compelled by Matthew 18 and several others Scriptures to respond. But I pray that all of you will be open to hearing that there are two sides of a story and will not make up your minds before testing the spirits to see if they be of God and be good Bereans to search the Scriptures to see if these things be true! My response is followed by commentary by other discernment ministries at the end of this letter.
But because this has direct bearing on my response, it is appropriate that I address Rick Warren's appearance on ABC's Nightline a few nights ago.
"Warren also admitted that it can be difficult to strike a balance between the concerns of modern life and a focus on the Bible."
"When you're preaching and teaching the good news, you
walk a very fine line where you're taking the world of the Bible
and the world of today, and you're building a bridge between
those [worlds]," he explained. "Now, it's easy to be
biblical if you don't care about being relevant
easy to be relevant if you don't care about being biblical. I
happen to want to be both." SOURCE: ABC News
Warren ends the interview by blaming the victims of his invasion
and theft of their churches. If this is not the height of arrogance.
It is they who are blessed. This reminds me of the Southern Baptist
Press (Warren propaganda tool) article which reported the ousting
of 165 members of Gardendale Baptist Church in Corpus Christi,
TX, which effectively said they deserved it. Disposable Christians
that's the mantra from a despot! Think it can't happen you? Think
again! It has already happened to ECC members!
Now back to the letters I received from ECC leaders and
pastors. First let me say that if they are accusing me of bearing
false witness in my testimony against Rick Warren, then these
men listed above had better prove it and document it. I consider
these accusations very seriously. Bearing false witness against
a brother is an abomination to the Lord and slanderers will not
enter the Kingdom of God. If you truly fear the Lord than
you are required to give me the specific statements about Warren
that I made or that I document that Warren made that are not
true. I sent documentation on Warren's false teaching to a many
pastors, members and staff at your church, and not one of you
reasoned from Scripture to refute me, as the Apostle Paul would
"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers [slanderers], nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." I Cor 6:9-10
The collective responses to my emails, however, were quite typical of purpose-driven pastors who simply retaliate and attack me personally.., quite typical from PDC pastors and disciples of Rick Warren. Don't you think these other staff members and ECC members of your are capable of being good Bereans and make their own decision in their own right as to whether or not they directly to me? It is apparent that Dan Schuttler thinks that the rest of the staff or members are not capable of making up their own minds...that somehow he is a surrogate Holy Spirit for you all. Kent Covenant Church and the ECC Headquarters site invite emails, then Dan Schutter asks me a questions then writes "stop spamming us" in his subject line...common practice with Warrenites forbidding me from answering his question and thereby censoring the truth for other church members to hear. This could have been the end of the matter regarding my correspondence with him and other ECC leaders had they simply asked to be removed from my mailing list, but by retaliating with ad hominem attacks without evidence, I have no choice but respond! Is Dan Schuttler now Big Brother and the Thought Police for your own colleagues? All of the emails I used were publicly posted on your own church website some even expressly focused on Celebrate Recovery. Are you now going to censor them from receiving emails simply because someone writes them to warn or alert them or simply because the inquirer may not agree with them? Cult leaders do this, but I didn't think Christians were supposed to. You will only not block emails that agree with the party line? I am within my rights to demand evidence! Most of those who inquired of the Apostle Paul, opposed him...often violently and to the point of riots. But Paul was eager to engage them. But Paul did not respond in a manner that these ECC leaders have.
