After the terrible shooting in Connecticut of 20 grade one students and 7 teachers, many are questioning the role faith and God play at a time like this, and are looking to pastors and religious leaders for answers. America’s “pastor” Rick Warren (RW) spoke on national television, explaining that God’s will is in heaven, but it is rarely done on Earth, because humans are free to make their own choices. People say,
‘Well, that must be God’s will.’ That’s nonsense. God’s will is almost never done on earth because I have a will, and you have a will, we all have a will and we frequently choose to not do God’s will.”
With his broad appeal, and nationwide influence, this had many asking, who is Rick Warren and what does he believe? John Piper (JP) sometime ago interviewed Rick Warren (RW), with some intriguing outcomes. Piper is a Calvinistic Baptist Christian preacher, author, and current pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota USA. He runs the evangelical organization - Desiring God.
Book Cover up
John Piper sat “eye to eye” with Rick Warren on May 1 2011 at Saddleback Church in an interview on some Evangelical doctrinal questions. RW’s The Purpose Driven Life, with over 32 million copies sold as of 2012, and available in over 50 languages, is falsely claimed by the author to be the best-selling non-fiction book in history.
During the interview with Piper, Warren revealed that the book was not intended for non-believers. It was written as a workbook to accompany Saddleback's 40 days of purpose – an annual spiritual growth campaign. It was only at the end of writing it that he realized a non-believer may come across the book and read it. So he added a few things about salvation:
If I had known how many unbelievers were going to read it, I would have explained salvation far much more in detail.
Firstly, do we even believe that statement?
Then here’s the rub: knowing that the book was to be published by Zondervan, a secular popular publisher, it should have been written with a proper attempt to explain salvation. Surely to highlight the eternal and get people to think on “things above”, in a culture full of self-centredness and hedonism, should have been the grand purpose of the book. To omit God’s plan of salvation, then add it in as a mere afterthought, in the form of a token prayer for the reader to recite, would hardly be the method of a Christian, let alone a Christian “pastor”. Sorry RW that’s a fail, something which JP also failed to pick up.
To the evangelical camp Warren throws out enough evangelical sound bites to seem legitimate. He says just enough to appear to be on the Lord’s side, but not enough to cause an irreligious book publisher to reject the book from mass production.
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away - 2 Timothy 3:5.
Piper, surprisingly, did not find any major doctrinal problems with the book?
“When I read the book, I thought ‘what’s the issue here?’” he said. Then with his 20 pages of notes, John Piper said he read the book through very carefully.The aim of the interview was to clarify what Warren believes about such doctrines as the glory of God, the sovereignty of God, unconditional election, eternity and the Gospel, among other things.
On the Gospel and the Cross, the 57-year-old RW said he believes in the imputed righteousness of God. “Jesus took our payment,” the renowned author said. “The reason Jesus came to earth is because the Law could not do what we needed it to do and only Jesus could do it.”
Is this a quote for another possible best seller by RW entitled, Saddleback Salvation made Simple, I wonder?
Notice there is no specific mention of sin here. Only the Law is the problem. Jesus is our “get out of Jail” free card.
RW is very good at giving half-truths, which to the naive seem like qualified answers.
If you listen to my preaching seminar I have an entire session on you’re not preaching the Gospel unless you’re preaching repentance.
However Warren had been criticized for leaving out ‘repentance’ in the prayer he wrote for non-believers to pray in his Purpose Driven book.
For Warren repentance means a conformity or shift of the mind. Though Warren might not have explicitly articulated it in his book, the idea was present throughout the entire book, Piper acknowledges. Again this is not good enough!
In the interview Warren calls himself an evangelist – of what – and for whom does he go?
Warren who started preaching at 16 – explained that ‘some people view repentance as a change in behaviour. But such a change (in behaviour) is not the root; it is rather the fruit of repentance’. In plain layman’s terms - that translates to ‘change’ (that’s repentance) is not the root... a change of behaviour (repentance) is the fruit of repentance’ So much for evangelical theology!
However, Scripture tells us that the root and the fruit are both part of the same tree!
Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. - Matthew 12:33
Bring forth therefore ‘fruits worthy of repentance’, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire- Luke 3:8-9.
The phrase “fruit of repentance” isn’t found in the Bible. The phrases, “fruits of righteousness”, and “fruit unto holiness” are - see Philippians 1:11 and Romans 6:22.
Rather than “fruit of repentance”, the scriptural meaning contained in the above verse, is fruit from repentance i.e. that which results from repentance.
