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Rick Warren, Bad Theology, and the Evangelical Dance with Quid Pro Quo



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The bedrock philosophy of Evangelical quid pro quo is found in the many different varieties of Pelagian and Arminian theologies. The Latin expression quid pro quo literally means “what for what.” If you do x, I will do y. If you let me borrow your ladder today, I will let you borrow my pressure washer tomorrow.

There is nothing ipso facto wrong with the practice of quid pro quo. Quid pro quo can be moral, or it can be immoral. It all depends on the context of how it is practiced. Politicians practice it all the time, both morally and immorally. If you support my legislation, I will support yours. But what happens when quid pro quo makes its way into religious practice and routines? Why would such a thing ever be employed in Christian life?

The overwhelming majority of Evangelicals today fall into two very basic theological camps: Arminianism or Pelagianism. As such, most evangelicals embrace the belief that becoming a Christian is a simple matter of exercising one’s libertarian free will and making a decision to “accept Jesus into your heart.” And right here is where the logic lives that brings the practice of quid pro quo into the Church. There is virtually no difference in the mind of most Christians on how one becomes a Muslim and how one becomes a Christian. Becoming either one of those things is a matter of the will, a matter of choice, a decision.

The Arminian theology of free will essentially means that salvation truly does depend on the individual person. They hear the message, the evidence, the argument, the logic of the Christian gospel, analyze it and then decide if they will believe the gospel, and from there, decide to become a Christian. In this scheme, God has done all the work He is going to do, and the rest is up to the hearer. Now, couple this with the fact that any number of things could be factored into that decision. For example, how the gospel is presented could be a major factor in the decision to become a Christian or not. And this is exactly the problem. In the Arminian scheme, winning people to Christ really does depend on factors that are outside of God’s control. Personally, I find that to be a very frightening state of affairs.

“What does this have to do with the Evangelical dance with Quid Pro Quo?” you might ask. Let’s talk about that.

Rick Warren was one of the original leaders to press the logical end of “Free Will” theology in the area of church growth. As a result of this kind of thinking, everything that could possibly influence the unbeliever to decide to become a Christian was on the table and open for discussion. Why wouldn’t it be? And so the game of quid pro quo was officially launched. Music was reworked, rock concerts, dark rooms, and smoke machines replaced the somber atmosphere of hymns, organs, pianos, and choirs. Sermons were reshaped to make Christianity hipper, mostly focused on self-help topics, family matters, careers, being good spouses and parents, etc. Buildings were even changed to the extreme. Yes, everything was on the table. After a solid 40 years of quid pro quo, the church looks remarkably different these days. Ideas have a funny way of producing unprejudiced consequences. Bad ideas with good intentions still produce negative consequences. And so, here we are, still finding new and clever ways to play quid pro quo.

Enter American feminism. You see, what might not have been so overtly offensive 30-40 years ago is offensive today. And if it is offensive to the modern mindset, then it is unlikely that people who hold to that mindset will ever find Christianity attractive enough to join the club. And so, what do the churches do? They play more quid pro quo. Men give up leadership roles and move to “shared” leadership in the home, calling it servant leadership. Eventually, they just give it up altogether because it’s easier that way. Besides, if they refuse, the wife will claim mental abuse, divorce him, find an effeminate man to replace him and he gets to become an every other weekend dad and chokes on the amount of child support he will pay for the next 10-20 years. And what does the church do? Discipline the rebellious wife? Nope. That would be VERY unattractive to the outside world and considered oppressive and archaic. Once again, that would get in the way of positive decisions for the club. Quid pro quo!

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Then along comes homosexuals and as everyone knows, this group of people, despite being among the most sexual deviant group of people in fallen humanity, demands not to be free to express the deviance but instead demands to be affirmed and celebrated. The quid pro quo in the case takes several forms. The first expression was to apologize to homosexuals and admit that the church has withheld love from this group. This didn’t seem too harmful at first even if it was only one component of a larger strategy. On the other hand, it was harmful because the Scriptures themselves use the harshest language to condemn this lifestyle. Yet, the church found herself apologizing, almost as it seems, for God’s own harsh views of the lifestyle. God doesn’t apologize…EVER. With homosexuality came the gender dysphoria rage with its utter absurd and outrageous railing not only against Scripture but against nature and science. The church witnessed leaders softening their tone on a number of fronts in this area. We even witnessed attempts to introduce homosexuality into the church by way of supposed monogamous same-sex attraction arrangements. On top of that, the divinely ordained institution of the family was actually called idolatrous by leaders who should have known better. The church, in the name of remaining relevant and making sure that people continue to decide to join the club, nearly collapsed into complete apostasy. Quid Pro Quo!

In the middle of all this, or I should say, at the head, at the very tip of the spear of all this we are introduced to this idea of Critical Race Theory. It all began with the racial reconciliation movement. The evangelical church is too white, they said. Our elders have too many white men…too many white pastors…too many white professors…too many white presidents…too many white…wait for it….here it comes: whiteness….white supremacy…and more apologies. How can we get black people to “decide” to join the Christian club if that club is completely infected with “whiteness?” This club was complicit in slavery. It doesn’t matter that just as many in the club died trying to end slavery as did try to preserve it. That doesn’t matter. If you want black people to “decide” to join the club, just like any good marketing campaign, you had better find out what they like and don’t like. The church must be seen fighting systemic racism. She must march in protest against the establishment because the establishment is hopelessly racist. The gospel is about equality in all areas of life. The fruit of true faith is to be seen opposing racism, working hard for the oppressed, demanding economic equality, reparations, and such. If you do that, the black person just might “decide” to join the club. Quid Pro Quo!

But there is another Latin expression you should know. It’s one that you have likely never heard before. But it is an important one: Si igitur hoc, quod. It means, if this, then that.

Jesus said in John 8:24, “for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” If you persist in your unbelief, then you will die in your sins.


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