Raiders of the Messianic Kingdom
Published by TheNewsBeats.com
Copyright 2010, all rights reserved.
The Legend of Jesus
It will help the effort of describing them to illustrate by means of example, and by virtue of commensurate qualifications, progress, and popularity, part of the assignment goes to pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback church. For the same reasons, another part will be supplied by Bill Hybels, pastor of Willow Creek. These may play a part here unwillingly and might protest it, but they have cast themselves for it nonetheless. We are to mark them who walk for our good example (Php 2:17), and also mark those exhibiting behavior we are not to follow, and even to warn others about them (Rom 16:17). Consequently, anyone who is conspicuous in Christianity by deviating from sound doctrine you should expect to be called out to pass examination.
It is important to recognize that, while the phenomenal growth and power that these usurpers have achieved in the twenty-first century may never have been equaled, the Raiders of the Messianic Kingdom have been with us since the first century. We can recognize them by their propagation of two fundamental errors, the same ones that underline Warren’s ministry.
Firstly, he is fixed on the idea that Christians are to do the things that Christ did. Secondly, he confuses the gospel message Jesus preached with the gospel that the Church is to preach.
In essence, Warren mistakenly assigns to the Church of Jesus Christ the role of Christ when the Church has its own role. In an anthropomorphic analogy, he fails to distinguish between the head of the church and its body as he interposes Christ’s accomplishments onto the Church’s duties (Col 1:18).
The confusion of assigning the wrong tasks and duties to be performed by church members as Christian obligations is derived from the popular misconception of focusing on what Jesus did in his earthly ministry, and seeking to have those things which He did emulated by others as an evidence of Christianity. At length, a rubric of behavior is adopted on a scale of works and is used to determine the level of Christian obedience, and to enforce a legalism of works, or “deeds, not creeds,” as Warren coined it.1
The line of thinking under girding this pastoral method goes that Jesus came to set an example for us to follow. The short theology finally distillated from the approach materialized a few years ago in a primer meant to evoke in one’s mind a proper Christian response, or appropriate choice of action, when faced with a challenging life circumstance; by consulting, as it were a Delphi or other such oracle, the provocative question of What Would Jesus Do?
If plumbing the depth of this theological teaching proved too difficult for a moments notice, and more at Warren’s contention that preaching sermons affects no spiritual growth as people “forget ninety-five percent of what they hear within seventy-two hours” anyway,2 then the whole of the teaching was reduced to only initials that can be worn on a bracelet for ready reference (i.e. the acrostic ‘WWJD’).
Now, looking back at the ministry of Jesus is not without its significance, but the record of His life in the flesh was not preserved for us to provide a map of the footsteps we are to follow in order to become Christians, or to remain Christians.
This chorographical exegesis has produced a whole new category of churches whose members actually refer to themselves as Christ Followers. While a general reluctance of young faithful to wear the Christian label due to the disgraces done under its banner, and a misunderstanding of how to achieve a contemporary outreach, can be recognized, if not appreciated; by and large this new class is different in that they associate with Christianity only in that they follow the Legend of Jesus.
1. Michelle Boorstein, “Megachurch Pastor Warren Calls for a Second Reformation,” Washington Post, February 5, 2008.
2. Rick Warren, interview aired by Todd Friel, The Way of the Master Radio, rebroadcast on YouTube May 2008. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVth6gtHBNk