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Author Topic: Church Growth, Schuller, Willow Creek, and ECC & GC*  (Read 26316 times)
theresearchpersona
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« on: April 30, 2008, 03:39:34 pm »

At this post http://gcmwarning.com:8080/decomm/index.php/topic,578.msg3993.html#msg3993 , Linda wrote,



Quote from: "Linda"
We noted that ECC was a member of two associations. Willow Creek and Great Commission. We had no understanding of what being a member of Great Commission meant in terms of doctrine and history.




And a lot suddenly makes more sense: and why too there’s been heavy inroads by CG and other heretical things (being that GC churches network so much). It’s more than two pronged, but there are two big ones, Rick Warrenism and Hybellism…which are really Schullerism…these men were trained by a guy who preaches a positive-only gospel, self-esteem gospel (his words), and man-centered theology (which he explicitly argues for); AND he trained both Warren and Hybells who then emulated him by starting “churches” through surveys and building churches upon what people wanted in them to come…rather than preaching the gospel and letting the Lord do the gathering…



The results? Non-churches…even Willow just figured out that those Christians in their congregations that actually bear fruit and mature…leave:



Did Bill Hybels 'Repent' of Seeker Sensitive?

http://www.oldtruth.com/blog.cfm/id.2.pid.811

Willow Creek’s Big Adventure

http://www.svchapel.org/Resources/Articles/read_articles.asp?ID=142





more:

Robert Schuller and The Seeker Sensitive Church

http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue56.htm

Faulty Premises of the Church Growth Movement

http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue89.htm



interesting (a little guy’s {quite thorough} effort):

http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/exposes/hybels/

http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/exposes/hybels/ ("Commentary: Building a Church On Marketing Surveys")
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DrSam
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« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2008, 10:15:13 am »

Quote from: "theresearchpersona"


And a lot suddenly makes more sense: and why too there’s been heavy inroads by CG and other heretical things (being that GC churches network so much). It’s more than two pronged, but there are two big ones, Rick Warrenism and Hybellism…which are really Schullerism…these men were trained by a guy who preaches a positive-only gospel, self-esteem gospel (his words), and man-centered theology (which he explicitly argues for); AND he trained both Warren and Hybells who then emulated him by starting “churches” through surveys and building churches upon what people wanted in them to come…rather than preaching the gospel and letting the Lord do the gathering…

The results? Non-churches…even Willow just figured out that those Christians in their congregations that actually bear fruit and mature…leave:

Did Bill Hybels 'Repent' of Seeker Sensitive?
http://www.oldtruth.com/blog.cfm/id.2.pid.811
Willow Creek’s Big Adventure
http://www.svchapel.org/Resources/Articles/read_articles.asp?ID=142


more:
Robert Schuller and The Seeker Sensitive Church
http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue56.htm
Faulty Premises of the Church Growth Movement
http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue89.htm





Dear precious brother,

I used to be one of those  persons who disliked Robert Schuller and felt similarly to you... Until I started to read his own words and especially his book "Your Church Has a Future." I then repented to God and asked God to forgive me for my arrogant ego in how I treated one of His kids. Since then, I've had the honor of meeting him (and Warren). I find that most folks that dislike Schuller, Warren, Hybels, tend to not be spiritually gifted as they are. This is a classical gift-based bias that happens when you live inside your own head and cannot graciously enter another person's world to understand them. Schuller is more orthodox than probably most of us here as a Dutch Reform person (as is Hybels). He's been attacked from within his denomination. Schuller is the father of the "unchurch" church growth movement having been responsible for mentoring many mega-church leaders who have reached more than you and I combined. Schuller is responsible for opening up the Soviet Union to the Gospel by his relationship with Gorbachev some years back. He got his program on National USSR TV regularly. Schuller is responsible for inspiring personally his friend Billy Graham to go on TV when he was still a local thing. He is the Lord's anointed whether we like it or not.

When you go deep into the truths of the Gospel and the message of Abundant Life of Christ, you may end up having a very healthy self-esteem which is what basically Schuller is saying. He does not use the Christianese jargon that turns off outsiders but pleases insiders. This is in keeping with the principle of incarnation and being among men to have a significant impact on them.

Best regards and God Bless,

Dr. Sam

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theresearchpersona
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« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2008, 04:02:32 pm »

You're talking about a man (Warren) who I've seen unwilling to confess Christ and the need for repentance, conversion (unless ye be converted...), and even an inability to define sin when pressed.

