Rick Warren: Your Preaching & Prayer will not grow your church, but your skill

Erik Raymond —  May 22, 2008

This is not one of those anti-Rick Warren blogs, but I have got to post this because it is so clear and so indicative of the pragmatic shackles that so many pastors are in. Additionally, I am preaching on how God grows a church this weekend so I am a bit fired up (Eph. 4.11-16).

If there is any doubt that I am on a different planet theologically and methodologically than ‘America’s Pastor’ it has now been removed. (video link)

“The biggest mistake people make is that we think that sermons will produce spiritual maturity.” Rick Warren

My only question is why Tim Keller and Mark Drisoll are preaching at this guy’s Purpose Driven Conference? He is in the business of undermining what the Bible calls pastors to do (as this video and his books clearly show). So why are they there?

It is stuff like this that just motivates me to sit down, study hard, pray hard and reaffirm before God that my skill is useless in making people look like Jesus. But rather it is the loving grace of God that invades proud hearts and makes them to be like his Son; this he does by the Spirit and the Word (and yes this through preaching).

(h/t: Unashamed Workman)

Erik Raymond

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Erik has been writing at Ordinary Pastor since 2006. He lives in Omaha with his wife and kids while pastoring at Emmaus Bible Church. Follow regular updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/erikraymond

39 responses to Rick Warren: Your Preaching & Prayer will not grow your church, but your skill

  1. Just to be honest, you are exemplifying the very worst of the Calvinist stereoptye….judgmental and angry. Despite your willingness to accept this fact: there are some things you could stand to learn from Rick Warren.

  2. Andrew, thanks for the comment and for the affirmation. ‘judgmental and angry’ are completely accurate, in that order too.

    I am not trying to be smug or smart, but if this video from Rick Warren does not make you cringe or your wolf radars go off then you are actually exemplifying the very worst of the contemporary evangelical stereotypes, pragmatism, unity at the expense of truth, and an biblical illiteracy that is reproachable.

  3. Erik, thanks for exposing this nonsense. As a PCA elder, I am also wondering why one of our own (Keller) is speaking at Warren’s conference. Must be the pragmatic thing to do.

    Andrew, perhaps judgmental and angry is what you are showing about Erik. Sure we can learn from Warren. We can learn how not to do church!

  4. Bait? Change bait? All we are like fish?

  5. Skill? He lost something, possibly the Gospel, when he threw out the bathwater. I think he’s right that people forget and miss and don’t get it. Sounds like disciples to me. I’ve been in 1 Thess. 2, and Paul talks about the mess of growing Christians. 2:8 has Paul saying that he shared not only the Gospel but his own body. Yes, ministry is more than sermons. So quit preaching? I’m missing the reasoning here.

  6. ANDREW-
    READ YOUR B I B L E! OR go buy one if you need to. In fact, let me know if you need one and I’ll get you a real good one and ship it to you cause I want you to have a copy of the truth.

    OK Andrew…
    How about those Bereans who were applauded for their earnest desire to search the scriptures, thus ‘judging’, Paul’s preaching?? PAUL of all people. They (Acts 17:11)”…were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” IN other words after Paul preached they opend up their Bibles, uuuur unrolled the scrolls, to see if what Paul said was true. ARE you not doing this?!?!

    Andrew, do you dare to stand and call them judgmental? The Bible calls them noble minded. AND THEY WERE JUDGING PAUL! Now…c’mon we’re talkin about R.W. How much more should we be searching the scriptures to see if what he is saying is biblical??

    Perhaps, just perhaps, you have falling into the depths described in Proverbs 18:4 The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook” and instead of running to the refreshing, bubbling brook of wisdom (discernment informed with biblical knowledge), which is only found in Jesus Christ, you are peering into the deep waters of a man’s mouth and liking it a little too much. The wide road, the deep, wide ocean is easy, recreational, popular, etc…but the bubbling brook, God’s Word is the narrow road.

    I think Erik has learned a thing or two about R.W.:: HOW NOT TO PREACH THE WORD!!! as commanded in 1Tim 4:2.

    If i was in sackcloth I would be rippin it up, spitting and rubbing my entire body with ashes at this audacious blasphemy!

  7. Tried watching the video but couldn’t get through it. I don’t know much about Rick Warren, and I certainly don’t know anything more about him from listening to the video. The commentary interjecting every five seconds – assuming the worst possible interpretation of every single little word choice – is not my idea of presenting objective evidence of someone’s belief. If you can find a clip simply of Warren responding to the question, I would like to give it a listen. I don’t need or want (and in fact despise) having someone else tell me how I should interpret his every word.

