The Dangerous Direction of Rick Warren

July 7, 2008

A great article on Rick Warren. Well thought out with great research. Following the article is a link to the site where there are some other really fine sermons to read.

On a side note I want to emphasize Rick Warrens PEACE Plan is not, I repeat not at all about evangelizing the lost. The acronym for P was originally Planting church (which equals planting purpose driven churches-Warrens way not scripture’s way).That was changed to Promoting Reconciliation. Keep in mind that in Rwanda thousands of Purpose Driven Life were handed out instead of Bibles. Rick Warrens agenda is about Rick Warren not Jesus Christ.

Here is the article-

The Dangerous Direction of Rick Warren

Heritage of Faith

July 6, 2008

Just before his death, Francis Schaeffer wrote The Great Evangelical Disaster.  In it he warned of mainline evangelicalism’s accommodation with theological liberalism and evolution.  According to Schaeffer, the evangelical church had become a disaster, namely, by fearing to stand on the truth and contend for the faith!  This trend continues as spiritual peril and confusion spread throughout America and the world.  Discernment toward doctrinal error seems non-existent and the Biblical doctrine of separation from unbelievers, false teachers, and disobedient brothers is neither mentioned nor practiced. 

It is my conviction that spiritual disaster is being currently promoted by Rick Warren, sometimes called “America’s Pastor.” It is my intention to look at God’s Word in light of Warren’s own words and actions so that you can see for yourself the dangers of his pastoral direction to thousands of others churches and pastors. 

You might say, “Why is this important for us in NYC?”  Well, for a number of reasons.  First, Rick Warren has influenced over 500,000 churches with his Church Growth Conference and The Purpose Driven Church.  He has further influenced nearly every Christian home in America with The Purpose Driven Life.  His influence is now coming to New York City as he partners with a new initiative called, “New York City Leadership Center” and is speaking in a launching event by using his “Forty Days of Purpose” ideology.  This partnership includes mega church pastor Bill Hybels and also a New Age promoter and sympathizer Ken Blanchard, along with some of the most well known churches in New York City: Christian Cultural Center, Calvary Baptist Church, and Bethel Gospel Tabernacle.  It is imperative that we consider Scriptural admonitions regarding such cooperative efforts.  I must issue a warning that the great evangelical disaster Francis Schaeffer warned of is moving in fast forward, and I am not going to be a part of it!  I pray that you will stand firmly on the truth as well.

Let me say that I am for unity and love, but this unity must be founded upon doctrinal truth.  Jesus Himself said, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.  Everyone that is of the truth heareth my voice” (John 18:37).  Jesus did not unify with the Jewish religious establishment of his day, or with the Roman political power.  Rather, they crucified Him.  Jesus Himself teaches us that His truth is paramount to any unity of man. 

Let’s start with Rick Warren’s vision and understanding of his relationship to the church today.  He has said,

“I’m looking for a second reformation. The first reformation of the church 500 years ago was about beliefs.  This one is going to be about behavior.  The first one was about creeds.  This one is going to be about deeds.  It is not going to be about what does the church believe, but about what is the church doing.” [i]  “I am working toward a second Reformation of the church which could create a Third Great Awakening in our nation or world.” [ii]

As Warren perceives himself to be akin to the Reformer Martin Luther or Jonathan Edwards, there are a number of frightening aspects to this statement, the first being:

     1. Rick Warren Devalues Sound Doctrine

Rick Warren looks and works for a “Second Reformation” or a “Third Great Awakening” but his are empty of doctrinal content.  Friends, both Martin Luther, the Reformer, and Jonathan Edwards, the great pastor of the Great Awakening, were steeped in doctrine!  According to Rick, however, this new reformation or awakening will not be about doctrine or creeds but about deeds!  Or, Warren’s awakening will not be based upon Jesus Christ’s atonement for sin by the shedding of His blood on the Cross for the forgiveness of sins.  It will not be based on the necessity of repentance and faith to receive the precious gift of eternal life by grace alone through faith alone.  Rather, it will be demonstrated through a social gospel of human works meeting human felt needs.

Failing to recognize the absolute essentiality of sound doctrine is fatal, for Paul warned that “in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1).

