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The “Theology of Glory” versus the “Theology of the Cross”?

The Christian Worldview / David Wheaton
The Truth Network Radio
September 30, 2023 1:00 am

The “Theology of Glory” versus the “Theology of the Cross”?

The Christian Worldview / David Wheaton

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September 30, 2023 1:00 am

If millions of people are reading a Christian book or watching a Christian television series, God must be at work, right?

If tens of thousands of people are attending a mega-church with 15 multisite locations, God must be being honored, correct?

If bigger is evidence of God’s favor, Jesus must not have been very favored by God. By the end of His ministry, He had few followers, was falsely convicted, and died a bloody death on the cross. By today’s Evangelical definition of success, Jesus was a failure.

Jesus’ leading disciple, Peter, actually rebuked Jesus for saying He was going to suffer and die: “Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” (Matthew 16:22).

Peter had a flawed human perspective of success for Christ, not one that would include death on a cross. Christ addressed Peter’s perspective when He responded, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” (Matthew 16:23)

The prevailing Evangelical definition of success can be summarized by the “theology of glory”—bigger audiences, more professions of faith, more acceptable, more smiley.

Jesus defined God’s interest, the “theology of the cross”: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24)

Now that doesn’t sound very desirable. Youth group leaders wouldn’t think of attracting young people by saying that. After all, pizza and games bring ‘em in. And “bringing them in” is the ultimate metric—bigger numbers means success. This “theology of glory” dominates Evangelical Christianity in the West.

This weekend on The Christian Worldview, we’ll hear excerpts from a recent message by Travis Allen, pastor of Grace Church in Greeley, Colorado, where he contrasts the “theology of glory” and the “theology of the cross” and how each believer must examine his/her own heart to orient ourselves toward God’s purposes rather than our own.


The theology of glory versus the theology of the cross. That is the topic we'll discuss today, right here on the Christian Worldview Radio Program, where the mission is to sharpen the biblical worldview of Christians and to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. I'm David Wheaton, the host. The Christian Worldview is a listener-supported radio ministry.

You can connect with us by visiting our website,, calling us toll-free, 1-888-646-2233, or by writing to Box 401, Excelsior, Minnesota, 55331. Before we get to the preview for today's topic, I just want to thank our golfers and all of you who participated in the Christian Worldview Golf Event a week ago Monday. And we had a wonderful day.

It was a beautiful weather day, which always makes it much nicer. And we look back on it and try to measure success for this kind of event. And what we think about when we measure success at this particular event is, did we prepare well and do our best? All the staff and volunteers who helped that day, who we couldn't do the event without, by the way, did we do our best for God's glory? And number two, did we pursue our mission at the event to sharpen the biblical worldview of Christians and to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ? All right, now to the preview for today's program, the theology of glory versus the theology of the cross.

Today, we're going to talk about the Christian television series, like The Chosen. God must be at work, right? Or if tens of thousands of people are attending a mega church with 15 multi-site locations, God must be being honored, correct? Well, if bigger is evidence of God's favor, Jesus must not have been very favored by God. By the end of Jesus' ministry, he had few followers. He was falsely convicted and died a bloody death on the cross. By today's evangelical definition of success, Jesus was a failure. Jesus' leading disciple, Peter, actually rebuked Christ for saying he was going to suffer and die, Matthew chapter 16. Peter took him aside, imagine that, taking the Lord aside, and began to rebuke him, saying, God forbid it, Lord, this shall never happen to you. Peter had human perspective of success for Christ, not a perspective that included death on a cross, and then Christ addressed Peter's perspective of success. Get behind me, Satan, you are a stumbling block to me, for you are not setting your mind on God's interest but man's. The prevailing evangelical definition of success can be summarized by the theology of glory—bigger audiences, more professions of faith, more acceptable to the culture, more smiley. Now, the contrast to this is how Jesus defined God's interest, which we'll call the theology of the cross, when he said in Matthew 16, if anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Now, that doesn't sound very desirable. Youth group leaders wouldn't think of attracting young people by saying that. After all, it's the pizza and games that bring them in, right?

