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.