Continued from The New Age Peale Factor: (Part 1) Norman Vincent Peal and the Occult
The New Age Peale Factor: (Part 2) George Mair's Book
By Warren B. Smith (1-19-12)
(View B. Warren Smith Books & Articles)
Excerpted from A Wonderful Deception, pp. 47-57
But in the 1990s, following in the footsteps of Peale and Schuller, the leader of the next generation of Church Growth Movement pastors emerged. That man was none other than Rick Warren.1
—George Mair, A Life With Purpose
In April 2005, a new book was published about Rick Warren. It was titled A Life With Purpose: Reverend Rick Warren: The Most Inspiring Pastor of Our Time. The book was an extremely favorable presentation of Warren and the Purpose Driven movement. Author George Mair genuinely liked and respected Warren as he described the Saddleback pastor’s life and ministry. Mair’s book was carried in major bookstores around the country—including Christian bookstores. The author’s high regard for Warren was evident throughout A Life With Purpose. Early on in his book, Mair writes:
I knew one thing for sure about Rick Warren: his is a fascinating story. A humble man with humble beginnings, he is changing America—and the world—“one soul at a time.”2
After hearing him preach and experiencing Saddleback Church, I understand why millions are listening to this man, and knew that the story behind the movement deserves to be told.3
His demeanor as the founder and pastor of one of the largest churches in the world reflects a man whose focus is on his mission to serve the Lord by bringing in the unchurched souls—the lost sheep—to embrace and celebrate the saving Grace of Jesus Christ.4
A Life With Purposeis filled with continuous praise for Rick Warren and his Purpose Driven ministry. Nothing George Mair said could be considered negative or critical about Warren. In fact, the rare comment of a critic is usually offset by the author himself. For example, Mair states:
Another thing those critics fail to take into account is the role that Rick himself plays in the phenomenal growth of his church. Rick Warren is a truly charismatic spiritual leader. It’s clear to anyone who experiences one of his Saddleback services that he truly loves what he does. He relishes standing up at the podium, looking out at the smiling crowd, and sharing the Good News of Jesus.5
“New Age Preacher” Norman Vincent Peale
There is no question that A Life With Purpose is an overwhelmingly positive account of Rick Warren and the Purpose Driven movement. However, at one point George Mair—in an almost naive and non-judgmental way—talks about Norman Vincent Peale and the New Age influence Peale had exerted on the Church Growth movement. Mair frames his remarks about Peale by writing:
The numbers speak for themselves. The Church Growth Movement has been wildly successful in Southern California . . . as well as in the rest of the country. Which prompts us to ask: what are the roots of this powerful movement? Rick Warren may be the foremost figure in the CGM today, but he’s only a piece—albeit an important one—of a greater development in the Christian Church. Who and what gave birth to this movement in which Rick would play such a vital role?6
Mair answers his own question by stating what other writers have known and also set forth—that it was Norman Vincent Peale who really provided the spiritual foundation of today’s Church Growth movement. In a sub-section titled “Laying the Groundwork: New Age Preacher Norman Vincent Peale,” Mair writes:
Reverend Norman Vincent Peale is, to many, the most prophetic and moving New Age preacher of the twentieth century. He is also the father of the self-help movement that formed the groundwork for the Church Growth Movement. Peale formed perhaps the most dramatic and meaningful link between religion and psychology of any religious leader in history. It is this same approachable, therapeutic brand of religion that many mega churches, including Saddleback, put forward today. It is this kind of religion that is so appealing to the masses of unchurched men and women that Rick Warren hopes to reach.7
George Mair goes on to state that Saddleback Church “distinctly bears the stamp of Norman Vincent Peale”:
Peale’s ministry was the first to raise the question that still faces mega churches today: is it spiritual compromise if a pastor simplifies his message in order to make it appealing to a huge number of seekers?8
His biographer, [Carol R.] George, says, “Norman Vincent Peale is undoubtedly one of the most controversial figures in modern American Christianity.” But no matter what people think about his theories, they have to acknowledge Peale’s remarkable unification of psychology and theology. Without that unification, mega churches wouldn’t exist today. . . . In that sense, Saddleback distinctly bears the stamp of Reverend Norman Vincent Peale.9
