Looking Behind the “Purpose Driven” Sheep’s Clothing

by Christopher Adamo


The facade is beginning to peel back from the so-called ministry of Southern California Pastor Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose Driven Church” and “The Purpose Driven Life.” Unfortunately, many among his ample flock have far too much invested in him, both emotionally and otherwise, to admit their mistakes and cut their losses.

Moreover, he certainly faces no possibility of in-depth scrutiny from the “mainstream media,” as his brand of “Christianity” poses little or no threat to their liberal social agenda. Yet to the degree that anyone at all questions Warren as anything less than authentic, his response is thoroughly telling as to his true character, as well as the nature of his “ministry.”

Joseph Farah, editor in chief of the premiere Internet news site, “World Net Daily,” opened a can of worms by calling Warren to account over his fawning praise of the terrorist stronghold of Syria. While there, Warren lauded the brutish dictatorship as “peaceful,” claiming that the Islamist government does not officially sanction “extremism of any kind.”

When confronted by Farah, an American of middle-eastern decent who knows too well the history of horror and tragedy faced by persecuted Christians in that region of the world, Warren immediately denied ever making such statements.

Subsequently, Farah offered as evidence a “YouTube” video from Saddleback Church, where Warren is pastor, inarguably proving Farah’s statement. So Warren’s Church simply pulled the video from circulation and continued the denial, being unaware that a copy of the video file had been downloaded and is still in circulation. Warren’s follow up to this inconvenient circumstance is perhaps most telling of all.

In a concurrent set of moves, Warren sent a seemingly conciliatory e-mail to Farah, while distributing another to his “flock,” in which he characterized Farah’s pursuit of the incident as nothing less than “doing Satan’s job for him.” Throughout this sorry episode, Farah’s only error has been to suggest that Warren’s disturbing behavior represents some new departure from consistency.

In fact, Warren is actually being entirely consistent. Whether his audience might be Farah himself, Syrian Despot Bashar Assad, or the Saddleback congregation, Warren tells each exactly what he believes they want to hear. This pattern is the essence of what Warren is, and what has made him so “successful” from a worldly perspective.

For those among his congregation who sincerely want to know the truth, the evidence is ample. Unfortunately, it always has been available, and any present “confusion” merely results from past decisions to ignore that evidence.

For example, his letter to the congregation decrying the “attack” and making his defense by invoking Scripture is barely four paragraphs long. Yet in those four paragraphs, he employs three different “translations” of the Bible. Why, it must be asked, does he not trust any single translation to convey God’s message to humanity?

Could it be that he has his own message and agenda to advance, and that he has found it very convenient to utilize different wordings of different passages, not because they better convey God’s purpose, but rather his own? It would be better to ask, could his motivation possibly be anything else?

As Farah has refused to let this indefensible situation simply drop, Warren has responded by taking it to another realm, making personal attacks against Farah in an interview with the magazine, “Christianity Today.” But once again, by so doing Warren succeeds in revealing much more about himself than about his adversary.

Warren, who has not to date been known as any sort of standard bearer for Christian principle in the political arena, decries Farah (whose societal and moral views fall unambiguously on the right) and his ideological allies as part of a wrongful “political” encroachment on the faith.

In contrast, Warren’s forays into the political realm prove, not surprisingly, to be decidedly leftist. At a recent conference on the African AIDS epidemic, Warren invited the very liberal Senator Barak Obama (D.-IL) as a keynote speaker. He justified the inclusion of Obama, who avidly supports abortion and same-sex “marriage,” on the grounds that Obama offered a worldly solution to ostensibly curb the spread of the disease through condom usage.

The morally ambiguous message conveyed by the advocacy of condoms, along with their inherent unreliability, make them nothing less than iconic to the abortion industry, which fully understands how much new business they generate. In the face of such pragmatism, one has to wonder what will be next. Perhaps Warren’s Church will sponsor a “designated drivers ministry” at every bar in its locale.

Appalling though Obama’s inclusion in the conference may be, it is nonetheless entirely consistent with Warren’s behavior from the beginning. Leading a megachurch in the culturally disintegrating landscape of Southern California, Warren certainly knows that his prospects of maximizing the “flock” will be greatly enhanced as long as he shows proper deference to the real religion of the area, “political correctness.”

In this, his Christian populism movement has proven to be far more palatable to the God-hating secularists of the surrounding communities than such stodgy, old-fashioned, and “intolerant” notions as “Thou Shalt Not.” And the Warren influence has been predictable wherever it can be found.

If other Churches that abide in the Warren philosophy, such as Chicago’s gargantuan “Willow Creek,” were to truly uphold Christian values among their enormous congregations, they would certainly be a constant “thorn in the side” of their surrounding populace, acculturated into the modernism as those communities certainly are. Yet an amazing degree of compatibility and congeniality exists between the Warren Church model and the social structures of Chicago and Southern California.

The tradeoff between true Christian principle and acceptability to the locals is apparently worth the spiritual sacrifice it entails, with expanding parking lots, increasingly lavish facilities, and of course, fuller collection plates bearing witness. Meanwhile, such Churches offer ever less of a worthwhile and much needed alternative to the ailing world around them.

Ultimately, Warren gives conformist Christians, wearied from their ongoing battle with a world that is increasingly hostile to true Christian faith, an apparent “out” by offering a version that the modern world can find more acceptable while remaining in its present spiritual darkness.

Many among Warren’s vast following have made the mistake, in light of his “purpose driven” ministering, of presuming, at the heart of the movement, a Christ-driven purpose. Yet as Warren’s real character continues to be revealed, it is becoming apparent that members of that following are presuming too much.