And bringing them in is the ultimate metric—the numbers. This theology of glory, man's glory, dominates evangelical Christianity in the West. Today on the Christian worldview, we're going to hear excerpts from a recent message by Travis Allen, the pastor of Grace Church in Greeley, Colorado, where he contrasts the theology of glory with the theology of the cross and how each believer must examine his or her own heart to orient ourselves toward God's purposes rather than our own. Most of you will have heard of Rick Warren. He is the most well-known and most influential evangelical in the world over the last twenty-five years. He has impacted church leaders and Christians more than anyone—more so than David Jeremiah, Charles Swindoll, Charles Stanley, John MacArthur, R.C.

Sproul. Rick Warren is more well-known and more influential in the last twenty-five years, I think, than all of them. So what's his view of ministry success? Because in the world's eyes, in the evangelical world's eyes, he certainly had a lot of quote-unquote success. I remember listening to him at last year's, the 2022 Southern Baptist Convention, when he made a speech on the floor as he tried to advocate for having women as pastors within the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention. And as I listened to him talk about the ministry he's had over the years and how he defines success in terms of numbers, so just listen to this short address, because it perfectly encapsulates what the theology of glory sounds like. First, everybody, welcome to Orange County, Southern Baptist of 149 Southern Baptist churches here, 90 of them started by Saddleback Church. Sorry to jump in so early on this soundbite, but it just struck me right off the bat that he starts out with saying how many churches in the area his own church, Saddleback, had started. And this is the theme of this whole message—numbers.

Whether it's new churches, pastors trained, or whatever else he's going to say, notice the specific numbers as how he defines success. You know, it's customary for a guy who's about to be hung to let him say his dying words. I have no intention of defending myself.

I have taught my kids and grandkids for years. I am most like Christ when I refuse to defend myself. The Bible says Jesus spoke not a word unto them when Pilate accused him of all kinds of things. So I have no intention. I have most of you on my mailing list anyway, and I can write you and tell you what I believe about the gift of pastoring as opposite from the office of pastoring.

But I'm not here to talk about that. To say that he's not there to defend himself, that is exactly what he's doing. And he's going to use the quote unquote success with specific numbers in his ministry to provide credibility for what he's trying to do. And then to drop the little line about I have everyone's email address just reminds them of his position and his reach and his influence. Lunchtime I wrote you a love letter, and I'd like for my possibly likely last convention to read it to you. Kay and I could have not built Saddleback Church to its size and influence in any other denomination.

Sorry to keep jumping in here, but don't miss what he's saying. He literally just said Kay and I could not have built Saddleback Church to its size and influence. Who builds the church?

Rick and Kay Warren? Or does Christ build his church? I love Southern Baptist. I am a fourth generation Southern Baptist pastor. My great grandfather was led to Christ by Charles Spurgeon and sent to America as a church planter.

Saddleback was sponsored by the North American Mission Board. I served on the staff of the California State Convention and the Texas State Convention as a teenager. Billy Graham picked me up when I was 18 and for the next 52 years mentored me because I started at 16 years old, hired by the California Convention to preach youth revivals, and I had preached over 120 harvest crusades before I was 20.

Billy took this long-haired, skinny Californian and mentored me for the next 52 years. Is this becoming of a pastor or anyone to be talking about his lineage of Charles Spurgeon, that he was hand-picked and mentored by Billy Graham and the specific number of harvest crusades he preached before the time he was 19 or 20? This is textbook theology of glory, man's glory, not the theology of the cross, and it's being communicated by the most influential evangelical of the last 25 years, Rick Warren.

Here's my love letter to you, because I really am grateful if this is my last convention. Because of Southern Baptist polity, I was allowed to serve one church for life. That's not possible in those denominations, and grew it to become the largest church in this convention.

Again, just have to pause. Who built Saddleback Church? According to Rick Warren, he grew the church to be the largest in the Southern Baptist convention. Because Southern Baptist gave me a passion for evangelism and mission, we baptized 56,631 new believers, and as a Southern Baptist church, sent 26,869 members overseas to 197 nations. Because Southern Baptist taught me the value of a membership covenant, 78,157 members of our church signed our membership covenant after taking a four-hour membership class. Because Southern Baptist taught me to emphasize the priority of Bible study, we now have 9,173 home Bible studies in homes in 162 Southern California cities. Because Southern Baptist taught me the value of church planting, that I already mentioned, we planted 90 in Orange County alone, and literally thousands around the world. Because Southern Baptist taught me to honor and love the local church, I've had the privilege for 43 years of training 1.1 million pastors. Sorry friends, that's more than all the seminaries put together. But anyone doesn't see through this kind of obvious arrogance and pride.