While Mair explains that it was Peale who laid the New Age “groundwork” for today’s Church Growth movement, he notes that it was Robert Schuller who helped to create the effectiveness of the megachurch movement on a national scale:
But it’s hard to argue that Schuller was not the first person to be effective on a national scale. He was unquestionably a pioneer in the Church Growth Movement and a major influence on Rick Warren.10
In his book, George Mair notes that Rick Warren had attended the Robert H. Schuller Institute for Successful Church Leadership.11 Then, after describing some of the various church growth leaders up to and including the 1980s, Mair writes:
But in the 1990s, following in the footsteps of Peale and Schuller, the leader of the next generation of Church Growth Movement pastors emerged. That man was none other than Rick Warren.12
Occult/New Age Influence: Peale to Schuller to Warren
In researching his book, George Mair had discovered the same Lutheran Quarterly article sent to me the month before by the Indiana pastor. Citing the article, Mair wrote how Norman Vincent Peale had been accused of plagiarizing material from an occult source:
Some of Peale’s former colleagues and another minister went so far as to accuse him of plagiarism. Writing in the Lutheran Quarterly, Reverend John Gregory Tweed of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Reverend George D. Exoo of Pittsburgh wrote that many of Peale’s uplifting affirmations originated with an “obscure teacher of occult science” named Florence Scovel Shinn. They based this charge on their comparison of words in Peale’s writings and those of Shinn’s book, The Game of Life and How to Play It, in which they found some identical phrases.13
In A Life With Purpose, George Mair also reveals that Norman Vincent Peale had been accused of using unattributed material from occult/New Age author Florence Scovel Shinn. From my own research that had been spurred by that same Lutheran Quarterly article, I learned that Peale had much more interest and involvement in the occult than I realized. He had openly endorsed the works of key New Age figures like Ernest Holmes, Eric Butterworth, and Bernie Siegel. Because questions had already arisen regarding Rick Warren’s undiscerning reference to Siegel and Warren’s use of unaccredited material from Robert Schuller in the The Purpose Driven Life, the very last thing Warren needed was a book—no matter how much it praised him—intimating a New Age link running from Peale to Schuller to Warren himself. In short, Warren did not need any more New Age implications arising that would cast further doubt upon his Purpose Driven movement. But ironically—at least on the surface—it wasn’t Mair’s remarks about Peale that stirred up concern at Saddleback Church but rather an offhand remark Mair had made in his book about author and businessman Ken Blanchard.
Ken Blanchard and Rick Warren
In A Life With Purpose, George Mair states that Rick Warren had “hired” business leader Ken Blanchard to train and equip church leaders in conjunction with Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. Plan. Again, with nothing but praise for Warren and Blanchard, Mair writes:
Rick Warren says that we need leaders—but what kind? Do we need more of Bill Gates, Jack Welch, and Warren Buffett? Rick says no. Not when we already have a perfect leader in Jesus Christ. We need to learn to lead like Jesus.
Here, as he always does, Rick taps the best and the most famous to help train church leaders to be like Jesus. He has hired Ken Blanchard, author of best-selling The One Minute Manager, to come to Saddleback to help train people how to be effective leaders at home, in business, in school, and in church. It is a dramatic and impressive move, one that is typical of Rick Warren.14
As noted in Deceived on Purpose, Rick Warren first described his 5-step Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan on November 2, 2003. In introducing the P.E.A.C.E. Plan to his congregation and to those watching on the Internet, Warren mentioned the names of two key people in regard to his P.E.A.C.E. Plan—authors Bruce Wilkinson and Ken Blanchard. Prayer of Jabez author Wilkinson had just released a book titled The Dream Giver that was being promoted in conjunction with the P.E.A.C.E. Plan. Wilkinson had been at Saddleback the previous week to support the Schulleresque “God’s Dream” theme Warren was using to underscore his P.E.A.C.E. Plan. The other person Warren was bringing into the picture was Ken Blanchard, co-founder of the newly formed Lead Like Jesus organization.
