05 October 2010

I just realized it

by Frank Turk

First things first: over the weekend someone tweeted me about Rick Warren's taped appearance at Desiring God's National Conference, and my reply was, "did he say something vile? I heard he phoned it in to avoid panel discussions."

For the record, after hearing his talk via download, that was unwarranted and a little snide, and I apologize for it.

I'll have more to say about the conference tomorrow, but Dan has a new computer and is not using it to blog yet, so I have the podium this morning. I'll say this today, and we can come back to my larger concerns tomorrow.

I listened to two panel discussions from DGNC, and I listened to half of Francis Chan (who was recently berated in a friendly way by Mark Driscoll for his pastoral whimsey in leaving his church), and then I listened to the Rick Warren talk.

John Piper called Pastor Warren a "master communicator."

Burk Parsons said Pastor Warren has an obvious "child-like faith."


I listened to the same talk while working today and also while driving home from work in ridiculous traffic for Little Rock, and just before he closed in prayer, I just realized why I don't like Rick Warren.

And that is really the problem: I just don't like him. You'd think that with my defense of him here and in other places that somehow I liked him or thought he was a secret pearl in the oyster of evangelism, but I don't feel that way at all. He said probably 15 things in his hour of power at DGNC which were tweetable and repeatable. I may have agreed with every substantive point he made. But even as I was nodding my head in the car in agreement to his words, I couldn't must up any listener good-will toward him.

I just realized I just don't like Rick Warren, and I know exactly why. I just can't muster up the spite to say why in public.

I'll post about DGNC2010 tomorrow. Today I'll leave the thread open, but don't drag the guy (me, or Pastor Warren) through the mud. Say something useful that demonstrates you listened to the conference since this weekend, and then go about your business.


Yeah, ok: I guess this got buried in the comments for this post, so I'm going to put it here at the bottom of the post for your edification, such as it will be.

I realized why I do not like Rick Warren: He does not have the fear of God in him. His talk at DGNC2010 was self-serving, self-approving, self-interested and self-centered. Not a lot of room for God or a savior when there's that much you in the sermon sandwich.

Back to your thing.


Stefan Ewing said...

"I just can't muster up the spite to say why in public."

You have a way with words.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why you don't like him, but after listening to that talk, I'd say 3 things:

1. He's kinda like the evangelical equivalent of Richard Dawkins. He is smart and well spoken, but he has a tendency to make quick comments about things he doesn't know much about. He makes comments on subjects like mental illness, optical neurology, nutrition (there are some types of food that will "make you more godly"), etc.

2. He's not an exegete and doesn't try to be. He takes bible verses from whatever translation has the English verb/noun he's looking for, quotes those verses, and then jumps off to say mostly good things that aren't remotely attached to that verse. If you're not referencing the authorial intended meaning of a passage, you're improperly handling scripture.

3. He seems to like to make passing statements about how awesome he and his church are. How is claiming to have sent out 14,000+ people into "ministry" not bragging? Or talking about how you can survive off 9% of your income? Or driving home that you've been writing books for 34 years? Or suggesting that your church alone will fulfill the great commission?

On a side note, apparently Jesus will come back around 2020 since Saddleback will have taken the gospel to every nation. I'll try to write a “20 reasons why Jesus will return in 2020” book before Harold Camping!

Unknown said...

Don't like? Is that worth saying about any man? I love your stuff but this is adolescent and completely irrelevant to what we need to do in discernment and response. Let's lift this up a notch or tow.

FX Turk said...

Don -

I don't think it's adolescent to make the confession that Rick Warren rubs me the wrong way. It's actually the preface for my post tomorrow where I'll be talking about the content of the conference, and Rick Warren's part in it.

It's putting my biases on the table so people can't say I'm ignorant of my own filters.

This is important because, as I am sure many people will remember, I was the one defending Dr. Piper's choice to have Rick Warren at DGNC2010.

I'd also point out that somehow Pastor Warren's talk hasn't ginned up a tidal wave of criticism yet - which is interesting, given the tsunami of ire his selection produced in the first place.

DJP said...

1. Tease.

2. Moving into a new pc is like moving into a new house. Boxes everywhere, I don't know where anything is yet.

Thomas Louw said...

His smile is better than Joel Osteens.
His content is better than Benny Hinn's.
His gospel is closer to the truth than N.T Wrights.

So I like him...


FX Turk said...

Thomas --

it's always the "yes, but ..." that sends the comment thread crashing and burning ...

lee n. field said...

"I just realized I just don't like Rick Warren, and I know exactly why."

Careful. Charity, dude.

Because he's one of the main poster boys for what evangelicalism has become?

Robert said...

BUT...the man is training people of other beliefs with his purpose driven stuff. Catholics, Mormons, Jews (not Christian ones). He wants to work alongside Muslims to help people, but not to proselytize them. Just because you teach people how to grow ANY church in all the countries of the world doesn't mean you've delivered the gospel to all of them. And the worldliness that is displayed in his own congregation (they could use a good dose of DJP's post about dressing modestly) tells me that he really needs to focus on sanctification in his own church before broadcasting how others can grow. Those are just a few of the things that rub me the wrong way about Rick Warren.

Thomas Louw said...

I seem to be totally uninformed. I understood he was talking with other religions, but I didn’t know at the cost of the gospel.
All red flags going up now.
That’s almost just as bad as selling out, turning your back on the real mission.
In my “pre-educated” days I used his book Purpose Driven Church as one of the main resources in my thesis. It was about evangelism of all things and I mostly used the chapter on bad reasons to do things

Tom said...

My brief thoughts about Warren, et al @ Desiring God:

1) Warren may be an effective speaker, but I was struck by the lack of biblical authority by which he lectured. In other words, I felt he was functioning more as a self-help guru than he was as a pastor who carefully handles God's Word.

