Rick Warren is a fire-brand of controversy. Many people love him, and many people think that he is a false prophet.
I used to be a follower of his. A couple of churches I was a member of went through his course, “40 days of purpose.” In one church I even led one of the small groups plus was the director for all the church’s small groups when we went through the forty days of purpose. I filled the Purpose Driven Life journal from cover to cover. I was definitely in the Seeker-sensitive camp.
But around 4 years ago or so I had literally a reformation of my faith. I really got into the study of the Doctrines of Grace, especially after struggling with John 6 and couldn’t give good answers with my Armenian mindset. So painfully, I converted to a more reformed faith. Though I do not call myself a Calvinist, I do believe in the five points, but I do struggle with Limited Atonement.
About a year ago or so, I also switched the way I preached. I’m now much more expository in my sermons, preaching through whole books of the Bible, though I just starting doing it by taking a chapter or two at a time.
I listen to many a sermon, both good expository ones, and what I call bad, out of context ones. I would put Rick Warren in the out of context camp when it comes to his preaching, many times getting angry as I listen to them.
So I was surprised as I listened to the interview that John Piper (one of the instruments God has used to grow me in Christ) had with Rick Warren. I was surprised just how much I agreed with his answers. I identified with his struggle with limited atonement, it’s the very same ones that I have, but yet though I struggle with it, I believe that Scripture clearly teaches it. I liked the way that he answered his struggles. He basically says that He believes both the Scriptures that support it, and the ones that seem to teach something opposite.
There were a couple of issues that I had with the interview when it came to some of Rick’s answers, but they are much fewer than I had thought there would be.
First, Rick in explaining how he will try to say what Scripture says but do it in a non-theological fashion really biffs it on the example he used – the “This is the day that the Lord has made” passage. He said he would rephrase it to, “have a nice day.” By doing this, you really miss the prophetic teaching that passage is proclaiming.
Also I didn’t care for the way he discussed his church and the use of Scripture and small groups. He came off as arrogant in my opinion on this portion of the interview. He really lifted up his small group leaders and church attenders to the point of saying that they had much more knowledge than any other leaders within other churches.
I had a lot of agreement though with most of what he said, so I was encouraged by it. Yet I would like to see him apply his doctrinal statements he made in the interview with the way he preaches. I still believe he is taking way too many verses out of context and watering down the word, not to mention he seems to promote a works based Christianity in many of his sermons.
That being said it is my prayer that Piper would have an influence on him. I know many people are hitting Piper pretty hard for his relationship with Warren, but I’m glad he is reaching out to him.
Let’s be in prayer for both men, and whether we are in agreement with them or not, we would be Christ-like in our critiques.