In introducing the leadership part of his P.E.A.C.E. Plan, Rick Warren described how the first “E” in his P.E.A.C.E. Plan stood for “equip leaders.” He informed his congregation that Ken Blanchard had “signed on” to help train leaders “around the world.” Warren stated:
That’s why, on November 20, on a Thursday in a couple of weeks, Ken Blanchard and I are going to teach a national, nationwide simulcast called “Learning to Lead Like Jesus.” And we’ll be broadcasting it from Birmingham, but this is one of the churches we’re going to do it in, obviously, our own church. And so we’ll be coming here and I’m hoping you’ll be able to take the day off and come for a full day of leadership training. Now, if you don’t know who Ken Blanchard is, he wrote the best-selling leadership book of all time . . . One Minute Manager and a dozen other best sellers. But when he became a Christian, he said, “You know, Rick, I’m becoming less and less enamored with the American style of leadership and the American business modules of leadership which tend to be pretty manipulative. And I am more and more impressed with Jesus who was the perfect leader.” And so we need to learn to lead like Jesus.
Now Ken has signed on to help with the P.E.A.C.E. Plan. And he’s going to be helping train us in leadership and in how to train others to be leaders all around the world.15
From all appearances, Ken Blanchard would be playing an important role in helping to fulfill the “equip leaders” part of Rick Warren’s Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan. This was confirmed two weeks later when Warren appeared with Blanchard at the Lead Like Jesus Celebration in Birmingham. When Warren spoke at the conference, he stated that he and Blanchard were “working together” on the P.E.A.C.E. Plan:
[T]here is a dramatic shortage of servant leadership in the world. I’ve traveled all around the world, and people are following the wrong model of leadership. . . . So, we’ve come up with a little plan called the peace plan. You and I [addressing Blanchard] are working together on this. The peace plan, P E A C E, Jesus, the master servant leader, was the Prince of Peace. . . . P stands for plant churches, E stands for equip leaders, and that’s what we’re here for today. . . . It is my goal and vision and your goal and vision to be used of God to raise up millions and millions of local churches and businesses and everybody else to plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation. That can only be done when we get the right model of leadership.16
After Warren’s remarks about what he and Ken Blanchard hoped to accomplish together, Blanchard shared what Warren had said to him just before they went up to speak. Warren told him, “You know, Ken, let’s start a revolution.”17 Then Blanchard, with Warren sitting right next to him, proceeded to tell the audience how Norman Vincent Peale had been instrumental in helping him to come to the Lord fifteen years previous. Blanchard stated:
And God started sending me this team, Bob Buford, Norman Vincent Peale, and [Bill] Hybels. All kinds of people started coming after me. I finally joined up in 1987-88 and turned my life over to the Lord.18
Lighthouse Trails Press Release
It was not until the release of George Mair’s book in 2005 that some people learned that Rick Warren had announced back in 2003 that Ken Blanchard would be working with him on the P.E.A.C.E. Plan. When Lighthouse Trails Publishing learned about Blanchard’s involvement with Warren, they were concerned. One of their authors, Ray Yungen, had been researching the New Age for many years and often came across Blanchard, who had been consistently endorsing and writing the forewords to New Age books and organizations. On April 19, 2005, Lighthouse Trails issued a press release, quoting George Mair’s book that Warren had “hired” Blanchard to work with him on the P.E.A.C.E. Plan.19 Lighthouse Trails warned of the serious New Age implications of allowing someone as undiscerning as Blanchard to teach Christians around the world how to “lead like Jesus.” The press release documented many of Blanchard’s New Age endorsements including Deepak Chopra’s book, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success and a book titled What Would Buddha Do at Work? for which Blanchard wrote the foreword.
Another book that Ken Blanchard endorsed is Little Wave and Old Swell, written by Blanchard’s longtime friend and business associate, Jim Ballard—an avid devotee of the late Hindu guru Paramahansa Yogananda. In fact, Blanchard wrote the forewords to both the 2004 and 2007 editions of Little Wave and Old Swell. He states that Little Wave and Old Swell is a book for “people of all faiths.” In the foreword of the 2004 edition, Blanchard writes:
Love is love. For that reason this little volume should not be thought of as a “religious” book. It is one of those rare stories whose message transcends ideas that divide people. It is for people of all faiths, as well as for those of no faith . . . .
