A SPECIAL LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS COMMENTARY
A recent USA Today article, “Saddleback founder Warren driven to expand his reach,” begins by asking the question “Could California pastor Rick Warren possibly be everywhere at once?.” The article mentions Warren’s global travels, while promoting his Purpose Driven Peace Plan and the recently launched Peace Coalition. The question that should be asked is “Can pastor Rick Warren possibly serve both God and man at the same time?.” With modern technology, jet travel, Internet and other high speed communication, and millions of dollars at Warren’s disposal from book sales, the first feat may not be too difficult to accomplish–in essence Rick Warren is everywhere at once. But the second, serving both God and man at the same time, is utterly impossible.
The USA Today article gives a few hints regarding Warren’s failure in his attempt to serve both God and man at once. Since the release of The Purpose Driven Life, Warren has consistently taught that the first reformation (Luther) was about creeds (doctrines and beliefs) and the second reformation (the one Rick Warren is attempting to initiate) is about deeds (i.e., good works). Rarely has he said that this new “reformation” will be about both deeds AND creeds, and certainly he has not taught that creeds IS more important that deeds. His emphasis on creeds (doctrine) has been minimal. But in the USA Today article, he states:
“Of course, we need creeds … We don’t need to change what we believe. We need to change how we behave. It’s not creeds or deeds. I didn’t say that. It’s creeds and deeds.(emphasis added)
This is a misleading statement by Warren, and many reading it will think he is defending biblical doctrine. But in reality, he isn’t. What he is saying here is that no matter what your beliefs are, that is OK, but you need to have deeds. This is not defending biblical doctrine at all. What he is saying is (and has consistently said throughout the years) that it doesn’t matter what beliefs you have, as long as you do good works. The set of quotes below are an example of how Warren has placed beliefs on a back burner while exalting the need for good works:
“The first Reformation was about beliefs. This one needs to be about behavior. … We’ve had a Reformation; what we need now is a transformation.” .”–Rick Warren, July 2005 at the Baptist World Alliance with Tony Campolo and Jimmy Carter
Warren called for “a new reformation” to adapt to the 21st-century world. “The first Reformation was about belief; this one needs to be about behavior.”–Rick Warren, 2005, “A World of Baptists,” Associated Baptist Press
“You know, 500 years ago, the first Reformation with Luther and then Calvin, was about beliefs. I think a new reformation is going to be about behavior. The first Reformation was about creeds; I think this one will be about deeds. I think the first one was about what the church believes; I think this one will be about what the church does. The first Reformation actually split Christianity into dozens and then hundreds of different segments. I think this one is actually going to bring them together.”–Rick Warren, Pew Forum on Religion
Warren has convinced millions of people that a new reformation is going to take place via the Purpose Driven Movement: a reformation in which good works (deeds) must be practiced regardless of one’s religious beliefs or even lack of them. What beliefs one holds is secondary, according to Rick Warren. At the 2005 UN Prayer Breakfast, he told an audience of Christians, Hindus, and Muslims in essence that God doesn’t care what religion you are (click here to listen to audio). He told acclaimed broadcast journalist and interviewer Charlie Rose (this interview was removed from YouTube in 2013, but Lighthouse Trails has a copy of this interview on file) that his Purpose Driven Peace Plan could include homosexuals, and he told the Pew Forum that his reformation could include Muslims. And when he says that the first reformation “split Christianity” and the new one will “bring them [Catholicism and Protestantism] together, it broadens his reformation kingdom even more.
Rick Warren’s reformation is an earthly, man-inspired movement, and this is why the emphasis cannot be placed on biblical doctrine – it would be too limiting and constricting. To back up our claims that Warren has not emphasized biblical doctrine, Lighthouse Trails has documented through books and articles, for more than 6 years, Warren’s long-standing and continuous promotion of a new spirituality that is ecumenical, mystical, emerging (or merging), compromising, and has strong implications of the New Age movement.
And yet, even with all the evidence there is to show that Rick Warren is walking down a path that is heading for something far different than biblical Christianity, the USA Today article says that “he’s annoyed that anyone questions his evangelical credentials.” He has shown this annoyance many times in many ways. In a book he has used for training leaders and pastors, it says that opposers (to his program) are like “leaders from hell.” When George Mair wrote a biography about Warren that Warren didn’t like (even though it was a testament of praise), Warren tried to defame Mair in a most unkind and un-warranted manner. A number of other examples could be shown here that proves the USA Today article is accurate when it says “he’s annoyed” with anyone who questions his theology.
