Monday, February 7, 2011

Sanctification In 847 Easy Steps - Rick Warren's Sermon At Desiring God (Part 9)

This whole sorry saga has been full of surprises.

Surprise 1 - John Piper invited Rick Warren to be a keynote speaker at his 2010 Desiring God conference.

Surprise 2 - Piper gives an explanation that is even more confusing.

Surprise 3 - Many of us know that Warren is clever, pragmatic, and not a theological dunce. It was, therefore, widely expected that Warren would deliver a solid sermon loaded with reformed theology to woo his new audience. That he delivered his usual moralistic man centered diatribe on how to fix our lives took me completely by surprise.

Surprise 4 - Burk Parsons and John Piper, in response to Warren's dreadful sermon, had nothing critical to say about it.

Surprise 5 - Virtually nobody with any profile in the evangelical world had anything to say about Warren's sermon (with the exception of a handful of people like James White, Todd Friel, and Mike Abendroth).

The lack of fallout from this has actually done a lot of damage. Warren has gained a credibility in certain circles that he should never have received. The Purpose Driven movement has driven a lot of good pastors out of their pulpits and turned many discerning church goers into outcasts. Many of us have taken refuge in fellowships with good reformed preaching from people like Dr John Piper. This is why we are horrified at the thought of Warren and his purpose driven propaganda gaining any traction whatsoever among churches that guard the Gospel and good doctrine. This series is a project I have taken upon myself because, though there are people far more qualified, there has been a lack of response and analysis. My desire is to show that the inherent problems in man centered preaching are obvious and easily detectable, that dissecting a sermon like this is beneficial for our practice of discernment in our local church context, and that their is a huge need for biblically sound hostility to all other gospels than the one found in Scripture.

The following commentary corresponds to the following video from 30:53 to 36:00

It is difficult to sift through the barrage of things we need to do. In this section of video Warren launches with his "five levels of learning". Rick - chapter and verse please! Perhaps he is right and these ideas may be helpful but I have no idea where he gets them from. And yet at the same time, we are learning that asking Warren for biblical support usually creates more problems than it solves when we see his hermeneutical practices and the bogus translations he uses. Hearing all this reminds me of my old days in a seeker friendly church where I was continually overwhelmed with the number of things I needed to do that I wasn't doing. I believe it makes most of us dizzy and discouraged.

Warren seems to think that almost every aspect of Christian development, whether it be conversion, discipleship, or sanctification, can have a lengthy "how to" manual written for it - he also thinks that he is just the man to write it. The importance of the regenerative transforming work by the Holy Spirit in taking someone dead in sin and bringing him to life with a new heart and earnest desires to obey God, is easily noticed by it's continual absence from Warren's preaching.

Rather than dismantle this diatribe, which has been done enough already in earlier posts, I will just respond to two points that Warren makes in this section of video.

1. Warren's commitment to church history and good theology.
Warren gleefully responds to his critics in these areas by pointing out that they have a "small bio" of a figure from church history on the back of their church bulletin! But wait, there's more - they even have a "theological word of the week" also on the back of their bulletin at Saddleback. How dare anyone ever question Rick Warren's commitment to church history and good theology. This is so laughable it would make a good comedy routine - if it wasn't so insulting to those in the audience who labor week in week out in the biblical text and great commentaries. The fact of the matter is that Warren's track record on these issues stands in very stark contrast to his own portrayal of himself. Is it possible that he just can't see this???

2. Warren's explanation of the cross.
In John Piper's video explaining why he invited Warren he actually tells us that he asked Warren about Penal Substitutionary Atonement. You only need to watch this video from 0:19 to 0:43 :

Warren flexes his theological muscles when Piper calls him saying that it is "absolutely essential that we get Penal Substitutionary Atonement right in the Gospel". This is a staggering comment in the light of the fact that I have heard Warren attempt to explain the Gospel on numerous occasions and have never once heard him even mention anything about this wonderful doctrine.

As is evident in Warren's sermon at Desiring God, rather than delve into the doctrine of the atonement, Warren prefers to lean on his own platitudes and cliches to describe the greatest event in history. How much does Jesus love us? Warren says the answer lies in the Savior's arm span as he hung upon the cross - that "He would rather die than live without us". These are the ingredients of a lame romantic song, not the doctrine of Penal Substitutionary Atonement. In one hour of preaching this is the closest Pastor Warren gets to what should be the epicenter of his preaching. This just makes me so angry that Rick Warren can get away with this double speak.

More to come . . .

Go On To Part 10
Go Back To Part 8
Go Back To Part 1


Troy said...

You seem a little obsessed. I can't see how this is helping anybody. It's time to move on to something a little more constructive.

Michael Lawmaster said...

@Troy - Although Cameron has recently posted items besides the dissection of RW's message, you could always select one of the many posts he has already written if you don't enjoy the current series. Also, as they say in radio, you can turn the dial.

@Cameron - Curious to know your thoughts on why various leaders are not responding.

Maybe something is going on behind the scenes; however, it does give the appearance of hypocrisy especially when multitudes challenge or refute messages by leaders whose doctrine they disagree with but refuse to question or affirm decisions by colleagues.

We know that biblically speaking, ministers should look out for and correct other ministers. Richard Baxter's "The Reformed Pastor" shows the downgrade which occurs when this duty is neglected. If the leaders are unable to comment then maybe they need to apologize to RW. Hopefully, they will first realize their service unto the Lord Jesus Christ, their calling and office, the souls under their care and then comment.