If the ECC is NOT Warrenite, why does it run Warren's Celebrate Recovery? If the ECC is not Warrenite, why does it promote Warren's 40 Days of Community on your headquarters website. If the ECC is not Warrenite why are their a host of ECC churches listed on Rick Warren's website under:
Purpose Driven Campaign Church Finder http://www.purposedriven.com/en-US/40DayCampaigns/PDCampaignChurchFinder.htm
Or simply type in: "EVANGELICAL COVENANT CHURCH, 40 days of purpose" in your Google search engine to see how many EEC Churches are promoting Warrens teachings. If the ECC is not Warrenite, why is there is a trail of the destruction of your own ECC brethren case studies because its members opposed Purpose-Driven teachings and his New Reformation Transformation of the Church (Dan Schuttler says I should not put the knock on a brother...yet the ECC has no trouble putting "the knock" on its own fellow ECC brethren and knocking them right out of their congregations)? Proof:
If the ECC is not Warrenite why does your denomination promotes the very Emergent Church and Mysticism leaders that Rick Warren promotes at your Bible college and seminary (none of whom also did not respond to me emails)? Proof:
Pastor Keith Carpenter implies that I am a Pharisee because I oppose Rick Warren's teachings. But the Apostle Paul himself cursed the Judaizers for trying to compel Christians to be put back under the law. Rick Warren's covenants and compelled tithing puts people back under the law. (That's who Jesus Christ and Paul described as the real Pharisees). And what did Paul say about them? "Let them be eternally damned"....yes cursed! If you are so confident that Warren's teachings are biblical, then you ought to be eager to engage me in dialog, as the Apostles did in the Book of Acts and elsewhere in Scripture. But none of you did! Who is blessed is not determined by you or me but by testing the spirits against Scripture itself objectively and didactically, not subjectively. So, are all of those saints who have been purpose-driven out of their churches all over the world being blessed too? EEC leaders such as Dan Schuttler and Joshua havens accuse me of attacking a brother. My response is the same as the Apostle Paul's which is "I am now therefore the enemy because I tell you the truth?" As to who is doing the damage to the Body of Christ, and causing division, it is not the messenger, but who imported these teachings in the first place. But I am not so concerned whether God blesses me for speaking out against Rick Warren, but I am concerned about him judging me if I remain silent! As to who is really blessed, it would be those saints who have been persecuted by your purpose-driven colleagues and left dismembered in the wake of the propeller of Warren's purpose-driven propeller, described quite well on even Warren's own website pastors.com which I already documented for you in my last email.
Now to further address the accusations from EVANGELICAL COVENANT leaders against me:
SUBJECT LINE: STOP SPAMMING US
It is disappointing that you would use divisive and judgmental tactics to attack the work of another brother in Christ. Examine your own hearts as to why you are decrying Rick Warren's work. He is advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ and you are only making Christians look bad. I pray that God would forgive you because you know not what you do.
If you'd like to talk more, I'm available via email or at the phone number below.
Thanks from a fellow brother in Christ,
Now let's compare these responses to the Biblically appropriate
responses. This, of course assuming that you all believe in
the absolute authority of Scripture:
Since when is building the Kingdom of God and leading someone to Christ a contest between Christians? Noah preached repentance to the known world for 120 years and led only 8 (including himself) to repentance...the rest of the world perished in the Flood. Jonah obtained 100% conversions in the city of Nineveh which had 120,000 who did not know their left hand from their right. So who was more righteous? Regarding your question, I would also remind you of the following Scriptures:
Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that
not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:
Regarding Dan Schuttler's statement:
How can you equate Rick Warren with Adolf Hitler?!?!
Apparently Mr. Schuttler is unfamiliar with Psalm 55: 12-14 and unfamiliar with the documented history of the Theologians of the Third Reich regarding the human cost to these people who have been socially bred out of their churches. ECC was founded as the Lutheran Church in Sweden. It is well known that many of these ideas came from Martin Luther himself. So I am surprised Mr. Schuttler would not know that! Betrayal of a friend, colleague or fellow church member(s) is more harmful than even physical abuse. I am sure that Mr. Schuttler does not equate what Rick Warren is doing to the church in Germany in the Third Reich. It is like asking a bank robber how he feels about how the depositors feel about him stealing their money! So how about asking the victims of Warren's indoctrination and the real victims who were removed from their churches because of Warren. They think the comparison is most appropriate. One wife of a lifetime elder was curled up in the fetal position in her kitchen because her husband was destroyed by this movement...and yes by real people! Where is Mr. Schuttler's compassion for these abused saints? It is not I who am sick, but those victims who are sick at heart!