Contrast Warren’s statement with the ministry of the Old Testament prophets, the New Testament apostles, or the work of the first century church!  The early church believed in and “continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine,” which was sound doctrine (Acts 2:42).  Paul made his doctrine “fully known” and willingly suffered persecution and affliction because of it (2 Timothy 3:10-11).  The early church had a clear body of doctrine and the New Testament calls this “THE FAITH” (1 Timothy 4:1; 6:12; Jude 3).  They believed Jesus Christ was the virgin born Son of God who shed His blood on the cross for the sins of the world and rose bodily from the grave, and that He was coming again.  The early church contended for this, called by Jude “THE FAITH”.  Paul warned that “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine: but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” (2 Timothy 4:3, 4)

The Apostle John tells us that “many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh,” and those that “abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God”…and “if there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed” (2 John 7-11) In other words, the basis for fellowship and unity in a New Testament church was sound doctrine!  We are not to join in cooperative service or a working relationship with unbelievers and false teachers (2 Corinthians 6:14-17).  But Rick Warren has erased this standard and made his basis of fellowship one of behavior and deeds, and this will lead to a disastrous Reformation.  How can we minimize the doctrine of the Tri-Unity of God and blood atonement when so many are attacking them and false teachers are so prevalent? 

Beloved, you cannot reform or see revival in the true church without sound doctrine. 

     2. Rick Warren Ignores Separating from Unbelievers, Modernists, and even          Terrorist Supporting States

Warren’s newest move is to institute a P.E.A.C.E.plan, an acronym that stands for Planting (and Partnering with) Churches, Equipping leaders, Assisting the poor, Caring for the sick, and Educating the next generation.  On the surface, I am sure that we can all say, AMEN!  It is not his idea that is wrong, but it is HOW he will fulfill this agenda that is troubling and clearly unbiblical.

Rick Warren willingly works with anyone to fulfill this plan.  In a PBS interview with Charlie Rose, he says, “You don’t have to change your beliefs for us to work with you.  I don’t insist that a Muslim change his belief for me to work on poverty.  I don’t even insist that a gay person has to change their beliefs.” [iii]

In 2006, Warren visited the terrorist state, Syria, and gave aid and comfort to this foreign enemy of freedom and the Gospel of Christ.  During his visit, Rick made no mention of “Syria’s one-party police state, its political prisoners, its chambers of torture, its support for Hezbollah terrorism in Lebanon, and its continued devotion to the destruction of Israel.” [iv]  His visit turned into a propaganda bonanza for the Syrian tyrants.  Joseph Farah of World Net Daily exposed Warren’s misguided visit by writing:

“But now that Rick Warren has traveled to and provided legitimacy to a hostile foreign government, presided over by a brutal fascist dictator who hates Jews, threatens Israel, subverts neighboring Lebanon, imprisons and terrorizes its own citizens and even kills them in massive numbers when they stand up in revolt – now I have to denounce this impostor in the strongest terms possible.” [v]

The “P” in his peace plan essentially means therefore that he will partner with any individual, church, religion, or even terrorist state to fulfill this goal!  2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?”  Paul concludes, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:17).  Rick Warren disobeys this clear command.

Consider Warren’s statement in the light of Scripture.  Did Jesus enter into Jerusalem where there was poverty, disease, and illiteracy and work with either the Roman government or the Jewish religious establishment to eradicate those earthly problems?  Did Jesus say to Pilate, “Let’s work together to eliminate poverty?”  Or did He say to Caiaphas, “Let’s join hands, although we don’t agree on everything, to defeat illiteracy?”  Preposterous thoughts!  Although Jesus cared deeply about those who were suffering, he did not join with unbelievers to establish an earthly kingdom.  This was not His ultimate goal, but He came to suffer on the cross for the sins of the world and rise mightily from the dead.  While it is fine to help people who are destitute, we must also realize that we can never eliminate poverty.  Jesus said in Matthew 26:11, “For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.”

Did the Apostles enter into a city and work with the pagans and unbelievers to care for the sick or educate the next generation?  This is ludicrous!  The Apostles went into a city to bring the greatest “help” offered to any man.  And this is not a new suit, a meal, or a class on reading.  The greatest help you can give to any man is the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 16:7-11).  That was the message of Paul in Philippi, Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, or Rome.  The Gospel of God’s righteousness!  “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).  And it was this message that led to persecution and people hating him. 

