Rick Warren: Heretic or Christian Brother?

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Tim Challies points out some disappointing features of Rick Warren's first column in Ladies Home Journal. His message is summed up into five points: Accept Yourself, Love Yourself, Be True To Yourself, Forgive Yourself, Believe in Yourself. It doesn't mention some of the key features of the gospel that one might expect from an evangelical trying to speak into those who consume popular culture. Tim says this column is a squandered oppportunity, because everything he says is consistent with New Age spirituality. Is this the right thing to say? Yes and no.

I credit Tim for stopping short of calling him a heretic and simply saying what he said is consistent with New Age spirituality. A lot of people have gone way beyond the evidence (and I think contradicted the evidence) in saying such things about Warren. It's true that his popular books, and now his column, are pretty simplistic and fluffy. His most popular book puts all the scripture references in endnotes and uses whatever translation makes his point clearest, regardless of accuracy to the original text. It's not contrary to the gospel, however, despite the claims of some.

He definitely squandered an opportunity if this is his only column. Is it? I thought this was an ongoing thing. Perhaps he's saying things consistent with New Age spirituality for the sake of getting his foot in the door to say other things later. It's wise to think long-term to maximize the effect of his having this column.

On the other hand, those who are calling him a heretic are in serious need of a reality check. Nothing he said is at odds with what the Bible says, when taken in a reasonable and ordinary way. As I said in a comment I've left on a couple different blog posts now:

Telling people to accept the way God made them is perfectly consistent with saying we aren't perfect. If you're perfect, why would he tell people to forgive themselves? Telling people to love themselves is consistent with believing we shouldn't love ourselves more than we ought. Love for yourself is assumed in "love your neighbor as yourself", though it's funny to tell people to do what they already do. Telling people to be true to themselves makes perfect sense given that God has gifted us all in certain ways and wants us to live according to our own giftings and sphere of influence. It is kind of strange not to forgive yourself if God has forviven you. As for believing in yourself, the most natural way to take that is perfectly consistent with believing that God has enabled you to do wonderful things. If God is for us.... I just don't see how any of this, even if it's a misplaced message, counts as New Age spirituality.

So I think it's just way beyond the evidence, and thus unnecessarily divisive, to say that Warren is spouting forth false teaching. The three things scripture does give as grounds for excommunication are gross sin, grossly false teaching, and serious divisiveness. If Warren is teaching things that are seriously false, as in denying the gospel, then people would be right to say so. I haven't seen any evidence that he is (and there's much that he isn't).

I don't like a number of his views, particularly in his earlier book The Purpose Driven Church, or at least I don't like how most people will take them given how he says them. Much of what he says is uncareful, and he doesn't spend enough time deriving it out of the scriptures. That doesn't mean he's teaching a false gospel. He most obviously isn't, as far as I can tell. That means those who are claiming he is are in danger of causing divisiveness where it shouldn't be, which moves them in the direction of the third ground for excommunication. I don't think Warren's emphasis is right, at least much of the time. He often says things in ways I very much regret. I think he'd more often try to shape the church into the image of the culture than into the image of scripture, though he doesn't see that about himself. I worry about this column, because I'm not sure he's doing what I think he might be doing. Yet he's no heretic, and those who say he is have a very small view of the church and God's purposes.

To those people, I say cut it out and remember that we are united with those who disagree with us, both on methods and on non-central/gospel issues. Those who don't care about the unity of the church will tend to find that those who do will consider them a fringe element. That's what has happened with KJV-onlyists, who make their translation issue a gospel issue. It will happen with those who do the same with making the TNIV issues a matter of gospel importance. It will happen with those who make gender roles issues a matter of central division, from either side. It will happen with Rick Warren heresy hunters.

For a similar viewpoint, see this In the Outer post that says almost nothing of what I've just said but comes to the same conclusions.


Hey Jeremy,

Thanks for putting the arguments out there in your usual clearly thought out manner. I appreciate your call for unity and join you in that regard. For all the energy expended in trying to cut down the brother, if only people channel it to pray for, and with him, and in actually doing something positive about reaching those who are outside the kingdom...

I forgot to say that I'd ignore the possible connotation that your comment about my post says almost nothing! haha!

Well, it was sort of a hat tip. I followed a link from your post and then another one and ending up writing about something more removed from your post, but I wanted to mention it because that's how I found the other stuff.

No worries, Parableman. I typed too quickly in my second comment up there and it doesn't really convey what I thought I was trying to say. I found something which I thought was humorous and tried to make a joke about it, but, ah, never mind...

Most of what Rick Warren says is based on "principles" found in the Word of God. However, he leaves out almost all of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In his preaching, and in his writings, there is little reference to SIN. When he does refer to sin, it is not sin in the Biblical sense, it is "sin" in the "loss of self-esteem" sense. He has taken his lead from his mentor Robert Schuller and is preaching a user friendly gospel, in fact he is preaching "another Jesus" and "another gospel".

"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 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 wll bear with [him]. 2 Cor 11: 3-4.

"But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." Gal 1:8

Rick Warren in his 40 Days of Purpose tapes, and in his Purpose Driven Life book, gives an invitation to accept Jesus, he does this without having preached about the fallen nature of man, sin, the inability of man to save himself, conviction of sin by the Holy Ghost, the sacrifice on the Cross, the resurrection, repentance, or the need for a Savior.

In leaving out almost all of the Gospel, he is asking the listeners/readers to "add Jesus" to their lives. There is nothing that indicates to an unbeliever that he/she is a sinner and must turn from their wicked ways and accept the sacrifice that Jesus made for the remission of their sins.

The "Jesus" that you can just add to your life, without repentance, without change, and without any knowledge of who Jesus Christ really is, is not the Jesus of the Bible, and is thus "another Jesus".

Here's a CNN interview in which Rick Warren talks about sin, says God requires 100% obedience or we deserve hell, and presents the gospel as a remedy to that problem. He also says the biggest sin is pride, not lack of self-esteem. This took a quick Google search and a click on the first link available, which shows that you haven't done your homework. I don't know who invented what you're propagating, but it doesn't fit with what I know about Warren. Next time you want to say damning things about a brother, at least have the facts on your side.

Jeremy, your analysis of Warren seems to be very good and balanced. I read a recent article from Trinity journal critiquing Warren for his presentation of the gospel in The Purpose Driven Life. If I remember right, the author's view was not that it was wrong, but that it was not thorough enough. That would seem to be a valid assessment to me. If the book was meant for unbelievers, then one would wish that there was more clarity and thoroughness regarding the gospel. On the other hand, if the book was for believers, one would have wished that his application of Scripture would not ignore the original text. I believe that people don't learn to interpret Scripture from hermeneutics classes as much as they learn by example and that is especially the case for those who don't take seminary courses. But Warren is far from heretical!