This isn't even a humble brag. This is Rick Warren taking credit to the precise person and the precise numbers of all that he thinks he has done, and trying to pass it off as, I'm thankful to the Southern Baptist convention. Just contrast this to what John the Baptist said, that he, Christ, must increase and I must decrease.

I owe you all so much. So I sincerely say, thank you Southern Baptist for shaping my life. You're never going to find another Baptist who agrees with you completely on everything. There are Baptist brothers here today who don't believe Jesus died for the whole world.

But we somehow get along with them. You know who that not-so-subtle dig was directed at. It was directed at those who understand the Bible to teach, and I believe accurately understand the Bible to teach, that Christ's death on the cross only covered the sins of those who would ultimately believe in Him as Savior and Lord. It didn't cover those who would reject Him. Otherwise, they would be saved because their sins were paid for. Now, could have Christ's death on the cross covered every sin ever committed by every single person?

Of course. Christ didn't pay the penalty for the sins of those who would reject Him. Those sinners will have to pay the penalty themselves in hell. But Rick Warren can't resist the dig on the quote Calvinists. Since this is the year 2022, that means we are 2022 years from the birth of Christ. Now we know Christ started his ministry at 30 years of age. Luke tells us that, had a three and a half year ministry. Christ died in AD 33. He was resurrected in AD 33. He gave the great commission in AD 33.

He sent the Holy Spirit and started the church in AD 33. That means 2033, just 11 years from today, is the 2000th anniversary of the great commission. I hope one of you, because I won't be here next year, will make a resolution that Baptists take the next 10 years to finish the task of the great commission in our generation before the 2000th anniversary of the church.

Are we going to keep bickering over secondary issues or are we going to keep the main thing the main thing? We need to finish the task and that will make God smile. Thank you everybody.

I love you. You have just heard a perfect encapsulation of the theology of glory, where man gets the glory. Rick Warren and others are going to finish the task of the great commission and they're going to symmetrically do it exactly 2000 years after Christ died. Don't focus on secondary issues, like very clear ones the Bible talks about as male-only leaders in the church, pastors in the church. Don't be small-minded like those people. Focus on the big issue of evangelism.

And one more thing. Did you hear the amount of applause that was taking place by these pastors and elders and leaders within the Southern Baptist Convention? Pastor Tom Maskell, whose church is within the Southern Baptist Convention, came on the program at this time and said, Rick Warren is giving the Southern Baptist Convention messengers exactly what they want to hear. In other words, they have been so influenced by the theology of glory that bigger equals better.

And they see that Rick Warren's done that better than anyone and therefore they don't either notice or don't care that the most prominent pastor of the most prominent church in the convention would boast his way through this message. They have imbibed the theology of glory. Coming up next, we'll hear from Pastor Travis Allen as he explains this dichotomy, what rules evangelicalism, the theology of glory versus the theology of the cross. You are listening to the Christian Real View Radio program.

I'm David Wheaton. God's truth is enduringly true throughout all the generations. It transcends culture. The church is always going to be an embattled people. If it's swimming with the tide, it's not being the Church of Jesus Christ.

Look to the past, learn from the past, because the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. That was from the just released documentary, The Essential Church, which chronicles how three churches followed God's command to gather during the pandemic rather than comply with arbitrary government mandates. Normal retail is $12.99 plus shipping for this two hour film. For a limited time, you can order the DVD for a donation of any amount to the Christian Real View. Order at or call toll free 1-888-646-2233 or write to Box 401, Excelsior, Minnesota 55331. Scripture commands that children are to be brought up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Offering biblically sound resources for children is one of our top ministry priorities. At our store at, you will find carefully selected children's Bibles and books, along with video and audio resources. Check out the Bible infographics for kids books, Little Pilgrim's Progress, and the popular Adam Raccoon set. Theo is a 15 episode video series addressing key doctrines of the faith that is a must see for children and adults. Satan and the world are bent on capturing the heart and mind of your child.

Instead, get sound resources that will train them up in the way they should go. Browse in order at or give us a call for recommendations at 1-888-646-2233. That's 1-888-646-2233 or Welcome back to the Christian Real View, I'm David Wheaton. Be sure to visit our website where you can subscribe to our free weekly email and annual print letter, order resources for adults and children, and support the ministry.