2) In his panel discussion and final message, Piper was gracious while correcting Warren and Chan.

3) The first panel discussion with DeYoung, Parsons, Piper, and Tchividjian seemed -- to be nice -- a bit awkward and forced.


James Scott Bell said...

I like Rick Warren.


allen said...

My viewpoint on Warren:
1. The clever adaptability of a chameleon--can speak to any group and never offend them with the true gospel.

2. The thimble full of biblical content in his preaching/writng--see mennoknight, #2 above

3. The man-centered, half-true, sugar-coated, feel-good message that he (and so many others) call "the gospel".

Robert said...


I wouldn't say that he doesn't have some good things in his book, but his application is horrendous. I think that as long as you can separate good and bad and not get caught up in following everything a person writes/teaches, then it is good to glean what you can from what people write and teach. Meaning if it is in line with the Bible and glorifies God, then use those parts, but don't take in the whole unless you are sure it does as well.

I'm not saying that Warren may not have all the best intentions, but he is not as careful to study and follow the Word as I think a pastor should be...especially one who puts himself out there in the public eye so much.

Bryan Wayne said...

I'm completely with you on this Frank . . . I haven't listened to the audio yet, and frankly don't really want to. However, I'm downloading the podcast right now...begrudgingly.

candy said...

Like I said at Owen Strachen's post, RW's message reminded me of 25 years of messages I heard before I became a Calvinist. I also think he toots his own horn a lot, reminding us of his successes by numbers because he is such a big dreamer and all. I think that kind of thinking is a danger to young pastors who measure success by the numbers in their churches (or the number of multi-sites they started). I see that kind of pride springing up in many places. I think that many of these churches have not been tested much yet, so the fact that high numbers indicate success remains to be seen in the years to come. I saw the same argument given to Justin Peters by Joel Osteen when Justin confronted him about teaching the gospel. Osteen responded by stating the numbers of people "saved" and "baptized" in the last year.

I continue to believe that Piper inviting Warren adds confusion to many young Christians who now believe that Warren's methodology is ok. I like how one tweet by Amy Scott stated the matter. Paraphrased: It is interesting at a conference about thinking, that many attendees are nervous about critically thinking about Warren's message.

FX Turk said...

In keeping with the theme of honesty and disclosing biases, I'm not a fan for Tchividjian either. I think what he's done at Coral Ridge is save that church from being merely culturally-Christian, and a blessing oin him for that.

I'm just waiting for him to have a conversation with someone where I don't believe he's talking down to them.

... watches all hope for popularity in main-stream reformed circles vanish is a poof of smoke ...

David Regier said...

A wise brother once counseled me (after a disastrous ministry situation) that in church, you will sometimes have to work with leaders you don't like. And you don't have to like them. But you have to labor with them, under their direction. It's a commandment.

One of our (my) most dangerous tendencies is to spiritualize our (my) dislike of a man's person or methods. It's enticing, but it displays an ugly pride.

verification: oprelya - n. a mental disorder resulting from wanting to be like Oprah.

Brian Roden said...

The thing that bugged me was all the talk about how much Saddleback had done. That may be fine to talk about at a church growth conference, but it didn't belong in "THINK". If I were an English teacher and his message were a paper, I'd have to drop him from an A- on his main content to a C+ for not staying on topic.

jsmith said...

ok…I’ll give a “balanced” remark on Rick. Two positives and one negative.

Positive: I do give him credit for his enthusiasm about what he is saying. He is very positive! I think sometimes my favorite speakers could use a dose of Holy Spirit filled joy.

Positive: He is “doing something”. He is not sitting around waiting for someone else to do it. For that I give him credit.

Negative: during his talk…Rick was a shameless self promoter. It was more about “How to grow a church the Warren way” and less about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit way. His talk was really about how great he and his church are, and if you’re not “producing” like he is your church is dying (or dead). I listen to many conferences…I have not heard other men ever mention their numbers. I think he is just full of himself really. I used to REALLY not like him. Actually after listening to his talk I brought that down a notch. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and now I just feel sad for him because hopefully he doesn’t realize what he is doing and he is doing it in ignorance. The thing that made me realize that he is over the top in his opinion of himself was when he said that all these things happened to his family because Satan didn’t want him to give his message. Really? His was the only message worth thwarting?? That actually made me chuckle…then he said that we should listen to his message “like our lives depended on it”…uggh. While he didn’t say anything wrong it was more like a motivational speech full of human wisdom.

The comments about him being a “master communicator” brings to mind the words of Paul….Cor 2:1-5 “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

Canyon Shearer, DMin said...

Let me preface this post with this point: I'm on your side and I agree completely.

One of my favorite verses is one of the more mystical ones in the Bible, "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers." (1 John 3:14)

I don't know exactly how much affection we need to have for our Christian brothers, but if there is no affection for them then we need to greatly examine ourselves. Several years ago I had no love for a certain person in my church, and this verse caused me great introspection, then it became apparent that this person was not in the faith and held a number of hugely heretical beliefs.

About the same time the boy-preacher in Seattle came to the forefront in many of the circles I run in, and based on sound bites and quotes, I really wanted to like him. But after researching him I found that he is not at all in orthodoxy, let alone reformed, and at that point I realized there is no love nor like from me himwards.

So while it's a bit mystical, we have a test here in First John which can affirm (as long as it is backed up by doctrine) when someone is or is not in the fellowship, as long as we examine ourselves first to make sure we are in the faith!

And finally, there are a number of non-Christians whom I feel a great deal of affinity for, so of course mystical feelings should never be authoritative in positively pronouncing someone's salvation.

I don't like Warren either,

Robert said...


What do you do when the man's methods go against the clear teaching of the Bible? Should we really work with such people?

Steve Berven said...

Never had much of an opinion one way or the other about Warren as a minister, but I had some real problems with his PDL model, as well as the similar Saddleback model, after watching my church head down that road and eventually self-destruct.