I would like to comment on Jeremy Pierce's analysis of the CNN interview with Rick Warren.

�Next time you want to say damning things about a brother, at least have the facts on your side.�
Jeremy, are you sure the facts are on your side? I read the link you posted and saw nothing on hell, nor did Warren present the gospel as a remedy to that. Here is what Warren actually said.
"WARREN: Even our sins. God sets the rules. But God also forgives. And that's what the whole good news is about. The good news is that heaven is a perfect place. And that means only perfect people get to go there. Well, I stopped batting 1.000 a long time ago. Like, year one."

I read the CNN Interview over and over again and I could not find hell. He didn�t even say 100% obedience. Nor does he present the gospel as a remedy. What he does say, is, God forgives and heaven is for perfect people�.hmmmm�that�s the gospel? Is that what the apostles gave their lives for?

Where is repentance? Where is the cross? What about the consequences of unrepentant hearts? Eg. Matthew 4:17;Mark 6:12;Luke 13:1-5;John 3:14-16. Is there not a warning that man would perish if he were to reject Christ? Jesus paid a high price. Jesus warned that it was a cost to follow Him.Luke 14:27-29; Mark 8:14. He didn�t say�find your purpose. Warren�s brand is not necessarily heresy, but it is not the gospel either. It is possible this is an oversight on Warren�s part. I have to wonder though. I have read his book "The Purpose Driven Life"�It�s not there either.

It also concerns me when he says. �that means only perfect people get to go there(heaven).� How do you think the non-christian will interpret this? Having been an unbeliever, I would think that it is by works I get to heaven and God will forgive me and accept me as I am. Are we sure this is the message? As far as I know we can never live that perfect life. Jesus lived it for us and His righteousness was credited to our account. Any works we do is by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit who enables us to live a godly life. You know? Sanctification. The unbeliever needs to understand that he will die in his sins and hell awaits him if he rejects the Son of God. I know some find this offensive, but it�s the truth. If we truly care about the destiny of the unbeliever we will love him enough to tell the truth. If we trust the Holy Spirit to convict souls, we need to present the gospel clearly and let Him do the rest.
With Warren�s incredible opportunity to present the gospel clearly, where ever he goes. Why does he say� Accept Yourself, Love Yourself, Be True To Yourself, Forgive Yourself, Believe in Yourself. Is this what the bible teaches? How about Deny yourself, repent, love God, be true to Christ, believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Forgive others as Jesus has forgiven us. The first shall be last and the last first. Take up your cross and follow Me. Matthew 16:24 Mark 8:34 Philippians 1:21 Mark 8:34-38; Luke 9:23-26 I could go on.
Let�s heed Acts17:11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
Anyone who is a teacher, whoever he might be, needs to understand that when they preach, we too will take the example of the Bereans and examine the Scriptures to see if what Rick Warren or anyone else says is true.

You don't have to use the word 'hell' to talk about it. He says quite clearly that heaven is a perfect place, and only perfect people get to go there. Then he says that no one is perfect, including himself. Then he talks about forgiveness, which means it's not by works. Also, your concerns about me-centeredness are obviously dealt with in the interview I linked to. Pride is the root of sin, and he uses the stupid pneumonic trick that the middle letter of the English word 'sin' is 'I'. That pretty easily dismisses any interpretation of him that it's all about self. It's clearly the opposite for him.

As I said in the original post, Warren doesn't always put things in the best way, and sometimes he isn't clear or complete, but he believes the gospel. The interview I linked to does include several crucial components of it that Roger's comment claimed Warren never deals with. The primary point of his comment was that Warren never even mentions sin, but he spent a good deal of time talking about it in that interview, and it wasn't at King's inititation. King picked up on Warren's prior use of it.

As for repentance, here is an excerpt of an article he wrote for preachers about it. I believe it's an excerpt of this piece. Here is a more recent Larry King interview where he spends a good deal of time talking about repentance, and it sounds pretty biblical to me. As before, it's got a couple unclarities. I wish he'd mentioned that it does involve stopping behavior and not just changing your mind, but I think he was implying not that it doesn't involve that but that it's not primarily about behavior but internal attitude toward God and God's ways. One website I found with the quick Google search that turned this all up says that he does talk about it on p.182. I don't have his book, and I don't ever intend to have it, so I can't look it up myself, but that's what someone in this comment thread said.

A Google search like this need not take more than five minutes. It turned up a whole bunch of statements along the lines of yours, many of them much stronger, interspersed with actual evidence that contradicted them. That shows how well people are checking their facts. When it comes to labeling someone a false teacher, it's unconscionable not to do what takes so little effort if it means being sure you have the facts right.

As an instructor in Religion, Philosophy, Logic and Ethics, I have found the "Purpose Driven Life" interesting but Warren does not give credit for much of his work to the original source. The reader will assume his written comments are his, however, in truth they are borrowed and credit not given.

The world knows what Christians are against, but do they know what we are for? Take a positive approach to the word of God and allow God to do great things through you. Great things are bringing people the good news. This is all Rick Warren is doing. Some of the posts on this site sound like Christians should spread the bad news.

1. I find this comment so out of touch with what I do on this site that I can't take it seriously. Have you really spent time looking through the various kinds of posts I've written? Have you looked at my favorite posts list? If you still think this after having spent some time looking through those, then please talk to me. If not, I don't know what you're trying to say.

2. The very post you're leaving a comment on was a defense of Rick Warren. You sound as if the posts I write tend to be the opposite of what I was doing in this post, but yet you chose this one to leave your comment on. I don't get it.

3. There's a place for negativity. Otherwise, you're quenching the Spirit by denying a place for certain spiritual gifts. See this post.

We are being promised by Richard Abanes, author of the forthcoming Rick Warren and the Purpose That Drives Him: An Insider Looks at the Phenomenal Bestseller (Harvest House, July, 2005; ISBN#: 0-7369-1738-1) that those who have been critical of Warren (include Challies) are "misguided, sectarian, inaccurate, [and have done] faulty research. You'll see."

See this page for some articles dealing with this issue. But, I am assured by Abanes, that these are the one that are misguided, etc... We'll see!

In the CNN piece, I think it is unresonable for Rick Warren to present the gospelin that setting. It is not unresonable for him to accurately answer the question given to him though. He presents himself as an athority. If you notice he seldom answers the question. or Look to Jesus Christ as the rememdy, instead he often points to himslf or the worlds perspective for a relative response. i.e. the question about his critics..

KING: One accused you of commercializing Christianity. A Time magazine article quoted fundamental Bible church pastor Dennis Costello who said, "The purpose-driven ministry is a marketing strategy. We believe the Bible tells us to present the word of God without packaging it for contemporary cultural context." ... How do you respond to that?

