May 20, 2007

Rick Warren: Purpose Driven’s Compromise of Scripture

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

This article on Purpose Driven’s Compromise of Scripture and my article on (The Zichterman Issue) are examples of the very few times I break from the Lordship discussion to address another issue. Recent events that have involved a broad spectrum of evangelical Christianty have necessitated this break from the Lordship discussion.

Last week I concluded a debate/discussion at the pseudo- fundamentalist Sharper Iron site on the Church Growth Movement- Rick Warren's Saddleback/Purpose Driven philosophy and methods.

Men who are sympathetic and supportive of Warren’s philosophy are interacting on line at various sites. SI was happy to host one of Warren's most vocal apologists, John Brown a former staff member of the Saddleback church. They will do what they can to influence others to consider Warren’s philosophy.

There were several men who joined me to expose and refute the extreme errors of Warren’s Purpose Driven philosophy. Following is a listing of eight major problems with Warren's methods. This list was first compiled by Dr. Mike Harding.

The roots of Saddleback sink deeply into the ministry philosophy of ultra liberal Robert Schuller:

"During his last year in seminary, he (Rick Warren) and Kay (his wife) drove west to visit Robert Schuller's Institute for Church Growth. 'We had a very stony ride out to the conference,' she says, because such nontraditional ministry scared her to death. Schuller, though, won them over. 'He (Schuller) had a profound influence on Rick,' Kay says. 'We were captivated by his positive appeal to nonbelievers. I never looked back.' " (Christianity Today, Nov 18, 2002).
Warren spoke for Schuller in subsequent conferences.

1. Warren embraces deliberate pragmatism of the worst kind. He believes that anyone one can be reached based on "finding the key to that person's heart." Therefore, the unbelieving community sets the agenda for his church: Warren says, "We let the unchurched needs determine our programs; the unchurched hang-ups determine our strategy; the unchurched culture determine our style; the unchurched population determine our goals." (PD website)

2. Warren routinely misuses Scripture. The Bible is a tool that Warren manipulates to cover his own ideas with a veneer of divine authority. For example, in the Purpose Driven Life he quotes from 15 Bible versions and paraphrases, picking and choosing the one that fits his pragmatic need. This process often wrenches texts out of context.

3. Warren is guilty of serious theological reductionism. He discounts the value of a well-rounded system of doctrine and even considers doctrine an obstacle to unity. On his Purpose Driven website he lists his doctrinal statement that any Bible college graduate would find completely inadequate:

His doctrine of theology proper is the following: "God is bigger and better and closer than we can imagine". That's it for the doctrine of God. It is so insufficient one could say that it falls short of an adequate understanding of the Christian concept of God the Father.

4. Warren promotes extreme ecumenism. In April, 2005, the PD org. officially forged ties with the Roman Catholic Church by providing a training conference at Holy Family Catholic Church in Inverness, Illinois. "We are excited by this because we are seeing God unify his churches." (Pastor Brett Schrock, Purpose Driven's Director of Strategic Relationships.)

5. Warren justifies cultural capitulation by embracing anti-God cultural norms. A notable example of this occurred when Warren sang the Jimi Hendrix song, "Purple Haze," during the 25th anniversary celebration service of Saddleback Church.

6. Warren redefines ministry in terms of social activism. Alan Wolfe of the Wall Street Journal says, "Historians are likely to pinpoint Mr. Warren's trip to Rwanda as the moment when conservative evangelical Protestantism made questions of social justice central to its concerns."

Warren's Global Peace Plan for "Purpose Driven Nations" includes involving himself with the UN, Council on Foreign Relations, etc. in order to rid the world of "poverty, disease, and illiteracy" by forming entangling alliances between churches, secular businesses, and governments. This is an agenda completely foreign to the Great Commission and the NT church as laid out in Acts and the Pauline Epistles.

7. Warren accepts easy-believism.
"Wherever you are reading this, I invite you to bow your head and quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity: 'Jesus, I believe in you and receive you.' If you sincerely meant that prayer, congratulations! Welcome to the family of God!" (PDL, p. 74).
8. Warren relies heavily on pop psychology. Popular themes in secular psychology appear regularly in Warren’s writings, shaping everything from outreach strategy to discipleship curricula.



  1. Good morning Lou,

    I am enjoying your site. I have a question for you if that is ok. I will try and keep it brief but have to build it up.

    "Warren accepts easy-believism".

    I have never read Warren so this is not a defense. I am not really fond of the term. To me it contradicts itself a bit. If salvation is found by believing on the completed work of Christ (which I believe), and it was easy; why do most professing Christians NOT believe it. It apparently is not that easy to believe. I prefer simple-believism.

    That being said, if belief accompanies a prayer (the prayer doesn't save), what would be the issue? Because a person said a prayer and believed; would they not be saved. Would that be considered "little faith"?

    Jesus said to the disciples,"ye of little faith". Jesus said to the woman who stated even the dogs received the crumbs, "nobody has shown greater faith".

    There appears to be different levels of faith? I always thought it wasn't the amount of faith but the object of ones faith.

    If this is incorrect; then the thoughts I have faith in my faith arise. Is my faith good enough?

    What constitutes saving faith? Not a LS question as I hate LS doctrine. When does easy-believism become saving faith?

    I guess I am asking because I would consider myself a simple - believist.

    The first person Jesus revealed himself to was the woman at the well....if you would have asked for water; I would have given you living water.

    your thoughts would be much appreciated. Hopefully, I present this with clarity.

    May God Bless you,


    1. Preston:

      Thanks for the input. I will get back to you asap with a complete reply.