The new “do good” gospel

“The future of the world lies in religious pluralism.”
Rick Warren, “Pastor Argues Faith is Missing Link,” by Maria Kefala, 2/5/08

Rick Warren’s idea of religious pluralism is taking the evangelical church onto the international scene as a major player in global affairs. As the church becomes a global activist in this emerging new world, it is quickly shedding its unique ability to spread the Gospel. Instead the focus is on programs, networks, and activities — a call Rick Warren is making to the church to “do good.”

Warren explains this shift in focus on a YouTube segment, and mentions once again his involvement with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). One of his roles with the CFR is connected to their Religion and Foreign Policy Initiative, where he and Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) work together on a “Religion and Foreign Policy Meeting Series” that has to do with the “impact of religious doctrine on foreign policy.” The CFR has historically been active in getting the churches to assist them with their goals to set up a global government via a “social gospel,” a fact documented in intricate detail in Dr. Martin Erdmann’s groundbreaking book Building the Kingdom of God on Earth (Wipf & Stock, 2005) which we have reviewed previously on this blog.

Like the liberal Protestant churches of the last century, the evangelical church is now becoming effectually neutralized as it emerges as a bigtime player on the global scene. Rick Warren commented on the new neutrality in a Washington Post article this week, “Megachurch Pastor Warren Calls for a Second Reformation” by Michelle Boorstein:

Rick Warren, a megachurch pastor and philanthropist who is courted by political leaders worldwide, says he thinks Christianity needs a “second Reformation” that would steer the church away from divisive politics and be “about deeds, not creeds.”

In this interview, Warren also indicated that he has now shifted his attentions away from “hot-botton issues” to “changing the culture. . . through politics, art, music and sports.” This culture-changing gospel is the same “spheres” dominionism that this blog has been writing about the past few months. Rick Warren has put shoe leather on this dominionist agenda and taken it international. Missing from this whole scenario is the Gospel of Salvation.

Warren described the 3-legged partnerships he is forming between the church, governments and industry, and indicated that this new global activity isn’t about the Gospel anymore. In “Pastor Argues Faith is Missing Link” by Maria Kefala, posted online, this fact becomes clear:

government and industry can’t succeed in solving social problems unless they include faith groups, with their large volunteer forces and their worldwide networks.

“People are so worried churches are going to be about conversion,” he said, “but everyone has a motive. Everyone has a world view. Christianity is a world view. . . . I don’t care why you do good as long as you do good.” [bold added]

Substituted for the missing Gospel of salvation is the “do good” gospel. This is the apparent sequel to the “feel good” gospel of the past several decades of evangelicalism. Now nobody will be feeling good unless they also “do good.” And this “do good” mantra bears a striking resemblance to the social gospel of the last century. The new “do good” gospel doesn’t mention man’s need for a Redeemer. Rather, it is described by Rick Warren here:

Warren pinpointed the world’s problems in five main broader issues: spiritual emptiness (lack of God’s love in life), egocentric leadership and corruption, extreme poverty, pandemic diseases and illiteracy.

“Jesus did five things, the antidotes for those five problems: He promoted reconciliation, equipped servant leaders, assisted the poor, cared for the sick and educated the next generation.”

This led Warren to create his P.E.A.C.E. plan, which explains what ordinary people should do regularly to “do good.”

“I don’t care if you do good for political, economical, personal or religious reasons, as long as you do good; there is no ethical or moral aspect in that,” he said. “I serve a savior named Jesus Christ who said, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ and that’s why I do what I do.” [bold added]

“Do Good” Pluralism

The “do good” gospel is, by definition, pluralism in action. It brings in everybody and everything, and stands for nothing but to “do good.” It partners with anybody–governments and corporations, and even other religions–for the overarching purpose to “do good.” Its dominionism seeks to build the kingdom of God on earth with whatever tools are handy, with whomever shows up on the scene, by whatever methods, doing “whatever it takes,” never minding the integrity of the Gospel.