Christopher G. Adamo is a freelance writer and staff writer for the New Media Alliance. He lives in southeastern Wyoming with his wife and sons. He has been active in local and state politics for many years.

Why I’m not an Atheist, Part 5: On science and miracles

by Robert E. Meyer


The Apostle Paul warns in 1 Timothy 6:20 : “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called.”

Several centuries ago, the German astronomer Johann Kepler, justified scientific inquiry in that such investigation was “thinking God’s thoughts after him.” The scientific method was bathed and developed in a culture that presupposed the existence of God. Many scientific originators of whole branches of science were themselves biblically astute believers.

From that point forward, there was a gradual diversion from that philosophical approach, to a newer, evolving view, deeming science and theology as antithetical disciplines. This view eventually came to a codified perspective in the 19th century, due to voluminous treatises authored by John W. Draper and Andrew Dickson White, which chronicled the alleged war between science and theology. In that same era, Darwin’s Origin of the Species, provided skeptics with a pathway to become “an
intellectually fulfilled atheist.”

I have been puzzled, from the time of my earliest consideration of the matter, that science is used as a means of discrediting the existence of God. It should never be the objective of Christians to oppose the wonders of scientific progress, but only “science falsely so called;”  that is, metaphysics festooned as science.

History certainly documents numerous incidents where the church acted in embarrassing ways to hinder progress. Chief among these is the Roman Catholic Church’s ban of the writing of Galileo. But such a prohibition was never a scriptural necessity. Nothing in the Bible would have contradicted Galileo’s new cosmological model.

Recently, we have seen a court case which declared Intelligent Design Theory to be a religious dogma, rather than a plausible conclusion of scientific inquiry. That seems to imply that “true science” can never ask the question: “Is this occurrence too complex to be the result of chance or natural selection?” I doubt reason by itself would ever allow such interrogative principle to be excluded by default from any other field of inquiry.

This is one of the greatest areas of doublespeak, in the ongoing debates between atheists and theists. We frequently hear that science confines itself to a naturalistic explanation of events. That is fine as far as it goes. But, when people claim that there is nothing in the universe exclusive to natural explanations, however, they are arguing outside the realm of science, and have become purveyors naturalistic philosophy. That is no longer a methodology of objective inquiry, but a
religious-like, dogmatic assumption, upon which foundation only certain conclusions will be allowed to subsist.

Unfortunately, that is often the philosophical edifice of what is defined as “modern science.” From this launching pad, we are told that people of the biblical periods, were ignorant as to the workings of science or natural law, so they falsely attributed certain phenomena to the miraculous realm.

In Thomas Paine’s 18th century screed against Christianity, The Age of Reason, he makes an argument about miracles that reverberates from the lips of many contemporary skeptics, but which was never very convincing to me. To paraphrase him, he said that if one should hear of a very strange event like a miracle, the veracity of the claim could be answered quite easily. Have we ever seen a miracle he asks? In the same space of time we have heard millions of lies. The odds are then at least
millions to one that someone who claims to have seen miracle is a liar, or so he concludes. The irony is that even if all the miracles in the Bible are true reports, the ratio of lies to miracles over time would still be lopsided in favor of the lies.

The problem here is that Paine confuses the statistical correlation of two unrelated events with the possibility that a given event can occur. If we are going to merely prostate to statistical probability, then what about the mathematical challenges against the “molecules to man” type evolution occurring on earth, as was presented by Hoyle, Wickramansinghe and others? Arguments based on probability are shunned or ignored when they present stumbling blocks to the atheist worldview.

As a rebuttal to Paine’s charge, I could say that nobody has ever been hit with a brick falling off the Empire State Building; therefore the odds of it happening are highly unlikely (millions to one). But let’s change the circumstances surrounding the claim. Let’s say a team of masons procures numerous pallets of bricks on the observation deck. If single bricks are thrown off the deck in rapid succession, while a parade of marching bands perform on the street below, the odds become good that
someone will be struck. Since Paine believed that the initial creation itself was a miraculous event, why would he have doubted that miracles of a lesser intervention could also happen? It was because his concept of God precluded belief in them.

Often, the arguments that biblical peoples unnecessarily attributed unusual natural phenomena to God and the realm of the miraculous are made without sensible explication. For example, not many biblical descriptions of miracles are of this nature: A group of dessert nomads sees a Boeing 747 fly over their heads. They all bow down to pay homage to the “great silver bird God.” Or Mary tells Joseph she is pregnant with a child from God. Joseph says “Yes, gods impregnating women are quite possible,
so let’s not worry about it.”

There also seems to be an assumption that if one professes a belief in the supernatural, then it follows that the same individual views miracles as normative and frequently observed events. Such a person may be mockingly called upon to perform miracles, as a magician might dazzle his audience with a series of illusions. This is nothing but gang-tackling a straw man.

I once heard a debate with the late skeptic, Dr. Gordon Stein. He said that if there is a God, he should do a miracle so that anyone but a fool would believe. Such argumentation only shows the extent to which atheists are oblivious to the resilience of their own presuppositions. If Stein had actually seen a miracle, his own biases would likely have caused him to say that while he couldn’t explain the event which had just happened, some day he would be able to explain it via naturalistic
principles. The Bible on the other hand, is uncanny in its description of human tendencies. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, the record indicated that while many believed, some still doubted. My conclusion is that people, who don’t want to believe, won’t be persuaded by appearances of the miraculous.

The problems with appeals to science to buttress atheism, is that they require extrapolations of naturalistic philosophies outside the realm of science, and assume the exclusivity of empiricism. I’ve already argued against that.


Robert E. Meyer writer is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.

Why I Can’t Be and Atheist

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