Question: You and Tom both wrote good, factual articles in TBC and did ten radio programs about Rick Warren and The Purpose-Driven Life. Then, at his invitation, you [Dave] attended a pastors conference at Saddleback, and when you returned you seemed to have softened your position. As you know, Warren has had a column in the Ladies’ Home Journal for nearly a year. I have yet to find the gospel in any of them!
What he does present is pop psychology exactly like Robert Schuller, yet you say he has broken all ties with Schuller. Here is just one example from his March 2005 column: “Self-esteem still wobbly...? These five simple truths will show you that you don’t need to be perfect to be priceless....To truly love yourself, you need to know the five truths that form the basis of a healthy self-image: Accept yourself; Love yourself; Be true to yourself; Forgive yourself; Believe in yourself.”
This is typical of the non-sequiturs Warren offers. He promises five “truths” but gives five things to do, none of them a truth. This is pop psychology that even numerous secular psychologists and psychiatrists have refuted—and it contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture. Warren’s “accept...love...be true to...forgive...believe in yourself ” blatantly opposes Christ’s “except a man deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me, he cannot be my disciple” (Matthew:16:24; Mark:8:34; Luke:9:23, etc.).
How can you say Warren loves the Lord and has a passion for souls when his actions do not support such a claim? I think many people have been confused by your apparent change from criticizing Rick Warren to apparently supporting him.
Response: Thank you for your concern. Hearing Rick in person and talking with him face to face gave me a different opinion from the one I had formed by reading his books and watching him on video. I would still say that he is a sincere Christian who genuinely desires the salvation of souls. That he so seldom, and then usually only obliquely, presents the gospel is an inexcusable contradiction—but that can be said of many Christian leaders. Joel Osteen has built the largest church in America (30,000 each weekend) by doing the same thing!
Rick’s defenders told me that he wanted to gain the attention and trust of Journal readers before giving them the gospel—but he hasn’t done so. [See Q&A Apr. ’05.] Instead, as you say, he has given them the lies of pop psychology—again inexcusable. He can’t be that ignorant-—certainly not after reading the Bible for years. I had hoped through personal contact with Rick to help him. That opportunity seems to have passed. His huge success makes any admission of error increasingly difficult.
Rick is not alone in the promotion of psychology’s deadly selfisms. They are now common fare in the church. Nor is he alone (and perhaps not the worst) in partnering with Roman Catholics and promoting AA’s occult 12 Steps. That does not excuse Rick. But shouldn’t we question the commitment to Christ and the gospel on the part of Billy Graham, Chuck Colson, and Bill Bright (all three praised Sir John Marks Templeton and his prize for progress toward the Antichrist’s world religion and failed to give the gospel to the vast and needy audiences when they accepted that prize), J. I. Packer and every other signatory to ECT, Josh McDowell, David Jeremiah, James Dobson, and every Christian psychologist, and all who accept and promote their lies? Sadly, Rick is merely a reflection of the church of today.
I am not excusing Rick Warren. I believe he is a genuine brother who has been led into compromise in order to reach a wider audience—but with what? He seems to be only part of a compromise of biblical truth that has enlisted Christian leaders as never before in history and is playing into Satan’s plan to produce a false church for Antichrist.
In his December 2005 article, Warren encouraged Journal readers to “offer a taste of God's peace to those who’ve lost hope...by following the example of Jesus.” It was good advice for Christians, but deadly deception for unsaved readers. The Ladies’ Home Journal is one of the ten largest magazines in America with about 14.5 million readers. Millions of women who desperately need the gospel that will take them to heaven were instead treated to Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. plan to improve life on earth: “Plant faith communities [any ‘faith’ will do whose adherents are willing to follow the plan]; Equip leaders [for earthly secular tasks]; Assist the poor [for a better life on earth]; Care for the sick [but what about the soul?]; Educate the next generation [for this brief life].” We credit Rick and his wife, Kay, with having tender hearts for the physical needs of the poor, uneducated, and dying, and for good works that put many of us to shame. But we fault them for hiding the gospel from those who need it and who without it will perish for eternity!