(This article was originally printed in June, 2004)
On my daily radio program, I have been discussing the latest Church growth methods, which include the “Purpose Driven Church and Life” and Willow Creek’s “Seeker Sensitive” model. Entire denominations are incorporating these models into their Churches. In order to better understand what is developing in the Church world today, you must become familiar with the transformation process introduced by these Church models. The term associated with this “change process” is “paradigm shift.” “Paradigm” simply means model or example. It is the way we think:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are My ways higher than your ways,
and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Is. 55:8-9).
THREE WAYS OF THINKING
1. There are three general ways of thinking and each correlates with the way we evaluate and solve problems. The taxonomy (scientific classification) of these different ways of thinking are identified in a process called the dialectic. They are:
a. Thesis – thinking on facts. This is traditional thinking.
b. Antithesis – to follow feelings which is simply responding to your feelings without thinking - “transitional thinking.”
c. Synthesis – Thinking through your feelings or simply put – justifying compromise for the sake of changing feelings through rationalization (transformation thinking).
2. The humanistic paradigm is known as dialectic and is built upon the view that the feelings of human relationship must determine what is right and wrong. Therefore, right and wrong are relative to the attitudes which promote or detract from human relationships. A rational person is one who will compromise for the perceived common good of everyone.
3. The Biblical didactic paradigm is built upon the view that states the Word of God is true with moral absolutes - black is black and white is white and there are pre-set rights and wrongs. Rejection of this truth is disobedience and, therefore, sin.
It is important for the reader to understand that a person cannot go straight from a Mstrong>didactic (Bible paradigm) to a dialectic (Purpose Driven, Seeker Sensitive, or Humanistic) paradigm prior to accepting a transformation from old ways to new ways. There has to be a transition process or middle zone of transition. An excellent example of this transition process is explained in Genesis 3:1-6:
1 “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”
The thesis is God’s commandment to Adam in an absolute didactic format, “Thou shalt not.” It is God breathed and all God’s Prophets spoke with such authority, as did the early church martyrs, according to God’s Word. Didactic thinking focuses on the Truth, not one’s feelings or ability to justify what “seems to be a solution.” God’s Word is didactic. It is not for private interpretation with “I think” or “I feel.” The didactic (Biblical paradigm) is a way of thinking requiring faith, obedience, accountability, and responsibility to God.
The language of the thesis (absolute truth)is known in socio-psychology (humanistic, seeker-sensitive thinking) as limiting, if not outright blocking, to human relationships (community). Statements with a “cannot,” “Must not,” “thou shalt not,” “it is a fact,” “it is the truth” or as Jesus stated in the wilderness, “It is written,” “sin,” “conviction,” ”repentance,” “The cross” or any songs sung about the blood are considered negative, “divisive,” “hateful,” and “intolerant.” They obstruct social harmony (community). According to the dialectic, those who think this way, must be changed or converted to accept the new consensus and compromise. If they cannot be, they must be removed from the Church.
The antithesis, or opposing position, is found in the Bible with Satan’s statement to Eve that she would not die if she disobeyed God’s commandment, “Thou shalt not eat.” Satan imposed a point of view contrary to God’s commandment by saying, “Thou shalt not surely die.”
The third stage of the dialectic process is manifested by Eve to justify her actions. She rationalizes through her senses by how she feels versus God’s command. Her object of faith is moved from God’s Word and the consequences of death for disobedience to synthesis (justifying compromise). The woman saw that the tree was good for food, and it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise. Satan was successful to move Eve into a place where she felt empowered to make a moral decision as to right and wrong (situational ethics), usurping man’s greater authority – God. Her problem was how to circumvent the perceived limitations (God’s “thou shalt not”), which blocked her full potential of “being like God,” and becoming her own person. In essence, by her identification with all that is in the Universe, which had included the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, she became the first humanist, the first new-ager, the first liberated, so-called.
In order to bring Eve’s thinking and trust from God’s Word, Satan interacted with Eve by creating doubt in her mind towards God’s command. He proposed another reason, or deduction, for Eve to evaluate. The principle we’re discussing in this article is also known as “conflict thinking.” The socio-psychological title for a person who helps others to think is a facilitator or, formerly called, “change agent.”
The role of the facilitator, or change agent, is to seduce, deceive, and manipulate. Satan was the first facilitator, or manipulator, or change agent. He lied and deceived Eve with “you shall not surely die.” The tools Satan used to change Eve’s thought process are the same that Rogerian Psychology requires for counseling today. These are the same tools used today in the Church growth movements. What makes this church growth movement so lethal is its utilization of Scripture to cover its agenda. Picking, choosing or redefining Scripture to justify the facilitator’s desired outcome is very dangerous. When we reject God and His paradigm, the dialectic is the only one we have left. It is our human nature actualized. You cannot serve God if you are controlled by how people feel about you or what people think about you. This is why we are to “trust in the Lord with all our heart, and lean not to our own understanding” (Prov. 3:5). The Bible warns us the fear of man is a snare (Prov. 19:25). God does not set standards by what we feel or how we think.
The Church growth movement is taking the Church from the didactic paradigm to the dialectic paradigm, which is building the Church on a human relationship paradigm. Why is the Church taking polls and surveys and asking , “How do you feel?” and “What do you think?” and looking to man, “unsaved” man at that, for direction. In doing so, it is utilizing the very tools Satan utilized on Eve. I John 2:15-17:
15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.