There's just a little too much humanist self-determinism wrapped up in the Purpose-Drive model. IMHO. I will, however, listen to the download before commenting further.

David Regier said...


Two things -

1. We really do work with such people. Whether we like it or not. Proximity is another matter.

2. If it involves charges (or even just gossip), you must be completely scriptural about it, involving everything that Jesus, Paul, and everybody else in the New Testament said about such things, under the authority of elders, etc. Otherwise, you're just blowing smoke, and you'll be judged by your own measuring stick. God says so.

FX Turk said...


I think it was pretty charitable to say what I said:

1. I said I "just realized" (hence: the title of the post) I didn't like Rick Warren. I was actually surprised to discover it when I came across that nugget in my heart.

2. The reason I realized it (and my reason for actually not liking him) is, in fact, uncharitable -- to say it out loud would be simply unconscienable because it is something that, while I may be able to substantiate it thoroughly, is a subjective measure. It's a matter of interpreting approach and substance without any overt statements and realizing that the apparently-best way to make all that make sense is by interpreting through "X" lens, "X" conclusion about motives and objectives.

So I exercised charity by not making an accusation based on a subjective interpretation.

3. I think it's a LOT more charitable to disclose a bias than to harbor it.

Anonymous said...

In listening to Warren's talk, I felt like he came across as the expert who was instructing the little guys. Almost father to son.
Not so much self-promoting but just assuming that he had it figured out and wanted to help them figure it out too.

Right now I'm listening to the panel discussion...and they seem to have bought in.
They sound like he's the guru and they need to get onto his program.
The longer the discussion goes, the more they sound like Warren and less they sound like them.

I think Warren's bit about faithfulness being good but not enough really showed his colours. That was one of the things where Warren came across as spilling the beans on his whole philosophy.

olan strickland said...

There is such a thing as zeal without knowledge. I'm carrying the church I pastor through a critique of The Purpose Driven Church to show that it is unbiblical from start to finish and in no way conforms to the primary book in the Bible on ecclesiology - Ephesians. In just the introduction to Warren's book there is enough to stop any Bible-believing Christian from going any farther with the book. Warren tells us there that we are to " Surf Spiritual Waves" in direct violation of Ephesians 4:14. Then in chapter one, The Saddleback Story, he reveals the wave that he caught which was a direct result of imitating the father of the mega-church movement, Robert Schuller - see this article in Christianity Today.

Everything that Warren teaches in his book is a parroting of the philosophy of Robert Schuller that can be found in his book Self-Esteem: The New Reformation.

There is a biblical reason to not like the teachings of Rick Warren - it's unbiblical!

Matt Aznoe said...

I haven't listened to Rick Warren's message yet. Quite honestly, I am not sure that I even want to. I am not sure that it is right to subject yourself to teaching by someone you know to be false.

But Francis Chan's message was very good. He will probably get some flak for his "God always answers my prayers" comment, but he was not talking health/wealth. He was talking about our intimate relationship with God. The last ten minutes were particularly powerful and something I think we all need to desperately hear.

olan strickland said...

I should have mentioned that the connection between the philosophy of Robert Schuller and the methods of Rick Warren are found on page three in the Christianity Today article.

Ethan & Holly said...

Frank, you said:

I think what he's done at Coral Ridge is save that church from being merely culturally-Christian, and a blessing oin him for that.

Just curious what you mean by this...

Ethan & Holly said...


You said:
I think what he's done at Coral Ridge is save that church from being merely culturally-Christian, and a blessing oin him for that.

Just curious what you mean by that. Not sure I'm reading this sentence correctly ...

Stefan Ewing said...

"... watches all hope for popularity in main-stream reformed circles vanish in a poof of smoke ..."

Too late. You blog here at Team Pyro, after all.

Scott Autry said...

Coming from a church where Warren's "gospel" was propagated heavily...and suffering under the ministry of that "gospel" I can say with the utmost sincerity that his "gospel" is no gospel.

Study the Celebrate Recovery model (tied heavily into to Carl Jung philosophy and Bill Wilson's A.A.)

Ron (aka RealityCheck) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

He is influenced by Schuller. That's an ender alone. And the panel seems to be content in deferring to him...thus to Piper himself and the decision to include.

Non-sequitur: I've always wondered what blogs Saddleback members read.

I like Warren for the same reason I like hot air balloonists. And about the same frequency.

FX Turk said...

Ethan & Holly --

There's no doubt that the life's work of Dr. D. James Kennedy ought to be in our Christian history books as a man who lived his life for the sake of the Gospel -- the clear-throated, full-voiced Gospel of Christ which saves men.

Coral Ridge is a church which, in the last days of Dr. Kennedy's life and after his departure to be with the Lord, was really much more interested in cultural/political activism then anything else -- activism for the right wing. That doesn't mean they had lost the Gospel, but it does mean that they were starting to be known for something other than the Gospel -- which I would say is necessarily problematic.

After making Tchividjian their pastor, in short order Pastor Tchividjian started to basically preach the Gospel again and seek to turn the heart of the church away from political activism and "social" Christianity to something more God-centered and God-oriented. It lead a faction of the church to call for a vote of confidence in the new pastor -- a vote which he won hands-down.

His victory there turned away people, I think, who did not have their own best interest in mind, let alone the interest of a church which is seeking to be about Christ and His Glory. And for that, Pastor Tchividjian should be credited for fighting the good fight.

Does that help?

Mark B. Hanson said...

There's a fine line to be trod between explaining your biases and inviting people to share them on your say-so. So far, Frank, I think you have stayed on the correct side of the line.

But our "biases" need to have solid reasoning behind them, otherwise they are prejudices - "pre-judging". So I wait for your explanation.