Our topic today is the theology of glory versus the theology of the cross. And that is based on a message that Travis Allen recently gave at the Pillar of Truth Conference at Grace Church in Greeley, Colorado where he is the pastor. Two pastors were preaching at the conference, Travis Allen and also Don Green, who is the pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati. And Don is going to be an upcoming guest on the program. He gave an excellent message at the conference on Psalm chapter 42 on that well-known passage, Why are you in despair, O my soul?

And why have you become disturbed within me about what to do as a Christian when you are depressed? So he will talk about that topic coming up. But you'll remember Travis as a regular guest on the Christian Real View.

He has spoken at one of our conferences. He has a very high view of the local church, the polity or organization leadership of it that is to be led by qualified elders according to scripture, expository preaching. They have a very reverent methodology of worship and fellowship, church discipline. They practice that or church restoration, communion, baptism, that church membership. They have to go through an extensive class in order to become members of the church. They only want believers to be members of the church.

Unbelievers are welcome to visit, of course, but they want the church body to be of one mind. And so why was I there? Well, Travis invited me to host the final session of the conference, which was a Q&A with Travis and Don Green, and then also be interviewed before their Sunday morning service. But just for today, we're going to highlight the first message of the conference when Travis preached on the theology of glory versus the theology of the cross. So again, what does that mean? It apparently originated from Martin Luther back in the time of the Reformation, with the theology of glory being human reasoning applied to the Christian faith.

In other words, bigger equals better, or the ends justify the means of gaining acclaim. Versus the theology of the cross is what Christ said in Matthew chapter 16, to deny yourself, to take up your cross, and follow me. And I read a little bit of that portion of Matthew 16 at the beginning of the program, but I'm going to read the full passage now. When Matthew 16, starting in verse 13, now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, who do people say that the Son of Man is? And they said, some say John the Baptist, and others Elijah, but still others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.

He said to them, But who do you say that I am? Verse 16, Simon Peter answered, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. So he gives this powerful, accurate answer to who this Christ is. Verse 17, And Jesus said to him, Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

In other words, we don't figure this out on our own. God needs to open our eyes spiritually to be able to identify Christ as the Son of the living God. And he goes on in verse 18 to say, I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.

But then kind of like a whiplash takes place. Skipping down just a couple verses to verse 21, just moments after Peter confesses Christ for who He is, it says, From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. And what was Peter's response to this? He jumps right in in verse 22 and he says, Peter took him to Christ aside and began to rebuke him, saying, God forbid it, Lord, this shall never happen to you. And what was Christ's response? But Christ turned and said to Peter, Get behind me, Satan, you are a stumbling block to me, for you are not setting your mind on God's interests but man's. There it is, the theology of glory that Peter had in his own mind that oh no, the Christ can never be killed, this shall not happen to you, versus the theology of the cross, which Christ knew He must come to fulfill. Peter's thinking the Messiah doesn't suffer and die.

You need to get bigger. You need to be more prominent. You have ministry to do. That's the theology of glory. But the theology of the cross is defined right away by Christ in the next verse in verse 24, Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must, number one, deny himself, number two, take up his cross, and number three, follow Me. Now just to be sure, there is nothing wrong with a church or ministry growing larger, or working to reach more people, or doing ministry in more efficient ways, but God must get the glory.

As it says in Acts chapter two, when the church grew, it wasn't Rick Warren grew his church, it was the Lord added to their number. God cares about the means that we strive to do ministry, and whether those means are manipulative and unsound doctrinally. I think every church and every Christian and every ministry has to face this proposition, the theology of glory versus the theology of the cross. Here at the Christian worldview, we have to ask ourselves, are we doing this program to simply gain more listeners, to get more downloads, to be on more stations, to have a bigger mailing list, to bring in more donations, to be more prominent and influential? Or are we trying to honor God, to be faithful to Him and His word, to preach Christ, and then let God determine whether it grows or decreases? I heard one pastor say one time, focus on the depth, let God take care of the breath.

So true. So I'm going to start out by playing a soundbite from that message by Travis, where he talks about how Rick Warren became so popular and influential through his two books, The Purpose-Driven Church, and then The Purpose-Driven Life. One thing I really like about Travis's preaching is that he balances instruction and exhortation with reproof or warning or polemics is the word. Polemics is, according to the dictionary, expressing a strongly critical attack on someone or something. If there is no polemical aspect to our Christian walk in life, I don't think we're being faithful to scripture. If we just see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil, if we just ignore or don't discern false teaching and false teachers, if we think we can just quote, keep it positive, we're missing the mark.

