The following commentary corresponds to the following video from 21:45 to 23:30
Here we see a small sampling of a lot that lies ahead. Rick Warren admonishes his audience that the one necessary quality they need to be learners, and hence disciples, and hence leaders (you know, that vast biblical doctrine of "leadership") is humility. Within the space of less than two minutes Warren makes both a clarion call to humility and a brazen statement about how he is so much smarter than his enemies. Arrogant and jerk are strong words but I can't think of anything stronger so they will have to suffice for now. I just cannot believe that Rick Warren can continually act like an arrogant jerk in these large forums and not get taken to task.
Most likely, the enemies Warren is referring to are those who have been critical of his theology and practice. Not only did Warren give an apt demonstration of his staggering humility by pronouncing himself "smarter than" his "enemies", he also dumped on his many discerning critics saying that they are people "who only learn from themselves" - lacking the clear Yoda like qualities Warren has gained through his advanced learning abilities. Unbelievable - is he that delusional that he cannot hear what he is saying? Four of Warren's strongest critics who immediately spring to mind are Michael Horton, John Macarthur, Tim Challies, and James White. So is Rick Warren saying that these guys are dumber than he is? Is he saying that they are unlearned and only read their own work? Is he saying that he is way more humble than they are? Michael Horton, John Macarthur, Tim Challies, and James White are four giant intellects who grace the evangelical landscape with outstanding biblical exposition, depth of knowledge, and razor sharp apologetics. These are not the kind of guys to shoot from the hip and when they level criticism at Warren it is not unfounded nor ungrounded. Some of that has been on display as this series has progressed revealing that they are very aware of Rick Warren's "theological content".
But does Rick Warren really learn from his critics? The three most common and serious charges leveled against him would be:
1. His failure to preach the Gospel.
2. The fact that he continually twists Scripture and is overtly willing to use poor Bible translations in instances where they lend credence to his own ideas.
3. His regular failure to distinguish between believers and unbelievers when applying covenants and promises found in Scripture.
These are very serious grievances. The chorus of criticism did reach the point where Pastor Warren felt it necessary to write a book that would respond to the critics and set the record straight. He hired an apologetics attack dog by the name of Richard Abanes to harass websites and blogs that were critical of Warren as well as write the book "Rick Warren And The Purpose That Drives Him". So Rick Warren devoted a whole book to respond to the many criticisms leveled at him. And what did he have to say in response to those "big three" grievances mentioned above? Nothing - absolutely nothing! While Warren devotes plenty of energy in downplaying his friendship with Robert Schuller and his connections with the emergent church, he dances around the strongest objections raised against his ministry - in a book devoted to responding to these critics! Rick - this is not a great advertisement for how much you learn from your critics.
Tim Challies had this to say about "Rick Warren And The Purpose That Drives Him":
The single most common concern raised about Warren (at least in my experience) is his use (or misuse) of Scripture. This comes in two forms. First, Warren often quotes verses out of context or in ways that are advantageous to the point he is trying to make. He will often quote only a half of a verse if the second half does not support what he wants to say. Second, he uses poor translations and translations that say what he wants the Bible to say, rather than what God intended for it to say. There are times when this may be an honest mistake, but there are other times when it is clear that Warren has deliberately twisted a verse or taken it from its context to make it work for his purposes. Despite these two areas being of prime importance to those who are concerned with Warren's ministry, Abanes gives this no attention whatsoever. None. Not a sentence.
Another common criticism is Warren's prayer in the seventh chapter of The Purpose Driven Life. He leads the reader to pray, "Jesus I believe in you and I receive you" and then welcomes to the family of God anyone who prayed that little prayer sincerely. Yet this was before the person was provided any significant information about sin or repentance. It would be easy to assume that the person was praying to receive purpose more than to receive Christ. This is a very common criticism, yet one Abanes does not address. (online source)
All that from the man who sets new standards in humility. The pastor who is so much smarter than his critics because he learns so much from them - the very same critics who "only learn from themselves". Think about it, America's Pastor is pretty impressive. He was able to lecture us about humility, trash his opponents, and dazzle us with his smartitude all in the space of two minutes of video.
More to come . . .
Go On To Part 7
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Go Back To Part 1
Weekend A La Carte (March 24)
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