- Bill Hybels (born 1952) is the senior pastor (out of a total of more
than 50 staff pastors) of the 12,000-plus member Willow Creek Community Church
located in Northwest-suburban Chicago (South Barrington, IL). (Three
branch churches have also benn established in the Chicago suburbs.) When Hybels
decided to plant a church at "Willow Creek" (the name of the rented
movie theater in which the church first met), rather than "set-up shop" and
faithfully preach the Word of God, he instead took a three-man survey team
through the community, asking those people who admitted to being unchurched,
why they did not regularly attend a church. The survey revealed that people:
"(1) didn't like being bugged for money; (2) found church boring,
predictable, and routine; (3) didn't think that the church was relevant to their
lives; and (4) always left church feeling guilty (the Christian message too
negative with 'sin,' etc.)."
Hybels solution was to "program our Sunday morning service [in addition to a Saturday evening "seeker service"] to non-believers, and program our service to believers [called "New Community"] on another day or evening [Wednesday and Thursday nights]," so that the newcomers would feel welcome, unthreatened, and entertained. Hybels states that it is absolutely essential that the "unchurched Harry's and Mary's" be introduced to a "creative, introductory level, positive, Bible-centered church experience on a Sunday morning ... a place designed for [the unbeliever]. We have put a lot of time and thought into what non-churched people want from a Sunday morning service. And we have concluded that they basically want four things: (1) anonymity; (2) truth presented at an introductory level; (3) time to 'make a decision'; and (4) excellence in programming, creativity, humor, contemporary [worship], relevancy, etc." (Source: Hybels' 1990 message: "Who We Are at Willow Creek.")
The Hybels' methodology then: "Take a poll of lost people, find out what they want in religion, then make an all out effort in the church to provide what they want. Real Bible believers do not follow the polls to find out what sinners want; they go to the Bible to find out what sinners need. They get their message from the Bible, not from George Barna [or from George Gallup]" (1/96, Plains Baptist Challenger, p. 5).
- Hybels' philosophy appears to have "worked." From its beginnings in a rented movie theater with 125 members in 1975, they were at 2,000 in 1978, and now average more than 17,000 total for its six weekend services (two exclusively designed for Gen-Xers). (Over 20,000 showed up at the church's 20th anniversary celebration at Chicago's United Center sports arena; President Clinton sent his personal greetings via videotape.) "Worship" services are "programmed with cutting-edge music, drama, and teaching to reach the unchurched. The services' 'wow' factor is aided by 50 vocalists, a 75-voice choir, 7 rhythm bands, a 65-piece orchestra, 41 actors, a video production department, and an arts center with 200 students that serves as a farm club for future talent."
now meets in a 352,000-square-foot building that seats 4,500,
located on a 155-acre campus. (A new building project is under construction that
will cost as much as $80 million. It will include a 49,000-square-foot office
building, a classroom building for workshops, and a new auditorium with
approximately 7,000 seats.) Because of Willow Creek's size, the church's
leaders feel participation in small groups is essential to the spiritual support
of its members; Willow Creek has over 2,600 of them! And in keeping with its
mega-church status, Willow Creek is loaded with specialized ministries for
virtually every so-called need among its devotees: Programs for four age
divisions of youth, three categories of single adults, married couples, divorced
persons, single parents, and physically and "mentally challenged"
individuals, as well as outreach services to the homeless, the poor, and prison
inmates, are just a few of the selections from the church's huge and diverse
menu. There is even a Sexaholics Anonymous group. The extensive programs and the
corps of committed volunteers (over 8,000) are directed by 512 Willow Creek
employees, 60% of them full time. (Reported in part in the
12/2/95, Bloomington Herald-Times, an Associated Press article by
Debra Hale, "Welcome to the Un-Church, Video Screens and All," p. A8; the 9/13/00 Christianity Today, "Community Is Their Middle
Name"; and the Willow Creek Internet website, 2/2004.)
- Hybels states that Willow Creek has four primary objectives: (1) understand and apply the ministry of exaltation/worship (though apparently not on Sunday morning); (2) commitment to edification; (3) commitment to evangelism; and (4) commitment to social action. Numbers (3) and (4) are worthy of a closer look; note the extreme unbiblical nature of both objectives. (Source: Hybels' 1990 message: "Who We Are at Willow Creek."):
EVANGELISM -- "The personal [evangelism] goes on out in the marketplace, and on Sundays we continue and supplement the personal efforts by helping people as we give them a creative service to bring people who are in the process of deciding about a relationship with Jesus Christ."
SOCIAL ACTION -- "We have Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Narcotics Anonymous, Emotions Anonymous, you-name-it anonymous, I think we have it here. And we have a counseling center, and a food pantry, and a benevolent board that counsels people that are hurting financially; an employment counseling ministry; we are committed to helping a church in the inner-city; a hospital in Haiti; projects through World Vision; and other ministries [one even for women going through menopause!]. I believe we are called to arrest the social decay we see happening around us."
- In Hybels' 1990 book entitled Honest To God, he relates how he "grew" the Willow Creek Church. He claims that he was successful in growing the church because he was "honest to God;" i.e., he grew "God's church, God's way." In actuality, Hybels grew Willow Creek man's way (see above) -- he gave the people what they wanted -- an apostate church in an atmosphere of glitz and entertainment, while preaching a feelings-oriented gospel of codependency/recovery, self-love, and unconditional acceptance. Yet Hybels justifies his church growth philosophy with the following incredible statement:
"At Willow Creek, we feel that God has given us a plan, but it doesn't necessarily have to apply to every church. In fact, we believe that this may be one of the few churches that God, manifesting a sense of humor if you will, has decided to say, 'Look, I'm saying to give them a little different kind of plan over here.'" (Source: Hybels' 1990 message: "Who We Are at Willow Creek.")
- About 17,000-20,000 people currently attend Saturday evening and the Sunday
morning "seeker sensitive services" (services
designed to get lost people to enjoy church without guilt or shame; no sermons
against sin and no call for repentance), entertained by contemporary
"Christian" music (played by a 20-piece rock band with laser
lights and an elaborate sound system), pop singers, multi-media displays, actors
presenting dramatic sketches illustrating contemporary problems such as grief
and workplace stress (i.e., "psychodramas"), and "practical,
witty messages" geared to those "investigating Christianity."
