The People’s Church: A Wayward Vessel
I walked through the doors of The First Baptist Church in the spring of 1995 after having been somewhat of a prodigal son for roughly 10 years. I had recently rededicated my life to Christ and wanted to once again be a part of a loving church family. As I entered and sat down to the joyful noise of a magnificent choir and orchestra praising God in song, my heart and soul were filled with wonder, excitement and great expectation. I was truly being prepared for worship. When the preacher finished his sermon, I was spiritually refreshed and energized for the week ahead. His message had been clear, powerful, convicting, biblical and full of the Holy Spirit. Over time I grew to love this brother in Christ because of his faithfulness and passion for the gospel. After visiting the church for some months, I knew I had found a church home.
A couple of years later, the pastor invited me to lunch at a nearby country club he frequented where he mentioned in passing his desire to eventually do away with the First Baptist Church name and simply call it “The People’s Church”, claiming “that’s what everyone called it anyway”. Still taken by the man’s persona, I smiled and nodded in approval as he told me of wanting to take the church in “a new direction”, away from the Southern Baptist stigma that he felt had somehow hindered us in the past and move on greater things. Unfortunately, he didn’t elaborate on what that “new direction” was and I mistakenly assumed that he meant toward a non-denominational identity.
In the coming weeks and months a new message began emanating from his pulpit not unlike what had been coming from, of all places, the presidential podium of Bill Clinton during the height of his scandals. A re-occurring theme of “tolerance, diversity and unity” seemed to permeate almost every sermon. It became increasingly clear to me that the pastor’s “new direction” was worldly and that he was now being guided by someone or something other than God. Friction grew between the two of us over the course of time as his sermons turned away from the gospel that leads to repentance and faith in Christ to the social psychology of get-alongism. Sure, the Bible calls us to live in peace with one another, to keep and maintain healthy relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ, but NOT at the expense of God. The pastor I once held in such high regard began reciting “group-think” platitudes like: “YOU CAN’T BE RIGHT WITH GOD AND AT ODDS WITH EVERYONE ELSE”, meaning it was now time for us all to compromise our conscience and convictions for the collective. This is the “Consensus Process” at work, a 200 year-old socialist brainwashing technique known by social psychologists the world over as the “Hegelian Dialectic”, developed by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel in the late 1700’s that involves the practice of compromise to achieve social harmony between opposing groups and/or belief systems. The “Hegelian Dialectic” is especially damaging to those of the faith who are compelled by the process to accept the unacceptable in order to gain the approval of the group. It is the herd mentality of humanist thinking and an abomination before God.
You see the Bible is FULL of godly men who stood alone and died fighting the heresy of the herd mentality, including Jesus Himself. Being “at odds with everyone else” is EXACTLY what got Him nailed to a cross! He said: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) This certainly doesn’t bode well for pastors whose primary agenda is church growth and big numbers.
It was not a tolerant Jesus who cleared the temple in Jerusalem of moneychangers with a whip or a tolerant John the Baptist who publicly railed against King Herod for marrying his brother’s wife or a tolerant Paul that stood up against Peter for alienating uncircumcised believers or tolerance that got most of the disciples beheaded or crucified in the early days of the church. Yet, here we are entering a new millennium, crossing that illustrious “Bridge To The 21st Century”, as a re-invented church of tolerance, diversity and unity. As the doors are all thrown open to anyone and anything, I ask you, is the church affecting the culture or is the culture infecting the church? Who is proselytizing whom here? Look around and tell me what you see.
It wasn’t long before a vulgar campaign for cash began at The People’s Church as if someone was running for political office, complete with banquets, dinners, awards, lots of flattering speech, testimonials, presentations, private meetings and special attention given to the church’s “big givers”, (their term, not mine) all to benefit a massive new building program that would put us in a high-tech “worship center” and twelve million dollars in debt.
Today when I walk into that entertainment complex on Sunday morning where a sanctuary used to be, I see a lot of cushioned movie theater seats where pews used to be; a big multi-media projection screen where a wooden cross used to be; a half dozen choreographed entertainers performing to applause where a choir used to be; a jazz/rock band playing solos where an orchestra used to be; a young female singer leading simplistic chants before a confused audience, where a music minister used to lead great hymns of worship and praise to God and where a charming “facilitator” in a golf shirt preaches that we should all GO ALONG TO GET ALONG, where a once humble man of God in a suit and tie used to courageously proclaim the Word of God.
Just the other day I was listening to a pre-recorded radio program on the internet called “Steel On Steel” hosted by John Loeffler. He was interviewing a former teacher and expert on European history and philosophy by the name of Dean Gotcher about the “Hegelian Dialectic” or “Consensus Process” and how it is has successfully been integrated into the government, the media, the military, law enforcement, public education, colleges, seminaries and even the church to centralize everything and unify us all into the socialist mindset of global governance. The global-socialist goal is and always has been a one-world government and a one-world religion. They have used the “Hegelian Dialectic” for centuries to control large populations around the world and steer them toward a “New World Order”. Near the end of the hour-long program, he casually mentioned a couple of Christian organizations that were known for seducing churches into this “Consensus Process” with “progressive” church-growth programs where compromising brings in big numbers. The temptation of such worldly fruit is obviously hard to resist, even among the most faithful of pastors. Nonetheless, doing unholy things in the name of Christ does not make them holy.