You're talking to me about a man (Warren) who I've watched get caught in an ever-deepening web of his lies, trying to do damage control...much like GC...for statements the revealed what he is about. You're talking about a man (Warren) who says his plan is a new reformation that's about deeds not creeds (except that the first WAS about both), calls it the "OS" of the 21st century Church (vs. Jesus and the Holy Spirit?) and who prophecies "P.E.A.C.E." which we're constantly warned about in the Bible...and Jesus warned us directly, "think not that I came to cast peace on earth, but a sword...".

I don't care if they could call-down fire upon the earth and make lighting strike troughs of water into obliteration: they do not confess Christ. You're not the only one familiar with Schuller, either: I've read him explicitly demanding "man-centered theology": I've seen Him applaud as Billy Graham refused to preach the necessity of Christ and that all who do not believe are condemned already (of such non-confessing 1 John says anything that does not confess Christ, any spirit, any work, whatever...is of the Spirit of antichrist).

These men build congregations by tickling ears...and Schuller even states he's not only not out to convert anyone, but has created all he does for the unbeliever and "unchurched": when you want to figure-out where the "we don't need you if you're not with our vision" comes from...half schuller: and passed through the thousands he's mis-trained (including Warren and Hybels, and now available at your local chapter of GC).

You're taken and deceived...and I give you warning brother not to heed, fear, or having anything to do with false prophets, teachers, and wolves no matter how sheepish they may appear.
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DrSam
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« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2008, 12:22:48 pm »

Quote from: "theresearchpersona"
You're talking about a man (Warren) who I've seen unwilling to confess Christ and the need for repentance, conversion (unless ye be converted...), and even an inability to define sin when pressed.

You're talking to me about a man (Warren) who I've watched get caught in an ever-deepening web of his lies, trying to do damage control...much like GC...for statements the revealed what he is about. You're talking about a man (Warren) who says his plan is a new reformation that's about deeds not creeds (except that the first WAS about both), calls it the "OS" of the 21st century Church (vs. Jesus and the Holy Spirit?) and who prophecies "P.E.A.C.E." which we're constantly warned about in the Bible...and Jesus warned us directly, "think not that I came to cast peace on earth, but a sword...".

I don't care if they could call-down fire upon the earth and make lighting strike troughs of water into obliteration: they do not confess Christ. You're not the only one familiar with Schuller, either: I've read him explicitly demanding "man-centered theology": I've seen Him applaud as Billy Graham refused to preach the necessity of Christ and that all who do not believe are condemned already (of such non-confessing 1 John says anything that does not confess Christ, any spirit, any work, whatever...is of the Spirit of antichrist).

These men build congregations by tickling ears...and Schuller even states he's not only not out to convert anyone, but has created all he does for the unbeliever and "unchurched": when you want to figure-out where the "we don't need you if you're not with our vision" comes from...half schuller: and passed through the thousands he's mis-trained (including Warren and Hybels, and now available at your local chapter of GC).

You're taken and deceived...and I give you warning brother not to heed, fear, or having anything to do with false prophets, teachers, and wolves no matter how sheepish they may appear.


Research,

With all due respect, dear brother, I think you are doing what we in Seminary would call "splitting theological hairs." I've seen the same done with prophecy (pre, mid, and  post trib... amillenial, post-millenial... reform/covenants versus dispensational... Lordship salvation versus free grace).

I believe that the apostle Paul could be accused of what you attribute Warren, Schuller, Graham, and Hybels, especially when he hung out on Mars Hill. He packaged the gospel in such a way that he utilized pagan descriptors and views of the "living God."

I believe these men are pushing towards brokenness, towards reaching our post-Christian America, towards reaching post-moderns, and are trying with all sincerity to live in surrender to their Lord as you and I are seeking. They are not trying to please you and me. I thank God for that. Evangelicals are dinosaurs at this point. The "church" as we know it in America is dying, irrelevant, and obsolete.

Brother, I think your giftings seem to appear more to be those of a teacher versus a prophet or evangelist. You probably do not have gifting for opening up pagan territories that are anti-gospel and dislike traditional Christianity. These men appear to be in those categories.

At a bare minimum, Paul would rejoice that they are trying to preach Christ.