  8. Now, I agree that this is a tragic view of preaching. However, I disagree on your condemning Tim Keller and Mark Driscoll for going to preach at a Rick Warren conference. I think that if they are allowed to preach about the importance of preaching, they may be able to reach people with the opposite view of the preached word than Warren espouses. I certainly HOPE they at least mention the importance of the preached word at a pastor’s conference. Now if they don’t, then they are either wasting an opportunity or caving in to pressure. If I were scheduled to speak at a conference sponsored by someone like this, and I believed in the importance of the preached word as I do, I would be sure to bring up what I believe is the Scriptural view.

  9. B.M- just for the record, I’m not ‘condemning’ Driscoll or Keller, but just wondering what in the world they are doing. Driscoll has a pattern of this anyway, he has shared the pulpit with the heretic Robert Shuller in the past. I’m just scratching my head. I don’t get it.

    Jon- there is no reasoning here…neither biblical nor pragmatic.

  10. Having seen and heard RW in action, even presenting what I think was the gospel, I have to admit the man isn’t stupid. He is playing to his strengths. He is basically claiming he gets people on the hook because he’s a great fisherman (entertainer). He can’t preach the Word adequately, so he’s not going to suggest this is what we should be doing. Piper’s comments on preaching God’s thoughts, not man’s is perfect.
    This is where your theology meets the road. RW believes he can bring people to faith through his methodology. Piper believes God brings people to salvation, so he submits to obediently preaching to Word and leaves church growth to God’s sovereign plan. God builds his church and Christ rules from the pulpit!

  11. This…just…makes…me…SICK!

  12. Can you imagine if Driscoll went and preached that message he did on preaching at his recent Acts29 conference… Rick Warren’s problem to deal with, but let’s give the good guys all the platforms they can get.

  13. Any way to hear what Driscoll and Keller said?

  14. Fascinating.

    My take on Rick Warren is that he is anti-doctrine (at least, evangelical doctrine), and the quotes I could make out from the clip confirmed the difficulty.

    I heard him pray at a conference that even though we would never unite around doctrine, yet he prayed that we might around the eternal purposes of God. (virtually a verbatim quote)

    In the context, a Sydney Hillsong conference, it was a devilishly clever thing to pray.

  15. Erik,
    You have a good blog and I usually find what you have to say interesting. But this time, it is much ado about nothing, IMHO. Peace.

  16. I am always disturbed about Rick Warren. People call him America’s Pastor; I just call him the Christian poster boy for socialists and apostates. I am really bothered that Tim Keller and Mark Driscoll are speaking at his conference. Even if they hope to share a truthful word, the fact that they are associating with such a questionable agemda as the Purpose Driven Movement is disturbing….plus it is just one more thing to build up Rick Warren’s self-important ego. Hmmm….Obama, Hilary Clinton, and now two well known American pastors sharing the pulpit with Warren. I predict he will one day be the “state approved” pastor of the “state approved” church.

  17. Is it a small thing to take the Word of God between our lips and stand in His place and speak for Him? Is that a small thing?

    “A lion has roared, who will not fear? The Lord has spoken…”

    To those who have heard the Lion roar, I share your judgment, your indignation, and your passion against a method that muzzles the roar of Life. Our cry and our plea go to our Father that He give His heralds a compassionate and undying zeal to preach, that the Spirit of God may move and also that we would shepherd His hearers.

    Thanks for sharing Erik – preach on!

  18. I am personally coming out of a season of being sort of bitter at Rick Warren and the model of “doing” church that he markets and exports around the globe.

    Though I’ve never been critical out loud about him (other than to some of my colleagues), I feel he has done much harm to the Gospel.

    But the whole time I was getting angry/bitter at him, I never prayed for him. I never looked for anything that I could learn from him. I never even tried to consider what positive things he contributes to the Body.

    Make no mistake…I am grateful for the sort of criticism you offer in this post, and I agree with you…its just that in my quest to be right on all the issues, I ended up committing the sin of idolatry, that is, worshipping the idol of “being right.” It wasnt good for my sanctification, and I am trying to be more gracious with my criticism, while still standing for the Truth.

    Nice post.

  19. This is a really hard one to sit out of. I find myself at work, completely boggled why a “Pastor” would think so lowly of God’s word and the power that lies within. As well as think so little of the God’s sovereignty. You have to wonder if he (Rick) is even a Christian. I believe that he is more of a psychologist. Placing more emphasis on people’s inability to pay attention. Limiting the scope and divine power of His word. These are basic beliefs in the life of God’s children.