WARREN: Well, first place, I don't even know this church. I mean, you know, you can find a critic anywhere. But I liked what The New York Times said about me. It said, you know, marketers create a message in order to market. Warren creates tools in order to create a message, in order to propel a message. And that's it.

He doesn't deny it. But spins it to his advantage. What does knowing the guy have to do with the question (By saying that, he presents himself as a victim) He markets the message(of?) "Warren creates tools" (so put the sword away).

His sermons and statements are base on premisis, assumptions that can be false and then he builds around them. For example, one of his sermons(Psalms 23, Gods antidote for hurt) is based on the assumption that "Relations is the primary source of our Hurts, and joys." that sounds resonable. He builds around that premis with scripture and antidotes for solutions on how to deal with those hurts. Biblical refernces. Jesus quoted in context. What is the problem? Am I misguided? This is the problem, The primary source of our hurt is Sin. And our primary source of Joy is Christ. MY Hurt is NOT from an outward source,(relationships) and I am not a victim.(innocent) I am sin, and Christ is propitiation.

Rick Warren is Clever.

Please forgive the spelling,

I don't see what you're saying. King raises the criticism that it's about the marketing, and Warren responds that it's about the message, with tools used to propel it.

The thing about not knowing the guy might just be to say that this isn't some influential pastor. King picked a nobody. You can find a critic anywhere. Alternatively, it might be that he didn't know the context of the guy's remarks or the background of the guy. If he was a KJV-only fundamentalist, then of course he's going to criticize Warren, and he'll pick on him for anything without regard for whether it's a good argument. Either response seems ok to me, though I agree that it's better to focus on the argument.

Warren is right that the primary source of our problems is relational. The book of Genesis argues quite strongly for that thesis. It begins with our relationship with God, and its effects filter throughout all our other relationships. It might be that his exegesis isn't always good, but sadly most pastors aren't strong in that area. He's just a famous one. It might be that he says things uncarefully, but again most do that. It might be that he reasons his way to things that lead to practices I think are unfortunate, but again that's nothing special.

I never said I have nothing to criticize about what this man does. I said I do have things to criticize. This post was to point out that not one of those things is a reason to call him a false teacher, a heretic, or a New Ager, as many uncareful and divisive people have done. I'm going to continue to be more strongly critical of them than I am of him, because their sin can be worthy of excommunication (see I John). If he were teaching a false gospel, then so would his sin, but I've seen nothing to suggest that he is doing that. Everything points to his being a godly man who is the brunt of ridiculous attacks merely because they, in some cases rightly, reject his philosophy of ministry, not the gospel he believes, or because they pretend he's teaching something other than he is.

Compare instead Paul's insistence in Philippians 1 that if the gospel is preached we should rejoice, even if the people doing it are doing it for completely the wrong reasons. Whatever his motives and however he frames his church ministry, the things I disagree with him on are not grounds for calling him a false teacher, and those who persist in such things after due warning and correction based on facts should not be considered brothers and sisters until they repent. That's the biblical procedure for dealing with gross, unwarranted divisiveness without repentance (see I John).

I should say that I have seen people tone down their rhetoric upon seeing things I've said on this, yet they've still been critical of Warren. I'm not talking about those people. It's fine to be critical. It's not fine to make false witness against someone who is a genuine believer as to his falseness, and as far as I can tell that's exactly what's going on here.

The comment on Warren's plagiarism is disturbing. What does he not give credit for?

Where are you referring to? This charge is new to me. He doesn't cite quotes properly, but virtually no popular-level book author does. I don't know of any serious stealing of other people's stuff besides just ordinary use of public domain materials in sermons and the usual quote-mining without proper citation (not that anyone cites in a sermon).

I agree with Jeremy here. Rick Warren has high-profile visibility in a culture that is antithetical to Christianity! This alone is an amazing feat to me. If people are so upset with what he is doing, then why don't they simply go out and get on CNN and other major TV stations, do interviews with major newspapers, write books, and get millions of people around the world to read them, talk about them, and radically change their lives? Just go walk up to Larry King on TV and set it straight. (note the sarcasm here).

We are talking about evangelism to lost people who don't go to church, don't read the Bible, and don't want to have anything to do with spiritual things. Many of these people actually hate Christians or anything to do with Christianity. How do you reach out to them? Rick Warren is planting seeds on a huge scale so that people will be more receptive to hearing the gospel when they have that chance. His ministry has helped thousands of people find Christ by offering them a different way to live. Every ministry needs a different approach and focus to reach out to various types of people and in various parts of the world. This is not easy, but it is the mission. So I commend Rick Warren (and Jeremy for that matter) for what they do.

I think Rick Warren is heretical. He is inconsistent with the Apostle Paul, The Reformers,
The Puritians, and just about everyone else who holds to an historical view of Christianity. In fact, I think he's a religious humanist in the vein of Robert Schuller. Anyone who doesn't think so needs to go back to the Bible, to see what it says about itself. We should formulate our concept of the Gospel from the book of Romans and not from the Church Growth Movement. Fuller seminary has long been the bastion of post- modern and post-conservative thought.
A Christian is someone who bends his life to the authority of the Scriptures and not someone who bends the Scriptures to fit his life.

Goodman, you certainly have a right to your own opinion, but it's kind of stupid to show up at the end of a conversation and insist on things that have already been argued against without giving a smidgeon of an argument yourself.

The Schuller conspiracy theory has been roundly refuted. Warren does not endorse the religious humanism of Schuller. Warren in fact endorses classical theism in a specifically Christian form. His views are so far from Schuller's that I wonder how anyone could possibly confuse his willingness to learn from Schuller's success in attracting people with his theological convictions. I have a very hard time believing that anyone who confuses these two things has paid much attention to what Warren actually says.

He is inconsistent with the Apostle Paul, The Reformers, The Puritians, and just about everyone else who holds to an historical view of Christianity.

Argument, please? Assertion convinces no one except those who already want to believe what you say.

Anyone who doesn't think so needs to go back to the Bible, to see what it says about itself. We should formulate our concept of the Gospel from the book of Romans and not from the Church Growth Movement.

The debate is about what Warren says and how to interpret his often uncareful ways of speaking. How does reading the Bible tell you what Warren says, since he isn't mentioned in it? I agree that we should understand the gospel from the Bible. As I've been arguing all along, so does Rick Warren. You haven't responded to anything I've said here. I haven't seen a shred of evidence that Warren has gotten his view of the gospel from the church growth movement. What he's gotten from that movement is his view of the best ways to run a church, and it's clear from his writings even on that issue that he's departed from the standard church growth teachings in several important ways.