The dark side of this can be summed up by a country song I remember that I will paraphrase here: "I don't like him. I'll think of a reason later." As Christians we are never entitled to have this sort of attitude toward another person creasted in the image of God.

chrispoblete said...

I was initially bummed to read this post, namely because I have great appreciation for both you and my old pastor Rick Warren.

I am especially curious as to what specifically you don't like... and even though you probably won't disclose this, I am looking forward to tomorrow's post!

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Rick warren teaches a watered-down gospel. He makes easy believism a cakewalk, just say a prayer, mentally assent to a few propositions, and your IN Christ. No talk of REPENTANCE, no talk of total depravity, and no talk of the desperate straights sinners find themselves in in the face of a God of pure justice.

To him we are sinners of a loving God only, who wants to unite all faiths under the banner of ecumenism.

People, do your homework on this man. Remember thieves break in when people are sleeping.

Start with You-tube, watch John MacArthur’s video on this man, then google this man’s speeches, who he affiliates himself with, and on and on. You will soon find out he is preaching a false gospel with just enough truth to pull the masses in. Compare what he teaches to the truth of the Scriptures.

It is interesting to note that when John Piper first invited Rick Warren to speak at the conference, an overwhelming number of people, who frequent Desiring God’s blog, were aghast that Dr. Piper would invite him.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

@ olan strickland:

"There is a biblical reason to not like the teachings of Rick Warren - it's unbiblical!"


FX Turk said...

Mark --

I have a reason, but I think it's a hypothesis rather than an objective fact. I have been battling myself over whether to disclose the hypothesis for about 36 hours now, and I'm losing the battle.

Here's my hypothesis: every single time I listen to Rick Warren preach or talk, I hear an abject lack of the fear of God in his manner, his objectives, and his message. That's a pretty far-flung hypothesis so here's what I mean by it:

1. When Rick Warren speaks, God's objectives are usually soft-peddled. For example, in his DGNC talk, he points out that God wants "fruitful" ministries and not merely "faithful" ministries. The funny thing is that Warren then defines "fruitful" as "churches like mine" rather than in some way which actually refers to the Bible. Yes: the olive tree was condemned for being fruitless, but the fruit Christ was looking for was not the fruit of the Pharisees who were good at evangelism and lousy in knowing God who was standing. right. here.

2. When Rick Warren speaks, he's the main character. Paul is never the main character of his letters; Luke is never the main character in his books of the Bible; even Jonah is just not quite the main character of his own book of the Bible in spite of saying the most words and being the one all the narrative describes. Rick Warren is always the main character of his public talks even when he's saying, 'you don't have to be like me.' The fear of God would look more like Isaiah than like Tony Robbins.

3. Rick Warren does not ever plumb the depths of Scripture. Listen: I don't think you could possibly add another verse of Scripture to his talk at DGNC. You can't do it -- it's not possible. He referenced every single passage of Scripture imaginable to express any minor point he was making -- but compare that to even the other speaks at this conference who were very concerned with expositing a single passage of Scripture. At some point, Scripture has to be more meaningful than fortune cookies. The fear of God would treat God's word a little more solemnly, I think.

4. Rick Warren asserts wisdom without aligning to the objective of wisdom. This was perhaps the most striking thing for me: there's no question that he rattled off a lot of biblically-true wisdom in the "wisdom literature" sense of "wisdom". However, it seems to me that in doing this, Pastor Warren overlooks that the reason for doing the things wisdom literature says to do is that this is how we live because of God, and because of Christ. We love the one who died for us, but we also fear the one who can destroy both body and soul.

So that's why I don't like Rick Warren: I think he lacks the fear of God. I could be wrong, but that seemed wildly obvious to me listening to him in this talk.

FX Turk said...

Chris P --

Sorry about that, dude.

Nash Equilibrium said...

I simply commend Frank for being honest. We all have people who rub us the wrong way - few of us admit to it.

I will have to listen to Warren's bit later on - but to really assess where he's at, I'd have to ask him tough questions beginning with "is Jesus the one and only way to the Father?" Would be interested to see how he'd answer that question in front of Ken Blanchard.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

I agree with you Frank. So many false teachers start preaching/parroting Scriptures as their OWN message, it is patently obvious, just watch Joyce Meyer (if you can).

They take God’s Word and promote it as great wisdom, good morality, wonderful news, but dissociate it from Christ. It becomes the good news of how to live a happy, successful, moral life, but Christ is not center stage, just His principles. THEY become the messenger of morality, with a frequent mention of Jesus, just for good measure.

Sorry to be so blunt, but I do not like false teachers.

Unknown said...

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

Mark B. Hanson said...

Frank, thanks for answering. I didn't mean to force your hand. Somehow, I thought you were going to explan more about RW in your post tomorrow, rather than provide more general comments on DGNC2010. That was what I was waiting for,

Sorry for my misunderstanding - and mis-reading of your post. I can now join the thousands of others who need to read better before we write.

David Rudd said...


I thought your post was appropriately charitable.

I'm not obsessed with the degrees of separation Rick Warren may or may not employ.

I'm also not a huge fan of the Purpose-Driven Life... okay, I'm not a fan of it at all.

But... watching Rick talk last night reminded me of several reasons I appreciate him.

1. He's a man of vast intelligence who is really committed to discovering and living out God's truth. (the man read ALL the writings of Jonathan Edward!)

2. He's a guy who is discerning enough, and a good enough communicator that he could easily tailor his message to impress his audience in ANY setting. But he always chooses to just be Rick Warren.

3. While some may not hear it because they have pre-judged the messenger, Rick laced his message with Scripture. He didn't always quote chapter and verse, but MUCH of what he said was direct quotations of Scripture.

I don't listen to or read much of his material, but watching him speak in that setting was a good reminder to me that he is a brother with whom i have some disagreement, BUT HE IS STILL A BROTHER!!!!

John said...