On the other hand, if our pattern is a majority polemical, pointing out all the wrong all the time, everything we focus on is about pointing out error, we have missed the mark as well. We need to strive to be as polemical as scripture is and no more and no less. And I just quickly compiled just a few examples of this in scripture from Jesus and Paul and John and Peter and Jude. Jesus in John 8 39 is talking to some religious Jews who say that Abraham is our father. And Jesus said to them, if you are Abraham's children, do the deeds of Abraham. But as it is, you are seeking to kill me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God, this Abraham did not do.

You are doing the deeds of your father. In other words, your father, the devil, he tells them you are not of God. Do we ever see or say that the unregenerate are children of Satan as Jesus did?

That's very polemical in nature, strongly critical. Or Paul in Galatians chapter one, I'm amazed that you are so quickly deserting him who called you by the grace of Christ for a different gospel, which is really not another, only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed. Do we ever assert there is only one gospel and that all others and those who preach a false gospel are to be accursed?

That's polemical. Or John, who writes, I wrote something to the church, but diatrophes, names names, who loves to be first among them does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds, which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren.

Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. Do we ever name names of those who are doing wrong things within the Christian faith? Or Peter warns that false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.

He says their judgment from long ago is not idle and their destruction is not asleep. Do we ever use this kind of polemic in our own Christian walk, pointing out strongly false teaching and false teachers? Or the final example is Jude, who says, I'm writing to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints, for certain persons have crept in unnoticed. Those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only master and Lord Jesus Christ.

Do we ever speak like this about those who have crept in unnoticed, who are marked out for this condemnation? It's absolutely true that the Bible says that whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good report, if there is any excellence in anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. But the Bible also says and exemplifies that we must speak about sin and righteousness and judgment and warn about false teaching and teachers.

This is a loving thing to do. Sinners can't be saved without knowing about their sin and God's judgment, and believers need to be warned about getting off track with false teaching and false teachers. So as you read your Bible, just notice what is being said. I don't know what the ratio is of positive to polemic, but don't just gloss over the critical harder sayings of Christ and the apostles. Emulate the way they preach what is good and comforting, and yet warn what is evil and what is God dishonoring. So with that in mind, listen to how Pastor Travis Allen gives a sort of polemic on how Rick Warren has been the model of this theology of glory that has so influenced the evangelical philosophy of ministry. It was back in 2002 that Rick Warren and Zondervan publishers published The Purpose Driven Life, the phenomenon that produced The Purpose Driven Life and before it The Purpose Driven Church.

What brought that to a reality and made it such an astounding success is with us to this very day, stronger than ever. The Purpose Driven Life published in 2002 was a follow-up to Rick Warren's earlier hit, 1995, The Purpose Driven Church. But whereas The Purpose Driven Church targeted pastors with church growth philosophy, Purpose Driven Life went after the churches, went after the people in the pews. So Rick Warren, Bill Hybels and other church growth pastors wanted big successful churches. So they latched on to this new philosophy, the church growth philosophy. They learned from McGavran and C. Peter Wagner over at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California. Rick Warren learned to market church growth from his mentor, Crystal Cathedral pastor and televangelist, Robert Schuller.

Robert Schuller was not a Christian, though he claimed to be. He was actually a peddler of positive thinking and self-esteem psychology, the shtick of every motivational guru from Norman Vincent Peale to Tony Robbins. And this stuff worked. It worked in a pragmatic sense.

It did what it was peddled to do. Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, others, they discovered that by targeting the wealthy in Orange County, California or in South Barrington, Illinois, it turns out that wealthy Americans, they're a lot like Brahmins in India. They also prefer to become Christians without crossing racial, linguistic and class barriers. And they too, they like churches full of people who are mirror images of themselves. The success of the purpose-driven church in 1995, that was due to Rick Warren's ability to make this church growth strategy, to market it and its tactics to pastors, pastors who were desperate to make their churches grow. Pastors who had tried year after year after year after weary year to try to teach the Bible yet to no avail to many people getting up and leaving and thought something must be wrong.

