Honoring Scripture or using Scripture?

In posting my last blog entry, I intended to keep my ‘journal’ going, to express my own concerns on a very specific situation with undeniable repercussions and to see what feedback might surface.  One thing that came from my thinking on these lines is that I pursued a few responses to the ‘Piper – Warren connection’ (as some have labeled it).  In doing that I took some time to read Tim Challies’ blog and found something that I hadn’t yet been able to take from heart conviction to paper before this moment, but when I saw it in black and white before me… it was like the bells and whistles went off… BINGO!!  Here’s how Tim Challies captures what I believe is the significant flaw in the pulpit today.

Honoring Scripture

Warren has proven repeatedly that he does not and will not honor the Bible. He preaches from the Bible, he knows vast amounts of Scripture and I’m sure he loves studying the Bible. But his ministry makes clear that he does not truly honor it in the way he uses it. I hardly even know where to begin here. Turn to any of Warren’s books and you will see that this is the case. Time and time again he has misused and abused the Bible. Years ago I read The Purpose Driven Life day-by-day and blogged my way through each chapter. I looked up each and every Bible reference. And in almost every chapter I found that Warren had used Scripture poorly, stretching its meaning, choosing translations that, more than being true to the text, furthered his intended meaning. This is the way he always has used Scripture and the way he continues to today. Turn to just about any review of his books and you’ll find multitudes of examples.

This is just all too familiar to me.  This significant issue of honoring or using(abusing) Scripture seems to me to be at the root of the diseased church that is commonplace in our culture?  I’m wanting to nail this issue down in much more concrete and personal terms, but my experience is that those who recognize this lack of reverence for God’s word don’t need more evidence and those who don’t see it… well, my observation is that they just don’t/won’t and maybe that’s why PDC became such a big book seller.  It provided something that people couldn’t find in the Bible. 

Continuing to quote from Tim Challies blog…

John Piper, on the other hand, has a long history of ministry in which he seeks to extend the utmost care to the Bible. He preaches verse-by-verse, carefully expositing the Word of God, seeking to be absolutely faithful to the text. And few preachers have done a better job of this over a long pulpit ministry.

Now, I am clearly influenced by Pastor John Piper.  I make no bones about it and no excuses for this.  If you don’t like John Piper, that’s your business.  But beyond my personal affection for this man and his ministry, I believe that to a great extent it can be proven out that this is a preacher/teacher who ‘honors Scripture’.  You can’t miss his affection and reverence for God and God’s word.  So when I read this paragraph from Tim Challies blog…

The contrast between these two preaching styles and, even more so, these two ways of using the Bible, could not be more stark. John Piper honors the Bible, Rick Warren very often does not. What frustrates me is that I know Warren knows better! For some reason he does not seem offended by what he must know is his own misuse of the Bible.

…I simply agree and say, BINGO! 

Sadly Rick Warren is not alone.  There are many pulpits in many churches that are being abused in this same manner.  The scriptures are ‘used’ to further the preachers purpose rather than ‘honored’ and proclaimed in reverent fear and humility.  And this sin is not just to be laid at the pastor’s feet (though it certainly will be his to account for).  The church has acquiesced to this low level of preaching where man is king and God is not.  The church wants to hear nothing of sin and repentence and so why would they want to hear the Truth proclaimed… the tickling of ears is not just coming from the Joel Osteen’s of the American church, it’s epidemic and most often a lot less overt.  “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,”

The Apostle Paul’s word’s ring with prophetic clarity… 

I 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, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.  For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,  and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.  As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.  (2 Timothy 4:1-8)

Added 4/12/2010

Now, here is an interesting point/counterpoint…  First let me express strong caution in interpreting what you hear, because these soundbites are pulled from a larger context.  I’m not suggesting the WOTMR would alter the reality of what Rick Warren is communicating, but I still don’t have the full stream of conversation, so be careful.  Nonetheless, there is enough ‘fair game’ here to at least raise concern.  And the counterpoint expressed at the end of this video brings us back to consider why preachers don’t believe in the life-changing power of God’s word any more.

Now, here’s something interesting to point out… this broadcast was done back in May 2008.  Two years ago?  Rick Warren responses to preaching vs John Piper responses to preaching and they couldn’t seem any further apart.  So, why in 2010 is there this move to unite under one banner?  I don’t see it, I really don’t get it… say it isn’t so, Pastor John.

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