March 2, 2012

Rick Warren Builds Bridge to Muslims: Is That the Real Story?

This story has been circulating the Christian blogosphere for several days. For scheduling reasons and to let some of the dust settle I held it until now. Following is what we know. I will follow with some commentary and links to related articles.
The Rev. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest and one of America’s most influential Christian leaders, has embarked on an effort to heal divisions between evangelical Christians and Muslims by partnering with Southern California mosques and proposing a set of theological principles that includes acknowledging that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.1
Regarding the OC Register story, Rick Warren posted this, “I deeply love my Muslim neighbors but this article contains multiple errors - factually and theologically that neither our dear friends in the Muslim Community nor the Christians at Saddleback Church would agree with.”

No indication has been given to date from Warren as to what those errors are. The OCRegister reporter, Jim Hinich, later responded to Warren’s reaction. He wrote,
I’m the reporter who wrote this story. I’m sorry Rev. Warren feels the story contains errors but the story was based on interviews and documents and it was thoroughly fact-checked. I discussed all of its major points with Tom Holladay, an associate senior pastor at Saddleback, I checked with other sources quoted in the story this morning and they said they did not see any errors. While reporting this story I asked repeatedly to speak to Rev. Warren directly but was told he was too busy for an interview. If any facts need to be corrected I hope representatives from Saddleback will get in touch with me….
Rick Warren is an extreme ecumenical compromiser! He promotes and participates in 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 signed the Yale Center for Faith and Culture document for unity among Christian and Muslim faiths. (A Christian Response to a Common Word Between Us and You2) This was an, “abdication of the Christian faith to Muslim demands expressed in the ‘common word’.”

The bridge building to Isalm was done long ago. Warren is simply walking the bridge and encouraging others to join him. With Warren’s track record of ecumenical compromise the only real surprise is the surprise and shock being expressed by so many over his latest embrace of unbelievers. What Warren is doing and what he is quoted as having said, while highly disconcerting, is in my opinion not the real story. If this is not the real story, what is? In my opinion the real story is the developing story:

1) Will John Piper continue to embrace, cooperate with, defend and legitimize Rick Warren and his ministry?
2) Will Piper’s T4G counter parts (Mohler, Sproul, Dever, et. al.,) continue to give Piper a pass and cooperate with him in ministry in spite of his alliance and cooperative efforts with Rick Warren?
3) Will self-described biblical separatists Drs. Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran, Matt Olson, Tim Jordan et. al. continue to tolerate, allow for, excuse and/or ignore the New Evangelical trends among their new friends in evangelicalism for the sake of fellowship and cooperative ministry with them?
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.” (Dr. Ernest Pickering, Biblical Separation: The Struggle for a Pure Church, pp. 221-222.)
Will Piper’s ministry, in spite of his obvious shift toward the new New Evangelicalism, be given cover with years old mantra such as, “but he writes such good books…we can learn so much from him?” Will angry young (former) fundamentalists, from their blogs continue congratulate and heap lavish praise on T4G men who write “bad idea John Piper” articles, but continue to fellowship and minister with him? Will leadership in once “militant” separatist churches and schools continue to encourage their congregation/pupils to support and/or attend John Piper’s Desiring God, as well as the Gospel Coalition and T4G conferences? Will formerly “militant” separatists continue to invite non-separatist, compromised evangelicals to their pulpits and classrooms where impressionable students and congregations will be influenced toward compromising the God-given mandates for separation? These are questions that are being answered and will be further answered in time, a very short time.


1) Rick Warren Builds Bridge to Muslims and King’s Way Unites US Evangelicals, Muslims

2) Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to a Common Word Between Us and You

Related Reading:
John Piper to Feature Rick Warren at 2010 Desiring God

John Piper to Feature Rick Warren: What Are the T4G Men For to Do?

John Piper: “I’m Going to Need Help to Know Why Should I Feel Bad About This Decision?”
I can help John Piper “to know why [he] should feel bad about this decision” and to repent of it.
A. Warren embraces deliberate pragmatism of the worst kind.
B. Warren routinely misuses Scripture. The Bible is a tool that Warren manipulates to cover his own ideas with a veneer of divine authority.
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.
D. Warren redefines ministry in terms of social activism. 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.
E. Warren justifies cultural capitulation by embracing anti-God cultural norms.
F. Warren propagates some of 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.
Site Publisher’s Addendum: 
From the March 2011 article, Has Converging With Evangelicals Been a Dangerous and Failed Experiment?

In his incendiary Let’s Get Clear on This Kevin Bauder wrote, “Whatever our differences, I thank God for John Piper.” He also wrote,
“Nevertheless, some Fundamentalists have managed to convince themselves that conservative evangelicals are the enemy. They insist that John Piper is a neo-evangelical. They actually hope to limit his influence—and the influence of other conservative evangelicals—in their churches and among their younger generation.” (Conservative Evangelicals Are Not New Evangelicals)
Brother Bauder in light of these latest revelations of Piper’s direction; have you finally seen enough of his decent into “New” Evangelicalism to “withdraw from, admonish…have no company with,” and especially to “mark” John Piper? In addition to his Charismatic theology is this finally enough for you to openly warn the “younger generation” under your influence to “avoid” John Piper (2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15 ; Romans 16:17 )? Have you finally seen enough to do what you can to “limit his influence?”

In 2008 Dave Doran wrote,
This was the reason for my disappointment with the first T4G conference. In many respects, it was one of the most spiritually beneficial conferences I’ve attended—the message by John Piper alone was worth the time and cost of the conference.” (Potential and Pitfalls of Together For The Gospel, March/April 2008, 9Marks)
Would Brother Doran publish a similar accolade for the message that Piper is communicating today through his ministry with Rick Warren and recognizing Roman Catholics as born again Christians? Of course not! Isn’t it then worth the time and cost to retract earlier accolades for the messages of John Piper and replace those with a warning to avoid Piper today?


  1. Hi Lou,

    I haven't followed this at all, but after seeing this I just happened to see a Facebook post with this link: Apparently here Warren gives specifics on where he says the reporter got it wrong. Just FYI...

  2. Thanks Rachel. I went there, read and left a brief comment. I figure on the one statement that has been the crux of controversy we might give Warren benefit of the doubt. However, it is irrefutable that Warren has a long track record of extreme ecumenical compromises.