(For those not in the formal "worship service," there are darts,
basketball, and coloring for the youngsters, a [750-seat] food court fit for a
shopping mall, and a fully-out-fitted exercise gym. The church spends $125,000
annually for off-duty police officers to direct traffic.) Almost half of the seeker
service attendees come from a Catholic
background. One man revealed why Willow Creek appeals to him: "I still
don't buy the God stuff, but this is helping my life." Another attendee
states that going to Willow Creek is "... like I had been sprinkled with
New Community, the Wednesday and Thursday night services for professing believers (attended by approximately 3,000 on a typical evening), are advertised as following the "traditional" worship service, which Hybels defines as prayer, communion, and "a deeper exploration of the Bible through allegorical skits and modern music. ... 'There is no fire-and-brimstone here. No Bible-thumping. Just practical, witty messages designed to hit the listeners where they live.' ... Hybels and other church leaders are said to be 'an ecumenical and youthful group.' [Since] half of the attendees are from a Catholic background, so the mid-week traditional services feature the familiar 'Sacrament of Communion.'" (See "Worshiping God Big Time," 10/15/92, Woman's Day.) (Emphasis added.)
Christianity Today interviewed a number of Willow Creek members for
its extensive 9/13/00 article. One was Teresa Russo-Cox, a volunteer coach for
the hairdressers ministry. (Yes, a hairdressers ministry!; I'm not making this
up.) Russo-Cox had been a
professional hairdresser for 25 years and an educator for Paul Mitchell hair
products when one of her clients invited her to Willow Creek three years ago: "I
was raised Catholic but had left the church. When I first walked into Willow, I
thought, 'What is this all about? No icons? No robes?' I remember John Ortberg
spoke on 'Shhh, God is Speaking.' My heart was beating fast, and I knew God was
speaking to me. Right there I rededicated my life to Christ." The woman was
a Roman Catholic and merely rededicated her life to Christ. No Gospel, no
repentance, just a reinvigorated Catholic! (Source: 12/00, Cornerstone
- The following was reported in the USA WEEKEND for April 13-15, 1990 (from New Neutralism II, pp. 72-73): The article describes a service at Willow Creek as "a slick, show-biz service where drama and soft rock are served up on a stage washed in pink and blue spotlights. A soft-sell sermon is delivered by Hybels from a Lucite lectern ..." The author of the article acknowledges the fact that people attending the services there "will not be bored as a combination of drama, humor, and pop music is presented with no archaic hymns." The church building is likened to "a 4,500 seat theatre complete with 12 big screen TVs showing close-ups of action on stage just like at rock concerts."
- Despite (or because of) Hybels' humanistic gospel, other churches hungry for Hybels'-style growth have been flocking to the Willow Creek staff to learn the techniques of "church growth." Hybels says his staff cannot keep up with the increasing number of requests for help from other churches. So in 1992, the Willow Creek Association (WCA) was formed. WCA began as an international network of 96 like-minded churches; as of 6/03, there were nearly 10,000 Association member churches in more than 25 countries, representing 90 denominations, many of which are linked with liberal denominations, and some with cults. The WCA's 120 employees provide special conferences, resources, and consultation to its constituents seeking "user friendly," "seeker sensitive" approaches to church growth. In 2000, the WCA hosted 76,000 "church leaders" in conferences on Willow's campus and around the world. (Hybels also formed Willow Creek Resources, a joint-publishing venture between the new association and Zondervan Publishing House, to publish books, audios, and videos produced by staffers from within Willow Creek Community Church and the rest of the WCA.) One observer writes: "The Willow Creek Association through its member churches have in effect silenced the Body Of Christ and provided pagans, new-agers, atheists, socialists, communists, Marxists, humanists, homosexuals, feminists and liberals in general thousands of sterilized venues where they can come and present their 'felt needs' to those with open arms and open minds. By meeting the so-called "felt needs" of the godless, THEIR voices are heard, THEIR philosophies are made known, THEIR music is played, THEIR religion is taught, THEIR ideologies are discussed and THEIR agenda is carried out virtually unopposed in the corridors, classrooms and worship centers of every 'seeker sensitive' church in America."
- Willow Creek one-time assistant pastor Lee Strobel is typical of the flippant
approach to holy things taken by the leadership at Willow Creek. (Strobel
is now a pastor at Rick
Warren's Saddleback Valley Community Church, another church-growth oriented
church.) While pastoring at Willow Creek in 1994, Strobel wrote a
book titled What Jesus Would Say. It takes an irreverent,
humorous, "sympathetic look" at immoral, prominent, ungodly
personalities such as President Clinton, Murphey Brown, Bart Simpson, and
Madonna, and suggests what would happen if Jesus had "chats" with
these people. In exploring what he thinks Jesus would say to modern celebrities,
Strobel is striving to make religion relevant to a cynical contemporary world.
(As bad as that idea is, isn't purporting to speak for God a bit presumptuous at
best, and blasphemous at worse?)
In Madonna, Strobel says he thinks Jesus "would see by her own admission that it's her sense of mediocrity and her desire to overcome that that's driving her -- it's a self-esteem issue. She said her great drive in life is not just to be somebody, but to be SOMEBODY. Well, to Jesus, she already is somebody. He was willing to sacrifice himself to pay for her wrongdoing." Jesus, opines Strobel, would look beyond Madonna the media icon to see Madonna the person, someone who lost her mother at a young age and who was turned off by the trappings of traditional religion. If people have a less than compassionate concept of God than this, Strobel lays the blame on evangelical Christians (1/8/95, Santa Barbara Press, p. D4).