Isn't labeling Rick Warren a "brother" or "not a brother" judging his heart? Can we do that?


olan strickland said...

Rick Warren's definition of fruitfulness is numerical growth. He talks about how the nation of Israel lost its privilege because of unfruitfulness (The Purpose Driven Church, pg.63). On the same page he says, "The Bible clearly identifies numerical growth of the church as fruit."

As Frank has rightly pointed out, if numerical growth is the fruit God is looking for then the nation of Israel would not have lost its privilege - Matthew 23:15. If numerical growth is God's definition of fruitfulness then away with the narrow gate and in with the wide gate!

FX Turk said...

Mary Elisabeth --

While I just don't like Pastor Warren, I have a problem classing him as an Osteen or a Joyce Meyer. I'm not even sure I can go as far as Owen Strickland did here and make him into another Robert Shuller.

Here's why I think we can't go there: he doesn't deny the Gospel. He doesn't even deny the need for discipleship. But from my chair, it looks like he's promoting the made-for-TV version of the Gospel which is not serious enough by half and not funny enough to be good entertainment by leaps and bounds.

So he's like a human evangelism tract: easy to read, ewasy to understand, and probably enough information to see the Gospel somehow -- but just not quite valuable enough to take seriously.

Aaron said...


I had to chuckle a bit when I read your post. I knew what your reasons were before you said them in your last comment. I have the exact same thoughts. My thoughts were formed by my salvation and continuing sanctification experiences. I was truly saved sometime after I read the first Left Behind book that I bought at an airport. I realized after (during) reading it that if I died I was going to hell and it scared me. So the fear of the Lord was very real to me. Then I joined a seeker sensitive church. Their evangelistic philosophy was simple and at first seemed logical to me. Their theory was that most people in the community had been exposed to religion and many to Christianity. They didn't like it. But if we made the Sunday Services based on marketing strategies they'd come. Not because they cared about Christ but because we appealed to their desires using clever marketing. Then we'd expose them ever gradually to Scripture until they were authentic Christians. But as I grew in wisdom and understanding I became bothered by making Scriptural points by taking Scripture out context (example: fruitful ministry using verses that say "fruitful" in various translations instead of making the point out of careful exegesis of James). Grace be to God that I started asking too many questions and needed to ultimately leave.

But today I still harbor some resentment in my heart towards the seeker sensitive leaders which makes it hard for me to confess that they do anything right.

FX Turk said...

JK --

I'd call him a very flawed pastor.

FX Turk said...

Peter --

I'm diagnosing you with WHI-nfluenza and prescribing a 90 day bed-rest from listening to podcasts. Instead, re-read the books of 1 Corinthians and Ephesians and Hebrews until the bed-rest is over, then go back to your normal life style. The recovery will be complete, and your outlook greatly improved.

Aaron said...

BTW, while reading this post I discovered a little nugget of my own. I realized why I read your posts with a more critical eye than I do the others. I suspect because I see a lot of myself in you (that is, a real man who struggles with real sin) and it bothers me (that is it bothers me that I struggle with sin). So oddly, I am more critical of the person with whom I most closely identify (for which I apologize). Unlike the other two, whom I wrongly (and probably unfairly)idolize .

David Rudd said...


If Rick Warren calls himself a brother, I'm only judging his heart if I say he's not.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

We can judge a man's heart by the doctrine (s)he keeps, and also by their fruits.

If you would like to, go to my blog, I will have a very lengthy article on why we are allowed to judge. It is something all Christian's should educate themselves on.

It is that important.

olan strickland said...


Why not do a comparison between the teachings of Robert Schuller from his Self-Esteem: The New Reformation and Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Church? Then compare both to Scripture and see what you come up with.

If you can't come up with some glaring similarities between Schuller and Warren let me know and I'll be glad so share them with you.

But most important is that you will find both to be sorely unbiblical.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Dear Frank:

It is no small thing for any person to affirm the gospel message. Scripture is clear on this. Even the devils believe, fear and tremble. Also, self-deception is rampant. The heart is deceitful above all things, who can know it?

The people who come closest to the truth are the ones who can do the most damage to unsuspecting souls, just enough truth to lead people astray. Who would follow a teacher if they did not claim the truths of the gospel message? All false teachers, to draw people into their web of deceit use the gospel message. Satan, himself, was particularly good at quoting Scriptures, to Jesus, no less.

It is only by the piercing Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit that we can discern falsity from truth.

Phil said...

Ah now you've done it Frank. The thread has degenerated into the "He's a Christian" "No he's not" debate.
And once you go into the HACNHN zone, you don't often come back.

CGrim said...

I'm just waiting for him to have a conversation with someone where I don't believe he's talking down to them.

He's reformed. That's just how we come across. ;)

FX Turk said...

Olan --

I suspect you have done the leg-work already -- I am ready to concede that your research is sound enough.

If I do that, what shall we then say?

FX Turk said...

Sir Aaron --

That's because you love me. In a truly reformed way.

donsands said...

I love Rick Warren, in the Lord.

I would say he is a brother in Christ, and not so much a pastor, and definitely not a pastor-teacher.

I think he would be a great politician, in the good sense of a politician.

he does crack me up at times though:


Aaron said...

@Frank: Indeed, indeed.

@DonSands: I'm with you and Frank on this one.

CGrim said...

donsands, that Youtube clip of Warren discussing homosexuality punctuates Frank's criticism very well, I think. Warren gives the correct answer, but in a joking way that distracts from the seriousness of the issue. (Although I do realize the argument could be made that spiritual infants get fed milk instead of solid food...)

It's a common argument to say, "oh, well I was born this way" and the correct Biblical answer is that indeed we were all born into sin, but that doesn't make it okay for us to indulge our sinful predispositions, nor does it make God the author of our sin.

Matt Aznoe said...

Well, I went ahead and listened to Rick Warren's sermon. And a lot of it was very, very good.

