At our church we are about to start ‘The Forty Days of Purpose’ and the congregation is certainly buzzing about it. Of course the buzz is entirely positive and I have not encountered one person with any reservations about it. Even my fundamental brethren seem to be embracing this upcoming forty days of purpose. I suppose I stand alone in opposition to it. The program is based on Rick Warren’s book ‘The Purpose Driven Life’, and it is spreading like wildfire through all of Christendom. I have heard it said that we are in the midst of a second reformation; the church is now engaging the culture, and providing a seeker sensitive experience. It is clearly working, purpose driven churches are experiencing massive surges in membership, people by the millions are making ‘decisions’ and becoming ‘Christians’, yet I stand firmly against this tidal wave and trust that when tested by fire the true nature of purpose driven Christianity will be seen clearly.
I would like to focus today on this notion that we are in the midst of a ‘second reformation’. Certainly anyone who has read Foxe’s Book of The Martyrs know that the first reformation was wrought with martyr blood, sweat, and tears. Brave men and women committed to righteousness stood firm against the established Roman Church and clung dearly to every last word of scripture, and the Roman Catholics slaughtered them for it. What we have today is certainly no reformation, it is more of a relaxation, or as my title states, the second deformation. I will for the rest of this post refer the purpose driven movement as the second deformation. What was the first deformation? The first deformation occurred when the Christian church accepted becoming part of Rome. When Constantine was ‘converted’ and Christians were no longer persecuted but instead were now part of a national religion. Of course Christianity had to be toned way down in order to please everyone. The Christian faith became subject to Rome and adapted itself for life under Roman control. Other gods became acceptable, worldly means of worship, works based salvation, and moral relativism and so on started creeping into the Church until eventually the Church was so steeped in traditions, lore, and false teaching that it did not even recognize the truth. Then came the reformers, over 1000 years after Constantine to clean up the mess that had been made.
Before we really dig too hard on the Christians at Constantine’s time lets take a good look at what we might have done in their shoes. Would we have contributed to ‘the first deformation’? When Christianity became common place I am certain the attendance skyrocketed. I am sure that conversions were happening right and left, and I am willing to bet that most Church leaders were ecstatic claiming that it was a powerful working of the Holy Ghost. Certainly it would have been an exciting time with discussions about Christ becoming common place, people from other religions becoming ‘Christian’ the intellectuals and idiots both embracing the ‘new’ Christianity, which in turn embraced them. It isn’t much different from what is going on now. Yet we look at the course of history as the Roman church matured it slaughtered people by the millions, enslaved its member spiritually, physically, and financially. Even today millions of people are trusting in the Roman system to save them yet remained unaware of the true Christ and untouched by His Holy Spirit. It all started with exciting times, and big numbers, which came as a result of uniting Christianity with the world.
Here we are today, in the midst of the exact same situation. We have taken the world and its gods and its idols and have carried them into our sanctuaries and set them up. Then we watch the worshippers of those gods and idols come into the sanctuary and worship the false gods and idols as they always have. We then proclaim “look at this wonderful thing God is doing!” “People are coming in by the thousands, we have found a formula that the world loves and we are seeing a great harvest.” Yet all that really is happening is that the world can find what it loves in the church. They can have their lust filled without their consciences being singed. We have gotten to a point where we design our worship around the ‘unchurched’ as opposed to God’s word. We have pagans driving our agenda, designing our worship, and shaping our God. We find as many bible translations as possible to fit a message that the unbeliever would like to hear. We preach messages that encourage and comfort sinners, yet rarely confront sinners. We have coffee, guitars, bagels, powerpoint… and so on (none of which are bad in and of themselves) and we use all of these things to appeal to the wicked. The Roman Church in the time of Constantine did whatever it took to convert everyone, it adapted other beliefs and overtime became so corrupt that it was beyond repair. That was the first deformation, what we see now is the second deformation. It hasn’t changed, mingle a lot of truth with a few deceptions and over the course of time it becomes a lot of deception with a little truth (i.e. Romanism).
Anyway back to PDL. I will be participating in our Churches Forty Days of Purpose so that I can get first hand experience of what it is about. Hopefully I will post on this blog my thoughts and reactions to the teachings of the book and the reactions of the class. That is all for tonight.