Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rick Warren's Punishment For Gluttons

Rick Warren's sermon at Desiring God has huge ramifications for those of us who call ourselves reformed. Have we blurred the lines on what we are willing to tolerate? In our zealous efforts to be civil and amicable do we throw all combativeness out the window? If it is tolerated at the epicenter will it be embraced at the outer reaches of the fall out zone? Exactly where are the lines and what does one have to do to cross them? Where will those of us who live in the land of apostasy go for a discernment benchmark? Does this mean that we may see a growing tendency not to witness to people who say they are Christians but preach a different Gospel?

What are we to do with Bible verses like:

Romans 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

Galatians 1:8-9 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Ephesians 5:11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

1 Timothy 5:20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.

Titus 3:10 A man that is an heretic after thefirst and second admonition reject;

Titus 1:13 This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;

Jude 1:3-4 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Does Rick Warren preach another gospel and, if so, what response does that warrant from true shepherds like Dr. Piper?

Starting in the new year (January 3) we will launch straight into some more in-depth analysis of Rick Warren's "message" preached at the 2010 Desiring God conference. I believe there is much that is beneficial to be learnt from Warren - particularly what not to preach. We will learn about the pervasive seductiveness of moralism, how a wrong view of conversion perverts your preaching, and how to listen with discernment so we can detect whether a message is gospel-centered or man-centered.

Christmas is upon us and I plan to repost my Christmas evangelism series from two years ago that will run each day for the next 9 days up until Christmas. Christmas is a great time to evangelize and if you don't have any good tools then I want to offer this series as a interesting and thought provoking Gospel presentation for unbelievers.

But because there are some readers who are truly gluttons for punishment, I will leave you all with this entree for my upcoming series starting January 3rd 2010. Chris Rosebrough is not everybody's cup of tea but he was more than willing to dive into this debate and offer 2 hours of blow by blow analysis. For the punishment gluttons, feast on this:


blindsay said...

"Exactly where are the lines and what does one have to do to cross them?"

Excellent question, but the lines for what? The lines for being Reformed or the lines for being a Christian?

From your opening, where you talk about there being "huge ramifications for those of us who call ourselves reformed," it sounds like the lines for being Reformed. However, from the rest of the post, it appears you'll be charging Rick Warren with heresy, so I thought I'd ask for clarification. (I guess the other option is that you view being a Christian as requiring Reformed theology.)

Cameron Buettel said...

Blindsay, no I am not saying that reformed theology is the defining line of Christianity. But it was the reformers that recovered the Gospel and modern day reformed guys like Piper are very specific about getting the Gospel right.

For my in depth discussion on defining the Gospel you can check out my anatomy of the Gospel series here:

Warren gets the Gospel wrong on several counts when he has had chance to be clear. His most notable examples are his presentation in his 40 days book and also when he preached on Fox Network. So my issue is not whether Warren is reformed, this does impact on the wider evangelical landscape. The ramifications within the reformed camp are because Warren was a keynote at a major conference hosted by a leading reformed preacher.

Generally speaking, the reformed guys are very specific in guarding the Gospel. If Warren can get away scot free for preaching what he did at Desiring God conference then it gives me great cause for concern because that is a place where Warren is most likely to get taken to task . . . and he wasn't.

I would never say that being a Christian requires reformed theology. But I would say that a correct understanding of human depravity, regeneration, and penal substitutionary atonement is what I am looking for in any Gospel presentation. Reformed theology has been at the forefront of championing these essential doctrines.

Anonymous said...

To be honest, I have heard about this in the past months, but I've not truly read about it, or watched videos about it. Just basically read the headlines and small captions regarding this event.

Concerning the lines, it is the lines between Christianity, biblical Christianity, and what passes for 'Christianity' in this day and age.

Scripture tells us that they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, Acts 2v42.

It tells of giving themselves continually to prayer and the word, Acts 6.

It tells us they fasted, as did the Lord Jesus Christ.

But the Western Christianity that we see nowadays is an anaemic excuse for saying it is the Church.

If that is the Church, then Jesus has a very sickly body.

May God help us and save us.

Lucy, England.

blindsay said...

