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      The Purpose Driven Movement's Two Basic Premises

      Monday, November 10, 2008

      A premise is:

      1) set forth beforehand, often as an explanation
      2) something as preexisting and given
      3) the proposition of an argument from which a conclusion is drawn; reason intended to support a conclusion

      Christianity's basic premise is this:

      We are all sinners justly condemned by God. God sent His Son to shed his blood on a tree so that everyone who believes in Him would be saved from God's wrath that is to come. Christ is the propitiation for everyone who is believing in Him.

      I'll be the first to admit that that is a rather crude summary of Christianity, but it's a basic premise that we have as believers in Christ.

      The Purpose Driven Movement's two basic premises are these:

      1) Jesus is alive so that we may have a high self-esteem.
      2) We are to share this message of high self-esteem with unbelievers. Anything that deters us from sharing this message of high self-esteem with them is not of God. This includes anything that will cause an unbeliever to look down upon us unfavorably. If you question this, you're causing division in the Body of Christ and attempting to hinder His work.

      I submit that, although I'm open to the fact that there may be more, these are the two major premises that are driving the "seeker" movement. Anything that goes against the first premise will be brought into question by the leaders of this movement. I have seen this consistently. Whenever someone questions either one, this is going against the leader's self-esteem, and, since this is a premise in the "seeker" movement, the person is labeled a troublemaker for imposing themselves upon "God's anointed with vision". I am willing to declare that if you listen to the majority of Purpose Driven "sermons" that are permeating our land, you will find that this first basic premise of self esteem can be found as an undertone throughout the duration. This is one of the reasons why there is so much talk of self in this movement by the "pastors". If your basic premise is self-esteem, the focus inevitably needs to be self. There's no way around that. Even if you do talk of Jesus, it nearly always has to be in the context of yourself. I can think of many songs that I sung while attending certain fellowships that would welcome Purpose Driven leaders in. The majority of them dealt with "This is the air I breathe...", "I worship you", or a myriad of other things that "I do". If speaking of yourself was in the context of something that you do for Jesus, it was deemed alright. If speaking of yourself was done in the context of maybe a sporting event you participated in, what car you drive, or what you had for lunch, you were deemed as "stuck on yourself" though. This, however, did not apply to all. Consistency and a lack of double standards aren't one of the movement's strongest points. Talk of sin (something that doesn't cater to self-esteem) as anything other than you not living your best life now because of Jesus is a hindrance to a high self-esteem. The emphasis on me, me, me, me, does not allow for the focus to be on anyone else, unless that person can cater to your self-esteem whether it be in even a small respect. Self-esteem, by it's very nature, despises instruction or teaching (or, as it is known Biblically: Doctrine). Think about it: If your high esteem of yourself can be thwarted by outside information even if that information is true, then you vie to keep that information from reaching you or people who are in your care if you hold that having a high self-esteem is God's priority for you. It makes complete sense. It's logical. It's a valid argument. The problem is, though, it's not Christianity. It's the premise for another religion.

      The second premise deals with acceptance from unbelievers. If you look at the "seeker" movement, they themselves admit that the central focus of their "ministry" is to be a place for the unbelievers (or "unchurched" as it's frequently being heralded). Jesus said that no man can serve two masters for he will hate one and love the other. He was referring here to God and mammon. In Christianity, if Jesus is your master, you love your enemies (unbelievers). You pray for your enemies. You do not, however, cater to their desires. Why? Because the natural man cannot receive the things of God. They are foolishness to him. In the "seeker" movement, the central aspect of their "ministry" is to cater to this foolishness. R.C. Sproul has said that the "seeker" movement is a "strategy of unbelief." Unbelief is evil so, in other words, it's a strategy for evil. There are two sovereigns that are being dealt with here. In Christianity, God is sovereign. What He says goes. There is no debating Him, and if someone contradicts what He desires and commands, they are in error; not Him. In the "seeker" movement the unregenerate unbeliever is sovereign. What he says goes. There is no debating him, and if someone contradicts what he desires and commands, they are in error, not him. Consistently, if you view the "seeker" movement and the things they argue for, you will see this is true.

      With these two basic premises lie something that is not only not found in Biblical Christianity, it is vehemently opposed to Christianity. When Isaiah saw his righteousness for what it really was, did he thank God for giving him such a high self-esteem and desire to share that message with others? No. He said that all his righteousness is as filthy rags. When Paul is discussing his struggle with sin in Romans 7, did he say, "I'm pulling this thing off! Everyone, look at my moral example and ask Jesus into your heart today while supplies last!" No. He said, "Oh, what a miserable person I am. Who shall deliver me from this body of death?" When the answers to each of those two questions are answered in the former, we're not dealing with Christianity anymore, and it's about time that we start calling another religion out for what it is. Christianity has nothing to do with a high self-esteem other than confession and the forsaking of it for Christ's sake alone. Seriously consider this: If you take the premise for a high self-esteem out of the Purpose Driven Movement, what are you left with? I submit that it is not much if anything at all. It's the central focus of the movement, and spreading that philosophy to unbelievers is the among the sole priorities of it. The Purpose Driven Movement's default position is self-esteem; Christianity's is Christ-esteem.

      *As a follow-up to this post, here is an interesting article about the decaying effects of self-esteem on society as a whole. Thanks to Doug Eaton for sending this my way.


      Betsy Markman said...

      Awesome post! You pulled it all together so clearly! From the self-centered songs to the focus on self-esteem to the "serving two masters" and the Sproul comment...it's the best concise summary of PDL that I've seen. Great stuff!

      Ben said...

      I have found that a lot of times the PD churches opporate under a false theology of accepting Jesus for salvation, rather than believing Christ and repenting.

      Combined with a sorta of hyper-Arminianism, the PD's are convinced that they are responsible for manufacturing decisions for Jesus, and that they need to avoid anything with any depth, and preach sermons that are self-esteem focused, or something similar.

      In a way, it is people pleasing in order to grow numbers and to keep the unsaved between the walls long enough until you can convince them to repeat a sinner's pray so, a la Paul Washer, they can pope-ishly declare them saved.

      As a result, people who were already Christians but have weak theology initially stay on board because they love the idea of evangelism, but eventually they just get bored, or some trial comes about that their theology isn't big enough to handle. Often these people drift away, or hop on board to the emergent church or something.

      Meanwhile, at the PD churches, you actually find that they are achieving their goals, and their church is growing and getting huge, and tons of unbelievers are making decisions for Jesus. Providentially, God actually does save some of these, but many, to my heart's break are not Biblically saved. Compounding the problem, many times the "sinner's prayer" style evangelism is couple with unequivocal, unquestionable assurance of salvation. Thus most attenders are assured that they are saved, though many are falsely assured.

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