There has been a handful of men in the recent past who have clearly seen the day we are living in. When I say recent I mean the past thirty or forty years, men like Tozer, Nee, Sparks, and more recently, Francis Schaeffer. These men, although imperfect, as we all our, had a rare gift, the gift of discernment. That sounds a little funny writing that, because the gift of discernment should not rare, but the prized possession of every Christian. I use the word funny, but I am not laughing. There is one thing that is hysterically funny though, it is how easily an apostate, like Rick Warren, will use the good names of brave, discerning, Christian men, and claim to be mentored by them, only to deceive and bolster his own position, and pull the wool over ignorant sheep’s eyes. Below is a quote from Rick Warren to me, in his vain attempt to justify his apostasy by “dropping” the names of some good men. After reading the following information would you tell me, does Rick Warren sound as if he was mentored by Francis Schaeffer, Charles Spurgeon, William Wilberforce, or W. A. Criswell? Rick denies being mentored by the heretic Robert Schuller but displays the earmarks of a good student of his. So, you be the judge.
“My ministry mentors were my own father, a Baptist pastor for 50 years, Pastor Harry D. Williams, Dr. W.A. Criswell, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas for decades, and the books of Rev. Charles Spurgeon, C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, and William Wilberforce.”
W. A. CRISWELL 1909-2002
“If [we] are true to that expression of faith (the infallibility of Scripture) we shall live. If we repudiate it, we shall die. God will remove our lampstand….There is no exception in this judgment….”
Does Rick claim Criswell as mentor because of his theological stance in favor of the inerrancy of the Bible? In W. A. Criswell’s own words concerning “Why I Preach That the Bible Is Literally True,” he says:
“The invitation to write this book “form the top of my head and from the bottom of my heart” was accepted with the earnest and prayerful hope that it might encourage other ministers to preach the Bible as the literal, inspired, God-breathed truth of heaven….”
“I have written. . . a testimony from my heart, how I feel about God’s word….”
“This volume is my testimony.”
Where, may I ask do we see anything like these words from Rick Warren. We could aptly say that The Purpose Driven Life is the volume of Rick’s testimony, but nowhere does he reflect the zeal for the literalness of God’s word, as does Criswell. I think when Rick Warren claims Criswell as his mentor his testimony runs more along the lines of the size of his congregation, and not faithfulness to the inspired word of God. In 1969 when Criswell’s book was published he was “The pastor of the largest congregation in the SBC.” “Under his ministry, this congregation has grown to more than 13,000 members with a budget of $1,800,000.00….” “With a Sunday school enrollment in excess of 6,000, a Training Union with 50 departments, and a full-time staff of more than 50, and First Baptist Church enlist 1,000 of its members as lay workers in it various organizations.” Rick was definitely impressed in respect to large numbers, there’s no argument there.
C. H. SPURGEON 1834 – 1892
“If a man begins to walk with a stick merely for a whim, he will soon come to require a stick; if you indulge your eyes with spectacles, they will speedily demand them as a permanent appendage; and if you were to walk with crutches for a month, at the end of the time they would be almost necessary to your movements, although naturally your limbs might be a sound and healthy as any man’s.”
When we think of someone being mentored by a renowned personality we tend to assume that the greatest characteristic of the individual doing the mentoring would show up in the one being mentored. All of the characteristics of Charles Spurgeon are virtually unknown beside his one characteristic of love for preaching, he was known as the “Prince of Preachers.” Rick Warren claims that the books of Charles Spurgeon mentored him. Well, I’m curious now. Charles Spurgeon was not a good preacher, he was a great preacher, “many times it has been said that this was the greatest preacher this side of the Apostle Paul.” What is it that we should look for as proof and evidence of this great man’s influence. We see no evidence of great preaching in RW, but we do see something else, numbers! Rick’s preaching is bland, lifeless, and simplistic, so we needn’t look there. But, Spurgeon could do other things, like generate large crowds. Crowds, this is what inspires greatness in Rick, it’s the numbers.
