The Religion of Man: Big Mistake

I was speaking to a friend last week after church, and he was talking about how when he became a Christian, he prayed to God and asked God to “deliver me from the religion of man”.  We spoke about the consequences of being true to God and the commands of scripture.  These consequences can include the loss of friends who are “offended” by our insistence that God’s word is the final word.  I agree wholeheartedly with what he was saying.  We must always stand for God’s word above any desire or need to please men, or even to please family, or even leaders in a denomination.  We all must understand that we are human and subject to failure or to erroneous doctrinal stances, and we must never blindly submit to everything anyone says, without question, no matter who it is.  We must judge everyone’s words by the word of God, our final authority.

So this got me to asking myself, what are some of these “religions of men” that have caused, and are still causing, so much harm to the body of Christ?  Here are some that I can think of, but in the end, they are all the same.  They look to man’s wisdom, instead of God’s, and that is a fatal error for many.

Seeker Sensitive movement. At its core, this movement’s strategy tries to make the church look more attractive to unbelievers, using promotions, gimmicks, surveys, and technology.  Robert Schuler helped popularize it, and his church was always full, but it was full of people who had “itching ears”, only wanting to listen to what made them feel good.  Bill Hybels (of Willow Creek Association churches) was one of the biggest proponents of this, and only recently admitted it was a miserable failure.  But what is Willow Creek Association doing now?  Trying something else, trying to figure out what else can be done to make a church “successful.”  What can we create that will work this time and bring in more people and help us “grow?”  So now Willow Creek is dabbling in… maybe you guessed it, contemplative spirituality, as reported in an article from Lighthouse Trails Research.

Let’s not forget that the church is first and foremost for the believers, the body of Christ, for their edification and training. Let’s bring in the unbelievers to hear the gospel, but let’s not water it down into some faddish thing just to bring them in.  If you bring them to church under false pretenses, they will soon leave after being disappointed that we did not deliver what they wanted.  See Mike Oppenheimer’s assessment of this movement.

Word of Faith movement. (Also known as “name it and claim it”, “Positive Confession”, or simply “Faith Movement”).  Richard J. Vincent describes it this way: “This is the group that would seek to convince us that Jesus and His disciples were rich, that to be poor is a sin, to be sick is a sin, and that faith is a creative force that we can use to shape our world just like God supposedly created this world and universe that we live in through His “faith”! And “positive confession” is the belief that if a believer speaks “spiritual” or “faith-filled” words then he can have what he says. (Clete Hux). This is all nonsense and completely unbiblical, yet we see so many people taken in by this today, and churches filled with thousands listening to the drivel spewed by these preachers who often take advantage of their congregation and those watching on television.  (Got any seed money today?) Who are some of these folks? Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, T.D. Jakes, Joyce Meyer, Juanita Bynum, Kenneth Copeland, Paul Crouch, Creflo Dollar, Mike Murdock, Jesse Duplantis, Kenneth Hagin, Marilyn Hickey, Rod Parsley, Peter Popoff, Fred Price, Robert Schuller, Robert Tilton, Paula White, Ed Young, Bishop Eddie L. Long, Clarence McClendon.   I realize that some of them may be liked by some folks reading this, but the truth must be told and people warned about them.  For ten reasons to reject Word of Faith teachings, see this article by Tricia Tillin.

Purpose Driven movement. Rick Warren is very popular, his Purpose Driven Life book has sold over 30 million copies, and he is sometimes called “America’s pastor.”   Yet, he has boldly formulated his P.E.A.C.E. Plan which erroneously promotes the idea that we can not only work with all religions, hand in hand, but that we can actually wipe out poverty and hunger, and bring peace and prosperity to the world, through our own efforts.  This is a lie because it contradicts scripture, yet so many have bought into this.  I confess I bought into his book a few years ago and even used it for a while, but I thank God that he revealed to me the lies in his book, including his promotion of mystical authors and teachers, and his own unscriptural “steps” that we should follow in order to be better Christians.  This is the danger of looking up to someone who is so popular, without being a Berean and checking everything he teaches and says.  The lack of discernment has caused many to buy into his ecumenical plans and “purpose driven formulas”, without checking it biblically.  We ought to pray for Rick Warren so that he can understand it is not man’s efforts that will bring peace, but peace will finally be established only after Christ’s return. See The Wonderful Deception of the Purpose Driven Paradigm.

G12 movement. What is G12?  From The G12 vision / movement is a cell-church discipleship strategy pioneered by Cesar Castellanos at International Charismatic Mission of Bogota, Colombia, where he was a pastor. Castellanos believed that God spoke to him in a vision, laying out what He desired the Church do in response to the end times. This vision was the “government of 12” principle, a hierarchal pyramid scheme of discipleship and authority. He proposed that because Israel had 12 tribes, and Christ had 12 disciples, the Church needed to base their structure on this governmental model and become a cell-church.

