As the pastor-teacher of a local church, in addition to developing this Internet “pulpit” called Apprising Ministries, which was literally given to me, I have had to come to grips with the very real fact that there is a wide and ultimately unbridgeable chasm of difference between these two divergent positions. There clearly is a choice: One can either be Purpose-Driven, or Christ-centered–there simply is no true harmony between these two very discord positions.

Either I’m With Christ Or I’m Not

Truly our Lord is saying to His Church in this timidly tepid generation – “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters” (Matthew 12:30). I have seen this first-hand when making a firm stand against this seeker sensitive nonsense in the Church of Jesus Christ cost me members in my already small local church, two of which were the biggest financial contributors. Although it was not one sermon in particular that caused these people to leave, what I was preaching would also end up costing the fellowship that I under-shepherd for Christ the nice rental space we were occupying. This whole issue of our either being with Christ–or not–became even more lucid to me as I watched an entire summer go by without AM being used at all by my local association for pulpit supply or being brought in to teach on the various apologetic/counter-cult areas in which I am particularly trained. Then not once did I even receive a reply to email I sent to my New England office, my NH office, and to each local church in my immediate area–not one single reply!

So, what lies before me personally is this: If I truly am called by Christ to these ministries, and these associations and churches all have ignored my labor in the Lord, then someone does not gather with, and therefore scatters. Can the reader see this? The idea for this particular article is for a pastor-teacher to have the intestinal fortitude–though I prefer to see it as faith in my Master–to “lay it on the line, so to speak,” and to say that someone here in this crossroad issue of the whole seeker sensitive purpose driven movement, must ultimately be against Christ, because we sure aren’t working together for Him. And maybe they are content to “play” Christian, but I am most certainly not! As an evangelical community, there are some very pointed questions that must be asked by somebody. And since I’m not hearing them asked by others in more prominent positions, then I feel have no choice but to ask them myself here on the modest forum our Lord has kindly made available for me.

1) Do those in the evangelical church today really believe that people who die apart from a saving relationship to God in Christ are going to eternal torment in a literal place called Hell–or not? 2) Do we really believe that only God the Holy Spirit, third Person of the Holy Trinity, is the only One Who can regenerate a sinner–or not? And – for our purpose here (pun intended) – 3) Can a person fully adhere to this Purpose-Driven Life teaching and remain Christ-centered–if indeed one was even so to begin with? After being forced into having to deal with this area of the Church Growth Movement when the Lord allowed a woman in my fellowship–who has been a professing Christian for years–to begin discussion around The Purpose-Driven Life (PDL), Rick Warren’s travesty of a book, I have had to pray long and hard over these very questions. The answer I feel that God has given me is a sad–No we don’t to the first two, and no you can’t to the third question. I have already dealt somewhat with question one in Everyone’s Going To Be Saved Eventually…Aren’t They? So here I’ll be touching primarily just on questions two and three.

Doing My Best To Present Myself To God As One Approved

Since there have been many fine critiques of Warren’s flesh-oriented teachings in PDL I’m not going to cover that aspect in this particular article. My purpose here (there’s that word again) is to give you a concise look at this subject from the perspective of a self-taught minister of Jesus Christ who has not been to Bible college or Seminary. I also write as one who is totally committed to what the Bible itself actually says–recognizing immediately that also makes me a “dinosaur” within the Evangelical church–as sad as that fact is. In addition I am well aware that some fellow pastors will take umbrage with that statement, but amen. The Lord knows He has thoroughly impressed Jeremiah 1:17 upon this particular doulos of His – “Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them.” I am content that God has more than enough “knuckle-heads” running around claiming to speak for Him that if this ends up being ministerial suicide and the Lord chooses to shut AM down, then the Christian Church would be the better for it. What I have said and done in my unusual walk with Christ thus far, I have done because I simply could not avoid it due to a sincere heart.

At that time I have just been describing, when I felt I was left with no choice but to begin to deal with PDL, I had just finished writing what would become Apprising Joel Osteen’s Word Faith Teachings, an article that through extensive documentation clearly ties his “Evangelical” theology to its deadly roots in the spiritual poison of the metaphysical Mind Science cults. Oddly enough, that paper itself had come about because the very same woman mentioned earlier (who has since left) had brought up Osteen’s book often enough in my church that as pastor I had to protect the rest of the little flock entrusted to me and to correct her serious misunderstandings concerning historic Christian doctrine, of which Osteen himself also appears to be quite ignorant. As the Lord would will, after I had privately given her a copy of the article, she decided to dispute with me in front of the small Bible study group one evening, so that she might “correct” me regarding my “negativity” about a brother in Christ. It was during the two-hour dialogue that ensued that I was also made aware of her having come under the “spell” of Warren’s philosophies as well. Quite obviously previous pastors she had been under had dropped the ball in helping her to develop proper discernment skills.

