By Warren Smith
The first time I encountered Rick Warren was in the spring of 2002, in a book titled From the Ashes: A Spiritual Response to the Attack on America. The book was a collection of articles written by a wide variety of “spiritual leaders” and “extraordinary citizens” published in response to the events of September 11, 2001. Proceeds from the book were to go to the families of the 9/11 victims. I remember being intrigued by the fact that Christian leaders found themselves included in a book that also featured many familiar New Age leaders. Articles by Billy Graham, Bruce Wilkinson, Charles Colson, Max Lucado, Bill Hybels, Jerry Jenkins, Bishop T.D. Jakes and others were side by side with articles written by prominent New Age leaders like Neale Donald Walsch, the Dalai Lama and Starhawk the witch. I was not familiar with the man simply listed as “Pastor Rick Warren.”
I discovered From the Ashes just after writing Reinventing Jesus Christ [now titled False Christ Coming: Does Anybody Care?]. In my 2002 book, I had updated readers on significant recent New Age activity. I was concerned because Christian leaders were doing so little to warn believers about a New Age movement that had reinvented itself and was now referring to its teachings as the “new gospel” and the “New Spirituality.” I found it particularly interesting that in From the Ashes Christian leaders not only found themselves in the company of top New Age leaders, they were now being directly challenged by some of these same New Age people.
New Age leader Neale Donald Walsch’s article appeared just pages from Bishop T.D. Jakes’ opening article. In his article, Walsch challenged religious leaders everywhere, including Rick Warren, Billy Graham, and every Christian leader in the book, in light of the events of September 11th to accept and preach the “new gospel” that “We are all one.” After erroneously claiming that the Bible supports the idea that “We are all one,” Walsch wrote:
We must change ourselves. We must change the beliefs upon which our behaviors are based. We must create a different reality, build a new society….We must do so with new spiritual truths. We must preach a new gospel, its healing message summarized in two sentences:
We are all one.
Ours is not a better way, ours is merely another way.
This 15-word message, delivered from every lectern and pulpit, from every rostrum and platform, could change everything overnight. I challenge every priest, every minister, every rabbi and religious cleric to preach this.1
I remember reading this and realizing how brazen the New Age was getting, and how deceptively appealing the idea of “Oneness” must sound to a terrified humanity still wondering when the next disaster might strike. What a clever way to present New Age teachings to a vulnerable world. But I was also thinking what a great opportunity it was for Christian leaders—particularly in this book—to contend for the faith by exposing the New Age teachings that were behind Walsch’s seemingly “positive” exhortation.
In Walsch’s best-selling Conversations with God books, in which he purports to have actual “conversations with God,” Walsch’s “God” specifically defines what he means by the “new gospel” teaching that “We are all One.” “God” tells Walsch:
God is creation.2
You are the Creator and the Created.3
You are already a God. You simply do not know it.4
You are One with everyone and everything in the Universe—including God.5
There is only One of Us. You and I are One.6
If the Christian leaders in From the Ashes contended for the faith by responding to Walsch’s New Age challenge, they could use the situation to delineate the significant differences between New Age teachings and the teachings of biblical Christianity. It was a unique opportunity for church leaders to expound upon the fact that God is not inherently “at One” with His creation and that man is not divine. They could explain that the Bible makes it very clear that humanity’s only “Oneness” with God, and with each other, is through the person of Jesus Christ when we repent of our sins and choose to accept Him as our Lord and Savior.
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26-28; emphasis added)
Walsch’s public challenge was a great opportunity for these Christian leaders to contend for the faith. But other than one lone pastor in Iowa,7 I am not aware of anyone else publicly responding to Walsch’s challenge.
Today, Walsch and other New Age leaders have accelerated their challenge to the Church by declaring that “God” has a 5-Step “PEACE Plan” to ultimately save the world through the establishment of a “New Spirituality.” Part of this “New Spirituality” demands that Christians abandon their belief in Jesus Christ as their exclusive Lord and Savior. In a recent best-selling Walsch book, his New Age “God” has now openly declared, “The era of the Single Savior is over.”8
But even with all of these open threats and challenges to biblical Christianity, most Christian leaders today continue to generally ignore almost anything having to do with New Age teachers and teachings. Over the last decade, as New Age teachings exploded in popularity, church leaders suddenly became very quiet about the New Age. Perhaps distracted by church growth concerns and tracking what they considered to be the latest “moves of God,” church leaders seemed to be missing the latest moves of our spiritual Adversary. Excited about all of the “great” things they felt God was doing, they had become ignorant of what our Adversary was doing. (from Deceived on Purpose, chapter 1)
1. Beliefnet Editors, From the Ashes: A Spiritual Response to the Attack on America (USA: Rodale Inc., 2001), p. 21.
2. Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God: an uncommon dialogue, Book 1 (New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1995, 1996), p. 198.
3. Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God: an uncommon dialogue, Book 3 (Charlottesville, Va: Hampton Roads Publishing, Inc., 1998), p. 350.
4. Walsch, Conversations with God: Book 1, p. 202.
5. Walsch, Conversations with God: Book 2, p. 173.
6. Neale Donald Walsch, Friendship with God: an uncommon dialogue (New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1999), p. 23.
7. Bill Randles, “An Open Letter to Neale Donald Walsch,” http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/NealeDonaldWalsch.html
8. Neale Donald Walsch, The New Revelations: A Conversation with God (New York, NY: Atria Books, 2002), p. 157.