The doctrine of repentance is very prominent in the Scriptures. The word repent is taken from the Hebrew word ‘Shuwb’ ( –בּוׁשpronounced Shüv; Strongs H7725) which means to turn or to return. ‘Teshuvah’ is the act of returning, as in the example of a man told to turn back to a newly built undedicated house, being withdrawn from active duty as a soldier (see Deut. 20:5).
Repentance is at the heart of saving faith. In the New Testament, the word translated as ‘repentance’ is the Greek word – Metanoia. ‘Metanoia’ literally means ‘to think after:’ a transformative change of heart; especially: a spiritual conversion.The term derives from the Ancient Greek words (metá) (meaning “beyond” or “after”) and (noeō) (meaning “perception” or “understanding” or “mind”), and has different meanings in different contexts. It implies a change of mind, so in this basic meaning Rick Warren is correct. But the word means far more than that. The understanding from the scriptures is that repentance is the recognition of our sinfulness, our depravity, our opposition to God’s ways, and so it requires a turning from self to God (cf. 1Thess 1:9). A change of mind, is not like the decision to wear a different coloured shirt one morning, but instead involves an inward working on the heart, incorporating moral choices.
Another English word, “metamorphosis”, Greek from (meta-) = «change» + (morphe), «form») carries with it the same idea of change and transformation, a complete change of character, and/or appearance.
Paul went about declaring that people “should repent and turn to God, and do works meet (fit) for repentance” - Acts 26:20.
But God be thanked, that you were the servants of sin, but you have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you... Being then made free from sin, you became the servants of righteousness - Romans 6:17-18.
Contrary to Rick Warren’s understanding, without the foundation (root) of repentance, there can be no righteous life produced. Repentance, by definition, happens before anything else.
In Summary, we cannot show true change in our life unless we have changed [repented], which brings about manifestations of that change/ repentance. The work of repentance is reflected in our behaviour and conduct. They are inseparably linked. Without true turning there is no transformation!
The Gospel, which calls for repentance, produces it (see Acts 2:37, 38, 41). Warren believes in repentance, but he fails to qualify its place in the work of salvation. I have laboured this point to show Warren’s diluted and deceptive use of terminology. In his interview, John Piper let’s RW off the hook every time!
The Same Team - Another Jesus
At one of his Purpose Driven Church seminars over 10 years ago Warren proclaimed –
It really doesn’t matter your denomination, folks. We’re all on the same team if you love Jesus.”
Most people don’t see the comparison with RW and Lakewood Church’s pastor Joel Osteen, who told the Washington Times, he believes Mormons “are Christians,” although it may not be the “purest form of Christianity.” He says from his knowledge of Mormons and from hearing Mitt Romney (recent USA Presidential candidate) speak, they appear to believe “the core issues” of Christianity—that Jesus is the Son of God and He is their saviour.
Practising Mormon Robert Millet, is a high profile apologist for “The Mormon Church”. In his book - A Different Jesus? The Christ of the Latter-day Saints, Millet states:
This Jesus was born, “as we all were, the spirit children of the Father” (p.20). This Jesus is a spirit brother of Lucifer (p.21). This Jesus is the Christ of Joseph Smith, and is considered absolutely foundational to Mormonism (p.39).
This is a definitive denial of the eternal Deity of Christ. It’s a different “Jesus”.
Osteen, like Warren, is good at giving sound bites, but is short on detail. Warren never elaborates on who the team are, that “love Jesus”, but he seems to include the Mormons, Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, or anyone who is part of the “Christian Alliance”, in the universal household of faith.
Chameleon-like Warren has a history of tailoring his appeals to his audience. To Calvinists, he stresses his support for the “solas” of the Reformation. To the occult prosperity evangelist David Yonggi Cho he says:
I’ve read your books on Vision and Dreams – (please) speak to pastors about how you hear the voice of the Holy Spirit?... Do you think American churches should be more open to the prayer for miracles? Breakfast With David Yonggi Cho And Rick Warren,” Pastors.com.
In a June 2006 article in JewishJournal.com, editor-in-chief, Rob Eshman reported on a speech that Warren gave for Synagogue 3000, after Rabbi Ron Wolfson became involved in the Purpose-Driven pastoral training seminars.
Warren managed to speak for the entire evening without once mentioning “Jesus” — a testament to his savvy message-tailoring.
When USA Today asked him why Mormon and Jewish leaders are involved in his pastoral training programmes, RW reportedly said:
I’m not going to get into a debate over the non-essentials. I won’t try to change other denominations. Why be divisive?