I think your calling what these men communicate as "man centered" could be that they are packaging the gospel to meet "felt needs" which is exactly what Christ did. Why should I come to Christ is He cannot help me? Hence the loaves and fish, the metaphors, the living water, the living bread, the abundant life, etc.... all parts of trying the speak the the needs all humans have. That is "man-centered" good news coming from God. Regardless of what you and I think, the reality is that millions have received the Savior and lives have been permanently changed, more than you or I have reached. I believe Paul and God are quite happy about that. When was the last time you or I reached a few thousand with the message of John 3:16?

I respect your desire for truth as long as you do not loose the balance with grace as Jesus was filled with both. I'm sure that is what you want also.

I applaud your love for God and the word... just don't commit the error the Pharissees did when they put written truth above living truth and love.

God bless you, my dear brother!
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« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2008, 07:40:41 am »

Here is an excellent link  ~ to Critical Issues Commentary ~ a publication by pastor / teacher / writer Bob DeWaay.  All of his articles are Biblical, excellent, practical, and scholarly ~ well researched.

Here's the link to the article about evangelicals abandoning Sola Scriptura as a very important and foundational principle for Christian truth and living.

http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue105.pdf
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« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2008, 08:51:38 am »

The article is an interesting read. One problem I have with his approach is that he indicates that he rejects anything as unscriptural if it is not mentioned in scripture.  The is typical of a Reformed Theologian.

The Medieval Reformation had TWO divergent movements. Lutheran and Reformed. The Lutheran  reformers kept the historic churches teachings about Scriptural topics concerning sacraments etc. The Swiss/Scot/Dutch Reformers rejected these teachings.

Both sides claimed Sola Scriptura to support their views.

One difference between them, and which the "new" reformers are suddenly finding is this.   By looking into ancient church history, even 1st and 2nd century church history prior to the claimed primacy of the bishop in Rome,  you find that Christians differentiated between what was commanded by Scripture, what was forbidden by Scripture , and what was neither commanded nor forbidden by Scripture. Freedom in Christ allowed  these last things to be either practiced or not practiced.

Monasteries are not commanded nor forbidden.
Eating meat  or simply drinking anything with alcohol is neither forbidden or commanded.
Church ceremonies are not commanded nor forbidden.

By condemning what is not forbidden in scripture, you actually can be accused of adding to scripture.... which IS forbidden.

Be very careful in speaking against your brothers and sisters in Christ is their practices are different than yours. If their motives are pure in Christ, they are not to be hindered.
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Linda
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« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2008, 09:10:48 am »

I saw the DeWaay article linked on Slice of Laodicea the other day and it caught my eye. I mentioned the premise to my husband and it resonated with us. History and tradition are things that can aid the pursuit of truth and offer stability, so I see why people are going for "older" church traditions. I didn't have time to read it then,but am printing it now and look forward to what he has to say. He has also written some excellent articles about leadership and authority in the church.

I know there are some posting here who are not sola scriptura people, so my point isn't to "argue" with them at all, but what I think is interesting about Great Commission churches is that, as far as I know, they claim to be Protestant. It seems to me that if they want to say they are a non-denominational Protestant church, then they are saying they believe in the five solas (sola scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia, Solus Christus, and Soli Deo gloria).

By their own admission, in their core values paper they claim to be "scripture plus tradition" rather than sola scriptura. Hence, they are not Protestant, in  my book.

Quote
7. We believe that the Scriptures combined with the local church are God’s primary system for providing pastoral care and the healing of souls.  While God may lead pastors to refer certain individuals to godly, Biblically based counselors as a supplement, this works best when it is coordinated with the efforts of the church and its leaders (2 Timothy 3:16, Ephesians 4:15-16).
8. While God can use outside authors, teachers, and seminars to supplement the ministry of the Word in each local church (1 Corinthians 4:15), God desires the local church to be the primary source of preaching and teaching of the Scriptures for the building up of believers.


Also, you can't say this:
Quote
5. The Bible is our final authority for doctrine and practice and our instruction manual for life. It is God’s revealed communication for matters of our faith, for our personal lives, for raising our families, for our behavior in the workplace, and for all ministry (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

and later this and still call yourself Protestant:
Quote
And so even to give the controls over to God, that's hard, but the real kicker here is God is saying, "give the controls over to people that I work through, and these people are fallible, these people make mistakes, these people are weak at times. You-outta work through it anyway," that's what God says.


