Can Wrong Methods Lead To Right Results?

We’ve been having some conversation around here regarding the connection between methods and results.

Now our specific subject has been Rick Warren. Most of you know him as the author of the best-selling Purpose Driven Life and pastor of Saddleback Church in southern California.

Here’s the conundrum: as we consider using some of Warren’s material at Good Shepherd, we see again his incomplete approach to Scripture. He often pulls single verses far away from their context in a larger book. He privatizes sections of Scripture that are meant to be read & applied in community. Many times, he is more concerned with what Scripture “means” now than with what it “meant” then.

And yet . . . his theology is orthodox. Mainstream evangelical. He is no fundamentalist, nor does he veer towards any cult-like excesses. His conclusions are almost universally sound. As far as his record in ministry, that of building a church the prevails — well, he could hardly be more effective.

So: do incomplete methods lead to complete results?

The question is much larger than Rick Warren. There’s been a great deal of consternation in the Methodist blogosphere (yes, it exists) over Beth Moore’s theology and visibility in our Wesleyan circles. I’ve even been to gatherings where leaders proclaim, “Well, the Baptists have Beth Moore, but we have _____________”, lifting up a name of a Methodist pastor & teacher many hope and pray will garner a similar influence and following.

Or even this: most of you know that I have profound disagreements with the end times theology that undergirds the Left Behind series of novels and movies. Yet many people have come to faith because of those same books and films. What to make of it?

Can methods you disagree with bring about results you celebrate?

What say you?