And then he got to the end. At first, I was buying into it until I started to think about it. He said we should have imagination; we should have vision. But is this, in fact, Biblical?

The problem is that his whole emphasis is on man, not on God. He says it is for God's glory, but it is done in the power of men. It is our imagination, our vision, our efforts. But we are doing it to bring God glory. Won't He be so happy... and grateful.

When Paul came to speak at Corinth, he resolved to know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified. God uses the foolish things in the world to confound the wise. Solomon concluded that there are endless books and vast amounts of knowledge, but it comes down to this: "Fear God and keep his commandments."

What we need today are not visionaries or great thinkers. What we need today are great men of faith who are sensitive to the Lord's vision and plans and are faithful to follow His lead. It is not up to us to blaze the trail of the Church. Jesus Christ has already blazed the trail and marked the path before us. We need to walk in faithful obedience, even when it seems foolish, in complete submission to God's will.

It is a dangerous trap that Warren has laid -- one that will keep us busy doing our work instead of the work that God has prepared for us to do. This is exactly what Jesus warned us about:

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?'"
(Mat 7:21-22 ESV)

God is not looking for our great acts, intelligence or creativity. He is looking for our faith and obedience to His will.

donsands said...

"Warren gives the correct answer, but in a joking way that distracts from the seriousness of the issue." -Citizen

Good point.

Just recently my son-in-law returned from Ghana on a mission trip. He made an excellent video of how the Church there is serving and worshipping the Lord. They love the Lord and worship Him, but not on much of a sound system.

Rick Warren said in his PDL book that the #1 thing to attact people to church was a top notch sound system.
I beg to differ Rick.

I mean a nice sound system can be a blessing from the Lord, however, it's not the means the Lord uses to bring people out of darkness and condemnation, and into the light and eternal life.

I had those thoughts buzzing around in my head for a couple days.

Ethan & Holly said...


Thanks for your help on the matter. I wasn't sure what you meant when you were talking about Tchividjian the first time. But you cleared it up.

The reason I asked is because I grew up at Coral Ridge. I was a member for over a decade before transferring my membership to my current church.

I will definitely agree that Tchividjian is now taking Coral Ridge in the right direction re: the gospel.

However, people didn't leave simply because Tullian was different than Kennedy or didn't preach politics. People left because the leadership basically pushed them out. Tullian came in with the idea of "replanting" Coral Ridge ... which I would agree needed to be done.

However, the leadership hurt a lot of people in that process. They were unapologetic in their approach and didn't do anything to try to heal wounds they had caused. They split the congregation apart (even my own parents were split on what to do in "the vote").

With that said, I believe the people who left are now happy, and Coral Ridge is happy. The only problem I see is that those wounds are still there, and scars are still very much visible. I hope both sides can be reconciled and move forward in the future for the sake of the gospel and the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

Sorry to take this so off topic ...


~Mark said...


I didn't listen but if it's ok, I just want to say thank you for your open honesty.

(Not in an Emergent, doubt/hate-AS-honesty way, but because you do have a significant audience here and it's rare to see well-known leaders even in the Church, be so direct about their FEELINGS.

~Mark said...

Let me clarify even further and say I appreciate your TACTFUL honesty.

olan strickland said...

Frank: If I do that, what shall we then say?

I just realized it - he's a false teacher!

Robert said...

Reading some of the posts on here, I find myself needing to clarify my stance (following in the footsteps of others on here). I am not saying Rick Warren is not a Christian, but rather I am saying that he should not be a pastor. I would say that in his actions he does not hold fast to the Word of truth (Titus 1:9), which is one of the qualifications for being an elder (which a pastor is).

I have to say that I feel the same way that Frank does when I hear him speak. And I feel the same when I hear about his purpose driven ministries training pastors in the Catholic, Mormon, and Jewish religions. Just in case you are wondering how I know this is true:


You can read the last two paragraphs under the "Fill in the Verb" section and see how he feels about other "denominations" in response to such training.

John said...


Thanks for the clarification...but I was pretty sure I knew what you were doing - especially after actually reading all that you said today, and then laying that up against the backdrop of other things you have written in the past.

So I am pretty sure that all you or any of those folks critical of Rick Warren are doing is assessing, analyzing, examining, reflecting on, and judging what he says and writes against the only standard that Biblical Christianity has for such things: the plum line of the inerrant, infallible, inspired Word of a Holy God...the likes of which produces reactions such as one finds in Is. 6; Acts 9; Rev. 1 - etc. (Consistent or inconsistent with, I think, some peoples' concerns with Rick Warren - yes?)

Aaron said...

Isn't Ghana 87% Christian? (identify). I thought I read that regarding Ghana during the World Cup.

Rachael Starke said...

I broke down my response after listening to both his talk (and I use the term “talk” intentionally) and the panel’s response to it, twice, this way:


* Warren considered his home situation and chose to remain with his family. I’m guessing there many pastors in our own circle, who, if they’d been so invited, would’ve been very happy to offer up their families on the altar of enhanced reputation and reformed street-cred, and declared it noble sacrifice for the sake of ministry. So, if we’re keeping score, he gets big pastor points for keeping his priorities straight, and darn the consequences.

* He didn’t play Reformed Buzzword Bingo, or take a big passage of Scripture and exposit it, or in any other way try to be anyone other than himself.

* In their response, Parsons and Piper were selectively affirming/encouraging. There was a lot they seemed to choose not to say.


