I am still aghast at John Piper’s decision to invite Rick Warren as a guest speaker at this year’s Desiring God Conference. And receiving the email advertisement this month for the conference just stirred me up a little more. Yes, I have listened to Piper’s reasons for inviting Rick Warren, but it is still not convincing. Rick Warren may claim to believe many of the same things, but in practice through his pragmatic methodologies, he distorts the message of the gospel. The practice of his ministry actually undermines what he professes to believe. Warren constantly misquotes and mishandles Scripture, and as a result, he has a tendency to obscure the meaning of Scripture. As to Rick Warren’s profession to believe what Piper believes; Rick Warren, as Phil Johnson aptly pointed out in a post awhile back, has a tendency to be “chameleonic”, changing his stance whenever the situation demands it, in an attempt to be liked by everyone by telling them what they want to hear.
Do I think that John Piper should not try and influence Rick Warren in a positive manner if he has the opportunity? No. But inviting the man to be a guest speaker at your conference is not the best way to achieve this. This sends a confusing message that somehow Rick Warren is OK, and that we are in agreement with his ministry methods, even if that perception is unintentional. Carry on a dialogue behind the scenes, but please, do not invite him as guest speaker.
Now, I still like John Piper and his ministry has been and will continue to be a great blessing to me. This situation does not change that. But I still shake my head in disbelief. Seeing Rick Warren’s picture along with men like Al Mohler and R.C. Sproul is…well…like a weed sprouting up on an otherwise well manicured lawn.