Strobel authored a previous book in 1993, Inside the Mind of Unchurched Harry & Mary: How to Reach Friends and Family Who Avoid God and the Church. The book is endorsed in its Foreword by Bill Hybels. (The book is also endorsed/recommended by thirteen more neo-evangelical psychologizers, including Max Lucado, Tony Campolo, Howard Hendricks, Stuart Briscoe, C. Peter Wagner, Joseph Stowell, Elmer Towns, Bill Bright, and Gary Collins.) In this book, Strobel makes it clear that he was drawn to Hybels' church, not by the message of truth, but by the music of the world. After he found himself comfortable with the music and modern style of worship, he simply reasoned his way to a conversion experience. Strobel is completely geared to a needs based religion. His purpose is to meet man's needs, based on his own perception, rather than honoring man's obligation to worship and glorify God. Strobel's purpose is to find out what works, and not to find out what is Biblical. His purpose is to please lost, unregenerate men, and not to please God. To read Strobel's book (and by nature of endorsement, Bill Hybels' thoughts also) you come up with the idea that the problem with people is that they are simply unchurched. To the contrary, they need to be seen as lost and in need of a Savior (1/96, Plains Baptist Challenger, pp. 5-7).
- As one would expect to find in a church founded and nurtured on the Fuller Seminary/John Wimber/C. Peter Wagner principles of church growth, Hybels has a distorted view of the Gospel message. In Honest To God, he seems to be saying that there are two different gospels, one for men and one for women. According to Hybels, the gospel message for a man is that a relationship with Jesus Christ is essential in order to avoid "mindless misinterpretations of masculine identity," while for a woman, the gospel is that Jesus Christ offers freedom from being a "people-pleaser," thereby allowing her to satisfy her "need for inner security." These are obviously both self-focused gospels that are entirely devoid of a recognition of man's sin problem. (Also sounds a lot like Larry Crabb's "Need for significance/need for security.")
- One of the busy spots at the 1997 National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) convention was the "Christians for Biblical Equality" exhibit. This group made available the books Women Elders Called By God and What Paul Really Said About Women. This radical group is calling for women's ordination and rejecting the Scripture texts that forbid women serving as pastors and elders. Their statement said, "We believe that Scripture is to be interpreted holistically and thematically. The Bible teaches that in the New Testament economy women as well as men exercise the prophetic, priestly and royal functions. Women are to be used in pastoral care, teaching, preaching and worship." Among those who signed this declaration was Bill Hybels. [See BDM report on the Biblical role of women.]
- Of the many unscriptural practices of Hybels and Willow Creek is the acceptance of women in leadership and teaching positions. Willow Creek has had women elders since its founding in 1975, but now expects members to expressly accept the right of women to equality as pastors and elders. An internal draft position paper dated January 1996, which World magazine (3/29/97) obtained, makes clear Willow Creek's belief that "when the Bible is interpreted comprehensively, it teaches the full equality of men and women in status, giftedness, and opportunity for ministry," despite "a few scriptural texts [that] appear to restrict the full ministry freedom of women." A document for elders on "The Most Frequently Asked Questions About Membership at Willow Creek," written by a female elder, says, "We ask that Participating Members of Willow Creek minimally be able to affirm with integrity the following: that they can joyfully sit under the teaching of women teachers ... that they can joyfully submit to the leadership of women in various leadership positions at Willow Creek." The female elder also said, "… if you can't embrace this teaching, practically speaking, you'd probably be happier at some other church." [Source: "Femme Fatale: The Feminist Seduction of the Evangelical Church," World magazine, March 29, 1997 (reported in a 4/21/97 FBIS report).]
- The Hybels family are big fans of psychological counseling. On pages 114-118 of their book Rediscovering Church, the Hybels describe how they underwent psychological counseling. Lynne Hybels says, "In January 1991, I walked into a Christian counselor's office. The choice to take that walk was one of the wisest I have ever made ..." (p. 114). Lynne Hybels states that after she had entered counseling, Bill entered "a Christian counselor's office as well." [What she refers to as a "Christian counselor's office" is really a psychologist's office (source: Jean Blunt, Hybels' secretary, 12/19/95 phone conversation).] As a result of her "counseling," Mrs. Hybels states that she had "discovered unseen wounds deep inside me ..." Did Lynne Hybels discover "unseen wounds" or was she psychologically indoctrinated with the theories and concepts of psychology? "Unseen wounds deep inside" is psychobabble used to transform oneself into a victim rather than one who is fully accountable to God for every word and action.
Bill's [psychological] counseling taught him that he had been "driven by an unconscious drive" of "unmet emotional needs" and a "pain driven pattern ... Through conversations with his [psychologist] counselor," Bill Hybels "pursued a deeper understanding of his emotional needs," and he learned more about "unconscious needs that drive ... pathological pastors." Mrs. Hybels goes on to say that she and Bill may be "shame-based" and "so hungry for love" (p. 118) [Minirth-Meier/Freudian psycho-speak].
- In 1991, Bill & Lynne Hybels authored Fit To Be Tied. In that book, endorsed by psychologizers Tony Campolo and Larry Crabb, they further reveal how they saturated their minds with psychological teaching. They say:
"We also agreed that taking advantage of the wonderful self-help resources available today greatly increased our holding power. We went to seminars and workshops and conferences on marriage. We listened to tapes on marriage. We read books on marriage. Oh, did we read books! We read together and read separately. We read on vacation and read ourselves to sleep at night. We read books by theologians and psychologists and marriage counselors. We read about the temperaments, personal growth, workaholism, conflict resolutions, sex, stress management, how to relax, how to raise kids, how to handle money. We latched on to every good idea we could find, and it helped tremendously. Some people give up before they read the first book, or listen to the first tape, or attend the first workshop. That's a tragedy. Only we are to blame if we fail to use the incredible resources available at our disposal" (pp. 210-211). (Emphasis added.)
Because the Hybels saturated their minds with psychological books and
underwent psychological counseling, they now have a psychological interpretation
of people's behavior, rather than a Biblical view. One young women (whom they
describe in Fit To Be Tied) is given a psychological explanation for
her behavior, i.e., coming from a "dysfunctional family where their needs
are not met. They are so desperate to be loved and accepted, so lacking in
self-esteem and fearful of being abandoned, that they will cling to any
relationship, even one that brings them pain" (p. 36). This is the
classical psychological interpretation of one's sinful and selfish conduct
explained away as arising from being a victim. "Dysfunctional family,"
"needs not met," "desperate to be loved," "lacking in
self-esteem," "fearful of being abandoned," are all psychological
clichés and labels that are standard lingo of humanistic psychologizers.
