In an era where spiritual compromise and doctrinal erosion are becoming increasingly prevalent, it has become extremely important for young Christians to practice discernment, particularly when it comes to conferences and worship events outside the local church. Among the most nefarious of these events geared toward teens and young adults is the Passion Conference. This yearly event, endorsed by men like John Piper and Rick Warren and presented under the guise of Christian fellowship and worship, poses a significant threat to the integrity of biblical truth, due to the compromised doctrinal integrity of its speakers and worship leaders. These people, despite their popular appeal, are not strangers to false teachings, teaching for personal gain, teaching things they ought not to teach. And the 2024 Conference will be no different.
The Passion Conference, founded by Louie Giglio, is essentially a large-scale, modern evangelical event targeting young adults. Touting itself as a platform for spiritual revival and Christian fellowship, it often leans heavily on emotional experiences and cultural trends rather than deep, traditional biblical teachings. This event’s approach to faith and worship, while popular, dilutes the gospel and transforms it into a mass appeal to emotionalism and social activism.
The crux of the issue with the Passion Conference lies not only in its intent but also in its execution. Year after year, the selection of speakers has signaled a troubling trend. From Hillsong’s bred and groomed social activist Christine Caine to ripped skinny-jean-wearing hipsters like Levi Lusko, though charismatic and influential, the conference has never promoted the undiluted gospel with a clear call to repentance and faith. Rather it promotes a gospel that is tolerant, accepting, inclusive, and eager to fix temporal social problems around the globe.
One primary concern is the conference’s inclination towards a culturally-influenced version of Christianity, one that prioritizes contemporary societal trends over sound biblical doctrine. This approach, while seemingly relevant and engaging, significantly dilutes the gospel, replacing the unadulterated truths of Scripture with a more digestible yet ultimately empty version of faith. This cultural shift aligns with the biblical warning in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 about people turning away from sound teaching to suit their own desires.
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Additionally, the speakers at Passion 2024 have a history of endorsing aberrant theological ideas such as the prosperity gospel. In fact, it is this false gospel that the Passion Conference was born out of. This false teaching, which equates divine blessing with material prosperity and personal success, grossly misinterprets the true nature of God’s blessings, which the Bible identifies as spiritual growth, sanctification, and eternal hope.
The involvement of speakers from movements like Jesus Culture, associated with the Bethel Church, further complicates matters. This church, led by Bill Johnson, promotes beliefs that contradict basic Christianity and promotes the idea of ongoing apostolic and prophetic roles and aberrant practices like grave-sucking, false manifestations of the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, and seeking extra-Biblical revelations. Bethel even recently baptized an open, practicing homosexual for no other reason except that he was a Disney star who said he wanted to be baptized. No call to faith and repentance and no genuine conversion to Christianity.
Even specific speakers, such as Carl Lentz, have demonstrated an alarming refusal to firmly uphold key Christian doctrines. Lentz’s vague stance on fundamental moral issues like marriage and sexuality reflects a compromise that ultimately led to his own sexual immorality and subsequent demise and disqualification from the pulpit.
The Passion Conference’s embrace of practices steeped in Roman Catholic mysticism, such as Lectio Divina, is also concerning. This method of ‘divine reading,’ which may seem spiritually enriching to the undiscerning, is actually rooted in the occult and Eastern mystic practices that deny the sufficiency and authority of the Scriptures.
The Passion Conference promotes a version of Christianity increasingly influenced by cultural trends and doctrinal innovations, rather than being anchored in the authoritative and innerant Word of God. Young believers who give themselves over to these charismatic, emotionally-charged events risk being misled about the nature and character of God, the truth about His calling on our lives, and will likely receive an obscured message on the essence of Christian living, which is characterized by sacrifice, humility, and an eternal focus.
The Passion Conference’s negligence of deep, exegetical study of the Bible, in favor of emotional experiences and personal interpretations, is troubling. While emotional experiences are a part of our relationship with God, they should never overshadow the foundational truth of God’s Word, as Isaiah 40:8 reminds us:
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.
For young Christians especially, it is vital to be discerning, to test everything against Scripture, and to adhere to that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Unfortunately, the Passion Conference represents a path that distorts these principles, leading towards a gospel diluted by the world’s preferences rather than shaped by the immutable Word of God.
Therefore, it is of utmost importance, especially for young believers, to seek wisdom and guidance in their spiritual journey and this should primarily take place in your local, bible-believing church that holds a high view of Scripture. Turn to the Scriptures, the enduring truths that have sustained Christians—the early church, the reformers, the Puritans, the great revivalists—throughout the centuries. Seek fellowship and teaching that reinforce, not redefine, the fundamental doctrines of our faith.
In a world where truth is often compromised for convenience or popularity, it is essential to stand firm in your commitment to the unchanging Gospel of Jesus Christ. Your faith, rooted in the solid foundation of God’s Word, is your most valuable asset. Protect it, cultivate it, and let it guide you in a world fraught with uncertainty.