23 July 2013

Guest Post: Whispers and Campaigns Do Not Preach the Word

Summer can be a busy time for all of us (even bloggers), so I have enlisted some guest bloggers whose work will be posted here occasionally throughout the summer months.

Today's guest post is written by Hariton "Harry" Deligiannides. Harry serves as an elder at Bethlehem Bible Church in West Boylston, MA. As an elder at BBC, Harry has filled in and preached Sunday services when pastor Mike Abendroth is unavailable and teaches Sunday school and evening services as needed. He also is in charge of membership for the church, teaches the College & Career study, disciples other men and teaches at the Institute for Biblical Studies. 

We first heard from Harry back in June with the post, "Bible Study in a Morgue?" and I'm excited to welcome him back!

Whispers and Campaigns Do Not Preach the Word

photo: Cayusa via photopin cc
Two of America's most prominent pastors, Bill Hybels of Willow Creek and Rick Warren of Saddleback, do everything except what the Bible says. It is no wonder that they are called seeker-sensitive. Of course, the "seeker-sensitive" concept is an oxymoron, as the Bible says “no one seeks for God” (Rom. 3:11).

Instead of consulting what the Bible says the church is, these men and many like them have consulted the seeker, the unredeemed person, and given him what he wants in a church. As a minister of the gospel, however, my clarion call is to “give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” (Titus 1:9) A pastor who does not expose false teachers by calling them out by name has abdicated his God-ordained calling and is allowing savage wolves to endanger God’s sheep!

In the following video, Bill Hybels says,
God's low volume whispers have saved me from a life of boredom and self-destruction. Whispers that have arbitrated key decisions. Nudges that have rescued me from dark nights of the soul. Promptings that spurred on growth. God whispering to human beings. Do you really believe it? Do you think that the transcendent God customizes little promptings and then directs them to rank and file human beings for the purpose of assurance or direction or just to convey his love or his warning about something? Do you really think this happens? I've staked my entire life on these things called whispers. I've started a church in a movie theater because of a whisper.

God's low volume whispers? What about God's loud volume message in His Book, called the Bible?

Nudges? What about Holy Writ?

Promptings? What about the Scriptures?

As for assurance, I have the Apostle John's first epistle. As for conveying His love, He already did that on the cross (Rom. 5:8).

*Please excuse me for a moment—I think I'm being interrupted by a whisper.  . . . Wait, false alarm. We continue. . .*

As for warning, I have Jesus Himself (Matt 7), Peter (2 Peter 2) and Jude warning me to stay away from false teachers like Hybels. In fact, Jude changed the original intent of his letter because of the importance of this (Jude 3).

One has to wonder: who wants to be taught by a pastor who started his church because of a whisper? Well, apparently thousands of members of Hybels' church want this, or perhaps many are unaware of Hybels' claim and if they did know, would in fact not be comfortable with a church started by a "whisper."

In his book Ashamed of the Gospel, John MacArthur writes concerning Hybels,
The largest, oldest, best known sanctuary of seeker-sensitivity acknowledged in 2007 that its programs had failed to produce authentic, growing, committed disciples. The church’s senior pastor then explained the results of a survey designed to determine whether the church’s programs were really helping people grow spiritually. 
“That survey just rocked my world,” he said. “It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to digest as a leader.” 
Data showed that non-Christians rated the church’s style of ministry “very high”(around nine on a scale of ten); but with people who described themselves as fully devoted followers of Christ, the pastor said, scores got “scarily low.” 
“That bothers me,” he said. “That really bothers me. Like, we’re not helping them that much.” He went on to report that people in the “devoted” category were saying “they’re not being fed, that they want more meat of the Word of God. They want more serious minded Scripture taught to them. They want to be challenged more.” 
“That’s hard for me to hear,” he acknowledged.” 
(quotes from Bill Hybels, “The Wake-up Call of My Adult Life,” Leadership Summit, August 9-11, 2007)
In promoting his new book, What On Earth Am I Here For?, a newly edited 10th anniversary edition of his bestseller The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren says,

I'm often asked by people 'If you had to say what's the single most important ingredient in the growth of Saddleback church where we've grown from just Kay and I to over 20,000 in over these years? What's the one thing that's made the biggest difference? I don't have any question in answering it. No delay. And it is this. The power of the annual campaign.
"The power of the annual campaign." Not the power of the Gospel or the grace of God. And this from a guy who said on Hannity and Colmes: “Give Him [Jesus] a 60-day trial. I dare you to try trusting Jesus for 60 days. Your money guaranteed back.”