* Their effusiveness in praising Warren’s communication skills may have done their audience a huge disservice. There are a whole host of people who are skilled in communication in exactly the same way – great at folksy turns of phrases, powerful metaphors, etc. Johnny “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit” Cochrane comes to mind. And at least in Cochrane’s case, he used those techniques pretty sparingly, and for a very specific (evil) purpose, which he accomplished. In Warren’s case, all the pithy sayings and quotable quotes aren’t there to enforce a point – they are the point. And it’s interesting that, in the midst of admonishing all the other pastors about too many points to apply, he did the very same thing. He had one beginning “launch” text, and then bounced all over the Bible to make at least six or seven different (fuzzy, amorphous, debatable) points. E.g. Learn from everyone. Learn what exactly? One would hope that the lesson he’s going to learn from Bart is “sometimes the purpose of your personal life is to serve as a warning to others.” But he said no such thing. He left holes in propositions so big that the average unthinking person will hear that and think “Hey, I think I’ll go read me some Bath too, so I can be a thinker like Rick Warren!” That’s not good communication, it’s dangerous. And he seemed pretty presumptuous with his audience. There was no willingness to even acknowledge the herd of elephants in the room regarding who he is and how he works, compared with practically every other pastor there, let alone any attempt to Biblically defend his methods, or even acknowledge his methods’ weaknesses. No acknowledging your audience is not what makes for excellent communication.

* As for the “he quoted so much Scripture” argument (again, also loudly called out by Parsons and Piper), well, so does Satan. It’s the Beth Moore argument, and with all due respect to these wiser men, is that all that matters? There is a difference between using Scripture, and preaching Scripture. It’s one thing to say “This is what God says”, and another entirely to say “God says this, and here’s what I think it means, and what I think you should do with it, and why God agrees with me.”

Then there was the whole ‘God loves you so much He would rather die than not have a relationship with you” claptrap.

In short, his talk, and the style in which he delivered it, seemed to model the kinds of preaching and thinking the conference was striving to reject and prevent, not promote. And Parons’ and Piper’s aggressive admiration of his techniques may have done their audience as much harm as anything Warren actually said.

donsands said...

"Isn't Ghana 87% Christian?"-Aaron

Not sure about the %, but the Word of Grace is moving in that nation for sure. They have a hunger for the Bible and Christ.

My son-in-law said to me that if I went there, there would be children and adults, and all they want to talk about is the Scriptures and our Lord.

Rachael Starke said...

And as for the Tchividjian shot, let's just speak the truth in love here, Frank. It offends you on multiple levels that Tullian looks,well,
different from your typical, ahem, substantial in form, and humble of visage, average Reformed preacher.


candy said...

Rachel...oh you are so SPOT ON.

candy said...

Rachel...spot on about your longer comment. :)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, after reading some of the comments and watching the inevitable judgment by people who really have neither the platform nor knowledge of Warren to evaluate him, I'd stick by what I wrote initially.

I'd stick with the facts of:

1. He throws out comments upon subjects that he's clearly familiar with but not studied upon.

2. He doesn't actually do much exegesis; he generally cites texts from numerous English translations and then makes applications.

3. He makes passing statements of a self-focused/self-promoting nature that seem both unnecessary and not helpful.

I'd suggest that it seems like a wide amount of the commentators here would agree with those three statements.

But I would suggest that the interpretation of those ideas, especially when not understood within the context of Rick Warren as a person and within the context of his ministry, can be really misread. He's not a reformed baptist from the south.

He could lack the fear of God, but that's a rather difficult accusation to make stick.

It may just as likely be that he's allowed himself to become so busy and so famous that he doesn't have time for depth anymore and doesn't know what to do with his own celebrity. He may not take a hard line on issues because he's aware of the weight of some of the debates surrounding those issues. I don't know the man and don't know much about his ministry, but I've judged people before and been horribly wrong.

I can deal objectively with his specific exegesis of scripture, but I'm not going to jump on any bandwagons against him outside of addressing statements of outright falsehood.

Almost any accusation that is laid against him could equally be laid against any number of commentators here, if they were in an equal amount of limelight. I know that I'm not in that kind of limelight for good reason and I thank God for keeping me from being revealed to be the colossal fool that I am, if I were in that sort of limelight.

Stefan Ewing said...


[Kind of a contradictory name, when you think about it. ;) ]

I agree with your sentiments (especially your last paragraph: I could say the same thing of myself), but when you boil it down, the main issue folks have with him seems to be his pragmatism, which is not necessarily error per se, but at least somewhat off-base. Whether some criticisms are right or wrong, many of them seem to be reflections of this general characteristic of his ministry.

When you look at the great revivals in history...John the Baptist; Pentecost; the Reformation; the Swiss Anabaptists; the First Great Awakening; modern-day China; etc....a common characteristic is an unusually large number of people coming out to hear the Gospel, believe it, and be saved, in a relatively small location or timespan.

Of course, most of us would say that such numbers are evidence of the sovereign grace of God in the Holy Spirit, choosing to work through a particular preacher or a church at a particular moment in time, to bring a certain number of men and women to salvation.

Pastor Warren, on the other hand, would see bringing in the numbers as being our job, rather than being the sovereign pleasure of God; and would see maintaining large numbers as being evidence of a fruitful ministry, rather than a more biblical approach of bringing people to real, lasting, saving faith, and discipling them for lifelong service and evangelism.

And he's not alone...there is, of course, a large swath of the universal Church that looks to growth!, numbers!, stuff happening! as evidence that we are doing a good work for God.

Or I could be totally wrong, and the issue is that he's no Tchividian...but then, neither am I.

Stefan Ewing said...


And re "doing a good work for God," I mean, as we would phrase it from our fallen, fleshly point of view, as if we do God favours with our sin-tainted works.

It is, of course, God who works through us, and we who work for Him as His servants.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Excellent, excellent, excellent, Rachael!

It is not what Rick Warren says in small sound bites, quips and between quotations marks here and there, that necessarily brings the gavel down on His miscreant theology. It is his apparent, overarching misunderstanding that ALL people, of ALL faiths, need to hear about and turn to Christ for their salvation. Not that they should be given the green light to make themselves a better Hindu, a better Muslim, a better Mormon, or a better Roman Catholic, and certainly not to give them instruction and train them up in such soul-damning heresies, and leave them in a drunken stupor, in their easy chairs.