It must be my methodology. So they were the kindling that caught fire with church growth philosophy. And yet for a number of reasons, these same pastors were unable to discern the unbiblical premise of this church growth philosophy. Some of the fallout of the success of his book with a more than 50 million copies sold that his shrewd marketing and really the worldliness that had driven it became exposed to the public. For his part, Rick Warren explained the success of the purpose-driven life as the evidence of the work of God.

Here's what he said. My concern is that no one, neither Zondervan Publishing nor myself, gain credit for the astounding success of the purpose-driven life book. The worldwide spread of the purpose-driven message was the result of God's supernatural and sovereign plan, which no one anticipated, end quote. It was in 2005 that Tim Challies reported on what happened when Rick Warren tried to suppress the connection between purpose-driven life and then what would come to light in a book by Greg Stielstra, a book called Pyro Marketing, the four step strategy to ignite customer evangelists and keep them for life. With Rick Warren, everyone thought the wizard had powers, that the Rick Warren success was indeed supernatural. Turns out it was just Greg Stielstra behind the curtain, pulling all the levers and cranking the marketing machine up. That's what explained it. There is no wizard.

There is no wizardry. It's just clever marketing. And Stielstra, for his part, he's just doing his job. At least he's honest about it. Rick Warren was playing people. He was playing this off as all God's work when he knew very well this is the work of men. Can you see how this kind of preaching is helpful for Christians? Oh yes, Travis will get to the passage and exposit Matthew chapter 16 on the theology of the cross. But he uses an example of Rick Warren in the Pyro Marketing, which we're going to get into next after this break about the theology of glory that has so overtaken the philosophy of ministry in the evangelical church. Stay tuned. Much more coming up. You're listening to the Christian Real View Radio program.

I'm David Wheaton. There is a war ongoing. There are two sides in this war. There are those who are with Christ and there are those who are against Christ. And sometimes it's not always easy to see the difference. But as we go through this information about the great reset, I think you'll find out very quickly what side these great resetters are on. Their own words condemn them. Know that this has implications for everything.

For education, for healthcare, for your job, for business, for government, for law, for property rights, the social contract, as Klaus Schwab will explain. That was journalist Alex Newman speaking at our recent Christian Real View Speaker Series event on being informed and prepared for the great reset. Alex's presentation is full of sound bites from those who are seeking to transform the world into a godless dystopia.

You can download the audio of the event or order a USB thumb drive by going to our website, or calling toll-free 1-888-646-2233. God's truth is enduringly true throughout all the generations. It transcends culture. The church is always going to be an embattled people. If it's swimming with the tide, it's not being the Church of Jesus Christ.

Look to the past, learn from the past, because the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. That was from the just released documentary, The Essential Church, which chronicles how three churches followed God's command to gather during the pandemic rather than comply with arbitrary government mandates. Normal retail is $12.99 plus shipping for this two-hour film. For a limited time, you can order the DVD for a donation of any amount to the Christian Real View. Order at or call toll-free 1-888-646-2233 or write to Box 401, Excelsior, Minnesota 55331. Welcome back to the Christian Real View.

I'm David Wheaton. Be sure to visit our website at where you can subscribe to our free weekly email and annual print letter, order resources for adults and children, and support the ministry. Our topic today is the theology of glory versus the theology of the cross. At the end of the last segment, Pastor Travis Allen, in a message he recently gave at a conference, was giving an example of how Rick Warren, the most popular evangelical of the last 25 years, how his two books, The Purpose Driven Church and The Purpose Driven Life, how did they become so popular? Well, it was through something called pyromarketing. And so now he's going to take you behind the scenes as to how that actually took place. A little glimpse here into the Christian publishing and marketing industry, how when a book comes out from a well-known author, how it gets in one church and then another, and then it's just everywhere.

Steelstra's four-step approach to pyromarketing, which Rick Warren used, Tim Chally's outlines the whole thing, but I'm just going to summarize it just so you know how it works. Rick Warren and Donovan convinced pastors of mid-sized churches to begin what was called the 40 Days of Purpose campaign. You remember that? It was going on everywhere.

You couldn't get away from it. These campaigns were held in churches and they promised these pastors and these churches that this campaign is going to build bigger, more successful, thriving churches. And so 1,200 pastors signed on the dotted line.