I'm not sure where the Fuller element is coming in from, but your view of Fuller is overly simplistic. They have taken a disappointing stance on scripture, not wanting to assert full inerrancy. They have hired professors who deny inerrancy, and in one case they have hired someone who doesn't even endorse the Fuller view of scriptural authority but thinks the Bible can be wrong on matters of faith and practice. I agree that that is bad for a seminary that still wants to call itself evangelical.

However, there are clearly people there who are not orthodox in their theology or views of scripture. There are clearly people there who are. The views of the leadership of the seminary and of some of the prominent professors there do not have any bearing on what the views of those without such views might be. Mark Roberts, for instance, teaches there, and his views are fully evangelical both theologically and on the nature of scripture. InterVarsity Christian Fellowship has a relationship with that seminary, and while I disagree with their stance on women in ministry it's still very clear to me that they are theologically conservative on gospel issues and accept only fully evangelical views on scripture in their statement of faith.

Even many of those who are at the seminary who do not hold to a strong view of inerrancy are still Christians. Many who accept elements of postmodern language are still Christians. The question isn't whether someone's views disagree with evangelical teaching on these important issues. It's whether they believe the gospel. Someone can believe the gospel and yet also believe things that aren't true. Someone can believe the gospel and also believe things that, if taken to their logical conclusion, would conflict with the gospel. Yet if they haven't traced out those conclusions, and it's clear that they haven't given up the gospel, they are not heretics.

Ultimately, though, I think the very mention of Fuller as if it's a problem is just completely ridiculous. I'd have no problem with Warren if he had gotten his degree from Harvard. Fuller is clearly influenced by evangelical Christianity in a way that Harvard is not (anymore, anyway). What its D.Min program teaches is surely much better in evangelical terms than what Harvard Divinity School teaches. But does it undermine someone's ministry to have gotten a degree from Harvard Divinity School? Such a degree surely is not coming from evangelical teachers, but it is a very good education in what it is. It is an exposure to the prevailing views among biblical scholars and theologians, with an opportunity for an evangelical to confront such views but learn in the context itself which ways of doing so will pass muster and which simply misunderstand the best thinkers in the mainstream of theology and biblical studies. Would someone who has done that automatically count as bending the scriptures to fit their life? You assert that for something much closer to classic evangelicalism at Fuller, but it's not true even of the pluralistic divinity school training that someone could get at Harvard. A fortiori, it's ridiculous to claim that someone is making scriptures fit their life rather than the reverse merely because his degree is from Fuller Seminary.

I think we can safely say fame and hob-nobbing with international 'stars' / personalities / "World Servers" of rock, business, finance and politics has gone to RW's head and if he had a tradtional gospel message once, it is IMHO getting severely compromised with his associations.
Check this blog for UN links, globalization topics and this PEACE PLAN strategy. The Church Growth "Quick Scalp Conversionism" is far from New Testament Christianity to me, producing 'sheeple' that follow churchianity with much entertainment and little depth to their discipleship.
We need to pray for RW and the millions who have read his books with little discernment.

Tony, you are confusing the following two things:

1. having a bad philosophy of ministry
2. not being a Christian

Confusing those things runs the risk of identifying the philosophy of ministry issues with the gospel itself, and if you do that then you run the risk of promoting a false gospel. It's pretty ironic that the people accusing Warren of heresy are in effect promoting something that amounts to heresy in the process. I would have no problem with someone criticizing the particulars of Warren's ministry. I don't happen to agree with a lot of what he does myself. But those who elevate it to the level of the gospel are really flirting with something on the order of the Galatian heresy.

As background, I don't know that much about Rick Warren. Some of what I heard made me a bit suspicious, but I didn't reach any judgement b/c I hadn't learned enough. So, I followed "tony s"s above link to "herescope." I came away from their attack on Warren feeling, if anything, better about Warren, but quite worried about the "herescope" people -- whoever they are. It was mostly taking things that Warren has said, many of which seem perfectly fine, and trying to somehow twist them into something negative. So, going just by what was there -- which involved statements from Warren that they had apparently chosen because they thought they made him look bad -- it was the "herescope" people that seemed least responsible and Christlike to me!

Since "tony s" was advertising that site here, I thought it was fitting for me to put in my 2 cents' worth against the site. But I suppose folks can follow his link & make up their own minds.

Just 're-discovered' this page and my own earlier post pointing to a blog that the last two posters, Jeremy and Keith don't apparently like.
I wonder if people have done any more research into the 'small print' of Saddleback and Rick Warren, the global P.E.A.C.E Plan, his visits to Syria, N.Korea etc etc.
With all due respect, I hope we can see through the sugar coating 'evan-jelly mold' as I call it and see the emptiness of conversion without sincere repentance and faith ('decisionism' as some call it) and a Gospel without God (more Man centred for goodly self esteem, nice therapy + church growth strategy deceptions.
Sorry to harp on, but this is a battle I believe for genuine faith and true Christianity versus the American Way of Life.
More here if you dare!
analysis of Revelation churches - see final paragraphs starting "The Key Virtues According to Jesus" for conclusions re "Healthy Church".
P.S. I have to confess that I did enjoy PDL when I read it, it did renew some faith and knowledge, and I was one of the first to go to PDC seminars here (I'm one of the thousands who have been 'processed'!!! never really go tit off the ground in my congregation, we're too small really...) but months and years later after reflection and investigation I see through the whole thing now... sorry, but that's my story.

Tony, I think I've said enough already to make it clear that I do not agree with everything about the way Warren does things, including some of the ways he presents the gospel. I do think it's a misleading way to present the gospel to make it out to be a done-time decision, if that's what you mean by 'decisionism', but that's a problem most evangelicals have. It's not particular to Warren. I'm not going to call someone a heretic for that. But it is too far to equate the following two things:

1. Being attracted by church growth techniques and thinking the self-esteem issue is as crucial as some think it is
2. not believing the gospel and not preaching the gospel

Those two things are not the same thing.

As for the essay you linked to, the biblical portion of it looks pretty good. But good exegesis does not make good application when what you're applying it to is a caricature. What is the context of Warren's quote about doctrine? I can imagine a number of contexts when what he said is at least in the right direction, even if it's misleading and even wrong in other contexts. The fact that a pre-evangelism book doesn't mention the details of the means by which the gospel is made true is insignificant. No source is given about Warren's supposed guarantee that his methods will produce exactly the results he had. I was under the impression that he did not make any such promises, so this needs some support.

Simply because Jung had questionable elements in his theories does not mean that he was wrong about everything or that there isn't a use for doing that kind of personality study. There is much of value in Jung for those who can sort out the good from the bad. I don't know what this prayer thing he does is, but Christians have been known to do silly things sometimes. (Go do some research on the ascetics who climbed up on stakes in the desert to get closer to God.) I thought that bald-faced lie about Schuller had been thoroughly refuted by now, but some people continue it as if it's demonstrable truth.