For Rick Warren to work alongside homosexuals, Muslims, and Roman Catholics and other non-Christians care more about teaching reading or math than preaching the Gospel is a very unloving thing for a preacher of the Gospel to do!  Our mandate from God is to go into the world and preach the everlasting Gospel.  This does not mean we ignore human suffering, for Jesus also leads us to provide material help to those in need, but this still is not our primary focus.

“For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

     3. Rick Warren Promotes New Age Spirituality

New Age spirituality is essentially the belief that all the world’s religions are identical at the mystical level and therefore there can be unity among them.  It is based on the lie that in the “center of your being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin … a point of pure truth …(which) is the pure glory of God in us”, and that it in everybody, according to a popular and well know Roman Catholic mystic, Thomas Merton. [vi]

Shockingly, in his best selling books and on his web site, Rick Warren endorses those who promote and practice New Age spirituality, such as panentheism (God is in all things), mysticism, centering prayer, contemplative prayer, and spiritual formations/disciplines (New Age prayer techniques). 

For example, In The Purpose Driven Church, Warren refers to many questionable movements as having a “valid message” for the church that God has used to be a “wake-up call” for the church.  Among those he endorses are Richard Foster and Dallas Willard, both of whom practice and promote the “Spiritual formations movement.” [vii]  In Richard Foster’s popular book, Celebration of Discipline, there are eleven references to Thomas Merton (quoted above) [viii] 

In The Purpose Driven Life Rick Warren enlarges his endorsement of New Age spirituality by citing a Roman Catholic mystic and Carmelite monk named Brother Lawrence as a person we should emulate in prayer. [ix] Brother Lawrence used a form of prayer that made him “dance violently like a madman” when he went into the “presence.” [x]  The Carmelite order of monks was heavily influenced by Teresa of Avila whose own thinking was affected by Jewish Kabbalistic mysticism. [xi] 

Warren recommends reading another Roman Catholic priest and mystic, Henri Nouwen, by promoting his books on his web site.  Henri Nouwen teaches: “The God who dwells in our inner sanctuary is also the God who dwells in the inner sanctuary of each human being.” [xii]  That is a bold-faced lie against the truth!  A true shepherd should protect the sheep from the statements of such wolves in sheep’s clothing.  At the end of his life, Nouwen taught that “all paths lead to God.” [xiii]

In an article on his website entitled “Pastors need Solitude, Refreshment to Prepare for Ministry,” the author quotes Thomas Merton, who is a clear practitioner of New Age spirituality, and then he gives very clear New Age advice for prayer: [xiv]

“The power of silence and solitude has been recognized throughout the history of spiritual formation. It is the purposeful separation of ourselves from the world in order to place ourselves with God. The evil one assaults our senses with the material world to drown out the distant chords of eternity’s symphony. Only in silence can we move past the deafening roar of the world and hear the music of God.” [xv]

Some of these expressions like “power of silence and solitude” and “spiritual formation” seem innocent, but they are phrases straight out of the New Age lexicon.  The New Age movement teaches that God is in everyone and everyone is in God, and through silence, meditative trances, mystical experiences, breath prayers, centering prayers, and contemplative prayers, you can find what Thomas Merton himself said is that “point of nothingness which is untouched by sin” where “the pure glory of God (is) in us.  It is in everybody.”  That is a lie of the grandest order that undermines the truth of God, the Person, and work of Jesus Christ to redeem us on the cross.

Yet, these authors along with their ideas are promoted as commonplace in Rick Warren’s web site (see  Take a simple visit there and search names like Robert Schuller, Brennan Manning, Richard Foster, Thomas Merton, Dallas Willard, Tricia Rhodes and Henri Nouwen. All these writers promote varied forms of New Age spirituality. Galatians 1:6-9 clearly tell us to not give honor to anyone who preaches another Gospel.  “As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:9).

     4. Rick Warren Associates with False Prophets

Rick Warren’s close association with Robert Schuller is well documented.  For many years, Warren has yoked together with Schuller’s church growth conferences as a learner and a leader.  Robert Schuller is heavily influenced by eastern religions, positive thinking, and is a false prophet in every sense of the word, denying original sin and the absolute need for forgiveness through Christ’s atoning blood.  