“At 25 he (Spurgeon) built London’s famous Metropolitan Tabernacle, seating around 5,000. It was never large enough. Even when traveling he preached to 10,000 eager listeners a week. Crowds thronged to hear him as they came to hear John the Baptist by the River Jordan. The fire of God was on him as on the Prophet Elijah facing assembled Israel at Mount Carmel.”
“Royalty sat in his Tabernacle.”
“HOW GREAT WAS HIS HEART: for preachers, so the Pastors’ College was founded; for orphans, so the orphans’ houses came to be; for people around the world, so his literature poured forth in an almost immeasurable volume. He was a national voice; so every national issue affecting morals, religion or the poor had his interpretation, his counsel.”
How Rick Warren built his ministry by New Yorker, taken off Warren’s website Pastors.com
“On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Saddleback Church, Rick Warren hired the Anaheim Angels’ baseball stadium. He wanted to address his entire congregation at once, and there was no way to fit everyone in at Saddleback, where the crowds are spread across services held over the course of an entire weekend. So Warren booked the stadium and printed large, silver-black-and-white tickets, and, on a sunny Sunday morning last April, the tens of thousands of congregants of one of America’s largest churches began to file into the stands. They were wearing shorts and T-shirts and buying Cokes and hamburgers from the concession stands, if they had not already tailgated in the parking lot. On the field, a rock band played loudly and enthusiastically. Just after one o’clock, a voice came over the public-address system -“RIIIICK WARRRREN” – and Warren bounded onto the stage, wearing black slacks, a red linen guayabera shirt, and wraparound NASCAR sunglasses. The congregants leaped to their feet. “You know,” Warren said, grabbing the microphone, “there are two things I’ve always wanted to do in a stadium.” He turned his body sideways, playing an imaginary guitar, and belted out the first few lines of Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze. His image was up on the Jumbotrons in right and left fields, just below the Verizon and Pepsi and Budweiser logos. He stopped and grinned. “The other thing is, I want to do a wave!” He pointed to the bleachers, and then to the right-field seats, and around and around the stadium the congregation rose and fell, in four full circuits. “You are the most amazing church in America!” Warren shouted out, when they had finally finished. “AND I LOVE YOU!”
“His sermons are conversational, delivered in a folksy, raspy voice. He talks about how he loves Krispy Kreme doughnuts, drives a four-year-old Ford, and favors loud Hawaiian shirts, even at the pulpit, because, he says, “they do not itch.”
“And when he held his first public service, three months later, he stood up in front of 205 people he barely knew in a high-school gymnasium–this shiny-faced preacher fresh out of seminary – and told them that one day soon their new church would number 20,000 and occupy a campus of 50 acres. Today, Saddleback Church has 20,000 members and occupies a campus of 120 acres. Once, Warren wanted to increase the number of small groups at Saddleback–the groups of six or seven that meet for prayer and fellowship during the week – by 300. He went home and prayed and, as he tells it, God said to him that what he really needed to do was increase the number of small groups by 3,000, which is just what he did. Then, a few years ago, he wrote a book called The Purpose Driven Life, a genre of book that is known in the religious-publishing business as “Christian Living,” and that typically sells 30,000 to 40,000 copies a year. Warren’s publishers came to see him at Saddleback, and sat on the long leather couch in his office, and talked about their ideas for the book. “You guys don’t understand,” Warren told them. “This is a 100 million copy book.” Warren remembers stunned silence: “Their jaws dropped.” But now, nearly three years after its publication, The Purpose Driven Life has sold 23 million copies. It is among the best-selling nonfiction hardcover books in American history. Neither the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, nor the Washington Post has reviewed it. Warren’s own publisher didn’t see it coming. Only Warren had faith. “The best of the evangelical tradition is that you don’t plan your way forward – you prophesy your way forward,” the theologian Leonard Sweet says. “Rick’s prophesying his way forward.”