As I've said, I don't agree with everything Warren does. Several key elements of his Purpose-Driven Church model are admirable, but I disapprove several of several others. But those are issues you might criticize him on, not grounds for considering him a nonbeliever. If you want to read The Purpose-Driven Life as a gospel tract or a theology textbook, I think it would be natural to think he hasn't really thought through the most important aspects of the gospel very carefully. But it is neither. It is a pre-evangelism book designed to take non-believers to a point where they are more aware of some of the things good about Christianity. It is also designed to help believers pick up on a few things that Warren thinks evangelicalism hasn't emphasized, even if it isn't giving a careful, thorough theology about everything it touches. But it's pretty unfair to take his willingness to leave things out that aren't absolutely essential to his purposes in that book as a sign that he doesn't believe them or that he doesn't think they're important. That would be like thinking the author of the book of Esther was an atheist simply because God is never mentioned in the book.

In case your readers (or the Parablemen) do not know, much of Warren's "original" writings are lifted from elsewhere. The popular money guru Tony Robbins and New Age writer Marianne Williamson back in 1996 cowrote:Powertalk - Power of "Why?" - Living the Purpose-Driven Life: An Extraordinary Collection of Life-Changing Thoughts and Principles (Powertalk Series) (Hardcover)
by Anthony Robbins (Author), Marianne Williamson (Author)

Hardcover Publisher: Audio Renaissance; Bk&Cassett edition (May 1996) Language: English ISBN-10: 1559273879 ISBN-13: 978-1559273879

Also, PEACE was originally conceived by another New Age proponent Neale Donald Walsh and SHAPE was lifted from Joe Weider, the fitness giant and also Carl Jung.

Also, Warren has now admitted to being a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). What is he doing there? Is he interested in evangelizing or taking over the world a la the antichrist? Is his real dream Anthony Robbins wealth and fame???

Why did Warren say on 06/14/2006 that those resisting his PDC plan must either leave or die, using as his justification those millions who had to die before reaching the promised land. And who is he advocating implementing the ultimate solution (straight out of Hitler and Stalin's book if you ask me).

I hope that you will do a lot more research Parablemen....lots of stuff "sounds" Biblical....the devil quoted lots...out of context to Eve and also to Jesus in the desert. But Jesus knew the rest of the story. Please enlighten your readers with the rest of the story as well......

Your readers need to learn what happened to churches like Iuka Baptist in Mississippi or New Hope Church in Bend, Oregon or Gardendale Baptist in Corpus Christi...those who oppose the program and "conversion" of the church are mercilessly driven out by PDC "recruiters" to put it nicely. This is a gospel by another name, the very essence of Laodicea which our King and Lord will spit out and say "I never knew you."

Yes folks, the PDC church will be here after the rapture to witness the 70th week and the 7 Year Peace Plan. My only prayer is that some of those fans of Rick Warren will start checking his writings against the scripture and also other authors ...and recognize this man for what he really is.
Is unity worth disregarding the WORD?

Arkyver, I think you've going to have to substantiate the plagiarism charge a little more carefully than noticing a similar title, and the divisiveness charge will also need more for me to believe it than wild claims without any sourcing (and linking to a website is not sourcing, so don't try to do that; I need to see a reputable source confirming this stuff, or I will continue to see it as outright slander, which as far as I can tell is what it is).

I can think of all manner of reasons why an evangelical interested in evangelism would be interested in foreign policy because of a desire to influence the world for Christ that would have nothing to do with being the antichrist. You're not of the ridiculous John Birch mindset that the CFR is somehow tied up with global domination and all that Illuminati nonsense, are you?

You can research more re: original sources (Tony Robbins, more) has been published by James Sundquist in his book Rick Warren's Global Peace Plan. But the problems go far beyond that. The deliberate targeting and driving out of church members that oppose the PD transformation and too much linkage with the CFR and politics....for what purpose. You can find out more at these sites:

and http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1760627/posts
and regarding PDC role in emerging global church, check Berit Kjos site:

There are many,many more sites and sources sounding the warning bell about this frightfully unbiblical but warm fuzzy stuff that gets people excited. Beyond that are the unholy alliances with Muslim leaders who he says are also qualified to become PDC leaders. Say again?

I know you and many are excited about the idea that church people might be energized and excited...and we all long for peace, don't we?? But we know the Bible says there will not be true peace until He comes again and defeats the evil one and his minions. There is nothing we can do to earn salvation....or make the world ready for His return. Yes, we should be working for His kingdom...not the kingdom of this world....and we need to make sure we have checked with Him for marching orders. Not the UN or the CFR or other world leaders. I don''t know much about the Illuminati or even the John Birchers. But while Billy and Franklin Graham have often spoken to world leaders to help get aide moving in, to my knowledge neither has accepted a seat in that organization. The Bible is clear that a false church, a false Christianity will arise, that is patently clear from the most basic eschatological study. We must be certain we serve Him....not a Laodicean church of false worship and riches. May God bless your studies and shine light in the darkness.

Sources for more on Warren’s sources for his books and plans can be found in James Sundquist’s book Rick Warren’s Global Peace Plan, 2006, Rock Salt Publishing.

Also for more info regarding the intimidation of church members at those churches which were being “converted” to PDC format can be found at:

Another article which questions the Syrian and middle eastern connections is:
Also Berit Kjos has great articles questioning his connections. You can find that at

I don’t know hardly anything about the John Birchers or the Illuminati. But what I do wish to belong to is a Biblically sound church…..not just warm, fuzzy. I know everyone wants to see people excited about going to church and having great goals like peace. But any one who has done any eschatological studies knows there will only be a false peace before our Lord returns. Read Daniel 9 and Revelation.

And while the Graham family has worked with many world leaders, to the best of my knowledge they have none of them been invited to join the CFR …evangelism comes first. I am hoping you are willing to post these sources for your readers.

May God bless all who truly put Him

The first site isn't a specific argument, and it looks like a bunch of bold, large-scale statements with very little to support them. The few quotes listed don't, generally, and hardly anything is cited with reputable sources.

The second one has things I know are false. Warren has invited conservatives from the Republican Party. He's not beholden to either of the two major political views of this country. He accepts certain elements from both. I've heard him defend some very conservative positions.

The Syria thing looks as if it's bad. He got something pretty wrong in foreign matters. He's embarrassed about it. He doesn't want it getting out. How exactly does that make him a heretic? As I've said, I disagree with a lot of things he does, but I'm not defending everything he does. I'm simply saying there's no even halfway decent evidence that his teaching is contrary to the gospel, and there's no good evidence that he doesn't believe the gospel. Genuine believers do things that are wrong all the time.

