Thursday, September 08, 2005

Rick Warren’s Erroneous Views

“16 For the leaders of this people cause them to err, And those who are led by them are destroyed.”
(Isaiah 9:16,

Nearly everyone is familiar with Rick Warren’s popular book, “The Purpose Driven Life” that seems to be all the rage today. While there are certainly some good things in the book, it has glaring weaknesses. Overall, the book just seems to exude with a man-centered theology. Warren’s use – or should I say misuse – of Scripture is prevalent throughout the book. It is not that there are not some very good points made in the book, but it lacks in substance. Unfortunately, many of the good points tend to overshadow many of the errors. A great deal of discernment is necessary when reading through the material. The closer that error comes to the truth, the more dangerous it becomes. But I am seeing very little benefit from the material due to the inherent shallowness and subtle error. Tim Challies has an excellent review of the book posted on his website. Phillip Johnson also has offered his opinion of the book as well on his blog.

But beyond the book, there are many things that disturb me concerning some of his comments and philosophy. In fact, many things are downright heretical. Just the other day, I came across a post on Slice of Laodicea (see "Rick Warren Speaks on Peter Drucker, Catholicism and the Fundamentals of the Faith") that exposed some of Rick Warren’s views. As I clicked on the links, I certainly became acquainted with his skewed doctrinal and theological views. His view of the fundamentals of the faith is appalling. He was featured at a conference at the Pew Forum's biannual Faith Angle conference on religion, politics and public life. According to Warren, the Fundamentals of the Faith “is a very legalistic, narrow view of Christianity”. What Rick Warren is calling “legalistic” and “narrow”, is the document drawn up back in the 1920s to define the fundamental doctrines of biblical Christianity in response to the onslaught of liberalism. Here are the five fundamentals:

1. The Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2. The Virgin Birth.
3. The Blood Atonement.
4. The Bodily Resurrection.
5. The inerrancy of the scriptures.

These doctrines cannot be compromised in any way without denying biblical faith.

Many people are unaware of the extent of Warren’s errors. I have heard people mention that they may not agree with everything he says, but that he was basically on track with the fundamentals of the faith and basic theology. In fact, this was my former view as well. But things that I have read prove otherwise.

What is really revealing is the section on his website for Holy Family Parish that is featured on his site that sponsored two Purpose Driven events this last week. If you go out to their website, you will find a description of who they are.

“Welcome to Holy Family's presence online. We're a Catholic parish community striving to continue the work of Jesus Christ in the world. Rooted in Catholic tradition, we celebrate liturgy by sharing the Word and Eucharist in a dynamic, creative and contemporary way.”

Apparently, you can embrace heresy and yet actively participate in promoting and giving advice on how to be a Purpose Driven Church.

To illustrate how evangelicals are being duped into believing Catholicism is just another evangelical church, just look at the slogan displayed on Holy Family’s web page. It reads, “An Evangelical Church in the Catholic Tradition.” In other words, they are trying to say, “Hey, we are one of you, we just embrace a little different expression of the same thing.” Couple this with an endorsement by a well known evangelical leader such as Rick Warren, and the deception is even greater!

Here is a quote from Warren in the interview:

“I think, though, it's what Augustine said: "In the essentials, unity; in the non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity." And I think that's how evangelicals and Catholics can get together.”

Wrong! Catholics are very wrong on certain essentials such as sola fide and sola scriptura. Evangelicals have no business getting together with Catholics, particularly with initiatives that deal with spiritual matters. I agree with declaring liberty with non-essentials, however, the differences with Catholicism do not deal with non-essentials as Warren implies, but rather they are essentials. Here is another statement made by him concerning Catholicism.

"And, you know, growing up as a Protestant boy, I knew nothing about Catholics, but I started watching ETWN, the Catholic channel, and I said, "Well, I'm not as far apart from these guys as I thought I was, you know?” "

Also, in the same interview, Rick Warren discusses the issue of breaking down barriers between different groups. He promotes an attitude that it really does not matter what you believe. He quotes a statement made by T. D. Jakes who holds a modalistic view of the trinity as well as affirming much of the Word of Faith teaching.

"And we were talking about this barrier breaking down between black, white, Pentecostal, different groups, and T.D. Jakes – you know who he is – and T.D. Jakes said, "One of the things television did is it allowed people to watch each other's services from a distance and go, 'That's okay.' "

For a good article on the concerns about T. D. Jakes, I would recommend reading the Christian Research Journal article, “The Man, His Ministry, And His Movement: Concerns About The Teachings Of T. D. Jakes”

Rick Warren is wrong on so many points, but he wears a “mask” of basically conservative evangelicalism. There are many things that are objectionable that were discussed in the Pew Forum interview. I would encourage you to read the transcript carefully. The church needs more than ever to exercise discernment and carefully examine what some Christian leaders are teaching today.

1 comment:

Chris P. said...

Of the 5 fundamentals,the ones most under attack are #'s1;3;and 5.
I would add a sixth that is being torn to shreds these days. The issue of the sovereignty of God.
We should be wary that Bono is inviting Warren to their events.
The slogan for Holy Family is very subtle indeed.Genesis 3:1.
As a fomer RC seminary student I am here to tell you, watch out!
It is amazing how people follow the leaders down the path to destruction.
Let my lemmings go! Good post.