Day Four - Made to Last Forever

Mr. Warren continues the theme of eternity. This chapter begins with the point that, “This life is preparation for the next.” (p.36) He argues that since we were made in the image of God, then, like God, we were designed to live for eternity. But then he puzzles, “Even though we know everyone eventually dies, death always seems unnatural and unfair.” (p.37) Here is clear indication, as though at this point any further indication were needed, that Mr. Warren has not come to terms with sin. He is thoroughly in the grip of the Humanistic dialectic: the universal and inevitable reality of death, which nevertheless “seems unnatural and unfair.” Eternal life is the original Creation ideal for the human being. Death is judgment due to sin. The Humanist will not accept this and so must explain death in some other terms. The Humanist Naturalist says that observed reality constitutes the natural order of things. Thus, for him, death is natural, and now it is a puzzlement how his indomitable instinct is to struggle against it. The Humanist Spiritualist says that observed reality is an illusion. For him, too, death is natural and now it is a puzzlement how life can mean anything other than an incubation period for what lies beyond. Only Christianity declares that death is an enemy (I Cor. 15:26).

For Mr. Warren death “seems unnatural and unfair,” however, he seems at a loss to explain why this should be so. The whole idea of death as judgment due to sin, and therefore entirely fair, seems to escape him. He also elaborates, “Just as the nine months you spent in your mother’s womb were not an end in themselves but preparation for life, so this life is preparation for the next.” (p.39) This comment very nearly says the same thing that the Humanist Spiritualist says: that death really is a “birth” into the next life. Mr. Warren plays directly into this Humanistic idea. His Doctrine of Creation is woefully deficient, as “god” cannot be the God of Christianity if the central fact of human life is the foundation of the meaning of all existence, if Man determines for himself whether or not he bears any relation to this “god,” if Man is equipped to “discover” whatever we choose to characterize as “god” having “revealed,” and if what he “discovers” then becomes the standard and foundation of his life. Also, his Doctrine of Sin is almost entirely unstated, as we already have seen. At best, his conception of sin gives God some credit for being bigger, stronger, and smarter than Man. Sin, in his view, removes us from God’s presence, so that we no longer have access to His superior resources. Lacking a truly biblical idea of Creation and Sin, it therefore is impossible to have a truly biblical idea of Redemption. We have seen Mr. Warren’s characterization of Redemption as a “fresh start” in this life. However, here his emphasis is on Eternity.

Mr. Warren asserts, “Your relationship to God on earth will determine your relationship to him in eternity. If you learn to love and trust God’s Son, Jesus, you will be invited to spend the rest of eternity with him.” (p.37) However, Mr. Warren has yet to explain how the creature can determine anything for the Creator. He asserted in Day One that on his own initiative one can begin a relationship with Jesus, but did not entertain the question of why one should be without such relationship in the first place. In Day Three he hinted that we may be without a relationship with God due in some way to sin, but characterized the remedy to this problem as a “fresh start.” Now he expands upon this - loose ends not withstanding - to declare that by so establishing such a relationship we as well determine our eternal destiny. Along these lines he also says, “The deeds of this life are the destiny of the next.” (p.40) According to Mr. Warren, a person may perform certain functions or accomplish certain tasks, and as a result - and as a reward - an invitation will be extended to him to join Christ in eternity. Here we see most dramatically a muddled idea of Redemption as required by a muddled idea of Creation and of Sin.

A true and biblical idea of these things is that God, the Creator, brought forth a reality separate and distinct from Himself, and sovereignly determines all facets and aspects of this created reality; Sin is the denial of this fact and the willful rebellion against God and His Law, bringing the wrath of God and the penalty of death upon the sinner; and Redemption is the initiative of God, who “…demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8), meaning that in His death Christ took the guilt of our sin and the judgment of death upon Himself on our behalf. Evangelicalism always reverses the biblical truth of these things. We constantly are told that if we will do something - say a prayer, accept a gift, open a door - then reciprocal to this God will do something - forgive our sins, solve our problems, invite us to heaven. Mr. Warren flows right into this mould when he says that our invitation to heaven depends upon our having first learned to love and trust Jesus. Biblically we are dead in sin and unable to love and trust Jesus unless and until the Holy Spirit quickens our hearts and ministers God’s Redemption unto us. Our invitation to heaven - if, indeed, we reasonably may so term Redemption - is not the result or reward of our having decided to begin a relationship with Jesus; it is the only possible basis and motive of our relationship with Jesus.