I think this is rather amusing because the letter we wrote them when we removed our membership said that we realized their system was one of more apostolic succession, like the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox (only not really because it only goes back to 1970--we just meant in structure), and while there are many fine Christians worshiping in those churches, we did not see that as the structure we wanted to worship under. It was that comment, comparing their governmental structure to the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, that got us accused of "borderline defamation"!  Cheesy
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« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2008, 10:38:14 am »

I would also add to your statements that while a person may think he is "sola scriptura" in living his Christian life, there are presuppositions about his theology beliefs that may be correct or incorrect. This enters into the realm of error in perception of what is TRUTH. We have perceptual filters based on culture, language, emotional traumas, beliefs, and then we have a pesky ego that can dress up with "god-talk" and hide arrogance with Bible verses, etc. Theology comes from men and women who have those components in their lives. Then we, who have the same, assume they are correct. We could very well be self-deceived and may have an accumulation of error and heresy in our beliefs. All the while, we think we are "orthodox."

My own position is that Evangelical Systematic Theology has around 25% error in it due to our limited linear "heady" approach to the Word of God. The  formation of systematic theology has been put together by a group of men that have had among them men with a paradigm of "logic" much like a lab clinician has. That cuts off illumination that only comes from a real-time love relationship with God. Just my two cents. In this sense, most of us are heretics. Smiley
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Linda
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« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2008, 10:57:57 am »

Just to clarify. Obviously, people can claim to be "sola scriptura" and be way off in theology. Likewise, people can hold to sacred tradition and be closer to "sola scriptura" in their beliefs than many "sola scriptura" people.

I never thought much about "sola scriptura" until my experience at a GCx church.  

Given the "either-or" of being "sola scriptura" or this...
Quote
And so even to give the controls over to God, that's hard, but the real kicker here is God is saying, "give the controls over to people that I work through, and these people are fallible, these people make mistakes, these people are weak at times. You-outta work through it anyway," that's what God says.

...I choose "sola scriptura"!

That was my first point.

My second point was that as soon as you make the above statement, you are no longer Protestant.

My third point would be that you can be a Christian and not be Protestant, but don't claim to be what you are not. If you say that people are to give the controls of their life to you and you are fallible, not only are you not adhering to sola scriptura, you are asking people to do something they should NEVER do.
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« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2008, 11:28:00 am »

We are all commanded to be humble and obedient learners of God's Word, but some are gifted for the purpose of teaching. We all are to be eager learners and discerning about ones to whom we listen.  Some are better at understanding and teaching the Bible properly than others.  Some are more humble and teach just what God said and what He meant by what He said.  To take a stand on the truth of the Bible and that God could indeed help people to rightly interpret it is nowadays considered arrogant by some of the postmodern people.  But God said:

"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."  2 Tim. 3:16-17

"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth."  2 Tim. 2:15  

Oh, it can be understood accurately, if one does the hard work and is willing to believe and obey it instead of redefine or mishandle or misinterpret it so they can justify their unbelief of certain unpopular doctrines or their sin.  That is why true men of God who are truly called to teach and preach His Word are exhorted:
 
I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:  preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths."  2 Timothy 4:1-4

And all the true Christians are commanded:  "..grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.  Amen."

And eager Christians were commended:  "Now these were more nobleminded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so."  Acts 17:11

And Jesus said:  "Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth."  John 17:17

And this by the Holy Spirit through the Psalmist:  "The sum of Thy word is truth, and every one of Thy righteous ordinances is everlasting."  Psalm 119:160

And we are all commanded to be discerning: "But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil."  1 Thess. 5:21-22

And:  "And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.  As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, Who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love."  Ephesians 4:11-16  

And Psalm 19:11-17 ~ "The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.  The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.  The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether."
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« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2008, 11:39:33 am »

Also, if you claim that Scripture is all you follow based on what you have been taught.... you are following what men teach about scripture.

This is prevalent in just about every church.... "Preacher Jones believes the Bible and has taught me the Bible so I believe the Bible."

This really shows the laziness of mankind. Believing like this is an easy shortcut to all kinds of error. Jesus taught about this in the parable of the sower.

 Somewhere along the way there has been a personal abrogation of responsibility and a reliance on another man's word. Even looking at a man's moral behavior to prove his correctness won't keep him or you from error.

Sooner or later everyone comes face to face with what they believe... whether there is a personal, or group, or regional, or national, or worldwide confrontation.

God will hold every human accountable.
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« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2008, 12:03:00 pm »

Speaking of what men teach, which is based on what they have learned, I think that the whole "character alone" thing is a big mistake. Of course, character matters.