“Churches, like any large voluntary organization, have at their core a contradiction. In order to attract newcomers, they must have low barriers to entry. They must be unintimidating, friendly, and compatible with the culture they are a part of. In order to retain their membership, however, they need to have an identity distinct from that culture. They need to give their followers a sense of community – and community, exclusivity, a distinct identity are all, inevitably, casualties of growth. As an economist would say, the bigger an organization becomes, the greater a free-rider problem it has. If I go to a church with 500 members, in a magnificent cathedral, with spectacular services and music, why should I volunteer or donate any substantial share of my money? What kind of peer pressure is there in a congregation that large? If the barriers to entry become too low–and the ties among members become increasingly tenuous–then a church as it grows bigger becomes weaker.”
Well, enough of this, I think I may get sick if I go any further. I looked in vain to find any inkling or trace of Spurgeon’s preaching, and found none, but what I did find was Spurgeon’s large numbers. Numbers were a byproduct for Spurgeon, but for Warren it is all about numbers and the message is secondary, or just a tool to get the large numbers. If Rick Warren were building any other kind of business I may have some admiration for his success, but to make merchandise of men’s souls is despicable, inexcusable, and deserves the rebuke of the entire Christian community, for what he has done, is doing, and teaching others to do.
William WilberforceNext we want to look at William Wilberforce, and “he was no ordinary pragmatist or political utilitarian,” and in these two words we will likely find what Rick Warren found most attractive about the man. Rick is a man who has taken the two and formed them into a virtual slogan of “whatever works must be from God,” and in that justifies the use of even the profane and worldly, regardless that the Bible prohibits yoking oneself to the world.
Peculiar Doctrines, Public Morals, and the Political Welfare
“Knowing Wilberforce was a politician all his adult life, never losing an election from the time he was 21 years old, we might be tempted to think that his motives were purely pragmatic – as if he should say, “if Christianity works to produce the political welfare, then use it.” But that is not the spirit of his mind or his life. In fact, he believed that such pragmatism would ruin the very thing it sought, the reformation of culture.”
In the wisdom of Rick Warren we have finally come to our senses and it is about “what works,” now we know that what Jesus said is not to be taken literally: James 4:4-5 “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” 1 John 2:15-17 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” John 15:18-19 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.” Matt 10:22 “All men will hate you because of me.” Luke 6:26 “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.” Thank you Mr. Warren, now I know, because of you that these and many other Scripture verses are now null and void.
It is becoming apparent now that Rick has had the best of teachers, and he being mentored at their feet has unraveled the riddle of the ages, that it isn’t about holiness, and righteousness, and repentance, it’s about NUMBERS, and what ever works to get those NUMBERS! I’m being silly now, we can be sure that Rick has more depth than this. Let’s look at how he has been effected by another of his mentors, Francis Schaeffer.
Does the Church Have a Future? Lighthouse Trails Research
“Does the church have a future in our generation? … I believe the church is in real danger. It is in for a rough day. We are facing present pressures and a present and future manipulation which will be so overwhelming in the days to come that they will make the battles of the last forty years look like child’s play.” Francis Schaeffer, The Church at the End of the 20th Century– 1970
“The liberal theologians in their stress on community speak and act as though we become Christians when we enter the horizontal relationship of community. But this is totally the wrong starting-point. If this were so, Christianity would have no more final value than the humanistic community.” Schaeffer
“Whenever men say they are looking for greater reality, we must show them at once the reality of true Christianity. This is real because it is concerned with the God who is there and who has spoken to us about Himself, not just the use of the symbol ‘god’ or ‘christ’ which sounds spiritual but is not. The men who merely use the symbol ought to be pessimists, for the mere word god or the idea god is not a sufficient base for the optimism they display…. “This is the kind of ‘believism’ which is demanded by this theology…. It is no more than a jump into an undefinable, irrational, semantic mysticism.” Lighthouse Trails Research Schaeffer, from The God Who is There.
What is it really that Rick sees in Schaeffer that has formed anything in him. Schaeffer was a modern day prophet who had the ability to see into the future, and visualized a time when men would get caught up in the shallowness of what the Church has become. But, there was one thing that Schaeffer understood, that was probably of more value to Rick than prophecy and that is his knowledge of culture. He could read culture like it was the morning paper. He knew the flow of culture because he understood history and the Bible. I’m quite sure Rick has a deep appreciation for culture, and has learned much about culture from reading Schaeffer, and how to manipulate culture to build his dynasty, and preserve the world for P.E.A.C.E. Schaeffer was right, there is a flow to culture, and if he could use that flow to foresee our present condition, why couldn’t a marketing genius (not Rick, Peter Drucker) likewise project a marketing scheme, and tap a niche market of collapsing traditional Churches, and build a kingdom for God on earth, by co-operation with existing political and religious structures, of which Rick Warren would be the beneficiary and become rich in the process.