RW endorses a host of books, from New Age authors to Emergent writers, to Conservative Evangelicals. So why not include The Calvinists?
Warren has a habit of shading his comments to agree with whoever he’s speaking at a given moment. The practice may come from his “pastoral” experience, but even more from a desire to prove that he’s not one of “those” evangelicals. He’s California casual. He has an easy laugh. He hugs people, a lot. As biographical author Sheler describes him:
Here was an evangelical leader—a Southern Baptist, no less—who simply did not fit the stereotype of the dour Religious Right activist or of the money-grubbing TV preacher that so often seemed to dominate media portraits of evangelical Christians and their leaders.
During an interview with presenter Marc Lamont Hill of the Huffington Post, Warren sought to clarify matters pertaining to his creation of a video years ago in which he stated that those who follow the Bible should support California’s Proposition 8 ballot in 2008. The state ballot proposed that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California”. He had been accused of lying months after releasing the video for stating during an interview on Larry King Live (April 2009) that “during the whole Proposition 8 thing, I ... never once issued a statement, never once even gave an endorsement in the two years Prop. 8 was going.”
“I never made a single statement on Prop. 8 until the week before, and in my own church, some members said, ‘Where do we stand on this?’” he explained. “[So], I released a video to my members. It was posted all over like it was an advertisement.”
Hill commented that Warren is a well- known pastor, and that he should be aware that any statement he makes will likely be distributed to the public. In an interview with journalist Sarah Pulliam Bailey of Christianity Today in April 2009 he explained:
Proposition 8 was a two-year campaign in the state, and during those two years, I never said a word about it until the eight days before the election, and then I did make a video for my own people , ...(and) all of a sudden I’m the poster boy for anti-gay marriage.
However when it comes to gay marriage, RW dearly wants to be a Southern Baptist who believes that marriage should be exclusively between a man and a woman, but he’s also a man whose gay friends understand he’s not “intolerant”. Even as recently as Nov 2012 in a discussion with Piers Morgan of CNN over whether someone is made gay or born gay, Warren said, “the jury is still out on that, it wouldn’t bother me if there was ‘a gay gene’ found....”
During the interview with Piper, Warren gave glowing testimony to his evangelistic commitment:
I spend most of my time speaking to people who totally disagree with me. I speak to gays, I speak to atheists, I speak to secularists, I speak to Muslims because I am trying to build a bridge between my heart and theirs so Jesus can walk across and they can come to know Christ.
Piper would have been aware of the controversy surrounding Warren’s earlier appeals to both the gay and Christian communities, but the issue never came up. Yet Piper said a couple of months after his interview with Warren that he lamented the institutionalization of homosexuality, and called it the new calamity.
JP was criticized last year when he invited RW to speak alongside some theological heavyweights including R. Albert Mohler and R.C. Sproul at his Desiring God Conference. Some supporters of Desiring God complained, arguing that Warren was not on the same page with them theologically or doctrinally. They felt he relied more on pragmatism than biblical doctrine.
JP noted that one reason why RW is not known for being a doctrinal preacher,
.... “is his intention to be theologically sound and practically helpful without using doctrinal or theological terms in his public ministry”, but inside Saddleback Church, “there is a greater intentionality about building biblical and theological categories into the people’s minds and hearts.”
With Rick Warren, the challenge we face is to really know what he believes, and for him to be seen clearly stating it.
All of this begs the question, “What kind of man believes that he can build a megachurch from scratch, write best-selling books, and—in his latest and most audacious effort—mobilize volunteers from churches around the world to combat everything from poverty to sex trafficking?
There may be a lot to admire about Rick Warren, but his message distorts The Gospel and he is contributing to the human-centred pragmatism that is eroding the true ministry and mission of The Church in our day. While there may be applause for his concern for social justice, there is concern that he confuses the Law with the Gospel.
His best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life, begins by announcing that it’s not about you, but about God, and then the rest of the book is about “you”. There seems to be a contradiction between the God- centred theology that is professed and the basically human-centred orientation that dominates much of his message and methods.
The thing that is the most troubling about Rick Warren is his philosophy. Akin to this, is his list of mentors, associates, and strange affiliations, which should set off “alarm bells” with anyone who has taken any time to observe the man.
In a seminar he prayed this unusual prayer:
Thank you that there is a movement, a stealth movement, that’s flying beneath the radar, that’s changing literally hundreds, even thousands of churches around the world. - Rick Warren’s closing prayer at a Church Growth seminar
The warning Paul and Jude gave to the early church comes forcefully to mind (Gal 2:4, Jude 7).