The USA Today article also shows that Warren’s view toward what he calls fundamentalist Christians is just as derogatory as ever. “There are all kinds of fundamentalists,” he [Warren] says, listing Christian, Muslim, Jewish, atheist, even secular forms. “I don’t happen to agree with any of them.” Warren’s distaste for fundamentalist Christianity was revealed in January 2006, when a Philadelphia reporter, attending a Saddleback service, stated: “Warren predicts that fundamentalism, of all varieties, will be ‘one of the big enemies of the 21st century.”Muslim fundamentalism, Christian fundamentalism, Jewish fundamentalism, secular fundamentalism – they’re all motivated by fear. Fear of each other.'” In 2005, at the Pew Forum of Religion, Warren told the mostly liberal audience:
Today there really aren’t that many Fundamentalists left; I don’t know if you know that or not, but they are such a minority; there aren’t that many Fundamentalists left in America … Now the word ‘fundamentalist’ actually comes from a document in the 1920s called the Five Fundamentals of the Faith.* And it is a very legalistic, narrow view of Christianity.” 1
This brings us to the point we hope to make in this article. Rick Warren has been trying to appeal to both the secular world and the evangelical world–he is attempting to serve both “God” and man. Shortly after he made the comments rejecting the five fundamentals of the faith, he made a statement, this time to a Christian audience, saying he did not reject them but rather believed in them. In his efforts to bring about an ecumenical, global reformation, Rick Warren has attempted to appeal to all persuasions. But what he says to one audience does not work for another, so he must change what he says, depending on the occasion and the audience. The reason it does not work, is because a Christian cannot serve both God and man. The true Christian cannot work to build a kingdom of this world while trying to hold onto God’s kingdom, one that Jesus said is not of this world.
Rick Warren believes that Christian fundamentalists will have no part in his new reformation. He believes they are an enemy to the world today. He likens them to Islamic terrorists. But in actuality, a true Christian “fundamentalist” is one who believes in the fundamentals of biblical faith. Thus, his annoyance, anger, and growing frustration should not be directed at true believers (what he calls fundamentalists).
Scripture is clear: “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). In Warren’s effort to serve the world, he has come to despise the bride of Christ.
Right now, in the news, Rick Warren is taking some heat by the secular media and by homosexual activists for his stand against homosexual marriage, and Barack Obama is taking heat for asking Warren to participate at the inauguration. What is so ironic about this is that Rick Warren has done more to help Obama win than perhaps any other person. That may sound very far fetched to many, but please consider this: Through various means, Warren has helped to propel the emerging church, a movement which ignited possibly millions of young people to join ranks with leaders like Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo, and Jim Wallis. McLaren, who became an advisor to Obama prior to the election, and was named as one of the 25 most influential evangelicals by Time magazine, gave the green thumbs up to his followers to vote for Obama. It is very likely that this huge group of young “progressive evangelicals” (perhaps well over 20 million, according to some estimates) tipped the balance toward Obama, giving him the victory. But that is not all Warren did: In addition to helping propel the emerging church, Warren’s badgering at conservative Christians for focusing too much on abortion and homosexual marriage eventually gave way to causing confusion and guilt by many who were Purpose-Driven congregants. That number, by the way, is high. With 400,000 churches in his network (worldwide), a conservative number of US followers could easily be well over 50 million people (300,000 X 250 congregants). So this is why we say it is ironic that Warren is in the present trouble with the homosexuals and the secular media. He helped to get them the president they wanted.
Regardless of Rick Warren’s reasons for showing a last-minute public support for California’s Proposition 8 (banning homosexual marriage), he is a man who is attempting to serve both “God” and man. Perhaps after all these years, since the release of The Purpose Driven Church, it has finally caught up with him. But where will he find his home? It will not be with the liberals and homosexuals unless he changes his stance on homosexual marriage. And it will not be with biblical Christians whom he is “annoyed” with and whom he has come to despise. Will it be with the broad group of spiritual “seekers” who are ever looking but never finding truth because it is never truly presented to them? Some will see Rick Warren as a Christian martyr for being ridiculed and harassed by the media and homosexual activists. But Lighthouse Trails can only see him as one who has been deceived and has taken far too many with him into that deception.
A man of God is not annoyed when he is questioned and challenged, but rather he seeks to repent and correct his wayward path. If Rick Warren became single-minded, serving only God, he would stand to lose a lot, but it would be nothing in comparison to what he would gain. “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)
* The Five Fundamentals of the Faith
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.