Category Archives: Saddleback Church

Decisions, Decisions.

I will definitely admit I am far from being in a position to be asked to participate in any forum where I would be speaking in front of hundreds of people. I am truly not trying to be critical of those who are and the choices they make. I am just trying to think through these things as I listen to some of my favorite speakers and some of the forums they are invited to. Today’s case in point, Michael Horton speaking in at forum in Saddleback Church on June 10th as part of the “12 Cities 12 Conversations” project hosted by the Lausanne Movement.

Earlier this week after watching the recorded web cast of the panel discussion I posed a question, via email, to many of my church leadership friends regarding Horton participating in this panel discussion at Saddleback Church. I received many responses, from simply “dumb” to a short rebuttal in the use of the phrase “reformed infatuation” from a popular blogger brother. But included in this blogger’s response was a point made to him by Mark Dever a few years ago. The point being that if anyone opened their platform or pulpit to him (Mark Dever) he would gladly take the opportunity to present the true gospel. In some cases it may be the only time they audience would hear it.

After watching the panel discussion, I now know why Horton was there. I have included the link below and in the body of this post. If you haven’t seen it please notice the term “gospel” thrown around quite a bit, Horton addresses this later. But the term is used in such a way as to infer that the gospel is the same as the second greatest commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself. This is the law, but it is NOT the gospel. This would fall in line with some points made by my senior pastor in a recent sermon found here.

If you watch the video of the panel discussion, the real discussion doesn’t really get cranked up until about 16 minutes in, so you may want to push the feed forward and bypass all the posturing and introductions. Around the 45 minute mark Horton brings up the term “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism”, this term is mentioned many times in his book “Christless Christianity“. (Catch Kay Warren chanting Burger King after Horton finishes speaking as if saying have it your way) But my favorite part of the discussion is when Michael Horton addresses the question “How do we make sure that the proclamation of Jesus doesn’t get lost among the feeding of the hungry and the care for the widows and orphans?”. This comes right at the tail end of the first video (there are two parts), which is around the 60 minute mark.  Horton zooms right in on what the gospel is. Very cool. Glory to God.

The web cast panel discussion at Saddleback Church (again the real discussion doesn’t get going until about 16 to 20 minutes in)

Patrick Abendroth on “The Dechristianization of Christianity

The gospel in about a minute by John Piper.

I would encourage any and all comments on this discussion in particular on the subject of decisions to participate in these venues. Did Horton get his point across or was he marginalized? If you are a preacher given the opportunity to speak at a venue, like say the Crystal Cathedral, would you use it to preach the gospel?


a sad day in Orange County

While in California I attended a Saturday evening church service at Saddleback Church. This is the church pastored by Rick Warren of the Purpose Driven Life fame and fortune. I was there with a few of my fellow traveling companions and from the time I entered the building and received my bulletin and message outline there was a very familiar feel about it. First the outline was identical to the outlines provided now in a church I attended for nine years and have since left. The music was pretty good, but the people seemed a bit detached and passive. The message title told me they were in the middle of a series about your worldview. The message was delivered by the man himself, Rick Warren. He looked to have lost some weight from previous pictures I had seen and he was sporting a gotee. The message was going along fine if not but a bit superficial until he said that God made us because He loved us and so we could love Him. (God created us to His glory) Also in relation to God breathing the universe into existence Warren said that it didn’t matter if you believed it took a week or a million years. (I believe in the literal 6 days of creation) He then used the passage in 2 Peter 3:8 out of context to affirm his vagueness with creation that with God one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like one day. Peter is writing this to encourage his readers that God is not slow about His promise. Warren used so many more passages out of context to prove his outline points. The whole underlying theme of the message was you and me centered, it made me sad. It was definitely seeker sensitive and not Christ sensitive. He does not preach about the sovereignty of God by his statements of “God is in the business of turning crucifixions into resurrections”, and that “abortion short circuits God’s plan.” He compared God to Macgyver the TV show because He makes something useful out of odd pieces. The whole experience lef tme feeling like I had been to therapy and not a worship service. How are his members going to learn about the God of Abraham, the God of the New Testament, about Christ and the cost of following Him with this kind of message. While there I kept praying for God to raise up men who would influence the church to a more Christ centered approach, and I will continue to pray for those there.
On a positive note the facilities were very impressive. It was all laid out like a campus with a cafe where you could get coffee (which we did, I don’t think we passed many Starbucks or coffee shop last week) to buildings for training, teaching and a resource for curriculums, and bookstore. It looked like they had much more but I didn’t stray to far. Please pray for Rick Warren and Saddleback Church.