Monday, June 6, 2011

The Piper Warren Interview (Part 1)

Quite a number of people have contacted me recently asking for an opinion on the recent interview between John Piper and Rick Warren that had been promised at last years Desiring God conference but had to be postponed. It was supposed to be where John Piper would ask the deep probing doctrinal questions that swirl around Rick Warren. Is he a Calvinist? Does he hold to all five points? Does he preach penal substitutionary atonement etc etc. I really took no interest in this interview and have not even watched it in its entirety because I believe it has been a tragic exercise in missing the point.

We all know Rick Warren is a smart operator. His MO is always to adapt to his audience and Piper is no exception. It is bizarre that Piper recognizes Warren as a pragmatist, and Warren's pragmatism demands that he gives Piper the answers he wants. Trying to understand Warren doctrinally is like shooting at moving goalposts, and yet Piper just doesn't see the pointlessness of this exercise. Warren tells Piper he believes in the doctrines of Grace and then tells an inter-faith forum (made up of Hindus Muslims etc) that he has no interest in seeing them converted but wants to work together with them. He said on national TV that "God's not mad at you, He's mad about you" and then tells Piper his hero is Jonathan Edwards (who preached Sinners in the Hands of an angry God). And then tells Larry King his hero is Ghandi, tells Barack Obama his hero is Martin Luther King, and tells the Catholics his hero is Mother Theresa. The man is a chameleon. Warren told his church he is opposed to homosexual marriage and then denied it on Larry King. He positively commended the President of Syria (in person) for his treatment of Christians and then told Syrian Christian refugees who live in America that he never did such a thing. He can talk to Muslims for an hour without ever mentioning the Lord Jesus Christ and then tell Piper it's his central focus. Warren can tell Piper that penal substitutionary atonement must always be there in Gospel preaching, but I can't find a single sermon with him talking about it (in fact I can find several where he actually undermines this doctrine).

Even the pagan worldly media can see what a godly and discerning man like Piper seems oblivious to. It is perplexing to say the least. (Disclaimer - the following video is in no way an endorsement of that program. It merely serves to show that even carnal worldly members of the media have picked up on Rick Warren's continual double speak).

If John Piper (who I love dearly but think he is making a massive and damaging error in judgment with this) was going to ask questions about Warren's many conflicting statements through the years, his track record on gospel proclamation, and his handling of Scripture - then I would have wanted a front row seat to the interview. I am reluctant to even discuss the content of the interview as I still feel exhausted by my blow by blow critique of the "sermon" Rick Warren preached at the 2010 Desiring God conference. It was a TERRIBLE sermon which contradicted so much of Piper's core theology and yet Piper commended it. It doesn't fill me with hope for the interview. Nonetheless, for the sake of those who have asked, I will examine some of the content from the interview and post my thoughts. So stay tuned . . .

Go On To Part 2


David said...


This is not so much about Warren as it is Piper - why do you give any credence to him? Indeed this interview is all about the chameleon with the wolf in sheep's clothing. There is no way that a Gospel loving "Righteousness by faith" seeking man would have anything to do with either of them! They are both Righteousness by works / evangelical obedience gurus! Don't you ever ask yourself why Piper should have any credibility as all with these antics? - he is a 4 point Ameraldite, Pios Fraud?? Separately, they are both wannabe theologial rock stars who wanna sell books and be seen at all the big events...

Lets be honest - has anything Piper has ever said assisted you in achieving the purity and Righteousness of Jesus Christ on an ongoing daily basis over years of experience? Are you dead to sin and living no longer therein by virtue of a Piper saying?

I'm sure you will say no, because he denies its possible and prefers to promote self righteous piety..I've seen what his fraudulent doctrines do to people.


Shimrock said...

I don't think he needs anyone to defend him, but I thought I would just answer a couple statements.

He doesn't seem to want to sell books, because all his books are free (and you can download them at Desiring God).

Obviously he's not Jesus. Piper won't save anyone. We are dead to sin because of God, not because of what anyone says.

And I wouldn't describe Warren as a "righteousness by works" guru.

That's all.

Cameron Buettel said...

David, I am very upset about what Piper has done - shattered actually. I have read four of his books and heard many of his sermons. I would contend that he has had a profound influence on my understanding of the character and nature of God. It is Piper who was the first to actually persuade me on all five points. David, Piper got this one wrong - very wrong. But if you are going to make such strong accusations against Piper, in all fairness you should at least back your claims by quoting Piper himself. Having read four of his books - Desiring God, Pleasures of God, Brothers We Are Not Professionals, Preaching The Cross - I know that some of your claims are false. Especially your claims that he teaches righteousness by works and is a four point Calvinist/Amereldian.

Cameron Buettel said...

Also, though Warren is a huge promoter of himself I would never put Piper in that category. And I see no evidence of him being in it for the money. Though Warren galavants around the world telling anyone and everyone about how much he tithes and how humble he is, few people know that Piper lives in a very modest house in one of the worst neighborhoods in Minneapolis.

David said...

Re Piper Ameraldism, Whilst I don't necessarily endorse all that is in this recording (its been a long while since I listened to it) has a lengthy audio quote of Piper on the atonement...start listening at 7.11

Correct me if I'm wrong - but he does de-cloak his position on unlimited atonement... Anyway all this pales into insignificance on the belief for Righteousness front. I've also read Piper, and he does not promote any freedom from sin in this life - because he doesn't think its possible!. This is why he redefines election ...from the limited atonement of the elect (who have been transformed by the word, blameless, holy, and not living in sin) to be rather subject to the Arminian evangelical obedience... forgiveness after the fact treadmill - because in his mind the will and this obedience is what saves you to qualify for Future Grace - as he states so clearly in the book "Future Grace" - not self loathing, fear of the flesh, fear of sin consequences, remorse, repentance and lastly belief for the very Righteousness of God through daily regeneration!. Here are some snapshots on the "Future Grace" front ..

Piper has a murky set of theology more at home in Fuller Suminary than in the words of the Apostle Paul as enshrined in the KJV...

As you have picked up - I have a very large axe to grind with all silo theology - because it and its practices have strayed so far from the major themes of the new testament "word cloud" it is not funny (I include Reformed, Baptist, Pentecostal, Weslean, you name it!).

The bottom line is that reproving the world of Sin, Judgement and of Righteousness is not popular and wont contribute to growth - so it is ignored in favor of a message of forgiveness without Righteousness and false assurance of salvation.

I believe we have a lot more in common that you might think!

With all Respect and good faith..