  20. I truly think the guy has a different playbook. We are not on the same page at all.

    When he (tricky ricky) speaks in public he says a lot of pretty unorthodox things. For example when I’ve been to Saddleback his articulation of ‘the gospel’ is actually divergent from what is orthodox. However, when you read his books he seems to actually try really hard not to say anything. All of this to say, he must have some good editors who are able to curb and dilute his true thoughts and ideas. When guys stop him and drop a mic in his face or he stands up in his church and talks you get much more of who he is. It is this guy that is so dangerous. I submit to you that ‘this guy’ is who Rick Warren really is. And he is not on the team. I will never be amazed at anything the guy ever says again. When you throw out preaching, you throw out Christianity.


  21. Spurgeon said Scripture is a lion. Just let Scripture go! Don’t defend it, don’t lecture around it, don’t speculate about it, don’t dissect it, unleash the beast… The way we do ministry shows if we truly believe Scripture is the power of God to salvation.

  22. Erik,
    don’t you think Ted has a point? I am much the same as Gavin in that I have to remind myself daily to seek truth, not rightness. This video very obviously took little snippets and pasted them together to come up with the worst possible scenario for Rick Warren. I’ll admit that I hold little hope for learning that this video was wrong, but to be fair, shouldn’t we listen to Rick’s whole response rather than trusting someone else’s editing?

  23. If you guys have the video (or I guess audio) I’d love to see it. The fact of the matter is, in the context of the revealed study, he is maintaining that his principles for church growth (much like what Willow Creek was doing and now repudiate) still work; namely less preaching and more skill. At the end of the day this is the message and it is what he has always said, it is the revealed study that got him fired up. And it is his response that gets me (and others) fired up.

    Hey, maybe Rick Warren will swing by Irish Calvinist and clear this up for us again, as he did before (allegedly).

  24. As a member of my old church, Lutheran, this study and survey idea would have sounded like a totally reasonable idea, but of course I was in a church that just talked about the Word of God, and did have expository preaching.
    Also, in my old church, I was sorry that I did not have time to take the new class with the new popular book “Purpose Driven Life”. I figured if my church offered it, it must be biblical, and I did not bother to find out.
    Now, as a Christian, listening to men of God preaching the Word (real expository preaching, not fluff) and the Holy Spirit’s work in me, not only am I saved, but I am growing in my maturity as a Christian. When I forget (RW seems real concerned that we will forget 96% of what we hear) something I hear in a sermon, I open my bible and read it again. And, I got used to reading the bible during those bible saturated sermons, and I hungered for more.
    I hope and pray that my church will be a success in God’s eyes, because if we measure our success by human standards, we are in trouble spiritually like my old church is.

  25. Erik, that is a good question about Keller and Driscoll.

    John MacArthur on Rick Warren’s Apostate “Gospel”


  26. Woops–in the first paragraph of my comment, I meant that my old church did NOT have expository preaching!

  27. I like what truthseeker had to say. I am not defending R.W., but what you are doing is equivelent to someone puting together a broadcast of Jesus getting angy at the temple and Peter cutting off a sodiers’ ear and making the case that Jesus and his disciples were violent people. If all someone read were those two passages, then of course they would agree. If you are asking people to agree with your opinion of RW based on this clip and other similar examples, then you are basically saying that you are right and people should just take your word for it. Is there no need for people to find out the whole truth themselves? Do you have to edit Rick to make your point? Or can you provide the resourse for people to hear Rick’s whole message and come to their own conclusion? Once more, I am not defending Rick. I believe you are right in what you say. I just don’t think this is the right way to get the message across.

  28. Javaguy,

    You know, if you actually read R.W. ‘s material and compared it with the word of God with proper exegesis, interpretation of Scripture, you would see that Erik is correct. I have read R.W.’s material, been to Saddleback, and watched R.W.”s false teaching in action. Erik has as well. We are, as it were, eye-witnesses.

    Furthermore, whether we agree with the method of the audio presenation or not, R.W. is still responsible for the comments he made. To dismiss them is irresponsible.

    Now, quite frankly, I share Erik’s indignation, not because Erik is a friend, but because we share a common goal that transcends even our friendship, and that is the gospel of Jesus Christ, which amounts to the doctrines of Sovereign Grace. If R.W. had any clue of orthodox Christianity, he would hold his tongue and repent, for he has assualted the glory of God. Now I know that you (at least as it appears from previous comments in the past on this blog) do not hold to the doctrines of sovereign grace and you won’t until, as James White says, “God removes your heart of stone and gives you a heart of flesh,” so these comments most likely fall on deaf ears.