- As indicated above, the Hybels have read a great number of counseling and psychological books and have attended many seminars (Fit To Be Tied, pp. 210-211). Fit To Be Tied also gives ample evidence that they have been strongly influenced by the psychological writings of Melody Beattie. Beattie is footnoted more than any other person in Fit To Be Tied. For example, in chapter 12 there are eight footnotes referring authoritatively to Beattie and her book Codependent No More. On page 196, the whole page is devoted to Beattie's theories, with five footnote references to Beattie's Codependent No More. The reader is given the clear impression that Beattie is an expert and is to be trusted. There is no indication by the Hybels who Beattie really is and what she teaches. (Melody Beattie's books are also sold in Hybels' church bookstore.)
Who is this woman whom the Hybels respect so much as an "author and counselor"? What does she teach in Codependent No More and in her two sequels, Beyond Codependency and Codependent Guide to the Twelve Steps? Beattie's books from cover to cover are hard core humanistic psychology. But they are more than that. Codependent No More is also a strong promotion and endorsement of Alcoholics Anonymous/12-step programs. Beattie strongly advocates and teaches her readers to seek a "Higher Power," any "Higher Power." This Higher Power is not the God of the Bible, but is whatever one conceives in his imagination. This is idolatry in its purest form. (A female "elder" at Willow Creek claims "our higher power here [at Willow Creek] is Christ.") [Beattie also endorses and highly recommends reading A Course In Miracles, which is full of hard core New Age teaching and was dictated by a spirit guide (i.e., a demon) to its author. It is published by the New Age organization Foundation for Inner Peace. Beattie also endorses the best selling New Age book in the U.S. -- The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. (Like Melodie Beattie, Hybels likes M. Scott Peck enough to speak favorably of him a number of times in his books and in various articles. Hybels never gives one word of warning whatsoever about this New Age guru.)]
- In a 12-page informative paper (March, 2003)
entitled Protestant No
More: Willow Creek is Infiltrated by Renovaré, Mary Fairchild presents
a "partially insider" revealing look at two dangerous movements of our
day. She writes: "I went back to Willow Creek earlier this year only to
discover my plans to be serving in the women's ministry as a 'Biblical Titus 2
woman' were, in actuality, going to be serving as a 'New Age spiritual guide.'
Mystic ways of praying (repeating and meditating) were being taught along with
frequent references to Quakers and Catholics. New Age authors like mystic
Quakers Parker Palmer and Renovaré founder Richard Foster were quoted
frequently…" Foster, a Fuller Seminary psychologist, teaches quietism,
mantras, centering, Buddhism, Yoga, etc., yet is promoted in thought and books
at Willow Creek. Other
big name occultists/mystics/New Agers, and/or just plain false teachers promoted
at Willow Creek are Carl
Jung, Morton Kelsey, Brennan
Manning, Karen Mains, M. Scott Peck, David Seamands, Thomas Merton, Henri
Nouwen, Philip Yancey, Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II, Gilbert Bilezikian,
George Fox, Parker Palmer, Ignatius Loyola (Jesuit priest), and David Keirsey
(author of Please Understand Me II and Keirsey Temperament
- Hybels endorsed the book Secrets of Your Family Tree: Healing for Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families, by Townsend & Cloud (psychiatrists employed at the time by the Minirth-Meier New Life Clinics). Even though this is a book built upon the discredited theory that one's past prevents him from having normal relationships in adulthood, Hybels had no problem providing the following endorsement on the jacket of the book: "The materials by Drs. Townsend and Cloud on 'Forming Healthy Boundaries' and 'Achieving Adulthood' is the best I've seen on this very needed subject."
- Hybels is also a 12-step advocate. He admits in Rediscovering Church that the 1992 eleven-week series Hunger for Healing "made its way into the [Willow Creek] weekend and midweek services." (Hybels and two associate pastors taught the series at Willow Creek.) Hybels describes the series as:
"Hunger for Healing (based on the twelve steps of the [Alcoholics Anonymous] recovery group movement) beckoned Willow Creek attendees to emotional as well as spiritual growth. Though such teaching was beneficial for many people in the church, it was probably most reflective of and responsive to the needs of many staff and lay leaders during that era" (p. 122).
This series was based on Keith Miller's book Hunger for Healing. This book is a total advocacy of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve Steps of AA and just about every twelve-step group imaginable. Miller attempts to rationalize that AA and the Twelve Steps are Biblical. It has sold over two million copies nationwide and is a very popular seller in the Willow Creek bookstore. The series is available in the Willow Creek tape catalog under the title: DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO GROW? The series covers each one of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. The tape catalog describes the series as follows:
"The 12 Step Programs (such as Alcoholics Anonymous) offer people a way out of compulsive, self-centered and controlling behavior. This series studies the 12 steps to recovery with an emphasis on the underlying need for spiritual growth and healing" (p. 57, Seeds Resource Center 1995 tape catalog).
A Willow Creek brochure (no date, received 12/15/95) claims "Willow
Creek Community Church hosts a variety of 12-step support groups for those
desiring wholeness and healing." The various 12 step groups listed are:
Alcoholics Anonymous, Adult children of Alcoholics, Al-Anon, Codependents
Anonymous, Al-Akids, Debtors Anonymous, Emotions Anonymous, Over Eaters
Anonymous, Incest Survivors Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous, S-Anon (spouses of
Sex Addicts Anonymous), and Nam Vets Alcoholic Anonymous. [Must reading for anyone desiring a fuller understanding of the
"codependent" heresy sweeping the church today would be 12
Steps to Destruction: Codependency/Recovery Heresies, by Martin and
Deidre Bobgan, EastGate Publishers, Santa Barbara, CA, 1991, 247 pages.]
- Bill Hybels is also an advocate and promoter of self-esteem and self-love. The church sells a four-tape album by Hybels with the following titles: (1) Source of Your Self-Esteem; (2) What Scars Your Self-Esteem; (3) Rebuilding your Self-Esteem; and (4) Building Self-Esteem. (In addition, Willow Creek's tape catalog advertises two self-esteem messages by a Dr. J. Allan Petersen with the titles Self-Esteem and Building Self-Esteem in Children.)