This movement has come into the Nazarene denomination as well, mainly in Latin American countries.  It is also essentially the same as what is called The Master Plan, and a group of Spanish speaking Nazarenes have started a FaceBook page to ask questions about it as well as the emergent movement, and other Nazarenes from Argentina and other countries have joined Concerned Nazarenes, and we also are concerned about this movement which really does not seem to have any true basis in scripture.  For a description of this movement, go to for the full article.

Emergent church movement. This movement is not of God, because it questions the word of God.  How can any movement be ordained by God, when it’s leaders question so much biblical truth?  When they say that we haven’t gotten it right in over 2,000 years, what does that say of the power of the gospel and all it has done in that time?  When they say you can only trust the Bible in “matters of salvation”, what does that really mean, except that it is a loophole to question the creation account and a whole bunch of other historical accounts?

When they claim that Adam and Eve may have only been allegories, what does that say of Jesus, who referred to them and other historical figures as real people?  When Jesus said that sin and death entered the world through the first humans, what does that say of Jesus when they question the reality of Adam and Eve?  How can this movement be of God, if they say that we ought not to judge what other people believe and teach, totally contrary to what scripture tells us to do?  How can this movement be of God, when it promotes pagan rituals like prayer labyrinths, when we are clearly warned in scripture not to take on the practices of the heathen?  And when Brian McLaren compares the sacrifice on the Cross by Christ as irrelevant and to being a form of cosmic child abuse, what does that say about their discernment when they follow him like lemmings to the edge of the cliff?

This movement will be taken down eventually, because it cannot withstand the truth of God.  But in the meantime, we ought to do all we can as Christians to rebuke the leaders of this movement, to rebuke the promoters of it, and warn everyone possible of this “religion of man” that is deceiving so many.

Then there is the social gospel movement (see T.A. McMahon’s commentary on that).  And let’s not overlook the “let’s save the planet” gospel of Brian McLaren and others, practically worshipping the created instead of the creator.  And the ever insidiously dangerous contemplative spirituality/mysticism movement, also known as spiritual formation, which is a cornerstone of the emergent church.

These movements are all man’s religion. Nothing more, nothing less.  Instead of boldly preaching the gospel of repentance from sin, and turning to Christ in faith, and teaching that we are all headed for destruction if we seek our own ways, these movements have perverted and watered down the gospel, and made a mockery of the simple message of faith and trust in the blood of Jesus Christ.

I believe all these “religions of men” come from pride.  Pride is one of the most dangerous things we can experience as Christians.  We can sometimes drift into our own little world of how we “think” things ought to be, instead of asking- what does God’s word say?  We want it our way.  We think we know what is right for our times.  Yet, the scriptures have said, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” Prov. 14:12

We can sometimes use the excuse of, “well, the culture has changed, and now we don’t really need to follow these directives’ they’re outdated.  It’s not for us anymore.”  This is pride, this is arrogance, and this is man deciding that he knows better than God, and deciding that God did not give us His word that can be relevant to all cultures and throughout all ages; instead, we become the arbiters of what is “relevant” to our culture today.  Thus the perversion of what is clearly written in scripture, in order to suit our own wants and desires.

May God give us the wisdom to continue seeking His ways, not man’s ways.


33 responses to “The Religion of Man: Big Mistake

  1. Manny,
    I am just hearing about the G12 movement and don’t know a whole lot about it except that it seems to be popular with Nazarenes. Do you know if our BoGS has made any official statements or if they are on board with it?

  2. No they have not, as far as I know- except that I believe they have no problem with it. There was a large Master Plan conference overseas for Nazarenes.

    It’s apparently on the Nazarene website:

    Here is another article on it by a fellow Nazarene:

    Because of its mostly overseas popularity, and less publicity here, it has escaped much of our attention- yet needs to be looked at seriously.

  3. I share your opinion on the major premise of the article and most of your examples except Rick Warren. I find him biblically sound and sincere in his deeds to serve the kingdom. Like the rest of us, he is a sinner and you can always find a flaw in his ministry. Rick is the type person who would acknowledge valid criticism further testifying to the condition of his heart and motives. There are plenty of others you could cite besides him, especially most who appear on TBN.

  4. Rev. Peter Popoff, People United For Christ founder, has utilized every media to communicate the supernatural good news of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to a lost and dying world.

  5. Manny,

    You are 100% correct about Rick Warren and his actions. He is a disappointment to all true evangelical Christians. He is not even a bibically sound pastor either. It should be God’s Purpose and not Man’s Purpose.