Given the terms in which Mr. Warren sees these things, it is little wonder how he sees the juxtaposition of temporal and eternal reality. “Life on earth is just the dress rehearsal before the real production…Earth is the staging area, the preschool, the tryout for your life in eternity.” (p.36) As Mr. Warren characterizes it, not only is the initiative ours to begin a relationship with Jesus, the burden is ours also to get through the dress rehearsal successfully so we may receive an invitation to the cast party. Biblically, eternity is the culmination of what God is doing in temporal reality, not of what we are doing. God is about “the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth.” (Eph 1:10) Our duty is to confess Him, to worship Him, and to give thanks for all things, to believe in His Word and seek His Grace to obey it and to live by it. Our lives in this world do not qualify us to enjoy eternity with God; God’s eternal Grace qualifies us to live godly in this world. With each day Mr. Warren diverges further from biblical wisdom.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this your journal is a very sad reflection of Christians today. You are misunderstanding and jumping to a whole bunch of conclusions. No person ever gives an entirely balanced picture in one book. WHen you hear a preacher preach you can be left thinking why didnt they mention this or that. But we dont then go around pulling the whole message apart because they missed something out.

Perhaps you should find out what his doctrine on sin is before you go jumping to conclusions. This man is giving away all the money he makes from this book. I dont think that this speaks of someone who is trying to bring the church down.

Perhaps you should get hold of some facts first. Most of us are able to chew on the meat and spit out the bones.

9:54 AM  
Blogger S. C. Mooney said...

Thanks for writing with your concerns. I do not suggest that Mr. Warren intends to "bring the church down." I can accept the suggestion that Mr. Warren has only the best and most noble intentions for the church. However, good intentions alone are not sufficient to produce a good result. I have absolutely no concern for how much money his book makes or what he does with it. My concern is with the content of the book. I think it is reasonable to expect that one could manage to express the major points of his views in the space of 300 pages of text. Given that a major theme in the book is Man's "relationship" with God, it is simply basic that the text ought to deal with matters that bear directly on this theme, such as sin. You suggest that Mr. Warren's actual feeling about sin is not to be found in this book, but may be found elsewhere. Does it not seem terribly odd to you that Mr. Warren can go on for over 300 pages about the "purpose" of Human life and fail to tell us what he really thinks about sin? Does not this fact alone cast grave doubt on the spiritual usefulness of this book?

9:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you as with Mr. John McArthur that Mr. Warren failed to elaborate on sin and its consequences of which is essential to share the gospel, but for you to question the book's spiritual usefulness? Ask that to many people who are better Christians after reading the book.

3:25 AM  
Blogger S. C. Mooney said...

The idea of "better Christian" may be viewed objectively or subjectively. Someone may "feel" better about himself as a Christian and attribute this improvement to the reading of this book. Someone also may think of himself as a "better Christian" as a result of spending six months in a hospital following a horrible traffic accident. Yet he never would think of recommending traffic accidents to all of his friends and family. He would continue to think of traffic accidents as a bad thing, and would continue to pray for safety while out driving. An objective sense of being a "better Christian" would be difficult to describe in its totality. However, I think every avenue on which it might be pursued would have to come back to the idea of God's glory. One is a "better Christian" in an objective sense if he has come to glorify God better. This is the sense in which I deny the spiritual usefulness of this book. I have no doubt that a lot of people feel better after reading this book, but they are in no better position to bring any greater glory to God.

8:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe when Mr. Mooney has sold a few million books and Pastored one of the fastest growing churches in history (for free) as Rick Warren has, he will have the credibility for people to continue reading his blog. I stumbled on the site by accident. Why must everyone be jealous and take cheap shots at the people that God seems to be using?

9:25 PM  
Blogger S. C. Mooney said...

Anonymous: are you seriously suggesting that whoever sells the most books and pastors the largest church therefore automatically correct in whatever he says?

6:29 AM  

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