If that’s not marketing, I don’t know what is.

I am sure the apostles and the early church would have benefited from Warren’s annual campaign. Come to think of it, how did the church ever grow without it?

Answer: The conviction of the Holy Spirit and the sovereign call of God:
Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:37–41, emphasis added)
Answer: Simply the Lord:
And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:47, emphasis added)
Answer: The Word of God:
But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand. (Acts 4:4, emphasis added) 
And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith. (Acts 6:7, emphasis added)
In his pastoral epistle to young pastor Timothy, his protege, the apostle Paul gave this clear instruction: “Preach the Word”(2 Tim 4:2). Timothy felt the weight of this command for 2 reasons.

First, this was the apostle’s swan song. He was near death. That is why he wrote, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come”(2 Tim 4:6). These were his last words. And last words are lasting words.

Second, this was a serious call and a solemn charge. Can you sense the sacredness and seriousness in Paul’s words? “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom” (2 Tim 4:1). Most pastors do not realize the sacredness of the commission, nor the solemnity of the oath, nor the seriousness of the ministry. It is because of who Christ Jesus is, namely God, Judge and King, that we are to preach the Word.

The writer of Hebrews emphasizes the power, not of a whisper or of a campaign, but of the Word of God:
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Heb 4:12)
ONLY the Word of God is living and active. Hybel's whispers and Warren's annual campaign are not.

ONLY the Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword. Hybel's whispers and Warren's annual campaign are not.

ONLY the Word of God is piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow. Hybel's whispers and Warren's annual campaign are not.

ONLY the Word of God discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hybel's whispers and Warren's annual campaign do not.

The reason Hybels and Warren do not preach the power of the cross, but rather the power of a whisper and the power of an annual campaign is because “the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing”(1 Cor 1:18). In the Greek, literally it is moronic. The reason Hybels and Warren do not preach the Word, but rather the power of a whisper and the power of an annual campaign is because “people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Tim 4:3–4).

Let us resolve, like the apostle Paul, once and for all, “to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified”(1 Cor 2:2).

Further Reading
The Problem with "Hearing" from God
Rick Warren Says Annual Campaign Is the "Single-Most Important Ingredient" in Saddleback's Growth
Guest Post: Bible Study in a Morgue?


  1. Excellent article. Thanks for posting.

  2. And because of their message[s] tens of thousands swallow and follow these wolves in shepherds clothing to their own peril.

    Wake up church, WAKE UP and 'strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found your works perfect before God' says the LORD.

  3. I actually know people inside of Willow Creek and have been paying attention for the most part to what is going on there. In fact, fairly recently I had an email exchange with one of the teaching pastors of Willow Creek regarding what he said in his teaching about inspired Word of God as stated by Apostle Paul. This pastor not only joke about words given to Paul by God the Holy Spirit but also proceeded to describe these words as "unloving and needing more grace"! Imagine that, Paul who was lead to say what he said by Holy Spirit was described by this man in that instance a s "UNLOVING" and "NEEDING MORE GRACE"! Shockingly and devastatingly none in the audience (that I know of) and not even this pastor himself recognized that he is in fact criticizing and mocking God the Holy Spirit by proxy of criticizing and joking about what Paul said. Of course the email discourse was repeatedly and intentionally derailed by Willow Creek pastor from biblical substance and what he did with it to much more desirable for him subject of my person and my faults... A classic evasion only to be expected and so mechanically repeated by all kinds of manipulation in the bizarre land of emotionally and socially driven leavenjellycalism.


    1. Sad to hear of the inner workings at Willow Creek, not surprising.

      However I do like the coinage "leavenjellyicalim" and may use that elsewhere. I would provide attribution to you but will have to settle for Anonymous.


    2. No problem, and Despeville will do as the term is of my making :)


  4. How come if I did a video and said I am hearing whispers in my head I would get locked up and evaluated but Hybels can say it and millions of people flock to him and buy his books?

  5. Whenever I hear somebody taking advice in regards of hearing voices, this comes to mind:


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