Dear Guests of IDOTG:
This is the latest in my series that began with publishing, John Piper to Feature Rick Warren at 2010 Desiring God.
The title of this article is taken from John Piper’s video in which he explained why he invited Rick Warren to speak at the 2010 Desiring God conference. In two stages, the obvious and the scriptural, I will help John Piper “to know why [he] should feel bad about this decision” and to repent of it.
I. What are the Obvious Reasons?
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)
B. 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.
C. 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.
D. Warren promotes extreme ecumenism:
He has forged ties with the Roman Catholic Church, the Baptist World Alliance and the United Nations. Warren is involved with and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Warren said, “I see absolutely zero reason in separating my fellowship from anybody,” Noting he has theological differences with many of the diverse denominations that invite him to speak, Warren added, “That doesn’t stop me from fellowshipping with them.” When he heard of the SBC’s withdrawal from the Baptist World Alliance, he added, “I thought, ‘This is silly! Why would we separate ourselves from brothers and sisters in the world?’” (Rick Warren, Global Baptists Are in This Together.) Warren signing the Yale Center for Faith and Culture1 document for unity among Christian and Muslim faiths.
E. 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 and for Warren replaces the Great Commission and the New Testament church as laid out in Acts and the Pauline Epistles. Through his cooperative efforts, Warren aligns himself with the same UN that seeks to “rid the world” of unborn infants through their murder while still in the womb.
F. 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. Most recently Warren hosted the Jonas Brothers (boy band) for Saddleback’s 30th anniversary celebration and Easter Sunday service. [Editor’s Note: With Piper hosting a RAP artist at his church and MacArthur featuring Christian Rock-n-Roll bands at his Resolved conference this from Warren may be unworthy of notice for them.]
G. Warren propagates some the worst soteriological reductionism:
“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).
H. 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.
Maybe they aren’t. So...
II. What are the Scriptural Reasons?
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple,” (Rom. 16:17-18).In regard to Rick Warren the mandates in verse 17 apply and there is no subjective decision to make about it. Piper, however, chose to ignore the Scriptures to embrace Rick Warren, to defend and give him recognition, which will lend credibility to Warren and his methods. Piper puts impressionable believers, who follow him (Piper) at risk. Piper offers Warren a national platform, which could through his, “good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple,” draw away disciples (Acts 20:30) and lead to their spiritual demise.
“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us…. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother,” (2 Thess. 3:6; 14-15).
What Piper has done is inexcusable! His action is a blatant disregard for 2 Thessalonians 3:6. Piper’s invite of Rick Warren, apart from his repentance from it, IMO numbers him among the disobedient. The Scriptures have an application to and mandate the believer’s response to Piper just as they do to Rick Warren.
In his classic Dr. Ernest Pickering wrote:
“When our brethren do things that are wrong—caused by an incomplete knowledge of or deliberate disobedience to some teaching of Scripture—we should not merely continue fellowship with them as those who have done nothing wrong, but we should warn them, remonstrate with them and seek to recover them to a Biblical position. . . . If one should ask, Does 2 Thessalonians 3 teach secondary separation?—then the response would have to be given, It depends on what you mean by secondary separation. . . . It is the principle of refusing to condone, honor or utilize persons who continually and knowingly are following a course of action which is harmful to other believers and to the welfare of the churches.”2Pay close attention to that the final sentence from Dr. Pickering’s excerpt (see bold). It, “secondary separation,” can be appropriately applied to both Rick Warren and now John Piper because both are, “following a course of action which is harmful to other believers and to the welfare of the churches.”
For the sake of a convergence around Calvinism and the Lordship Salvation3 interpretation of the Gospel men in evangelical and some in fundamental circles will tolerate, allow for, ignore and/or excuse Piper’s unwillingness to separate from those he knows to be in biblical error, i.e., “open theists” within his denomination; thinking the Toronto Blessing is a blessing; RAP in his church and his embrace of Mark Driscoll in spite of his (Driscoll’s) disgraceful speech and speaking at Schuler’s Crystal Cathedral. Not even this present indefensible error with Rick Warren, which violates the mandates of Scripture, is enough to “withdraw from” and caution others to refrain from promoting the ministry of John Piper.
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them,” (Acts 20:28-31).Hobnobbing with unbelievers through the Manhattan Declaration opens the door for “grievous wolves [to] enter in among you.” Furthermore, “of our own selves” men, such as Rick Warren, have arisen “speaking perverse things.” Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan have given Christian recognition to the deadly “enemies of the cross of Christ,” (Phil. 3:18). 4 John Piper is giving a platform, his own, for the “perverse things” of Rick Warren.
Yet none of these issues are sufficient motivation for men who claim fidelity to the Scriptures, including biblical separatism, to obey the biblical mandates to “withdraw from,” to “mark” and “avoid,” to warn others also.
Numerous blog articles have been generated since I first published (March 30, 2010) confirmation of John Piper’s invitation to Rick Warren to speak at this year’s Desiring God conference.5 John Piper has embraced and subsequently defended Rick Warren. He has demonstrated that he is firm in his decision and shows no inclination to repent of it.
How to Express Christian Love to John Piper:
You might ask, “How do I make a practical application of those mandates at T4G?” The most practical application of the principle would be depart the hall when Piper has the platform. On Wednesday evening John Piper has the platform at T4G. That will be your opportunity to show fidelity to the Scriptures by being a no-show in the hall for that session. Radical; maybe, but:
If you love John Piper as a brother, you will admonish him as a brother. There is no more loving course of action than to restore a brother who has gone into “contrary” doctrine or practice than to admonish him. If he is unrepentant the loving response is to withdraw from, have no company with, to mark and avoid him.
For an important related article see Ken Silva's Warrengate, John Piper and the New Calvinism at Apprising Ministries.
For previous articles in this series see-
John Piper to Feature Rick Warren at 2010 Desiring God
John Piper Explains Why He Invited Rick Warren to Desiring God
John Piper to Feature Rick Warren: What Are the T4G Men For to Do?
1) Yale Center for Faith & Culture: Loving God & Neighbor Together
2) Biblical Separation: The Struggle for a Pure Church, pp. 221-222.
3) Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page
4) Al Mohler Signs the Manhattan Declaration
5) John Piper to Feature Rick Warren at 2010 Desiring God