When Dean Gotcher mentioned one of those organizations as being “The Willow Creek Association”, bells began ringing, lights began flashing and all of a sudden five years of confusion, contention and controversy between my pastor and me were INSTANTLY brought into complete clarity. OF COURSE! The People’s Church belonged to the Willow Creek Association! Once my eyes were opened to their carnal ways through additional research, combined with all that I had learned over the years about global-socialism, I became convinced that we, (the church) had been brought into the “Consensus Process” by way of a socialistic humanist organization posing as a Christian ministry, complete with “change-agents” and “facilitators” (wolves in sheep’s clothing) that I myself had encountered personally from Sunday School to Sunday worship. Apparently, THIS was the pastor’s “new direction” for The First Baptist Church. It came as no surprise to later discover that Willow Creek’s founder, Bill Hybels is a dear friend and personal minister to the nation’s most renown socialist and “facilitator”, Bill Clinton. NOW I KNOW why my pastor began sounding so ‘Clintonesque” in his Sunday morning sermons some three or four years ago.
As I went on to research The Willow Creek Association, I discovered that thousands upon thousands of established churches around the country were being transformed into sensory driven “seeker churches” EXACTLY like ours under the guidance and direction of this organization, all with the same tolerance, diversity and unity theme, liberal worship format, scripturally shallow teaching, heavy on the comfort and light on the conscience, equipped with huge multi-media projection screens, large sound systems, exotic music, no choir, female ministers, feelings-motivated skits, dance interpretations and heavily burdened with millions of dollars of debt from building state-of-the-art entertainment venues they call “worship centers”. I think the revolving disco ball sparkling overhead at our dedication service a couple of years ago was a REAL poignant moment for me personally.
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” (1st John 2:15-17)
I have long-since worn out my welcome with certain members of the church staff by repeatedly protesting our involvement in these ecumenical movements and carnal extravaganzas beginning with the “men’s movement”; that emotionally driven, highly advertised, celebrity endorsed, spiritually misguided and now financially bankrupt organization known as “Promise Keepers”. The “Consensus Process” or “Hegelian Dialectic” teaches “facilitators” to isolate, intimidate and even shame their critics into silence and cooperation with “hurt feelings” as their license and authority. This too is carnal. Those seeking group acceptance and approval are powerless against it. Frankly, I’d much rather have God’s acceptance and approval than the herd’s. You see The Willow Creek Association always emphasizes “felt needs”, unity, harmony, peace and human relationships over everything else…Just like the United Nations. But, that’s not the Gospel.
“Consensus” is all about compromising toward “group-think” not God think. It is conformity to the collective through peer-pressure. This is the very heart of the heresy. Centralization toward globalism is the reason for consensus and explains why so many big corporations have merged into government-controlled monopolies; why the two major political parties have become almost indistinguishable; why national borders have become virtually meaningless; why national sovereignty is being surrendered to the United Nations; why the Constitution is being ignored by our own president; why “The Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders” is meeting in August to christen a One World Religion and world leaders from 160 nations are meeting in September at the UN. for “The Millennium Summit” to initiate World Government, complete with its own criminal court, tax system and standing army. Unfortunately, the nasty little secret about the consensus process is that any and all issues discussed usually have a pre-determined outcome provided by the attending “facilitator”. Imagine that! Conscience and compromise can NEVER co-exist. They are ALWAYS incompatible. One MUST surrender to the other for there to be unity. Consensus therefore, will ALWAYS lead it’s followers away from biblical absolutes and Authority (i.e., “Thus sayeth the Lord….”) to obtain the acceptance and approval of the group.
We all want to be loved don’t we? Some of us are desperate to be loved. It is undoubtedly why so many have given their lives to the entertainment and film industry and made Hollywood their “Emerald City”. They have been taught throughout the 20th century that if they could only be a “big star” they would be loved and accepted by everyone. The desire to BE LOVED is natural but loving those that don’t agree with us is unnatural and difficult. Jesus said: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself'”. Yet, millions of children for over half a century listened and learned as The Wizard Of Oz told the Tin Man: “…a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.” This is consensus over conviction, covetousness over conscience and flesh over spirit, the heresy of Hollywood and the wages of Willow Creek…following the crowd and the culture in order to be loved and accepted.
“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
The bottom line is this; Willow Creek is a showboat, sold as a Christian cruise that in time will be remembered as another Titanic. The First Baptist Church is truly becoming “The People’s Church”, because that is exactly who they have chosen to follow and obey…PEOPLE. Needless to say, after 5 long and frustrating years aboard this wayward vessel, I’ll be going in search of a humble fishing boat where the waters are calm, the nets are full, the crew is faithful, and Christ is the captain, because as Paul Harvey says: “Now I know the REST of the story”.
“They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand.” (Isaiah 44:18)