My response to Rick Warren
“You mentioned, “My ministry mentors were my own father, a Baptist pastor for 50 years, Pastor Harry D. Williams, Dr. W.A. Criswell, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas for decades, and the books of Rev. Charles Spurgeon, C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, and William Wilberforce.” I find this to be very telling. I too have an affinity for, and agree with much of what the men you mention have written, especially Spurgeon, Lewis, and Schaeffer, but your writings do not appear to have profited from their acquaintance. The really telling part comes from the mentors, (used here in the sense of advisers, counselors, confidants, etc.) you did not mention: Peter Drucker, C. Peter Wagner, Rupert Murdoch, and others of which their influence is more apparent, and to this list could be added Robert Schuller. This little bit of “name dropping” is more consistent with good marketing, branding, public persona, identity, and building value, than it is with preaching the Good News, and I find it unusual that a man so totally absorbed in the Kingdom of God does not even allude to Jesus or the Bible in the above list.”
Christian author Warren Smith, in his book Reinventing Jesus Christ writes:
“There is much about The Purpose-Driven Life that lies beneath the surface of the actual words. Although Rick Warren carefully avoided citing his former teacher, I discovered that Robert Schuller’s thoughts and ideas could be found throughout The Purpose-Driven Life. The fact that Rick Warren had not provided any footnotes acknowledging his Schuller-based material was troubling. I didn’t even know there was a connection between Rick Warren and Robert Schuller until I read The Purpose-Driven Life. As I started checking out certain names and phrases and references I found myself having to read more and more books by Robert Schuller. In Deceived on Purpose I wrote:”
“The more I read Robert Schuller, the more I was shocked at how so many of Rick Warren’s thoughts, ideas, references, words, terms, phrases, and quotes in The Purpose-Driven Life seemed to be directly inspired by Schuller’s writings and teachings.”
“I am quite sure that further study would reveal there is much more additional Schuller material contained in the pages of The Purpose-Driven Life. I certainly had not gone out looking for all this. I just kept discovering these things as I read along and followed up on what I was reading. I had no idea going into my reading of The Purpose-Driven Life how thoroughly the presence of Robert Schuller inhabits its pages. Because Robert Schuller’s name is never even mentioned in The Purpose-Driven Life, most readers would never know how much of Rick Warren’s material is actually drawn from the writings and teachings of Robert Schuller. They would never know how inextricably intertwined the two men’s teachings seem to be.” “Later I would learn that Rick Warren’s wife, and even Robert Schuller himself, confirmed the Schuller influence I had discovered in The Purpose-Driven Life. In an interview in the Nov. 18, 2002 issue of Christianity Today, Kay Warren revealed that she and her husband attended Robert Schuller’s Institute for Successful Church Leadership just prior to starting Saddleback Church. She stated that Robert Schuller “had a profound influence on Rick.” A year-and-a-half later, in an April 4, 2004 Hour of Power sermon, Schuller described how Rick Warren had come to his Robert H. Schuller Institute for Successful Church Leadership “time after time.” Schuller’s Hour of Power website also described Rick Warren as one of the “famous graduates” who had been “mentored” at the Schuller Institute. Schuller’s influence over Rick Warren was so “profound” and far-reaching that in 1995, fifteen years after he started Saddleback Church, Rick Warren was still describing Robert Schuller as having one of the “many strong, Bible-believing churches” in Southern California.”
“In an early Saddleback response to my book Deceived on Purpose, even the Saddleback representative acknowledged Schuller’s influence on Rick Warren “through the years”:
“There is no question that Robert Schuller has been an influence on Rick through the years. As Mr. Smith points out, certain words, phrases and other teaching tools continue to show up, even to this day, in Rick’s writings and teaching that he learned from the books of Robert Schuller.”
