Monday, April 05, 2010

Rick Warren, church discipline and the idea of membership covenants

Practically, and here I just think he could put me to shame with his aggressively, in-your-life, transformative discipling of his church. Uh, they have a membership covenant that you have to sign, and it is really rigorous and there are no inactive members and he said, “We discipline people in this church. They don’t fulfill their covenant? They’re gonna be disciplined.” And on and on.

— John Piper, 09:44-10:19

In the video placed by the DG team on their website of Pastor John Piper attempting to defend his invitation of Rick Warren, the following reasons were offered by Pastor John Piper:

  1. Rick Warren is orthodox and believes in sound doctrine (addressed here)
  2. Rick Warren is reading through Jonathan Edwards (utterly irrelevant; I am reading Richard Dawkins now which according to this reasoning means... )
  3. Rick Warren is a Baptist (Baptists are not exempted from heresy — think of the infamous Anabaptist Munsterites)
  4. Rick Warren has a high view of ecclesiology and practices church discipline

The last supposed reason offered by Piper is very troubling indeed to those of us who have seen and even experience the fruit of Warren's philosophy of ministry. There is a difference between biblical church discipline, and the supposed "church discipline" exercised in the Purpose Driven paradigm. "Church discipline"and "membership covenants" in the Purpose Driven paradigms function as tools for the leaders of PD churches to control their flocks and remove resistors who oppose their visions. Like the Charismatic Shepherding Movement, such "church discipline" and "membership covenants" are tools for the control of members.

In the book Transitioning (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000) by Purpose-Driven hireling Dan Southerland of Church Transitions Inc., Southerland states

[In the process of transitioning a church] Nothing shoots vision in the foot quicker than it being leaked before it is fully formed or before the time is right for it to be shared with the entire church (p. 77)

Let me put it plainer than that. Sanballat is a leader from hell. I have not looked it up, but I am convinced that the Hebrew word for Sanballat means leader from hell.

We [PD leaders] all have some Sanballats in our churches. This is the guy who opposes whatever your propose. The guy who hates whatever you like. The guy who wants to back up every time you want to move forward. You cannot call this guy a leader from hell to his face — but you could call him Sanballat. (p. 115)

Southerland in his book, based upon a terrible eisegesis of the book of Nehemiah, teaches the process of transitioning a church to become a "Purpose-Driven church". The PD pastor of the church is to start by forming a vision team to slowly "cast" the vision without informing the members, wooing the "power brokers" in the church to the PD pastor's side (pp. 68-69), and then slowly implement the changes such that the members would not notice the transitionings the Church has undergone until it is too late. Those who remain steadfast in their opposition of the takeover of their church are to be demonized as "Sanballat" and ultimately kicked out of the church.

This then is the "church discipline" that Warren alludes to. As for "church covenants", such are made to ensure that all members follow the PD vision for the church, which is not at all biblical.

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the Lord. (Jer. 23:1-2)

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.

“Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: As I live, declares the Lord God, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them. (Eze. 34:1-10)

The terrible abuse of the flock for their own personal gain in building their own empires is judged by the Word of God severely. The PD pastors do not feed the flock, but instead feed on them, scattering them everywhere for them to become food for the enemy.

How different is biblical church discipline from the travesty of the PD paradigm! Biblical church discipline is always about the good of the flock and based upon the standards of Scripture. It is not done because the member opposed some so-called "vision" concocted out of the minds of strategists and not from the teachings of Scripture.

It is truly sad that people including Piper do not understand the PD redefinition of "church discipline" and the use of a "membership covenant" to bind the consciences of men to whatever the Church does even when it is not biblical. The ruthless and heartless PD enterprise of kicking out resistors and the biblical doctrine of church discipline are poles apart, and to equate them show the grossest ignorance on this issue.


Lou Martuneac said...


Just wanted to reiterate that I appreciate your efforts in regard to Piper's invitation to Rick Warren.

FWIW, I gave your blog an atta-boy link from my blog in my new article, What are the T4G Men For to Do?

Kind regards,


PuritanReformed said...


thanks for your kind words.

Beng said...

"Rick Warren is reading through Jonathan Edwards (utterly irrelevant; I am reading Richard Dawkins now which according to this reasoning means... )"

LOL! Woke my son up from sleep.

PuritanReformed said...


=P. I didn't know the mention of Richard Dawkins has the ability to wake your son up =)

Douglas said...

Mr. Dawkins was recently here in Christchurch, NZ. God help the man, save him LORD Jesus Christ, please, he is one really lost soul, swimming around and around and around, in a fish bowl, year after year and he still hasn't found what he doesn't know what he's looking for.....

Hope he doesn't end up at Saddleback or clone or a conference where purpose driven(TM) appears. THINK? A conference? What are they thinking????? Mr. Brilliant Thinking himself is gonna be on the platform????

The devil and demons are a laughin'

Hope me KIWI humour is understandable :)

PuritanReformed said...


well... the smartest thinkers according to the world are not Christians, and yes, I agree with you.