Rick Warren, he of the Purpose Driven Life, is now being driven by a new purpose. Recently he called what was termed as a "Purpose Driven Network Summit" to launch a new initiative that he calls the PEACE coalition. The Summit was held in Warren's Saddleback Church and lasted three days. The acronym PEACE is an acrostic that means Promote reconciliation; Equip servant leaders; Assist the poor; Care for the sick; and Educate the next generation.
The coalition will cooperate in a global mission strategy called the P.E.A.C.E. Plan, which is a massive, long range effort to mobilize one billion Christians in local churches around the world to copy what they claim is Jesus' model of ministry. PEACE Coalition members see the actions envisaged in their title as Jesus' antidote to five "global giants"-problems that affect billions of people around the world. Warren said, "For followers of Jesus, one of the most important words in our vocabulary is the word ‘Go!' Jesus repeatedly commanded every believer to go; you can't spell gospel or good news without ‘go'-ours is an active, not passive, faith."
Now let us be quite clear about some things. There is nothing new about the Christian Church or Christian organizations promoting peace, helping the poor, educating the illiterate or caring for the sick. History is replete with examples of Christian servants in actions at great personal cost to do these very things. Indeed, much of the history of Christian missions is the story of how dedicated servants have put the faith of the gospel into action to bring the good news of eternal life to the perishing and in doing so to ameliorate their social and economic conditions. If what Rick Warren is proposing were to continue the tradition and to get millions of Christians involved I would have no problem.
But I do have a problem. In fact it is the most basic problem I could have with his proposal. Look carefully once again at his PEACE initiative. Hear what those letters mean: P means Promote reconciliation; E means Equip servant leaders; A means Assist the poor; C means Care for the sick; and E means Educate the next generation. Now laudable as these aims may sound, let me ask you a question: DO YOU RECOGNIZE IN ALL THIS EVEN ONE REFERENCE TO ANYTHING DISTINCTIVELY CHRISTIAN? I don't.What bothers me most of all is that Warren is touting his Purpose Driven PEACE Coalition as the way the Lord Jesus carried out His ministry. If that were true then Warren's way would be the only way for Christians to carry on their ministry. I believe he knows that he is making such an enormous claim for his movement. But Warren is dead wrong. He is promoting something under the name of Christ that is the opposite of the Saviour's message and ministry. The Lord Jesus preached, "Repent and believe the gospel." Nothing He said or did can be rightly understood apart from that primary message. Yet Warren's new gospel makes not even the slightest mention of any gospel imperative. Indeed, it could just as well be a Jewish or Muslim initiative as a Christian one. To equate this with the ministry of Christ is delusional and deceptive. What Rick Warren is proposing is not just a new way of spreading the gospel but a new gospel-and we all know what Galatians 1:8-9 has to say about anyone who does that.