Little Wave and Old Swellis a book for the innocent seeker, young or old, in each one of us. It’s a book to read alone and contemplate.20
But the “message” this Blanchard-endorsed book has for the “innocent seeker” is the foundational teaching of the New Age/New Spirituality—we are all “one” because God is “in” everyone and everything. In the 2007 edition (also with a foreword by Blanchard), Jim Ballard writes:
[Old Swell] read Little Wave’s mind. “You are a moving wrinkle on the seamless fabric of the Great Deep,” he said. “You thought that you were separate, but no. You can never be apart from your Source.
“Know now that you and I and all our brother and sister waves are One with the Great Deep.
“We have always been One.
We shall always be One.”21
At the very end of the story, the author offers a New Age prayer:
“Help me to feel the Oneness within all things.”22
Lead Like Which Jesus?
On the day Rick Warren introduced his P.E.A.C.E. Plan at Saddleback Church and announced that Ken Blanchard had “signed on” to help with the P.E.A.C.E. Plan, George Mair was sitting in the congregation. At the time, Mair probably had no idea that Blanchard had endorsed New Age books and had personal ties to Norman Vincent Peale. He had assumed that when someone “signed on” they had been “hired”—an understandable assumption. But Warren and Saddleback apologist Richard Abanes were quick to take Mair to task for saying Blanchard had been “hired” by Warren. They said Blanchard had not been “hired.” He had volunteered. This issue would become a major point of contention for Warren and his Saddleback defense team. In using it, attention would be deflected away from the real problem of Blanchard’s New Age sympathies and Warren’s wanting to utilize him to train leaders worldwide for the P.E.A.C.E. Plan.
Suddenly George Mair was a target for stating that Rick Warren had “hired” Ken Blanchard to train people around the world to “lead like Jesus.” It was not George Mair, but the Lighthouse Trails press release that brought Blanchard’s New Age propensities to light. Yet despite Saddleback’s effort to discredit George Mair and his book, the question many people were asking was—“why would a self-professing Evangelical Christian like Rick Warren choose a New Age sympathizer like Ken Blanchard to train people to ‘lead like Jesus?’” And just what “Jesus” was Blanchard pointing people to—the Jesus of the Bible or the “Jesus” of the New Age? Did Blanchard even know the difference? Obviously, the “Jesus” of the New Age/New Spirituality books that Blanchard has often endorsed is “another Jesus.” In fact, the apostle Paul chides the Ken Blanchards of his day for their lack of spiritual discernment and their willingness to “bear with” and even follow “another Jesus,” who is not the real Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 11:4). Paul’s words also pertain to Rick Warren for his willingness to use someone as undiscerning and spiritually misled as Blanchard:
For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
In Matthew 24:3-5 the real Jesus Christ warns about false Christs—like the New Age Christ—who would come in His name at the end of time to deceive even the elect, if that were possible. With all of this information about Blanchard coming to the surface, the big question was how would Rick Warren deal with Blanchard’s New Age entanglements?
To be continued: The New Age Peale Factor: (Part 3) Rick Warren's Email
1. George Mair, A Life With Purpose: Reverend Rick Warren: The Most Inspiring Pastor of Our Time (New York, NY: Berkeley Books, 2005), p. 110.
2. Ibid., p. 8.
3. Ibid., p. 9.
4. Ibid., p. 80.
5. Ibid., p. 179.
6. Ibid., p. 93.
7. Ibid., pp. 93-94.
8. Ibid., p. 100.
10. Ibid., p. 103.
11. Robert H. Schuller, “What Will Be The Future of This Ministry?” (April 4, 2004, Program #1783, http://www.hourofpower.org.hk/data/readdata100/readeng-129-text.html).
12. George Mair, A Life With Purpose, op. cit., p. 110.
13. Ibid., pp. 98-99.
14. Ibid., pp. 192-193.
15. Rick Warren announces his P.E.A.C.E. Plan on November 2, 2003 at Saddleback Church; transcript and audio on file.
16. Lead Like Jesus Celebration, November 20, 2003, Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama, online transcript: http://web.archive.org/web/20060208072218/www.bibleoncassette.com/lead_like_Jesus.html.
19. Lighthouse Trails press release, April 19, 2005, http://www.light-housetrailsresearch.com/PressReleasekenblanchard.htm.
20. Jim Ballard, Little Wave and Old Swell: A Fable of Life and its Passing (Simon & Schuster, 2004), p. vi.
21. Ibid., 2007 edition, pp. 36-37.
22. Ibid., 2004 edition, p. 80.