However, I'm pretty sure there are some GCx pastors who have never heard of sola scriptura and other basic theological concepts. I know one who didn't know the difference between Calvinism and Arminianism. And, while I agree that "self-taught" pastors can be "good", and seminary trained pastors can be "bad", it seems to me that if you just say "character" is all that matters, you open yourself up to heresy or at best have the potential for some short sighted teaching.

In fact, personally, I would go so far to say that given a pastor with great character, but not a very deep or accurate understanding of God's Word, or a pastor with lousy character and sound teaching, I would choose the lousy character!

Why? Because, for me, hypocrisy is easier to see than bad teaching!

Obviously, the goal should be flawless character and flawless teaching.

Oh, yeah, and NEVER give the controls of your life to men (or women!).
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« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2008, 12:30:29 pm »

Some are more humble and teach just what God said and what He meant by what He said.


Teaching just what God said and what God meant is what GC and everyone else is allegedly doing.

To take a stand on the truth of the Bible and that God could indeed help people to rightly interpret it is nowadays considered arrogant by some of the postmodern people.

And just often enough it is arrogance to call into question anyones stance.

I am sorry but any position you take like that can easily be refuted. This is the folly of human reasoning and human argument.

 Man proclaims his own loyalty but God weighs his heart. ( Peter blew it both before and after  Pentecost.)

 I don't claim to have anything right...... I only claim that I have something that I have a clear conscience about before God because Christ is my righteousness and my sufficiency. Like Paul, I am free to worship in the temple at Jerusalem and to eat at the table of so-called idols. I am also free to not worship in the temple or eat.
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« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2008, 12:41:18 pm »

To all of you who love the truth ~

Please read The Truth War ~ Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception by John MacArthur.  He explains better than I could the importance of God's Truth in this post modern world.  There is truth and we can know it, by God's grace.  We may not be able to know everything perfectly, but God gives grace for us to know and understand what He says so we can love and please Him for His glory and our good.  This is a very important and timely book for all of you who are really interested in the truth.
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« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2008, 02:07:29 pm »

Quote
By their own admission, in their core values paper they claim to be "scripture plus tradition" rather than sola scriptura. Hence, they are not Protestant, in my book.


Can someone tell me where this core values paper is located?
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« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2008, 02:20:34 pm »

Quote from: "lone gone"
Like Paul, I am free to worship in the temple at Jerusalem and to eat at the table of so-called idols. I am also free to not worship in the temple or eat.

Not really. There is not a temple in Jerusalem anymore.
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« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2008, 03:01:55 pm »

Quote from: "Linda"
In fact, personally, I would go so far to say that given a pastor with great character, but not a very deep or accurate understanding of God's Word, or a pastor with lousy character and sound teaching, I would choose the lousy character!

A qualified pastor is supposed to have both sound teaching and good character. It is possible to have both, so don't settle for just one or the other.
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« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2008, 04:06:10 pm »

The core values statement is a pdf. Go to this page and then click at the bottom for the complete 12 page statement.
http://www.gccweb.org/gcc/about/values.asp
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« Reply #18 on: May 06, 2008, 04:11:27 pm »

"Not really. There is not a temple in Jerusalem anymore."

What I said was meant to reflect on Paul's life and his freedom in Christ. ..... If there was a temple, I could worship there. In fact I could go to the Wailing Wall, the Dome on the Rock and the Church of the Sepulcher and worship if I chose. Or chose not to.

 I am sure you got it the first time but I wrote this for other believers who may not know me or the freedom I have in Christ.
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« Reply #19 on: May 06, 2008, 04:13:53 pm »

Quote
A qualified pastor is supposed to have both sound teaching and good character. It is possible to have both, so don't settle for just one or the other.

Obviously. That's why I concluded my comment with this sentence:
Quote
Obviously, the goal should be flawless character and flawless teaching.

Please don't take me out of context!

My point was that GCx seems to emphasize "character" at the expense of "sound teaching."

What I was pointing out is that bad teaching can be done in a persuasive way and be made to look good, while faulty character always looks bad to a Christian.

So, you can have a situation of a pastor committing adultery who is actually doctrinally sound. And, you can have a pastor whose character appears flawless who is teaching heresy, but is believed because he has a really nice family.

I've spent the better part of three years trying to get over bad doctrine that was taught by men of "good character". It requires a lot of time to rethink things and remove the bad theology. It's been good for me, but, nevertheless, a challenge.
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