1,200 pastors, their congregations totaling about 400,000 people. Next, Zondervan produced distributed commercial spots on Christian radio building brand recognition and not for the book per se, but for the 40 Days of Purpose campaign, all of them kicking off in a local church near you. So the radio got on board. The marketing got on board. Zondervan sent discounted copies of the Purpose Driven Life to all those participating churches and 400,000 plus people bought them at discounted rates. That started the fire going. Zondervan fanned the flame by promoting that book as evangelistic, gathering testimonies of individual people who'd said their lives were changed, testimonies of pastors who said their churches just exploded in size.

All this stuff works. Chales writes this, he says, a company called Outreach Marketing produced posters and door hangers and other items to assist churches as they spread the word. Zondervan provided retailers with marketing tools like postcards and emails along with a list of participating churches so they could sell them in any additional copies that they needed and the pastors and the lay people who'd already completed the program largely unknowingly became consumer evangelists. Then came the next stage, the final stage, the counting, counting up the numbers, totaling the numbers, reporting the sales figures, gathering data on participating individuals, participating churches, gathering and crunching all that data, getting email addresses, other personal data, everything that they could.

And according to Greg Stielstra, he says a great deal of scientific evidence for pyromarketing comes from psychology, physiology, and sociology, he says, and all that data that gathered prepares the publisher for the next marketing campaign. Now why have I told you that story? That's a good question. Is he just trying to tear down Rick Warren in the Christian publishing industry?

No. Travis has a specific purpose for that polemic. It is to sharpen the discernment of Christians so they're aware of what's going on, what's taking place at the church's expense.

I can assure you it is not to be salacious. It's not to expose Rick Warren, other big name authors, Zondervan, Christian publishers, Christian retailers, the Christian media industrial complex or whatever you want to call it. I'm not trying to just expose how they have been duping and unsuspecting public.

My interest instead in telling you what happened 20 years ago is to draw attention to that unsuspecting public. That's where I want to shift your focus is to those people. There were, after all, 1200 pastors and their churches who were all complicit in this scheme. They represent 400,000 professing Christians. This is the reason he brings it up, for the very same reason that Jesus and Paul and Peter and Jude and James and the others in the New Testament have an element of polemics in Scripture. They are concerned with people's souls, and Christians need to be warned and develop discernment about that which is false and teachers who are leading people away from that which is honoring to God.

It's as simple as that. That's why Scripture has this ratio, this balance of both positive instruction and what is polemical, critical of error. What Luther identified there at Heidelberg identifies a watershed between true Christianity, true religion, the way of God, God-centered thinking on the one hand, and man-centered thinking and man-centered religion on the other hand. Peter had his mind on the things of men, and he was thus susceptible to thinking that was frankly from the pit of hell itself. It was demonic. This is the theology of glory. By human wisdom, he judged the invisible things of God as being wrong, as being in grave error, as meriting rebuke and rejection.

Why? Because suffering and dying on a cross is not glorious. It is the ultimate assault against any person's dignity. Truman writes this, the theologians of glory, therefore, are those who build their theology in light of what they expect God to be like, and surprise, surprise, they make God to look something like themselves. And I'd argue that much of today's evangelicalism is making the exact same mistake now, right now. In fact, many of us in this room have been weaned and reared and raised on this same thinking, the same theology of glory that persecuted the prophets, that crucified our Lord, that burned reformers at the stake. It is the fundamental flaw of many leaders in the Christian world today, and it is the dominant spirit of our age. In 2002, there were 1200 pastors in their churches who believed God wants them to build a mega church, that God's true work is evident in mega proportions.

Big numbers, big sales, big movements, big things, big influence worldwide. So when someone comes along to sell them what they so desperately want, surprise, surprise, God looks a lot like exactly what they want. I hope this explains the dynamic that takes place within the evangelical church and movement. Not just when Rick Warren came along, but this is an age-old battle for Christians between the theology of human glory versus the theology of the cross. And that's what we'll conclude with today, one more soundbite from Travis about the theology of the cross.

I wrote down four points that he gave in his message. He said, number one, discipleship demands divine regeneration. It's like what Jesus said to Nicodemus, a religious person, but who was not regenerate. He said, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of heaven. And if you've never been born again, if you've never obeyed Christ's command to repent of your sin and believe in the gospel, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the perfect Lamb of God, that was sent by God to take away the sins of the world, that His perfect life and His substitutionary sacrifice on the cross satisfy God's wrath and justice over your sins so that believing in His work and not your own works, God forgives you and credits you with Christ's righteousness. That's how you can be born again. If you have more questions about that, go to our website,, and click on the page, What Must I Do to Be Saved? or just give us a call, and one of us will walk you through God's offer of salvation. Number two, the theology of the cross, is that discipleship demands a religious institution. He said the ekklesia, which is the in-person gathering of believers, is a localized assembly of Christians. This is not the parachurch, it's not the Christian culture or concerts or podcasts.

