Some of the scariest cult practices around the world actually contain Christian themes. In San Fernando, Philippines, upwards of two dozen people have themselves nailed to cross on Good Friday to emulate the crucifixion of Christ. Many more undergo self-flagellation where “scores of men pound their bleeding bare backs with bamboo sticks dangling from ropes in a flagellation rite meant to atone for sins.”1 As atrocious and repulsive as these displays are, most in mainstream Protestantism would attribute these rituals to ignorant penitents of the Roman Catholic variety, and in far away jungles. Welcome to the jungle.The misapplication of Christ’s life as an example for Christian living has become a popular topic for leaders in large Protestant churches in America, and the results could get just as ugly. According to mega-church pastor Rick Warren, people should look back on Jesus life leading up to the crucifixion and emulate it to perfect good leadership skills.While at first it sounds like a pious exercise promising great benefits to perspective leaders, even the great mega-leader himself exhibits the pitfalls of trying follow Jesus after His life in the flesh. In one lesson Warren instructs: “You’ve got to learn not to care about the opinions of others.”2 Real leaders won’t “pay attention to those who cheer you or jeer you.”3 After all, leaders need to be like Jesus who “lived for an audience of One” in order to please their heavenly Father.4 It almost sounds like Warren is championing the priesthood of believers, and extolling the individuals’ relationship with God, through Christ, by the Holy Spirit. Not so fast.
Warren is encouraging leadership, but not without the bounds of his own holy order, or outside of his organizational hierarchy. Shortly after encouraging leaders to remain undeterred by either applause or rejection, he withdraws Christian liberty altogether. “If God gives you a vision for your ministry,” Warren begins his about face, “he’s going to bring other people with the same idea together with you. If nobody agrees on your idea, guess what? It’s not from God.”5 Really? How do you know that you’re not just on a bad run of those ‘jeers’ you’re not supposed to pay attention to? If you sense the Holy Spirit telling you to move, should you decline on Warren’s technicality of having at least one human witness to vouch for God’s credibility?Aside from this being absurd, this denies the fact that there are ministry opportunities a saint will encounter that will be used to demonstrate God’s awesome power and His sufficiency; to both strengthen the individual believer, and glorify His name.
Of course, Warren is being deceptively duplicitous. He is pretending to hold out some vaunted mantle of leadership while actually enticing the simple into leg irons for subservience to the Purpose Driven holy order. That order is the Purpose Driven Church comprised of cloisters of small interdependent groups which are closely supervised and directed by the real leadership at the top.
In an effort to support the claim for his small group paradigm by pointing to the disciples, Warren claims that “Jesus modeled this kind of ministry. He never did ministry alone.” This outright falsehood is parleyed in an attempt to suggest that the Lord instituted the collectivist’s “collaboration” of working in “a small group,”6 outside of which no Christian service was legitimate, and that Jesus was incompetent and utterly dependent upon His small group to redeem mankind.
There is a strong resemblance between Warren the collectivist, and a more famous one spoken of by historian Clinton Rossiter in 1960:
He was, on any large view, a collectivist, a thinker who had a thoroughly social view of the claim to personal liberty, who obliterated ruthlessly the distinction between public and private man, … and who insisted that the behavior of any individual was determined almost wholly by his membership in a class.7
This collectivist and avowed atheist, who Warren has molded his soviet-style control groups after, was none other than Karl Marx. Warren’s ruthless obliteration of aging or small congregations by sending PDL-trained infiltrators in among the sheep to take over church buildings is well documented. His propagation of the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which establishes a ruling clergy over an ignorant laity, has reestablished the class system the Protestant Reformation once freed Christians from. Next stop, Rome.
1. Associated Press, “Philippine devotees nailed to the cross in Good Friday rites,” International Herald Tribune, March 21, 2008. http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/03/21/news/Philippines-Crucifixions.php
2 – 6. Rick Warren, “The Seven Foundations of Jesus’ Leadership,” Christian Post, April 23, 2008.
7. Clinton Rossiter, “Marxism: The View from America” (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1960), 119.