Here is a Scripture that depicts why Warren's Spiritual Eugenics
could actually have more impact and produce a greater human cost:
12 If an enemy were insulting me,
If you think Rick Warren's teachings are not a false gospel , then you need to read his Ladies Home Journal column. Then read Paul Proctor's article IT'S YOUR CHOICE: http://worldviewweekend.com/secure/cwnetwork/article.php?&ArticleID=573)
Rick Warren thinks The Roman Catholicism is simply another Christian denomination and not a religion of necromancy and mysticism. Rick Warren promotes the Jesus the Carl Jung believed in...Carl Jung being the core of Warren's SHAPE Program? So how many Warrenite covenants have you or your members signed that the true Jesus forbade. [Also see Bob DeWaay's article addressing the question of how you could possibly even know how much I am blessing someone.]
I receive SOS distress calls and letters from victims of Warren's teachings and instituted programs in churches all over the world, who receive the same treatment as some of you have dished out to me. What Mr. Schutter and Mr. Havens wrote to me is not even unique. But many of these people have no one to speak in their behalf and are simply deleted from their congregations as what Rick Warren would call "resisters", "pillars" and those who "must die!" But I will defend these orphans and widows! Since I address to tens of thousands of people on the radio and in print, it becomes even more critical that you supply proof of his allegations in compliance with above Scriptures, so that I would be able to correct any of my supposed false teaching to any listeners and readers.
I am a frequent guest on national Christian radio shows, including Watchman on the Wall, Southwest Radio Church with my commentary on the September 5 Wall Street Journal article and the Baptist Press cover article. As the occasions permit, I am compelled to name names and mark Dan Schuttler and Joshua Havens, as I have Dr. Steve Gaines, at Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, TN, in these broadcasts, as they typify and are emblematic of the treatment of saints throughout the body of Christ who dare to oppose Rick Warren or even appeals to test his teachings and programs or refuse to sign his many covenants. Are the responses of Dan Schuttler and Joshua Havens what is in store for anyone who challenges Rick Warren's teachings in their own congregation? It is certainly typical of how members of churches have been treated by pastors in their own churches who oppose Warren.
Dan Schuttler can choose to block, ignore or delete
this email from your server too, and turn a deaf ear to the cries
of the innocent, and let the record reflect this, possibly believing
they can hide the truth from your members and it will have no
impact on your church. But if you do, you would do so at your
own peril, as it would behoove you to hearken unto my words,
but more importantly the host of dismembered victims left in
the wake of the propeller of Rick Warren's Global Purpose Driven
Church and Peace Plan, because I will still be able to warn the
church around the country and outside of it about you, both in
print and in national broadcasts, as I have already done with
Lee McFarland of Radiant Church near Phoenix, Pastor Tommy Barnett,
First Assembly of God of Phoenix, Steve Gaines of Bellevue Baptist
Church in Tennessee, and now Pastor Lynn Kent another Purpose-Driven
leader from Greater Portland Bible Church, now interim pastor
of Maranatha Bible Chapel in Horseheads, NY, who was senior
pastor of Greater Portland Bible Church which he completed transformed
to a PDC church?
This letter did not come from a ECC Church, but it mirrors responses from them and other PDC Pastors...and my response fits the conditions under which I would speak to EEC Staff Member Joshua Havens:
Besides this I had written him and he as refused to respond
I will leave with you a response from Pastor Bob DeWaay to another Purpose-Driven supporter who attacked him for his radio show and book opposing Rick Warren's false teachings, for it is in great part quite reflective of Dan Schuttler and Joshua Havens views and appropriate in light of their emails to me and because they to not believe my report, this is the testimony of one more scholar and witness, who like Dr. John MacArthur, calls Warren's teachings "Fool's Gold":
"My intent is not to attack and condemn, but point out
the difference between what the Bible teaches and what is promoted
by the Purpose Drive program. You have not offered any Biblical
evidence to support your contention that the Purpose Driven or
other seeker movements are following the Biblical pattern. In
the radio shows and particularly my book I offer point by point
analysis of Rick Warren's claims and compare them to Scripture.