    It just seems to me that if all here were truly passionate about the gospel of Jesus Christ, we would all cry out in indignation against all false teachers because they attempt to do what they cannot, and that is rob God of all the glory due his name. Rick Warren believes in the “gospel of self-sovereignty,” where man is the final arbiter of truth. This enables him to be conscience free when it comes to his burger-king gospel.

    The question is, what will you do with this information in light of what Christ says in His Word, that all are condemned apart from Christ. That it took the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ to reconcile a people for God, to be both just and the justifier. Salvation is offered based upon the sovereign will of God, and he is the sovereign giver of eternal life. Left to ourselves, we would wallow and perish in our sin, our rebellion and suppression of the truth. There is not any sense where man can “cooperate” with God in salvation (Rom 3 and 9 are quite clear). Mankind is completely depraved. It would make God dependent upon man if cooperation in salvation were necessary. The opposite, of course, is true. God is not dependent upon us or any decision we would make. He is independent. We are dependent. He is the creator, we are the creatures. We rebelled against him. He owes us nothing but our just condemnation. That is the beauty of the Gospel that R.W. neglects. He has no concept of dependence upon the almighty God as his most recent comments reflect. When we are dependent and that is beautiful. We don’t have to rely on ourselves where failure would be inevitable. We have no problem with the gospel. We have no problem with the doctrines of sovereign grace and the great solas of the reformation, which find their roots in the very words of the Scriptures. For those who are dependent, we know that even our dependence cannot be attributed to ourselves, but that God, in his blessed sovereignty and perfect plan, chose us before the foundation of the world to glorify Him through our salvation. Those not chosen, will glorify Him through condemnation and it will be right and just. But again, those that understand these truths have been given that heart of flesh, and that heart of stone we all have is removed from those whom Christ has called.

    R.W. doesn’t have room in his theology for these great truths, otherwise he would have to repent, do everyone a favor, and leave the pulpit to men who know how to rightly handle the word of truth, because of the grace of God in their lives.

    I am praying for you in particular Javaguy. You have been on this blog long enought to have heard the truths of these words time and time again.

    In Him,
    W. Thomas

  29. Brothers, I appreciate your obvious passion for Christ and his church exemplified in this post and in the comments. But in light of our own sinfulness, can we possibly adopt such a condescending tone? Can we really sing words like, “O to grace how great a debtor / Daily I’m constrained to be! / Let that grace now like a fetter, / Bind my wandering heart to Thee. / Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, / Prone to leave the God I love; / Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, / Seal it for Thy courts above,” and then adopt such a tone? If we can, may God have mercy on us.

    I realize that my even saying this puts me at the risk of doing the very thing I’m criticizing in others, but that’s not my heart, and I’m truly sorry if that isn’t clear from the tone of this comment.

    As far as Warren’s actual comments go, taken out of context I think they’re absolutely wrong and thoroughly unbiblical. But I think taken in context, they’re making the same point that Abraham Piper made in a blog post last week (link here: http://twentytwowords.com/2008/05/22/if-sermons-are-mainly-about-transferring-knowledge-most-of-them-are-failures/ Sorry, I suck at html). Sermons alone are not going to produce fully mature, well-rounded individuals. I think our practical experience proves this but, more to the point, I think this idea is also biblical. (Isn’t that why the Scriptures exhort us to Christian community and the regular observance of the sacraments? If preaching is all that’s needed, then let’s all just stay home on Sunday mornings and listen to our preacher of choice online)

    And I think – though perhaps I’m giving him too much credit – that that’s all Warren is trying to say. Can his comments be taken too far? Absolutely. We must retain the centrality of God-entranced preaching as part of our corporate gatherings, however we must remember that it is God alone that changes human hearts and that he chooses to do this through the public gathering of his people, the proclamation of the gospel through Christ-centered preaching, and the observance of the sacraments.

  30. driscoll addresses what he was doing there on an interview i listened to which can be found at http://www.supersimbo.net

  31. W. Thomas,
    Please read what I wrote. First, at the beginning, I said, “I am not defending R.W.,” Then, at the end, I said, “Once more, I am not defending Rick. I believe you are right in what you say.”