I can think of very good reasons for using different translations. He might think those translations each best capture the meaning of the passage in question. Maybe not. But even if not, I don't see how using different translations makes him a heretic. I would easily criticize some of his published work for not citing the verses in the text but putting citations in the endnotes. But that, also, does not make him a heretic.

The whole piece is written with the assumption that he's a very evil man, and thus anything bad about him confirms suspicions of things that are much worse, without giving one shred of evidence that he's much worse. That's not exactly as fair way to argue your case, and it's certainly not going to count as a reputable source.

On Obama and the AIDS conference, I'm not sure what the problem is. He didn't invite him to speak from the pulpit. He invited him to speak on a political issue at a political conference, one on which Obama may well with him on. I certainly think it's a good idea for people who might have HIV to use condoms if they're going to be having sex. I'm sure Warren does too. He surely would agree that the biblical thing to do would be to abstain outside marriage, as I do too, but not everyone is a Christian, and not everyone will heed that command of scripture. As immoral as it is to be having sex outside marriage, it's much, much worse to do so without a condom if you have HIV. Even if you disagree, I can't see how this makes Warren a heretic.

That piece also makes a huge mistake confusing Warren's purpose-driven church model with the Willow Creek seeker-sensitive model. I think both models are very bad ways to run a church, but they aren't even close to the same thing. Willow Creek is a baby boomer model, and Warren is working primarily with the next generation. Their styles and focuses are very different, and the structure of the ministry is very different. That sort of statement reflects the sort of thing someone would do only if they really don't know much about the ministry they're talking about.

Now the third site you linked to is of a very different sort. The leaps in logic there are pretty tangible. So it turns out Warren only was invited to speak at the U.N. and the C.F.R., according to this, not that he is a member of the C.F.R., not that it matters. Whatever his connection with them is, it's one thing to want to speak at a gathering of international leaders to seek to have some influence on them. It's quite another to agree with their mission under the particular description of it given in the piece in question. The C.F.R. doesn't really have a particular agenda, despite what conservative nutcases like the John Birch Society want to perpetuate. They are an organization for debating policies on international relations. People involved cover the political spectrum, and they disagree seriously about lots of important issues. Some of them do want tighter international laws that countries would be subject to, but that's not an organizational statement. The U.N. is another matter. There are really five (I believe) distinct wings of the U.N., and they have little to no connection. Some of them do excellent things. Some have a mixed record. Some are pretty poor at accomplishing anything worthwhile. But I can't at all see why speaking in front of the U.N. is supposed to be a bad thing. These are influential leaders, and someone wanting to influence influential people will certainly want to influence them. Warren thinks those God has put in influential positions ought to seek to do good on a large scale, and not all good is preaching the gospel. This fits right with everything I know of him and does not at all suggest anything that shows him not to be a genuine Christian.

I see some stuff about cooperating with other people who want good things on those particular issues. I also see the author equating that with pretending you agree with those people on every issue, which I haven't seen Warren do. It's pretty evil to confuse those two things.

This stuff about Warren not being interested in evangelism has got to be taking him out of context. Evangelism may be too much of an emphasis in his ministry, but it's not something he's not concerned about. Maybe it's not his primary purpose in a particular endeavor, or maybe he doesn't want evangelism to drive everything he does. I'd need to see the context. None is given, always a very, very bad sign.

So I can't say those sites are to be trusted, given these already very bad signs. If the things I can't evaluate on them are true, I'd be extremely surprised. These look like hit pieces that have little concern for the truth or for proper distinctions.

The fact that the Grahams haven't been invited to join the CFR doesn't prove that such a thing would be bad. The Grahams weren't awarded Nobel prizes either, to my knowledge. That doesn't mean Nobel prizes are bad things. Also, the fact that someone seeks peace is not evidence that he is the antichrist or that he has the goals of the antichrist. Everyone wants peace. That's not the issue. The issue is whether he is teaching a false gospel, and I have seen no evidence of that.

I was hoping that the threads for this blog would be more recent that the last post on 20FEB07, but here's my two cents...

Jeremy, I appreciate your eloquence in attempting to defend what some want to call "America's Pastor". I am a firm believer in unity in the essentials and charity in the non-essentials. Having experienced the 40-days of Purpose at a previous church, my initial considerations of the mission and methods in the PDL book were rather weak but harmless "spiritual milk" for new believers.

Having scanned the blogs above, I see that the truly unfortunate event last fall -- where Rick Warren signed the "Christian" response to the Muslim "A Common Word Between Us and You." -- has yet to be presented for discussion.

In my humble opinion, any signator to a document asking forgiveness from another god (Allah, in this instance, referred to as the "All-Merciful One") is obviously stepping dangerously close to the abyss of heresy.

Your insight on this topic is welcomed...


I've actually spent a good deal of effort addressing the issue of Muslims worshiping the same God as Christians. My first shot at it pretty much gets to the main points, but I did develop a little in my thoughts on it, and you can find links to some later discussions here. Much more recently (in fact this afternoon), I've put together a different statement of the argument in the comments here.

You probably don't want to read all that just to get what my view is, so I'll summarize it, but my detailed arguments are there if you want to look at them more carefully. My main position is that the terms Muslims use to refer to God to in fact refer to God, the actual God, the God Christians worship. This is largely because terms get their initial meaning because of how they came to refer initially, unless something in the later process prevents it from referring to the same thing. In this case, the term 'Allah' in Arabic (which is a general term for a god, much like the Hebrew 'Elohim'; in fact it is the same Semitic root) was use by Muhammad to refer to the God Jews and Christians worshiped.

He then said a bunch of things no Christian should agree with, and thus I would say a lot of his views about God are false. The worship practices he taught do not count as genuine worship. Nevertheless, they do worship God, just not truly, much as the syncretistic resettlers of the land in the northern kingdom of Israel after the Assyrians conquered Samaria "feared YHWH" but "did not fear YHWH". It was the God of Israel whom they worshiped, but it was the God of Israel whom they did not truly worship. The Bible speaks both ways, and we need to be able to do so as well, or we will not be able to speak to those who worship falsely the way Paul did to the Athenians in Acts 17 when he said they were worshiping God falsely when they worshiped an unknown god.

So when Warren asked forgiveness from God using Muslim language, I see no reason to think he was praying to another god. He certainly didn't mean his prayer as if it were to another god. What he should have done (and I don't know if he did) is indicate that he doesn't think Islam is a means of worshiping God that God will count as genuine worship. It's best to convey something like that so as not to mislead. But I have no problem with someone saying that they worship the same God Muslims do, since that's true of all Christians and Jews.