Since 1990, Hybels also has served on the board of directors of James Dobson's organization, Focus on the Family. Dobson is the leading promoter of self-esteem in so-called evangelicalism today. Hybels also has close ties with self-esteem teacher/possibility thinker/apostate Robert Schuller. (Schuller wrote the blasphemous book Self-Esteem: The New Reformation.) Hybels promotion of Schuller is understandable considering the fact that both preach a gospel of self-love. [Christianity Today for September 8, 1989, had a picture of Hybels with Schuller and hyper-charismatic, "church growth" guru Dr. C. Peter Wagner at Schuller's Crystal Cathedral.] Hybels also continues to speak at Schuller's Institute for Successful Church Leadership conferences held in January each year. (More than eighty homosexual and lesbian pastors and lay leaders from the Metropolitan Community Churches participated in Schuller's 1997's Institute for Successful Church Leadership; one of the key speakers was Hybels.) Hybels reveals his close ties, friendship, and influence with Robert Schuller in Rediscovering Church. Hybels describes Schuller as "a man so highly esteemed" and "the only credible adult who had given us any encouragement" when Hybels was starting Willow Creek. Hybels describes this 1976 meeting as a "divinely staged encounter" (p. 69).
- Hybels endorsed the book Toxic Faith by Steve
Arterburn and Jack Felton. (Tony
Campolo and Robert Schuller also
endorsed the book.) This book mixes false religions with
misunderstandings of Christian doctrine, calling both "toxic faith,"
and offers solutions grounded in Freudian psychotherapy. There are numerous
false teachings in this book, some of which include the use of the 12 steps of
Alcoholics Anonymous and concepts of humanistic psychology. Toxic Faith is
basically an advertisement for Arterburn's for-profit corporation New Life
Treatment Centers (now Minirth-Meier
New Life Clinics). On the back jacket of Toxic Faith, Hybels says:
"Steve Arterburn plows new ground with this book ... 'It is a must
- Another book Bill Hybels highly endorses and promotes is The Workaholic and His Family, by Freudian psychiatrists Frank Minirth and Paul Meier (and three other lesser known psychiatrists). Hybels says in his book Christians In The Marketplace: "For this profile and much of the information presented in this chapter, I am indebted to Dr. Paul Meier and his colleagues ... To anyone who suspects that he or she is a workaholic or may be married to one, I highly recommend this practical, informative book" (p. 58). The book is a blatant mixture of the teachings of Sigmund Freud (the founder of psychoanalysis), humanistic psychology, and so-called evangelical theology.
- A major deception in the church today is the so-called spiritual application of pseudo-psychological temperament theory for individual personality assessment, which, in actuality, is derived from pagan and occultic philosophies. (The "temperament" can be defined as the unique mental and emotional disposition identifiable as the personality.) The study of the temperaments, which are man-centered, self-oriented, and psycho-paganistic, are being offered to the unwitting as a sophisticated, almost magical way to understand our deepest natures and our personality types. In actuality, Christians could be unknowingly lured into the occult by practicing the temperaments and other New Age personality typologies.
Hybels is a serious proponent of "four-temperaments" analysis and Jungian personality theory. In his book Honest To God (pp. 70-75), Bill Hybels says God used a book called Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates, to revolutionize his marriage. Please Understand Me is an in-depth look at psycho-occultist Carl Jung's theory of the four temperaments and the applications made by Myers and Briggs in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test, a so-called tool for identifying personality types based on various combinations of inborn temperament traits. In Honest to God, Hybels says:
"Do you and your spouse need to patiently understand each other's ways of behaving that stem from different inborn temperament traits? Then do it! Or better yet, find a counselor who can give you the Myers-Briggs test, and help you work through the results. It's an investment that could revolutionize the most important relationship in your life" (pp. 74-75).
On page 80 of Honest to God, Hybels indicates in a footnote that
he has taught these concepts to his congregation. The book Please
Understand Me is also sold at the "Seeds Resource Center," the
Willow Creek Church bookstore (as of 12/7/95). [Must reading for anyone desiring
a fuller understanding of the four temperaments and their tie to the occult
should read Four
Temperaments, Astrology & Personality Testing, by Martin and
Deidre Bobgan, EastGate Publishers, Santa Barbara, CA, 1992, 213 pages.]
- Also in Honest to God, Hybels says that "journaling" is how he keeps "connected" to God. There is certainly nothing wrong with writing down your thoughts of God or insights from Scripture. But it is when Hybels decides to listen to God that he runs into trouble. After he prays, Hybels asks God to speak to Him. He says, "Lord, you talked to your children all through history, and you said you're an unchangeable God. Talk to me now. I'm listening, I'm open." He then asks God four questions and often, "... gets impressions that are so strong and real I write them down." His first question is, "What is the next step in my relationship with You?" If he senses nothing, he interprets that to mean that everything is okay. At other times, God specifically tells him of some move to take and he takes it. To his other questions concerning character development, family life, and ministry, God always gives specific suggestions. God even will often tell him to write or call someone, or to give away a possession, or start a new ministry. Hybels assures us that these promptings don't have to be understood, but they must be obeyed. He promises that these "moments of inspiration will become precious memories" (see pp. 20-26). [It should be noted that Hybels' methodology is used by various cults (e.g. the Oxford Group) and even in spiritism. What has always made Christianity unique is that we have God's communication already, we don't need more. Instead, we are to study and obey what God has already revealed.] (Reported in The Southern View Chapel [now Think On These Things], Pastor Gary Gilley.)
- For a revealing look at just how psychological Willow Creek has become (it does have trained psychologists on its staff), see "Borne on His Wings," Willow Creek Magazine, 1990 (and reprinted in The Beacon, February 1992, pp. 3-5). This article takes a Freudian approach to life's problems. For example, the article contends that "someone with an abusive past will inevitably have a distorted view of God ..." and that, "Sometimes, like a physical infection, our emotional wound has been 'covered over' without adequately healing, and must be re-opened. The wound may require 'lancing' to heal." This language is typical of psychologically-driven systems which consider it "inevitable" that those who have experienced abuse will have a distorted view of God and will need therapy to heal the "emotional wounds of the past."