    How can you read that, then say what you did? Since once obviously isn’t enough, let me say what I ended with one more time. “I just don’t think this is the right way to get the message across.” I didn’t say that it was the wrong message. I have listened to what RW said in its’ entirety and MOST (not all) of Rick’s quotes were taken out of context. That doesn’t mean I agree with him, but at least I went to the source to hear for myself what he said the way he meant for it to be heard. I am not just taking someone else’s slash job as truth.

    If you would like to talk about doctrine, I would love to do so, but Erik doesn’t let me do that anymore. You are free to visit my site by clicking on my name. All I ask is that you read the post, “the Journey” before commenting. As to James White, read John 17 and see if what he says about Jesus praying for the world matches up with what Jesus actually said.

  32. Truthseeker,

    First, I was responding to Javaguy, as many others have done in many other posts.

    Second, I was cutting through the surface to the real issues. As I said, whether or not you like the way the presentation was made, does not negate the truth of the presentation made. The ultimate issue is not the style of presentation. It is what is behind it. R.W. is clearly not orthodox. Rather than argue about the style of the presentation regarding his comments, let’s discuss what R.W. has consistently demonstrated. What R.W. has demonstrated is a consistent disregard for the truths of Scripture. I have seen firsthand how he has used a “burger-king” style eisegesis to prove whatever point he feels like proving at the time. It is this blatant dissregard for the truth that should have Christians up in arms for the glory of Christ and His Word. That is the issue.

    With Javaguy, I was simply going straight to the presuppositions behind his comments. It is the integrity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ at stake in the discussion.

    Furthermore, James White is dead on when it comes to John 17. I have the context in front of me now. Beginning in verse 2, Jesus clearly addresses the Father regarding those who belong to Jesus:

    “…2. even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that TO ALL WHOM YOU HAVE GIVEN HIM, HE MAY GIVE ETERNAL LIFE. 3. This is eternal life3, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent…6. I have manifested Your name TO THE MEN WHOM YOU GAVE ME OUT OF THE WORLD; they were Yours and YOU GAVE THEM TO ME…9.I ASK ON THEIR BEHALF, I DO NOT ASK ON BEHALF OF THE WORLD, BUT THOSE WHOM YOU HAVE GIVEN ME; FOR THEY ARE YOURS.”

    The following context makes it just as plain (John 17:13-26) continuing the thought. Jesus is praying for His disciples and including with them those who would believe due to their message. It is consistent, it is true, it is the Word of God. Again, James White hits the matter dead on, unless of course the convention of language means nothing. God’s sovereignty in salvation oozes forth from these words.

    To summarize succinctly, the method of presentation, whether wrong or right, is not up for the discussion. It is the truth behind the statements made. Thank you.

    W. Thomas

  33. W. Thomas,

    Sorry for the confusion. TruthSeeker is my wife. I forgot to log off of her screen name and onto mine before I wrote that last response. She rarely logs on so I am not used to having to do that. That last response from TruthSeeker was actually Javaguy.

    First of all. You said, ” To summarize succinctly, the method of presentation, whether wrong or right, is not up for the discussion. It is the truth behind the statements made.” Sooo . . . the means justifies the end? Does that mean it’s ok to edit the Gospel as long as the message of Salvation gets through? The presentation IS the point. I told you in my first post and my second post that I agreed with you about RW, so that is NOT the issue. My issue is with people who edit things with the purpose of making things that don’t necessarily support their view seem like they do. For instance:

    You quoted John 17. Part way through vs. 6 you put “. . . ” and skipped to vs. 9. This is what you left out:

    ” 6 I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they HAVE KEPT Your word.
    7″Now they HAVE COME to know that everything You have given Me is from You;
    8 for the words which You gave Me I HAVE GIVEN to them; and they RECEIVED them and truly UNDERSTOOD that I came forth from You, and they BELIEVED that You sent Me. ”

    I find it interesting that you quote from the NASB version of the Bible until you get to vs. 20 which in the NASB says, “20”I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;”

    Here, you switched to NIV because it says, “those who WOULD believe. . .” rather than the NASB which says, “those also who believe in Me . . .” which is present tense and only implies those who were currently living and believing in Him, not those who will in the future. Either way, it is clear by “the convention of language” that when he includes those Others (present or future) that He is talking about unity, not the entire prayer. This is demonstrated by those verses I quoted above as well as the others in that chapter which say things like,

    “11”I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world,”

    ” 12″While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.” (more on this in a moment)

    14″I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them,”

    ” 15″I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.”

