The following is a letter I received from Rick Warren in regards to an article I wrote, Letter To A New Christian, in which I misstated some information. Some times in our zeal to do the Lord’s work we do not adhere to proper due diligence and overstate or misstate information, in which case we are wrong, and we unduly wrong the other person. I am not above making mistakes, but as Christians we need to take exceptional care to state things factually and not become like the adversary in his use of contortion, abstractions, inaccuracies, and innuendos. It is not a matter of trying to sway listeners or readers by creative writing, but a matter of presenting truth, in its simple unadulterated state. Biblical truth is the main thing, and it is precisely that element that is missing in the New Age presentations of the Gospel. As watchmen and overseers shining the light of truth into the darkness of what Christianity has become, we must remain vigilant that our message is not tainted by the leaven that is so prevalent in the pulpits across this land, and around the world. It is not only our duty to stand for truth, but to bow to correction when our error is discovered; this is not a fault, but a sign of maturity.
The claim that Rick was a protégé of Robert Schuller was made by Schuller himself to Larry King, and the claim that Rick never met Schuller till six years after he founded Saddleback Church is refuted by his wife in an interview with Christianity Today Magazine which took place during Rick’s last year of Seminary. “He had a profound influence on Rick,” Kay says. “We were captivated by his positive appeal to nonbelievers. I never looked back.”
I make no reference to Rick knowing Norman Vincent Peale as he alludes, only that both Peale and Schuller make a living off getting people to believe in themselves instead of Christ Jesus alone.
I have decided to post this request by Rick on the internet for several reasons.
1. To inform those who have read the article that a correction has been made.
2. To acknowledge the fault. It was not a serious fault, but a fault none the less, of which I stand corrected.
3. To let others know that truth is essential and that it can not be minimized for the sake of sloppiness.
4. Because of the importance of the issues at hand and that those who hold the places of prominence in the promotion of error can be seen in all of their activity.
5. To help expose and defeat the enemies of the Cross.
6. To give public notice as to which side of the line I stand, which is the side of Christ.
It has been widely misreported and repeated that Robert Schuller was “my mentor” – since Rev. Schuller once claimed on a Larry King Show. I’m sure he had his reasons for stating this, but it simply is untrue.
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.
In 1979, while in seminary in Texas I was given 3 scholarships to attend 3 different pastor’s conferences in California. One of the 3 conferences was held at Garden Grove Community Church. It was a good conference and challenged to “start where people are” when sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. I still think that is a good idea. However I also noticed that the church did not seem to take them much further spiritually. So when I started Saddleback Church in 1980, I created a systematic discipleship plan based on the 8 things Jesus did with his own disciples in the New Testament. That process of covenants, commitments, and spiritual disciplines became known as the “purpose driven” plan. Actually Saddleback has almost nothing in common with Schuller’s church- we’re not on TV, we don’t wear robes or use an organ, our building is quite simple, we have crosses and Christian symbols everywhere, including scriptures written on the walls of our entrance, we hand out Bible outlines each week, we memorize scripture in the services, and do hundreds of other things that would be the exact opposite of what Rev. Schuller did.
I did not even meet Rev Schuller until six years after I founded Saddleback Church, when I was asked by one of his staff members to share a testimony at a pastor’s conference. I’ve had, maybe three conversations with him in the past 28 years. I did write him once telling him that I thought he was harming the church by using testimonies of Mormons and Muslims in his worship services, since they both deny the orthodox belief in the Trinity, which is essential to our faith as Christians.
Also, In reference to Norman Vincent Peale- I’ve neither met him, nor read any of his books, so he certainly had no influence on me. Again, that myth has been reported in books by and articles by people who make up stuff, didn’t bother to confirm the truth, or even talk to me.
Another correction: I don’t believe that Rev.Schuller ever taught at Fuller Seminary (there is no Fuller University). I studied world missions at Fuller Seminary but my theology degree is from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
I would appreciate your correcting this. You know how people pass stuff along the internet that simply isn’t true. Thanks Steve. rick
I would like to apologize for my inaccuracy, that I fully intend to correct. I am acutely aware that much of what is presented as truth, on the internet as well as other places, is accepted as “the Gospel” without ever being validated, such is the nature of men in these last days. The Bible warns us of unscrupulous men who slip in and take advantage of other men and make merchandise of their souls. I do appreciate your directness and pastoral concern for truth. I will immediately post a correction and a follow up article addressing the necessity for accuracy in reporting and in the ability to discern lies, half truths, and innuendos. I will not justify my fault by the fact that I work forty to fifty hours a week, pastor a small Church in my home, and contribute to a larger on-line community; this is no excuse for sloppiness. When the facts of which we speak are readily available, this kind of error is simply unacceptable; I apologize.
I am puzzled by a few things though, maybe you can help me. I completely understand why someone concerned with Biblical truth would not want to be linked to Robert Schuller. But, since your own ministry is riddled with half truths, inaccuracies, and innuendos, that are very well documented by men such as, Roger Oakland, Ray Yungen, Warren Smith, and others, why are you so concerned about this statement by Robert Schuller? I feel confident that it is not because you are above contorting the high and holy truth to accomplish your own agenda, or because you feel that this association is crippling the cause of Christ. Since you and Mr. Schuller are both “Christian” men and promote and endorse high moral standards, such as telling the truth, why not just ask Mr. Schuller to retract his statement? Of course the puzzle is that two men, both of which have grand platforms to promote the everlasting Gospel of Truth are caught in this apparent tug-of-war: Which one is telling the truth? This issue seems like such a trivial thing to us outside the affairs of the mega church growth business. There is obviously more at stake here than the advancement of truth and the salvation of souls.
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.
I could spend much more time critiquing this letter and your other stuff, but to what end? I will make the corrections to my earlier post because, “You know how people pass stuff along the internet that simply isn’t true.” I know that the Bible is true, just as it is written, and that what is happening with you and much, much, more, that you are affiliated with, are being used as the lead element in an assault against Jesus and His true Church. That assault will not go un-resisted. Not all Christians are shallow followers of good marketing plans, there are a few who actually read and understand Scripture, and part of what they understand is that they are called to be a city on a hill that can not be hid, and to warn the unwary. You can not put that light out, how ever hard you may try.