Sunday, October 10, 2010

A decade of being driven to a purposeful life

Native Californian Rick Warren founded the Saddleback Church in 1980 after graduating from the Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena.  The first service was in an high school auditorium, and the church would rotate through various Orange county venues and tents for about its first ten years.  Hence the nomadic name, although the current facility, built in 1995, is quite nice.  With an average weekly attendance of 20,000, the Saddleback Church is one of our largest mega-churches.  (San Diego's own megachurch, The Rock Church, has a weekly attendance of 12,000.)  With success has come not only affluence, but also influence.

Rick Warren has become a regular figure on the national stage, for example giving the invocation at the 2009 Presidential Inauguration.  His views have drifted away from the right on some issues, for example in 2006 he signed a statement backing taking action on global warming.  But on most issues he is on the side of the evangelical right, based always in revealed truth.  His prominent book, The Purpose Driven Life, includes a chapter titled "The Reason for Everything" which explains the situation quite plainly:
It’s all for God.
Not only were you created by God; you were created for him, too. The ultimate goal of the universe is to show the glory of God. It is the reason for everything that exists, including
you. God made it all for his glory. Without God’s glory, there would be nothing.
Rick Warren is a religious absolutist.  All aspects of life must be governed by religion.  And while not outright declaring himself a prophet, his writings show a certainty about what the Higher Powers are thinking and planning.  And he, and his followers, are part of that plan.

This weekend the Saddleback Church begins the "Decade of Destiny", which apparently involves two months of study and prayer and then ten years of blessings.  And the Church will increase its outreach, founding ten satellite churches around California.  Once again speaking like a prophet he lays out the underpinnings:

In preparation for the campaign, Warren studied every verse in the Bible that speaks of God's blessing.
He first stressed that nobody deserves His blessings.
"It's totally a gift," the pastor and bestselling author of The Purpose Driven Life said. "He [blesses] because He's a good God, not because you're good."
Moreover, God enjoys blessing His children, he added.
"God wants to bless you. He's not holding back. He's waiting on you."
Though God's blessing cannot be earned, there is a premise to every promise, Warren noted.
"They're not automatic," he said of blessings. "There's a condition. ... God promises and actually guarantees that He will bless your life if you do what He says."
And so the Saddleback Church is on the march.  They will do good things, help people, contribute to the common welfare, etc.  But they will also oppose the rights of others to abortion, lifestyle (i.e., gays), right-to-die, etc.  And they will draw more people into their way of thinking, in which they have the absolute, 100%, no doubt allowed, truth about how everyone should live their lives.

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