20 December 2012

Familiar Names Rick Warren, James MacDonald & Others to Headline at Mark Driscoll's 2013 Resurgence Conference

*This article originally appears here at Christian Research Network.

Photo: The Resurgence
The Resurgence, a ministry of Mark Driscoll that seeks to "train the head, heart and hands of leaders," has announced the speaker lineup for its 2013 conference. The gathering, which will not take place until November of 2013, boasts many familiar names, including Driscoll himself, James MacDonald, Rick Warren, Greg Laurie, Matt Chandler and Crawford Loritts. These are the faces and speakers that often headline the larger conferences within American seeker-driven evangelicalism, appearing together again and again, year after year. As CRN has noted previously, there appears to be a new, ecumenical, evangelical magisterium forming, and with each conference that is held, it is becoming evident just who are the members of this emerging coalition.

The 2012 Resurgence Conference (R12) boasted a very similar lineup, though neither Matt Chandler nor Crawford Loritts were speakers at that event. Chandler, however, was granted the position earlier this year of president of the Acts 29 Network, a group that was begun by and initially led by Mark Driscoll. Chandler's presence at R13, then, does not surprise.

In September of this year, not long before the R12 conference, James MacDonald and Matt Chandler both were speakers at Perry Noble's Newspring Leadership Conference. This is yet another demonstration of the same names appearing alongside of one another at these various events.

Not to be forgotten, however, are the debacles known as the Elephant Room and the Elephant Room 2 (ER2). The latter especially appeared to strengthen this magisterium. Co-hosted by James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll, ER2 greatly aided in the mainstreaming of prosperity preaching, Word Faith mogul T.D. Jakes. By accepting Jakes with open evangelical arms, Driscoll and MacDonald not only opened the door to Jakes' ministry philosophy that "Jesus is the product," as well as his heretical teachings about finances, but they also potentially helped to escort into the professing evangelical church a broader acceptance of Jakes' modalistic view of the Trinity.

Interestingly, R13 speakers Crawford Loritts and Greg Laurie also have participated in the Elephant Room events. In fact, the only speaker scheduled for Driscoll's R13 who has not yet engaged in an Elephant Room conversation is "America's pastor," Rick Warren. In spite of this, Warren clearly is a welcome member of this new magisterium. The Purpose Driven Life author already has demonstrated his influence over Driscoll and The Resurgence.

Like several of the other R13 speakers, Warren participated in the 2012 Resurgence Conference. With this invitation, The Resurgence saw fit to revive Rick Warren's man-centered mythology as, in July of this year, the Resurgence website posted the entirety of Rick Warren's talk at the 2006 TED conference. In a blog post entitled, "You're Created With a Purpose," The Resurgence quoted Warren as saying,
Some people have the misguided idea that God only gets excited when you’re doing “spiritual things,” like going to church or helping the poor, or, you know, confessing or doing something like that. The bottom line is, God gets pleasure watching you be you. (Source)
Of course, the TED talks are not a Christian event, and thus Warren's audience likely would have included people of all religions and faiths. His advice, then, falls hopelessly short of what ought to have been conveyed by a Christian pastor to a large audience that very likely contained many lost individuals. Nevertheless, Warren's words seemingly were lauded by The Resurgence.

In September of this year, in a post entitled, "What does Rick Warren think about doctrinal depth?" The Resurgence directed readers to a 3-minute excerpt from John Piper's 2011 interview with Rick Warren, reminding Christians that New Calvinist pastor Piper has embraced the pragmatic, seeker-driven Warren as being "theological and doctrinal and sound." Indeed, some may be of the opinion that Piper's embrace of Warren as such has contributed to the acceptance of Warren by the New Calvinist, "Reformed" community.

It seems safe to postulate that no coincidences are involved as we witness these same influential leaders uniting with one another at these various events and promoting one another's ministries, books, etc. Yet, what might such an alliance mean for professing Christendom when these men have demonstrated gross errors in judgment and behavior as has been demonstrated by, as one example, the fallout of the Elephant Room 2? One wonders what this new magisterium hopes to achieve once it is acknowledged by the visible church.

With concerns of worldly pragmatism and the preaching of false gospels, Christians ought to be concerned by the influence that groups such as this appear to be acquiring. While fidelity to the Word of God continues to receive lip service, often it seems that such faithfulness is not displayed in practice by many of these leaders. Influence is eternally worthless if exerted wrongly. A dominating personality and a boisterous voice can just as easily proclaim falsehood as it can proclaim truth. Celebrity means nothing to a holy and righteous God. The slope of compromise is a slippery one that has seen the downward slide of far too many professing Christian personalities. Thus, in spite of influence or celebrity, the true Christian must continue to be a good Berean (Acts 17:11), testing all things taught in the name of Christ against the only verifiable measure of truth, holy Scripture.

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