In 1997, Warren spoke at Schuller’s Institute for Successful Church Leadership.  With Warren present, more than eighty gay and lesbian pastors and lay leaders from the Metropolitan Community Churches participated. (Bill Hybels also spoke at that conference.)

How can a good shepherd sit down with such wolves?  Jesus tells us to “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15).  Paul warned the Ephesian pastors that after he departed “grievous wolves” would enter among them, “not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29).  Through the ministry of Rick Warren, false teaching is dripping into the evangelical world like an IV hooked up to a dying patient. 

     5. Rick Warren Uses Perversions of Scripture and pretends they are True

Let’s consider just one glaring example among many bad paraphrases that Warren chooses to use in his sermons and books.  Warren quotes Ephesians 4:6 in The Purpose Driven Life from a modern perversion, New Century Version, that says of our God, “He rules everything and is everywhere and is in everything” (Ephesians 4:6).  Here New Age teaching creeps into a perverted Bible translation! [xvi] That God is in everything is the lie at the heart of all New Age teaching.  The Bible does not teach that God is in everyone, but that He indwells believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.  This is also the offense of the cross that Warren seems so unwilling to accept!  It could very well be that Warren uses this verse on purpose, to gain national popularity and he has been heavily influenced by Robert Schuller, who also is clearly immersed in New Age, or Eastern theology.[xvii] Warren also repeatedly quotes the notoriously deficient paraphrase “The Message” by Eugene Peterson.

Perhaps Rick Warren has been reading and quoting modern perversions for so long, that doctrine has become unimportant to him, for these perversions water down the truth until it is hardly recognizable. 

     6. Rick Warren Wrongly Divides the Scripture

Warren’s usage of various translations allows him to make the Bible say what he wants it to say rather than what it really says.  In the following excerpt from The Purpose Driven Life, Warren quotes three people: Isaiah, Job, and Dr. Bernie Siegel.  According to Warren, Isaiah and Job, both great and godly men are living “without God and without purpose.”  Dr. Siegel, however, understands hope and purpose, and he is a leading New Age author and spokesman! [xviii]  Here is Warren’s twisted comment which makes Dr. Siegel more spiritual than either Job or Isaiah:

Without God, life has no purpose, and without purpose, life has no meaning. Without meaning, life has no significance or hope. In the Bible, many different people expressed this hopelessness.  Isaiah complained, “I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing.” Job said, “My life drags by – day after hopeless day” and “I give up; I am tired of living. Leave me alone. My life makes no sense.”  The greatest tragedy is not death, but life without purpose.

Hope is as essential to your life as air and water. You need hope to cope.  Dr. Bernie Siegel found he could predict which of his cancer patients would go into remission by asking, “Do you want to live to be one hundred?”  Those with a deep sense of life purpose answered yes and were the ones most liketly to survive. Hope comes from having a purpose.” [xix]

First, hope does not come from merely a purpose, but hope comes from our God and Lord Jesus Christ as we wait for eternal life.  Hope in God, dear friends, not merely a purpose!  (Psalm 42:5; 1 Timothy 1:1; Titus 1:2; Romans 15:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:8).  Secondly, Warren does not quote the context of those passages in Isaiah and Job but only the parts that suit his purpose, not God’s!  Isaiah was not “without purpose,” but he was struggling with the fact that while he was doing God’s will, no one seemed to be listening to his message.  Isaiah was faithful, but he was discouraged by seeing little outward success.  The rest of the verse in Isaiah 49:4 clearly shows that Isaiah was not questioning his purpose. In fact, he draws upon God for great comfort and encouragement.  While Warren indicates that Isaiah had “no purpose” or was living “without meaning,” Isaiah actually says:

“I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God” (Isaiah 49:4). 

Warren failed to quote the whole verse!  Isaiah commits the labor of his life to God by realizing it was God’s cause and work and God would reward him in due time.  Isaiah 49:5 continues Isaiah’s encouraging words as he says:

“Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.”

Perhaps Rick Warren should consider that the size of a movement or church has nothing to do with whether something is faithful to God!