  6. John,

    Here is just one example of much of what is dubious and in error, regarding Rick Warren. I hope you do some research on him, because he is bad news in many respects. Understanding that we are all sinners and imperfect, I believe he has very serious flaws which are bringing great harm to a lot of Christians. He is in a position of great influence around the world.

    From a report on Lighthouse Trails:

    Rick Warren suggests that Jesus doesn’t want us to even think about prophecy or His return. Warren tells us that it is none of our business. He tells us that thinking about Jesus’ return is a ploy by Satan to get us distracted. (PDL, pp. 285, 286)

  7. i think the context in which warren is speaking has more to do with not focusing on the end so much that you are not focusing on giving everything to God today. we have so many people that SO SURE that we are in the end times now just like we did 100 years ago and like we will probably have 100 years from now. i of course could be wrong because i can admit that i am not SO SURE. plus if it is our business than how come no one knows when Jesus is coming back? i am puzzled as to what exactly you don’t like about warrens statement.

  8. John:
    Rick warren’s book does not eminate from a biblical
    wesleyan persective. If Rick Warren is a sinner its by his own choice because the Holy Spirit wants to free us from that lifestyle in the here and now..So please don’t paint me in that same picture…

  9. Are you quoting him and what is the context?

    Sounds like he is saying to be ready but not obsessed with newspaper headline eschatology. After all, didn’t Jesus say only the Father knows the timing of his return and his kingdom to the disciples?

    In any event I will take your advice and stay alert to any blatant heresy that he may be forwarding.

    Have you confronted him on the heresy you are accusing him of? if so, what was his response?

  10. Ash,
    I obviously don’t agree with your assessment, but your entitled to think so. I will check my copy of the book when I get home and get the exact quotes again- however, Rick Warren has a track record, in his words, of having a disdain for “Christian fundamentalists”, of not liking the five fundamentals; and there is a whole lot more that I can’t get into here- because of space and time. His PPD book is full of error; he is cozy with many contemplatives; he quotes New Agers all the time, including in the PPD book; he approves of contemplative prayer, such as breath prayers and other practices; on and on; it’s not too difficult to find out all about him and his ways.

  11. John,
    I have not confronted him, but I don’t think I need to. I know others who have, and he has not been too willing to respond to them. He is a public figure; I don’t need to wait until I confront him- that might never happen even if I tried.

    As I just commented above, I will check my copy of the book later and get the exact context of his quotes for you; but there’s a lot more to him than that quote.

  12. manny,
    i have only read the purpose driven life myself. i certainly don’t claim to be an expert on rick warren by any means and i obviously do not know him personally. i could not remember if you all had a problem with him or not. thanks for the clarification. as far as a track record of disdain for fundamentalists, the same can be said of many nazarenes (including this one) although i understand there are some who think john wesley was a fundmentalist…yeesh! still i can understand how many aspects of fundamentalism can find their way in american holiness so i am not in anyway surprised at the idea of nazarene fundies.

  13. and to clarify by “disdain” i am speaking more toward disagreement and of course not hatred when speaking about fundamentalists

  14. RevRick;

    Are you saying you no longer sin? If so, you should publish your strategy for being able to lead a sinless life.

    Are you suggesting also that you know Rick Warren’s heart , motives and whether he is repentant?

    There is a big difference between holding him accountable for some alleged errors in teaching and judging him.
    Be careful……

  15. Hello All,
    Page 41 of Purpose Driven Life a quote from Anais Nin, a female erotic writer, begins that chapter. Please checkout all non-biblical writings, you might be suprised. I knew her name from my days at a big ten university. Jumped right off the page I did not need to go to Wikipedia. Please read Warren Smith’s “Deceived on Purpose”. Eye opening book about the seeker sensitive, purpose driven, culturally relevent book sellers. Ties it all up in a very neat package.
    A little leaven,..”
    Holiness- the eratication of the desire to sin. Be Holy as I am Holy Lev.11:45.

    In Christ,

  16. Would you include other movements like the

    Reformed Movement
    Anabaptist Movement
    Puritan Movement
    Methodist Movement
    Holiness Movement

    as “religions of man” since they too were largely based on human wisdom (the latter two in particular used “wisdom” as part of the quadrilateral upon which they were based)?

  17. Beth:
    Read Luke7:40-50.

    What is your point exactly that there are some non-biblical writings in The Purpose Driven Life?
    You sound like a Pharisee.

    As I said in an earlier post. I will be on the lookout for some aberrations. If there was any real heresy in Warren, Hank Hanegraaff and the Christian Research Journal would be all over it!