- Hybels has endorsed Catholic-sympathizer Chuck Colson's book, The Body: Being Light in Darkness (which is also endorsed by Jerry Falwell, J.I. Packer, Pat Robertson, Jack Hayford, Carl Henry, and Cardinal O'Connor). Colson, ever ecumenical, praises the Catholic chain of command and includes the Catholic Church as a part of the body of Christ. He also says, "the body of Christ, in all its diversity, is created with Baptist feet, charismatic hands, and Catholic ears -- all with their eyes on Jesus." In blindly praising the Roman Catholic Church, Colson says, it, "to its great credit, does call heretics to account." One writer responds, "Indeed she does, having burned more than a million at the stake!"
- Luis Palau brought his ecumenical evangelism crusade to Chicago for eight weeks of meetings in the Spring of 1996. Bill Hybels supported this crusade (along with 1,500 other churches), saying, "I pray that all churches will come together to proclaim the Gospel throughout Chicago ..." Palau has honored Soviet atheistic churchmen, endorsed the unreliable Living Bible, spoken at Oral Roberts University and Moody Bible Institute, and his ecumenical evangelism campaigns have involved Roman Catholics, charismatics, liberals, and new evangelicals. His messages are also heavily diluted with pop psychology and Arminian easy-believism. The 1993 Palau Crusade in Jamaica featured this note in a 1/31 newspaper ad: "The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kingston gives wholehearted support in mobilizing its members to participate in the National Crusade 1993. This venture is seen by us as an important event in the spreading of the Gospel in an ecumenical manner."
- Hybels was among a group of twelve so-called evangelical Christian "leaders" who met with President Clinton on 10/18/93 at a private breakfast in the White House. In fact, Hybels was considered a spiritual advisor to Clinton at the time, "who consults him [Hybels] on a fairly regular basis" (3/16/95 ABC News Special, "In the Name of God," Peter Jennings reporting). Hybels stayed overnight at the White House and helped Clinton set the agenda. At this meeting, Clinton spoke of the pain he felt when conservatives attacked his policies (such as furthering his homosexual agenda?). [Among the other attendees with Hybels were hyper-charismatic Jack Hayford, social radical and pantheist Tony Campolo, and the psychologizer president of Taylor University, Jay Kesler.] (Reported in the 4/94, Lofton Letter.)
In a 4/19/97 interview, Hybels said the president is not only a policy-maker, but a person seeking God -- "Generally, in evangelicalism I think people are glad that the president is meeting with spiritual mentors." Hybels was one of about 10 clergy Clinton invited to Arkansas within the first month of his 1992 election (including apostates Robert Schuller and Tony Campolo). At Clinton's second inauguration, Hybels disclosed that he and Clinton had met monthly. (Source: 4/21/97, Washington Times.) The 4/5/97 issue of World magazine said Hybels, on inauguration day, faced the President and praised "the wisdom and the leadership and the vision in your life the past four years." Hybels lauded "the development of your [Clinton's] heart, your increasing desire to know God, and to live for him. ..." Hybels wanted Clinton to know "to the depths of your being that you are loved by God. And, not incidentally, by many, many of us." (Source: 5/1/97, Calvary Contender.)
- President Clinton's August 2000 appearance at Willow Creek for its annual three-day Leadership Summit Conference was another prime example of Bill Hybels' total lack of spiritual discernment and/or disregard for the Biblical doctrine of separation. During the almost 90-minute interview and question-and-answer session led by Hybels, the president said he was in a process of "totally rebuilding my life from a terrible mistake that I made,” referring to his immoral conduct with Monica Lewinsky. There was little genuine baring of the soul, however, and certainly nothing spiritually edifying taking place at Willow Creek that day. Sun-Times reporter Ernest Tucker noted that the president "seemed at ease, at times poking fun at himself. The audience applauded and laughed at his Jay Lenolike quips." Even compromiser Chuck Colson noted that "you could have mistaken the setting for the 'Oprah Winfrey Show'." The president offered "little mention of God and no mention of sin." Instead, he said in reference to his affair with Lewinsky, "I wake up every day, no matter what anybody says, with this overwhelming sense of gratitude. If I hadn't been knocked down in the way I was and forced to come to grips with what I'd done and the consequences of it, I might not ever have had to really deal with it a hundred percent." He also noted, "two-thirds of the American people stuck with me. That's an incredible thing. ... In a funny way, when you realize there is nothing left to hide, then it sort of frees you up to what you ought to be doing anyway." Colson called the event a "graphic demonstration of the Oprah-izing of American values," and observed that the president's words were steeped in the language of American therapeutic culture, in which self-fulfillment reigns and one's feelings about oneself are not only the center of attention, but the only criterion for judgment. But even if "American culture has redefined sin and repentance," is it too much to ask that the Church at least maintain the godly definitions? Apparently it is: Clinton left to a standing ovation of 4,500 "Christian" leaders. (Another 6,300 watched by satellite at 15 other locations.)
Even if one accepted the president's apology (Hybels called it "... one of the most clear confessional statements that I have ever heard"!), it is fair to ask why so-called Christian leaders would give a standing ovation to a president who at every opportunity had waged war on unborn children. From the very first day of his presidency, when he signed three executive orders against the unborn, until the final year of his presidency, when he struck down a ban against killing viable babies nearly out their mothers' wombs, Clinton had participated in shedding the blood of innocents. Of this he has never repented or apologized. And this is not to mention his steady promotion of homosexuality as well. For "Christians" the likes of Bill Hybels and his "leadership" crowd, morality is now private and not public -- not in the sense Clinton seems to have meant, that what a man in power does in his "private" life is no one else's business, but in the sense that moral standards are now personal and subjective and not eternal and objective. Sins are "mistakes," one is not caught but "knocked down," and no one asks you to repent as long as you learn from the experience, grow, and move on. And no one asks you to repent of sins (sins like promoting abortion and homosexuality) you yourself do not feel are sins. So everyone felt good and Hybels pronounced what can only be described as a feel-good absolution. At the end, according to the Chicago Tribune, Hybels and Clinton stood before the crowd; Hybels then "put his arm on the president's shoulder and prayed: 'Thank you, God, that you wired him up the way you did'." If feelings are what count in religion, then Clinton himself played the perfect evangelist at Willow Creek. Eleven thousand approving converts in one evening is impressive. The episode at Willow Creek was more than the "Oprah-izing of American values," it was the Clintonizing of professing Christians who should know better. [Source: "A Feel-Good Sacrament," James M. Kushiner, Touchstone magazine (touchstonemagazine.com), October 2000.]
