John Piper, Rick Warren, and the Purpose Driven Life

Tim Brister —  May 27, 2011 — 13 Comments

Let’s just pretend for a moment you did not read the title of this blogpost.  Let’s pretend that there was an anonymous Christian minister who explicitly affirmed the following:

I am passionate about the glory of God above all things.
I believe in the absolute sovereignty of God in all things, including sin and tragedy.
I believe in exhaustive, meticulous divine providence.
I believe in the doctrines of grace, including total depravity, unconditional election, and particular redemption.
I affirm the five solas of the reformation and consider myself a monergist both in justification and sanctification of the believer.
I believe in the eternal, conscious torment in a literal hell.
I believe that substitutionary atonement is at the heart of the gospel.
I believe in that the imputed righteousness of Christ is essential to the nature of the gospel.
I believe that God saves us from Himself by sending us His Son as the wrath-bearing propitiation in my place.
I believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God.
I believe that those who die never hearing the name of Christ will not go to heaven.  They need to hear the gospel, and the church must go to them and make Christ known in order for them to be saved.
Everything I do in life and ministry has an overarching missionary focus.

Having considered these personal beliefs and affirmations, what well-known evangelical preacher might we be talking about?  John MacArthur? Sounds a lot like him. Albert Mohler? Possibly. D.A. Carson? Perhaps.

Who is it that made these personal affirmations?

Rick Warren.

If you don’t believe me, watch and listen for yourself.

Like just about every other evangelical leader I respect, I don’t agree with everything Rick Warren says and does, but I found this interview very clarifying and confirming.  I cannot imagine the controversy and criticism both John Piper and Rick Warren will receive from this interview, but I’m grateful they made this agreement, having demonstrated a substantive, constructive, engagement on important issues from two very different perspectives.

I don’t know of two pastors in our country who have more influence on my generation than John Piper and Rick Warren.  They have asked that we pray for them, especially in regards to pursuing humility, fighting pride, and stewarding their influence for generations to come.  God has given these men incredible platforms to display the glory of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Let’s pray for them and their continued usefulness in such enormous proportions for the advancement of the gospel both in breadth and depth for many years to come.

Amen.

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  • http://www.pulpit2pew.com Frank Gantz

    A good word. I appreciate the perspective.

  • Reg Schofield

    This is good but I sorry if I wonder if Warren would be as affirming with a different audience.His preaching does not bear the truths of the doctrines he says he holds.I don’t think Warren is a heretic but he is still too pragmatic with his message for me.

  • Patrick Brink

    “This is good but I sorry if I wonder if Warren would be as affirming with a different audience.His preaching does not bear the truths of the doctrines he says he holds.”

    This is THE POINT and most everyone is missing it. Anyone can say anything and Warren’s way of ministry contradicts his supposed beliefs. Calvin today Arminian tomorrow.

  • Douglas

    Tragic. Deception grows by the day. Biblical repentance is not a mere change of mind or a mere change of way of thinking as in Robert Schuller/Norman Vincent Peale type teachings. Biblical repentance is based upon the Hebrew not the Greek root meaning of the word. Rick Warren is a born, cultural Christian not a “born again” Christian. Sad, the deception is truly sad to see. He has worked his magic on John Piper and even more professing Reformed will be blinded. “Just say this little prayer as sincerely as you can and poof, you are now welcomed into the family of God.” No true biblical repentance necessary. Faith and repentance, gifts from God alone? “Oh Lord, I did all these wonderful things in your name, I paid back all my salary to the church, I tithed 91%, I did many more things, too may to remember, I didn’t even keep track of them all in my central computer, surly you will let me in. I preached the unadulterated Gospel in season and out of season, without even twisting your Holy word, please let me in.” “Welcome good and faithful servant….”

    “Slander, slander, slander…..how tragic, I have been so unfairly attacked with slander, I cry myself to sleep at night.”

    I am so disillusioned with Christianity I really wonder if it really is true.

    Even if you are the only one that reads this before you hit the delete button I hope your conscience is clear before the LORD.

  • http://cynthialottvogel.blogspot.com Cynthia Lott Vogel

    what would i say if a pastor said such things??? I would ask him if I could attend his church.

    I personally had an incredible encounter with God while reading Rick Warren’s book: The Purpose Driven LIfe….It was following a 15 year long wandering and rebellion against God–and that book brought me to my knees and changed my walk forever.

    If God can use a man like that then I think we have no business judging whether or not he is a Christian…or a liar. (which seems to be the inference)
    True, after years of growth and study pursuant to this spiritual encounter, I went back to Warren’s book and tried to read it again…But found it to be facile and elementary. But hey, that’s where I was at that time and that’s what spoke to me.

    As for John Piper, the man has my undying admiration as a Christian, a thinker, a writer and as a delighter in God.
    While I was raised Calvinist and still call myself a Calvinist…I don’t think that the book of James among many other Scriptures can be disregarded in regard to the importance of acting on our faith. I believe that the book of Corinthians has it right and explains the paradox with the passage about arriving in Heaven as one who has escaped a fire with nothing …but the skin on their backs.

    I love the words to “Screendoor” by Rich Mullins…please do yourself a favor and take a listen to this brilliant song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ajdsm9YmhU

    And no, I do not find any contradiction between my claim to orthodox Calvinism and the statements I’ve just made. God is not black and white…He is infinite color , infinite shades…regardless of how we view things.

  • http://www.purposedrivel.com Paula

    *sigh* yeah that would be nice. If only he didn’t actually deny a lot of those things in practice and in other things he has said, and if only he didn’t make a habit of backpedaling and lying (see the prop 8 controversy, the Syria controversy etc) in public. Anyone can spout the right stuff when they are fed softball questions and fed the answers by a more learned man who wants to think the best of him already.

  • http://timelessfaith.blogspot.com Jim Pemberton

    I appreciate this interview. I find that I agree with Rick Warren more often than I disagree with him. He is probably frustrating to most people who try to categorize his approach when he almost intentionally doesn’t fit neatly into common categories. For those who would judge him based on theological categories rather than theological conclusions, he would seem disingenuous.

    Now, I don’t agree with his Sunday morning preaching philosophy. I’m a fanged carnivore and find it difficult to stomach pureed meat. It is my consideration that most evangelism belongs outside the church. (With the understanding that we have children and a few others in the church who will always need to be evangelized.) But overall, I’m impressed with his attitude toward God and can see now that he has plenty of substance behind his rhetorical puree.

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  • http://www.mikecorley.org Mike Corley

    Not saying that Warren wasn’t being truthful, but if all that he said in the Piper interview is true about what he believes, why it is not born out in who he is and what he preaches?…in the pulpit, on the page, on FOX News…

  • Tash

    Was just wondering – randomly on the topic of Hell;

    (If/Because) Jesus died to save us from Hell – How can a SINGLE DEATH possible save us from an eternity of suffering?

    I believe in God, just not comfortable with the concept of Hell.

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  • http://gravatar.com/gman3000 G F McDowell

    Tim, I write this not to contradict what you wrote, and certainly not to undermine the gracious spirit in which you wrote this, but I’d like to point out that Arius could have affirmed all of the above.

    That said, I was also pleasantly surprised at this interaction with John Piper, and I hope that it might bear fruit. Something of the love every Christian is meant to have for every other Christian was lost during the Fundamentalist-Modernist battles. Would that God would raise up more strong bible teachers who made a point of reaching out like this.

  • http://Oneorallpopularones Krisse

    He speaks with forked tongue; how can one believe anything he says?