In dozens of cases Warren misuses Scripture. If he is going to
be the role model for pastors in America, then why teach them
to use really bad Biblical interpretation? If you wish to debate
this matter pick one of the examples and defend Rick Warren and
show me where I am wrong. For example, I claim that Warren's
use of the Message translation of Matthew 16:25 to promote "self-sacrifice
to find one's true self" is a misuse of the passage. I offer
evidence for my claim that Matthew 16:25 is about finding eternal
life, not ones "true self." Please prove to me that
Warren is right and I am wrong, from Scripture. The same goes
for his interpretation of Ephesians 1:11; 1 Corinthians 2:7,
Ephesians 1:4a; 1Thessalonians 1:8; and Genesis 6:8. These are
just a few examples where Warren turns the meaning of a passage
on its head. I am willing to defend my interpretation of each
of those passages and cite scholarly sources and contextual evidence.
Is Rick Warren willing to do the same? Can he? Perhaps you would
wish to defend his interpretations for him. Whatever the case,
it is symptomatic of a bigger problem when how we handle God's
sacred Word becomes seemingly irrelevant.
I do not doubt that privately Rick Warren believes the message
of salvation and presents it to unbelievers. But his public statements
are another matter all together. I have a chapter in my book
I agree that we should work together with one another to fulfill God's commission. But I do not believe that Rick Warren has defined that commission Biblically. I cannot support his P.E.A.C.E. plan because it is not God's commission. Christians are free to give alms and help the poor. I do myself. But that doesn't mean bonding together with Muslims and other worldly people to create a massive organization to solve the world's problems.
I am warning the body of Christ about the Purpose Driven movement because I believe it is not from God and is leading the evangelical movement astray. If you disagree, then that is between you and the Lord. But to say that all opposing views must be stifled for the sake of unity is to rob the church of objective ways of making decisions. I am surely not keeping Rick Warren from promoting his movement. I am just disagreeing with it.
RE JOHN HAMBLEN
Finally, I leave with you these warning Scriptures:
"Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee,
go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall
hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
In seeking the multitude of Godly counsel, I presented Keith Carpenter, John Hamblen, Dan Schuttler, Pastors of Kent Covenant Church in Kent, Washington, and Joshua Havens views to other pastors and Christians in discernment ministries. Here are their responses:
Well ... My response to "John" [Hamblen] would be .... Those of us who are warning people about the false and deadly social gospel of Rick Warren are doing exactly what the Word of God tells us to do; as well as we are being truthful about the eternal consequences of sin and WHO the only answer to that sin problem is.
But maybe it is better summed up in what we are NOT doing...
We are NOT pushing a deadly poison on an unsuspecting people leading them to hell via all things purpose driven.
We are NOT preaching and teaching a false Christ in the name of global P.E.A.C.E.
We are NOT getting in bed with the world and all it's glitter.
We are NOT engaging in un-holy alliances in the name of relevance.
We are NOT calling terrorists and communist countries (the very enemies of God and His people) friends and peaceful.
We are NOT purposely steam rolling people out of their churches.
We are NOT destroying the body of Christ to install a false and eternally deadly and poisonous social gospel.
We are NOT promoting and winking at homosexuality in the name of a social gospel.
We are NOT producing rotten fruit in the form of hirelings and young people with ZERO understanding or respect for God and His Word.
We are NOT producing a people with NO FEAR of a Holy God! NEED I GO ON? Feel free to pass this on.
In His Service and for His Glory,
A few Scriptures to send this poorly informed young man .... There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (Proverbs 16:25 KJV) Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:20-23 KJV) Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. (James 4:4 KJV)
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15 KJV)
Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets. (Luke 6:26 KJV) [ The world adores Rick Warren and his false social gospel ]We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. (1 John 3:14-15 KJV)
This is not the same smarmy politically correct love that the world is pushing in the name of the Rick Warren's false social gospel called Purpose Driven. It is a true love of those who belong to God through Christ Jesus. This young man would do well to examine his own heart and see if he be in the faith or has believed a lie.