Pastor Larry DeBruyn, in his new book Church on the Rise: Why I am not a “Purpose-Driven” Pastor, describes the new rationale of evangelical leaders for the formation of these pluralistic partnerships. We have pulled out a few relevant excerpts and posted them below:

At the heart of pluralism lies thinking typified by Pastor Rob Bell of Grand Rapids, Michigan, who reportedly stated, “One of the lies is that truth only resides in this particular community or that particular thought system. I affirm the truth anywhere in any religious system, in any worldview. If it’s true, it belongs to God.” Then comments the reporter, “While calling Christ’s way ‘the best possible way to live,’ Bell says Jesus did not claim one religion is better than another when He said He was ‘the way, the truth and the life.’ Rather, states Bell, ‘his way is the way to the depth of reality’.” What, it can be asked, is “the depth of reality”? By His claim to be “the way, and the truth, and the life,” Jesus was not pointing the way to a reality on earth, but the way to eternity in heaven, the way to come to the Father (John 14:6).

In contrast to pluralism, Jude appealed to believers during the apostolic era to, “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). In the New Testament the word for faith… can refer to either the dependence of trust (believing on the Lord Jesus Christ), or the deposit of truth (the Christian Gospel and the doctrines that surround it). The latter is the sense of Jude’s appeal. Christians are to contend for “the faith,” the Gospel message and truth deposited in the apostolic writings. As Paul referred to the astonishment of early Christians regarding his conversion, “they kept hearing, ‘He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy’” (… Galatians 1:22-23). Obviously, “the faith” Paul preached was the Gospel, which is the sense in which Jude speaks of the faith.

The parameters of the Gospel that Paul preached and Jude wrote about are definite, not indefinite; absolute, not relative; fixed, not in flux; and closed, not open. Because “the faith” was delivered to the saints “once” …it will not change or continue to be delivered. Christians are to contend for the Gospel message (excruciating exertion is implied) because, “certain persons have crept in unnoticed [we’ll call them ‘creepers’], those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 4).

Thus, the Gospel confronts the pluralistic and post-modern mindset. Post-modern evangelicals speculate that the door for discovering salvation truth is still open, while the New Testament declares that it’s shut. Rob Bell speaks of the faith as if God is somehow continuing to deliver it, that it possesses no fixed boundaries, and that it can be repainted in whatever color might be pleasing to us. Are there no fixed boundaries for what Christians can believe and still be considered Christian? In the thinking of those like Bell, is there no such thing as a deposit of divine truth in Scripture (See 1 Timothy 3:9; 4:1, 6; 2 Timothy 4:7.)? For those of a post-modern bent of mind, everything, it seems, is up for grabs. Christianity is still an emerging religion.

[O]n Larry King Live [11/22/04] during the time given for viewers to phone and ask him questions, Rick Warren commented:

And by the way, there’s truth in every religion. Christians believe that there’s truth in every religion. But we just believe that there’s one savior. We believe we can learn truth–I’ve learned a lot of truth from different religions because they all have a portion of the truth. I just believe there is one savior, Jesus Christ.

What is readily observable from Warren’s comment is that though believing there is but one savior, Jesus Christ, he views that various other religions possess truths from which Christians can learn and profit. But the Bible does not agree with his statement that “there’s truth in every religion.”…

Every generation of Christians faces the temptation of syncretism. In our desire to be ‘with it’ or contemporary in our practices and beliefs, we yield to the temptation of being conformed to the patterns of this world. We accept pagan practices and ideas and seek to ‘baptize them.’ Even when we confront and engage alien religions and philosophies we have a tendency to be influenced by them. Every foreign element that creeps into Christian faith and practice is an element that weakens the purity of faith….


…The Pastor-Apostle John wrote to his flock, “. . . we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, guard yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:20-21). Christians understand that Jesus is God, and therefore worship Him (John 20:28). Like the ancient prophet Elijah, the Apostles’ teaching neither approved of nor incorporated a syncretic approach to religion. [emphasis added]

[Excerpted with permission, Church On the Rise, pp. 69-70, 73-74; footnotes can be found in original]