Presidential Forum – ABC Interview with Rick Warren: Warren Takes On His Critics

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In an article dated August 15th by ABC news Senior National Correspondent (based in Washington, DC) Jake Tapper, Rick Warren is interviewed about his critics. Warren stated:

I’m a big target … It doesn’t bother me. It’s like … during the Civil War the guy who wore the Union blue top and the Confederate blue bottom and he got shot at from both sides. That’s just part of trying to be a bridge builder, a moderator, a voice of civility. Our civilization is becoming increasingly uncivil. We’re becoming ruder. We’re not getting nicer to each other we’re getting ruder.

Warren has stated that because he represents both political sides, he gets criticism from both sides. This however, is an inaccurate statement for the most part, as there have been very few critical analyses toward Warren by the liberal. On the contrary, there have been many positive ones. He has been a favorite guest for Larry King a number of times, and even popular New Ager Marianne Williamson has come to his defense (their common ground is mysticism), 1 as have many in the liberal emerging church.

Warren has often made these statements about “getting ruder,” when he is discussing his critics. For the record, Lighthouse Trails Publishing (and Lighthouse Trails Research) has not been rude with regard to its reporting on Rick Warren. We have reported in a forthright manner without using mean-spirited, sarcastic, or acerbic language.

When Warren told Tapper regarding criticism, “It doesn’t bother me,” Tapper questioned this statement:

And it seems like it might bother you a little bit … You are a huge success and your good works are undeniable and I’m not trying to take away from that. But I sense in this interview that these people get under your skin a little bit.

Tapper recognized that criticism does bother Rick Warren, as Warren has proven time and again with Lighthouse Trails, such as when he called Lighthouse Trails “evil” and “liars” and when Saddleback said that federal agents were investigating Lighthouse Trails because Saddleback suggested we had broken into their server (something that was never true).2

Warren answered Tapper:

[P]eople get under my skin for about five seconds. I consider both praise and criticism, it’s kind of like chewing gum. You chew on it for a little while but you don’t swallow because ultimately I’m living for Jesus Christ. That’s my goal. And my philosophy when criticism comes at me, if it’s true: listen and learn from it. If it’s untrue ignore it and forget it.

This is not accurate when Warren says, “if it’s true: listen and learn from it.” Lighthouse Trails has been reporting that Rick Warren has been promoting the emerging church and contemplative spirituality for many years. We have shown this countless times through many well-documented articles and books. While Warren wrote a note to Lighthouse Trails once five years ago, calling contemplative “a hot topic,” he has never shown any sign that he has learned from our criticisms and public concerns. On the contrary, he has moved closer to contemplative spirituality and emerging spirituality. (e.g., recently he had New Age sympathizer Leonard Sweet teach at Saddleback 3, and secondly, even today he recommends books on his website by outright mystics 4).

At the recent Presidential Forum at Saddleback, Warren ended the evening with the following words: “We’ve got to learn to disagree without demonizing each other and we need to restore civility. We need to restore civility in our civil discourse.” He has made this same statement before with regard to his critics. The insinuation in this statement is that those who criticize Rick Warren should not be doing so. But he is giving a false impression – many of his critics have given accurate and straightforward information about the teachings and beliefs of Rick Warren. As for Lighthouse Trails, we have avoided calling him names, saying whether or not he is a Christian (leaving that up to God), have never threatened him or accused him of breaking into our server, and never said he was of the devil. And yet, Rick Warren’s chief apologist recently wrote an article calling Warren’s critics cult-like delusional people who behave like David Koresh (Waco), who are heresy-hunters, paranoid, and extremists. 5

While millions hear the words of Rick Warren through both secular and Christian media and through Purpose Driven venues, and while many will believe what he says about his critics, Lighthouse Trails will continue to provide accurate information regarding the contemplative prayer movement and the “emerging” spirituality that is quickly overtaking much of Christianity. As we have stated many times, we do so not to villanize those we critique but rather to warn the body of Christ that the Gospel is under attack through a mystical spirituality that says man is divine. The Bible says that there will be a time when false doctrine and apostasy will run rampant and as believers we are to speak up against these things for the sake of the body of Christ and the Gospel message that can save lost souls.


For documentation on Rick Warren’s promotion of contemplative spirituality and the emerging church, read A Time of Departing and Faith Undone, visit Lighthouse Trails Research Project.