Just discovered this thread. It looks as though all has been said and the smoke still has not cleared so I won't add to the fire. Suffice it to say I have extreme reservations about Mr. Warren.

No retort here has thus far changed that.

By way of observation I offer this to you personally Mr. Pierce:

Pro 15:32) He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.

There are many here far wiser than you sir!

Gruvdog, I have seen no argument, absolutely none, that shows that he's a nonbeliever who is teaching a false gospel. I have seen some evidence that he's a genuine believer who does things in a way that I have serious reservations about. Since you've yourself given no argument, you haven't furthered the discussion one bit. [Hint: if you think all the good arguments have been given, and I've responded to them, and you're not convinced by my responses, your task is to show what's wrong with my responses.] Instead, you've initiated unsubstantiated accusations and then attributed character traits to me that you have little evidence for. For one thing, you're pretending that I've ignored these charges, when the reality is that I've considered them carefully and not found them substantiated, even giving arguments against them. Your quoting of scripture at me thus has a false assumption. I could just as easily quote scripture at you:

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. [Galatians 5:19-21, ESV]

Nothing you have said says a thing about whether Rick Warren is a wolf in sheep's clothing who is deceiving the flock or whether he's a sometimes-misguided servant of God who has made some bad decisions about how to lead the people God has entrusted to him. In fact, nothing anyone here has said shows definitively that he's a false teacher. If he's not, then many of his detractors have been self-righteously rendering false accusations and have fallen into that list above that includes idolatry, sorcery, orgies, and so on. Dissensions, divisions, and rivalries are certainly going on with respect to Rick Warren, and while I won't do to you what you felt free to do with me and assume you are doing that, I do want to issue a warning that you not fall into that.

Having serious reservations about someone's ministry (which I've many, many times above said I have about Warren) is not the same thing as knowing he's a nonbeliever teaching a false gospel. But that's the jump too many people are making, and that seems to me to be a work of the flesh and not of the Spirit.

I might be the last person on earth to have read Purpose Driven Life and I know nothing about Warren beyond this book.
Presuming it to be New Age fluff I ignored it for years. By the time I heard it was a Christian book I had learned enough to roll my eyes appropriately at the term Mega-Church and knew to shun Warren.
I borrowed my Dad's copy a few months ago in order to set him straight and was so pleasantly surprised that I bought my own copy and one for my brother.
I was very impressed that a popular level book, with such a reputation for reaching out to the un-churched, pulled so few punches. Warren makes no compromise on forgiving, serving others, belonging to a church or spreading the word of God (the Great Commission "is not optional"). Unlike the "me first" Secret seekers he tells us that we will be shaped by hardship and need not expect life to be easy, and disowns Satan's lie, propagated by New Age philosophies, that we will be God, or gods.
Does he preach the Gospel? I think so:

Given the right circumstance you and I are capable of any sin.
'If we say we have no sin we are fooling ourselves."
"Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.'
Satan wants you to think that your sin and temptation are unique so you must keep them a secret. The truth is, we're all in the same boat. we all fight the same temptations, and "all of us have sinned".
How can we resist the Devil? Paul tells us, "Put on salvation as your helmet and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." The first step is to accept God's salvation. You won't be able to say no to the Devil unless you've said yes to Christ".
"We must remember that no matter how contented people appear to be, without Christ they are hopelessly lost and headed for eternal separation from God. The Bible says, "Jesus is the only One who can save people." Everybody needs Jesus.
...but not everyone is a child of God. The only way to get into God's family is to be born again into it.
The invitation to be a part of God's family is universal, but there is one condition: faith in Jesus. The Bible says "You are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus."
If God never did anything else for you, he would still deserve your continual praise for the rest of your life because of what Jesus did for you on the cross. God's Son died for you! This is the greatest reason for worship.
Why did God allow and endure such ghastly and evil mistreatment? Why? So that you could be spared from eternity in hell, and so you could share in his glory forever. 112
Real life begins by committing yourself completely to Jesus Christ.
"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God"
Receive Jesus into your life as Lord and Savior. receive his forgiveness for your sins. Receive his Spirit, who will give you the power to fulfill your life purpose. The Bible says " Whoever accepts and trusts the Son gets in on everything, life complete and forever!" Wherever you are reading this, I invite you to bow your head and quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity: "Jesus, I believe in you and receive you." 58

I don't think these are the words of a heretic, and I think it is impossible for the anti-christ to speak them.

Good blog, post and follow-up comments, Jeremy.

Thanks for that extensive list of quotes. I agree that it's hard to see someone affirming all that as a false teacher unless he's being downright dishonest and throwing in lots of things central to the gospel that people don't want to believe, which isn't what you do if you want a feel-good bestseller.

I'm beginning to wonder if some of the people accusing Warren of heresy are actually the heretics, because what some of them are saying seems particularly parallel to the Galatian heresy. Warren may believe in the basics of the gospel, but he doesn't use Bible verses in the text of his book and relegates it to footnotes, and he uses whatever translation suits his purpose rather than using a consistent one throughout. He may say all the right things, but he believes in therapy and cooperates with political liberals, so he must not be a believer. He teaches good things to Christians, but he says misleading things to Muslims that might make them think he accepts Islam as a legitimate religion.

This is obviously not true of all of his critics. Some of them don't admit that he teaches anything like the gospel at all, but they obviously haven't looked very hard and are just trusting others to tell them everything to believe. Some just make things up or try very hard to take his comments out of context or twist them to fit their critique. That's just lying, and it's pretty evil, but it's not heresy, just heteropraxy. Others aren't concerned about whether he believes the gospel and are simply critiquing his philosophy of ministry as a bad philosophy of ministry, but it should be obvious from the above that I have no problems with that kind of criticism. But I wonder if a good amount of the criticism amounts to saying that he believes something right but doesn't add all these extra non-gospel elements (even if they are very important non-gospel elements). If so, that's the Galatian heresy that Paul condemns as anathema and thus deserving of hell.

My Sunday school class is reading the Purpose Driven Life, and I had heard from secondary sources that Rick Warren is a heretic. I had read something-teen chapters of the book previously and no red flags popped up for me, so I was surprised to hear that he had charges of being a heretic. After reading a few sites from the google search "Rick Warren heretic", I still didn't see it and thought the people who called themselves Christians while accusing their fellow brother in Christ of things he did not deserve were acting quite ugly. "Rick Warren defense" pulled up your site, and what you say about him seems sane. No, he doesn't word everything in the best way, and no, I don't agree with everything he does/says either, but he is no false teacher. I commend you for maintaining and defending your position for the past 3 years.