Warren Smith in Deceived on Purposeinsightfully writes: “Rick Warren could have wonderfully introduced hope and purpose through the godly lives of Isaiah and Job, but he chose to use them as examples of men who were without hope, purpose, or God in their lives. Instead, he used a New Age leader (Dr. Siegel) to preface his remarks about having a true hope that comes from having a “deep sense of purpose.” [xx]  I don’t know about you, but this heightens my sense of righteous indignation in that a so-called Pastor would so disgrace God’s men and use a New Ager as an example for us!

These are just a few of the troubling aspects of the ministry of Rick Warren.  Warren mocks Fundamentalism and has said, “There aren’t that many Fundamentalists left in America.” [xxi] May I remind Rick Warren that “might does not make right?”  Although Warren may interpret God’s blessing in terms of numbers, God never does. [xxii]  There were not many who got into Noah’s Ark.  There were not many who accepted the prophetic statements of Isaiah or Jeremiah.  There were not many following Jesus when He went to the cross!  Nevertheless, there are still some very godly, balanced, loving, and doctrinally sound Biblical fundamentalists and churches throughout our nation, and there is still this one, and as long as God allows, I will contend for the holiness of God and the purity of the Gospel. Friends, we are not living in a day of a new Reformation, but in the last days of perilous apostasy.  Let us beware and be wise, staying close to Jesus Christ in rightly dividing His Word until He comes again!

[i]Interview by David Kuo with Rick Warren, accessed July 1, 2008,  (


[ii] From Pew Forum, May 23, 2005, “Myths of the Modern Mega Church,” an interview with Rick Warren, accessed July 1, 2008 at

(Note: This is a long article but it shows Warren as currying favor with those who are the intellectuals in our pop culture.  The only group on earth that I can find Warren denounce are Bible believing fundamentalists!)

[iii] Roger Oakland, Faith Undone(Silverton, OR: Lighthouse Trails Publishing), p. 146,147.

[iv] Joseph Farah, World Net Daily, accessed July 3, 2008 at

[v] Joseph Farah, World Net Daily, accessed July 3, 2008at

[vi]Ray Yungen, Time of Departing(Silverton, OR: Lighthouse Trails Publishing Company), p. 58-59. 

(Note: This book is very helpful in relating “How Ancient Mystical practices are uniting Christians with the World’s religions.  It also contains a glossary of terms being used by the proponents of these new age mystical practices)

[vii] Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995), p.126-127.

[viii]Ray Yungen, Time of Departing, p.72.

[ix] Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life,(Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), p.88,

[x] Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God, translated by John Delaney,( Image Books, 1977), p. 34.

[xi]Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing(Silverton, OR: Lighthouse Trails Publishing Company), p.146-147.

[xii] Roger Oakland, Faith Undone (Silverton, OR: Lighthouse Trails Publishing Company), p. 89-90.

(Note: This book is outstanding in dealing with the mystical practices of the emerging church, exposing it not as a “new reformation but an end-time deception.”)

[xiii] Ibid, p. 100.

[xiv] Ibid, p.164, Thomas Merton also said, ‘We are already one. But we imagine that we are not.”

[xv] Accessed July 1, 2008 from an article entitled, “Pastors Need Solitude and Refreshment,”  (

[xvi] Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, p.88.

[xvii] Warren Smith, Deceived on Purpose: The New Age Implications of the Purpose Driven Church (Mountain Stream Press, 2004), p.79-86.

(Note: This book is helpful because Warren Smith was formerly involved in the New Age movement and picks up on New Age mystical terminology creeping into evangelical writings that one not exposed to the movement could easily miss.)

[xviii] Ibid, p.48-51.

[xix] The Purpose Driven Life, p.30-31.

[xx] Deceived on Purpose, p.51.

[xxi] From Pew Forum, May 23, 2005, “Myths of the Modern Mega Church,” an interview with Rick Warren, accessed July 1, 2008 at

[xxii]From an article entitled, “The Gospel According to Hybels and Warren,” accessed June 26, 2008 at

Note: Nathan Busenitz does an excellent job in exposing Warren’s man-centered and pragmatic emphasis in preaching the Gospel.

Heritage Baptist Church, New York City, New York


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