  18. Ted:

    Read Acts Chapter 2. and study notes.
    That should be the compass. Anything that deviates significantly from the Acts 2 Church is heresy, including Pharasitic legalistic attitudes and behaviors towards sinners.

  19. Who are we to judge? We are all sinners trying to get the rating of our sites up. 😉 talking about anything and everything that is pointless. But in the end these people are making money. BUT, they give to others more than you and I can. so next time. Think about the money that they make. if you had the money would you give or just keep it for yourself.

  20. Mason,

    It is appropriate and required of Christians to judge, from the commands of Jesus and the apostles. And the reason is, so that we are able to differentiate between right and wrong doctrine, and rebuke those who spread false teachings.

    It is negligence to ignore these things and pretend they will have no consequences on other people.


  21. Judge yes, but not hypocritically… again Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for doing just that. Take the log out of your own eye before removing the speck in someone else’s (paraphrase) By the way…Rick Warren reverse tithes.

  22. You are correct, John.

    I assume you know that has not much to do with exposing false teachings- unless I am doing the same thing of course.

    I certainly do not criticize Rick Warren for everything he does- but I will point out those things that are contrary to what scripture teaches us to do.

  23. Again, I will agree to be on alert to all his teachings. I still think that if there were problems on essentials of doctrine, CRI would have grabbed them and written about it in the Journal or Hank H. would have included it in Christianity in Crisis, (21st century). CRI does not consider Rick Warren a heretic.

  24. Hello,
    I believe what is at issue in this discussion is that there are very different scriptual/doctrinal beliefs. Holiness is scriptural. It is not suprising that CRI or Hanegraaff do not object to Rick Warren they are Calvinistic in doctrine hence they read scripture differently than Holiness people. I’m not exactly sure how I was being Pharisical, informational yes. However, I would never use anything questionable when I was teaching about The Lord. FLEE from ALL appearance EVIL.
    In Christ,

  25. CRI holds to the same position as Norm Geisler , which is ANTI- extreme Calvinism. “Chosen but Free”. Hank’s position is God is sovereign and we have free will… a both /and , not an either/or.

    In any case this really has nothing to do with Rick Warren and his theology.He is either heretical in the core ESSENTIALS or he is not.

  26. Thanks. If true it is very dissapointing and it would appear that he has fallen into brokering essential compromises to extend his reach, instead of the reach of the Gospel.

  27. Not, I’m not afraid- and I have an answer. Here is what you wrote. What you wrote is an indication that you are either blind or ignorant to the truth. You have slammed a whole bunch of folks who ARE educated and also know their Bible. This is the kind of useless attack that I usually don’t allow; please say something of substance; please defend the emergent church biblically if you can, but I will not usually allow this kind of comment, because it was absolutely useless, and since you cannot defend the indefensible, you use this kind of language. There are many godly people who are fighting these false practices, which I’m sure will not make you happy. I will pray that God will open your eyes to the truth:

    “I’ve been looking at your site for a while now, and I have been concerned. It seems like there are many people who are upset and angry, but wildly uneducated. The last post stated you can tell if a church isn’t of God if it takes on other religious practices without a mention of why we celebrate Christmas on December 25th or the time of year we celebrate Easter. Anyone with any sort of education can see that just doesn’t add up. Now on with this, where you get to choose which denominations or movements are evil without a brief thought of how the denomination you claim came into being. But recently I have been given a peace. It seems everyone I talk to about your group writes you off, even those who don’t like the Emerging movement. It is true we can see your fruit. The fruit shown here is ignorance and hate, while the Emerging group is actually participating in the Kingdom and making a big difference in the name of Jesus. I feel an ease knowing that those who come across you and your message are seeing how off base and Un-Christian it is. I have been afraid that you would have led others astray. I’m proud of my denomination and its leaders who see you all for who you are.”

  28. In essentials, UNITY, in non -essentails, LIBERTY.

    Test everything against Acts :2….all of you!

  29. I just discovered this video about the emerging/seeker sensitive church about 3 days ago and posted it on my facebook. I was so glad to see it on here too. it just can’t be any clearer than this easy to understand video.

  30. Hey John: Just a couple of facts about Rick Warren. Yes he reverse tithes. But he gives to his own foundations (such as Acts of Mercy), pays him and his wife a salary from the foundation. And then uses’s the foundation to do what he wants to do. Acts of mercy foundation was set up to help those with aids yet Rick used money out of this to fly pastors from Africa to train them in the purpose driven religion and methods.
    CRI doesnt have a problem with Warren.
    Ok and this is just my opinion but it could be largely to do with the fact that Hank is buddies with Ricks own apologist Richard Abanes.
    Here is a article that address’s Ricks reverse tithing

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