A letter to Rick Warren
Some people have an Idea that God is inclusive for mans eternal destiny, that all religions and all people will be saved. That God will allow all of mankind to enter into heaven because everybody is good so God must be fair and include everyone! It is true God does love the whole world but God is exclusive about mans eternal destiny without the Savior. To keep this simple man has a problem called sin in which man refuses to believe that there are eternal consequences for having sin, which is a one way ticket to hell. God is holy and he will not allow anyone with sin to enter into heaven. God is hurt and angry about our sin, we have broken his laws. But God is just and good and he knows our need so he provided a solution to our problem. His solution to our problem is to have our sins removed by having our sins placed on someone else, a sacrifice for us; paying for the penalty of the sin we have in our lives. So that someone else would get the penalty of Gods wrath and separation on him that was meant for us. So God sent his son Jesus on a mission from heaven to earth as our sacrifice to die on the cross on our behalf after this happened three days later Jesus came back from the dead, alive. But that’s not all remember I wrote that God is exclusive about mans eternal destiny without the Savior? The only way that Gods promise can be applied to your life is for you to turn from your way of thinking and know that your sin offends and hurts God and call on the Lord Jesus who’s alive to save you. Your sins are then transferred to Jesus for what he did at the cross, dying and being abandon by God because of your sins, for you and because Jesus arose from the dead he is alive you can now enter into a relationship with God. Will you call out to Jesus to save you? It’s your choice to enter in exclusively with God’s grace for you. Where will you want to spend eternity after hearing Gods promise for you?
If the answer was yes that you do want Jesus as your sin bearer, Savior, and you do believe God raised Jesus from the dead you can pray with your voice.

“Dear Lord Jesus save me.”

Acts 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance towards God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

I'm not sure Rick Warren would disagree with anything you've written. Can you show me some evidence that he would? What I've seen doesn't indicate so.

Hello Jeremy,
In Rick Warrens book the purpose Drive Life if you can find the Gospel I would be amazed. Please read it. You cant live a purpose without Being born again, on how to be saved. Ricks version is on page 58 Rick writes "First believe, believe God loves you and made you for his purpose. Believe God has chosen you to have a relationship with Jesus, who died on the cross for you. Believe no matter what you have done, God wants to forgive you. Receive Jesus into your life as your Lord and Savior, receive his forgiveness for your sins." He fails to mention one big thing. Have you figured it out? REPENTANCE! Then he leads you in prayer, "Jesus, I believe in You and I receive you." what did this Jesus do? I did not read anything about the resurrection? Then he says, "If you meant that prayer congratulations welcome to the family of God." Who made him oracle to know who's in the family of God? 1. No repentance, 2. No judgment, 3. No hell. 4. No heaven. 5.No self-denial, 6. No discussion of sin. 7. No law of God broken, the conscious, no guilt no condemnation no fear of eternal torment, No Conviction! Please quote any part of it, but before you do remember I follow what Jesus says in his word, the word of God. Not a mans gospel to feel good and be good type of gospel. Take care and God bless you, and me :), in knowing His will. Your friend. Shipwrecksoul.

Rick Warren affirms every doctrine essential to salvation. He has written more than one book - and he has affirmed the Southern Baptist Faith and Message which is clearly evangelical.

My primary practical concern with the approach of this book is found in a foot note where he disagrees with R. Kent Hughes book "Liberating the Ministry from the Success Syndrome." Warren writes that every church may grow if the churh is faithful. There are too many brokenhearted churches and pastors which God never intended to be Saddleback, Several of them are described in the Epistles.

In Christ, John (pastor john @ bible.org forum



That was good, thanks. Piper doesn't go far enough in distancing himself from those who would disfellowship Warren, though. Biblically, they are to be excommunicated and treated as nonbelievers if they persist in their sin of dividing with Warren. He treats serious division as if it's something believers can disagree on, when scripture is utterly clear that persistent division with a fellow believer is grounds for being disfellowshipped. Those who call for treating Warren as a nonbeliever should themselves be treated as nonbelievers.

Has anyone, to your knowledge, outside of bloggers and blog commentors actually come out and denounced Piper over this? I mean, anyone of any reputation that may actually be in Piper's circles? I know some have voiced their dissatisfaction, such as Phil Johnson and Tim Challies, but neither has argued that people should disfellowship Piper or Warren.

I know of nothing like that. I didn't even know that Challies and Johnson were saying such awful things.

Challies posted his thoughts this morning. I should stress, he didn't say that Warren was a heretic or anything like that. He expressed his disappointment in the selection. I don't think Johnson has written anything extensive about it yet, but he did comment that he hoped it was an April Fool's Joke.

I have no relationship with Johnson, and I don't often read his blog (and I have clear reasons for that). I do know Tim Challies a little bit, and he did write out his reasoning on this, so I'm more willing to comment on that. I looked at Tim's post on this matter, and I do think this is a case where he has gone too far.

I'd be totally unconcerned if all he had to say was that he didn't think it was a good idea to invite Warren due to Warren's problematic way of running his ministry. I'd probably agree with him. But he said he didn't think it was a good idea to invite Warren because he thinks those who have separated from Warren (read: they see him as a nonbeliever and are basically excommunicating him) have "good reasons based around sound biblical concerns". It's that part where I strongly disagree. Such reasons for excommunication are simply shameful when used for that purpose. They're good grounds for criticism. They're not good grounds for treating him like an unbeliever. Those who have separated from Warren on those grounds are doing something far, far worse than anything Warren has done himself. In fact, Warren doesn't meet the biblical grounds for excommunication, but those who separate from him are in serious danger of meeting them themselves. It does fit the biblical grounds for excommunication to excommunicate a genuine believer for faulty reasons. That kind of division is extremely serious in scripture.

I'm happy to have people pointing out the dangers and problems of Warren's misuse of scripture, as long as they don't thereby question his faith, pretend he has unorthodox beliefs when he doesn't, or use it as a reason to disfellowship him. I'm not happy to see those who make such criticisms defending those who go that far, and Tim's post seems to me to defend them in a way that avoids agreeing with their conclusion. That strikes me as giving them way too much credit.

I don't normally read Johnson's blog, but someone linked to his tweet (is that what they're called). I suspect he'll write something before too long of more substance.

I think it'd be helpful for people, especially higher profile bloggers like Challies, to define what they mean by "separation." Some seem to use it as a technical term, basically meaning "excommunicate" (though we Protestants rarely use that language, which may be why we use "separate"). But I wonder if others are using it less narrowly, meaning something like "I don't agree with his methods, and thus don't involve myself in his ministry circles (or involve him in mine)." The latter is much less problematic (though still perhaps not the best way to handle thigns).

With the second idea, I could say I've separated myself from Warren, in that I don't use his books or methods in my own ministry. If that's all that people meant, I don't think it'd be as big of a problem. But the kind of separation you're talking about is downright sinful, in my opinion.

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