    Anyway, you get the point. It is quite obvious that Jesus couldn’t be directing His whole prayer to all those that would come. So, vs. 12. supports Calvinism, right? This whole chapter is full of the words “they” and “them.” Who are “they” and “them” referring to? Those whom the Father gave Him. Jesus’ disciples. Those who believed in Jesus. Those who were saved. Yet Jesus says, that not one of “them” was lost except for Judas. Judas was a part of those who believed in Jesus and then was lost. If he wasn’t, Jesus wouldn’t have included him in the “them.”

    As to God’s oozing sovereignty, I believe just as firmly as you do that God is absolutely sovereign. God can choose to let us choose and still be sovereign. It is just the same as God choosing to use us to spread His word. He is sovereign, He doesn’t need us to spread the Gospel. He could simply choose who He would save and do it. God isn’t dependent on us to spread the Gospel, yet He chooses to do it that way. In the same way, God could choose to not let us choose, yet I believe He does. That doesn’t detract from His sovereignty. I’m sure you’re going to tell me how that analogy doesn’t work. That’s ok. My awe of God and his sovereignty doesn’t come from man. I don’t need mans’ approval to be smitten by my helplessness, sinfulness and utter dependence on God and Christ’s sacrifice. All I know is that I could never do anything to save myself and it is only because of Christ’s sacrifice and God’s sovereignty that I have any hope of salvation.

    I am confused about one thing. You obviously question my salvation, yet tell me that you pray for me, then fervently back up James White who says that Jesus didn’t even pray for the world. Please clarify.

  34. I am busy in clinic right now with some patients but I have a few moments to state a couple of quick things until I can comment in detail.

    First, I didn’t switch translations, nor did I touch the NIV. I don’t like the NIV. It is a dynamic, as opposed to literal translation of Scripture, thus I don’t use it.

    Second, I never quoted vs 21. I referenced it. Your lack of attention to detail made it appear as though I was picking and choosing a translation, thus slandering my comment and insuating a lack of integrity.

    I will respond to your comments regarding “they and them” this evening. It is fairly simple. I will also respond to your other comments at that time. Thank you.

    Back to my patients.

    W. Thomas

  35. To Truthseeker/Javaguy,

    Unfortunately, the posts have drifted off the main point of the original post by Mr. Erik, which is this: to formulate a philosophy of ministry that disassociates the preaching and teaching of the Word of God and prayer from means towards maturity in Christ is Scripturally insupportable and pastorally unconscienceable (spelling?)!

    As a former missionary, I can tell you that in parts of the world, where java and jamba juice do not exist, nor do fancy buildings, or computer screens with fancy graphics, nor praise bands, nor the ambivalance of religious libertinism, nor the confusion of entertainment as spiritual LIFE (John 17:3), there are MATURE Christians who have only the Bible and prayer and pursue the simplicity of the ministry in preaching the Word of God, evangelism, fellowship.

    There is no hook, no attraction, no indulgences in the life of this age in their assemblies, no advantage to popular praise or promotion, no sense of belonging due to quantitative factors (i.e., there are not a lot of people joining the bandwagon). Rather, they give their lives. They do it in their preaching. They do it with love for their enemies. Their pastors roll up their sleeves and prove their sincerity by showing the marks of their suffering (a missionary in Kazan, Russia [a highly Muslim area] was beaten and sodomized with a wooden stake wrapped in barbed wire because he dared to proclaim Jesus as the Christ, and when he recovered, he was back again, preaching and praying with broken body, but a MATURE LIFE).

    The real problem with Rick Warren, Mr. Bell, and others is that there is this substitution of a uniquely-American cultural enterntainment, wrapped up in the theological wrappings of Christian liberty against cold tradition, saturated with a kind of ingrown (and possibly outreaching) fellowship of inclusivism AS TRUE, MATURE CHRISTIAN LIFE in the place of “love that issues from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith” that comes from hearing the Gospel, repenting, devoting oneself entirely and without reservation, for the VITAL, EXCLUSIVE, ETERNAL, RELATIONAL UNION with the thrice HOLY, covenantally-faithful, TRINITY through the Son alone!

    Not only can this post-modern, emergent, new/fresh (call it what you will) life be exported to all nations without all of American culture/entertainment following, it is impossible to insert such a definition of this life as the GLORY seen in the Son of God by those on earth (John 1:14), as if somehow, all of what is presented is the “culmination of the ages,” the pinnacle of the expressions of the grace and truth realized in Jesus Christ in comparison to all of the preceding examples of grace and truth in the OT. Thus, the Rick Warren gospel is such that the accomplished mission of the King of Kings, the sending of the Son to redeem the gift of the Father, the ascension and glorification and establishment of the Son of Man is all so UNNECESSARY and more A HINDERANCE to real LIFE! His books have crossed all boundaries, but the one that sends up warning signs, even if one were never to have read any of his material or heard one sermon, is that the WORLD DOES NOT HATE THE MESSAGE! The world loves its own! Rick Warren is truly then America’s pastor!!!