Cameron, thanks for clarifying that for me. I look forward to your upcoming series, and will try to take the time to watch the Desiring God video Rick Warren made. (I couldn't make it through The Purpose Driven Life, so no promises that I'll make it through the video.)

What little of Rick Warren's preaching and writings I've come across I wouldn't call heretical, but I have disagreed with the methods he uses to reach his conclusions. I've also disagreed with some of his conclusions, but they weren't over essential Christian doctrine.

Cameron Buettel said...

Blindsay, Rick Warren is worse than a heretic. He is a chameleon that changes his theological colors according to every theological setting. He tells Larry King that his greatest hero is Ghandi. He tells Piper that it's Johnathan Edwards. He tells Piper that preaching Penal substitutionary Atonement is absolutely essential but it is nowhere to be found in the Gospel presentations he has done in his books or on Fox or anywhere else I have looked. He actually said that the reason for Jesus death was so that we could get a "mulligan" in life, a second chance, a do-over. His book is just as bad as MacArthur points out in his video on Warren. Warren also said that we must always preach repentance but then he goes on to redefine the biblical meaning of the word.

Rick Warren was questioned continually over the Purpose Driven series because of several major problems. The biggest three were his dreadful gospel presentation, his use of countless Bible translations (many of which gave faulty interpretations of the original meaning but supported Warren's ideas), and his failure to differentiate between believers and unbelievers when discussing biblical promises. Warren had a book written to defend himself against his critics but lo and behold the book said absolutely NOTHING about the three major criticisms.

Warren is very dangerous which is why I am going to analyze his sermon froDesiring God. That sermon is an outstanding example of preaching moralism instead of Christ crucified and I will explain why.

Anonymous said...

Blindsay if you do your research like what Cameron has done you find that he is very heretical and a nasty chamelon.

Few reasons
1. Warren speaks in 2004 at the National Pastor's Convention (put on by Youth Specialties) where yoga, labyrinths and contemplative prayer are used and promoted.

2. Kay Warren recommends Henri Nouwen's book, In the Name of Jesus and says this about Nouwen's book, "[I]t hits at the heart of the minister.... I highlighted almost every word!"

3. recommends several contemplatives: Brennan Manning, Henri Nouwen, Richard Foster, Thomas Merton, Jan Johnson and many more.

4. Warren teaches that God 'created the church to meet your five deepest needs' just as the Roman Catholic Church says, 'The Church is the mother of all believers.' Warren, like Rome, has switched from obedience to the Word and Person of the Living God to submission to a church to achieve one's needs. It is the oldest and cleverest temptation known to man."—Richard Bennett, The Adulation of Man in the Purpose-Driven Life

5. Connections
Lead Like Jesus CD Set
Lead Like Jesus 2003, 2004
Leadership Summit 2005
Rick Warren, Ken Blanchard and Bill Hybels

Leadership Summit 2009
members on board Zen Buddhist, hindu.

So cameron is right declaring that Warren is a very dangerous man!

blindsay said...


I do plan on doing more research on Warren. My initial question was whether or not the series would be an inter-Christian debate over doctrine or whether it would bring the more serious charge of heresy. In his reply, Cameron did a good job giving examples where Warren departs from core critical dogmas, but you examples fail to do that.

Let's look at your reasons:

1. Yoga as exercise and separate from religious principles has been in use for years.

They used a labyrinth? So they had the kids go through a maze? And this shows Warren has heretical beliefs about which core Christian doctrine?

I'm assuming you believe that it is a fusion of Christianity with "New Age" beliefs, but this is really not the case. Contemplative prayer has been used for centuries by Christians.

2. What's wrong with recommending a book by Henri Nouwen?

3. I recognize 3 of the 5 names you list that they recommend, and would recommend books by them myself. (See my note on contemplative prayer above.)

4. Your quote from Warren doesn't support your statement that he "has switched from obedience to the Word and Person of the Living God to submission to a church to achieve one's needs."

5. No idea what your point is here.

If this were all I had to make a decision about Rick Warren, it wouldn't lead me to the conclusion that he is a heretic nor that he "is a very dangerous man."