It's being a part of a local body of a sound preaching church. Number three, discipleship demands penal substitution. That is the heart of the gospel, that instead of us paying the penalty for our sins, Jesus Christ was a substitute who paid God's required penalty for our sin. He said the theology of the cross is power hidden in weakness.

Who would have thought of the foolishness of the cross, where God becomes man and submits to death by men to pay for the sins of men? And then finally, he says, point four, discipleship demands full submission. This is a permanent lifestyle for the believer of self-denial, cross bearing, and lifelong obedience.

And here's what he had to say about that. A lifelong practice of self-denial is the most basic, most fundamental pre-commitment of the Christian life. It is the defining mark of discipleship. Self-denial means we crucify all self-centeredness, mortify the flesh.

We set aside every supposed claim to self-promotion, every self-received right. It's the starvation of the flesh. It is the end of you in order that God might have his way with you.

You want that? Because if you do want that, it could be evidence of regeneration. It could be evidence you're truly born again, that you're truly a part of his church, that truly the penal substitutionary of Christ has covered all your sins.

This is good news for you. If you don't want that, if there's something in your spirit that says, I think that's too far. You've gone from preaching directly into meddling. If that's rising up within your heart, you need to check yourself and realize that that is a demonic impulse. That's coming from the enemy himself.

The one who wants to mangle your soul. Don't trust him. Don't listen to him.

Don't believe that. Second, Christian discipleship is the life of cross bearing. Cross bearing, this is about the extent of discipleship. Okay, so I'm going to deny myself, but to what extent?

I mean, how far does this really go to the point of death? Even if it means death by crucifixion on a cross. Cross bearing refers to picking something up here, the very implement, the results in your death.

In this case, the patibulum, the cross beam of the cross. It's not just to pick it up, but it's to lift it on your shoulders and then to carry it from one place to another, to take it from where you are now today. And Luke 9 23 adds this very important word daily. So daily, keep carrying this patibulum to your place of execution. Hence the saying refers not so much to literal martyrdom as to the attitude of self-denial, which regards its life in this world as already over, already finished. I am dead, buried in Christ.

I'm done. It's not, it's the end of me. It's the end of self. It's the attitude of dying to self and sin, which Paul demands." I'm sure you're seeing the contrast between the theology of the cross that Travis is describing here and the theology of glory, which was described earlier in the program. Of course, this way of following Christ is against everything that's going on around us and what our flesh wants inside of us, but it actually results in our greatest joy. Was there ever a happier, more joyful, more contented, more fulfilled being than Jesus Christ?

No. And if not, then perhaps we ought to take a page out of his playbook. Live as he lived, walk as he walked, pursue daily obedience to his commands, which are commands based on the Father's will. Denying the self, taking the cross daily, following Jesus Christ as Lord, those who follow a theology of glory, that does not sound like their best life now at all. But to those who are truly born again, to those who love, serve, and submit to sound faithful local churches, to those whose hearts are full of joy and gratitude because they cannot get over the fact that Christ died for them, man, you can spot them every time. They live a life of self-denial, cross-bearing, following and obeying Christ because that is living their best life now and forever. They've embraced the theology of the cross.

Let's remember what Jesus said, if anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Thank you for joining us today on the Christian worldview. Until next time, think biblically, live accordingly, and follow Christ. The mission of the Christian worldview is to sharpen the biblical worldview of Christians and to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.

We hope today's broadcast encouraged you toward that end. To hear a replay of today's program, order a transcript, or find out what must I do to be saved, go to or call toll-free 1-888-646-2233. The Christian worldview is a listener-supported, non-profit radio ministry furnished by the Overcomer Foundation. To make a donation, become a Christian worldview partner, order resources, subscribe to our free newsletter, or contact us, visit, call 1-888-646-2233, or write to Box 401, Excelsior, Minnesota 55331. That's Box 401, Excelsior, Minnesota 55331. Thanks for listening to the Christian worldview.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-30 04:20:09 / 2023-09-30 04:38:37 / 18

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