Mother Theresa believed in this and expressed it herself, coddling to all people’s beliefs, and admitted at the end of her life that she never truly felt the love of God. Hmmm. Maybe Jesus isn’t found in those religions, and Rick Warren instead of appealing to ecumenism, would actually love people enough to preach Christ crucified to all those lost and forlorn souls. And admit, up-front, that the way is narrow, and few there be that find it. He seems to be doubling and tripling the odds that many won’t find THE ONLY WAY, by simply preaching a one-world-all-inclusive-religion.

This just screams Universalism.

Anonymous said...

I can muster up the spite to say it - although it might not be the same as yours.

Firstly, that was such an incredibly bad message I am sure he taped it and sent it in to avoid the embarrasement of presenting it in person.

Secondly, it has been a long time since I have heard a Pastor do so much 'I' talk and tooting his own horn.

I have read a couple of Warren's bad books but had avoided listening to him until now. I hope I have heard the last of him.

In case anyone missed it, I don't like him either, nor do I trust him, and lastly, I don't much believe him.

Oops. Did I say all this outloud?

Jessica Kramasz said...

"Here's why I think we can't go there: he doesn't deny the Gospel. "

Frank - While he doesn't deny the Gospel, he does fail to publicly confess it. We are called to bring the Gospel to the world, not confess it private;y amongst ourselves.

I have to admit - I don't like him either.

I haven't heard what he said at the DG conference, but I imagine I might agree with most of it because he is a CAMELEON. His audience was primarily conservative Christians, therefore he would have felt free to let his conservative Christian colors show. But put him in front of Muslims and he will give them a great speech, but will not "offend" them with the Gospel.

My father, Pastor Bob DeWaay, had a private meeting with Pastor Warren after his book "Undefining Christianity: Understanding the Purpose Driven Movement" was published, in which he pled with Pastor Warren to preach Christ consistently and publicly. Privately, Pastor Warren agreed with him and came across as a conservative, but his public message is still watered down drivel.

FX Turk said...

I want to go on-record to say that I had nice hair when I was 38, too.

bp said...

I think people need to pay more attention to what Olan Strickland is saying. His ties with new agers and positive thinking gurus is fact, which can easily be researched. And this is no small deal. Especially since Positive-Thinking-New-Age-Oprah-Deepak Chopra(ism) seems to be the spiritual wave of the future.

Instead of disecting what Warren said at this conference (when it's clear that what he says is often based on who the audience is), do some real research).

Jessica Kramasz said...

BP - I totally agree. He has a very long and public record of tying himself to the New Age as well as other questionable movements. Moreover, instead of preaching Christ when he has an audience with world leaders, as Paul did, he brings the the Christless PEACE plan - which he convenienty changes (usually for the worse) as time goes by.
It really doesn't matter what he said at the conference, it's the big picture that's important.

Olan - thank you for teaching your flock to be discerning!

Bill Honsberger said...

I also agree that if pressed, at least in front of an evangelical audience, he does not deny the Gospel. But how is teaching Mormons, Muslims, Jews (other denominations!!!????!?!?!?!?!?!) how to be purpose driven without any need for Jesus not denying the Gospel in practice if not in principal?
When the fiasco in Los Angeles occurred with the Jewish audience is when I went from slight disdain (PDL as Christianity lite) to full blown disgust. The fact that the Rabbi celebrated how wonderful the presentation was and gleefully noted as well how wonderful that the name of Jesus wasn't mentioned once was for me beyond the pale.
1. That the entire PDL presentation is such that Jesus is not necessary - is a flat out denial of the Gospel, again at least in practice (and I would argue in some ways in principal as well)
2) Compare RW's attitude about that opportunity with the Apostle Paul's attitude, who would give his own life to reach his Jewish brethren. Having grown up in a very jewish neighborhood in LA, coming to Christ once I moved away, I find myself praying for my Jewish friends constantly. I would give my right arm for a chance to have the audience he had, and look what he did with it. I am still crushed by his lack of love for that audience.

The flipflopping on Prop 8, inclusivism, Assad, - do these not point to a major lack of integrity as well?

He may well be a believer, but he way reproachable.
my two cents today...

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...


You must be very proud of your father. I have read many of his comments over at Apprising Ministries, and tend to agrre with most he says.

God bless,

Charles e. Whisnant said...

Well there you go, preachers don't really like preachers really. Well, we do, but we don't. But we can like them but express their differences we have with them. I think I will stick with John MacArthur as an earthly example of preaching and pastoring a church.

~Mark said...

I'd like to add 2 more cents if I may.

I truly believe that one cannot like or dislike someone who they haven't encountered personally. I cannot say that I like or dislike Rick Warren.

I will say that his books and other teachings were part of the toolkit that wrecked the path my former church was on and led to me hearing those words that I later found out almost every person who tries to remain faithful to the Gospel in a PDL church hears from their shepherd:

"Maybe you'd be happier in another church".

I can't honestly say if I like or dislike Rick Warren, but I can say with assurance of accuracy that I despise the garbage he teaches and the damage it has caused to so many lives.

He could preach a perfect sermon one time and yet if he sells ONE more of his PDL theories, or fails to refute his previous PDL gospel, his works are a total FAIL, and his fruit is rotten.

Feed a million people if you want to, but if you give them a false gospel then all you've managed is to give them a more comfortable ride to Hell.

Jessica Kramasz said...

And you're right, I shouldn't say I don't like him. I haven't met him - but I will say I do not like what he has done to so many churches in America.

Jessica Kramasz said...

Mary Elizabeth Tyler:
Thank you - I am very proud of him and privileged to be able to work with him.

FX Turk said...

You know what? I'm not going to defend Rick Warren.

See you tomorrow.