Question: I recently read the March 2005 Ladies’ Home Journal (LHJ) column by Rick Warren and was greatly disturbed. Although he mentioned God (which “God”?), the entire article was devoted to teaching us how we can better love ourselves. What possible use could this be to the multitudes of unsaved readers of this magazine? There is also a link that takes readers to the Ladies Home Journal “Spirituality” website that seems to embrace every new age idea possible. Comments, please.
Answer: This “Learn To Love Yourself” column was Rick’s third in LHJ. The first was December’s “The Purpose-Driven Christmas.” The second was February’s “The ‘I’m So Busy’ Epidemic.” The fourth is coming up in April: “Live a Passion-Driven Life.”
Rick has been handed a great opportunity to share the gospel with the unsaved—but so far he hasn't. The closest was in December: “...thank God for His Christmas gift to you: He sent a Savior.” Rick doesn’t define either God or Savior, so the meaning is up to the reader’s personal taste. And the perversion of those tastes is evident from the fact that LHJ offers every conceivable New Age, occult, and mystical “spirituality” program. Listings include Eastern meditation, dream interpretation, rediscovering one’s “spiritual self,” the “New Spirituality,” Yoga, being “spiritually tuned in,” and hypnosis.
Every column has some reference to God’s love, comforting everyone no matter what their beliefs. But the essential truth is missing: that the proof of God’s love is the sacrifice of His Son for our sins (Jn:3:16; Rom:5:8; 1 Jn:4:10; etc.). The Cross is left out entirely.
Each column has some commonsense advice about setting goals and priorities, and vague references to “spirituality”—the sort of thing one might get from a horoscope in an astrology column, or from a Chinese fortune cookie: “Go on that school field trip with your child”; “Put your relationships high up on your ‘to do’ list”; “Go for your dreams. Transform your passion into a paycheck”; “Learn to let go of…resentment, jealousy and prolonged anger”; etc., etc.
The March column about which you inquired sounds like an echo out of one of Robert Schuller’s books from 20 years ago. We’ve been criticized for saying that Rick is teaching pop psychology, but there it is for anyone to see. That’s not biblical! Rick is riding the crest of great popularity at the moment and, like Schuller, is careful not to present any biblical truth, no matter how essential, that might offend the secular world. Instead, he tells his readers what he knows they want to hear, not the truth they need. Yes, he mentions “God,” but a humanistic “God” who is very “positive” about everyone.
The March title, “Learn to Love Yourself!,” is the opposite of what the Bible teaches and is a far cry from “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,” which Christ said is the first and great commandment (Mt 22:37-38).
Rick advises his readers, “To truly love yourself, you need to know the five truths that form the basis of a healthy self-image.” That’s humanistic language, not biblical, and hardly fits with what men of God have said about themselves: “Now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job:42:5, 6); “Woe is me! for I am undone!” (Is 6:5); “Of whom [sinners] I am chief…less than the least of all saints” (1 Tm 1:15; Eph:3:8), etc.
Rick lists “five truths,” none of which is either a “truth” or biblical: 1) Accept yourself; 2) Love yourself; 3) Be true to yourself; 4) Forgive yourself; and 5) Believe in yourself. He begins The Purpose-Driven Life by saying, “It’s not about you.” In fact, that book turns out to be all about you—and we see the same in his columns in LHJ.
He says, “God accepts us unconditionally….” This is the humanistic plea of a homosexual, lesbian, fornicator, or one living in sin unmarried with a “partner,” who says to parents and concerned friends, “Just accept me as I am, love me unconditionally.” In fact, God wants to save us from sin and self and make us new creatures in Christ—but one would never get that idea from Rick’s LHJ columns.
Rick says we should love ourselves— just the opposite of the Bible’s command to love God and neighbor. Never does Scripture exhort us to love ourselves! “Be true to yourself,” is more humanistic doubletalk. He advises, “Get to know yourself.” The Bible says I needto turn from myself to God. My passion should be to know Him. These columns are shallow, false, unbiblical, and lead readers astray.
“Forgive yourself” is again totally humanistic. He talks about God forgiving us, but doesn’t explain that He can only do so because Christ paid the penalty for our sins. Rick makes it sound as though God is so magnanimous that He will forgive anything we think, say, or do—no big deal, nothing to be concerned about. Yet Scripture says, “Fear God, and keep his commandments…for God will bring every work into judgment…” (Ecc:12:13, 14).
There is no reason to fear the “God” Rick talks about—He simply accepts us no matter what we do. Rick gives theimpression that everyone has a “good buddy” relationship with God, there is no separation from Him by sin, and certainly no need for Christ as mediator with God, dying for our sins. Rick hides the truth behind sweet words from those who need it most. We need to pray for Rick that he will rise to the opportunities God has given him, and present the truth instead of warmed-over pop psychology, of which the world already has too much—they certainly don’t need more from those who are supposed to preach the Word!