    But, the glory of the Son is perverted, substituted, removed, excised, abandoned for the sake of the NEW, MATURE LIFE. I can readily admit that so often it is easy to quibble over words among those brethren who should indeed show more love towards one another, and in this sense, the judgmental attitude of Christians against themselves, who fail to discern true error from the rest (a paraphrase from Richard Baxter), tear each other, and may have given the great ENEMY of the Gospel an occassion to birth this putrid substitution of ETERNAL LIFE and how it is obtained and what it looks like! Yet, even if we indeed are guilty of this, Mr. Warren is not in the bounds of brotherhood when the issue at stake is the Gospel itself!

    Thus, I have both pity and indignation for any who would be ensnared by such false teaching. To think of the incredible difference between LIFE as presented by Mr. Warren and LIFE while abiding in Christ, a life hidden with God, yet to be revealed in a glory not known, a life that is yet encumbered by our continued existence and connection with this age, a life that is yet not perfected and consummated by the grace of God, even to the point of death, a life that is nonetheless transcendant and yet imminent, intimate, consuming, burning, refreshing, lovely, and most of all unbreakable! This LIFE in the Son is the same LIFE that the Son has in the Father (the REASON for Jesus’ prayer in John 17). To think that an entire generation of people, self-proclaimed Christians, are active and happy with a LIFE that is not IN THE SON nor IN THE FATHER nor IN THE HOLY SPIRIT! If eternal life, at its very core, and I mean at its very CORE, is relational (John 17:3 and the “knowing”) [and it is], and this LIFE can only come by the divine work of God on the heart to bring a person to the unwavering conviction of his rebellion and transgression against Deity and place all his trust upon the legally-justifying work of the Son on the cross [and it does only come this way], and if one grows in this LIFE through the ONLY record of TRUTH from God by understanding the meaning and significance of the Scriptures and meditates and saturates his mind and will and affections with the realities of such divine things through prayer and study, bursting out of him in almost uncontrollable joy, in sustained prayer,s hours upon hours of approaching the throne of grace without fear, but in reverence and awe, of agonizing over the sins that hinder the LIFE of that fellowship, that seek to remove them, that plead and suffer under the weight of practical sanctification in abject trust upon the faithfulness of the ONE in whom we want to KNOW MORE (notice, it is not a motive of law, but the desire to love and fellowship more intimately that is the reason), and such private prayers and studies, and teachings and the words of the sermon are all filtered by the Scriptures, internalized, integrated, and acted upon for the benefit of others who do know Christ already and those who do not know the truth [and this is the path of maturity], then how can anyone in any kind of statement, even in a snippet of an audio state that a MATURE LIFE in GOD does not come in this manner!

    I pray for you, Truthseeker…may you live up to the moniker by which you sign on to this blog! May you be as Christian, and put your finger in your ears, and run away from the so-called life of the Rick Warren’s and other like him, and scream with tears, “LIFE, LIFE, ETERNAL LIFE.” May you be like Peter in John 6, when Jesus asked [expecting a ‘no’ answer’], “Do you want to go away as well?” Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and come to know, that you are the Holy One of God!” Where else can you go, Truthseeker? I presume much, but with true tears in my eyes, I implore you to go to the Lord, and find LIFE only there! ETERNAL LIFE is known in the Scriptures. Rick Warren is not merely incorrect, but oblivious to this LIFE!

    Preaching and prayer are the means of coming to know, experiencing, and maturing in the true, divine life found only in the Lord, the Son of God!



  36. Javaguy/Truthseeker,

    I feel as though I must apologize to the blogosphere for my interaction with you on this blog post. I allowed it to get way off topic and I am so thankful that PB took us back to the root and heart of the matter.

    I sought counsel yesterday evening and was convicted by biblical instruction regarding how I have handled this post and you. Therefore, I would like to clarify a couple of points that got me started on this to begin with.

    First, there is a right and true indignation, as PB discussed, regarding our response to such men as Rick Warren. This is what I believe Erik was originally bringing out. It is men like R.W. that want to lead people away from the Biblical Christ. This is right cause for righteous anger and indignation by those whom, by the grace of God, have been spared and given eternal life. This is why the method of presentation was not the original discussion of the post, but the statements made by R.W. that are consistent with his unorthodox worldview. No one is talking about whether the means justify the ends.