I would also add that the false social gospel may feed some hungry bellies but leaves them dead in their trespasses and sins, and that is pure evil! Feel free to pass this onto him.
In His Service and for His Glory,
So Standing for The Faith and exposing false doctrine and false teachers and teachings that divide and destroy The Church of The Lord Jesus Christ is now considered " divisive tactics"?
Are you even serious sir?
That is " backwards 'thinking,....It is every Christians duty to defend THE FAITH ,and to uphold sound doctrine.
You plainly appear to be mystically brainwashed into an unholy
and Unbiblical total pragmatism, ie; ( any method or tactic used
to change and/or redefine The Church from what it has historically
been and its' Biblical and time proven roots of Biblical faith
and practice , you now arrogantly consider to be only worthy
of wholesale destruction, desecration, and intense humanistic
That may be what educators call " thinking outside the
box"....but...when it comes to GODS WORD as THE BOX....
you have now dangerously careened and ventured into a rudderless
voyage of pragmatic propaganda and moral relativism.
4. HEEDING GODS CALL FOR SEPARATION FROM THE WORLD
It is an UNHOLY spirit of error and compromise with the world
You endorse Rick Warren as a " Uniter " ? When it is the very programs and philosophies of Rick Warren which are not only arrogantly divisive in and of themselves, but also train pastors to divide up their flocks within their churches according to Rick Warrens philosophies. ( Transitioning an Established Church ) ** by Dan Southerland.
Rick ENDORSES such unholy divisive tactics and tells pastors
to let those who will not agree with Rick ( PDC ) to "
leave " ..or ... if any of the "pillars of The Church"
who disagree Biblically and will not succumb to Rick Warrens'
dictates need to get out ..or be "put out " ...and
that these longtime Faithful Christians should be treated as
Blessed subtractions .....no matter their length of faithful
service or commitment to the work of The Church and Christs'
kingdom. This is ruthless and arrogant
tyranny, NOT GENTLE SHEPHERDING.
You are quite thoroughly deceived, and I pray that God will
grant you repentance from this deception...as it is you sir...who
do not know what you do....
Greetings in Jesus.
CELEBRATION RECOVERY (Promoted by ECC)
As a long-time critic of psychological counseling and 12-Steps therapies in the church (see The Seduction of Christianity and archived TBC newsletter articles and Q&As), I was pleased to have the opportunity to learn firsthand from those who are leading and/or participating in the program, to better understand what was intended in CR, and to see how it is implemented. What I learned right away was that the 3,000 or so in attendance had a tremendous zeal for the Lord and an unquestionable sincerity in desiring to help those who were struggling with habitual sin. This was my impression in all of my interactions-with individuals, in small groups, in workshop sessions, and in the general worship sessions. The CR Summit lasted three (eight- to nine-hour) days and covered nearly every aspect of Celebrate Recovery.
Nevertheless, other thoughts ran through my mind as I reviewed whether or not I had missed something significant in my previous criticisms of 12-Steps recovery therapies. Is Celebrate Recovery's 12-Steps program truly different-that is, "biblical and balanced rather than psychological"-as Rick Warren believes? Furthermore, is he simply naïve when he says in his "Road to Recovery" series of sermons, "In 1935 a couple of guys formulated, based upon the Scriptures, what are now known as the classic twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and used by hundreds of other recovery groups. Twenty million Americans are in a recovery group every week and there are 500,000 recovery groups. The basis is God's Word [emphasis added]." Or is Celebrate Recovery another alarming example of a way that seems right to a man but one that is turning believers to ways and means other than the Bible to solve their sin-related problems? Let's consider these questions in light of some A.A. and 12 Steps background information.
