Dear Guests of IDOTG:
On the morning of March 30th I posted the first article in this series, which verified that John Piper had invited Rick Warren to speak at Desiring God (DG). Shortly afterward numerous sites/blogs picked up on and ran the story. Many include threads with commentary. See the listing below. My previous articles in this series include:
John Piper to Feature Rick Warren at 2010 Desiring God
John Piper Explains Why He Invited Rick Warren to Desiring God
The revelation of John Piper’s invitation of Rick Warren to his Desiring God (DG) conference could not have been welcome news for Together for the Gospel (T4G)1 organizers and its key note speakers on the eve of their event. The Piper/Warren issue is sure to be the buzz of the conference. I do not expect anything on the Rick Warren invitation from the platform speakers unless it comes from Piper, which he may feel compelled to address in an attempt to quell the buzz.
The true irony of this year’s T4G is the theme, which is, “The (Unadjusted) Gospel.” Rick Warren is among the high priests of a watered down, non-saving message. IMO, only Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin and the GES’s Crossless Gospel could possibly eclipse Rick Warren’s heretical reductionism. See- The Gospel of the Christ: One is Baffled…
I half-suspect Piper may take the platform at the outset to address the Warren invite. Why? For the purpose of getting it on the table, hashed out and hopefully quelled so that it is not a major lingering distraction during the conference. Nevertheless, there will undoubtedly be a huge buzz on the floor of T4G and in small groups settings throughout the conference.
Among the group of high profile evangelicals at T4G are men who know and minister frequently with one another, who have become a peer group. I speak of men such as, but not limited to: John MacArthur, Mark Dever, R. C. Sproul, Al Mohler and John Piper. Each has many years of ministerial experience and are respected by one another. Because of the close cooperation with one another over the years Piper would have no reason to brush them aside and they would likely feel at liberty to approach him.
I have pondered how men like John MacArthur, Al Mohler, R. C. Sproul, et. al., might react to the revelation of Piper’s invitation to Rick Warren. Mohler and Sproul have a larger consideration than MacArthur because they are scheduled to speak at DG along with Warren. Over the last week one nagging question I’ve had is:
I’ve also been speculating on what might be going on behind the scenes in these few days before T4G convenes. Frankly, what I am going to share would IMO be going on whether or not T4G were just on the horizon.
“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).In regard to Rick Warren the mandates in verse 17 apply and there is no subjective decision to make. Piper, however, chooses 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,” and lead to their spiritual demise.
R. C. Sproul may be one who will admonish Piper and by conviction withdraw from DG.
John MacArthur has written effectively against the Charismatic movement, church marketing and emergent movements. Piper is a charismatic, he is irrefutably become a new evangelical with his embrace of and invitation to Rick Warren. If Piper’s belief in the miraculous sign gifts was not enough for MacArthur to cease from hosting and sharing platforms with Piper should we expect the Rick Warren invitation to compel MacArthur to withdraw from, mark and avoid him?
“Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” (2 Thess. 3:15).IMO, MacArthur will and very likely has approached Piper in private to reason with and/or admonish him. If, as I am certain, Piper will not respond, MacArthur will likely post something from the Grace to You site and then back to situation normal with Piper. This convergence of high-profile evangelicals is IMO fragile in the first place because of the charismatic issue with Piper and Mahaney. Adding Warren to the mix has the potential to shatter this T4G/TGC/DG camp. I do, however, think they are all going to put unity before fidelity to the biblical mandates that apply. This has been the pattern of evangelicalism.
I believe the convergence of T4G and The Gospel Coalition around Calvinism and Lordship Salvation trumps other doctrinal considerations. Many conservative evangelicals are willing to tolerate, allow for and excuse Piper and Mahaney’s Charismatic theology and practice for the sake of cooperation around Lordship Salvation. I suspect for the sake of this unity, some conservative evangelicals will raise a form of protest and then will brush Piper’s invite of Warren aside. Some will happily sit on the platform with Warren and Piper.
“A final sad spectacle reported with enthusiasm…is the Together for the Gospel conference, running from 2006. A more adult affair convened by respected Calvinists, this nevertheless brings together cessationists and non-cessationists, traditional and contemporary worship exponents, and while maintaining sound preaching, it conditions all who attend to relax on these controversial matters, and learn to accept every point of view. In other words, the ministry of warning is killed off, so that every error of the new scene may race ahead unchecked. These are tragic days for authentic spiritual faithfulness, worship and piety.”3Is the “ministry of warning” to be “killed off” over the Rick Warren controversy just as it has been over Piper’s charismatic theology? To date, there has been no “ministry of warning.”
If Piper’s charismatic theology were not bad enough now add his embrace of Rick Warren and invitation to him for DG and you have T4G on the cusp of division. That is IF evangelicals ever come to the point of obeying the God-given mandates for biblical separation themselves. Only MacArthur has shown any proclivity toward separatism, but has been woefully inconsistent.
Please continue to- John Piper, "I'm Going to Need Help to Know Why I Should Feel Bad About This Decision."
White Horse Inn
Lighthouse Trails Research
It's Not About Separation
Sharper Iron (a pseudo- fundamentalist site)
1) T4G and The Gospel Coalition are converging around a “particular” interpretation of the Gospel that defines well the tenants of Calvinism, while allowing non-cessationists [Charismatics] and ecumenicals to be part of their coalition platform. That interpretation of the Gospel is Lordship Salvation. When T4G and The Gospel Coalition events converge in alternating years they converge around Lordship Salvation. For the sake of clarity these conferences should come to be better known as: Together for the Lordship Salvation Gospel, and The Lordship Salvation Coalition. See- “Foremost Defenders of the Gospel?”
2) Al Mohler Sign the Manhattan Declaration: Was This a First Time Foray Toward Ecumenism?
3) The Merger of Calvinism with Worldliness
What about “secondary separation?” 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.” (Biblical Separation: The Struggle for a Pure Church, pp. 221-222.)Pay 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.”