I have decided to share this necessary background with the reader who may wish to understand why I have become so vehemently opposed to this whole seeker sensitive Church Growth Movement in the first place. As the above events were unfolding Jesus also had me in the midst of a deep theological study of the apostate Roman Catholic Church as well. The local community I minister in, Claremont, NH, is a fairly typical New England town heavily influenced by the theology of the Church or Rome, and being an ex-Roman Catholic myself, I was personally familiar with how it had nearly sent me to Hell. Connecticut River Baptist Church (CRBC) was just moving into a new rental space, and the leadership of the church (with one exception) felt the key for us to do what God wanted us to do, being adverse to “sheep-stealing,” was to begin to evangelize the Roman Catholic community there, as it was mission field that no one appeared to be willing to enter.

It was the during this time of preaching through a series on Roman Catholicism that the above events would take place, and I would have my eyes opened by Christ to the sorry shape of His Church here in the United States of “What’s In It For Me.” Through the encouragement of Chris Carmichael I would then go on to write The Falling Away Of The Evangelical Church, which is actually a summation of the issues I had personally been dealing with, and the theology I was studying at the time. My point being, I entered this arena of ministering to the postmodern church as a reluctant participant, who absolutely did not want to see the things that I am now writing about on a regular basis. The Lord is my witness, I have had no choice in coming to the critical position I now hold–not only of Rick Warren’s false doctrine–but also of so much of what is attempting to pass itself off as true Evangelical Christianity in America today, all of which is alleged to still be consistent with the Protestant Reformation. I trust you can now see how God has melded all of these “random” events into one raison d’être for this Internet ministry now called Apprising Ministries, itself a fully integrated auxiliary of CRBC.

The Richard Abanes Connection

The final event that led to my unavoidable involvement in this whole seeker sensitive sphere of the Church Growth Movement was when Steve Muse of a fine Internet discernment ministry called Eastern Regional Watch asked me if I knew that I was currently number two on Abanes’ list of Rick Warren critics. I’ll spare the reader unnecessary details, but Richard Abanes is a fairly well-known Christian author and apologist who is a former “staff member” of Warren’s Saddleback playpen (alleged “church”), and is still an active member there, and who by his own admission is someone who lives the principles of the purpose driven life.”

In fact, on his own website we read:

i am a mainstream evangelical christian, who lives each day in what i believe is full-time service to God.i live out what rick warren has called the five purposes of God (see the purpose driven life by rick warren, senior pastor of saddleback church). this is known as the “purpose driven” life. according to warren, all of us were planned for God’s pleasure, formed for God’s family, created to be like Christ, shaped to serve God in ministry, and made to live out a mission (, lower case in original).

It isn’t necessary to go into all of the particulars in this article, as the interested reader will find those elsewhere on this Site, but Abanes ended up singling out The Falling Away… for a prolonged critique, which would then bring me deeper into an arena regarding the Church Growth Movement than I ever would have gone otherwise. My point here being, there is no doubt in my mind that it was Christ Himself Who wished me to begin writing on this issue, as I just did not have any predisposed reason to do so. By setting the scene for you I am hopeful in the Lord that those who read this will then prayerfully consider what is said.

Since Richard Abanes was much more prominent in the Lord’s Church than I, it seemed to be important to engage him in dialogue as I defended myself against his accusations that my research could not be trusted. Long story short, as I looked into his “defense” of Rick Warren and PDL I began to see what I believe to be the heart of the matter in this whole issue of using pragmatic business techniques as church growth methods–the tragic fact is the use of successful organizational schemes from secular businesses will ultimately produce what could only be called “carnal Christians.” The unavoidable problem now becomes this phrase itself is an oxymoron – as in “same difference” – when the truth is, one who has been regenerated will have the flesh crucified, and so “carnal” and Christian would then be mutually exclusive terms.

Dave Moses, part of the aforementioned leadership of CRBC really brought out exactly what the main issue is when he told me about an Assemblies Of God pastor he works with. Dave had informed him about AM‘s little Website here. He said the brother came back after reading some of the materials on this Site and told Dave that I had missed the point of PDL, because obviously it is working. Dave then said to him – “I’m sorry, but it was you who actually missed the point of what my pastor was saying. He never said PDL doesn’t work; he’s concerned about why it works.” And Dave is precisely right in his assessment about my permanent separation from PDL and its pragmatic seeker sensitive approach to Christ’s Gospel. Of course man-centered self-ish Madison Avenue sales and business techniques will draw crowds! Just take a quick look around and you will plainly see plenty of evidence to show you that a man certainly knows how to cause another man to go wherever he wants him to, and to buy what he whatever wants him to.

The irreconcilable difference I will always have with using worldly methods in our Lord’s Church is that they are completely foreign to New Testament Christianity. Of that there is simply no doubt. And this is what actually touches back upon question number two above: Do we really believe that God the Holy Spirit is the only One Who can regenerate a sinner? Books like PDL, and seeker sensitive spiritual bowel movements like the Emergent Church clearly show that the answer from way too much of the Evangelical camp is: No, we do not. The LORD God as revealed in the Bible demands reverence and obedience; and rightly so, for He is the very Creator of life in the first place! However, the mush god of the whole seeker sensitive Church Growth Movement can barely command one’s attention–let alone their obedience.