To begin with, 12-Steps programs are not just a Saddleback Church issue. Increasing numbers of evangelical churches are sponsoring Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) and Narcotics Anonymous (N.A.) meetings and/or creating their own self-help groups based upon A.A.'s 12-Steps principles. Bill Wilson, one of the founders of A.A., created the 12 Steps. Wilson was a habitual drunk who had two life-changing events that he claims helped him achieve sobriety: 1) he was (mis)informed by a doctor that his drinking habit was a disease and was therefore not his fault, and 2) he had an experience (which he viewed as spiritual enlightenment) that convinced him that only "a Power greater than" himself could keep him sober. Attempting to understand his mystical experience, he was led into spiritism, a form of divination condemned in the Scriptures. His official biography indicates that the content of the 12-Steps principles came to him "rapidly" through spirit communication. Certainly not from God.
Celebrate Recovery began 14 years ago at Saddleback and is used in more than 3,500 churches today, making it evangelical Christianity's most prominent and widely exported 12-Steps church program. Warren considers CR to be "the center of living a purpose-driven life and building a purpose-driven church" and recently announced that Chuck Colson's Prison Fellowship would begin implementing CR in every prison where the ministry is functioning.
Celebrate Recovery is a very complex methodology that attempts to bring biblical adjustments to the 12-Steps program originated by A.A. and utilized in numerous other "addiction" recovery programs. The complexity, however, applies to the setting up and implementation of the program as well as to the strict rules that govern its execution. Although there are many problems related to "making it work," there is only space in this article to address some fundamental issues. Let's begin with the implications regarding the name of the program.
Reflecting A.A.'s influence upon CR, the term "Recovery" is significant. All those in A.A. are "recovering" alcoholics, who, according to A.A., never completely recover. Recovery is a term that primarily denotes a process of physical healing. A.A. teaches that alcoholism is a disease for which there is no ultimate cure. Although CR rejects A.A.'s view of alcoholism as a disease and calls it sin, the title nevertheless promotes the A.A. concept in contradiction to what the Bible teaches. Sin is not something from which a believer is "in recovery." Sin is confessed by the sinner and forgiven by God. The believer is cleansed of the sin right then. "I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin" (Ps 32:5).
At the 2005 Celebrate Recovery Summit, every speaker introduced himself or herself in the A.A. "recovery" mode, with this "Christianized" difference: "Hi, I'm so and so and I'm a believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with issues of (alcohol, drug, codependency, sex, or whatever) addiction." The audience then applauded to affirm the individual for overcoming the "denial" of his or her habitual sin. Not to confess some "addiction" or specific sin struggle raises suspicions of "being in denial." Throughout the three-day conference, there was never a hint from any of the speakers that anything about A.A., 12 Steps, or CR might not be biblical. Moreover, where Celebrate Recovery programs were not available, those "in recovery" were encouraged to attend A.A. or N.A. meetings.
Rick Warren, on video, reassured the Summit attendees that
CR was no man-made therapy. He insisted that CR was based upon
the "actual words of Jesus Christ from the eight Beatitudes,
which parallel the 12 Steps" and identified his own "Higher
Power: His name is Jesus Christ." I don't find "Higher
Power," which is a misrepresentation of God, in the Bible.
Nor can I fathom why a Bible-believing Christian would want to
promote Bill Wilson's concept and methodology. Why not simply
rely on what the Bible teaches?
How dependent is Celebrate Recovery upon (with minor modifications) A.A.'s 12 Steps? Completely! Those going through CR's small group take from 12 to 16 months to complete the 12-Steps program. Many go through more than one small group and often become leaders in one while attending others. Without Bill Wilson's principles, the CR program would be reduced to a handful of misapplied Bible verses. Tragically, the most obvious biblical problem with such an approach to overcoming habitual sins seems to be dismissed by all 12-Steps advocates: the Bible never offers a by-the-numbers self-help methodology for deliverance from sin or for living a sanctified life. God's way involves obedience to His full counsel and maturity in Christ through the enablement of His Holy Spirit.
Warren's CR program views the 12 Steps as generally compatible with Scripture yet seeks out verses that appear to biblically reinforce each step. In doing so, however, scriptural interpretations are forced upon concepts that either have no direct relationship to the Bible or that pervert the true interpretation of the scripture intended to support the particular step. CR's attempt to use the Beatitudes as biblical principles for overcoming habitual sins, for example, is a serious distortion of the Word of God.
