We received this response from Tim Challies to the article The Purpose Driven Life: Promoting Christianity Without Christ:
While I agree with much of what you write I would urge caution in statements regarding Warren’s salvation. You say, “I will show that the author does not personally know the Lord Jesus Christ…” That is a serious charge for one believer to make about another and I am not sure that any of us are qualified to make such statements. I also don’t feel that you proved the statement in your essay. It may be true that Warren does not believe, but I think we need to show caution and charity towards others who claim to be believers.
Victor’s and Paul’s replies:
Greetings in the Lord Jesus Christ, Tim, Paul here.
While it is true that my words are a serious matter, I did not “charge” Rick Warren as you imply. Rather, I described him by a few, though prominent, vital signs, as revealed in his book.
The saying if it walks like a duck, etc. is applicable here. If it does not walk like a duck, or quack like a duck, or swim like a duck, and so forth, it clearly is not a duck. To arrive at such a conclusion on the basis of solid evidence, as perceived by trained and reliable senses, is not accusatory or slanderous. It is stating the facts.
I have a question for you. You say that you are not sure that any of us are qualified to identify who is, and who is not, a Christian. If you are right, how can any of us ever be qualified to identify the Head of the body, the Christ? Does it not follow that if, by the grace of God, one knows Who He is, and thereby knows Him, that one would also know those who are His (and those who are not)?
“We are of God. He who knows God hears us. The one who is not of God does not hear us. From this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:6 MKJV).
The Scriptures are full of demonstrations of, and exhortations to, distinguish true from false, sheep from wolf, sheep from goat. Your statement is one of spectacular unbelief. The amazing thing about unbelief is that you will not be able to admit this, unless repentance comes first. You do not see because there are false gods in your life and you have not been willing to forsake them.
Tim, Victor here,
It would be argued by most professing believers that we ought to follow Jesus’ example, and to morally, socially conduct ourselves as He did. There were many religious that professed to believe in God in His days of flesh. As you know, the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, and Samaritans were many of them. Yet Jesus was not reticent, when judging by their fruits, to tell some that not only did they not believe, but were children of their father, the devil. John the Baptist did the same. Paul and Peter also declared boldly that certain professing faith were not believers. For example, Simon in Acts 8 believed Philip’s preaching and was baptized; yet Peter told him what he was all about in no uncertain terms.
Your admonition to us that “we need to show caution and charity towards others who claim to be believers” is not only contrary to Scripture and to the living examples of the Lord and His disciples, it is, as Paul tells you, evidence of perfect unbelief. You would not be able to say what you did to us unless you have never known the Lord. Yes, you are speaking no differently than do many in nominal Christian circles, while there are few who say what we say, so, surely, you might find solace in numbers. However, you will not find solace in the Truth, because the Truth does not agree with you. If that is so, and it is, then you need to come to a fear of God heretofore unknown to you, before you can presume to go and teach with the false knowledge you have of God and Jesus Christ.
The Bible says to “beware of false brethren.” That being so, do you not think that, contrary to your advice, it is a far more serious matter to call those who are not believers, believers, than it is to call those who are believers, unbelievers? In the former, one aids others into the hands of false prophets and teachers…wolves…and gives godly credit where it is not at all due, while in the latter, true believers who are called unbelievers, and who thus suffer defamation or denial in Christ for His sake, will endure and become the stronger for it. It happens to us all the time. We suffer persecution for His sake. Do you? We know by your fruits that you do not. Tim, you have much to reconsider. You do not have what you think you have. Thus, we write, for good.
After not hearing back, Paul sent Tim this note:
We never heard back from you after our letters.
Someone recently sent us your book reviews and that reminded us of this previous engagement we had regarding The Purpose Driven Life.
I went to your blog today and saw the following, from your notes (correct me if I am wrong) on Derek Thomas discussing “Preaching as Calling,” who was drawing from the document “Of the Preaching of the Word” taken from the Westminster Directory of Public Worship:
“What is essential to a calling to the ministry? A preacher is a workman who needs not be ashamed. The call to ministry is a call to labor and a call to hard work. It is a call to labor in the Word and in ideas. It is hard work and ought to be a toil. There must also be some gifting in some measure. A call to preach requires certain gifts and the document spells out some of these. There must be ‘ancillary knowledge,’ some of which are laid out in this document. More than anything, the document spells out the need to have a love for and a knowledge of good theology. Here he inserted an exhortation to read more and to read better. He encouraged pastors to have a strategy in their reading and in the way they gain knowledge of theology. Pastors must love the Bible and a knowledge of it. There is also what the Divines called ‘spiritual knowledge.’ A pastor must be advanced in this kind of knowledge because a pastor can’t be just an ordinary Christian. As a pastor and as a shepherd you must be constantly growing spiritually, having insight into the hearts and souls of men and women. There is a balance of intellectual and spiritual equipment. The mark of preaching and of ministry is directly related to and proportional to the intensity of our communion and union with Jesus Christ. Am I walking with Him? Am I growing with Him?”
Talk about the blind leading the blind leading the blind! For those that do not fall asleep listening to such dry and lifeless, presumptuous, “theologically” pompous, religious verbiage, they are surely led astray thinking anyone that talks this way knows what he is talking about. Clearly he and they do not! “A love for a knowledge of good theology”?! Paul the apostle called that dung, something he gladly left behind that he might win Christ (Philippians 3:8). In other words, shit. You are feeding people shit, Tim, and also applauding those who do. Repent.
And consider once again your contradictions. How is a man of God to have insight into the hearts and souls of men and women and not be able to tell a sheep from a goat, or a sheep from a pig, or a sheep from a wolf in sheep’s clothing, as you denied us that capacity in Christ? Really, Tim, your intellectual approach to God has made a fool of you, not even knowing you deny the Lord Jesus Christ. The dead know nothing. Repent.
You implied we were not being charitable towards Rick Warren. But if we have told him the Truth, is that not charity Himself? Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. How is Rick going to know he follows a man-made “Jesus” and gospel unless someone tells him? How are you going to know?
If you think we have not presented enough evidence to support what we said about Rick, I suggest you go to our site and read The True Marks of a Cult. There you will find plenty of specific, clearly-defined Scriptural guidelines that show precisely where one is coming from, whether from men or from God. There will be no debate on which side you, Rick Warren, Derek Thomas, and the whole lot of whoever wrote the Westminster Directory of Public Worship fall. We guarantee it.
Paul and Victor,
Please do not email me again. I have no interest in beginning a new discussion with you. I will immediately and unapologetically erase any further emails I receive from you.