To be blunt, it would appear that Rick Warren is a key “Change Agent” on a systemic secret mission to infiltrate the church with rogue doctrine, and to dismantle the evangelical structure we have known, brick by brick.
Here’s a group email from RW sent on September 17, 2005:
Dear Saddleback Family... don’t miss this first encouraging message in 40 DAYS OF PEACE which begins now!!! ...This week I shared part of this message in New York City where I spoke at the United Nations, and also to The Council on Foreign Relations. I love you and thank God for you! Pastor Rick. -
Rick Warren has affiliations with the CFR (Council of Foreign relations - http://www.cfr.org ) and the Oxford Analytica, both organisations are set on world domination agendas. From its inception money for the CFR came from J.P. Morgan, Bernard Baruch, Otto Kahn, Jacob Schiff, Paul Warburg, and John D. Rockefeller, among others.
In an interview with Joseph Farrar of World Net Daily, Warren made it clear ”....as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and Oxford Analytica, I might know as much about the Middle East as you.”
In fact, he is still an active member of the CFR as recently as November 2012.
Remember Rick has a Global Peace Plan that looks similar to the United Nations version.
Rick Warren calls “pastors”, “Change Agents”. He partnered Leonard Sweet in producing an audio series called - Waves of Change, back in the 1990’s. This was almost two decades before the likes of Brian McLaren, with his book - Everything must Change.
McLaren said even churches such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints, which many mainstream Christian denominations consider outside the Christian fold, should be welcomed. But it’s been Rick Warren who has been carrying the torch of apostasy for the last 30 years, being the actual forerunner for those who would re-define Christianity in our time.
Just think about it - Rick Warren, “America’s Pastor,” speaking at the United Nations? Surely this would be enough to show that the man has his own agenda, which is in line with his love of politics, power and position, but not in line with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit - Matthew 7:15-17.
Rick Warren also works closely with Ken Blanchard.
Ken Blanchard endorses various new age authors. – Deepak Chopra et al.
Rick Warren is on the board of Lead like Jesus, to promote their common goals.
Ken Blanchard makes no apology for the benefits of Buddhism.
Blanchard is on the board of the Hoffman Institute (New Age).
You can read many objections from Rick Warren anytime someone publicly associates him with Robert Schuller. Yet aside from his Dad, Billy Graham and Peter Drucker, Robert H. Schuller has been his strongest influence.
According to Schuller, Warren came to his leadership institute time after time.
From the 1970’s on he wanted to be a pastor, and at the same time had a strong interest in politics. These two posts are contrary to each other. A man can fulfill only one of these.
Warren did his D.Min degree in 1993 under mentor Peter Wagner at Fuller Seminary. His doctorate was on NEW CHURCHES FOR A NEW GENERATION: CHURCH PLANTING TO REACH BABY BOOMERS. A CASE STUDY: THE SADDLEBACK VALLEY COMMUNITY CHURCH (California).
We must establish new churches to reach this new generation of Americans. It will require new churches that understand the Baby Boom mindset and are intentionally designed to meet their needs, tastes, and interests.
His links to Robert H. Schuller are one thing, but he states “I still go sit at the feet of Peter Drucker on a regular basis,” Warren said in a 2005 interview with Fortune Magazine:
He honed into me hundreds of one- liners and taught me that growth always comes from the outside – from people who are not now using your product, or listening to your message, or using your services. Peter Drucker ... he’s my mentor. I’ve spent 20 years under his tutelage learning about leadership from him.
Peter Drucker, the business guru who developed the 3-legged stool paradigm for societal transformation. Drucker was actively wooing megachurch leaders during the 1980s to persuade them to join up with his giant social experiment.
Aside from Warren’s pedigree he has systematically been transforming “traditional church” into a growing PDC (purpose driven church): His seminars have been attended by hundreds of thousands of pastors. This introduced a marketing approach, and turned “church” into a business enterprise.
Here's one of Warren’s most outlandish statements in his quest for this reform:
The ground we have in common with unbelievers is not the Bible, but our common needs, hurts, and interests as human beings. You cannot start with a text... (The Purpose-Driven Church p. 295)
The Church, which has relied on the Word of God down through the centuries for its guidance and direction, is being asked by RW to discard it as being no longer relevant!!
Brian Houston of Hillsong Australia is caught up in this rampant compromise. RW writes in his recent blog entry,
I’m so excited to announce that Pastor Brian Houston of the world- famous HILLSONG Church in Sydney, Australia will be speaking at Saddleback!... I’ll see you at this incredible end-of-the-year service!
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