Reformation and False Unity

And this is where Richard Abanes ended up playing an unwitting role for our Lord in finalizing my views in this whole discussion of man-centered PDL church growth methods. The under-achieving life of the so-called carnal Christian (assuming for a moment there may be such a thing) ends up being well illustrated by the lifestyle that Abanes would later defend in his attempt to rebuke me following a judgment I made through careful analysis of what he had been saying re. PDL in the very public forum of the Internet. As a pastor I followed the biblical command of John 7:24 where Jesus says – Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment in commenting on some of the things I had seen him teach as a recognized figure within our Lord’s Church. I’ll touch more on this in a bit, but let tell you beforehand that what you will see Abanes defend as an acceptable standard of life for the Christian is in no way compatible with what men of God like A.W. Tozer and C.H. Spurgeon have taught. Although Abanes is on record as saying he reads writings from these very pastor-teachers of considerable stature within the Evangelical church on a daily basis, it is clear that the lifestyle he endorses is of the very downhill slide that both of these men warned their own generations about. But one can’t help but wonder: Where are the Tozers and Spurgeons of today?

The quite shallow fruit produced by of the seeker sensitive pragmatics of the modern Church Growth Movement will become obvious to those who have eyes to see. At best this is a substandard Christian lifestyle which is clearly advocated by this apologist for his pastor Rick Warren and his PDL theology. But here is the important thing to remember: What Abanes will talk about is a reflection of what has been taught to him as an acceptable witness for a disciple of Jesus Christ while he has been living “according to” these PDL teachings encouraged by his pastor’s Christianity Lite philosophies. And, that is exactly why so many of us who are also pastors find ourselves grieving today as we see the Church of our Lord languishing in squalid compromises like PDL and its ugly stepsister–the Emergent Church–while arrogant unrepentant sinners are shaking their fists at our Christ. When will we finally see that we do these hopelessly lost souls no service by continually telling them that “God loves you, just as you are.” This type of preaching is the very opposite of what Jesus of Nazareth proclaimed. Is it really any wonder then why their haughty reaction is: Cool! So God; dude, now You’ll have to show me what Jesus can do for me, if You want to have a relationship with me.

The absolute truth is that we are so afraid to be labeled “divisive” today that those of us who are called to positions of leadership (no matter how small they may be) have not been willing to “tell it like it is” come what may. Where are the Elijah’s of God who so love Christ and His Church that they will shout the truth: All this kind of sickening self-centered seeker sensitive tripe originates in a type of Arminian acquiescence–satanically driven doctrines of demons–the actual root of man-centered theology long before the Norman Vincent Robert Peale Schuller self-esteem machine brought its Mind Science psycho-philoso-theology into the American Evangelical church. Didn’t you know that in the last days these abominations would be coming from the hypocritical liars that have been given pulpits in our Lord‘s own Church? And didn’t you know it is this kind of rotten reptilian theology that has caused every reformation in the long and sordid history of the Christian Church?

Don’t you get it? True reformation that comes from the Spirit of God always begins within the false system, but it does not lead to a phony sinner-sensitive “unity” – but instead leads to the breaking away from the apostate organization–Judaism to Christianity and Romanism to Protestantism. Think about it…

George Whitefield, a real preacher of God’s Word, was so right when he said:

Whoever is acquainted with the nature of mankind in general or the propensity of his own heart in particular must acknowledge that self-righteousness is the last idol that is rooted out of the heart. Being once born under a covenant of works, it is natural for us all to have recourse to a covenant of works for our everlasting salvation. And we have contracted such a devilish pride by our fall from God that we would, if not wholly yet in part at least, glory in being the cause of our own salvation. We cry out against Popery, and that very justly; but we are all Papists, at least I am sure we are all Arminians by nature; and, therefore, no wonder so many natural men embrace that scheme. It is true we disclaim the doctrine of merit and are ashamed directly to say we deserve any good at the hands of God; therefore, as the apostle excellently well observes, we go about establishing a righteousness of our own and, like the Pharisees of old, will not wholly submit to that righteousness which is of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord (The Lord Our Righteousness, (

Yet today, here we are, right back at it once again, with those of the PDL/CGM seeker sensitive churches trying to make Christ’s uncompromising message palatable to the decadent unregenerate and their fictitious free will. All the while leaders in the Church Growth Movement are trying to climb back into bed with the apostate Church of Rome, one of the most notorious spiritual harlots in the whole ignominious history of mankind! And this is precisely why we who truly love God’s Word must staunchly oppose all of this nonsense in the precious name of Christ! And, for His sake we must continue to do so, for this kind of sordid compromise is exactly why the Roman Catholic Church, with her Pope–the heretical usurper of God’s glory–is sucking so many unwitting, and undiscerning, Christians right back into her serpentine folds! Have you read much about the Antichrist lately? Seems he’s looking for one big happy family to take over…

more in part 2…