Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove California is set to host a Christian conference in January 2008 that will include a gathering of assorted cultural icons. The conference, titled “Rethink: new perspectives from global influencers,” is billed as a high-level strategy session where strategic briefings will be given on geo-political trends, and where “secrets for success”1 will be shared. The object of the conference is to glean valuable insight for determining how to “stay on the cutting edge” in this fast paced world.2 The practical strategies for this edge-clinging are to be discovered in post-briefing, facilitated, small group brainstorming sessions.
There are at least two serious problems with this Christian conference. Firstly, it is amazing to find the facilitated format still purported to be a process of shared discovery after so many have already discovered that this small group paradigm means that the conclusions have gone in before the facilitators come out.
Secondly, the criterion that was used for selecting speakers for this “Christian” event has nothing to do with Christian doctrine. The qualifier is that they be successful in a given market. That is what makes them influential. The line up of guest speakers includes entertainers, filmmakers, global media executives, and a former U.S president. Speakers will be professing Christian thinkers, and non-Christian Globalist thinkers such as Larry King and George H. Bush. The question naturally arises, why would this still be billed as a Christian conference? Here is the answer Rethink provides:
We’re purposely gathering a group of speakers you wouldn’t necessarily expect to hear at a Christian conference. Our aim is to be immersed in the latest thoughts and perspectives of these respected cultural icons to tap into what’s happening in our world today and to grapple with how we respond.3
With the exception of the ignorant and the naïve, could any real Christian leaders be expected to attend this confabulation? Any Christians who are sent invitations should already know that what is happening in the world today is spiritual warfare, and that we are not to gather with the unsaved to grapple with flesh and blood for our strategies, but are instead to put on the whole amour of God (Eph 6:13-18):
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Eph 6:12)
Furthermore, Christians are not to be immersed in the vain philosophies of man’s wisdom, no matter how iconoclastic a particular philosopher has become by his or her success in the kingdoms of this world (Col. 2:8). Neither should we be yoked together with them in their pursuits, or adopt their methods of pursuing; whether that be for obtaining success, or gain, or for the sake of social causes (2 Cor. 6:14-18). These causes differ from faith causes in that they precede from the desires of the flesh to serve the flesh.
Campaigns to address poverty and hunger emerge to sustain a cheap source of labor to furnish goods and services to the comfortable, to circumvent epidemics before pandemics reach the them, and to gain subservience from dependent classes (they would put a labtop in their hands to get instructions to them faster). Programs to distribute medical supplies naturally follow poverty campaigns for the same reasoning. The world fight against AIDS is a fight of the flesh in response to the sinner’s desire to engage in all manner of fornication at all times despite clear and present danger to themselves and others.
Africa is the magnet for these appeals to the churches because it is the mesh where the pictures of innocent starving children can be applied to all these issues while at the point of a bayonet in a war-torn dirt land far enough from pews to invite easy meritorious sainthood and preclude the responsibilities of the priesthood of every believer. Churches like Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral and Rick Warren’s Saddleback feed on this Christian irresponsibility as much as they are the cause of it.
The Rethink conference will be about adopting key programs for influencing the world. To do this they will have to adopt the causes that feed the world’s flesh in order to win their praise, and they will have to ignore their souls in order to gain acceptance. These new programs will be carried back to churches everywhere and billed as new ways of doing church for the new century. They will be portrayed as required adaptations churches must make in order to adjust to the culture and obtain relevance. The message will play well to congregations who have for too long be fed the empty calories of whip cream in place of sound doctrine, and the tide will continue towards apostasy.
1. Rethink: New Perspectives From Global Influencers, Why Rethink?
_content&task=view&id=1&Itemid=2 (accessed October 10, 2007).
3. Rethink: New Perspectives From Global Influencers, Speakers
(conference scheduled for January 17-19, 2008), http://www.rethinkconference.com
(accessed October 8, 2007).