One observer writes, "You’ll know that your church is becoming 'seeker-sensitive' when the worship service begins to resemble an Amway convention run by pod people in polo shirts whose savior looks more like Bill Clinton with sunglasses and a saxophone than the Son of God hanging from a lonely cross for the sins of the world."
- Hybels has also invited a Roman Catholic priest, Fr. Med Laz from Holy Family Church, into his Willow Creek pulpit to share with the congregation "What Protestants Can Learn from Catholics." In introducing Laz, Hybels told how, at Laz's invitation, he (Hybels) had spoken to a conference of Catholic leaders at Holy Family, and that he had "developed this enormous respect and admiration for this man as a brother in Christ ..." (transcribed from audiotape M9010, "What Protestants Can Learn from Catholics," Bill Hybels/Fr. Med Lax, Seeds Tape Ministry, a ministry of Willow Creek Community Church). Yet Laz told of "really becoming a Christian" after he was already a priest and that it happened through going to a motel room at 2:00 A.M. to see a young female acquaintance. Tempted to go to bed with her, he resisted the temptation and felt so good at having done so that he knew he was now a Christian. This "testimony" was greeted with enthusiastic applause, though it was hardly an example of what evangelicals call getting saved, and it implied a priesthood made up of men who don't know Christ. While Hybels admitted that he and the priest didn't agree upon everything, any differences were too minor to mention. Hybels had only praise for Roman Catholicism and its false gospel. He told the congregation, "I believe there are some things we can learn from the Catholic Church and I'd like to ask Med ... to tell us what are some of the praiseworthy things of the Roman Catholic Church that you think Protestants can learn from ..." (Ibid.)
Laz then boasted that Mother
Teresa was part of the Catholic Church and Hybels implied that Protestants
were jealous of that fact. There was not a word concerning her own deficient
testimony. Laz also boasted that Covenant House, America's largest crisis
shelter for runaways (with six locations), was run by Catholic nuns. Again,
Hybels' only response was approval. Laz also boasted of
Rome's firm commitment to marriage, to which Hybels again gave his full assent.
Not a word was said of the more than 60,000 annulments given (for a fee) by the
Catholic Church in the United States each year and which make a mockery of
marriage (National Catholic Reporter, August 27, 1993). Many annulments
are granted for "psychological" reasons such as being raised in a
"dysfunctional" family or being "psychologically unprepared"
for a marriage that occurred decades before and produced numerous children --
the ultimate in hypocrisy and cynicism. Typical is the distress of a faithful
Catholic woman whose Catholic husband was granted an annulment after a 30-year
marriage and five children so he could marry again "in the Church"
(letter on file). (Source: 5/23/98, FBIS report.)
- In October of 2001, Hybels invited a local Muslim
leader, Fred Hammouda, to talk about Islam to Willow Creek churchgoers. Hammouda
was provided with this huge forum to spread lies about his false and dangerous
religion. He blamed the U.S. for recent terrorism and professed hate for the
U.S. and Israel. He said Muslims consider Jesus and other Biblical figures
Islamic prophets, though not as important as Mohammed. It surprised many in
Hybels' audience that Muslims believe in Jesus [not the Biblical Jesus, of
course]. The deception was evident from reactions such as, "I didn't know
they believed in Jesus," and "we have much in common." Some
walked out, however, when he said things like "The U.S. is responsible for
terrorism." Hybels claimed that the dialogue was beneficial. The 12/01 Foundation
states: "For any Christian leader to share a platform with a Muslim and
blatantly allow a false teacher to propagate error is unthinkable. Hybels has
completely rejected … Paul's admonition for church leaders to protect the
flock and beware of false teachers and false doctrine (Acts 20:28-31). Rather,
he has intentionally allowed a wolf to enter the doors of the church and deceive
the flock. This … reveals the extent to which one will compromise once the
Biblical doctrine of separation is rejected." (Source: 11/01, Calvary
the dialogue, Hybels said in an interview that the goal of the event wasn't to
change longstanding views. "I don't know that many views needed to be
changed. I think questions were answered" (Chicago Tribune, Oct. 12,
2001). Tragically, Muslims worship a false god and believe in a false christ;
and the Bible says we are to preach the gospel to false religions, not dialogue
with them. Hybels would do well to follow the example of the Apostle Paul on
Mars Hill and boldly preach against false gods and proclaim God's command that
all men everywhere repent. Instead, he is unwisely pursuing the path of
ecumenical compromise and soft peddle dialogue. (Source: 10/19/01, FBIS.)
- By taking a "seeker sensitive" approach to evangelism and worship, Willow Creek is, in effect, unable to take a firm stand on anything. In a 1991 phone conversation with a Willow Creek Community Church' spokeswoman, their policy on abortion was defined. She stated that the church is "pro-life," but in order to avoid offending potential converts, they don't tell anyone their stand unless they are asked. It was explained that the church preferred to wait for the conversion experience before detailing what Christianity fully entails. Is this "model church" only one example of the compromises being made regarding honesty with the prospective "targets" (unsuspecting unbelievers)? Did Jesus Christ use deception to win souls? Has the "Evangelical movement" as a whole chosen this and other unlikely tactics to bring about its agenda?