Search as you may, you'll find no commentaries that even hint at such a use of the Beatitudes. Why? Simply because the Beatitudes all have to do with seeking the Kingdom of God and nothing to do with solving an individual's so-called addictions. Again, why try to legitimize from Scripture Wilson's "ungodly counsel" from "seducing spirits [bringing] doctrines of devils" (1 Tm 4:1)?
Consider, for example, the "Beatitudes-justified" first three steps: (1) We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors. That our lives had become unmanageable. "Happy are those who are spiritually poor." (2) Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. "Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." (3) Made a decision to turn our life and our will over to the care of God (modified from A.A.'s "God as we understood Him"). "Happy are the meek." This is more than a misdirected attempt to sanctify (in Rick Warren's words) Bill Wilson's "biblically vague" 12 Steps.2 It both abuses the Scriptures and reinterprets Wilson.
In these foundational steps, Wilson is summarizing his beliefs based upon his experiences as a "recovering alcoholic." He felt "powerless" because he believed alcoholism was an incurable disease that consequently made his life "unmanageable." Since he couldn't "cure" himself (although millions do without 12-Step or other therapies!), he put his faith in "a power greater than ourselves," whom he called God, and "understood" Him by fabricating Him out of beliefs discovered in his study of different religions and religious experiences. That's more than "biblically vague." It's a false religion.
So why would Celebrate Recovery or the multitudes of other Christianized 12-Steps groups try to reconcile the Word of God with Wilson's definitely erroneous and demonically inspired methodology? The deluded response is: "Because it works!" But does it?
Pragmatism is the fuel that powers "the way that seems right" and governs much of what is being lauded in the church today. Not only is this unbiblical, but too often there is nothing beyond enthusiastic testimonials to support the claim that something actually works. The reality for the 12-Steps program of A.A. and N.A. is that there is no research evidence proving that they are more effective than other treatments. Furthermore, the most extensive studies related to "addictions" conclude that most drug and alcohol abusers recover without any psychotherapeutic treatment or self-help therapies.3
CR's entire program content is marbled with psychobabble such as this "solution" from its Adult Children of the Chemically Addicted group's dogmas:"The solution is to become your own loving parent....You will recover the child within you, learning to accept and love yourself."5 This is biblical?! Honoring the psychologically contrived "disorder" of codependency, CR's Codependency and Christian Living group made this humanistic and biblically false statement: "Jesus taught....A love of self forms the basis for loving others."6
A.A.'s 12-Steps methodology, along with its antibiblical psychotherapeutic concepts and practices permeates Celebrate Recovery, yet no one at the Summit with whom I spoke seemed concerned. CR's small group meetings are the antithesis of the way the Bible instructs mature believers to help those young or struggling in the faith to grow. Pastors and elders can be small group leaders, but not for teaching purposes. No leader may biblically instruct or correct but may only affirm the "transparency" of the participant sharing his feelings. "Cross-talk," or comments by others, are prohibited to allow the freest expression possible. Much of this "expression" reinforces psychotherapeutic myths. The two-hour meetings usually open with the spiritually anemic Serenity Prayer and the recitation of the 12 Steps. Leaders are drawn from those who have completed one or more 12-Step groups. Some leaders work through one "addiction" in a small group while leading another group. It's not unusual for a leader to put in eight to ten hours in CR functions per week, every week. Serious Bible study and discipleship are not part of the Celebrate Recovery "biblical" emphasis.
Let no one think that presenting these critical concerns about Celebrate Recovery in any way lessens the biblical obligation (Gal 6) of the church to minister to those struggling with habitual sin. The issue is not whether we should minister, but how we should minister: man's way or God's way? Man's way, or a mixture of biblical teaching and ungodly counsel, is contrary to God's way. Man's way leads to death. Applying Scripture to man's way leads to a slower death, akin to what would result when pure water is added to a toxic drinking fountain. We desperately need to take heed to God's admonition through the Prophet Jeremiah: "For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water" (Jer 2:13). TBC
Sincerely in Christ,