“In regards to Rick Warren being a graduate of the Robert H. Schuller Institute for Successful Church Growth, the same Saddleback representative wrote:”
“This is true and yes it did lead Rick into reading Robert Schuller’s books.”
Additionally Warren Smith shows Schuller’s New Age influence on Rick Warren in regards to its concept of “Immanence.”
“Biblical Christianity does not teach this pantheistic/New Age concept of immanence. The Bible teaches that while God is omnipresent and omniscient he does not naturally indwell his creation. Omnipresence does not mean that God is in everything. God was not in the golden calf. God is not in the Devil. God is not in His creation. God is not in everything. This is what the New Age/New Gospel/New Spirituality wants everyone to believe. Although the word immanence has another meaning, sometimes used in the church, the more popular meaning of the word is definitely pantheistic. A quick look at several online encyclopedias confirms the popular definition of immanence:”
“Immanence is the religious and philosophical concept of existing and acting within the physical world. It is derived from the Latin words, in and manere, the original meaning being “to exist or remain within.”…
“The term “immanence” is usually understood to mean that the divine force, or the divine being, pervades through all things that exist, and is able to influence them. Such a meaning is common in pantheism & panentheism, and it implies that divinity is inseparably present in all things. In this meaning immanence is distinct from transcendence, the latter being understood as the divinity being set apart from or transcending the World.”
“IMMANENCE [immanence] [Lat.,=dwelling in], in metaphysics, the presence within the natural world of a spiritual or cosmic principle, especially of the Deity. It is contrasted with transcendence. The immanence of God in the world is the basic feature of pantheism.”
“Rick Warren’s apologist, Richard Abanes, argues:”
“Warren’s use of Ephesians 4:6 in The Purpose-Driven Life is an attempt to teach God’s immanence.”
“While Abanes takes critics to task for being concerned about the concept of immanence he, of all people, should surely understand the overlapping New Age implications of the word immanence. In his book Harry Potter and the Bible he used the following quotes to respectively describe witchcraft and paganism:”
“Most view divinity as immanent in nature, seeing all life as sacred, thus denying any sacred/secular distinction.”
“Pagans are usually polytheistic (believing in more than one god) and they usually believe in immanence, or the concept of divinity residing in all things.”
“The following statement from Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church Foundations Guide illustrates how their use of the word immanent–“within and throughout creation”–can be given confused pantheistic/New Age meaning by Rick Warren’s additional teaching that God is in everything.”
“The fact that God stands above and beyond his creation does not mean he stands outside his creation. He is both transcendent (above and beyond his creation) and immanent (within and throughout his creation).”
“This is the kind of overlapping language that is paving the way for the New Age/New Spirituality. Notice how Robert Schuller’s use of the word immanence is totally consistent with the New Age/New Spirituality teaching that God is in everyone and everything. In a November 9, 2003 Hour of Power sermon, he stated:”
“You know in theology–pardon me for using a couple of big words–but in theology the God that we believe in, this God of Abraham, is a transcendent God. But He is also an immanent God. Transcendent means up there, out there, above us all. But God is also an immanent God–immanence of God and the transcendence of God–then you have a balanced perspective of God. The immanence of God means here, in me, around me, in society, in the world, this God here, in the humanities, in the science, in the arts, sociology, in politics–the immanence of God…. Yes, God is alive and He is in every single human being.”
What I have tried to show is the manipulative way Rick Warren uses name dropping, and claiming mentoring by certain individuals to arbitrarily attach characteristics of those individuals to himself. This is not how a Christian should conduct himself, but we may expect it of a marketer or salesman. Likewise, we can see how he avoids being associated with those of whom he is characteristic. Why would a man of God do this? What is it he is trying to hide? It isn’t always what is said that is important, but what is left unsaid that is most critical, and that is the essence of the new gospel that is being perpetrated on the world today. The Bible warns us that these wolves would appear as sheep, and delivering angels.
I have said it before, Rick Warren may be the most dangerous man in the world. Don’t be deceived.