Chris Rosebrough of Extreme Theology has hit a home run with his latest article. He recently attended the Evolve 08 Conference in Cumming, Georgia. Church planters, cutting edge pastors and ministry leaders from around the country gathered together to share ideas. Chris interviewed and conversed with many of the participants to try and understand the CPM’s modus operandi of establishing and growing churches in postmodern America. He has rightly divided the word of truth, splitting asunder their foundation with surgical precision, exposing the central tenant of this dangerous movement. The CPM, according to Chris, has part of its roots planted in the sandy soil of the candy-coated Purpose-Driven Ungospel of Rick Warren’s brand of Baptist theology. I’ll let Chris explain further:
The Material Principle of this popularized form of Baptist theology is the ‘Changed Life’
The Formal Principle of this popularized form of Baptist theology is ‘The Bible as Guidebook for Living’
Almost without exception the sermons that I hear from this stream of the CPM are all topical, all of them are based upon 2 to 4 verses ripped out of context and preached as a life application. IF Jesus is mentioned in the sermon He is usually brought in as a moral example. AND the main reason given to people by these pastors to apply these Biblical principles to their lives is that ‘God has called them to greatness or has a special purpose for their lives’. All too often the thorny subject of sin is left out or not mentioned at all.
The method of evangelism that these church planters are employing is to market to people in their community offering them advice for becoming a better parent, having a more fulfilling romantic life, financial advice or career guidance. The assumption is that if unbelievers show up then they can apply these Biblical principles as a means of ‘trying’ Christianity before they ‘buy it’. Once they experience positive change in their lives then that will motivate them to make a commitment to Jesus Christ. But the problem is that what they are buying is not the gospel message of Christ crucified for our sins. Instead they are buying a performance based religion that promises to help them overcome and solve the everyday issues of life. Based upon what is being preached the people in these churches are being led to believe the Bible is merely a guidebook for living and that the primary message of Christianity is about life change. Therefore, the object of this religion isn’t Jesus Christ it is ME and the progress that I need to be making so that I can experience life change or the methods I need to employ to form better habits. This is nothing more than a merry-go-round of self-improvement and I don’t need a savior for this. In reality, all I need is a good life coach and some good advice.
Read the rest of the article HERE.
I recall vividly how this philosophy of ministry operated in my old church. The call to salvation through a quick ‘Sinner’s Prayer’ effectively initiated the willing participant into ‘The Spirit-Driven Country Club’ where health, wealth and prosperity in family, relationships, career, marriage and finances become the primary focus of so-called discipleship. Christ and the cross of his suffering were discarded like tickets to yesterday’s baseball game. They were good to get you in the gate, but after that they serve no useful purpose. The abundant life was now ours to indulge. It’s quite a different gospel from the one Jesus taught. He taught his disciples to deny self, take up their cross and follow him.
I’m reminded of CJ Mahaney’s wonderful little book, The Cross-Centered Life. He taught that we are always to ‘keep the main thing the main thing’. The work of Jesus Christ on the cross on our behalf must be the driving motivation of our walk of faith. He said this of the cross: “Never lay it aside. Never move on.” If every Christian minister heeded these words the church today would not be in the mess it is now. I pray that God raises up a whole generation of faithful pastors and teachers who will know nothing but Christ and him crucified.