- Regardless of which of the Bible versions a true Bible-believer might
choose to use, all can agree that The Living Bible is not
an acceptable "translation." In July 1996, the New Living
Translation (NLT) by Tyndale House Publishers came out as a remake of
Kenneth Taylor's The Living Bible, which first
appeared in a complete Bible in 1971, and which has sold more than 40 million
copies. The advertisements tell us that "The New Living Translation
provides a wonderful balance of readability and authority. ... due to the
careful work of 90 leading Bible scholars, it is accurate to the original Greek
and Hebrew text." The cover jacket of the NLT contains enthusiastic
recommendations by Billy
Graham, Bill Hybels, and Josh
McDowell, and was featured positively in the 10/28/96 edition of Christianity
Today in an article, "The Living Bible Reborn."
In truth, the NLT is a more worthless version than The Living Bible ever was. It is, again, a paraphrase, like The Living Bible, but its updating of the language and phrase additions make a mockery of the Word of God. Yet, Hybels says of the NLT: "The New Living Translation opens up Scripture so all people can more easily understand the life-changing truth that transforms the nonbeliever into a devoted follower of Christ."
- Promise Keepers is the gigantic new (1991) "men's movement" among professing evangelical Christians. Its roots are Catholic and charismatic to the core. PK's contradictory stand on homosexuality; its promotion of secular psychology; its unscriptural feminizing of men; its depiction of Jesus as a "phallic messiah" tempted to perform homosexual acts; and its ecumenical and unbiblical teachings should dissuade any true Christian from participating. Promise Keepers is proving to be one of the most ungodly and misleading movements in the annals of Christian history. Nevertheless, Bill Hybels is a promoter of this ecumenical, charismatic, psychologized men's movement. He has written articles for the Promise Keepers magazine, New Man, written chapters in various Promise Keepers books, and has spoken at Promise Keepers conferences in 1994 through 1996. At a 6/94 PK conference in Indianapolis, Hybels said many men vastly overrate how good they are in the eyes of a holy God. "But ask yourself," he said, "how you stack up against Mother Teresa and Billy Graham ..."
[For more details on the philosophies and false teachings of those who are part of "the Willow Creek Family Tree" (Schuller, Peck, Wagner, Laz, Bridges, Manning, Jung, Bly, and Beattie), see The Willow Creek Dilemma, an August 2001 report by Chris Carmichael.]
- Dr. Bill Jackson, president of the Association of
Fundamentalists Evangelizing Catholics (AFEC), prepared a 6/18/99 statement on
"The Gospel of Jesus Christ—An Evangelical Celebration" (EC). (See
the 6/14/99 Christianity Today for the
full text of the EC.) This document has been endorsed by Charles Colson, Bill
Bright, and J.I.
Packer, all of whom also signed the controversial ECT
documents of 1994 and 1997; as well as endorsed by R.C.
MacArthur, and D.
James Kennedy, all of whom publicly [albeit weakly] challenged and
criticized them for signing the ECT documents. There are a number of helpful
statements in this latest document that deal with areas which were not fully
dealt with in the ECT documents (e.g., imputation is now dealt with favorably,
but has been consistently opposed by Roman Catholic Councils and Catechisms). EC
says, "We cannot embrace any form of doctrinal indifferentism by which
God's truth is sacrificed for a false peace." But there is certainly no
better example of "doctrinal indifferentism" than the ECT documents
themselves (James 1:8)! Because ECT I stated that "Evangelicals and
Catholics are brothers and sisters in Christ," in order to be relevant, the
new EC document should be submitted to the Roman Catholics who signed ECT I and
II. It is difficult to see how a person could subscribe to both ECT and EC. The
only logical conclusion is for all who signed EC to remove their names from ECT.
It also appears that the so-called "evangelical" ECT endorsers have
been "let off the hook" by former critics. We
believe EC will be used to rehabilitate those who erred in 1994 and 1997,
without their having to admit or ask forgiveness for their error. (Source:
7/15/99, Calvary Contender.) [Other "evangelical" endorsers of EC
among the 15 members of the Drafting Committee and 114 members of the Endorsing
Committee include John Ankerberg, Kay
Arthur, Tony Evans, Jerry
Falwell, Bill Hybels, David
Jeremiah, D. James Kennedy, Max
& Beverly LaHaye, Erwin
Robertson, Ronald Sider, Charles
Stanley, John Stott, Joseph Stowell, Chuck
Wilkinson, and Ravi Zacharias; also endorsing EC were hyper-charismatics Jack
Hayford and Steven Strang.]
ignorant Bill Hybels and fellow endorsers may be of all this, his participation in EC
makes him a party to its consequences. It is also important to note that the EC
document (which is supposed to be a definitive and comprehensive statement of
the true saving Gospel of Christ), never mentions repentance
for salvation, and never mentions the total depravity of man (thereby
leaning towards a decisional regeneration). Moreover, the EC promotes an
ecumenical unity (via "trans-denominational cooperative enterprises")
with all professing believers who attest to the EC's "essentials" of
the faith. But this is not the unity of the faith taught in Ephesians. While we
are instructed by Scripture to be of one mind, the evangelical today scoffs at
the idea of true Biblical unity based on complete agreement with, and submission
to, God's holy Word. The only use of the word "unity" in the New
Testament is found in Ephesians chapter four. It is a "unity of the
Spirit" (v. 3), not of men. It is a "unity of faith" (v. 13)
based on sound doctrine for which believers are to contend, not water down nor
reclassify into essentials and non-essentials (Jude 3). No real spiritual unity
can exist apart from doctrinal unity, and we are to "mark them which cause
divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid
them" (Rom. 16:17).
- The overreaching concern, common to almost all the critics, is that "seeker-sensitive" churches compromise the gospel by tailoring their messages to non-Christians: that the use of polished entertainment, feel-good sermons, and marketing techniques subtly alters the gospel that is being communicated. The author of two critical works on the state of the evangelical church -- No Place for Truth and God in the Wasteland -- theologian David Wells says, "I honestly believe [Hybels] doesn't think he's compromising the gospel by using cultural devices, but he seems blinded to the fact that culture is not neutral. ... The problem is that culture is laden with values that inevitably go against the thrust of the gospel message. ... Theoretically there are many groups they choose from ... including the poor, the aged, students, Afro-Americans and Hispanics, but practically, church marketers exclusively target white, middle-class, college-educated baby boomers" (7/18/94, Christianity Today, "Selling Out the House of God?").