Apologetics Index

Why Rick Warren Has Critics

The following is an excerpt from the article, Discerning a Christian Flip-Flopper: Why Rick Warren Has Critics:

Like it or not, all of us have to judge people by how much we can clearly assess and delineate their convictions; and even if we don’t necessarily agree with their stated positions, at least it is preferable to those who remain vague or unsure of themselves, especially when they seem more concerned about being liked by everyone than being true to their principles.

In light of this truth, it should come as no surprise that Rick Warren has cultivated many critics within Christianity who are coming to see that his inconsistent teachings are an indication of a double-minded man. Truly the Saddleback pastor has exhibited strong signs of being a Christian flip-flopper on many occasions, and this has made many discerning Christians rightfully wary of him, especially considering the prominence and influence of his ministry.

FLIP-FLOP #1: WARREN PROMOTES KEN BLANCHARD AS A CHRISTIAN LEADER, THEN HE DOESN’T, AND THEN HE DOES AGAIN. In Abanes’ book Rick Warren and the Purpose that Drives Him, Warren admits that Ken Blanchard is “not a deep Christian,” and that Blanchard did not have the spiritual discernment to know whether The Celestine Prophecy was a heretical book or not. Yet despite all this, in 2003 Warren openly promoted Blanchard in his pulpit as someone who could train Christian leaders. So which is it? Is Blanchard truly called to train Christian leaders, or is he a person who started a ministry before he had gained the spiritual maturity to do so? Based on Warren’s own words and other solid evidence, critics have real cause to question Warren’s discernment in this matter.

FLIP-FLOP #2: WARREN DENIES ANY CONNECTION WITH THE NEW AGE, YET HE SOMETIMES AFFILIATES WITH NEW AGE PROPONENTS AND THEIR TEACHINGS. It has been documented that Warren recently joined with the John Templeton Foundation, an organization which promotes spiritual humanism, to be a judge in their “Power of Purpose” Essay Contest. The winning essay, for which Warren cast his vote, was written by August Turak, a false teacher in New Age “Self Knowledge” who claims a “divine spark” within every person.

FLIP-FLOP # 3: WARREN CLAIMS A COMMITMENT TO THE AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE, BUT MANIPULATES IT TO FIT HIS TEACHING. In The Purpose Driven Life, Warren makes the wonderful statement that “the Bible must always have the first and last word in my life” (pg. 187). Earlier in the book, however, Warren proves that he likes the first word, but not always the last. Case in point, on page 53, Warren claims to fully quote Proverbs 16:4 by citing it as such, and yet only provides the reader with the first half of the verse which reads, “The Lord has made everything for his own purposes.” Strangely, Warren leaves off the last part of the verse which adds ominously, “even the wicked for punishment.”

The question any good Berean would ask is, why would Warren edit this verse? But of course there can only be one reason: if Warren revealed the whole verse then it would completely undermine his skewed teaching that everyone is made by God for only a positive, self-affirming purpose.

FLIP-FLOP #4: WARREN CONDEMNS SYNCRETISM, BUT IMPLEMENTS IT IN HIS MINISTRY AND TEACHINGS. In his book defending Warren, Abanes maintains that because Warren has specifically condemned syncretism (the mixing of God’s truth with other religions and philosophies) at Saddleback, then critics have no cause to say otherwise (pg. 91). Yet what are discerning Christians to think when Warren expresses “self-esteem” pop-psychology in the March 2005 article for Ladies Home Journal? Or what about his advocacy of personality testing (based on Carl Jung’s occult-inspired teachings) to find out how Christians are gifted for church service? And what are we to think about Warren’s utilization within the church of Peter Drucker’s human management theories which come, not from God’s word, but from secular humanism and other man-centered philosophies?

FLIP-FLOP #5: WARREN HAS BROKEN TIES WITH SCHULLER, BUT STILL MIRRORS MUCH OF HIS SELF-ESTEEM TEACHINGS. Warren disavowed any theological ties to Schuller, yet recently wrote an article for Ladies Home Journal on self-esteem, which reads like a condensed version of Schuller’s book, Self-Esteem: The New Reformation. Considering that self-esteem has no place in Christian theology whatsoever, is it any wonder that critics of Warren find this common teaching on loving yourself to be very telling?

This is not to say, of course, that Warren is the Devil incarnate or a raging heretic. But it is well within our Christian responsibility to raise objections when a prominent Christian leader like Warren is inconsistent and displays a certain lack of biblical integrity in both his teaching and in his behavior. And until such time as Warren is willing to acknowledge these major lapses in judgment, openly repent of them, and display some biblical consistency in the future, then he will continue to see godly objections to his ministry, and rightly so.

Rick Warren undoubtedly will always have critics, but if he truly desires to eliminate the bulk of legitimate biblical criticism against him, he must do one thing first: stop being a Christian flip-flopper.
– Source: Discerning a Christian Flip-Flopper: Why Rick Warren Has Critics, by Chris Carmichael, Christian Unplugged

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Category: Rick Warrern
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First published (or major update) on Monday, March 27, 2006.
Last updated on May 23, 2013.

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