    That being said, when you posted, understanding you were not posting in defense of R.W., against Erik’s post, as is usual with you, it brought about indignation in me, and rightfully so. It is true that in multiple posts you have been confronted with gospel truth and yet demonstrate no submission to that truth. Instead, you take every opportunity you have to give some kind of rebuttal, whether founded or not, against him.

    Therefore, I posted my original post which I still stand behind, and does indeed follow the original intent of Erik’s post. Why are not more “Christians” up in arms against R.W.’s “gospel?” This is where PB made some great points and I don’t need to rehash those points.

    However, my apology must also still stand. I allowed myself to be taken down a rabbitt trail, away from the intention of the post. IN fact, I engaged in a debate not suitable to the blogosphere. However, those are the minor infractions.

    I really want to apologize to you for while my indignation toward the positions you hold is right and good, where I fail is in my lack of brokeness. This is what my good friend truly convicted me of and for which I ask the Lord’s forgiveness. I am broken for you. It is with pity and grief that I read your comments here and on past blogs posts. Yes, I did read your Journey blog as well.

    You know, at the end of the book of Jude, three different people are described. The first are doubters whom we have mercy on and deal with patiently and kindly. The second are those whom we save, snatching them out of the fire. These individuals are in peril but can yet be pulled out. Their affections and minds are being drawn toward false doctrines, away from the faith once for all delivered for the saints. Finally, there are those whom we have mercy on, but with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh, for their minds, affections, and will are committed to the dangerous doctrines they profess.

    It is my contention that R.W. falls into the third category. You, Javaguy, I am not entirely sure. The truth has definitely been proclaimed to you, so you are not in the first category.

    I am broken and sorrowful for you. It is my prayer that God, in His sovereignty, does indeed etch the truth of His word on your heart. Out of mercy for you, I implore you to repent and believe.

    I just want you to know that my wife and I are praying for you. From now on, if I respond to your comments within the blogosphere, it will be an admonition for you to repent and believe and also to continuously let you know I am praying for you.

    Now, as a matter of integrity, I did tell you I would respond to your previous comments regarding John 17. Because I said I would, I should give the opportunity for that to happen. However, this post is neither the time nor the place. If you wich to discuss these matters, you can email me at ready_defense@yahoo.com.

    W. Thomas

  37. P.B.,

    I truly thank you for your words. They are inspired and true. My only wish is that you had understood what I have been saying from the beginning and repeated many times over the course of this discussion. I AGREE WITH YOU ALL ON THIS. It is not the message that I am disputing, it is the way the message is delivered. The video did, indeed, take Rick’s words out of context and made it seem like they meant something other than what Rick intended to them to mean. In this instance, the message is accurate, however, by allowing others to receive this message through an inaccurate representation opens the door for people to receive the wrong message through inaccurate representation in the future. In other words, if we accept inaccurate presentation of this video simply because the over-all message is true, will we accept the message of future videos without questioning the intent of the subject? I would never do this because I believe Erik to be a man of God and speaks the truth, but I’m sure I could download some of his sermons and edit them to make them seem heretical. Then I could post them on my site and if my readers didn’t take the time or effort to listen to the original sermons, they would believe that Erik was heretical. Are we, as Christians supposed to simply accept what is presented to us by pastors (or others) as truth because they have been right before? or are we to dig into the scripture ourselves and discover the truth for ourselves? Recently, Erik talked about He and Pat wanting their congregation to always question (for lack of better term) them. They would rather be called out and confronted by the truth of the Gospel than to preach false truths. I admire this and don’t doubt that they would listen. All I’m asking is that we do the same here. We shouldn’t just accept this video’s interpretation as truth because we have faith in the creators of the video. We should go to the source and judge for ourselves if what the video was saying is true. In this case, much of what the video was conveying was true, but it took things out of context and edited what Rick said to make it seem like he was saying something that he wasn’t. So for the, (let me count) 10th time on this post of Erik’s, let me say one more time . . . I agree with you all on this. It is not the message I am disputing, it is the way it was presented.

    W. Thomas,

    You may not have quoted vs. 21, but your reference could never have been made from the NASB because the NASB doesn’t put it that way. Why would you use the NASB for everything except the most critical part? If you were consistent with the NASB, you could not make the points that you made. So my question, is why didn’t you reference the NASB when talking about vs. 21?

  38. P.B.

    Thanks for weighing in with your comments. I think that should be the last word on this post. Well said.


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